Friday, October 31, 2008

Never Fear Big Words

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you allHannah readingphoto by Mike Wood.

I attended an asTTle workshop last week. Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning - He Pūnaha Aromatawai mō te Whakaako me te Ako, or asTTle, is a resource for assessing literacy and numeracy (in both English and Māori). The University of Auckland developed it for the New Zealand Ministry of Education.

A helpful system:

Though the idea of assessing the reading level of a child was not new to me, I hadn’t realised how the
asTTle system worked. It’s based on the concept that knowledge of the reading ability of a child can assist in providing specific help when needed.

By providing appropriate assistance, the child is empowered to better understand the reading material relevant to the levels of learning they're at in different subject areas. The teacher is also better able to understand the reading difficulties a child may have while learning at levels of their ability and development in different curricular areas.

I have no problem with this, other than the intervention caused by assessment to establish where every child is at, through entire areas of the curriculum. I think it’s wonderful that we can provide assistance when it is needed.

Levels of literacy:

I had several discussions with the facilitators. They were very helpful.

We did not agree when I explain that, as a writer of learning resources, I used the simplest possible language, sentence construction and paragraphing whenever I could. I used the same technique in writing a paragraph in a Chemistry resource for a year 13 learner than I would for a resource in Biology for a year 9 learner.

Their advice was that I should match the reading level of my writing to the subject level. We had several aside discussions on this – they weren’t simple. We agreed that the language of the subject was obviously something that would progress, as expected, in shifting from a lower learning level to a higher level.

What the facilitators found fault with, was that I deliberately used simple language. Even using the terms and vocabulary appropriate to the area and level of the Science covered in the resource I was writing, was not meeting the needs of the student, by their way of it.

The purpose of writing:

My question to them was, “what is my main objective as a writer of Science?" Should I deliberately change an otherwise well written paragraph, so that its reading level matched the level of the subject content contained there? I was at odds with this supposition. What’s more, it conflicted with all I’d read on Cathy Moore’s great post.

I recalled a poem by Arthur Kudner, while I listened to the arguments from the facilitator.

Never fear big words.
Big words mean little things.
All big things have little names,
Such as life and death, peace and war,
Or dawn, day, night, hope, love, home.
Learn to use little words in a big way.
It is hard to do,
But they say what you mean.
When you don’t know what you mean,
Use big words –
They often fool little people.

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Having fun is a natural companion to learning

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
My daughter Catriona, playing with a cardboard tube.

I left a comment on Virginia Yonkers' post, Why Can't Learning Be Fun. She'd allowed me to reflect on what learning was all about.

Anyone who has watched a young child explore her surroundings will also know the wonder and enjoyment that fills the mind of the young learner.

When watching for the first time bubbles, balloons, buzzy bees or butterflies, no normal child sits sullenly.

Having fun is a natural companion to learning.

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later


Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you allpumpkin latern

Way back last century, farmers in Scotland sometimes used a pumpkin or turnip for the head of a scarecrow. Chosen for its size, shape and colour tone, such vegetables could look convincingly like a human face. Perhaps their use for this dates back to early primitive times. I’d like to think it did.

The Celts also used pumpkins and the like to frighten off superstition.

Maybe the features of a face were fashioning by cutting holes in the hollowed out gourd.
Perhaps a primitive candle, made from animal fat and plant fibre, could have been used to serve its function as a lantern – who knows?

I can recall the first time I saw a pumpkin lantern as a child.
It was Halloween. Carried by one of a group of children, walking after dark along the dimly lit Scottish street where I lived - this was really scary to me. I can imagine how this, otherwise lifeless piece of carved vegetable, with its eerie ghoulish appearance, could conjure up fear in someone viewing it from a distance.

According to Wikipedia, the Celts believed that “the head was the most powerful part of the body containing the spirit and the knowledge”. For this reason, belief was that the pumkin had the power to ward off evil spirits. It puts quite a different perspective on the term pumpkin-head!

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later

Monday, October 27, 2008

Learning Tactics and Their Support

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you allLearning Tactics and Their Support
This post is part of October’s edition of the Working / Learning blog carnival. This month’s host is Leean of Xyleme Learning Blog.

The strategies, pedagogy and scaffolding
, are familiar in teaching and learning today. Their applications are just as relevant in the classroom as in the workplace.

