Farmer & CowboyAt the two year mark of this experiment in social media (our blog, Facebook, web site, virtual discussion), I want to divert from talking about the rural elderly and muse a bit about information technology.

Each year the EDUCAUSE Review (a magazine for academic IT geeks) identifies the current top-ten IT issues. Number 7 is relevant to our activities in the ETGEC/C: Determining the role of online learning and developing a sustainable strategy for that role (Grajek et al., 2013).

The ETGEC is not a face-to-face endeavor. It has always been clear to me that because our project is scattered across half of Texas, it is the various online activities that are really our major points of contact. We are seeking to use online resources in the two ways that David Brooks identifies as the major functions of the university (Brooks, 2013): providing technical knowledge and practical knowledge.

Technical knowledge is the facts and rules about things and practical knowledge is how and when to apply technical knowledge to solve problems or accomplish goals.  We are using the web site as a source of technical knowledge and the blog and virtual discussions as a path to practical knowledge. Facebook is sort of a glue that helps link the others together.

The reception to two years of blogging and almost a year of the virtual discussion has been lukewarm to say the least. The participation in Second Life has been particularly limited. I wonder why and I wonder what other options are available to us?

I also wonder if there is a geek/non-geek divide in technology adoption. The same issue of EDUCAUSE has a superb article on how geeks and non-geeks can learn to get along (Glen & McManus, 2013).  Just the thought, brings back memories of the musical Oklahoma!

Join us for a real-time discussion about questions raised by this essay on Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room:


  1. Brooks, D. The Practical University. NY Times Opinion Pages, April 4, 2013,
  2. Glen, P & McManus, M. Geeks and non-geeks: From contraxions to collaboration in higher education. EDUCAUSE Review, May/June 2013, 48, 3, 20-29.
  3. Grajek, S. et al. Top-ten IT issues, 2013: Welcome to the connected age. EDUCAUSE Review, May/June 2013, 48, 3, 30-57. Top 10 website:
  4. Magna Theatre Corporation. Oklahoma! (1955). Reference is to the song, The Farmer and the Cowman (1943) by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Image Source

Still from The Farmer and the Cowman dance sequence from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! with the 1998 London cast,