Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Teachers as Mentors/Coach

In the Connectivism Course I am taking, the discussion today was on power and authority. I came across a couple of things on mentoring in the navy which got me wondering if the net will result in teachers being more mentors/coaches.
For a few years my husband met weekly with a student studying theology through a distance education program. They were supposed to discuss the readings and make sure the student was staying on track with his work. My husband was also expected to read and discuss the student's papers before they were forwarded on for marking and to proctor the exams. This experience led to opportunities for him to teach Old Testament studies which he loves doing.

Rejecting One's Inheritance

I'm posting this link because it reminds me of all the leaders whose heads are still in the 1960's never trust anyone in authority mindset. I'm moving on from the parody youtube videos of Sarah Palin to Monty Pythan.
Actually it reminds me a lot of my dad and myself.

Care Pathways

Finding information is all about having the vocabulary. Today SAGE Journals sent an email saying the Nov. issue of British Journal of Infection Control was available. I came across the term Care Pathways and when I plugged "Care Pathways" into google, I discovered a whole new approach to research, evidenced-based integrated health care. It is really worth taking the time to read more on the topic. This link is great: This links you to an EHMA online publication "Integrating Services for Older People" and if you look at the side bar by clicking on Chapter 5 you will get an overview of Care Pathways by Tiziano Vecchiato.
Obviously there are lots of barriers to receiving this care which mainly have to do with lack of resources but at least if you do a bit of reading the barrier won't be lack of client awareness that best practices exist and can be found online.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

CCK08 and NaNoWriMo

The Massive Online Learning Course in Connectivism started out with 2200 learners. If the amount of posting occuring on the web is an indication, participation has noticably slowed down around the half way point. By looking at the number of writers who successfully complete the very popular NaNoWriMo writing challenge of producing a 50,000 word novel in a month, I would like to suggest that the success benchmark for an open massive course should be in the area of 30% for the non-credit, non-paying group. As with the NaNoWriMo, the first group is not a typical group because those who knew about it were already loosely networked. In subsequent years, the people enrolling will less likely be of the same standing in the field. This particular grouping had a lot of Ph.D. candidates and academic designers in it.
If the statistics follow NaNoWriMo, a massive open educational online happening is not a threat to the bricks and mortar schools because the percentage that will actually complete the course will be mainly people who already have an array of skills in their academic tool box.
November is NaNoWriMo month. I've provided the url for those of you who feel up to producing a 50,000 word Novel in 30 days.
The number of entrants and the number who actually complete the 50,000 words is growing.
1999: 21 participants and six winners
2000: 140 participants and 29 winners
2001: 5,000 participants and more than 700 winners
2002: 13,500 participants and around 2,100 winners
2003: 25,500 participants and about 3,500 winners
2004: 42,000 participants and just shy of 6,000 winners
2005: 59,000 participants and 9,769 winners
2006: 79,000 participants and 13,000 winners
2007: 101,510 participants and 15,333 winners
If you do the math, the highest percentage of completers were during the first two years - 28.57% and 20.71%. Since then, the percentage of completers has fallen within a narrow range. The lowest was in 2003 with 13.73% completing their novels to a high in 2005 of 16.56%

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fiction Writing

Jurgeon Wolff, a British screenplay writer, lists the basics of a story at - go to the tips section and then the fiction section
He lists 8 steps.
1. Once upon a time (the basic setup)
2. Every day.........(conditions at the start)
3. But one day......(inciting incident)
4. Because of that.....(conflict that moves the story along)
5. Because of that....
6. (repeat) Because of that....(basic conflicts and escalations of Act II to end of Act)
7. Until finally.........(resolution)
8. Ever since then .........(new status quo)

