Flexible Learning Network Gathering, May 30

We had a gathering for CITFLN at Reid campus on Friday with a number of things on our agenda, some of which we didn’t get to as time ticked away from us!

One highlight was a demonstration by Moir of a digital graphics pen which Moir has trialled with her Physics students (most of whom work in the AFP) in a tutorial fashion online.

Moir showed the pen in action and then showed an online whiteboard through which she encourages students to interact (if you have no pen you can still use a mouse apparently). The service is partly free and is called Skrbl. The possibilities for such interactions are endless – you could develop a floor plan with interior design students, map out an orienteering course for sports students, annotate images and graphs (as Moir does) – even animated gifs work on the whiteboard too! 🙂 In fact, Michael Coghlan also blogged about a similar setup recently.

The bringing together of virtual and physical activities is the real key here. Connecting students with one another is one aspect, but connecting students to ideas and support is entirely different. Engaging in practice is paramount for students who are isolated from a classroom setting where a teacher is on-hand to offer timely pedagogical support. The interface between teacher-student communication and the ability to interact in the way the pen and online whiteboard show, affords much in terms of hands-on activities that at one time many said couldn’t be done online!

Blogging: The impact of your opening line

I was sifting through the OTN del.icio.us account and as I did, it occured to me just how important it is to make sure your blog post, or website, or online article has a killer first line!

If you’re familiar with using del.icio.us, you’ll know that you can add notes to those sites you bookmark, especially if you intend to share your bookmarks. This is useful if using the links roll feature in delicious for your blog or wiki.

Check out this sample of bookmarked sites below. Many of the notes are copied from the posts themselves.

  • Does the first line jump out at you?
  • Does it tell you something about the post itself?
  • Does it give you a sense of context around which the post might have been written?
  • Does it make you want to read on?

Of course, some approaches and writing styles may hook some readers but not others. Blogging is all about good writing as much as getting your message ‘out there’.

What do YOU think makes an interesting blog post?

If you’re looking for ways to refresh your own blog writing, try these sites for starters.

Happy blogging!

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Why blog?

Cool Cat Teacher Blog: Why I blog and the perils of perfection paralysis

…why do I blog?

No,
I’m not some perfectly noble, wise, all knowing being. I’m a human
being and goodness knows I have my share of flaws. Many of these
reasons have evolved but they are my reasons. We all have reasons.

Vicki Davis outlines her reasons for blogging. I think they make good sense as a general reflection on blogging motives and focus for others, particularly those who are new to blogging or perhaps have had mediocre blogging experiences (either as bloggers or as readers of blogs).

In short Vicki talks about:

  1. creating an archivable, searchable record of herself (something I’d put at the top of my list too)
  2. experience being the greatest teacher (you need to experience to ‘know’)
  3. the importance of voice (for me, this is important in terms of personal development but also in terms of practice-based research)
  4. the power of encouragement (in her example, I think Vicki aptly conveys the message that it really is about connecting with others)
  5. the power of ‘being part of it’ (this varies for me, depending on how ‘deep’ and often I choose to be engaged in ‘it’)
  6. passion (a personal bent and driver, of course. Whether it’s a passion for teaching, or writing, or for simply displaying your passion through the blogging process/medium!)

Posts like Vicki’s are really useful in making the blogging process (and reflective processes) more transparent. As you’d note in the comments following Vicki’s post, others are appreciative of Vicki sharing her thoughts. Not only that, it’s inspired further questioning from commenters, which really highlights the connectedness blogging supports (and in turn is supported by).

So why do YOU blog (or not)?

PS. Thanks to del.icio.us/dnorman for this link.

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Making your lesson objectives more relevant to your learners

Cathy Moore has a great tip for making your objectives more engaging on her blog here:
(There is also a great discussion that follows up from this post)

Before

This course is designed to enable the learner to:

  • Describe how vocal tone affects customer rapport
  • Understand the importance of positively impacting customer impressions
  • Describe the 5 steps of the Dissatisfied-to-Satisfied Customer Transformation Model
  • State which psychological techniques can be used to increase customer acceptance of negative information

After label

This course will help you:

  • Use your tone of voice to build rapport with customers
  • Create a good impression
  • Turn a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied one
  • Deliver bad news in a way that customers will easily accept

What happened?

  1. We spoke directly to the learner (”you”).
  2. We turned I-know-it verbs like “understand” and “describe” into I-can-change-the-world verbs like “create” and “use.”
  3. We turned abstract concepts into real situations that the learner cares about.
  4. We emphasized skills that will make the learner’s job more pleasant instead of knowledge that only the course author cares about.