Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#PLENK2010 Showing up in person

#PLENK2010 In schooling, they say, most of your marks come from just showing up.  I really enjoyed my first SL meeting after today's Ellumination.  We had some discussion of the lesson and some discussion of communications around the world.  I was very pleased to be greeted by someone who knew me, and to meet new people. It was a bit disconcerting to hear different names from the ones written above our avatars, but I soon caught on.  I had attended the room, last night, just to get the feel of the place and to practise sitting down and standing up.  I had wondered if we would have to sit on the floor, but there enough chairs.  In fact a chair appeared to accommodate each new visitor.
    I once had a similar experience in another venue.  I had to produce an audio-report.  My topic was "What does it mean to be a man?"  I invited a group of students from my class, both men and women, and we sat around the tape-recorder and talked about being a man.  I served some really simple snacks: tea, coffee, munchies of some sort.  After the discussion, one of the women said, "This was the best party I have ever been to."  I certainly had never thought of it being a party, but the comment certainly speaks to the effect of food on group dynamics.
   We have found here, that offering to feed people encourages them to attend meetings or lectures.  If you feed them, they will come.  SL does not appear to be about eating, but the "feeling" of being there was certainly attractive.

#PLENK2010 Feedback Is So Helpful

Thank you to everyone who has commented on my blog.  It is heartening to know that others care.  People in Newfoundland are showing us the way in terms of disasters.  We're cheerfully carrying on with cleanup and helping one another, too.
   Don't know why, when I put in a link you get the computer talk, too, in the RSS.  I do take it out in my blog.
   This course has helped distract me from the dangers ahead.  Our BC Hydro power may go out in two weeks if we don't get deisel to fuel the generators.  The run-of-river intakes were completely fouled up on the experimental unit.  I guess they are happy to have the technical experience of disaster to help prepare for future installations.  It's a poor wind that blows nobody good, as they say.
   A lost hiker was rescued yesterday.  He'd been wandering around since Sunday.  A pair of hunters, on the other hand, were found, but they didn't want to be rescued; they were happy campers, enjoying the adventure.  Hope it stays that way for them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

#PLENK2010 What I learned today

Practising Second Life.  Thanks Tonito for helping me join the PLENK group and find the right meeting room.  (I know it wasn't easy getting me started.) I moved around a bit and got comfortable with the space, but I couldn't sit down.   Ah, well, more practice is needed.
  Went on Facebook and told everyone that we got through to the Hagensborg store on the Handi-Dart.  It's an essential service, here.  More friends were posting photos of the flooding.  One couple lost their house when the flood swept it down the river.   We're having a real emergency here in the Valley.   We're really grateful for phones, Facebook and SL.   

Sunday, September 26, 2010

#PLENK2010Feeling Isolated

Sept 25 2010 Tried to go down to the Hagensborg store yesterday in the rain and got just to the top of the hill past Gross Rd.  There were earth movers clearing the road and digging out the ditches to direct the water back down the desired route to the river.  The power went off for only 45 minutes in the evening.  The rain stopped in the night. 
Sept 26 2010 Today we got as far as the old Tippie farmhouse.  Again the work crew was clearing the road of earth that had washed down the hill over the road.  The road traffic-controller told us that there were at least two feet of water in front of the Hagensborg store still, and it was too deep for our car.  Maybe the bus will get through tomorrow.
   On the other hand, I spent some time dealing with old email and that took me to Facebook, which connected me to relatives and their friends etc.  Filling up my email, again.
   It's a good thing we don't have to be airlifted out like the people of Kingcome Inlet because the airport is underwater.  We can thank el nina for this round of weather.  Is it climate cycles or climate warming?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

PLENK2010 Sharing the knowledge

PLENK2010  I've been in this course for just two weeks and I feel inundated with new data especially about websites, widgets, and more sites.  As part of my dealing with data, I have started a table of websites for my own use.  Now, I am sharing the info with those teaching computers and those teaching adults here in the Valley, a sort of mini-course for them.
   I like the way we are bringing up topics and sharing with one another.  I see that we are introducing discussions on topics that on the agenda for later weeks.  It seems we are so integrated in our teaching experience that we are thinking around the particular issues raised to include "How does this work out in the classroom?"  We've been though milling and into storming our different viewpoints.  All is good.

