Saturday, February 26, 2005

Six Weeks So Soon?

For all my curmudgeonly complaints, I have to say this has been a blast.

Thanks to the coordinators and my fellow participants. I keep coming back to see if anybody's left comments .. and I still have a HUGE list of blogs to watch -- without even going out into the branches that most of us have made into other areas.

Nancy, Lesley, Sarolta, Marco ... and all the others who've worked so hard and contributed so much to the course. It's been an honor to play with you here in the the blogosphere ... I hope you stay in touch and keep writing in your blogs.


Thursday, February 24, 2005


Part of this post is my lack of breakfast talking.

I missed my breakfast because I hurried to get to the office by 7am local time to participate in the Learning Times event this morning. I came to the office because none of the setups in my home actually work because the machines I can expose to the outside world are all linux based. My windows machines are not sufficiently hardened to be exposed. In my haste, I forgot that the university for which I work has changed their policies on access and my machine is now "behind the wall" and Elluminate is blocked.

While the experience with EVO2005 has been generally positive -- I'll do a full critique later -- this LearningTimes/Elluminate thing has been a hugely frustrating experience. Even when I managed to get connected, it was on an unsupported platform and I could not take full advantage of the participation.

I would recommend that this platform be abandoned until the issues of firewall and platform compatability can resolved. There is no way I could recommend use of this platform under the circumstances.

And I'm PARTICULARLY pissed because I missed my breakfast in order to be closed out of the experience AGAIN!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

On Community

At the Northern Voice conference last weekend in Vancouver, Stephen Downes offered this theory of community.

A Theory of Community
a system defined by three major components:
  1. a means of organizing input and experience
  2. a mechanism for putting that experience into context,
  3. a means of creation, of becoming part of someone else's experience

The idea here is that community is defined by the relations between its members, not some inherent property or quality – defined semantically, not syntactically

I like this. It helps explain how a random group of bloggers is not a community, but a group like ours is. Granted Downes has this in a blogging context, but he really is talking about communities in general.

See The New PR Wiki for a whole raft of Northern Voice resources.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Something I Found

Well, something that somebody else found, and somebody ELSE built upon until I listened to it this morning and wanted to pass on to somebody.

I follow about 250 blogs now in my Sage aggregator. I get a lot of linkages. Jeanne Sessum's Allied blog is one of them. And she probably follows 500. She's always got cool stuff in there that makes me think.

Today I found this audio file that's as good a representation of the potential as any I've heard. It's significant because the original audio was just the voice. One of the people who heard the mp3 took it and put the piano behind it.

Ack. My addendum: My apologies to STWC for NOT linking to his blog entry instead of just the audio ... Man, I *meant* to do that ... I claim "brain cloud"

Stavrosthewonderchicken's Empty Bottle blog

I should probably do the "language warning" (he swears a little) and the "adult content" warning because he talks about youthful transgressions of the pharmaceutical variety.

... Pete's Slings and Arrows questions the value of blogging in education. Well, education is about making connections. Blogging allows us to extend those connections outside our selves, beyond our comfort zone, into the area where new connections happen ... It's all about the linkages ...

People of Earth, remember.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


i) What are e-portfolios?

The construct e-portfolios is a simple extension of the "artist portfolio" where an artist keeps representative samples and exemplars of his work. In the digital age, it only makes sense that this construct move online and become part of wider communities of practice. This is especially true for education and technology where more and more professional practice occurs in a digital format.

I particularly like the opportunity to reflect and explain in the online portfolio. In the classic portfolio, the artifacts spoke for themselves -- the artist's inclusion of this or that work goes unexplored and unexplained. As Helen Barnett points out, the electronic portfolio allows for that reflective exploration of an artifact. Why is it included? What does it represent to me? What significance does it have?

ii) How can they be of use to me and my classes?

It would be easy to consider the artifacts of a class as being the grist for a portfolio. But from an educational standpoint, the value of class related artifacts rests in their ability to trigger reflection ("Oh, my! I'd forgotten I'd done THAT!") and to add a level of meta-cognition to the eduational process. ("Final Exam: Pick the 3 most important artifacts you created in the course, and explain why each is significant individually, why they are significant as a group, and how they reflect the changed state of your understanding of the content. Place (at least) those three artifacts and your paper in your permanent portfolio.")

I think the REAL value -- and I've seen this happening as I've been assembling my own portfolio -- is that months, or years, later, the portfolio becomes a powerful tool for synthesis and evaluation. I wish I'd had mine longer. I'd really like to have some of the artifacts from my early computer days. Pictures of my first computer (the one I built), the software I created to measure program complexity, the presentation materials from my first conference, pictures of the ships I helped build -- all of those are lost now.

Helping students -- especially those in secondary or post-secondary education -- to form the portfolio habit would be immensely useful for many of them.

iii) What relationship is there between blogs and e-portfolios?

