Monday, March 26, 2007

Breaking email habits (via Tomorrow's Professor)

In Tomorrow's Professor, TP Msg. #783 Seven Tips for Dealing with Email Addiction (March 14, 2007 00:31:36 JST), is a whack of advice for coping with "the most insidious, seductive time-waster we face" - email handling. Below is what I've done or decided to do in response to each of the seven suggestions from Mary McKinney, Ph.D:
  1. Quit launching the mail program at computer startup to make deciding whether to attend to mail first a conscious decision;
  2. Turned off the new mail sound to avoid auditory distraction while working on other things;
  3. Decided to turn mail off between sessions, though I'm not sure restarting will save time; if it doesn't I'll hide the mail application between mail checks;
  4. Decided to monitor how often (and when) I check mail during the day for five working days.
  5. Decided to check mail routinely every two hours, at: 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00 & 18:00, for now;
  6. Planned to cut back to 2-3 mail checks a day once I get a handle on opportune times (4., above); &
  7. Planned to consider "more relaxing or rewarding" alternatives before checking mail.
Subscriptions to TP are free, and after two weeks you can retrieve TP messages from the Stanford University Center for Teaching and Learning archives. Mary offers further tips for academics on her coaching site.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pre-Course Experience

Though I'm torn with regard to whether this blog, or another that I maintain, is an appropriate venue to spill gut feelings, I've decided to do so here. This will be a reflective piece regarding preliminaries to one of the first online courses to which I enrolled.

As soon as I had logged in to the course, a day or so before it was scheduled to begin, I discovered literally hundreds of unread messages. Regardless of ... [unswerving] family support, ... [and all the rest that enabled me to get where I was at the time]

I never wish[-ed] to create such an imposing presence [, or rather overwhelming burden of interpersonal data to digest from ill-threaded discussions, waiting to greet new-comers to a course that hadn't started]. Though I was striving to adjust to a new physical environment, in an unfamiliar country, the [massive novelty of online (only)] peer-to-peer ... [self-identification and relationship building was] phenomenal[-ly challenging].

[Original draft: 2007.03.24; retrieved and roughed out in retrospect: 2010.07.09]

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Backup your template regularly!

The more involved that you get with your blog, the greater the chance is that you or the blogging service that you're using will mess it up radically. So here is a bit of advice to myself as much as anyone:

Backup / Restore Template

Before editing your template, you may want to save a copy of it. Download Full Template....
(Blogger: Settings: Template: Edit HTML)

You do want to backup your template before you radically change it, don't you?

Friday, March 16, 2007

A word about smile-e

Smile-e (2007)
Originally uploaded by pabeaufait.
This post introduces a new logo for pab's potpourri, smile-e (2007), created with Omni Graffle Pro.

The concept is actually about three years old, but has come a long way since 2004. It has survived two trans-oceanic relocations: one on paper, another on disk.

The yin-yang design represents blending of face-to-face and online communication. The smiley on top of the "e" indicates preference for face-to-face communication.

Smile-e (2004)
Originally uploaded by pabeaufait.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

BROG Shirt

BROG Shirt
Originally uploaded by p373.
Interesting list of brog papers to check out here. Thanks to Rick for pointing this out!


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Selection and sorting of B4B blogs

The table below contains a roughly sorted list of blogs that I'd selected during the Blogging for the Beginners (B4B) Electronic Village Online workshop - by no means all of the blogs announced or featured in that six-week workshop. I've extracted the blog links from the B4B Blogroll on this blog, and will soon delete the blogroll.

The B4B blogroll grew too long, especially in addition to a long list of experimental blog post labels that I was trying out. I tired of scrolling, and lost track of why I had picked particular blogs.

Having had another look through all of the blogs selected, I'm re-posting the blog titles and links here to show a variety of ways that workshop participants, educators from around the world, approach blogging and develop blogs for learners and themselves. Since I've started a couple more blogs since the B4B workshop ended, I've added them to the lists.

As you review the blogs listed, if you feel one belongs in a different or new category, please suggest changes in a comment.

Courses, international exchanges & learner development

Educational technology & teacher development


An International Exchange

Blogging for Beginners


Bloggers Int'l (U of T)

Edublog Insights


Connected to the World

ELT Notes


Dear Students

ESL and Technology

On the Waters of Key West

Facilitating Learning

Jenny's Blog on Blogging

pab's potpourri

FCE Blog, The


pab's vox blog

Get Hip to Learning English

LTD Project Blog, The

Greater Expectations

Movie Reviews

In, out and away

One Teacher's Journey

Juvenile 3 podcast[s]

Puppets in Action

Learning English @ MEI

Ways Lead On

pcsi news

Writing with computers

Reviewers, The

Samba EFL Podcast

Writing Studio Blog, The

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Tip of an information iceberg - telling questions

In an interesting elgg weblog, Christopher D. Sessums points out a "provocative" animated presentation about the Facebook:


Sessums follows up with telling questions, then reveals another layer of the story, a blog post archived on a Common Ground - Common Sense forum, dated August 3, 2005, with a whack of other references to follow up.

