Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Ubiquitous Question – a reflection on learning

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
Mirroring the Question - artist ken allan
“. . . unless you speak up... you will not be learning . . .”

I often wonder if our current education systems drive us to make invalid assumptions about how learning happens. I’m talking about educators here, not necessarily members of their learning communities.

Curious though it may seem, I learnt lots as I bumbled my way through high school. Not because I was especially able or bright.

I had an annoying knack of being outspoken when I couldn’t understand things. I hated not knowing what was going on. I asked questions.

The teaching moment

Fortunately, I had good teachers. They recognised the teaching moments that I presented to them – on a plate. I gained the respect of my teachers, probably solely because of this attribute of asking questions, for I certainly wasn’t a model student.

Good teachers admire learners who ask pertinent questions. It makes them feel wanted. Hence their intolerance of impertinence, I guess.

Asking a question offers a teacher the opportunity to fulfil that so-often-difficult-to-attain goal of the pedagogue. The goal is to teach relevantly. While it’s true that learners tend to engage more in learning when they interact during a ‘lesson’, I’m not so sure that speaking up or even asking a question is necessarily exclusive for learning to occur.

Questions and answers

One dated definition of education is ‘the ability to learn from a book’
(this implies the educated is still learning). You can’t ask a book a question. Today, we like our educated learners to learn from the Internet, using searches, networking and the like.

It’s presumed that these media permit the learner to ask questions. The belief persists that asking a question – or even just speaking up – is so very necessary for learning to occur.

I’ve always thought of thinking as a stream of thought statements and questions, asked and possibly answered in the mind. My assumption is that a thinker asks questions of herself or himself and that’s what initiates further thinking.

Lying in bed, just awake, on a Saturday morning, having no plan pending for the unfolding day, my thoughts might go something like this:

    “Shall I get up now? Or will I just lie here blissfully embalmed in the cosy bedding for half an hour?

    I wonder what the weather’s like? Perhaps I could get the garden dug? Or maybe give the shed that coat of paint?

    Ah, but isn’t it nice to lie in on a Saturday morning?”
This sort of discourse assists me to learn about how I feel. It can figure how the day that’s just beginning can become a part of my life. So yes, my assumption about asking questions still works. Even if I learn nothing of what’s happening outside my head, I can learn something about myself.

Assumptions on learning

So why do teachers assume that no learning happens without questions being asked? I think they are referring to what I call active questions, spoken or entered in a txt or email, or other such method of communication between two or more people. There is an assumption that the question has to be aired.
But I am puzzled at how the idea fits with learning from a book.

It’s a point of view I’ve come across before, that of the lurker who never engages, never interacts and never asks questions. The inference is that the lurker never learns.

This is not the opinion of Nonnecke and Preece, who actually coined the phrase, Silent Participants for learners who lurk. They claim that learning can take place despite no participation from the learner. My own experience aligns with their research findings.

Etienne Wenger refers to community members who do not speak up as Legitimate Peripheral Participants. He recognises that learning happens even if the participation is only peripheral, that is to say, the learners don't speak up.

Teaching, learning and assessment

Teachers are geared to assessment. Often they feel compelled to possess written evidence that a learner has reached an objective before they are convinced the objective has actually been learnt.

Assessment is forced participation on the part of the learner. Without engagement at the time of assessment, it could be construed that nothing can be achieved in an assessment test. Yet not achieving is hardly unequivocal evidence that learning hasn’t happened.

A principle upheld by designers of resources for distance learning is that if the student hasn’t been asked a question about a learning objective, and responds with the correct answer, the objective hasn’t been learnt. Prompting the learner to respond in this way gives the teacher an opportunity to record that learning has occurred. It tends to subscribe to the tick-box mentality, but, at least, it is a recordable event.

Questioning a way to learn

I’m not entirely opposed to the suggestion that questioning is a way to learn. Nor am I questioning the idea that learners will learn nothing if they don’t ask questions. My hunch is that questions are asked in the mind all the time. The trick of learning relevantly lies in asking the right questions.

