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The "L" with it: Last Lectures, Listing Accomplishments, and Life
Sunday, September 23, 2007
After my doctoral student and podcast partner Chris Essex passed away last spring and now Jerry Price at the University of Houston (who used to help me set up my talks at Ed Media and eLearn), this article in the the Chronicle of Higher Ed on Friday struck a chord (see It is about a Carnegie Mellon computer science professor, Dr. Randy Pausch, who makes educational games, video games, virtual worlds, and whatnot who has cancer and gave his "last lecture" this week. And he has 1, 2, and 5 year old kids. He is an amazing person to do this final lecture and have it broadcast to the world. His advice about life and the walls we will run into was highly valuable; especially for those starting our in academia. As someone who teaches a course on creativity, I appreciated his comments to let your kids write mathematical equations on their walls and spur their thinking and creativity like Dr. Pausch's parents let him do.

You see, Dr. Pausch is dying of pancreatic cancer which is what killed my father back in the summer of 1995. Seems like yesterday. After my e-coli like scare a year ago, I have been trying to give each lecture this semester as if it was my last. Not sure if I have succeeded or not. The irony is that last Friday the USA Today also had a feature article in a 1 year memory of those who had many of the same symptoms I had (mine was never diagnosed) and died from e-coli last year. Makes you reflect on your life.

The Wall Street Journal Online had an article on Professor Pausch, on Thursday September 20th, 2007 with a nice short 4 minute inspirational video lecture given Tuesday to folks at CMU (his last lecture) which is worth watching:

Definitely worth watching!

So, what if you had to give your last lecture? What would it be like? Don't your students really deserve such? And what would you do differently today? Would you go to work? If you had a health problem and overcame it, what would you do differently? Would the grantwriting seem different? I think many people in higher education run around like crazy reacting to what others around them expect them to do--like writing grants, going to conferences, writing reviews of papers or recommendation letters, attending another silly meeting, going to socials, etc. But if you just said stop for a day or a week, would the world stop with you?

What is really really important to you? Now is the time for you to determine that and do it. Do not wait. Fortunately, Dr. Pausch seems to have been doing what he loves to do. But have you? Have I? As a former accountant and educational psychologist and now educational technologist, I can say that the answer in the past was too often "no." Lately, I have been trying to make sure that the answer is "yes." My focus now is writing books, doing the research that interests me (right now it is Wikibook and YouTube stuff), doing a few keynotes, and helping my friends. I have others around me who want me to do their things; who want to be my judge if I do not do them; and who will think less of me if I do not what is what a professor is "supposed" to do. But where is academic freedom? My interests are in nontraditional learning; NOT in traditional learning. The dozens of publications I have had and hundreds of speeches I have given the past 2-3 years mean absolutely nothing if they did not make a difference for someone somewhere and also make me feel good (i.e., be interesting to me). Just because something is accomplished, does not mean it was worth accomplishing. Just because someone will pay you money to write up a report, does not make it worth writing up. Just because your boss or dean has an area of interest, does not mean it is worth pursuing. Thanks to Chris, Jerry, and Dr. Pausch for making me realize that. You must pursue YOUR own dreams, not the dreams of others.

We are in a society that loves the annual reports and the listing of accomplishments. Academia is filled with accomplishment junkies. I know, I am one of them. We are like taxi cab drivers going from destination to destination so as to have something to add to our burgeoning resumes--all seeking the next line item on the vita. But if it was your last lecture (i.e., your last accomplishment), what would it be? What would you tell others about life and would those words be worth saving, sharing, and reflecting upon?
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 7:03 PM   8 comments
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Popular YouTube Video Survey Research and the Web 2.0 (to participate, go to
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
As I mentioned in my last post, Dr. Grace Lin (University of Houston), Alex Bonk (my son), and I are conducting research on YuTube videos (see We are looking at why people post, view, share, comment on, or subscribe to a YouTube video. Areas of interest include motivation, engagement, instructional design, and learning or educational value in a YouTube video. We also inquire about various issues related to the Web 2.0. We ask questions such as "How important are YouTube videos in training and education right now?," "Why would you create a YouTube video? (check all that apply)," "How often do you watch YouTube videos?, " "Have you ever shared a YouTube video link with a friend?," and "How important will other forms of Web 2.0 technology such as blogging, Wikipedia, podcasting, online photo albums, and online social networking be for training and education in 5 years?"

