Monthly Archives: October 2012

Something New and Fun

I’ve been thinking about the tool exploration project, using Jing to create a screencast and wanting to learn how to use it. Earlier this week, I was talking to a colleague and mentioned how Microsoft Word can help with formatting citations and references. She had never realized that function existed. So, I decided to try my hand at Jing and create a screencast on using Word’s referencing and citation capabilities:

http://www.screencast.com/t/323DovQYEW

I tried to embed the video into the post, but wasn’t successful, so just click on the link.

In the video, I mentioned that you may need to tweak or adjust either the in-text citations or full references a bit.  A helpful website I’ve used for many years is from Bedford/St. Martin’s Press. It has information on citing using MLA, APA, CSE and Chicago style, with easy to access pull-down menus. Here’s a second screencast:

http://www.screencast.com/t/7joRXCqZ

Good luck with citing and referencing!

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The New Frontier of Edu-Punk

I do see value in using UD’s institutionally supported technology (Sakai) as it gives students some continuity from class to class and semester to semester. They are familiar with the layout of a Sakai page, how to read the calendar function, how to upload assignments, how to post to the Blog or Forum sections, etc. Using edu-punk style sources will potentially force students to learn multiple new technologies every semester, which can take away from their ability to learn the material of the course. If students get frustrated with learning how to create a blog using a new platform, for example, they may be less likely to learn the information associated with the blog or course. As Ebner, Holzinger, Scerbakov & Tsang (2011) found, “the success of any application depends on how fast and seamlessly these technological innovations are incorporated into a practical classroom setting.”

I also am still struggling some with the educational benefits of some Web 2.0 items. Microblogging, for example, gives you the opportunity to get someone’s short opinion and make a connection with a classmate, but really what can you learn about something in 150 characters? A list of 10 microblogging tools shows that Twitter has possibilities, but how educational is moodmill or IRateMyDay?

There are clearly some topics that are better suited to edu-punk learning than others. I can’t even begin to imagine how a course like anatomy or accounting would be handled in a DIY setting. These types of courses truly need someone who is an expert in the area to direct the learning and share the information. That, I think can’t really be done in an edu-punk setting.

One of the pitfalls of an edu-punk approach is that an instructor risks the possibility of the learning going on a tangent not initially intended, thus resulting in students not reaching the learning outcomes established at the beginning of the course. It might also make it hard to evaluate how much learning actually occurred without homework, exams, etc. associated with traditional teaching.

Another pitfall of using commercially-produced materials (a blog on WordPress, for example, rather than the Blog tool in Sakai) is even more exposure to advertising. “The overriding and inescapable reality of [services such as Google, Facebook and iTunes U] is that their business model is predicated on advertising,” according to Lamb and Groom (2010). “To use these tools is to reinforce, however indirectly, the ‘advertised life,’ the incursion of commoditization ever deeper into human thought and interaction.”

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If Time Permitted…

I have been wanting to learn how to use Microsoft Excel for some time now. I’m proficient with making and manipulating tables in Microsoft Word, which can do some of the same things as Excel, but there is definitely more functionality with Excel. Here’s my plan for learning Excel:

In 10 Minutes

  • Use the Help feature in Excel to gain understanding about the basics
  • Talk to a colleague in my office who uses Excel for some pointers
  • View some YouTube videos about Excel
  • View any number of sites available online. In keeping with my new-found knowledge of the filter bubble, I did a search of “Learn to use Microsoft Excel” in Google, Bing and Ask.com. Here are the different results:

In One Week

  • After talking to my colleague and viewing sites and videos, play around with Excel, clicking different panes, etc. to see what works (trial and error can be frustrating sometimes, though)
  • Purchase “Excel for Dummies” and use that to help me learn

In One Year

  • Take classes from Learn@IT. Here are some upcoming ones.

  • View video captures of past classes presented by Learn@IT
  • Take a full-length Excel class (Del Tech offers quite a few)

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Updating My Brand Image

Most of the changes I made this week ended up being minor. I say “ended up” because I toyed with a lot of different changes, both in content and visually, but finally kept the basics I had and just make tweaks.

WordPress

I kept the same theme I’ve had since the beginning, despite trying out quite a few. I like the layout of the current theme, with the blog on the right, links and archives on the left. I also really wanted to use a theme that allowed for a banner photo. I did change the photo, and actually included a variety that now rotate each time the page is refreshed. (The photos are one I took during a vacation last summer in Vermont.)

I worried somewhat about the readability of the page with a dark background and light text, but after getting feedback from classmates, they didn’t find it to be an issue.

I also decided to remove the widget that connected to my about.me page because as I added more information to that page, and it was included on the WordPress page, it looked much too crowded and wordy.

Finally, I reviewed each of my posts, taking into consideration what we discussed in class about a “good” post, to see how to make them more readable. I added more bolding, underlining and bulleting to help delineate the different topics and points. I hope it helps.

About.me

As for my about.me page, I adjusted it somewhat to include more work-related information (including more experience and skill-related information) and included icon links for Twitter, WordPress and Pinterest and some tags to help better identity me.  I darkened the transparency level of the box, as it was a bit hard to read the text with the photo showing through, and added some bolded text, again to help with delineating parts of the page.

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