CPD for me

One of the advantages, if there is such a thing, to having less work on than usual (and less than I’d like) is that I can actually plan and undertake my own continual professional development (CPD). Given the current governmental hiatus [Saturday May 8th], I suspect I will become proficient at lots of things before opportunities for future work reveal themselves.

I made my mind up to concentrate (I really find this hard because it is not my ‘style’) on three things: assembling and where necessary creating evidence for my ITQ in Accessible Practice, to learn a bit more about the coaching process and to finally download and install my own Moodle. On my own server. All completely different but challenging in many, differing, ways.

I am a JISC TechDis Accredited Trainer. I have an affinity for learners who find it difficult to learn – no matter why; and this has led to me being recognised as one who can help teachers and learner support staff to understand how and which technologies can help the majority of their learners. I would say all their learners – but sometimes that’s just difficult to prove. It therefore follows that undertaking the ITQ myself, before it is launched ‘big time’ in September can only be of benefit to me – and by extension those I work with in the future. Lilian is undertaking this too and we have agreed to work together where we can. Yesterday was the second time we’d attempted this. The first time, I went to her house and we discussed ways forward. Yesterday we worked via Skype.

We are both working on some ‘audio’ developments and as I had never used Garage Band before – we agreed it would be useful to explore it together and to compare it with Audacity. Well, I had not used Garage Band on the Mac before because, to me – it is (was) unintelligible. Lilian had mastered bits of it so we agreed we’d create a combined recording whilst at our own desks 40 miles apart. Brilliant. It worked a treat. I learned about the Garage Band interface, Lilian learned about the difference between the version on iWorks 2008 and iWorks 2009 and how Skype can be used as a screen sharing device. I’ve used the Skype screen sharing facility before but never in the way we used it on Friday. Lils recorded the female track and I recorded the male track before she sent me her recording to ‘knit’ together with mine. She was able to watch me do this and to agree with the final product. She also screen-casted the work at her end (my desktop!) and provided me with the raw film to edit as evidence. What a great and encouraging two hours. I just need to do the wrapping up bits now…

Moodle is new to me.
I’m a competent course creator and have worked on many installations owned and hosted by others, but have never downloaded an installation of my own. Well I have now. I went to Siteground and bought three years hosting. At this stage, I was able to be talked through the download process by a sales assistant – via a chat facility. Everything else I’ve had to do myself, which has been hugely rewarding. There is a lot ‘assumed’ by these hosting sites and they are not the most user friendly places. Anyway, it was soon up and running (I had to move the DNS[?] from 1and1 who host my Village e-Learning web site and despite being warned that it might take 48 hours, it took less than 4). http://www.eduvel.org.uk. I’m not ready for giving guest access yet – but will over time.

My next challenge was to search the Moodle.com web site for modules/blocks and to install them on my site. I searched Siteground for advice, but they were no help and was missing something vital from my research on the Moodle page when Ron Mitchell rang about something else. I simply asked what the process was and he told me. Apart from not having a ‘Moodle/Mod’ folder on the Siteground server (which itself took some searching to find a way in) I now have downloaded and installed the Book module and it looks like it’s working.

I feel immensely proud of myself for this achievement; techie is something I’m not. Once I’ve got the Moodle up and running as I want it I can be a little more adventurous in my experimentation. I also spent quite some time on Friday chatting with James about VLE’s: more on this next time I suspect.

What if …

Picture 3What if (I’m not on a list)?

This week I’ve looked at Twitter’s new (sic) LIST feature. I’ve created lists and I’ve looked for myself on the lists of others. This could eat away at my basic human insecurity. Why?

Well, lists are not new – I’ve had a Jaiku list on Tweetdeck (and Seesmic until I dumped it) for months. The people on that list are all my old chums from the by now terminally dead Jaiku. They are my original CoP. It gave me comfort to have a list with all my regular mates, colleagues and trusted gurus on it. It’s still there – but more and more these days I read my entire Twitter feed. There is such a variety of thoughts, ideas and fun that it has become difficult to choose which list I would read the most.

Picture 2

Now Twitter has given me the opportunity to create more lists.

Straight away I recreated my Jaiku list, then another called ‘ILT-Mates’ and another called ‘Gurus’. This last list was to be populated with people like @hrheingold and the two professors: Cook and Traxler. Then I thought that Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) should be on the list, and James Clay (@jamesclay) – how could I leave out Lilian (@xlearn), Dave (@davefoord) and Ron (@ronm)? And apart from a few names, ‘Gurus’ turned out to be the same list (almost) as ‘ILT-Mates’. Some people were now on all three lists!A selection of people I follow on Twitter

But what if Lisa (@notlob) found herself on ‘Jaiku mates’ and neither of the others? What if other friends didn’t feel comfortable with the ‘Guru’ grouping? Would I lose friends or respect? Luckily, I’ve kept my lists ‘Private’ and will probably never use them but what if they were ‘public’? Would they cause upset or anger? @shrifootring has me on her ‘fun to follow’ list and I am pleased and happy that she has done so – thank you Shri. But Lilian has me on her ‘Public’ mlearn’ list and happy as I am to be there, the little monster inside of me says, “Has she got a ‘private’ friends list?  Am I on it? Am I not good enough to be Lilian’s friend? Has she got a ‘Guru’ list? ???”

Of course I’m not that insecure – but others might be!

Is there a point to ‘lists’? I know there could be – but will there be? Will we be able to eat away from the basic divisiveness of lists?