Students who always have questions, and put them, will learn. They can ask them out loud or online, to a teacher or to another learner. Or they can ask them in their own mind. As long as learners keep asking questions, there will be answers given in return and they can learn from those. This is especially the case if learners know a thing or two about metacognition, even if they don't know the word.

Do learners have to ask their questions directly? To a teacher, for instance?
Do you think learners will not learn unless they speak up? Or can they learn without asking questions? What’s your take on learning and participation?

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Expert by Appointment – media and ICT

Kia ora tātou – Hello EveryoneHypsochromic Fiddle - artist ken allan
We live in an age where ‘becoming an expert’ is just another turn of phrase. Despite research and the embracing of the results of this in several chapters of Gladwell’s Outliers, and in other similar books, expertise is looked on as being easily achievable.

You’ll be an expert in no time. You can pick it up as you go along.
In March 2007, MediaSnackers promoted these options in an advert, posted on YouTube, for a ‘research genius’ among other guru-types.
It indicates distinctly that “experience and qualifications are not essential” for any of the job offers.

I fit with the ideas that creativity, right attitude, an inspiring nature and professional mentality go a long way to assisting the activities of young up-and-coming pioneers. Certainly conformists and pessimists have their drawbacks, if innovation is where the job aspirations are at. I have no problem with all of those aspects of the brief.

The advertised positions are important to, and influential in contributing to the success of a new and growing organisation. The effectiveness of the training gurus and marketing managers in particular is key to this success. Yet there is nothing more likely to engender contempt in admirers or followers than the so-called expert who clearly demonstrates that he or she isn’t expert.

Or is this point of view outdated?

I support the youth of today. However, I wonder at the culture and attitude they may have picked up associated with the worth of experience and knowledge, and that they will carry these attitudes with them as they follow their careers. Is there something that I’m missing here?

Am I carrying the values and ideas of a bygone age?

The critical players certainly need technical know-how, marketing expertise, other skills and a basket of essential knowledge. Is it really the best way to launch our ships into future business space, building them as we go, having had no real experience in shipbuilding, resourcing or navigating? Am I so old-fashioned that I can’t see the potential that these new and innovative approaches have in reaching desired destinations?

Is it simply enough to sit back and marvel at the apparent successes of these approaches? I appeal for your assistance here, for I have been puzzled by these phenomena, and for many years now. It seems that they have become so numerous that I have no time to catch breath between instances of their occurrence.

What are your thoughts?

related post -> ( 1 )

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later

Sunday, October 25, 2009

One Voice? A post for bloggers

Kia ora tātou – Hello Everyone
Voice in a Necker Cube - artist ken allan
What sort of voice do you use when you write a blog post? Do you have an informal or personal tone to your writing? Or do you prefer the more formal structured approaches?

Perhaps you like to adjust your writing style to suit the topic. Many good writers do, but my observation has been that even some of the top bloggers use essentially a single voice in most of their writing.

Randy Olson’s book, Don’t Be Such A Scientist, slams the scientist for being too cerebral when it comes to writing for the lay reader. He explains that scientists are too literally minded, are poor story-tellers and in general tend to be unlikeable when they write about their passion, Science (check out Talk of the Nation interview).


Bill Bryson is one of my favourite authors. He has written earnestly and engagingly on Science, and often. Just read a chapter or two from his book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and you’ll know what I mean. But he’s not a scientist.
Bryson is a journalist. Yet even for me, twice a Science graduate, his ‘voice’ immediately captures my interest in the Science he writes about. He speaks as if he is talking with me, not talking directly at me.

Can bloggers learn a thing or two from successful writers like Bryson?
I think we can. But I also feel there’s more to it than just being able to write well in a specific style.

Knowing the appropriate
genre to use, as well as how to apply it, is part-way to writers’ success. My literary friend and blogging colleague, Virginia Yonkers, agrees with this point of view.

Is there a single genre that is appropriate to writing blog posts?
Or should the genre be selected according to the topic of the post? Could genre be chosen to address a particular target group within the readership of the blog?

There are six genres that embrace most of the writing styles that bloggers may use:





Which would you select when you write your next post?
Ngā mihi nui – Best wishes

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Binge Thinking

Kia ora tātou – Hello Everyone
Opens a new window on The Big Question
This month, The Big Question on the Learning Circuits Blog is to do with New Presenter and Learner Methods and Skills.

