Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year!

Just a note to say earlier this morning I pushed the Submit button for the last time for and submitted Assignment 3. I had so much more I could've said in that reflection as I really loved the course, but it was difficult to finish the paper while on holiday, working on a different machine with Vista and without Word 2003. In fact, we had to download the trial version of Office 2007. But I considered it another learning experience, and there certainly have been lots of those in this course! Over and out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Assignment 2 submitted!

It's 12:32 am and feels so good to have pushed the Submit button! One more paper to go.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What will I remember?

Tuesday is cloudy and snowing. A good day to stay in and finish Assignment 2. But thanks to Penny, I took five minutes to go to the 5 Minute University - it's always good to have some humour in a day. Upon reflection, the skills and knowledge learned in FET 8611 will stay with me longer than five minutes! Why? Because they are so relevant and I shall continue to use them and hone them every day.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Supposed to be writing Assignment 2 this morning and I've spent almost three hours reading the most interesting blogs. I started reading Rob Hyndman's blog which I read about this morning in Law Pro. I'm enjoying reading articles other than ed tech articles which have been my major focus for the last three months. I've always loved the law and finding articles and blogs that are law-related which I can use for my Angel site and as a new resource for my USQ course is exciting to me! Anyway - Rob Hyndman is lawyer in Toronto who loves technology. His blog led me to a list of sites setting out blog policies and guidelines which I have added to the reading list for my students. It'll be a great resource for them as one of their activities is to post some blogging guidelines for our class to follow.

I also found a fabulously informative blog called "TechLearning" which I've added to the resources for the Angel Winter Pilot Project. Speaking of which, I'm glad to say we had our first f2f meeting this week and although there were only two of us present, we covered a lot of ground, one of which being that members can now post to the group's site. I am hoping this will encourage some collaboration. Unfortunately all of my personal bookmarks can't be copied over to the pilot site so I am having to insert them one by one. I added a link to Tech Learning on this blog. At the beginning of this course I didn't know how to embed code into a blog - now it's so easy! TechLearning has a link to some great posts on cyberbullying which I added to kG as I don't think I included enough on that topic. I read some terrible stories about the devastating effects cyberbullying can have, the worst of which being suicide. Is there an answer to this problem? Do we ban the internet from school? Do we place the responsibility to teach proper netiquette, policy and guidelines on educators and/or parents? Teachers are tired - they already have to deal with so many social issues and inappropriate classroom behaviour due to a myriad of social issues. And parents - there are so many who are not tech saavy and have no idea what their kids are doing online. But then I read "Cute Cupcakes and Choruses" which motivates me to keep trying to 'be the change.' It's a great article.

Wasting time: Not everything is easy. I was trying to insert an image into Angel which I found in ClipArt. Earlier this semester, when I wanted to save a ClipArt image, I was right-clicking on it, check the path, going to the path (often temporary internet files??), and searching through tons of numbered files, copying it and pasting it into My Pictures. Now I can right-click and Make Available Offline. It'll put it into My Collections. The problem is...where is My Collections??? So I spent another 20 minutes or so going through Explorer looking for it and finally found it in My Pictures in the Microsoft Clip Organizer. I also discovered that .wmf files don't show up in Angel. There's probably an easier way but I insert them into a Word document, format them (learned how to use edit points and take apart pieces of an image and change color), use Snag-It to copy and save as a .png file which then inserts into Angel. Just wish I could figure out how to remove the border.

I also discovered Many to Many: A Group weblog on social software. It includes many of the resources I used for my social network wiki but wish I had found this link earlier. I added it to my kG page today for use by future students. It's amazing that although keeping the wiki page is not required now that the assignment has been graded, I find I keep returning to the site. I can't believe I am saying that kG is addictive - you would have fooled me when this course first began!

It was really satisfying to walk into class yesterday and hear students talking about their results from the Optical Illusion test (which is the same link as on this blog which I got from Jane Ross). It has nothing to do with the legal courses but it's nice to know the students are going to the Angel site other than during class!

Well, it's 12:30 pm and I've got to start writing my paper. However, have I really been procrastinating when I've discovered such great stuff!!??

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Power of Facebook other than in educational settings

I was going to start my second assignment today but there's always something that keeps me away from it. I've been working on Angel today, setting up the students' blogs and working on an Introduction to Blogs. I've spent the last three months reading blogs and reading about blogs, but I haven't really looked at any law-related blogs. It's inPublish Postteresting to move away from the educational blogs and see what others have to say in another field of interest. I'm looking for some blogs the students might be interested in, just to catch their attention. I want their blog assignment during their three-week Work Placement to be a positive and beneficial experience.

