Messing “About”

Anna Lea West (http://annaleawest.com/) had a thing about About, “My blog has been held up by my inability to write an “about” page. To stop this ridiculousness, I’m giving myself 5 minutes to tell you all you need to know. Here goes.” Then she launches into 12 bullet points about herself. Anna Lea’s picture is not on the About page but on the home page she’s captured in the passenger seat of what looks like a mini-van. I found Anna Lea on the “Freshly Pressed” Freshly Pressedtab @ wordpress.com. Peregrinating the Web wasn’t held up for lack of About, but without About, it lacked. At least in my opinion. A blog with an unpopulated About is not as welcoming, dimensional, and appealing as blogs that introduce their author. About is about relationship and trust. Just who is this person anyway?

So, the calm Saturday three weeks ago, before the Thanksgiving and end-of-semester rush, seemed to be the perfect time to add a pic and blurb to the About section of Peregrinating the Web. First step: Follow instructions. So, to Wordpress web addressBig lean wordpress screenshotI started at  Tutorials and walkthrough screen shot . The more step-by-step help the better. Only issue, that day I could not find good info about About so I reasoned that if I completed the Profile section that information would automatically update About. Wrong. Nonetheless, the process proved instructive. I learned about adding media through the “Add Media” tool. From the “Choose File” box I found a picture that I could tolerate then clicked “Upload.”Add media screenshotAnd, Voila..

Profile didn't load screen shot 

Failed! How could that have happened? I followed directions. That was enough for one day. A body can only stand so much!

Fast forward to today. A new day. A fresh chance. This time the instructions advised to go to Dashboard    Dashboard screenshotand click on Pages.  A drop-down menu appearedAll Pages screenshot

and I clicked on “All Pages” andPages screenshot

checked the “About” box.

From there it was a piece of cake! My picture greeted me. What a surprise! Evidently, all was not lost from the session three weeks ago. Thankfully, the copy had been saved in a Pages document so that was a quick copy/paste action. (“Pages” is Apple’s word processing program in case you’re not a Mac diva like me.) About was done. Now Peregrinating the Web followers know a little more about its creator.

P.S. It’s always a learning experience. While completing About was much easier than expected, creating this blog taught me another lesson that’s recorded in a post earlier today.

An Unplanned Post; Timeless Advice

“Type a little; save a lot” was the big-picture takeaway my friend Linda shared with me many years ago after she had attended a week-long computer training course. Handicapped with low-vision, Linda acquired marketable computer skills at that workshop which opened a world of opportunity for her. And that sage advice still rings true, especially in blogosphere. At least for me. I confess, I haven’t followed it. In the past several weeks, failure to follow those six little words has cost time and lost content. And, I’m posting this now as a word of warning that I hope you don’t need. I am really talking to myself because the blog that should have been posted nearly three weeks evaporated for the second time today. I was merrily working away, clicking between tabs, gathering information, when, oops! I x-ed the wrong tab and away went a couple of hours worth of brilliant prose. (I’m a slow, picky writer.) Although, this little text at the bottom right of the text pad tells me the draft is saved, it lies. It didn’t save the latest draft of the earlier work and it’s not 10:44:01 p.m. So, my remedy and advice: to create in a word processor then copy and paste to the blog when it’s ready. Not before. Do you hear that, Brenda?

Truth in Blogging

This morning I showed the twenty-something SailAway staff member Peregrinating the Web. Her dark almond eyes widened as she stared. “Wow!” It was all the praise I needed to keep me going. Then she asked the question. “How did you do it? It looks great!.”

I should have told her the truth right then and there: I didn’t. She thought I knew what I was doing. I didn’t. Mostly it just…happened…serendipity.

Two days earlier she had shown me how to format a blog site. The rhythm of her click-and-paste, finger-thumb tango across the “Appearance”menu

seemed like child’s play. Her fingers whirled and twirled and images appeared and colors splashed on the board. “See. It’s easy,” she said as she prepared to leave for the day. I didn’t believed her. I left my screen open to “Themes”

in the “Appearance”drop-down menu from Dashboard…for two days. I was concerned I might not find it again and furthermore, It took me that long to screw up enough courage to click again. Oh, I forgot a small item: the color palette had frozen on my  helper. Only the Lord knows what havoc that glitch might wreak on my frail confidence.

When I came back, lo, and behold, “Themes” was still there with dozens of themes to the right. I scrolled through many worthy options until Twenty Eleven caught my attention. So I clicked and, voila! a whole new Peregrinating the Web. There was even a headline picture. How on earth did that picture get there? It didn’t fit a peregrinating theme and furthermore it changed every few seconds. I remembered my twenty-something assistant had gone on line, found a picture she liked, and inserted it into her site. Seemed like a no brainer. I poked around the options under headline picture and there was no insert option. So, I kept an close watch on the scrolling stock-options until something with a peregrinating feel appeared. Ocean! Perfect. Click. Done deal.

Oo, the plain white background did not fit. Hey, background option. In addition to the fearful color palette it offered a personal selection option. Ah, here’s the chance to use that really poignant peregrinating photo the headline wouldn’t accept.

