Archivi tag: transitions

not a twitter post – but Nike+ does update there

In Spring of 2007 I decided to start running…I never ran a day in my life prior to that. I started speed walking (because I love walking), and then realized that I could start intermittently running during my speed walking. Over the summer of 2007, I managed to run 4 miles a day, 6 days a week, and lost approx 30 lbs. It was the most revitalizing experience ever  and 30 months later, I’m still into it (though I must admit, there have been periods of inconsistency) .

This past summer, needing a new pair of running shoes, I went all out and decided to do the Nike+ running thing…sensor and shoes to accommodate sensor. Some really surprising things happened since this purchase, because it became a more tangible means by which to monitor my running.

Before Nike+, I was averaging a running pace of between 9-10 minutes/mile. I would be the one many regular runners would pass repeatedly in the park during their run. My first monitored run of 4.24 miles in July 2009 was 9min 8secs. Unbeknown to me, I discovered I am competitive! The Nike+ was not only what I needed to boost my interest in running, but to become a better runner. I was able to challenge myself in terms of pace, personal bests and distance (the latter I am still working on ;) ). My best 5 km (3.1 miles) is 18 min 9s (by the way, I haven’t been able to run more than 10km).

Currently, I run an average 6 min/mile and discovered I am so very competitive. In October, I decided to join a Nike+ challenge to run 100 miles prior to Jan 16/09. I completed my 100 miles in 25 runs (about 6 weeks), so I’ve decided to keep up the challenge and trying to get another 100 miles in before Christmas.

You can see that I’ve taken this challenge rather seriously, given that the distance I’ve run in November is comparable to the distance I used to run way back in the Spring of 2007 (since I was running a regular 25 miles weekly).

Once I get comfortable (secure) with my endurance, I think I need to challenge myself to running for a cause…

P.S. Oh yeah, the Nike+ website allows my updates to be tweeted, when it works :(

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Archiviato in random

ready for the new academic year

iPodapps

I am very fortunate to be one of a select few professors to pilot a personalized study on learning with the iPod Touch (an entire class set–w00t!). As I am an Italian professor, the Office of Information Technology at Montclair State University, has also provided my students with the mini microphone.

In addition to the apps above, I like the ability to create shortcuts on the iPod’s home page so there are direct links to different websites too (e.g., Learn10, Garzanti dictionary).

Does anyone have additional apps to suggest applicable to language learning? I was very fortunate to have attended the LARC Summer Institute session given by Claire Bradin Siskin on mobile assisted language learning apps. If there are other apps you have used and can share with me, it’d be so greatly appreciated.

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Archiviato in research

is social media really an “us” vs. “them”?

This is a post I’ve wanted to write for some time but hadn’t found my courage voice for it. It was born from a comment of a student evaluation from a fall course that stated that not only were my “clothes inappropriate” but I also “had Facebook”. The comment on my wardrobe is completely off (my outfits are always professional and tasteful) but then again the idea of fashion has always been a generational thing … has technology now become the next great generational divide?

Of late, there has been a resurgence of talk about parents on Facebook and MySpace and what kind of parents has his/her own account. Over the weekend, at a BBQ in the rain, this became part of what started as a small exchange between 3 moms (myself included) to a group conversation with many parents. In a previous post on texting, the generation gap is obvious…new technologies sometimes elude people who are not interested in learning (isn’t that always the case though?). So one of the first questions that arose was “How old do you have to be to have a Facebook account?”. One of the mom’s replied “under 40”. The parents all laughed and said “that counts us out”.  Of course, it is an easy out…we don’t fit the age criterion so we are safe. Then a friend turned to me and said “Wait, you’re not 40. Do you have one?” And that started an engaging conversation about technology, media literacy vs. literacy, and what all this means.

As I have mentioned in the past, each exploration of new applications, platforms, networks, etc. was purely academic in nature. Unfortunately, it has become much more than work. I have become a partisan of social media for many reasons: it is informative, educational, entertaining, enlightening and allows me to meet not just my neighbours, colleagues, and friends but expand my geographical limitations by allowing me to converse and “friend” people from the far corners of the earth.

