Friday, February 18, 2005

Learning by Doing

Learning by doing seems to be the best method for progress in my case.
Although I am extremely busy these days with my Socrates Grundtvig projects, the deadline being March 1st, I opened my blog this morning.
To my surprise I noticed an X had replaced my photo in the profile.
I think I know what has happened. I have published the "incriminated'” photo using Picasa.
Since then I keep getting the invitation to enter the site whenever I open my computer.
As I did not feel at ease when I first entered it and as I was more successful with Flicker, I declined the invitation.
And… I was finally punished:):):)
But I decided not to give up.
I started to look for thephoto. I could find it only in my Yahoo profile.
I copied its properties and tried to introduce it in Flicker.
But it was much too large!
I e-mailed it to me, saved it, resized it, and finally I managed to publish it.
I must confess I am feeling quite satisfied.
Perseverance and courage are the necessary things you need when you try to improve your skills.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Omnipresence and webheadery

From a Mystery guest

How many lives does a good olde Webhead have?

I had joined this workshop plus some other TESOL EVO workshops, well aware this was going to be a pretty tight schedule for me. I'm skimming, surfing and sometimes finding time to join a workshop live session or two. I'm working on Moodles, on blogs and now also soon on a TikiWiki, all of these projects would have been impossible for me to manage all on my own, but I flow around in cyberspace tinkering with tit & tat, grace to our amazing and inspiring Webheads community (that I joined back in 2001, hey, I'm a veteran) But I really wish to get on working seriously again with some older homepages that need updates. They were created with an outdated HTLM editor plastering lots of cryptic code strings into the HTML source code And I agree - to do so, careful reading is needed. At least, I swear I'm not as inactive as may seem from just reading this discussion. From that you might suspect some sort of web absence!

Just now I come from a joint fun project with Wendy - I'm a mystery guest in her EFL Grammar and composition class, encouraging her sutdents to ask all sorts of questions "about me". We got the inspiration from Bee but did not really know exactly how go come around this; would I post in the classroom blog directly, or what? I started a new account at Blogger as the Mystery guest, was reading their personal blogs and sent a few comments with invitations to my mystery blog, Wendy posted a message for her students, and then went sick and stayed away from school. This is a Blended learning class, but they're not yet familiar with blogging, Or were. Because they have really taken it now! As Wendy says, they all know where to find my blog, and how to post comments. They have asked all sorts of questions, and they know now that I live in Denmark, and it is just crazy how hard it was to figure out what to tell so they would become curious enough to ask, and what to hide so they would not know at once. And, even in Blogger (mac/Safari), I need to type in some code, to feed it with dollops of HTML, as Vance says. (over at the webpresence workshop - this is a semi-cross posting)

Keep smiling! We're having some fun. The magic works. And hopefully they're forgetting all about grammar and style while communicating for getting to know someone unknown.
http://mysteryguest.blogspot.com and Wendy's Advanced writing and grammar blog at http://ievcc.blogspot.com/ and Wendy's meta-reflective, personal English Studies Blog at http://ievcc.blogspot.com/

Complicating or simplifying things with experimental blogs for online content and interaction?
Hmm, changing the tipping point perhaps!

virtual hugs,
yours ubiquitous
Serendipity Sus

(will cross post this to keep groups & blogs vibrant)

PS I know I know - not all of my recent blogs are in our class wiki. Will take care of that soon, very soon!
_________________________________________________

Surviving and thriving online?
Meet the Webheads in Action - and 20 other presenters
in the knowtips 2005 online Tips & tricks conference
23-28 February 2005
@ http://www.knowtips.ca

Our photoroll

I found our photoroll, and as the absent minded, elsewhere busy student I've been in this class, I've missed the info about where to post mine.

I can tell you that I've got one at http://www.thelolas.com/images/nyrop2.jpg - it was a fun story because I posted this photo after a group meeting where the teleconference was stressing me to test a new invention -and to my surprise this mug shot won an award in the categroy Funniest moment in a live session (I think it was). read more at the Learning Online Live Award page. (Those bastards at Learning Times, did they KNOW what Lolas mean in Spanish? Daf was laughing out loud when she heard this - acronyms are intriguing ways to impress & puzzle people: AAIWTI&PP )

But perhaps I'm supposed to post it in our Yahoogroups files folder? let me know, if so.
Sus

OOOH - I can even see if it will load right here - wait - the image button, I've switched over to Mozilla on Mac, blogger editor looks MUCHO better!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

An Inspiration

This shows just how much can be done with the audio posting in blogger:cyberpg.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 14, 2005

Love and Romance - Valentine Party

What is love? Some say it's a stranger, others say it's a drug, while others insist it's a verb and not a noun. Whether it's a battlefield, a many splendored thing, or a second hand emotion, we all experience it in different ways.