  Nice, huh? Great photo for a headline; rotten for a background. Out you go. So, back to the color palette. The dreaded color palette. Surprise! It cooperated  and that beautiful, deep sea blue is the result. I liked it. Quickly published before any further disasters to could happen.

I did it! One small step for the immigrant in the new land.

Peregrinating the soul of the matter

Peregrinating the soul of the matter…

Discomfit. That’s what it’s all about. This state of perplexity … and perhaps a tad of embarrassment…about how to mount a Personal Learning Environment that fits my personally established criteria: embark on a journey through the far reaches of the Web to discover and uncover the most pertinent, thought-provoking, instructive information about Instructional Design Technology and post it on an appealing, easily navigable space created by moi.

Not a hard task? That’s what the twenty-something staff members at SailAway Academy assured me. Well, not so certain for me, a digital immigrant. This post chronicles my journey thus far into the world of blogging, a vast unknown prior to this assignment to create a Personal Learning Environment for my IDT class.

Peregrination is about travels and journeys. I began this one by visioning what this trek would entail. After all, it would be similar any other journey, physical or intellectual, I had taken before. A quick recollection of actual journeys sorted them into planned and spontaneous, structured and unstructured. My youngest son’s five-week wanderings in Europe last summer were meticulously planned, tickets purchased and reservations made weeks in advance. It was a great trip. On the other hand, one of my most memorable peregrinations was a trip to Cape Cod. It was so spontaneous we couldn’t find a room so we slept on the beach, under the stars, lullabied by lapping waves, well guarded through the night by our faithful Pekingese.  A fabulous trip. I wanted my PLE to reflect the dichotomy of my personal peregrinating preferences: obsession for structure cycling with pure impulsivity.

So, I decided this space would have two intentional elements: structured and unstructured. Structured in the sense that there would be one place devoted to the learning theories, Instructivism, Constructivism, and Connectivism, I was studying in my class and how to apply them to instructional design technology. This portion would have a rather academic feel, take on a more direct instructional identify, and extend my classwork learning. The unstructured components would be fun posts about cool things about IDT or learning that I tripped over as I peregrinated the web less intentionally. Both seemed to me to be valid and necessary, an honest reflection of my very own virtual personal learning space.

Intellectual excitement for this new learning adventured bubbled within my being. Then, I landed on the technological shores of WordPress, unprepared to do what I passionately wanted to do, even though it was a required assignment for an IDT class in preparing to teach others to create and manage a PLE. I just couldn’t find a way to make the technology do what I wanted: I hadn’t acquired any level of ability. Nonetheless I trucked on.

The first few weeks I managed to post what was required with limited success. All the while capped angst about my digital inadequacies and tense frustration fomented under a feigned all-is-well veneer. Accomplishing that initial task didn’t illicit that sense of elated satisfaction I get when I work a stats problem correctly. Stats is difficult for me but when I wrestle with a problem long enough and figure it out, even if the simple arithmetic trips me up…wow! what ecstasy! The mistakes aren’t monumental in those stats problems either, unlike they were for me trying to build the Peregrinating the Web site. I would take an action and it would either not look like what I had expected or it would disappear! Once, in an attempt to up the design ante, I lost the sub-title. (I’ve now regained it, stumbling across an editing page that allowed me to reclaim it.) Then, there is the issue of time, that limited commodity of which there is never enough. What I felt should be a quick post to share some interesting thoughts or websites with classmates turned into an hour-long, nail-biting episode. “Well,” I thought to myself, “It’s up. That’s progress.” Then that modicum of success wilted as I visited my classmates’ appealingly formatted PLEs, teeming with interesting, informative, mature blog posts populated with graphics, and videos, and links, and all manner of good stuff to feast the eyes and mind on.

I take a stand: the phase of timidity in the face of challenge must end; how to peregrinate well through this new land must be confronted. So, structure begins to emerge from the mists of confusion.

I make a decision: forget formatting and look for now. That’s a world of skill acquisition unto itself. For now, only content counts. And surely as the content gets pasted to the site, through the process of just doing, the skills to do it well will follow. They must. That’s the thesis anyway.

What is it then that I want this space to BE in the vastness of contemporary connectedness to myself and my learning, and how that part of my being intersects and interacts with others who are also developing and defining their being and their learning in digital conversations and communications?

THE PEREGRINATING THE WEB MANIFESTO

1. Assist other digital immigrants (poor souls!) develop Personal Learning Environments that will satisfy their individual learning needs (a place to park information as it’s funneled through a sieve of questioning-to-clarity) and be instructive, helpful, affirming, ____________, ____________, __________, (blanks to be filled in as the process unfolds) for others.

2. Be accessible with an easy-to-navigate format, content rich, compellingly written, and visually appealing.

3.Tame the *@!* WordPress program so it will do what I want it to do so others will know they can, too.

4. Chronicle the raw data of emotions of discouragement and success as unashamedly as possible along with the information about learning and teaching and how it’s done in the digital age.

I think it’s doable.