I found an interesting blog post by David Canton January 28, 2008 post about Facebook . A University of Ottawa prof started a group on Facebook on December 1st about proposed changes to Canada's copyright law. Within two weeks the group had over 20,000 members. As David says, "the remarkable growth of the group had two immediate effects. The first was an increase in awareness of the issues. The second, while not as direct, was more far-reaching. The rapid growth of the Facebook group became a news story in itself, exposing the issues to a significantly larger segment of the population. The story initially focused on the use of the social networking site as a political tool. But the story also focused on the message as well as the medium." I need to reflect here on the untapped potential of social networks like Facebook and will return to this when I have more time. Right now I need to get the Angel blog site finished. Suffice to say that I'm 'gobsmacked' to learn about lawyers using Facebook! And I understand the group continues to grow and that membership has since doubled.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Apparently there are hundreds of lawyers already using the social networking business professional site LinkedIn - I've just never looked. In Michael Geist's February 6, 2008 blog post, he credits Obama's substantial online presence for helping his campaign by connecting with youth on their terms and in their environment, fostering a new generation of politically active supporters. Barack Obama is seeking the Democratic nomination for the US Presidency and is running against Hillary Clinton. He has over 300,000 'friends' on his Facebook site and well over 250,000 on his MySpace site. His use of technology puts Canadian political parties' online activities appear positively primitive by comparison!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy Year of the Rat! I've been out of touch with my blogging as so much has happened. I finally submitted my first assignment at 3:40 am before the due date, and now it's time to start the second one which is due this week. I would have liked to start on it yesterday which was our second snow day, but had to prepare tests for my three courses instead. Sometimes work gets in the way of this course! I made a list of topics for this blog but now I don't understand my shorthand! I see I made a note to mention Jane Ross's Grade 5 classroom blog. Jane teaches in Jakarta and I am amazed at the content she continually changes. I asked her how she keeps the blog up and how she finds time for the students to blog. Also, there was some 'interesting' content on one of her student's blogs. Jane advises that she does work from home as well as school, and that her students are all online at home. That's interesting to me as my friend says that here in St Catharines, students only get one hour a week in the computer lab and they can't ask that they keep up a blog at home as some students don't have internet access! Jane says that blogs are motivational and that "My students are glued to their screens and I don't have behavior problems. I have problems with other stuff like plagiarism." On her FET 8611 blog, she has Wilbur - a virtual pet. She writes "This is how to get kids interested in blogging. Tools enhance site stickiness. Go on pat Wilbur too much and see what happens." I'd like to see if we can put anything like that into our Angel blog which I haven't started with the students yet. I had found some inappropriate content of one of the student's blogs. Jane advised that came from the free chat box that can be inserted into a blog. As she says, anyone can post anything and that's one of the dangers of having that feature available. I've learned through Jane and from all of my readings that it is important for parents to monitor their kids' time on the computer and they and the schools must have some internet protocol rules in place. But how do you really do that? Parents are too busy, they're at work, they're not as tech savvy as their kids.

Teraview has been quite the learning curve. Speaking of Teraview - I gave the students the same training manual as I used and it was interesting to see how they learn and interpret so differently than I do. They look at every picture and noticed a discrepancy in PIN number that I didn't. It must have to do with the fact that I know what the end product should be but it was a wake-up call for me to ensure my training materials are clear. I'm still working on Angel by myself although our pilot group is supposed to have a f2f meeting soon which I am looking forward to.

I'm working on setting up a folder for each student's private discussion forum and student blog and was hoping I wouldn't have to do it 26 times. I learned how to copy content but it doesn't work from home, much like the Groupwise email behaves differently at home than in the college. Also, Angel behaves differently with Firefox than IE. I find that frustrating.

One of my colleagues posted a kG site about Zotero a couple of weeks ago so I've downloaded it and hope to update my references, as I am not good at keeping them current. Speaking of keeping track of things - Josh Catone wrote an article about Social Media Fatigue. It expresses the frustration of keeping track of our usernames, passwords and accounts for all the networks we join. Since I started this course, I've signed up for so many accounts and I've lost track of them until I receive an email - for example, I'm glad I receive the Elluminate and Innovate newsletters as they remind me to log in.

Although I've been too busy to post, I do think about it every day. I find when when I don't know where to start - I begin with checking into twitter. My twitter friends keep me up to date on new and interesting/educational sites/blogs such as Shareski's podcast about the use of cell phones as a learning tool or Liz B. Davis's screencast explanation of Web 2.0 applications. Also love the idea of using Google Forms for class collaboration. Tom Barrett has some great ideas and suggests using it for staff responses. We sure could have used something like that when our Angel pilot project group of six was trying to arrange a mutually convenient time for our first f2f meeting!

Good news! I visited Disability Services this week to find out how we could make the lab more user friendly for one of my visually impaired students. The problem is that changing the monitor to High Contrast doesn't have any affect on the various legal software we're using. Hopefully by loading Zoom Text, (a magnification and reading software), on one of the PCs, may be the solution to our problem. More on that in the weeks to come.

On a personal note - since the last time I wrote, we've had two big snow storms and the college was closed on both of those days, Don has arrived, the house is finished but the furniture is still somewhere at sea!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oh no - KG is down!

It's 9:04 pm and I can't open KG. I messaged Peter and then quickly messaged Joyce since I'm in a panic to get this Assignment 1 finished. Joyce reported she couldn't log on to KG either and she asked me if I'd backed up. I said I didn't know what she meant - she advised I could export my page as a pdf file which I didn't do. The humorous thing is that I told her not to worry - that KG has been down before and has returned. I told her about Steve's post on Moodle that he'd taken the day off to work on KG on January 24th. That's when Joyce reminded me that today is January 24th! I couldn't believe it - I'd lost all track of the dates, probably because I am so swamped at work! Speaking of work - I learned something about Teraview today as I was working with a group of students. Each student has to have a separate file number even though we are working on the same matter. Everyone printed thankfully. I missed a step but no worries - we'll fix that tomorrow.

Angel worked well today in Wills and Estates class. Students were listening to the sound clips followed by the quiz. They liked the Tracking a Parcel task. I've given them a discussion topic on Powers of Attorney and they'll also practise inserting a bookmark into their Angel home page. In less than three weeks, these students have been introduced to almost all the features of Angel and have adapted well. I had just put a Discussion Forum link up to act as a Bulletin Board and one minute later, someone had made two posts! Something really satisfying happened today. I had put an image in to click to go to the Discussion Forum but there wasn't a label. I went into the html code and inserted alt text and it worked! It's so cool to really know how to do something!