The participant is randomly assigned to one of 60 YouTube videos (6 types of videos and 10 videos per category). Each survey has one of the 60 YouTube videos below embedded in it. You can take the survey and help me in this research. If you do, you have a chance to win an iPod or iPhone. In addition, SurveyShare (the sponsor) is giving away 90 days of free unlimited service to anyone who takes the survey. To participate, go to:

YouTube Videos (6 categories x 10/category = 60 videos)

A. Education and Educational Technology
B. News, Politics, Environment, and Culture
C. Computers and Digital Technology
D. Arts and Entertainment (Magic, Music, Dance, Animation, Photography, Painting, etc.)
E. Sports
F. Comedy

A. Education and Educational Technology
1. Did You know; Shift Happens – Globalization; Information Age

2. Did You Know 2.0

3. Voices from the New American Schoolhouse (trailer)

4. A Fair(y) Use Tale

5. Pay Attention

6. Wikis in Plain English

7. Video: RSS in Plain English

8. Education in Second Life: Explore the Possibilities

9. The Wire: Education

10. Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005

B. News, Politics, Environment, and Culture

1. 9/11

2. Vote Different (Hillary Clinton)

3. Michael J. Fox

4. Stop the Clash of Civilizations

5. A Global Warning…

6. An Uneducated Electorate Promotes Democracy Lost

7. Malcolm X: Oxford University Debate

8. The Most Popular YOUTUBE Video EVER

9. Leonardo DiCaprio's YouTube Message

10. Robert Redford on Saving the Artic Refuge

C. Computers and Digital Technology

1. reactable: basic demo #1 (square objects are sound generators)

2. Minority Report becomes reality (TED award—cool stuff with computer interface)

3. A Closer Look At the iPhone

4. Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us

5. EVOLUTION (of games—sorta violent)

6. OLPC demo by Hakon Wium Lie ($100 Laptop)

7. Coolest Imaging and Social Technology EVER! (cool, except for BMW commercial at end)

8. Philips: Drag & Draw Technology (write on walls) (Dijital Boyama)

9. MIT sketching

10. Web 2.0

D. Art and Entertainment (Magic, Music, Dance, Animation, Photography, Painting, etc.)

1. Best card trick in the world

2. Colour changing card trick

3. Quick Change Artists on America’s Got Talent

4. Guitar

5. Evolution of Dance

6. OK Go – Here It Goes Again (guys in treadmill)

7. Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years

8. Tony vs. Paul (mucho action—stop motion)

9. Free Hugs Campaign. (music by Sick Puppies)

10. Amateur – Lasse Gjertsen (stop motion--drums and piano)

E. Sports

1. Ronaldinho

2. Ronaldinho: Touch of Gold (Nike)

3. Comedy Football

4. Football skills

5. Best soccer goals FIFA

6. Puehse Twins Skateboarding

7. Terje’s First Descent

8. Best of Rodney Mullen


10. Mountain Bike (Trials Bike) Trickster – Danny Macaskill

F. Comedy

1. Where the Hell is Matt?

2. New Numa – The Return of Gary Brolsma!

3. Spiders on Drugs (caution on word use)

4. Charlie the Unicorn

5. Korean madness

6. Frank Caliendo – Impressions

7. Hahaha

8. Dad at the Comedy Barn

9. Muffins

10. Introducing the book (repost)

To participate, go to:
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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 10:48 PM   6 comments
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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

See my complete profile

Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

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