Multitasking is now every presenter’s problem. Tony Karrer posits, “that there are things that presenters and learners should do to address this.”

Multitasking is binge thinking. It has the potential to distend the capacity of the brain so that normal thinking to do with any one task, including learning, becomes severely impaired. Tony says it all here.

Scott Flansburg is a supreme example of how a person can perform amazing calculative feats. He executes thinking skills that traditionally command extremely high concentration levels and all the thinking power that permits this. His unique ability to close down areas of the brain normally associated with other peripheral tasks makes him a matchless unitasker.

Thinking tires the brain

I am convinced that people often shut down areas of their brains automatically to make it easier to think. For instance, it is now known that when making decisions, the brain’s executive resources can be taxed to an extent that cognitive ability is considerably impaired. To prevent this happening in some situations, fast track routines are adopted.

Too much decision making over a short space of time literally tires the brain. Do people make decisions when attending a presentation? You bet they do, if they make a genuine attempt to learn from it.

PowerPoint and other potential vagaries

So why is it that when the audience is supposedly concentrating on the single task of learning, the presenter insists on giving them a series of tasks to perform synchronously? Cognitive overload associated with the misuse of PowerPoint has become a talking point. It is an issue because it’s real.

Learners well know that when the presenter reads the text from a PowerPoint slide, the best thing to do is to shut the eyes and listen.

So why is the text on the PowerPoint slide in the first place? For the presenter? No! It’s there because the presenter knows nothing about cognitive overload. A better way is for the presenter to shut up and let the learner do his or her own reading.

Take note

Tony refers to backchannel as a distraction for the presenter. I’m not surprised he finds it distracting. It is nevertheless an inevitable activity if learners are engaged in taking notes, by whatever means they use.

Through years at school, university and attending hundreds of seminars since then, I have learnt to take notes while giving nearly full attention to a presentation. It’s one multitasking practice that I’m good at. But not everyone has this skill.

What I’ve found often helps is if the presenter provides printed notes on the PowerPoint bullets – before the presentation. This frees up the brain when it comes to taking notes. I just write my additional notes on the PowerPoint printout.

Cognitive engagement

But there is another aspect to presentation – and that is of intent.

What does the presenter really want the learner to take away from the experience? If the seminar has a sales pitch, it may be better not to dwell too much on the facts and details that a learner may take away.

Research has shown that the verbal content of a presentation, whether in speech or text, is only a small part of the total message conveyed to the attendee. How often has a conference goer raved about a ‘keynote’, reporting that the best thing about the presentation was its entertainment value?

What if the presentation was entirely lacking in entertainment, yet the same factual information was presented? Herein may lie a pedagogical message.

Entertainment provides two important features to the learner. It provides the necessary breaks between learning tasks and prevents the possible onset of cognitive overload brought on through multitasking. It also adds interest and factual significance by association.

Rangimārie - Peace in Harmony

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Kia ora tātou – Hello Everyone
Open new window at Bentham Manor
The web image and how it operates are often misunderstood. Hypertext Mark-up Language, more commonly known as html, was invented to process text size, shape and colour on the Web.

When it was realised that html and related codes could be used to handle images, the Internet became a viable commercial medium.

The pixel

The Pixel
Close examination of images, on screen or when printed, shows that they are made up of many coloured spots, dots or squares. These are called pixels. The word pixel (picture-element pix-el) can also refer to the digital information associated directly with the coloured spot, held on a computer or transferred in a download.

What can be confusing is that ‘pixel’ is also used when referring to the smallest element that displays a single spot of coloured light on a monitor or TV screen. These tiny elements are permanent parts of the screen hardware. They are not the same as the pixels in the image that effect the display.

Image file size

A popular misconception is that the dimensions of an image, as it appears on the screen, are to do with the space the image occupies in computer memory or on disk. The term ‘image size’ can also be misleading, though this term refers to the capacity of an image to occupy space in computer memory or on disk. It’s more usual to refer to it as the image ‘file size’, measured in kilobytes or megabytes.

