Monday, May 25, 2009

Getting Blogged (bogged) Down??

Good evening everyone.

Sorry that I have not posted for awhile. I have been going through a Luddite stage of wondering if my life is better without technology or without as much of it. Here is what got me started thinking!

I recently flew from Melbourne to Louisville, Ky to see my Dad who is 90 years old. As I returned home to Melbourne, I became increasingly irritated by the people using mobile phones around me. Either they just talked a load of codswallop or they would still be talking as the pilot said we would not take off until all the passengers had turned off their phones.

At first I thought it was because I was tired. But then I realised that I was tired of feeling pressured to read and comment on a whole bunch of blogs that did not seem to give me any benefits that I could see.

Would I rather be playing classical guitar? For now the answer is yes.

There is a bit of a let down from being online with a wonderful group of students one night a week last year using Skype and Elluminate and a few other technologies as we studied Online Learning and Education and Flexible Learning Environments as part of a course at the University of Melbourne. There was not only a feeling of connectedness, but a feeling of achievement as well.

Maybe that sense of enthusiasm and motivation is what is different.

More to come about this.

Right now I am using Wordpress and Blogger with my classes with the students set as contributors and also trying to get them to comment in each others blogs as part of a teamwork approach. It has its ups and downs.

If any one wished to add a comment for them, it would be appreciated. One class is Year 11 Business and another is Year 11 Multimedia.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Second thoughts about blogs!

My 31 day blogging challenge become the ten day challenge and was put on hold.

I am now using Blogger for an introduction to blogs with my classes to get students up and running. As they improve their skills, they are switching over to Wordpress for the additional features. Edublogs advertisements are very intrusive these days, so I still use it with one class as a class blog but in reality, I have become a Wordpress convert.

I'm also finding that blogs are a good form of communication. However, they really can become addictive. You only have to Google "blog cartoons" before you feel like dying of embarrassment when you begin to recognise yourself!

There has been a break of about two months since I last posted due to my reality check.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Days 8, 9 and 10

Post for Wednesday, 14 January 2009
I hadn’t realised that I was completing the Day 8 task as I set out to comment on the other participants blogs.
Day 8 led me to try to add static pages to blogger like you have in Wordpress and Edublogs from the Technically Easy website. Unfortunately, this was not as easy as I hoped. Will have to play a bit more with it. Tried to upload a free Blogger template, only to get the mysterious error message - bX-m0ky5r.

Time to move on a bit. I don’t want to get bogged down and spend hours on something that is not really needed right now. If worst comes to worst, I will go to my Wordpress account.

There is no need to try Day 9 because for now I am not planning to place ads on my blog.

For Day 10 I realised that I had to strike another balance between what went up on the top half of the fold.I rearranged things a little bit. Main thing was to follow Sue Waters and put the RSS feed at the top where it is the first thing that you see.
Was attracted to some blogger templates that had variations of sidebars such as:
1. Sidebar, column, sidebar,
2. Column, two sidebars

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More days in the 31 day challenge

Day 6
First experience was that I tried to add Google Analytics to the Blogger template. I forgot my own advice of "Make a change, save it, then see what it looks like in a refreshed window."

The result was that the Black background colour disappeared making the yellow sub heads difficult (impossible!) to read.

So I deleted the Google analytics and I'm back to Square 1.

Day 6 task is to email an old timer. So since I am 61 years old, I emailed myself. Got an enthusiastic response back as well. I don't mind talking to myself, but I worry when I answer back.

Day 7 is about planning my blogging for the week ahead. LOL Me? Plan more than a day ahead? And I'm supposed to have a text file on my desktop to brainstorm ideas? and a desktop folder called posts in progress?

There were quite a few good points in the Day 7 tasks. The ones that I paid attention to were the ones about the work flow that he uses.

So for the next week, my blogs will be: Day 8, Day 9, Day 10 . . . you get the idea. But I would also do one on the changes that I want to make to my blog, how to add static pages in blogger, a few more that I have lost track of in a senior's golden moment.

All for tonight - Bill

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Days 4 and 5 of the 31 day challenge

Day 4 was a bit of a non event for me because I only have about four weeks of posts on my blogs. I had deleted my class blogs from last year since that work was over and done with.

Asked Sue Waters about page stats and she suggested this link .

I am still amazed at how a short link like the one that Sue sent me soon fills the browser with about 15 tabs just on the first read through. After going through Sue's links, I wanted to side track again to audio and video podcast information that she has done. But I will still try to stick to the 31 day Challenge.

Day 5 is an activity that I began about two weeks ago - trying to make my About Me page concise and readable. Had another look and wound up adding a few more personal details to try to get a bit of transparency.

All for now - Bill

Day 3 of the Better Blogging Challenge

Doing a blog review of someone else's blog helped me to look at mine in a different light. I'll wait to see what my reviewers say. But my first impression is that plain is better than gaudy. Also to leave out repeating the title. The contrast between the colours of the title and my first heading look crummy.

Will consult one of those colour guides for using colour to set the mood of the site. Is there a colour scheme that reflects humour with reflection without being too serious? I really do have a problem with dead serious sites - I just fall a sleep at my computer.

Will have to get another desk journal to keep adding new accounts, passwords and usernames.

After Day 3 I have signed up for these forums as listed in Sue Waters wiki challenge website:
My head is still spinning from wanting to go off on a myriad of tangents as something new on each web site wants to pull me away from the 31 day challenge. Will stay focused on the 31 day material first.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Better Blogging challenge

Day 2 of Better Blogging Challenge (Audit of a blog site)

Summary - Day 2 ask you to look at a blog and to analyse a series of questions about it.

The guidelines for the web site audit are from the Problogger website. It is shown below with my comments in blue.

From Ms D's website

Don’t talk to them as they do - but watch carefully how they use your blog.

  • How do they navigate?For starters, I navigated across the top of the banner of the homepage and looked at the different pages. Then I saw the banner might be a web cloud and tried clicking on it. I picked tidertechie which was the only one that actually worked. I was surprised by the music and the snow flakes. I felt they were more of a distraction - but that's just me.
  • Where do they click?I did a short scan of the first three postings and then stopped. did not want to scroll all the to find out where the page stopped.
  • What do they pause to read?Paused at headings and then went to sidebar. fascinated by Ms D's file Cabinet widjet. Must try that on my class blog when school starts. Also looked at links and catergories in the sidebar. Found these to be good value.
  • What do they skip over?The other posts on the home page.

Once they’ve surfed your blog ask them some questions about the experience.

  • What were their first impressions? Did the theme change completely in the last couple of days? First time that I looked at the website a few days ago it was very clean with no distractions. Was I on a different site somehow? Today's site was a bit tizzy with the banner clashing with the cartoon.
  • What did they first think your blog was about when they arrived at it? Might be a school blog but nothing definite to show that it was.
  • Did they find it easy to read/navigate/understand? Yes. Once I looked at it more closely I felt it was put together pretty well.
  • What did they ‘feel’ when they first arrived at your blog? Confusion with the clash between the cartoon and the banner - where I was I supposed to look first?
  • What suggestions do they have on how you could improve your blog? I don't really feel confident in offering suggestions here since I am just getting started out with blogs.
  • What questions do they have having surfed your blog? Unsure.
  • What words would they use to describe the design? Tizzy at first glance but then a well ordered site.
  • What are the main things that they remember about your blog 10 minutes later? File cabinet and twitter widgets.