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.

New Media Consortium

Earlier this semester I discovered New Media Consortium, the research center that tracks emerging technologies, and its yearly Horizon Reports. Below is a short summary about NMC Horizon Reports and links to those reports.

NMC Horizon Reports

 

With well over one million downloads in the past ten years, the NMC Horizon Report series serves the higher education, K-12, and museum communities across the globe in their desire to understand the impact of emerging technologies on their chosen field or discipline. Not a predictive tool, the NMC Horizon Report provides insight into the technologies that are most likely to make a significant impact across three time horizons, based on the consensus opinions of the self-nominated advisory board.

Expert Research and Analysis
In 2002, the NMC launched the first NMC Horizon Report and expanded its reach in 2008 and 2010 to cover both formal and informal learning in the higher education, K-12, and museum sectors. The reports provide a detailed overview of six emerging technology topics and explore the relevance of each for teaching, learning, and creative inquiry through action-based examples and recommended further readings. Each NMC Horizon Report is released with a Creative Commons attribution-only license and may be freely replicated and distributed.

International Perspective
Because of the growing desire from institutions in different parts of the world to gain more region-specific insight, in 2011 the NMC expanded the work of the project to include the series of NMC Technology Outlooks — special editions of the NMC Horizon Report that focus on the future landscape of learning in particular regions and/or countries. This new series of reports is the product of collaborations between the NMC and innovative organizations across the world that seek to leverage the well-known medium of the NMC Horizon Report to bring important research, trends, and challenges in their regions to light.

Consensus Among Thought Leaders
Each edition of the NMC Horizon Report or Technology Outlook begins with the formation of an international, multi-disciplinary group of between 40 and 50 technology experts from both within and outside higher education. That group engages in dialog and discussions about potential applications of emerging technologies — most of which may not be obvious if the technology is very new. Participation on the Horizon Project advisory board is by invitation after self-nomination, and participants are honored with a special listing and acknowledgement in the NMC Horizon Report. Since 2002, hundreds of experts from all over the world have served on an NMC Horizon Project advisory board.

> NMC Horizon Project

> NMC Horizon Reports

> NMC Horizon Project Navigator

Adding Categories

It’s not a big thing. It’s really a baby step in the world of blogging. But it’s a baby step I took and didn’t fall down. One of my stated goals for Peregrinating the Web (PTW) is for it to be a place that digital immigrants can find support, comfort and help. Another goal was for this PLE to have visual and content structure. So, duh, why did it take me over a month to recognize that “categories” is intended for such a site-organizational task. I’m sure there are other ways to organize a blog, better ways. But, this one will do. So, for all you fearful first-time WordPress blogger-persons, like me, here’s how I learned to create the lovely categories you now see on PTW.

First, I went to this website: http://en.support.wordpress.com/posts/categories/ and scrolled down to the section on adding categories from Dashboard.

 I like Dashboard; it’s friendly and not too intimidating. I decided to add a picture so you’d know what it looks like. (Note: Adding pictures is a little outside my present comfort zone because I haven’t learned how to make them behave the way I want them to. So we’ll see.) I clicked on Categories and  sure enough, just as the site foretold, a nice fillable form

appeared that was pretty self-explanatory. My intentions for this site are to make it easy to use and follow. During my visioning about what I wanted this PLE to be, structure was important. Voila! here is the mechanism to accomplish that. So, I entered the type of categories I had already considered in the “Name” box. Under “Name” is a box marked “Parent.” Love at first sight! Here was the way to structure posts by theme and topic. So, now there are five Parent categories, two of them with sub-categories.

I’m satisfied. It turned out okay.

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.

Hot off the Press! Time Magazine’s Cover Story about Higher Ed

Just received this week’s TIME magazine with cover story about the pros and cons of online vs. in person college education. This high-visibility publication is already getting plenty of interest in the blogosphere. Here are a few links:                                                                                                    

  1. TIME article: http://nation.time.com/2012/10/18/college-is-dead-long-live-college/
  2. Connectivist Stephen Downes: http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=59296
  3. https://plus.google.com/116936089053490488674/posts/JyrtHCoXayZ

Don Kirkpatrick, Live! Webinar, November 5

I had wanted to introduce my IT570 classmates to this website http://www.trainingindustry.com for some time. For some reason I’ve been on their mailing list for years. Over that time, I’ve peeked at their materials feeling like a total outsider. Now, it makes more sense.

Since we engage with Don Kirkpatrick’s work on a regular basis, thought you might enjoy hearing him live in a webinar on Nov. 5. Registration links below. Here’s a summary from the website:

Training industry legend Don Kirkpatrick will make a special appearance and you’ll learn from Kirkpatrick Partners principals James Kirkpatrick and Wendy Kirkpatrick as they show you the newest way to implement the famous Four Levels of learning measurement. In this interactive seminar, we’ll focus on Level 3 and 4 tactics and provide practical ideas you can implement in your organization. The interactive seminar you will learn: 

  • Why starting with desired results in mind is critical to successful initiatives.
  • What specific tactics you can use to influence on-the-job behavior.
  • How to create programs that enhance both on-the-job performance and bottom-line results. from http://www.trainingindustry.com                                                                                                 To register, use this link http://www.trainingindustry.com/seminars/delivering-real-value-kirkpatrick-levels-3-and-4.aspx