Flooding after Fires

September 25, 2010 Another exciting weather season.  This summer there were forest fires cutting us off from Williams Lake, our nearest city 6 hours away by road.  September has been a rainy month.  The heavy rain started about 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon, and it hasn't let up.  It is supposed to go on like this for a week.  Already one bridge is out, cutting Hagensborg off from Bella Coola (Credit Union, library, stores, garbage dump etc.).  Fortunately we have our own gas station (flooded), a grocery store, airport and post office here.  So far the power is still on.  As my home is all-electric this is critical for me; also sump pumps etc work mostly on electricity.  And we are cut off from Williams Lake on the other side (bridge out or a landslide on the Hill.)
   In September 1980, when I moved to Bella Coola Valley, the Snootli Creek bridge was out then too.  It was going to be reported on the CBC radio and TV; so I had to phone my mother back in Toronto to tell her not to worry (she was a deep worrier) as the family was OK but cut off from one another.  When I go to the grocery store today (if I can get through), I may see fish swimming in the flooded roadway in Hagensborg.  I am praying our house isn't flooded because I live pretty close to the river.  Most of us do live close to the river as the main road, Highway 20, more or less runs beside it in the narrow river valley.
   Port Hardy and the First Nations reserve near it are cut off on Vancouver Island.  And we have a week of rain to go.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


#PLENK2010 I tried out Cmap.  This is definitely better for me than the mind-map which to me is a nice way to make lists.  This Cmap forces you to think of connections.  I call it Susan's PLE 100921 because it may change at any date.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I wrote 2U B4

#PLENK2010 Many teachers, many adults, are horrified by this "textspeak".  However, this particular message was written by Charles C Bombaugh in 1867.   I subscribe to A Word A Day at, and today's email (emanate) brought news of a new display to be presented from November 15 to April 15 at the British Library.  If you teach English or are interested in the language check it out:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

catching up to the dream

When I was first hired at the local band school (the Nuxalk Nation school called Acwsalcta), a quarter of a century ago, we were given a tour of the newly built beautiful building by the Chief.  Along with the sight-seeing, we were lectured on the dream of the Chief and Council to be able to do away with teachers by having video conferencing by experts with local people hired to be monitors.   Being polite and fearing to be fired on our first day on the job, no one chose to say a discouraging word.
   Now we can have a virtual classroom with smartboards and Elluminate conferencing (and School Board #49 does) and the whole world wide web at our finger-tips.  But I don't think the role of the teacher is gone.  The Chief was making the point that it would be cheaper to have one central teacher cover hundreds of students with someone to police the rowdies and to keep the students on task in the room.  But Wesch has demonstrated that that would just recreate the 19th century industrial-style classroom in a modified form.  What we can have now that wasn't even imagined then and that Wesch is advocating is a collaborative exploration of all that the students can bring to the problem posed by the teacher or by the student.  Wouldn't Socrates have been excited!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

#plenk2010 paradigm shifting

#plenk2010 This is really exciting.  We are like those first university professors who gathered around Homer either congratulating him for writing the first book or excoriating him for ruining people's ability to memorize (and ruining their careers).  It's like the moment when Chaucer brought out his stories in the new-fangled language he was calling English.  It will take about a generation to get to the point where everyone says "Of course!" about it.
   Katarina Way suggested that we watch Michael Wesch's presentation to the University of Manitoba.  I was blown away.  I get excited over reading a good book.  This new medium has so much potential.  Wesch has put together a system that enables all of his students to become a single study group.  They have become part of the book.