Often, the principles behind such useful strategies
are glossed over in favour of a collaborative approach to learning. Learners share areas of skills and knowledge that they may be deficient in. When these situations occur, some learners may be left to pull themselves up by their own bootlaces when it comes to learning what's needed.

The worth of these
strategies is sometimes forgotten about or misunderstood. As well, the terms 'pedagogy' and 'scaffolding' tend to be interchanged inappropriately when discussing teaching and learning.

Why a Jigsaw Puzzle?

I use the idea of building parts of a jigsaw puzzle when thinking about pedagogy and scaffolding. It is an analogy for learning. Though it's not the only analogy I use for this, it fits well with the context discussed here. The jigsaw puzzle analogy reflects much of Jean Piaget's theory - that learning occurs within a framework of past experiences and events.

Piaget recognised the essential importance of play in learning situations. The processes of accommodation and assimilation are assisted when the learner is having fun.

Strategies for building:

Wikipedia defines pedagogy as "the art or science of being a teacher". Using the jigsaw puzzle analogy, pedagogy can be thought of as a way of presenting
to a beginner the likely pieces for placement. It connotes an approach to learning that's guided by a teacher.

There are some defined rules to do with how the steps should be chosen. They are selected carefully by a skilled teacher according to parameters, other than just what step comes next in a learning sequence. That's why teaching is an art, rather than a prescriptive routine.

Computer based instruction, and the theory that goes with it, is an attempt to design a machine that can select learning steps for the learner. It mimics pedagogy by using a behaviourist approach to instruction. A pithy summary for the tactics used is, 'when this behaviour occurs, present this learning step'.

There is some merit in this approach, as
Scott McLeod outlined in his post that asked, "can a computer lecture better than a human?" Computer instruction routines are geared to what fits most learners.
But they may fall short when it comes to what fits best.

A computer cannot see the puzzle pieces
the way the learner sees them.
To provide effective learning material, the instructor has to see things through the eyes of the learner. The art of the teacher is knowing what pieces to select, and in which order, that best fit the needs of the learner - the pedagogy.

Foundation and support:

Wikipedia defines scaffolding as, "the provision of sufficient supports to promote learning when concepts and skills are being first introduced". These include the steps that help the learner move from one level of understanding to the next. They're like relevant pieces of a jigsaw puzzle placed appropriately

They lead or point to the skill or idea that is to be learnt. The correct placement of them helps the learner see the relevance of the next puzzle piece to be laid - the next learning step.
Teacher assistance and encouragement, while this is done, provides the necessary support for preparatory learning - the scaffolding.

Scaffolding can also permit the learner to envisage what has to be learnt next. Provisions that do this inspire learning. What could be more impelling for the learner than a strategy that anticipates what's next to be learnt?

Scaffolding can take many forms. It may amount to learning a series of skills and knowledge that are seemingly unrelated, having no relevant sequence. An example of this is the set of skills and knowledge the elearning apprentice should learn before stepping into the field of elearning.

Often the scaffolding is a progressive and sequential series of related knowledge and skills. Such a series is found in what's required by a junior science student about to learn how to balance a chemical equation:
  • understanding of the particle theory of matter
  • awareness that the smallest discrete particle of matter is the atom
  • knowledge that elements are made up of atoms that are all the same
  • knowledge that chemical symbols can describe atoms of elements
  • appreciation of the way in which most atoms join with each other
  • knowledge of numeracy used in writing correct chemical formulae
  • awareness that atom combinations follow predictable patterns
  • knowledge of numeracy used in writing chemical equations
  • appreciation of the conservation principle of matter
The sequence of the steps presented to the learner is important. It is an integral part of the strategy. A learner who has not been introduced to these concepts, mastered each skill and gained the relevant knowledge, would have considerable difficulty with the ultimate step in learning to balance a chemical equation.

In a constructivist situation, scaffolding cannot always be planned. If it occurs, it may well be just by chance.
The skill of a teacher is in being able to establish if the learner already has the necessary learning to be within easy reach of the next learning objective. Knowledge of what additional scaffolding, if any, may be required by the learner, before progressing to the next level, is as important.

As the learner builds on learning, however, it may not turn out to be exactly the same as the vision of the learning held in the mind of the teacher.