Last night we held a Valentine Party at Learning Times to share our ideas of what love and romance is, to play some games, and to just have some plain Frivoulous Unanticipated Nonsense (FUN). Present was Ale, Fernanda, Bettina, Bee, Karen, Rita and Aaron. After kicking off with a heart-filled message from Sergei, we proceeded to take turns talking about Valentine's Day traditions and practices in various countries. While doing so, we decorated the whiteboard with images, drawings, and messages (see screenshot #1). From commerical and religious influence, to the way family, friends, and lovers interact, we talked about the meaning of this romantic holiday in our respective countries.

From there we erased the whiteboard and proceeded to write anonymously on it words and phrases that represented our ideas of what is romantic (see screenshot #2). Since Aaron was the only male present, the women took turns trying to guess at which phrases he wrote and why. This quickly led to a discussion about the differences between love and romance, where Karen introduced us to the concept of entrainment, which, in the context of our discussion, meant the state of harmony, synchronicity, or interbeing that arises when two people become intimate and sincere with one another (did I get that right Karen?). This led to talks about hugs and kisses in different cultural contexts as well.

Finally, we played 'name that tune', where Bee played 5 different romantic songs and we tried guessing what they were. You can still play tis game by clicking the five links below and adding your guesses to the comment area:

http://www.beewebhead.net/sound/1.mp3
http://www.beewebhead.net/sound/2.mp3
http://www.beewebhead.net/sound/3.mp3
http://www.beewebhead.net/sound/4.mp3
http://www.beewebhead.net/sound/5.mp3

Overall, we had a good time and got to know each other a little bit better. Please join us for another informal chat session next Sunday, the 20th of February, 22:00 GMT at TappedIn. See you there!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Some thoughts on the week

The task of Group 5 this week is to comment on the quote and image on the weekly assignment page. Seeing as how I am group 5, here are some thoughts that I had...

"Already we Viewers, when not viewing, have begun to whisper to one another
that the more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate
."
(J.B. Priestley)

The quote strikes me as being valid on many different levels. First of all, there is the first part: “we Viewers, when not viewing”. It is extremely easy to get caught up in the technology while we are actually using it. Our excitement at all there is to see and do and learn can blind us to any need for practical considerations. The technology can become an end unto itself rather than a means to an end. In our case, as teachers, our end should have something to do with student learning. But it isn't difficult to see that we could end up making assignments as complicated and quite possibly pointless as the one in the cartoon. Now, that doesn't mean that there could never be a reason to make an assignment like the one in the cartoon. But that's the point: there should be a valid reason for doing it other than the fact that it is possible, that the technology exists. So we need to step back from it for a moment and reflect.

We would do well to reflect on the next part: “the more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate”. The technology can get in the way of communication. If I want my students to repeat a phrase or a dialog, surely they don't need to take pictures and insert audio into a blog; they need to listen and repeat. The technology can make it more exciting and more interesting, but it can also distract from the real task. If I am more concerned with what my blog looks like or what technology my students are using than I am with the actual communication transpiring, then there is a problem.

Late last week, L-der Bob raised the issue when he wrote, “Sometimes, I wonder if we adopt tools not because of their effectiveness or efficiency, but because we want to be in the early adopter group. Is this tool as great as we think or are we just impressed with the newness or uniqueness of the tool?“ We should ask ourselves questions like that when we are considering new technology.

It was interesting that Pete picked this week to change the name of his blog to “Slings and Arrows”. He wrote, “I am a little concerned that there has really been very little critical discussion of blogs and blogging in EFL, and it seems odd that what little discussion has taken place, has taken place elsewhere. It seems to be generally accepted that blogging is a good thing... “ That critical discussion should be held – if not here and now, then somewhere and soon. It may just be that we talk to ourselves, that we read and think about it. But we should all address the issue of the value of blogging, of all forms of technology we use, and of everything else we do in our classes.

