Archive for the ‘My Learning Journey’ Category

Blogging from earthday webcasthon

April 22nd, 2008 by Cristina Costa

As I sit here writing this quick blog post, I am listening to Sheila and Rye Junior High school.

We already had the pleasure to listen to this incredible live song on earthday, we now have pupils giving us advice and talking about their initiatives to make a world a better place.

My morning started today at 6am, like any other day. The only change is that, instead of heading out of the door to go and accomplish my daily mission, I instantaneously connected to the people I was going to work with. They were already there. Jose Rodriguez (California, USA), Elderbob (Texas, USA) and Doug Symington (Victoria, Canada) had already started the unconference session when I got there. We chatted away for about 3 hours about issues that worry us and compared issues in the different countries we are in. Dennis Newnson (Germany) also joined us and it was a great talk.

Before I could notice the time was up – time online flies by.  Ramona was skyping me. Her students were ready to come online. Ok, off we go, we said. And we did! The students skyped in and explained what they have been doing. They explained why they are an Eco-school, and that they are a green flag school. Meanwhile, Joao and his students were also ready to interact. OK, A little bit of Portuguese this time. 🙂

After that, we still had some more time for unconference. We welcomed more people into the skype chat…until we realized it was time for Andreas’ session.

Oh My God!! It was my time to host the webcast. I encountered some problems at the beginning. My skype played a trick on me and froze. I took a deep breathe and restarted the application. Off we went again. Andreas’ session was highly professional. A full program in German Language. How cool is that?

Once again, the time just seemed to be running away. It was almost 1200 BST and I had to rush to the university. I kicked the webcast to Doug (thanks again for all the collaboration and support!) and left for a while.

But I couldn’t get my mind of it. I am back now and happy to be able to participate actively again. This is just a great experience. This is true collaboration. This is doing exactly what we preach – enabling the students to develop a voice ; educators and students working side by side, experts and different perspectives coming together in spite of time and space differences, and above all makeing this a meaningful and FUN experience for everyone.

what else can we ask for?

….back to Earthcast08 webcasthon written chat now!

What do you do…?

April 20th, 2008 by Cristina Costa

What do you do when have a techy question and your friends aren’t online?

A year or two a go I would tell you that my first reaction would be to try to find a discussion forum where I could post my queries and get answers from different individuals within a short period of time. These days this has however become my second option.

First I check youtube to see if there are some good video tutorials out there which may help me solve my problem. And the truth is that many times I succeed to find exactly what I am looking for. It’s just happened today when I was trying to figure out why on earth the podpress plugin of my other blog wasn’t working. [ and yes, it was because of the earth day event 😀 ] I youtube-d and found this awesome video, which helped me solve the problem. Well, it was actually thanks to “Blogtatics“, who bothered to create and share the tutorial. I am delighted with all the generosity of these people who enable others to learn because they share what they create… just like that!
So, in short, what I do when I need to solve a techy problem and my friends aren’t online is very simple! I just “youtube”.  If that doesn’t work, then I google to link to other sites where I can find some answers. If that doesn’t work either, I will probably wait till my friends come online or I come across them somewhere. I hardly ever used a hand-book when it comes to solve techy problems. Actually, I don’t use technical handbooks at all. 🙂

VLE? What do you exactly mean by a VLE?

April 14th, 2008 by Cristina Costa

Have you ever been asked the odd question about “your VLE”: What VLE you use, or what VLE your institution has. Odder than that might be my expression of amazement every time someone asks me that.

Don’t take me wrong, but I have a feeling what people imply with VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) is what I understand as being a piece of software/application, a platform as we call it back home, or merely a CMS, as the techies have named it.
That is what Blackboard is; that is what I call Moodle too, and obviously I wouldn’t define DOKEOS in any other way.

But the software, no matter which one you choose to use is never the environment you might be able to create, develop and maintain. It doesn’t come in the package!
It is almost like buying a house. Just because you bought four walls and a roof, it doesn’t mean they are automatically converted into a home. It’s just a house! That is what you get when you sign the contract and pay that big bill. How you develop it into a home is up to you and to those who share that space with you.
A home is more than a building. It is the result of an ongoing effort which one puts in to construct a comfortable zone with the right atmosphere. A home, just like a learning environment, conveys a deeper meaning than that of a house. Those walls, which are mechanically put together, can simply provide you with a physical shelter, but will never be able to replace the human and the personal touch. Attached to the meaning of ‘home’ is a feeling of warmth and cosiness, a roll of interactions and shared memories which are constructed overtime. It’s those shared moments, and, of course, the people involved in it, that help transform a house into a home.

The same happens to a CMS or any other application which might be adopted to “host education”. The learning environment doesn’t come with the software, that much I can assure you. The learning environment is the world the moderator creates together with the learners, while engaging (with) them in a relevant way. The environment is thus affected by the human activity, and depends on the way educators connect to learners and learners feel touched by their guides and peers as part of multiple interactions and ways of Communicating, Collaborating and Caring (as Prof. Carneiro stated in an OEB 2007 interview)
It is how one sets the atmosphere and maintains it that makes a CMS into a effective VLE. In the end, it is how we – educators – make the difference and enable the learning relationship to work. Like in any other relationship, it is hard work, but it can be a lot of FUN too.

1,2,3…Testing

April 9th, 2008 by Cristina Costa

I know, I know….You are already thinking… what the heck is she doing there too??!!

Like a friend of mine says: my-self is all over the (Internet) place!

Well… it’s true, but what can I do? It kinda goes with my digital personality!

Graham Attwell and his team have invited me to join their spot. I am not really sure if they are well aware of what this may mean 😀 : a lot of Portuglish, quotes from Fernando Pessoa – The Poet, music once in a while, some random reflections about my humble existence and activity, and, of course, lots of web 2.0 (non)sense in between! 😉 … That’s me. I guess!

Ok, I am quite nervous to be able to publish along side with the Pontydysgu Team and the Mentor, but I am also very proud to be able to do so.

This is going to be GREAT FUN!

And in the end, that is all that really matters!

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    News Bites

    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information


    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.


    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time


    Postgrad pressure

    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”


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