Wikipedia explains metacognition and quotes J H Flavell, referring to the learner becoming familiar with the "learning-relevant properties of information or data". The ability to recognise the property of what is to be learnt is a higher thinking skill. Its use can help the learner select effective learning strategies. A learner who possesses some measure of this skill may still be disadvantaged compared to another who has the benefit of a teacher.

Through specific training and practice, a learner can still become better equipped to learn. With insight, such a learner may be able to recognise learning perspectives more readily than the teacher. The learner who practices such skills effectively becomes the teacher; learning becomes autonomous.

Same old story:

People who to try to learn from textbooks, or through online course material, find they have to bring energy to the learning process. In the absence of a teacher, learners must seek and recognise scaffolding for themselves. Unfortunately, most learners cannot easily anticipate the need for this - never mind identify it.

Without perseverance, commitment and a will to learn how to learn, most people
who study on their own run out of energy. Clive Shepherd confirms this in an all too common tale of woe from a workplace trainer. His recent post, Same old story, reports that the success of unsupported, self-study in workplace elearning programmes is often disappointing.

( 10 ) ( 9 ) ( 8 ) ( 7 ) ( 6 ) << - related posts - >> ( 4 ) ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

250 Comments in Four Days!

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you allimage: 250 comments

Doing my usual catch-up, I read Ken Stewart's latest on Help Find Great Blogs. I'd to link through to Chuck Westbrook’s post for more.

While the idea Chuck has is still a bit odd in my mind, I have to give it to him that he knows a thing or two about getting comments on posts. When I popped my comment, I came in at number 222!

No, my fingers don’t have a tremble. Not yet anyway.

I checked out the comments on Chuck’s post today. Nicole Feliciano had put the latest one. She was at number 249! From when I put my comment, till Nicole put hers, Chuck's post gained 27 more comments.

I’ve never had anything near 20 comments on my blog let alone 249.

It’s Monday 27 October. Chuck's post went up last Thursday.
It's getting 5 comments every hour, and they’re still coming in.

This is impressive stuff!

Just on the side - and it could be unrelated - but the Reading Ease of Chuck’s post came in at 76.3.

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reflective Practice - blogging and learning

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you allReflective Practice
Michele Martin has a series of posts on reflective practice relevant to blogging for learning.
In her latest Web2.0Wednesday assignment, she asks us to share our favourite blogging for learning activity.

My activity is all about what I’ve been researching for the last 5 months since I started blogging. It’s really a series of activities rather than just one pursuit.

This all began with Michele Martin. Her May post invited people to participate in The Comment Challenge and got me into blogging. In all fairness to this particular Web2.0Wednesday assignment, the whole series of activities in The Comment Challenge was really based on reflective learning.

I joined The Challenge because I wanted to learn about blogging. In New Zealand, the acme of male achievement is to attain the legendary certificate of a good bloke. My goal became to achieve the imaginary certificate of a good blogger.

I use a simplified action research technique. It involves a cycle of actions by which alterations can be made to improve practice.

Action research uses an action cycle similar to this:

image of cycle: reflect plan act gather
The cycle can be thought of as beginning with reflection.


This phase relies on recorded data and evidence gathered from experiences.

I assess recorded data and think about what it means in terms of my aims and objectives. I often ask the question: “Does this data show that I am moving along the ‘improvement’ pathway?" The answer isn’t always ‘yes’.

In this phase I don’t need to be sitting at a computer. I can reflect on things travelling on a bus going to work.


The planning phase is usually based on the reflective phase. It is the phase where decisions are made – the let's-try-this phase. It is based on what transpired in the reflective phase while examining available gathered results and reviewing those.

I have to be creative in this phase, the how-the-hell-can-I-do-this stage. It is the phase where I may have to change old methods, or look for new ones.

In this phase, I may have to seek help or advice from others, or do a bit of finding out from the Net - web pages, web data, or other blog posts.

image of cycle: reflect plan act gatherAct:

Here I put into action the plan that fell out after the reflective phase. This is the phase where I build, and attempt to put into action the ideas that I’d given time and thought to. Friends may have helped me with those or recommended that I try new things.

It is the ‘doing’ phase. It is the phase where plans are rolled out and methods are implemented. New tools and techniques are tried. Mistakes are made or acted on.


