Reviewing 2011

Last year, I waited until 31st December to review my blogging year.

This year, I intend to review #SugSnips at that time, so I’ll make a critical review of my 2011 EduVel blog posts here and now, pre-Christmas.

First of all, I am 600+ views down on this time last year.

However, I suppose that’s not too bad because statistics show that this is the year’s 50th post, whereas last year I posted 78. I guess that another reason for the lower number of posts is that I’ve branched out and started writing two other fairly regular blogs:

Saturday Walks – http://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/
I started this blog last December to separate the more personal aspects of my life from other areas. It was something I’d planned to do for many years and began with the idea of continuing the events John and I have shared since 1999 (cycle ride).

Nutritious, economical foodhttp://shoestringfoods.wordpress.com/
I started this in September following my increasing (renewed) interest in all things epicurean. It started as a blog to help folks become more confident in cooking cheap but nutritional food – instead of cheap, tasteless rubbish from supermarkets.

One main theme I’ve stuck with this year has been the #SugSnip challenge, which involved daily posts to Twitter, but as I will write about that next week, I’ll look at the eclectic range of other subjects I’ve written about this year.

I waited until last week  http://bit.ly/uevmxz to write about the work I’ve been doing for the last six months. It seemed unfair to do so earlier as I was working with so many other people on that prestigious piece of work.

In October http://bit.ly/tGyyz1 I reflected on the differing digital needs of individuals. I think that this will be a reoccurring theme throughout 2012, as social media websites continue to chop and change their provision, presumably to survive in an economic world that seems to have flat-lined.

Over summer https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2011/08/ I discussed screen-capture software and why Flickr didn’t have (still doesn’t have) a really good smart-phone App. Even now, I have to go to Photobox to print my Flickr pictures and to Picnik to edit them. Come on Yahoo! Flickr is brilliant, but it could be so much better.

I’ve also had grumps about things such as software updates (why so many, so often, so demanding of time?) and the vagueness of some social media terms and conditions. I dabbled with situational aware social media like FourSquare and Gowalla http://bit.ly/sPlMrb, became the mayor of eight places – and resigned! http://bit.ly/ozki08.

I re-found Wordle: http://bit.ly/rrSpzz

I learned a lot about Lego WeDo this year too http://bit.ly/sG6syh, helping to deliver sessions early on and then wondering how I could break into the junior school market with my new-found skills from then on. Anyone?

This year I’ve published several ‘guest posts’ too. Each one came from a dry call and each one has done what they said they would do – i.e. write something we both agreed upon for nothing more than a by-line notification. I’ve been happy to help, as it has enriched the diversity of posts from EduVel. http://bit.ly/vl6YBd (ignore first one – it’s by me!)

Work has continued to be erratic but very interesting. I’ve been to a few colleges to deliver training for staff: Blackburn, Newcastle under Lyme and Gloucestershire to name a few and at Kirklees College I was asked to deliver a session for foundation degree students studying childcare. By far the biggest piece of work was at Leeds College of Music, where I helped a great team of chums to develop a new VLE environment (mentioned earlier).

Going forward, I’m working with Jackie, Alison and Sally on a LSIS project, with TechDis and with RSC-SE – if it finally kicks off in 2012.

That was 2011 that was!

Merry Christmas everyone.

It’s easy to forget

It’s been a while since I chose to employ any Microsoft OS for my own use. However, most of the places I visit or work with have now moved up to Windows 7 and furthermore, I have been retained to give someone a report on certain aspects of Win 7’s potential. I have therefore bought a copy of Windows 7 and have installed it on my Aldi-Medion (formerly Vista) laptop. Well, number one son Ben has installed it for me – I may well have asked the laptop AND the software to pick a window (through which I would the throw it!)

I have brought the very same laptop on holiday with me, to a) put Win 7 through some easy paces and b) to upload my pics to Flickr and to keep up to my holiday blog. Internetting has been OK but drafting blogs became a tad tricky as I have not yet invested in Office 2010 – which is the plan. I tried the already installed MS Works and (as I have done many times before and many years ago) wondered what its purpose in life was. I then downloaded Open Office 3.0 and I was ready to go.

I missed Microsoft Picture Manager big-time too, I’d thought that was part of Win 7 but it seems it isn’t. On the ‘net, Fotoflexer wouldn’t work for me because it thought I was French and threw me out; Picnik tried to do the same, but I found the button that said ‘hey – I’m English and need English titles etc.’ so was able to crop/edit some pictures for use later.

So, tonight I tried combining all elements in a holiday blog post: Open Office 3.0 draft words, Picnik’d Flickr photos and WordPress. What a disaster!

My lack of recent familiarity with Windows and the ubiquitous Internet Explorer is to blame I think. I know I could use other browsers like Firefox (which is my default on the Mac), Chrome (which is my default on Parallels) or Safari (Which I use now and again) but for the same reasons detailed above – I need to reacquaint myself with it.