Blogs can serve as repositories for portfolios. My portfolio is stored in a TextPattern blog. One of the artifacts is my "professional" blog space -- Cognitive Dissonance -- and serves as a repository of all my formative writings relating to distance education. In a certain sense, a blog becomes a portfolio in the absence of other artifacts, the same way a diary becomes a marker for reflection and synthesis. The public nature of the blog or portfolio means that everybody has the opportunity to build a little place to show the world what you are and where you've come from.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Online Portfolio

A few weeks ago, I came across Dr Helen Barrett's ePortfolios for Learning I was really impressed that she'd done a LOT of work looking at various portfolio tools from the perspective of ease of use, portability, etc. I'd been toying with the idea that I needed to get my own materials together. Last May I graduated with my Ph.D. and the artifacts of my graduate school days were slipping out of my control as I migrated from computer to computer, harddrive to harddrive.

I already owned a domain and rented private server space, so I repurposed it to be

Durandus Logo

Feel free to visit (click the graphic) and explore my site.

One of the key elements in the portfolio is the twin construct of selection and significance. This idea is that one doesn't include EVERYTHING in a portfolio -- only select those things that are somehow significant. I didn't included every web page I ever created ... only those that were somehow significant to me. Likewise, I chose artifacts of my evolution as web designer -- even leaving some of the embarassing stuff up -- and educational designer. There's still a lot to do, but I feel like I've made a good start.

The underlying software is a blog engine running TextPattern but it branches out as needed into my WordPress blog and even into coded spaces.

Let me know what you think of it.

How to use a Button

This post is part of my tutorial on how to use a button.

At this point,
  1. I've created a small graphic to use as a button,
  2. I've created my audio file.
  3. I've uploaded both to a server.
Now I just need to use them in a link

Saturday, February 12, 2005

End of Week 4

I've been such a derelict this week.

On the one had, I was looking for an excuse to play with mp3 files. Finally made my first one and it's not bad.

One thing I find troubling is that almost everybody else used proprietary HTML <EMBED> tags so I can't listen to their MP3s. I wonder if they realize it...

Aparently they didn't.

Standards (and the ways in which Internet Explorer subverts them) can be an nasty problem. I've been a thorn in the side by insisting on trying everything in Linux on a Firefox browser, I know, but it's one of the best ways to find those things that will cause problems in cross-platform environments.

I've spent part of this Sunday afternoon listening to audio clips (I have to do a lil work but I *can* extract the links from the source code and plug them into my audio player). Every day Sarolta does something else cool. I loved listening to the story about the hotel. And thanks, Nancy, for making a link I could click on to load it. It was a relief.

The real value for audio in education will be as podcast, I think. Being able to subscribe to audio feeds and download them over night -- or even during the day while I'm engaged in my office. The challenge will be in creating audio that's not lecture. Rob Reynolds over on Xplana Radio ( is one of my favorite educational podcasters because he makes really short essays and posts them in audio and print. It's nice to be able to load my MP3 player and take them on my morning commute.

In Week 5 we should have fun. . . I'll share my own ePortfolio ...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Audio post

OK. A first try at posting an audio link.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

An old negative ...  Posted by Hello

Some years ago, my mother sent me an envelope of old negatives. These are the old Kodak Safety Film negatives in a large format. Tonight, I found the envelope and put the negatives in the scanner.

I remember the day my mother took this picture of me. It was a lovely sunny summer day and I was sitting on a green wool blanket on the beach outside our house. I'm playing with the pipes in my father's piperack and I can still smell the tobacco residue and the pines above me. I think there were chickadees... but I had no idea what the smells or sounds meant.

This negative is over 50 years old. It scanned pretty well, don't you think?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Mary Harrsch - a reflection

Personally, I was disappointed.

Once again, Learning Times tripped me up. I was able to hear Mary's lecture but when she went "driving around" my browser wouldn't follow. Even after I released the firewall and reprogrammed my router to accept the extra ports required, the only time I saw any of the graphical content was when it got put on the Whiteboard. It sounded sorta interesting.

The other problem I have is this notion of getting everbody in the same space at same time so we can all sit around and listen to one person talk. Granted the text chat was there, but the presentation mode ... sitting at the feet of the master ... seemed like we weren't really taking advantage of the opportity to get in and get our hands dirty.

The material sounded like it was pretty good, but couldn't that have been offered .. say .. in a blog, or as some other kind of publication rather than having Mary walk us thru it. The questions that people were asking seemed pretty decent .. and some of the follow on blogging I've read says that the majority of people liked it and got a lot out of it.

Myself, I can't help but think this glass was half empty. While that means it was also half-full, I would have liked to use that other half glass.

Ideas for using RSS in class:

- Put a technorati key-word watchlist together and post the link to it to the class for use in their aggregators.
- Cross link all the blogs in the class to a single aggregator stream.
- Build a tag list and feed it into an aggregator.
- Teacher publishes work, assignments, content on RSS to the members of his/her class.

Ah, well.


Picasa - Hello - Blogger

A Quick Test of Bloggerbot and Hello Posted by Hello