This phase takes place all the time, but mainly during and following the action phase. A number of tools and techniques are brought into play.

I call upon expert bloggers during this process by emailing them or from feedback in comments. There are many blogging experts who help me, either directly or from posts on their blogs. Many of them are in my commentsphere.

What is gathered is recorded in a log or diary. To a large extent, the blog becomes an extremely important diary in itself. But it is not exclusively what I keep as records. I also keep notes that I refer to in the reflective phase.

I use a number of Web2.0 tools, such as Google Analytics, that provide data about my blog. Recently, I’ve been monitoring text in posts using the Flesch Reading Ease.

No cycle is exclusive:

I have several cycles operating at once. None are mutually exclusive. From time to time the outcomes of one series of cycles could well affect what I do in others.

( 9 ) << - related posts - >> ( 7 ) ( 6 ) ( 5 ) ( 4 ) ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )
other Web2.0Wednesday posts - >> ( 7 ) ( 6 ) ( 5 ) ( 4 ) ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Friday, October 17, 2008

You never know till you ask

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
image: Wellington's Big Red Double-Decker by Mike Wood.

One morning in 2002, I took the bus to work as usual. I’d seated myself next to a man who was fingering a strange looking laptop. No sooner had I realised that the lap-top had no screen, when a bus inspector entered the vehicle and announced, “All tickets please!”

The inspector walked past, checking tickets as he went. But the man sitting beside me was still holding up his ticket. It clicked with me that this lap-topper was blind.

“He’s checked your ticket,” I said. He smiled and nodded without looking up. Steven was congenitally blind. His job involved working with the Foundation for the Blind in Wellington. The odd lap-top, with its strange toothed keyboard, was in fact a Braille computer.

Blind to the technology:

Here was I, an elearning teacher. But I hadn’t given much thought to how the blind might access the technology that was so much my bread and butter.

I thought Steven had been typing a letter. He told me he could use his lap-top for that. In fact, he had been reading a novel. We swapped email addresses when I spoke of a free speaking web-reader that a colleague of mine had found on the Net that same week. It must have been among the first of its type - an early version of WeMedia Talking Browser.

Steven was excitedly interested. At that time, the web reading technology he used at work was so expensive; he could not afford to purchase it for his own use at home.

A useful link:

We kept in touch by email. Steven was careful to let me know that the link I flicked him was useful. He’d found that installation was easy, and getting to know the idiosyncrasies of the software wasn’t too difficult. WeMedia was a helpful tool for reading the Net.

Some weeks later we met again on the same bus route. While we chatted, I asked which novel he had been reading that morning. “I’m recalibrating my computer map today”, he explained. I hadn’t noticed that clipped to his shoulder, next the window, was a small device, the size of a bulky mobile phone.

“According to my GPS receiver, we should be at the Riddiford Street intersection”, he said with a smile. And we were. He had been synchronising his map by checking it against the GPS signal.

Steven explained how his computer map had saved the day only a few weeks before. He and his wife had been travelling by car up north. They'd got lost. Within a few minutes, Steven switched on his lap-top and found precisely where they were, using his map and GPS receiver.

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Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you allBlog Action Day 2008 - Poverty logo
Ralph McTell's Streets of London was written 40 years ago.

Its heartbreaking lyrics and haunting melody yield a story of abject poverty found
in every country throughout the world today. Ralph tells it as an observer.

When I heard this song in 1970, its story stung my eyes with tears of reality. At that time, I'd already seen poverty scenes walking the streets of my home town in Scotland.


How can you help?

  • You can make a cash donation to a charitable organisation fighting poverty.
  • You can donate food at the local community centre in your area. We have pickup points at our local supermarkets.
  • You can donate good clothes to a Salvation Army store or similar charitable outlet near where you live.
  • You can choose to take public transport instead of driving or walk to work on a day this week and donate the travel cost you save to a poverty charity of your choice.
  • You can tell your friends what you are doing to help poverty and suggest that they do likewise.

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Anecdotal Analytics

It’s been three months and 40 posts, since I first put Google Analytics on my blog (installed 15 July). Observing the trends shows me a lot.

What I found was not what I expected. Here’s a summary of seemingly unrelated things I discovered by watching Google Analytics (GA).
  • No weekly pattern has arisen.