In comments on Sessums' weblog entry, Frances Bell cites Facebook terms of use and asks another telling question: "If user content had already been reused or republished, what meaning would expiry of license have?"

Though this may be just the tip of an information iceberg, is it not too late to steer clear?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Singeing the Monkey's Tail

As you might suspect from the title of this post, what you may read here will heat up before it cools down. I've been chilling the content since February 23, 2007, already. If your can't stand the residual heat or the pungent odor, please skip this message.

The purpose of this response to an EVO survey is to cool down by metaphorically singeing the monkey's tail. Nine times out of ten (or more) that I bother to engage a Survey Monkey instrument, I get hot under the collar - for a number of reasons.

First and foremost is the off-the-wall time estimates that preface many surveys. If surveyors really want no more than five to ten minutes of our time, they don't want substantive feedback. They are just going through the motions. Or, they are lying up front just to get responses, and hoping that respondents will follow up on their time investments, once they get started. (Echo Neil Young's song, Piece of ..., about here.)

Second, even when the surveys and time estimates come from prestigious institutions (research universities and professional organizations), they fail to demonstrate rigo(u)r in item preparation (or I suppose, piloting). For example, items 8-10 of a recent Electronic Village Online (EVO) survey conflate any number of serious research questions. If you just tick a box, fine; but what does that mean; or, for that matter, what do three or four ticked boxes on a single item mean?

Almost every time that I engage a Survey Monkey questionnaire, I start humming and rehearsing the lyrics of Neil Young's song: "Take it back to the store; they give you four more...." Doing so used to get me through - sometimes an hour or more beyond surveyors' time estimates, but hardly does anymore.

Then there is the issue of feedback on feedback. In recent experience (say, the last three to five years), most Survey Monkey surveyors have neither prefaced their instruments with promises to provide feedback, nor (to my knowledge [with possibly one exception]) provided any feedback whatsoever to survey participants other than: "Thank you; you're done."

Why don't feedback loops involve contributors? Perhaps they aren't really loops, but vacuums.

Blog post label experiment

This post, I'm labeling "b4b" because when I announced this blog in the Blogging for Beginners (B4B): Links: Participant's Blogs list, I characterized it as an experiment in labeling. While this experiment has surpassed the duration of the B4B workshop by a week or so, I am anxious to flag and share the results.

Just as the blogroll that I assembled had grown too long, so too had the list of labels (I'll work on the blogroll later). In the past few days, I have combined labels and re-affixed the combined labels to blog posts which bore original, spontaneously derived labels. What follow are a few memorable examples of the past few days' work (ABC...). The left-most items are current labels derived from items to the right:
  • AudioPodcastsVideo: Audio/Video
    • This concatenation derives from recent wiki reorganization which reflects the intersection of audio files, blogs, podcasts and videos.
  • BloggingCommentary: Blog/Comment
  • CognitionReflection: Meta-cognition and Reflection
I've decided to use CamelCase, instead of slash marks, and to spell items out rather than acronym-ize them (ExtensiveReading rather than ER, on another blog). I've also decided to use plural forms of countable nouns: tools and wikis, rather than tool and wiki (same pluralization for bookmarks, when I get around to it).

In Camino, the Mac browser that I prefer, revisiting and editing posts and labels was easy because I could click on a label. Then the pencil icon on each post with labels that I wished to edit offered one-click access to the posts and their labels. For example, I could select a label like "GlobalIssue" and immediately revise each post so labelled to "GlobalIssues."

However, in Firefox for Windows, I have been unable to display the editing icon (pencil) on any post, in spite of toggling off and on the settings for easy editing (Blogger: Dashboard: Settings: Basic: Show Quick Editing on your Blog? Yes). Clicking on a label concatenated target posts. Yet I've had to use the Dashboard: Edit Posts view, and repeatedly scroll down through the list of posts to visually search for labels to redefine.

Once I got to the end of the first 25 posts or so displayed, I had to scroll down and then select Older Posts, before continuing to scan for labels to redefine. Scrolling down and then reselecting Older Posts was necessary after every label update.

How did Neil Young put it in his song, "Piece of...?"

I'd better stop now, before this report and reflection turns into a rant.

Friday, March 02, 2007

How a Japanese mouse works

Here is a bit of comic relief from chronic mousing syndrome:

1-click Award by Recuit Media Communications
(Web Creative Awards, Recruit Co., Ltd., 2006)

Thanks to Graham Stanley on Learning with Computers for pointing it out (February 28, 2007).

Welcome to pab's potpourri!

This is an experimental, informal blog for learning about blogging, blog development, and blog-related professional development activities.

pab's potpourri

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