Friday, September 17, 2010

making progress

#plenk2010 I was able to make a little movie today using the online program that Patricio recommended.  It was just a little reminder about an up-coming meeting, but I hope it proves effective.  I am very interested to learn about wikis because they seem to be useful when you want group input.
   I may not be following the program in discussing PLEs, but I feel I am in one.  Thanks.

Ed Techie

Chris Jobling tells me that Martin Weller is the Ed Techie and that he'll be at the Wednesday Ellumination.  Have I got that right, Chris? 

Martin is writing a book based on compilations of student courses similar to PLENK2010.  I want to tell him that this is exactly what Dr. Spock did to write his baby books.  He asked the mothers of his pediatric patients how they handled so many common baby issues, and then he wrote a book about what they had told him.

I am all in favour of asking the students how they learn best, and asking front-line workers how to improve the workplace or the service.   They deal with it every day.  They know what it's like to do the job. 

the lending library

We have been lucky to have had our little library for the last quarter of a century.  Before that, the building was a bank, and there was no library.  The library system will only rent facilities, not own them (no budget for capital expenditures I guess), so it has to move.  I hope it isn't just stored in boxes somewhere for a few decades until something else, maybe the same building, becomes available again.

For us the library is a source of books and a meeting place.  It's too small of course, but we love it.

Many places in BC don't have a library at all.

Why don't you use the school libraries?  Well, one is welcome--with limitations.  They don't really want adults wandering in and disturbing the classes.  Then, one would be limited to school hours, or half an hour after the final bell.

We do have a virtual library and can order books by mail, but we like browsing and talking with our good friend, the librarian.

standing on the shoulders of giants

Here is an interesting website.  I like seeing what people in other countries are doing.
He calls  himself The Ed Techie, but I believe he is a participant in this course.  I'm glad because he gives good advice.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

#Plenk2010 What's the problem?

#PLENK2010 I was just re-listening to an interview from the CBC Radio 1 The Current with Dr. Fraser Mustard on Early Childhood Education.  He was recommending "problem-based" education.   That is what we are doing in our MOOC.  Right now, in this first week, we are milling about, talking to one another.  Some people are talking about the correct definitions of PLEs and PLNs.  Some are talking about networking.  Some are talking about the technical aspects of Web2.0.  We are all seeing this course according to the problems we are having communicating with the worlds (various groups) of people that we deal with. 

Some people want to convince their colleagues in universities or schools to loosen up and let their students use the internet; so, I guess we need to discuss rather thoroughly how to evaluate research in PLEs.  Many of us are teachers.  I'm sure we can develop a theory and a variety of rubrics.  Of course, we need to have a clear definition to present to those who are not taking this course; so keep on working away at it those who want to.

Some people, like myself, need to learn how to use the wonderful applications and programs available to enhance communication.  I am so grateful that those who know about them are mentioning ways they communicate and directing us to their own efforts for models.  At the end of this course, I hope I can use them.

No doubt, some people are here to acquire and build a network of like-minded colleagues.

By the way, I am horrified that my Adult Basic Education students thought that Mathematics was a game about number manipulation.  How could their teachers not have mentioned that number manipulation is a tool for solving problems about quantities, statistics, measurements and such?  You know they never attempted Word Problems because they didn't think it was important.  The word problems seemed too much work with no pay-off.  And I blame those who design the courses and the texts and the tests; when only the final number-value "answer" is given at the back of the text for a word problem and only 1 or 2 marks or credits are given, equivalent to that for a calculation example, the student thinks that Word Problems are pointless.  But those who are taught and follow the traditional method, find the the lay-out of a science experiment note obvious, and find writing an essay easy.  Why?  They are all written in a format that follows the Steps of Scientific Problem Solving

There!  That's my lecture for the night.  Tomorrow we get back to solving, solving, solving.

#PLENK2010 jargon

Yesterday, I was too tired to write, and I hadn't summarized my problem.  I need a glossary of PLE vocabulary, and another of Internet.2 vocabulary.  People are giving me good advice, and I am not comprehending it. 