In my humble opinion, the idea that certain sites become “theirs” (students, teens, kids) and others “ours” (educators, adults, parents) is speculative. There are too many social dichotomies that become reinforced (and perhaps validated?) when we fall into the trap of dividing technological culture according to our biases, fears and misunderstandings. This mutual exclusivity of sites and apps for certain age groups demonstrates an unwillingness of users to see beyond their own nose. Perhaps this is one key difference between “us” and “them”… are we adults more “global” in our use of technology? Are they more “solipsistic”? lol! I fell into the trap, didn’t I?

These sites can provide different services and serve different needs for a multitude of users and I think it is up to each user to accept and open her/his mind to the unending possibilities that things like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Plurk, etc. can provide without wanting exclusive rights to it.

Is this just another phase in the evolution of generational gaps or is it something more? What do you think?

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Archiviato in Uncategorized, Web 2.0

courses taking on a new design in SP09

The end of another academic year is coming to a close and this brings me much relief. I would like to focus my efforts on my tenure package and continue to ride on the wave of teaching with technology in my department. This is an exciting time for the department, the most exciting in fact in the last 4 years. There has been some experimental redesigning of course syllabi with technology, but now, there is going to be a more concentrated effort on offering these courses in a more official manner.

One of the greatest downfalls in teaching with technology, as I have found, is that so many people implement technological tools to such varying degrees but then do not necessarily share this information, so it always feels like you are reinventing the wheel when you have a brainshower and want to do something pedagogically sound and technology-enhanced. Case in point, how many of my colleagues know that at our institution this spring term alone offered 26 online courses (many in the MBA program) and 34 hybrid courses. These numbers are surprising because I don’t know how many of us are aware of whom else is experimenting with this new course format and I wonder if there have been any conversations that have arisen from it…

Our college has now initiated a dialogue about hybrid and online courses with our first meeting scheduled Thursday. One question that has always intrigued me about hybrid courses is: how do we define it? By what parameters are we limited? After some research, I’ve discovered that there is no singular definition. This may or may not be disturbing (depending on just how prescriptive one may wish to be—or not!) but I think it is time that we share ideas with the hope of creating a model that works within our community, with our student population and with the support of administration. Our personal objectives will always remain very distinct (as they should be), but we really need to come together to enhance our common vision and promote it, as I believe this is very important.

The great thing for my department is that we have all been given the thumbs up to explore the degree to which and the manner in which we will develop our hybrid and/or online courses. So what is new in my department in Spring 2009? Well, there will be some fully online courses (intro Italian I & II courses), the use of SL in another major elective course, and a hybrid course for FL teaching methods. There is one additional member of our department who will also be teaching a hybrid course for a further major elective course, but I am unsure of how she will approach it.

Given the array of courses and course designs, we must remember that as with all good teaching strategies, to understand teaching styles with respect to technological tools is just as important as appreciating different teaching styles and types of teachers; each one of us can all constructively contribute to the dialogue of this new direction for our college/university.

So I’d like to ask you about your experience with hybrid/online courses. Have you ever been a teacher or student of one? What would you rate positively? negatively? Any words of wisdom you’d be willing to share?

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Archiviato in teaching

on being a prof, dying, & more

Updated: july 25

ABC’s “Good Morning America” reported Friday morning that Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, 47, has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

At a social function on Saturday evening, an article from Carnegie Mellon’s alumni magazine was brought to my attention. An alumna talked about a 46 year old professor of computer science, Randy Pausch, who is terminally ill and gave his last lecture in September as part of the university’s Journey series.

As soon as I got in, I watched all 76+ minutes of the lecture, but give you instead this video for a quick overview of the talk. If you want the entire lecture, it is right here.