Image dimension

Coloured Shapes
The physical size of an image on the screen is another property that’s often misinterpreted or misunderstood. Images are really two dimensional things. Despite tricks of design, it’s not possible to have an image that is triangular, round or any shape other than rectangular, unless there is some distortional fault with the printer or screen.

An image has a height and a width, which make it easy to define its dimensions. These two lengths are measured in pixels, but can also be given in mm or cm. Though variation tends to be slight, the physical accuracy of image dimensions expressed in metric units varies with the equipment used to display the image.

Optimising image file size

Digital cameras can take pictures with file sizes of several megabytes. There has to be literally tens of millions of pixels in the files so that high quality pictures can be obtained. The fineness of detail that’s displayed from such images is particularly useful if they are to be printed in a large format or viewed with full screen in a picture viewer.

Image PixelationImages show how pixelation increases when file size is reduced

For most web purposes, however, image files of that order of size and quality are not necessary. What’s more, huge image files can occupy valuable resource space on the host site and cause unreasonably long upload or download times.

It’s often prudent to use some form of quality reduction. Adjusting the content of the image so that it gives a satisfactory display with a smaller file size is called optimisation, or optimising the image.

Most image hosting websites, including blogs and social network sites, optimise images automatically. If the images are satisfactorily optimised before uploading to the host site, it can save time, and in some instances be a cost saving too. Sue Waters’ excellent post on Uploading Photos From Digital Cameras Into Blog Posts gives great instruction on using several free packages for doing this.

Bitmapped images

The simplest way of arranging image information in a digital file is when each pixel carries its own information, as in a bitmap. This can be an inefficient way of packing image information, however, so bitmapped images tend to have larger file sizes than other image types of the same quality.

Compressed formats

JPEG, PNG or GIF type images use different systems of file compression. Pixel information that is duplicated, as can happen when the same colours are used over large areas of an image, is stored in a formula within the image file. The result is a smaller file size than that of the equivalent bitmapped file with the same image quality.

One advantage of the GIF compressed file type is that it can also include information on how separate image frames can be constructed. A special type of GIF file can display a cyclical series of frames like a looped movie – the so-called animated GIF.

Vector graphics

The introduction of vector graphic creation tools, such as Adobe Flash Writer, has brought new dimensions to image design and the way images can be displayed. Standard bitmapped images and related image types tend to break up, or pixelate, when enlarged on the screen.

What happens on display is that the information held in the image file is stretched over a larger area than was intended. The result is an image that appears to lose detail and sharpness and may look as if it is made up of chunks of colour, which is precisely how it is composed.

A vector image, on the other hand, does not lose its sharpness or detail when it is enlarged on the screen, simply
because there are no pixels in its image construction. True vector images tend to be limited to line diagrams and ones with solid areas of colour, however, and cannot be created from digital camera image files.

Ngā mihi nui – Best wishes

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pale Blue Skin

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
Opens a new window at Modis_Wonderglobe NASA
Opens a new window at Blog Action Day '09

“What we must do now is step back from self interest and let common interest prevail.” – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer, at the Closing Press Briefing, Bangkok Climate Change Talks, 9 October, 2009.

The earth is a ball of rocky material, partly covered by water and enclosed in a capsule of gas called the atmosphere. As it orbits the sun, it is bathed in a stream of radiant energy. Some of this energy is absorbed by the earth as heat.

If absorption was the only process, the earth’s temperature would rise quickly, the water would boil off and its rocky surface would melt. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen. The earth reflects some radiation away from itself. It also radiates energy out to space. Artificial satellites can take photographs of the earth by the reflected and radiated energy.

There is a balance between energy the earth receives from the sun over time and energy it reflects and radiates. In an ideal world, the earth's overall temperature would be stable.

A hothouse

Theory has it that some factors enhance the absorption of the sun’s energy. One idea is that particular gases in the atmosphere can act like the glass of a greenhouse, trapping heat energy. It is believed that gases like these,
known as greenhouse gases, can cause the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere to rise.

