Student-run blog explores tech services

An analysis by the Yale Instructional Technology Group (ITG) of how students use mobile technology has led to the creation of a student-run blog called “Wires Crossed” that offers commentary on technological resources.

Five student interns at the ITG decided to create the blog, which officially launched early this semester, after they were asked to report to ITG about how they use Yale services on their mobile technology, such as smart phones and tablets. Ken Panko, manager of the ITG, which works primarily to help professors use technology in the classroom, said this evaluation marked an effort to engage directly with students to track trends in educational technology and to find out what types of technology are useful to students.

“We know students have a lot expectations about what to do with mobile technology, but until a professor comes to us with a project we don’t have a point to engage with them,” Panko said. “We wanted [the blog] to be as authentic to student life as possible.”

The blog includes technological news, reviews of applications and reviews of Yale’s tech services.

Student bloggers said the blog began by focusing on technology use on campus but has since expanded to include issues that might appeal to a broader audience. Wires Crossed blogger Austin Bernhardt ’12, a former Arts & Living editor for the News, said the initiative has become an analysis of how college students can and do use technology and social media.

Emmanuel Quartey ’12, another blogger, said the blog’s founders initially thought the site would appeal primarily to students, but the site has attracted mostly information technology staff within and outside of Yale.

“They are professionals who are working in a vacuum, with tech companies screaming at them to use their apps, who are legitimately curious to have a student perspective on technology,” Quartey said.

This year’s ITG internship cycle is set to conclude at the end of this academic year, so the future of the blog is uncertain, Panko said. Still, Quartey said he hopes the blog will continue after he graduates, and Panko said he is open to the possibility of making Wires Crossed an ongoing initiative.

Quartey said the site could have benefitted from a more public launch to raise awareness about the blog, though he said he thinks students at Yale who are interested in technological education have discovered the site.

“There’s a lot of interesting things happening on campus at the intersection of education and technology, but also a lot is happening in how technology changes how Yalies go about their daily academic and social lives,” he said.

The last several posts in Wires Crossed have included a video interview with Richard Collins, Yale Summer Session online learning program manager, a list of top political twitter feeds to follow and a review of GoodReader, an app that allows PDFs to be annotated on an iPad.

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