  • The average blog popularity shown by GA increased steadily over 3 months from about 12 to 25 hits per day.

  • Stories are uniquely popular. People like to read accounts of my family and me but do not usually comment.

  • People like reading about (and commenting on) blog statistics.

  • The number of comments on a post doesn’t necessarily indicate its popularity. One of my most popular posts didn’t get any comment.

  • Leaving a comment on another’s blog post can make a significant difference to my blog’s popularity during the following 3 to 5 days. If it's a popular blog, the increase can be quite noticable.

  • Inclusion of links on a new post to related posts (as shown at the top of this one) can revive the popularity of these posts over the following 3 to 5 days.

  • The average time viewers spend reading my posts has substantially increased from just over 1 minute to 3 minutes. There has not been a significant increase in the text length of posts over the same time.

  • Site hit rate drops steadily during a period when I don’t post. For instance, the graph shown above indicates clearly this decline from the date of the last post, 10 Oct 2008, from 30 visits to 16 over a period of 4 days.

  • The average bounce rate for all posts has decreased slightly from 59% to 57%.

  • Unusual post topics incur a surprisingly low bounce rate, reaching lower than 12%. Some of those are about the blogosphere.

  • Topics that show a bounce rate of 0% (and there are a significant number) have no common theme. Some of those are about the blogosphere.

( 9 ) ( 8 ) << - related posts - >> ( 6 ) ( 5 ) ( 4 ) ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Friday, October 10, 2008

What is Cybercitizenry?

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
I'm drafting out a cybersafety policy for TCS.

It's not an easy task. The policy should apply to everyone involved with the school. That means the whole school community.

A mission of involvement:

I've drafted a sheet to introduce students and parents to what cybercitizenry is all about. It's the start of our mission to involve the whole school in being more responsible on the Net. It will be printed on one side of an A4 sheet. The sheet will also show the Hector's World logo that I am not permitted to display here.

Have a scan of it. Tell me what you think by putting your comment at the base of this post. I need your advice on this first introduction:

Things you must know about Cybercitizenship:

Young people find lots of different things when viewing the Internet using digital equipment. While a lot of this can be fun, helpful and useful, some of it may upset them or cause distress.

What is Cyberspace?

Cyberspace is made up of the parts of the Internet that can be seen with digital tools. Students using it can learn. They may also find entertainment there. As well, people can meet others there. Links can be made between family and friends. They can find information there on almost any topic.

What is Cybersafety?

Cybersafety is the safe and responsible use of digital tools and gadgets that can access the Internet. These include mobile-phones, digital cameras and webcams. Each day, New Zealand children are exposed to the benefits, and potential risks of cyberspace.

Even young children may be skilled in the use of digital tools. But they may not know how to use the Internet safely and responsibly.

Everyone has the right to be safe. Adults share a special responsibility for the safety of children in this new space.

What is Cybercitizenship?

Anyone who goes online is a citizen of cyberspace. Young people learn to find their way round cyberspace in many ways. But they must also learn the basics of good behaviour as cybercitizens.

Cybercitizenship is more than just knowing how to get on to the Internet. People need skills to think about things found there, as well as knowing how to look after personal data. They must learn to think of others and act in a responsible way to other cybercitizens.

Learners need to know how to deal with things that might be risky. Young people are more able to get the best from the digital equipment when they follow the rules of cybercitizenship.


A learner who may seem to know how to use the Internet may not have all the know-how to be cybersafe.

For more on cybersafety, check out

To learn about helping the very young online, check out

( 5 )
( 4 ) <<-related posts - >> ( 2 ) ( 1 )
Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Blogging, Learning and Desire to Learn

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
Michele Martin has raised the issue of The Power of Blogging isn't Just in Reading Them, in a few of her posts. She has stuck to the idea that the power of blogging is in writing comments, rather than in lurking.
I admire her. She is committed to what she believes.

Learning through questions, and discussing in a classroom or social community, has gone on for hundreds of years. People have also learnt a great deal from books during that same time.

Writing comments:

So what’s wrong with just reading a post and learning from it?
What is so special to learning about writing a comment on a blog post?

If learners want to learn, they will learn. The same desire may well tempt learners to put comments on blog posts. They may even ask questions there.

So the difference between those who lurk and want to learn, and those who comment, may not be so great. Learning takes place when the learner wants to learn.