Understanding the spine of a good story creates a certain tension when something good happens.
Right now I feel like my life is at Step 3. And then one day she was 27th on a list. A twist from the ordinary. An unusual, unanticipated twist from all the days that went before. And the English major part of me is psyching herself up to handle the "because of that's" which are all the parts of the movie. Like Harrison Ford, I'm too old and out-of-shape and worn to realistically be a main character in a storyline but hand me the bones of a good script and I can't resist.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Authentic Learning
I'm reading Authentic Learning for the 21st Century by Marilyn Lobardi through the lens of the Anglican world I live and breathe in.
1) If a simulation of church life were created, what is the social structure and culture that gives the church world meaning and relevance? Are we forging the concrete connections: interpersonal connections between apprentice and mentors
intellectual connections between the familiar and the novel
personal connections between the learner's own goals and the broader concerns of the discipline? that George Siemen's refers to.
2)Have we laid down the scaffolding- the 4 Domains of Learning?
i) Cognitive capacity to think, solve problems, crete
ii) Affective capacity to value, appreciate, care
iii) Psychomotor capacity to move, perceive and apply physical skills
iv) Conative capacity to act, decide, commit.
3) If we looked at the faith community through fresh eyes how would we answer the questions that create meaning and relevance
i) Can I see myself becoming a member of this culture?
ii) What would motivate me?
iii) What would concern me?
iv) How would I work with the people around me?
v) How would I make a difference?

Society sees the Christian church as largely irrelevant but it is a canary in the mines giving an early indication of broader problems within the social structure of society. Canadians bought into a hierarchial structure because it was efficient and promised order and good governance. The leadership in all our institutions are products of the universities of the 1960s. It's difficult to lead if one remembers the assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate, Kent State. It's difficult to create order and good governance in a world where we don't want to even look at the questions revolving around meaning and relevance? Clergy, teachers, politicians are all hoping that they will reach retirement before the institutions they have committed their lives to are determined unsustainable and unaffordable. Can a culture hold together with shakey pillars? Can we create a workable model before a Samson brings the system crashing down not caring about the consequences?

Preschools and pizza day

This blog post on pizza days for 3 year olds is a great example of what parents go through when they have values that are in conflict with the school's values. It's really difficult for polite Canadians to upset teachers and fellow parents by disagreeing with something as culturally fun as pizza day. The writer of this article is a doctor who can actually afford the request for money. There's no mention of the stress felt when a parent doesn't have the money for extras and pizza day is definitely not the highest priority for a family living in poverty - especially if that family has many children who each bring home a pizza day note.

Blog Posting & Commenting

I have no idea what the ideal balance is between creating blog posts and commenting on the posts of others. Both are equally rewarding in my opinion. I think it is the same as buying books that you're interested in and reading books recommended by others. We all tend to have a narrow range of topics that we gravitate towards. It is the interaction with others that draws our mind out of our comfort zone and shows us that there are other subjects that if we just tried them might interest us just as much. When I comment on someone else's post, they have caused me think and write about something that I otherwise would not have remembered or considered formulating an opinion about. When writing my own blog, I assumed that I was writing to myself - the only people I expected would find it would be old friends curious enough to do a search for me. It is through attempting various networking opportunities encouraged in the Connectivism Course that people outside my inner circle of friends found my blog. It was one of those serendipitous things that happened without any intentional goal or plan to create a trail to my own writing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Googling Your Own Name

Periodically I put my own name into the google search engine just to see what comes up. What I expect to find is a bunch of comments I've made on other peoples' blogs or responses to something I read in a journal or newspaper. And the big question on my mind is have I said something that could limit employment opportunities for my husband or children. While I'm willing to be a pain in his side, I'm not so sure I want to be an albatross around his neck. As a clergy wive and a navy mother, the church and the military are always in my subconscious. Imagine my surprise to discover that Zaid Ali Alsagoff not only considers me an Edublogger but has actually ranked me. Check it out for yourself
When I was in university, everyone's picture was posted in the cafeteria so they'd know whose meals had been paid for in the residence fees. The guys managed to smuggle the girls' pictures out of the dining hall and had a fun evening rating us in order of - I can only guess what criteria was used.
Thank you Zaid. This is the biggest surprise/mystery of my life.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Footwear War