That being said, there was a discussion on Will Richardson's blog about pedagogy and technology recently, and he makes the interesting statement: “As both Aaron and Barbara ask, however, which comes first, the tools or the pedagogy? The easy answer is that the pedagogy should drive the decisions about tools. But these days, the tools offer ways to really transform the pedagogy in ways we haven't even begun to think about yet. That's what Barbara is immersed in. And that's what we'll need more of to realize whatever potential there is.” Maybe that is the real challenge before us. Maybe we are just caught in the necessarily messy transition stage now. What seems like technology overkill may just be a phase while the visionaries among us help us see the possibilities that exist to transform our teaching and our classes.

Invitation

See you in Learning Times on Sunday 13th 22:00
RSVP: add your name to the YG database

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Blogfolios - A Recipe for Engagement

Another presentation from the blogging group of the Office of Learning Technology at UBC. Kele Fleming, Michelle Chua and Brian Lamb discuss this new project in which a special Movable Type template was created to facilitate the use of blogging software to create eportfolios for faculty and students. Michelle also talks about some of the technical and social hurdles that had to be overcome.

The presentation was again hosted by BC Campus and is in Macromedia Breeze format.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

"RSS and Aggregation" and "Furl" blogs Summary

This is a summary of the blogs that individuals have written in week 3. Cleve and Azzam collaborated in wiki after trolling through the individual blogs through Bloglines. Excerpts were copied and pasted instead of summarised.

Using RSS and aggregation to enhance ESL/EFL learning

Can you see the potential this might have for community formation?

Azzam Premji says:
The RSS and Aggregator are only tools that provide the opportunity for interaction. It is the tasks that actually prompt the students to interact. Here are some examples of tasks:
  • Write about a passionate hobby or interest
  • Write about a favorite scene in a recent film
  • Post your holiday picture and write a memorable event
  • Post a picture of yourself as a child and write about the scariest thing that occurred to you as a child
  • Write about the best thing you like about a festival or celebration
  • Look outside the window of your room and write about what you see
  • Write about a member of a family that has made the most impact on your life

By learning about each other on a personal level, the participants might feel more connected to each other and perhaps more inclined to share ideas in the blogging community.


Cleve Miller provides ideas that promote interaction in the context of business English teaching. Here are his comments. Here's a five-step sequence for in-company BE teachers wanting to try out RSS and aggregation with their clients:

1. To "seed" the process, have Ss list three critical areas for their professional growth and/or job performance; examples could range from "redesign product packaging for re-launch" to "improve presentation skills. Take a class and help them through the aggregator set-up, and show them how to search for feeds in English that correspond to their list.

2. Have Ss build their feeds by clicking through other blogs sourced/quoted in the "starter" feeds set up originally in step 1.

3. Have Ss in a group (or among several individual classes, or among different groups) subscribe to each other's blogs via a feed exchange, comment on each others' posts, and compare Furled resources.

4. From your side, keep up with Ss work and Ss focus by subscribing to all feeds, commenting on S posts, and checking Furled resources regularly. Maintain a class blog as well as a personal blog and syndicate both to Ss. Use/refer to posts in class activities also.

5. "Stretch goal": contact and link up with schools and/or teachers working for the same company, but in other country branches. Exchange feeds among Ss, nurture carefully with teaching peers abroad, and you've got a lovely international online community based on true communication in the target language and focused on rich, relevant content

Nathan Lowell provides more opportunities for interaction:
- Put a technorati key-word watchlist together and post the link to it to the class for use in their aggregators.
- Cross link all the blogs in the class to a single aggregator stream.
- Build a del.icio.us tag list and feed it into an aggregator.
- Teacher publishes work, assignments, content on RSS to the members of his/her class.

Using Furl with your students. How would you do so?

Azzam Premji says:
A student could furl an interesting website and then e-mail each other the URL. This way, students share the URL websites used for research.

In reply the Azzam's post, Aaron says:
In addition to emailing a URL from Furl, you can subscribe via RSS to a person's Furl archive. In this way, you could aggregate student Furl feeds to a single page, or prepare an OPML file with student Furl archives to seed student aggregators so they can follow what other students are reading.

For more ideas ... Read Contentious: 10 Cool Things to Do with Furl


Monday, February 07, 2005

Advanced Writing and Grammar

Congratulations Wendy!