Temperature shifts caused in this way are not necessarily evenly distributed across the globe. Some parts of the globe may even experience a lowering in the average temperature. Such is the complex nature of the earth’s atmosphere.

Some earth history

I find it fascinating that a beautiful green savanna, over a period of 6000 years, became the wasteland we now know as the Sahara Dessert.

Equally as curious is the desertion of a Neolithic settlement on Orkney 4500 years ago. Supposition is that a fall in temperature in the earth’s atmosphere, and ultimately a brutal storm, drove the settlers from their homes at Skara Brae in Orkney.

About 1500 years ago, Britain was invaded by the Saxons. One theory for the invasion is that it happened when Saxon homelands were being flooded by rising seas caused through climate change. The Saxons were looking for land that was less likely to be threatened by rising sea levels.

Earth’s varying climate

Despite the blame for climate change being levelled at the production of greenhouse gases by humans, it appears that significant climate variation is part of what has always happened.

All the above happenings took place during recorded history and are
similar to situations that have arisen in other parts of the world today. They came about when human contribution was comparatively insignificant.

Is it possible that these events would have occurred even if there had been no human contribution? Is it also possible that human intervention may have little effect on future climate change?

Faithful representation

There is a deal of misrepresentation about climate variation and its consequences. Unfortunately, the cover of the most recent United Nations Environmental Programme Report is a typical example of this. Not only is the representation flawed as to what global warming is likely to do to the surface of the planet, it also conveys a completely erroneous view of possible consequences to humankind.

There is a need for faithful representation of what’s happening to our planet. Attempts to provide this are likely to be subjective and are often prejudiced politically.

Reasoned approaches

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in December 1997, “aimed at combating global warming. The Protocol establishes legally binding commitment for the reduction of four greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride), and two groups of gases (hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons) . . . ”

Yvo de Boer expressed dismay at the current moves to “kill the Kyoto Protocol . . . by a number of developing countries . . . while at the same time there is not even something better in sight or on offer”.

The Kyoto Protocol attempts to take charge of those factors that may contribute to global warming and that are within human control. It represents reasoned approaches to responsibilities to the future of humankind and of other living creatures on this planet.

Global responsibility

For as much as change happening within the earth’s atmosphere is inevitable, humans apparently continue to make ruinous contributions that may well exacerbate a dangerous climatic situation.

Should we strive to deal with likely contributing factors that are within our reach to control? Or do we simply leave it to ‘Mother Earth’ to take care of all this?

The world’s nations are being alerted to the possible consequences of ignoring what appear to be clear signals from the planet. Talks are being held across the globe. My sincere hope is that nations throughout the world will adopt a unified approach to dangerous climate problems facing the planet – that they reaffirm the Kyoto Protocol and make commitments to take concerted action for the common good.

Grant (us) the serenity to accept the things (we) cannot change, the courage to change the things (we) can, and the wisdom to know the difference - Reinhold Niebuhr

Ngā mihi nui – Best wishes

Friday, October 9, 2009

A School of the Future?

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you allImage of Honawan opens in same windowOpens New Window on SLURL
I believe that education in the future may not be best achieved in schools. However, this post summarises what I think should be the components of an ideal school of the future. It is not a summary of my idea of where education should be going, or how it should be obtained.

Tania Sheko is hosting the 'Green Pen Society' (GPS) writers' club over at Brave New World, for Paul Cornies at quoteflections.

Her topic for October is:

What would your ideal school look like?
Design the school of the future – but do it now!

How could I resist a topic like that?

Having taught in many different schools, and in different countries, I’ve gathered hunches, likes, dislikes and theories that can help me with ideas for the design of the ideal school of the future. It is a difficult task.

A secondary school

The ‘ideal school’ is forever a mythical artefact, for by definition a school has to meet the needs of many. No school can serve completely all learners all of the time.

As well, its situational constraints must necessarily govern the functions that it can deliver and needs to provide.

My ideal school would be a secondary school with a roll of learners from say, ages 12 to 18 years. It will prepare all learners for further learning. It will provide pathways to employment for those learners who, for whatever reason, leave the school to seek employment before having completed all available education levels within the school.

