Archive for the ‘My Learning Journey’ Category

A pleasant surprise

September 26th, 2008 by Cristina Costa

In the last few months I have been witnessing a more visible presence of the German community online and really great stuff has emerged from my sporadic explorations through .de and .at ground. Mind you, they probably were already there for long, and I have definitely missed a lot, but I am now trying to catch up with it, or at least trying to keep up to speed with the latests.

[ amazing how we can easily restrict our searches and connections to an English speaking world… at least this is my perspective. I google in English, I tag in English, 95% of my network and community activities have English as the main communication channel. that’s not bad at all, but there’s other landsacpes emerging in paralel, and it is great to know that this is happening]

There are two initiatives I would sepcially like to mention today:

Mixxt.org

“Mixxt is an online kit for creating your own social network. Individuals, organisations or enterprises can start their own community with mixxt and don’t even need a technical background knowledge for that. Your new social network is just a few mouse clicks away. Think of various applications being possible with mixxt (the sky is the limit): Share your know-how and your interests with others, organise your meetings and events, bring your friends, colleagues or business partners together on the Internet and keep in touch with other users.”

By default, mixxt offers the following features for free:

  • public or private networks
  • member administration
  • single sign on for all networks
  • discussion forum
  • wiki (text administration)
  • event module and calender
  • photo sharing
  • newsletter and group mail, being send directly to the members’ email addresses
  • private message center
  • adjustable privacy settings
  • news import via RSS-feed
  • data export via CSV
  • video and blog module on request

This definitelly looks good. 🙂

This week I also joined a group called everything web  2.0 in another network I was introduced a couple of months ago: Xing.

And there while in my random explorations I found this reference to a new micro-blogging service: Bleeper.de

What really impressed me in yet this one-more-service was not it’s interface (quite similar to twitter I must say) but the fact that it is a free service running on open source software and automatically licensing all the users posted data under a CC license. What can I say, I found it  at least interesting!

And if my bad “Deutsch” is something to trust, looks like that in the future bleeper will be working on more feautures:

  • More AJAXand user interface;
  • Roadmap;
  • Pulling and sending data from others services such as Twitter, Jaiku, etc.;
  • Facebook Integration;
  • Picture, Video and Audio updates.

It definitelly doesn’t look bad.

It now makes me curious to know what is being doen in other countries and other languages. If you know of some cool, yet less popular initiatives out there, please let us know.

…. I am off to finally subcribe for French classes. Who know…one of these days I will “invading” the web with some lousy French too…and hopefully bumping with other pleasant surprises! 🙂

@ ALT-C – Leeds

September 9th, 2008 by Cristina Costa

We are at ALT-C.

We arrived yesterday evening and the fun immediately started!

It is great to be among friends, to get together with those who we work with all year around online. It feels great. It makes the event more interesting. It might become the main reason this event will be reminded for. Bit isn’t it always like this? The People ..the people, they are the ones that really matter and impel us to to learn, explore new domains and revisited old areas of interested through a new lense – according to the resources they link us to, the ideas  they share, the persceptions and feeling the provoque in us.

Today Graham Attwell, Steven Warburton and I presented our sort paper about Evolve. Graham and Steven were brilliant as usual. From the 15 minutes of “fame”, there was particularly one thought that summed up exactly what I think to be one of the keys for sustainability of communitis, groups…or whatever you choose to call like-minded people who somehow come together online. Graham, trying to answer what is key to sustainabily referred to the emotional factor how that drives individual participation and effective communication. And this is so true!

How many of us remain in the same groups and communities we joined for the same reason that motivated us to join in the first place. I would risk to say that only very few, if any at all. We evolve with the communities we belong to, as they mature to. And what specially keeps us attached to the community is not necessarily the learning it enables or the information we gathered from there, but above all the learning relationships that get formed while doing so. The bonds. The feeling of comfortability of interacting with each other and the levels of trust that deepen with time, and which evolve as a natural reaction of the individuals involvements with each others’ learning process.

As we say in the webheads sharing is caring, and definitely everytime we are sharing something is not only because we came across something that interests us, but also because it is something that will interests others…most time more than us.

Blogging from the conference while lunch time …typing too fast …hope this makes any sense!  😉

Connecting Online

September 1st, 2008 by Cristina Costa

What does connecting online mean to you? why do you connect online? Why is online environments become so popular and for some so priceless and important as part of their further development and (informal) learning?

These are questions that come to mind sometimes and today they make even more sense since I have joined Connecting Online 09 (More about CO09 here). Co09 aims at inviting people to tell their stories, share their experiences and create opportunities for people to talk and be listened to. And maybe it is here that the magic especially resides : in the fact that online everyone can develop their own voice and be valued for what they have to give.

Online, in order to make one’s self visible, one has to participate actively. It doesn’t mean to say that you cannot take part in online initiatives in a shier, quieter way. BUt if you are really looking for action and meaningful interaction you will have to make sure to be part of that world in an active way, so it ca bring you visibility. How are we otherwise supposed to know you have something to share. We cannot guess you are part of it if you don’t give us tangible evidence of your presence.
The hardest part is to get started! How many of us have dread to go to that very first dance class in a room full of people who we don’t know and who we assume are already friends with eachother, and been dancing for years. There is always this resentment we will not be good enough or what we have to share is too trivial to be accepted by the others, who supposedly already share group coherence. I think acceptance is an important issue. People new to these kind of online interactive environment don’t want to take this kind of risks. Most times we are afraid of not belonging there; or better of not being able to fit it. But the truth is totally the opposite. Usually the people who engage in these conversations are friendly and keen on new faces – it means new learning possibilities based of fresh perspectives. In my opinion, online interactions are (or are supposed to be) nothing but these interesting, relaxed conversations among people who get together to discuss their interests based on their own experiences or lack of them. Stress and tense dialogs are usually not part of the deal. Everyone is there on a volunteer basis and we all want to make the best of it and create an environment in which we feel comfortable and welcomed.  Everyone is there with a similar purpose – to hear what others have to say and offer their perspectives whenever they think pertinent. That’s a healthy exchange of personal data (experiences, practices, reading, interpretations, etc) which can be converted into joint constructed knowledge and know-how. That’s the magic of Connecting online – to listen and be listened to; to be part of this ongoing dialectic of giving and taking, which is becoming rare on face to face learning opportunities, as such interaction often get limited to that classroom/session pre-arranged time.
Connecting online is not about connecting to a machine; nor is it only about connecting through a machine. There is more to it:  it is about truly connecting (reaching out) to people and establishing interesting human interactions which enable learning opportunities to happen in a coherent and continuum process There is no limitation so time or space for these exchanges to happen and the fact that are the individuals who choose their connections and guide their learning path often makes connecting online a more relevant journey (when compare with some classroom sessions) to the parties involved.

In short, connecting online involves a volunteer move from the individual to learn with others; later on it requires a deeper engagement with his/her peers in which warm interactions take place and help evolve the relationship the learner has with other learners and with the entire group. Connecting online is about making bonds which will grant one good company in a nver-ending journey into learning.

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    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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