Learning can happen if the learner sits quietly during class, for instance. Certainly, asking questions will help. But if learners do not ask questions in class, they may still go home and read about what they’ve learnt in a book. Many do. They may also lurk on a few blog posts on the Net.

Early research:

I have a lot of respect for the research done by Lev Vygotsky. He was a child psychologist who lived in the early 1900s. In recent years, Vygotsky’s findings have made people think about the importance of social interaction in learning. This led to a belief that learning may be better when learners study in communities.

Some educators have come up with the idea that interactive online communities could be good learning environments for young people. This is not far removed from Michele’s idea that learning is more effective for the commenter than for the lurker.

Most of Vygotsky’s studies were on mother and child. I doubt the notion is sound that Vygotsky’s findings can be extended to learners in online communities.

A better approach to this might be to study the use of online learning communities. That way they could be compared fairly with other ways of learning.

Learning methods:

So far, not much has been done to compare the use of interactive online learning in a fair way with other learning methods. There’s been little evidence that shows learners do any better when they study online than learning by other means, for instance.

So I sit on the fence about the idea of getting people to write comments on blog posts as a better means to learn. I'm not at all sure that writing comments would be needed in every case. But for those who do need it, could a better ploy be to work on their desire to learn?

Once they have that desire, they might even venture to ask questions - in comments on blog posts.

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reading Ease

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
A solarised photo of Ken trying to read.

I was catching up with my reading this morning.

I’d been looking for a good site for tips on elearning writing skills, when I came across this one by Cathy Moore. I recommend it. You’d find it easy to read.

She covers all the usual things on good writing: paragraphing, short sentences varying in length and structure, clear language and simple words.


Cathy has an ideal set of slides that you can scan quickly. She also explains about setting up Readability Statistics in Word. I’d no idea the option was there.

Once set up, you can measure the Flesch Reading Ease on a click. It gives a first check on the ease of reading of a block of text.

A study of popular magazines and newspapers shows a direct match between popularity and Flesch Reading Ease. The highest and most readable scores for the most popular magazines come in at 65.

A tool, not a solution:

Cathy is careful to explain that it’s a tool, not a solution. Here’s how to set it up. Open a Word file and choose:

Instructions for accessing the tools optionsInstructions for accessing the tools options in Word 2007
Check that there’s a tick in Show readability statistics. Running a spell-check on a typical post in Word follows the usual routine, ending in a report. It shows a list of data, as well as the Flesch Reading Ease.

Readability statistics table.
I was a bit sceptical of all this at first, so I decided to put it to the test.

I selected a number of my posts that I knew had been very popular, and some that were certainly not so. I keep Word files of the text of all my posts, so it was easy to check them on their Flesch Reading Ease.

How I write:

What I found made me stop and think again about how I write. Here’s a list of titles of some posts. I put them in order of popularity, measured from data in Google Analytics, beside their Flesch Reading Ease.

FRE - Post Title

- 5 Explanations of a Zen Proverb

73.2 - Splitting the Knol
71.1 - How do I know what I think till I see what I write?
52.8 - So This is What You Want
38.4 - Complexity Science and Social Media Learning
34.8 - Science, Technology, The Silicon Chip and Social Need

I don't believe this is the only way to predict the popularity of a post. But clearly, these numbers are trying to tell me something. I think I may be looking at Readability Statistics in future.

By the way, the Flesch Reading Ease of this post comes in at 75.8.

( 9 ) ( 8 ) ( 7 )<< - related posts - >> ( 5 ) ( 4 ) ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Monday, October 6, 2008


Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you allA cute cuddly guinea-pig.
I’m going to be very noncommittal (that’s a change! says you).

Just take a moment or two to check out the video I was sent recently from my daughter’s Facebook account.

Reflect on how you felt when you watched the video.

You might like to watch it again.

What’s the first thing you felt when the puppy responded?
  • Was it an endearing feeling?
  • Was it soppy cuteness?
  • Was it an interest in Pavlovian reaction?
  • Was it concern for the puppy?
I’d like to learn about your response to this video. Please share how you felt by putting a comment at the end of this post.

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Elearning Apprentice

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
The Elearning Apprentice
Tony Karrer has taken the initiative to revisit a question asked in a previous post, about First eLearning:

What advice would you give to someone
new to the field of elearning?