When I was little girl, my mother signed me up for ballet lessons.  I liked the teacher, and enjoyed the dancing, but I was experiencing a culture-shock (not that I knew the term).  From time to time, when Mr. Ballai gave an instruction, words would blank out (as demonstrated by the teacher's WHAA-WHAAs in Charlie Brown movies).  I could not understand what he wanted.  But I could see what the other girls did and do it, too.  Still, it bothered me that I had suddenly become unable to understand something.

One day, my mother bought me a book about Ballet.  It was called Places, Please.  The first sentence explained my problem.  It said, "The instructions in Ballet are in French."  Aha!  French.  So I was trying to understand them in English, but they weren't English.  The slim book showed all of the positions and gave their names.  The next time I went to class, I understood the instructions.  I was "in the know".

Every activity that we do gathers it's own vocabulary.  If you know the vocabulary, you are assumed to know the subject.  This is not entirely true.  It is is quite possible to know some of the vocabulary and not be able to function as a practitioner.  Con men use this trick all the time.  By the end of this course, I want to know the words and be able to enter into the activities, too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

#PLENK2010 What I learned today

 #PLENK2010 Tuesday September 14
• Today I learned how to add my photo to my profile in the discussion group. 
• I learned that I am not the only beginner.  I hope I was able to help that other person get on the map.
• I learned that there are many ways to organize data.  (Actually, I knew that, but I am astonished at the sophistication of some methods, viz. Patricio Bustamante in Chile.  Quick, someone, help that man start a business.)
• I chastised myself for dismissing incomprehensible emails when I know Google has a translator.  I learned that yesterday.  I will translate them from now on.

authority in wiki world

#PLENK2010  Many people, students in school and others, turn to Wikipedia for general information.  Yet this site, in particular, is warned against.  It is not an acceptable authority in academic circles.  However, in this wired world, especially in remote areas where there are no large libraries or no libraries at all, this is their primary source for information.  Many of the other sources of information on the web have used Wikipedia information without citing it.  As in the academic world, with only literary research available in some disciplines or areas, everyone is quoting one another like a circle of gossips.  If students are being given a PLE, what guidelines do they or the contributors to the WWW need?

Monday, September 13, 2010

#PLENK2010 What I learned today

A1.  The people giving this course are really well prepared.  Stephen Downes' video had everything on it.  I had to go over it in bits to absorb what I needed.  But it was there.  And I was able to sign up, and RSS.  I still don't understand what that is, but it works.  How do you guys get your photos on your chats?  I changed my photo on my blog to one where I look kind of stunned because that's how I feel, being such a Newb and all.
2.  The Elluminate people are terrific.  I wanted to recommend it to the superintendent of my local school board and they already have it.  They are using it for their most remote schools, too, just what I hoped.  I want to sign up.    How do you write on the white board, guys?
B1.  The people taking this course are really kind. And knowledgeable. 
2.  They taught me that you can make a map and have people locate themselves on it, in Finnish no less.
3.  They taught me that Google has a translator.  And it recognizes Finnish without me telling it what language it is.
4.  They taught me that an URL can show what language to put the map in.
5.  They taught me how to put myself on that map.
6.  I found out myself that I had to sign in to MY MAP to do it.  And Google Maps taught me about the symbols.  I stumbled around a lot, but I got there in the end.

I may not get as much out of this course as some, and I may have to come back next year, but I am certainly enjoying the ride.

#PLENK2010 world map

Wow.  This is fun.  My son helped me to find the translator.  I seem to be able to put a flag on the map, but it doesn't stay, and I can't attach my name.  I am embarrassed because other people seem to be able to do it just fine.  I found instructions on Google maps that help me to make a map, but not how to attach my data to someone else's map.  Yet this sharing is supposed to be what we're learning.


Hello.  Thanks for this training.