This looks like your students have enjoyed blogging so far
Well - I just opened Wendy Seale-Bakes EFL class blog and was happy to see that her students were actively writing their blogs. I was introduced as a mentor for Wendy last fall when she was doing her professional development courses at Capilano College - their online courses are developed and managed by Knowplace - another commmunity of practice, actually. One of the many topics that Wendy and I have been collaborating on, was a one week crash course in blogging. Ah well, this could be another long story, but anyway, Wendy - I was happy to see that now that you started doing blended courses, your students accepted and enjoyed the blog format for their work.

Advanced Writing and Grammar - Wendy's class blog

Will Richardson's Chat on Weblogs and RSS

This is wiki group task 1 for week 3 which was to summarize Will Richardson's presentation. I think others must have written this in their personal blogs, but they didn't contribute to the wiki. Consequently, here's my publication as a group of one.

Will Richardson's presentation was 1/31/05 via Learning Times about Weblogs and RSS, and it was most informative. He explained that RSS can mean Rich Site Summary or Real Simple Syndication. Its advantage over email is that you control what you receive, so you don't get ads and other unwanted information.

There are two parts to RSS. One is the feeds. These are like magazines. The other is aggregators. These are like mailboxes. The feed is information (a magazine) that arrives in your aggregator (mailbox) for you to read. A feed is a URL such the feed to his site http://www.weblogg-ed.com/xml/rss.xml. This page will not make much sense to you or me, but it's important to your RSS aggregator.

At this point, Will talked about setting up an account at bloglines.com--his preference of aggregators. It's easy and free to sign up--just follow the directions on the web site.

Going back to that feed of URL above, copy the URL, and paste it into the subscribe line of your bloglines.com. There are various kinds of items you can add to your bloglines besides blogs. One is news. You can do a news search via RSS at Yahoo and Google News. You can add your search to bloglines. (I was a little unclear how to do this.) In Google, the RSS search page is http://www.justinpfister.com/gnewsfeed.php. It converts your search to an RSS feed. Yahoo is easier to do. Either way you can add this search to your bloglines, and it will search for this news feed about once an hour. RSS is thus really a tool for lifelong learning.

Feedster.com can be used to search for weblogs in education. RSS can be a classroom communications tool. Will subscribes to his students' blogs, and his students subscribe to his and each others'.

More content means you need more information management. With RSS you can read what I write AND what I read. Will talked about Furl at http://www.furl.net. You can use it to search and save to archive. People can subscribe to your furl account and see what you have been reading. You can http://del.icio.us to save whole web pages, and it is available as long as furl exists even if that web page ceases to exist on the web. It saves the page as a link.

In conclusion, the key to RSS is that it brings information to you.

If you're still confused, see his "RSS Quick Start Guide for Educators" at http://www.weblogg-ed.com/rss_for_ed. I printed it out, and it's amazingly helpful.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Where are the Business English blogs?

I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce you to a new section on our wiki:

Where are the Business English Blogs? is a discussion space opened up to comment on a lively debate on the IATEFL BESIG Yahoo Group.

Two of the questions that were asked were:

'What exactly is the point of a blog?' and
'What exactly can a blog do that a plain old website can't?'

Anyone interested in joingin in can do so at the wiki, or at this blog: http://wherearethebeblogs.blogspot.com/

Saturday, February 05, 2005

C.K. Ogden's work

Is anyone outside of Japan interested in Ogden's work in Basic English? I have long been a fan of Ogden's ( and Richards') ideas, but have never found a colleague familiar with them. Now that I have had the good fortune to become part of this cyber-community, I can look farther afield. Anyway, Basic English seems like a perfect springboard for collaboration. His books are hard to come by, but the basic and most important reference is now online : Ogden's Basic English

NOTE: The above Link works now. The html had gotten corrupted somehow in copying and pasting. Marco Polo--wherever you are--please try again.
Barbara Schulz

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Fast, Cheap and Out of Control

Yesterday I attended an excellent online presentation that was hosted by Paul Stacey of BC Campus on the topic of Weblogs and Wikis. The presenters were Brian Lamb and Michelle Chua from the University of British Columbia's Office of Learning Technology. Brian and Michelle discuss what Weblogs, RSS and Wikis are and how these technologies are being used at UBC. They also briefly touch on Flickr and Furl.

The presentation is in Macromedia Breeze and requires about 1.5 hours to view.

Gerry

Blog about RSS

I thought I should share this a blog about RSS with you. I added the feed to my aggregator and that lets me keep up with the discussion about things that are happening in the world of RSS and feeds.