Why it struck me? The professor in me is very empathetic … someone who has achieved so much in a career that I too chose, well, how can I not want to hear what he has to say. In addition, a recent post on a blog about career choices, well, it makes me ask many (far too many, perhaps) questions. Pausch entitled his talk Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. In my humble opinion, some noteworthy quotes are (from transcript):

One of the things he told me was that wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you. He said, when you’re pissed off at somebody and you’re angry at them, you just haven’t given them enough time. Just give them a little more time and they’ll almost always impress you.

And that’s one of the reasons you should all become professors. Because you can have your cake and eat it too.

Go get a Ph.D. Become a professor.
And I said, why?
And he said, because you are such a good salesman that any company that gets you is going to use you as a salesman. And you might as well be selling something worthwhile like education.

Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.

Where does inspiration come from? Well, I have to say this address gave me some…just enough to overcome some of my own fears and appreciate what I do have. Maybe my career choice and my childhood dreams may actually be one in the same. I can’t wait for the day when I can have my cake though ;)

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Archiviato in random, research, teaching

did you know?

This video from June 2007 is interesting at so many levels. It is rather lengthy (running 8min 19 sec) but worth watching from start to finish.

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Archiviato in Web 2.0

r u 2 old?

txt.jpgI just got off the phone with my sitter’s mom, trying to determine whether her daughter is available this weekend for my “it’s March break and I’m gonna enjoy myself”  escape. Of course, she was unable to determine if her daughter was busy. The conversation went like this:

She: Can you call back after A is home from school?
I: Sure, not a problem.
She: Wait, do you text message?
I: Yes.
She: You must be a cool mom. You text!
I (laughing): I had to learn. Students don’t email, they text. I had to learn to communicate with them their way.
She: Wow. I’m trying but it’s tough. Do you get the Times? There was this great article in the business section yesterday.
I: Yes…
She: It’s called “are you too old?” but it’s the letter R, letter U…
I: Yes, I have it right in front of me. (it was the online version at which I was looking)
She: And it has a list of all the abbreviations…
I: I see it.
She: Well, here is A’s number. You could call if you want, but maybe you should text her.
I (still laughing): Thanks, I will.
 

It’s funny, ’cause I’ve said this before commenting on a post on terminally incoherent‘s blog, I straddle the technological horse, but apparently as a prof & mom, perhaps am conceived as being “2 old”, then again as a technophile who blogs, twitters, texts, & now pageflakes (although I gave up on facebook), other moms and some profs look at me as if I’m from another planet. :D

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Archiviato in Web 2.0

Presentations…using PowerPoint (or Keynote or anything else)

A presentation that uses a software program like PowerPoint can enhance a talk by providing visual cues for elaboration and development, and aiding people who maximize understanding with seeing what is being said rather than just hearing it.

When the software is not used effectively, it becomes a page of written text in which the audience gets lost  because they are more prone to try to read all that stuff (“Ssh! Mr. Speaker I’m trying to read, be quiet!”) instead of listening to the speaker develop the key concepts/terms. And of course the implications for the presenter: what type of eye contact does he/she make with the audience when there is so much text to read from either the screen or monitor?

Look at the example here:
sample1.jpg

Now look at something a tad more appealing with good use of text & images:
sample2.jpg

Need I say more?

Then, there is also the issue of transitions and animation which we all like for the WOW! factor. Problem is that before we use it we aren’t interested in learning about it. We click these “cool” options, let the software program randomly choose the effects and we don’t bother modifying or adjusting things. As an end user of software, yeah, the possibilities are endless. As a good end user, we are quick to judge what is ineffective and correct it.

I shouldn’t toot my own horn, but after years of training in marketing, I prepare some fantastic presentations. I also, for a short while, trained the corporate and academic world on creating effective PowerPoint presentations (part of a previous career). Ultimately, the advice I am willing to share with everyone is don’t use it just because everyone else does (didn’t your mother warn you about that long ago?). Use it as a tool to enhance what you need to say, not just present what you are going to read to them.

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Archiviato in presentations