My husband is harping all the time over my running shoes. I love them because they are flexible and lightweight. When one pair wears out, I don't buy another pair until I can find the exact same shoe - that's how much I love them.
Stephen wants me to wear his footwear. He thinks women's footwear doesn't have enough support. We're talking about yellow, steel-toed work boots which would be like going for a walk with ankle weights. Now I haven't worn ladies heels in a quarter of a century but I think I draw the line at looking like Granny Clampett on the Beverley Hillbillies.
After the fall though, I may be forced to compromise and wear a different boot/shoe of his. These look a bit like walking boots - as in walking up mountains. It would be better if we wore the same size but I suppose they'll be the perfect fit after he buys all the other stuff to go with them - gel liners and whatever socks men wear in the bush to protect themselves from frost bite. And they definitely will fit perfectly into whatever those rubber things are that men slip their shoes into. I forget what Christmas he bought the super thick, super traction ones - anyway it was the same Christmas that he decided to buy me men's blue thermal long johns. That a friend gave me an official postman's hat - weatherproof out on the outside, quilted on the inside with fur around the face and on the ear lugs and ties under the chin because what was I thinking going around without a hat.
And then there are the Canadian naval ships that sail across my chest and the wrestling team jacket from my oldest son. There's a family debate over whether wearing a wrestling team jacket to the bank machine says "don't mess with me" or whether it is throwing out a challenge.
Personally, I like the 5 year old boy look - running shoes, blue jeans and a t-shirt.
I'm sure the next step will be to dress me up in florescent orange like my neighbour's seeing eye dog.

Re: I Fell Big Time

After taking graduation pictures at the waterfront, Stephen and I were walking through the parking lot to our car. If I'm going to fall, it's going to be in a parking lot. Some poor guy put his foot on his parking brakes and I lost my focus and fell over nothing. He was pretty shaken up - I think he was wondering how he had run me over without moving his vehicle. I've got the kind of breasts that act like airbags. They ensure that I both fall frontwards which is much safer than falling on one's back or side and they keep my whole chest/abdomenal area above cement level and safe from breakage. I'm convinced the whoever invented airbags knew someone shaped like me. My husband and I had time for an argument on the way down - he kept yelling drop the camera - we'll buy another one - and I was determined to risk life and limb to protect it. I did manage to protect the whole side that contains the battery, memory chip, and download port. The only damage was a deep scratch in an area of the camera that has nothing to do with picture taking which was great with me because it makes my camera identifiable. Anyway did you know that if you wash the cuts on your hands with Purell, it stings something terrible but it does some really fast healing magic. Hope there's nothing in that stuff that shouldn't go into the bloodstream.

Danielle's Graduation

My daughter-in-law graduated from the Pharmacy Tech program on Friday. She's had quite the year - the wedding, buying a first home, graduation and landing her first job in a pharmacy. She applied all over for work in her field and ended up getting a job in the same community as their home. The convocation speaker was a hospital nurse manager who gave a speech from the employer's perspective of what qualities makes one an asset to the team. Danielle's sister went home and checked out courses for increasing her own nursing skills so the talk definitely was inspirational. We did the whole picture taking, red roses thing and then John and Danielle took everyone out for dinner. I was so proud of her and thrilled that she has had so much for us all to celebrate about.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lyryx & HP

Tell me that you've had a successful experience with Lyryx testing. My son is taking his first test on Monday (maybe sooner) but I'm really concerned that he'll run into a computer problem on test day that I can't solve. Once the test is started, you can't go out of it and come back. So far I've learned how to go into tools to adjust the cookie and security options so he can get beyond the signin. Then I had to solve the "Several Java Virtual Machines running in the same proccess caused an error" problem by deleting and compressing and rearranging things to free up more memory." I'd feel better if my backup computers weren't the HP laptops that are under recall. Buying 2 laptops at the same time was one of my dumber moves. Having no experience with laptops, I just thought laptops were the stupidest things ever. Even having the list of problems, I don't know normal so figuring out abnormal is a challenge. I can't get them to do what I need but maybe it's a human error - I just know I lugged the big one to the school library and I didn't get web access. My fault or the computers? Wish I knew. Didn't realize I had a battery problem until I saw that youtube video - I just thought computer batteries died quickly. I'm definitely a desktop person. If I can sort out Lyryx and get the laptops working, I'll have to learn way more than I ever intended to about problemsolving.