I did all the usual things like importing the words into WordPress via the ‘Paste as Plain Text’ facility and importing the picture ‘from URL’ but things just didn’t go right. I could see that I’d lost half of my text after inserting the picture – I wasn’t sure why that happened – and I pasted it right back in. Then, later in the evening I noticed that an complete paragraph had been missed. I’d deleted my original by now too!

I’m not blaming Windows or IE25 (or whatever version it is this week), it was definitely operator error, but it’s amazing how soon you become unfamiliar with a tool, when it’s been updated. Sorry to anyone who read that post and wondered what I was talking about 😦

April slides in

I think that my last post was about ‘tea’. Why tea?

I suspect that this harks back to the way I used to blog. My blog from 2005 to the middle of last year (2009) was at http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk/blog.htm and the only reason I gave it up was the convenience afforded by WordPress, which allows me to edit whenever I have an internet connections, rather than only when I have access to the correct software. I began my Eduvel blog in May 2009, https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/where-will-june-go/ and my ‘style’ of blogging seems to have changed.

Whereas before my blog seemed to be a ramble about my daily/weekly life and work, it seems to have become an occasional ramble about a single subject. The subjects themselves are diverse, so that’s not a problem as I’d hate to be seen as one-subject blogger, but there seems to be less recording of activity (which I use to look back upon my activities and thoughts) and more of individual rants or discussions.

Contrast the older style August ’09 post Wembley with kath-e-gay-oh-my from February 2010.

I don’t mind doing the odd one-subject blog posts, I used to do it anyway, but I seem to have lost the will (ability?) to pen the more diary based ones. The difference showed when I finally tracked down a copy of Front Page 2003 and installed it onto my Parallels based version of XP. It worked a treat and I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed working with Front Page before my old Toshiba laptop died and had to be re-built. So – now it’s back, I’ve been able to begin the updating of my Village e-Learning site and have taken the time to take a look at my old blog. It reminded me how important it is to put things down on paper (on the web!) if you want to remember it.

So – Easter came and went. We saw Emma’s new, but not yet complete, house and Khawar popped around today. We had mum and dad for tea (not literally) on Monday and that’s that.Word Cloud for this page

Next week I’m working on a European project for a couple of days in Wetherby. Again, Khawar and I will deliver a pedagogical technology workshop to approximately sixteen people from (I think) six countries. I’m really looking forward to that. Then, on Wednesday evening, Sharon and I will retire to Reeth in North Yorkshire for a few days R & R. No phone, no internet; just books, booze, food and walking. Loverly!

Here’s a Word Cloud of this post from http://www.tagxedo.com/

Blogging

Following a recent comment on one of my pages, I began to ask myself:

“Why DO I have so many blogs?”

and

“What is their purpose?”

The flippant answer is ‘who cares?” but the longer and more complicated answer is perhaps more interesting:

I’ve experimented with many and various blogging sites ever since I first came across blogging as a tool for education at the 2004 ALT-C Conference in Exeter. http://www.alt.ac.uk/altc2004/. I remember returning to work and asking colleagues to try out the idea and to tell me what they thought. As it turned out not much – only one or two really saw the point. I played with a few sites and hated them – so started to write my own ‘blog’ via html.

For many years I wrote my blog using MS FrontPage 2003 and publishing it to my own domain: http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk/blog.htm. This became much less convenient as new facilities became available via Web 2.0 and as I moved away from my XP laptop to my Vista laptop. The reasons for moving from XP to Vista are too complicated to go into here. At the same time Microsoft refused to update FrontPage for Vista and I’m too busy/slow/stupid (delete to suit) to learn Dreamweaver.

As the inconvenience became more pointed I moved over to WordPress (this blog).

I’d been playing with several blogging sites over the years, mainly to see which supported my needs and which was easiest for my learners to use (these days my learners tend to be teachers or trainers in the wider UK F.E. sector, although a fair proportion are from H.E.). Others have sought this Blog nirvana too: http://www.xlearn.co.uk/2009_09_01_archive.html

I found the change over to WordPress fairly smooth and although it still doesn’t do everything I want it to do, it is available on every machine I sit at and does ‘pretty much’ what I need. I do get irritated that the template I have chosen creates fairly small text (I have to code it slightly bigger myself when I remember) but the alternative is just another level of complexity.

I’ve tried:

* http://moblog.net/dsugden/ initially to send picture via mobile phone – but most blog sites allow this now

* http://touringfishman.blogspot.com/ (Play time version)

* http://dsugblog.blogspot.com/ (Books I read)

Both of the previous two are Google based Blogger sites, one of the first I tried Blogger didn’t fit enough of my needs to host the main blog. However, Blogger is the one I use with ‘new’ bloggers as it is simple to use and can be accessed via a Google login – which is essential for most web-based communications (another blog post maybe?)