This question is worthy of being asked twice.

I admit that I lurked on this one - for a few weeks.


My observation of teachers starting into elearning has shown that the usefulness of their experiences in the early stages can vary considerably. This is often because of ad hoc approaches to their so-called upskilling.

This post outlines the areas of need I believe are essential for a first elearner. They are listed roughly in order of importance, but all are essential.

No skill is too rudimentary to acquire:

Learners who are willing to put in the time, pursuing a grounding in these basic skills, on their own or in a course designed along the lines given here, will be well on the way to coping with elearning.

At first reading, some of these skills may appear to be too rudimentary. If absent they will lead to faltering at the early stages when the elearning apprentice should be building on higher skills, as a student or as an elearning instructor.

All of the skills listed here are those an elearning instructor may well need in helping a student learn the same skills, and so must form part of the elearning portfolio.

Here's my To-learn-list for the Elearning Apprentice links to sections:
(Relevant information lies in a link at the start of each header.)
file management
search engines
study the URL
an image authoring tool
an html editor or html writer
skills in LMS or VLE

Pre-requisite 1: Why a knowledge of short-keys?

As basic as this skill may seem, it is essential for any elearning apprentice to have a practicing knowledge of the rudiments of using short-cuts on the keyboard. Without these skills, working with the mouse on pull-down menus would prove tedious in the extreme. Short-keys are powerful key-strokes that find universal use on a huge variety of software.
Pre-requisite 2: Why file management?

File management skills are essential for e-tidiness. As much as these seem old hat (back to basics and all that) ignoring their essential worth can mean confusion, and even some real headachy problems for the apprentice elearner
later on.

As well, fundamentals such as knowledge and understanding of file dimension and file size, and the distinction between the two, are part of the ABC that an elearning apprentice must follow.

Pre-requisite 3: Why netiquette?

Basic communication skills are often overlooked. Elearning apprentices need those skills if only to assist with their own learning. For anyone intending to use their elearning skills for the instruction of others, netiquette is a life and death necessity.
Pre-requisite 4: Why search engines?

Being able to search effectively using a database or web search engine is another fundamental skill. It brings into play pre-requisites 1 and 2, and is the bread and butter of the elearning researcher.

Pre-requisite 5: Why study the URL?

Understanding the structure of a URL and what it means to the technician is key to understanding how links operate in web-based elearning today. An introductory knowledge of how a URL can be applied utilises a direct application of file management skills.
Pre-requisite 6: Why an image authoring tool?

An in-depth knowledge of an image authoring tool is not required and could well be a waste of time. I’d recommend that this be a part of an introduction, but not a major component. It can provide significant useful transferable skills.

Designing images and attempting to make a simple animation can give an elearning apprentice the feel of how these tools work. Much of the fundamental theory of how they function is also transferable. Some authoring tools are more complex to use than others. The simplest is probably the most efficient to use in terms of time spent learning the basics.

For instance, creating an animation in PhotoShop ImageReady involves much the same principles as in Flash. ImageReady is more likely to convey the principles with less angst
and in a much shorter space of time, and so prove more effective. It may be that a suitable Web2.0 tool can convey the same transferable skills.

The emphasis is on the transferable skills.
Pre-requisite 7: Why an html editor or html writer?

Once again, there are a lot of transferable skills that can be acquired from a good introduction to html writing/editing, without having to learn much at all of the hypertext markup language (html).

A good WYSIWYG that permits the learner to appreciate layout as well as functionality, can open up a cornucopia of valuable skills.

Building html in single pages on a server with relative links to images and other pages on the same server can also provide invaluable practice in file management. Building html in single pages with absolute links to Internet sites can be a useful skill for the elearning instructor.
Pre-requisite 8: Why skills in LMS or VLE?

The application of the aforementioned skills come into their own when an elearning apprentice operates, hands-on for the first time, a learning management system or virtual learning environment, such as Moodle. These applications are the bread and butter of
elearning instruction.

In the unlikely situation where the elearning apprentice does not have the opportunity to use one of those applications, building a blog and actively using it with links, uploads, downloads and embeds can cover many of the skills required. Participation in challenges, such as the past Comment Challenge, can provide the elearning apprentice with many far reaching skills and ideas for life-long elearning.

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later