Saturday, December 26, 2009

Blogging from Windows 7

Test post: How will Blogging with Windows Live Writer work?

Having recently upgraded computer components to enable faster graphics processing for Second Life, Div also recommended I upgrade to Windows 7.

Aside from the rather pretty default desktop view, two nifty features caught my immediate attention:


  1. Sticky notes.  I’ve been using these constantly for a variety of to-do lists.  I wish I had tried to blog sooner about this because today (as I research to minimise my ignorance) I find that grooveDexter has described how to do the things I’ve wanted to and thought I couldn’t (like strikethrough) and more (creating a shortcut via which one can access a list of ones sticky notes). 
  2. Snipping tool. Previously I was in love with Sprint32 and was afraid it might not work in Windows 7… but Windows 7 has its own! Super duper :D snippingtool 

Of course I didn’t think to investigate the features of Windows 7 before now, so I didn’t have any idea about some of the nifty features shown in Getting Started videos (like shaking a window to dislodge other open windows; dragging windows to side of screen to view side by side with other windows). 

And it seems there is a lot more I haven’t discovered. Like Windows Easy Transfer that might have done a neater job of importing files from my old hard drive. Ah well.  Today at least I learned about Windows Live Writer, which was super-easy to install, and so far is very simple to use – but the ultimate test will be whether it talks to Blogger smoothly.  I’m not hopeful: in the past I’ve found Microsoft uses a bundle of such unpleasant html that editing was nasty work.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Waking, walking and wondering

Woken at 1:21 by Margie's SMS festive greeting; then around 4am worrying until a friend's text around 6am meant I could sleep again. And such a lovely sleep I could then enjoy for three hours until time to help the boys prepare for a seasonal visit with their father's family.

Just one of the trails After lunch, GUF and I walked up to Black Hill. I didn't take the camera, but this is an older photo of a path we didn't take today :D It was a lovely walk in the sun, with enough breeze to keep us mostly cool enough. I enjoyed the wind in the trees, feeling the age of the eroding rocks and the passing of time shown in the shrubs crossing paths that were clear last time I was there.

Then this evening I pondered some of the puzzles GUF has been solving in The Eleventh Hour. Codes and puzzles are entertaining though I don't have nearly the gift or penchant for them that GUF has. We discovered that my sight (even requiring glasses) beats his magnifying glasses for finding the hidden mice.

So far with the help of a huge variety of proteins and salted pumpkin seeds, I've managed to get through the day without eating any traditional festive treats. Although once or twice as GUF prepared his sandwiches with Chocka Vlokken, or when I glanced at the tin holding Dutch rusks, or saw the Chocolate Hagel in the cupboard, it was a teensy bit tempting.

Tonight, a subscriber gift from Enniv Zarf in Second Life sent me to his Youtube Channel, and I introduced GUF to the joy of Paul Kwo's piano improvisations. I cannot choose a favourite, but of those I enjoyed tonight, this was the most mellow:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Educators & terminology

Has your research ever got hung up on pointless clarifications of terminology ... so much that you wonder whether the labels serve any function other than justifying a rehash (or mashup, or "recontextualisation" :D ) of old ideas by giving them new labels?

Today I'm browsing in Second Life letting my recent readings and contemplations on "Information Literacy" (aargh: that terminology is another example giving me grief) moosh themselves around in the back of my head. Having rezzed at the Movie Theatre where I quit at 6am this morning: I was tossing up my somewhat infinite options feeling for a purpose/preference. That is: do I go somewhere to sort my inventory, review my "to do" list, pick an unfinished study topic to pursue, head back to one of the places I've slooged to explore in more detail, explore one of the interesting-sounding places or groups I've noted...etc.

Thankfully, and coincidentally, the Information Literacy Group cut off that random mental browsing with a notice for an upcoming session. Entering the event "From Library 2.0 to Library 3D – Participatory Libraries of Today" into my Magic Compass made me realise I haven't yet visited Infolit iSchool (which belongs to the University of Sheffield). Decision made.

After a broom tour which ended head first in the wall of a hut :D I flew around exploring. I happened upon a structure created during a discussion on the nature of Inquiry Based Learning at the LTEA2008 conference...

Model of Inquiry Based Learning

The sign offered a webpage (about the LTEA2008 session) that I viewed, and investigated the chat logs of discussion at the session.

Unfortunately I didn't come away with any better understanding of what was supposed to be significant about "Inquiry Based Learning" from any other instructional approach that aims to get students to develop their own questions, explore, discover, synthesise and develop their own answers, or new questions. Considering my own family unschools I was amused to see this comment:

Some glancing mention of assessment was made, but I didn't notice any discussion of whether the programs in which they use any of these "student-centered" approaches experience conflict with expectations in terms of assessment, or consequences or changes in the nature of assessment.

So, I googled elsewhere...

In the process of defining Problem based learning Savery (2006) distinguished it from inquiry-based learning and other experiential approaches to teaching. As he tells it:
In an inquiry-based approach the
tutor is both a facilitator of learning (encouraging/expecting higher-order thinking) and a provider of information. In a PBL approach the tutor supports the process and expects learners to make their thinking clear, but the tutor does not provide information related to the problem—that is the responsibility of the learners (p.16)

Which is not quite the sense I received from the session discussers at LTEA although it may be true. It seems like a rather odd distinction.

I *was* interested to discover a paper arguing "Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching [pdf]" by Kirschner, Sweller & Clark (2006).

but as the whole thing has begun to feel like a pointless diversion of my time (except to have developed an inkling that if I ever become involved in instruction I believe I will want to avoid using approach-labels; and I guess that could dry up funding opportunities) - I've decided to leave it there.


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