* http://sites.google.com/site/dsugden/ This was a facility offered by Google during my visit to the USA in 2006. I experimented with it to keep a holiday diary. It (and the next) used to be ‘Google pages’ but have now become ‘sites.

* http://sites.google.com/site/dsugden/commodities This was a site I developed from the above – thinking to try and make it into a ‘learning’ web

* http://www.myspace.com/dsugden I used the blog facility here to write about ‘food’ but got really bored with it (same with Facebook – which I hate)

* http://dsugden.posterous.com/ was chosen initially as it could be authored via email and any images attached would be nicely inserted. As it developed, it became easy to ‘send to’ other social media and although I decided to make this blog my more chatty arena, it gets pushed to WordPress anyway – so it’s hard to choose between what is work and what is play.

So – again, why so many?

I tried to compartmentalise my blogs during the experimentation period, (blogger = books, MySpace = food etc.) and eventually to use Word Press to blog about e-Learning, m-Learning and teaching and learning generally; but really found it hard to separate my daily life from my daily work. I also found myself in something of a straight jacket and therefore decided to continue what I had started to do way back in 2005 with the Village –e-Learning Blog. They are all about me, what I do and who I am.

Will I open more? Will I try out other social media facilities?

Of course I will.

Season’s Greetings.

MoLeNET Weekend

 I’ve just returned from two days in Stoke on Trent, where I was in the company of some of my favourite people.

Yesterday was a day for MoLeNET project managers to discuss their projects and to network. Lilian and I spent most of the day compiling a bid for the ‘team award’ at ALT-C 2009. We felt that the MoLeNET Mentors had done enough over the last two years to be recognised for the way that they have been instrumental in helping to bring about a systemic change of attitude towards mobile learning across the F.E. sector. We’d set up an Etherpad the previous day and asked other mentors to add their thoughts to the award bid and we therefore spent the entire day fine tuning our bid. Sadly, we missed recording some of the best evidence we could have had when Steve Nichols of the LSC stood up (impromptu) and told the audience that the “LSC like MoLeNET” and that “it was the best mobile learning programme nationally and internationally”.

Etherpad is a real revelation. We’ve used it before but this two days has seen us use it for a number of discussions whilst others were talking. The main one we shared amongst each other to make note about each of the speakers (especially today) and another was used to expand an idea I’d had in response to something someone else had said. It’s real benefit is that it is a wiki that behaves like you’d think a wiki should. Up to eight people can contribute simultaneously – rather than one after the other or following a refresh (F5). Let me know if you want to try it and I’ll invite you to my own and show/tell you how to set one up!

Davids TechDis badge

David's TechDis badge

Earlier in the week, I’d travelled to Gateshead College where I met some of my Cohort 2 PDAs. On Tuesday I went to Birkenhead and delivered a number of workshops about the free stuff available on Web 2.0. At this event, we experimented with QIK (see:http://qik.com/video/1702430). When I got home I found my official welcome as Accredited TechDis Trainer. This filled me with joy and I immediately added the fact that I was now officially an Accredited TechDis Trainer to my web site. See http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk and http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk/access.htm

Tuesday evening also so the arrival of my new computer. I’ve been having lots of trouble with my two (XP and Vista) laptops, so I’ve taken the plunge and bought an Apple MacBook Pro. It’s beautiful. It’s even beautifully packed. See video @http://qik.com/video/1703984 (I can figure out how to embed it yet)

Just a quickie

Just a quickie to celebrate my having found out how to add a RSS feed to the blog. Whahayyy!

Now to see if they work ….

Comments?

🙂

Sunny Day in May

I’m taking a bold step here and making the first move towards shifting the Village e-Learning Blog over to WordPress.

boulogneThis has many advantages for me. The original blog is hosted by 1and1 and they (1and1) will continue to host the Village e-Learning web site (for now). However, I have always used MS Front Page to do my web authoring and this is not supported by my main Vista laptop (and I cannot find the Front Page disk, to try it anyway). So, I keep having to use my tired old XP Toshiba (which is still a little workhorse, despite the scratch pad not working anymore).

I have a version of Dreamweaver I could use, but can’t find the time to learn how it works. It’s ok for patching but I’d have to devote time to learn exactly how Dreamweaver works. I really need a solution that works from any machine, anywhere! So let’s see what WordPress can do.

It seems to be the most professional looking blog tool – certainly better looking than some of my other attemps (but this is my first post and I haven’t finished with the design yet – so it might become hideous)

It will remain more of a personal diary than a comment on my work. Nevertheless, work will no doubt be a large part of the blog as that’s what I do for most of the week. But, I still hope to talk about my family, my holidays and to rant about various injustices I come across: usually the food industry!

:0)

David