Portal Conference Live Blogging Jim Farmer


Jim Farmer began his career in higher education as CIO for California State University, Northridge, and became the first CIO for the California State Universities. He was project administrator for JA-SIG’s uPortal project and then the Sakai Project Community Liaison. He is now affiliated with Georgetown University’s Scholarly Systems Group, and an author of Oxford University’s report on open source sustainability.

His all conference session this morning is named “advancing by the numbers”. He mentioned how interested he is in this conference and especially some of the sessions.

He mentioned this is one of the years of change. We are starting to ask questions at the policy level of the federal government about how well colleges assess student learning. He wanted to take assessment from a higher level than the portal.

Concepts of how assessment is used
Assessment – Process Improvement – Execution
then gather feedback and start over

He used Toyota as an example and the culture that they have created as it relates to assessment.

“We have done a lousy job of explaining higher education to the public?” And assessment and measurement can help us do a better job of explaining what we do in higher ed. We must expect fair and unfair criticism.

It’s about 9:45 now and I am going to make a quick break to give some personal commentary and say that i am really enjoying this talk more than many i have heard at conferences this year. It’s refreshing to hear an all conference session that takes the long view and strategic view on higher education.

Farmer then went on to provide lots of data points (i think his presentation will be posted online at the portal conference website) about student learning. Some if it scary.

He used an example of supplementary material at schools. Lots of times a faculty member uses a text book and it has a log on to other materials. IT might never know about the other materials except for higher web traffic. The assessment goes to the textbook company and not to the faculty member – this is a problem.

55% of faculty at ALL institution say their students are not prepared for college work.

Whether a faculty member is full time, part time, does research, has tenure, or are highly paid has no influence on students grades, dropping a course, or taking other courses in the same subject.

“A portal is the toolbox to the knowledge worker.”

What do students want from a portal?
search resources was 1st
career information 13th
teaching and learning information 24th
weather was 38th

UPortal 2005 Yale University reported
85% of the students personalized their portal
At most less than 10% personalize their portal

Your portal needs to reflect they way GOOGLE and Yahoo set up pages and portlets.

Portals are a journey for increasing functionality for expanding communities.

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