Know the Ledge

Educators have a lot of power.
I somewhat understood this when I started teaching at Rutgers University in the fall semester of 2007, but I didn’t have that Eureka! moment until I started this spring semester for 2008.
The class I’m tag-team teaching along with Professor Brenda McManus is Interactive Design. The first project is get into teams of 2 and audit a website (from a pre-selected list we created). They have to break down the site through the scope, strategy, skeleton, and surface (based on James Jesse Garrett’s Elements of Human Experience) and then make a presentation to the class on their research.
I told the students they have many options on how they can present – Powerpoint, JPGs, PDFs – whatever form they feel most comfortable with and which is most appropriate.
While keeping things open to the class I strongly recommended they all open GMail accounts. I explained that using their Google accounts allowed them to not only collaborate with each other remotely (remember how crazy college schedules can be), but it also had Google Presentation – an alternative to Microsoft Powerpoint. I told them that this was how Brenda and I collaborated when we were developing class assignments.
It was at this moment that not only realized the power of a good educator – but also how collaborative paradigms are completely changing AND how I could effectively sway students away from Microsoft products and services. I feel the need to move the students away from Microsoft products, not because I don’t like Microsoft – but because Microsoft does not make well-designed software and products. Google Docs is a better alternative.
Prior to that moment I took things like Google Docs and Basecamp and all the other web-based applications for granted.
Prior to that moment I was talking the talk, but not walking much walk.
I guess I didn’t know the ledge.