School providers and authorities

Assuming that the school is capable of serving all situational needs of its learners, the first requisite must be that it is affordable.

Fine education costs. We should all know that by now. If it results in overspending, however, then ultimately the future availability of good education within the school will suffer.

For as much as the ideal resources, pedagogies and learning environments are important, and to whatever specification these may adhere to, if they cannot be sustained, or are not seen to be sustainable by the providing authority, they cannot form the components of my ideal school.


My school will have experienced governance, administered by a necessary board of trustees who genuinely have the future situational needs of the learners at heart. To do this, the governance must have a vision for the big picture of what education should bring to learners in the 21
st century.


Counterpart to governance, the school’s management will likewise have an eagerness to use such teaching structures within the school. There will be commitment to use resources, pedagogies and learning environments that foster teaching and learning that best suit the future needs of learners.

The whole picture

As boring as all of the above may seem, without them no ideal school will succeed. They are integral parts of the whole picture.

The school will have classrooms, workshops, laboratories, a library, recreational areas and halls as fit the needs of its composition. If at all possible, it will have a roll of about 550 learners. From experience this size appears to find the optimum fit when it comes to timetabling and managing resources and courses, especially for the senior learners within the school.

Allocation of classes should aim at an optimum size of 24 learners
and a ceiling of 28, with some flexibility within reason. This is an ideal school, so depending on the needs of individual learners there may be a call for smaller class sizes for some groups.

The best fit

I use the term ‘best fit’ on purpose here. Education is a complex thing.
I believe it is impossible to provide every factor that makes for good education, simply because of its complexity. Like other complex systems, however, it should be possible to make a best fit for ongoing situations, within and external to the school, that will be neither static nor exist in a state of equilibrium.

To this end, the learning resources provided in the school must also be capable of adapting rapidly to current changes. Methods used for delivering resources to teachers and learners must likewise be capable of evolving and adapting to suit emergent themes that will trace and follow the development of the immediate society.

A blended learning approach that best utilises the appropriate methods for teaching and learning to fit the learner and topic will be recognised by teachers and teacher management.

Elearning platforms

If an elearning platform must be established within the school, it should be open source. The expense of any commercial elearning platform can so easily preclude further development in platforms other than open source ones, so it is best to adopt open source from the beginning. This frees up finance, much needed within the school, for non-negotiable expenses and specific resources that may have no alternatives.

A stable, generic learner management system should embrace any learning content management system chosen to meet the needs of the school’s resource requirements. Too easily, the maintenance expenses on such systems can get out of hand, ending up like the tail wagging the dog. This is why good governance working closely with good management within the school is so important.

I’m talking in ideal big picture stuff here and purposely not mentioning commercial brands of hardware or software. A school that’s capable of adapting through emerging requirements should not be tied to any specific commercial provider or commodity brand.

And this brings me to a conclusion. The ideal school will need to be mobile, as the movement of a flock of birds. It will shift with the elements, yet remain intact as it moves bodily to meet the varying needs of the ever-changing learners within it.

A Green Pen Society contribution

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is The Whole World Dumbing Down?

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you allC GradesOpens a new window on Make beliefs Comix
A few months ago I read and reviewed Shelley Gare’s book, The Triumph of the Airheads and the Retreat from Commonsense. I was shaken by the déjà vu I experienced in every chapter. Her book is a treatise on the evolution and spread of postmodernism.

Recently, while doing my usual reading and follow-ups on matters educational, I stumbled on a brief clip of Branford Marsalis, renowned Jazz musician and educationalist. I admired Marsalis from afar and for many years I’ve appreciated his musicianship.

To hear this iconic, clear-minded musician and teacher talk of his students brought Gare’s almost prophetic words back to me with a vengeance:

Airheads, at their most extreme, can worry only about
themselves and the rest of the world can go to buggery.

Are our learners catching airheadism too?

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later

Saturday, October 3, 2009

So You Have a Major Project! Where Do You Start?

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
Major Project
I’m on leave this week. I decided to paint the bathroom. This was no small undertaking for me. Not the painting – the decision!