Recruiting Information for Parents
The above link takes you to a blog post entitled "You Need a Parent Approved Plan to Recruit Generation Y". Ok - here's what I think. Starting with their first part-time jobs, my kids would ask "Do I earn more than dad". The goal was clearly to outpace dad and buying the first home was the victory shot as we have always lived in rectories (church housing) . And yes, I could have had input in the acceptance decision but what I said was "Young people should go with their heart/guts because you can. If it works out great and if it doesn't, you'll learn more about yourself without hurting the spouse and kids you don't have yet.
Now I, a baby boomer, never told my parents about a job in advance. Why? Because I announced the job before announcing another decision they wouldn't like. "I've got a job as a legal secretary and I'm taking a year off school." "I'm working in HR at General Motors and I decided that I'd rather not get a nursing job." "I'm getting married and he has 4 more years until his Masters Degree." Good decision combined with crazy decision = where did those genes come from anyway - she certainly isn't practical enough to be a farmer's wife.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Dog is O.K.

Charlie, the dog, has got his physical skills back - he's going up and down stairs, chasing squirrels and is even able to balance on 3 legs when marking his territory. My husband and I, on the other hand, may be permanently changed. We look at each other and think what if it had been one of us. So making those lifestyle changes that were on the bottom of the someday when I get around to it list, are suddenly at the top. I've hauled out the Mediterranean Diet books and Stephen doesn't take no for an answer about going for walks along the trail. I'm even thinking of buying new batteries for the blood pressure monitoring machine and remember to take that daily baby aspirin. As a dog can't profit from a warning, it must have been a warning for us.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Re: My Dog had a Stroke

Yesterday my dog had a small left-brained stroke. Last night he needed to support his right side against the wall when climbing stairs but today his right side is stronger. He goes upstairs normally but he wants someone with him when he descends the stairs even though he is managing them quite well. He's still interested in chasing squirrels but he doesn't hold his head erect when running. I'm not sure about the vision in his right eye - he turns his head to watch me with his left eye if I'm doing something significant he needs to figure out. He doesn't have much of an appetite but dog biscuits and salmon are still good. His days of balancing on 3 legs to pee were nearly at an end anyway but now he definitely has to remain standing on all fours.
Now for the more interesting part. He clearly knows something is wrong and gives us questioning looks. Normally he has that in-charge dominant German Shepherd personality but now he is so laid back I'm thinking maybe he's in that la-la-land that Jill Bolte Taylor describes in her TED talk. My grandmother had the same type of stroke when I was 6 years old and lost her ability to speak and write. Charlie hasn't bark since his stroke but no one rung the doorbell to know for sure. The neighbours will love him better if he has lost the desire to bark at every squirrel, every cat, every dog and every person that walks by. My grandmother lived until I was 15 years old and was my very favourite human being in the whole world. I'm beginning to understand. The new Charlie is just so incredibly loveable compared to the bossy, opinionated normal Charlie but it's incredibly sad nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

CCK08 Why Am I Investing the Hours?

Today there was an Elluminate discussion on the logistics of the course.
I've been a houswife for 24 years - so how many letters do I need after my name, and if it triples my salary that's still nothing. And I certainly have no expectations of ongoing contact with course members as I have nothing to offer that would make me part of their network. So why put in all the hours?
When I was 17, a city professor knocked on the door and asked my farmer's-wife mom to help a couple of Masters Degree candidates with their theses on the Baldoon settlement - one was in Geography on drainage and one was in History and involved geneologies. It became her passion for the next 20 years. She became the world's greatest unrecognized expert on the Baldoon settlement. She died at 79 after a 10 year descent into Alzheimers but her bulb had shone brightly before it flickered and dimmed and finally burnt out.
I am putting in the hours for her and for my daugher. God gave my mother a marvellous gift and I don't want that ever forgotten. A university professor she had never met before gave her an opportunity - the only opportunity she ever had to discover and display her intellect. She opened the door for me to leave the farm and go to university and I opened the door wider for my daughter.