I’m no great shakes as a painter. I do the job thoroughly though, which is why I won’t get someone in to do it. But I’d rather watch TV.

This is the third time I’ve painted our bathroom in almost as many centuries. So I know what’s involved. But for me, it’s still a major project. Where do I start?

Around the scraping, sanding, swearing, stepladder and pots of paint,
I have to organise the family. That includes one loveable teenage daughter. Bathrooms are it for teenage girls, and we have only one bathroom. The strategy needed to coordinate even a small family around an arguably useful bathroom-being-renovated is a major project in itself.

Pale Sky Blue seems like a good colour for the walls – Oriental Bay, that’s the tint! It’ll match the nearly new shower and window curtains that everyone’s so fond of. We’ll get some new vinyl for the floor – replace the vanity mirror and everything will be hunky-dory.

I’ve forgotten where I put the old paint-roller and tray. Yes, I could really do with some new paint-brushes. There was a hardware sale advertised in the Weekender. Perhaps I should pay the store a visit and have a look. And there was the advert we saw on TV last night. Pity I didn’t take a note of the dates. Maybe there’ll be an ad on TV

So you can see that I have a problem starting a major project!

Where to start?

At home and at work, I’ve had lots of major projects that I’ve deliberated over. One thing has come clear to me over the years. Procrastinating gets me nowhere when it comes to the major project.

So where do I start?

The answer is . . .

With a task like this, postponing the inevitable just runs away with the valuable time I need for scraping, sanding, swearing and messing about with stepladder and pots of paint.

So I get into town and buy the paint. Return home, change, grab the scraper and sandpaper and start preparing the walls.

"What about the family and access they have to the bathroom?" you say. Needs must. They’ll just have to make the best of a bathroom-being-renovated the same as I will.

So that’s it really.

Where do you start a major project? The answer is 'anywhere'. Oh, a bit of planning won’t go amiss. But it’s the same with planning. In fact, for some projects, just the planning becomes a major project. So you have to draft a plan.

Where do you start with that? Anywhere!

It’s the starting that’s the thing.

The weight
on the mind of any major project can be profoundly burdensome. And a project doesn’t really have to be all that big for it to be considered major. Take writing this blog post for instance. I really wasn’t up to writing a post today. I’d just finished nursing my aching back after painting the bathroom ceiling. But where did I start?


I just have to get started, that’s all. Sometimes starting a major project can be as difficult as completing the rest of the project!

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later

Friday, October 2, 2009

Review of a Month of Fun

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
Well my blog didn’t get voted Blog-o-the-Month for September. But I reckon I had a good shot at it. I learnt a lot into the bargain. I found Second Life to be a lot of fun and certainly worth a second look.

The winner

The blog, e-Clippings (Learning As Art) won Blog-o-the-Month for September. I heartily congratulate Mark Oehlert on this distinction.

I have to admit that this blog was a new one on me. I didn’t know of it until Scott Merrick drew my attention to its existence in his announcement at the beginning of September. Blogger Mark Oehlert maintains a mean blog. I recommend you check it out.

The runner ups

The other nominees were The Bamboo Project, by blogger Michele Martin and Donald Clark Plan B, by Donald Clark no less. I was privileged to be nominated alongside such prestigious bloggers!

Michele Martin’s blog has been in my RSS Reader and blog roll almost since I first wrote a blog post. In May 2008, Michele not only convinced me I should get into blogging, she also furnished me with nearly all of the blogging skills I possess today. (I am indebted to you Michele.)

The posts Michele publishes on her blog make me think, and I salute her ability to solicit thought by her incisive choice of topics. If you have not already done so, I’d recommend you hop over to The Bamboo Project and check out what’s happening there.

Donald Clark, of Plan B fame is another whose blog has been in my RSS Reader and blog roll since I began blogging. I have always viewed Donald as a bit of an icon in elearning. He is an icon in elearning!

Donald’s blog provides topical conversation with a variety of topics that I so much enjoy. Whether you have a plan A or a plan B, I advise you to check out Donald Clark Plan B.

Thanks to ISTE and to Scott Merrick for the nomination and for delivering to me a new and interesting topic for posts in the month of September.

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later