Archive for June, 2007|Monthly archive page

A busy day

It’s been a busy, but very good day.  The conference sessions did have a slight hangover feel this morning, probably due to many of the speakers and audience having a hangover.  i’ve found out that some of the delegates didn’t get in until 3:00am – shocking!

One thing that has become clear is that e-learning may becoming a little stagnant.  Two of the talks today were specifically about VLE’s, and whilst interesting talks, universities aren’t really doing anything new, and are encountering the same problems with student participation, management perceptions that this is a ‘cheap’ way to deliver mass learning, and overcoming fellow academic’s fears of the new technology.

I’ll be blogging later about the quality of some of the presentations, maybe with a slightly tongue-in-cheek guide on how not to do a conference talk.  This is not excusing my own presentation,  as noted yesterday I made some mistakes.

Then it was time to hit the town.  I managed to get here before the store closed for the launch of the iPhone, to buy this and this, then here for some gift shopping.

Tonight I went to see Avenue Q – a great seat at a good price by going straight to the box-office, and a really, really good show.

A busy day, but now to bed.  Tomorrow is another day.


Talk given!

Wow!  I’m just back from giving the talk.  I was concerned that being last up in the afternoon would mean poor attendance, and indeed at the start it was a little thin, but lots came in, and the room was comfortably filled by the end.

It’s clear, as I would have hoped, that the student-focused part of the paper gained the most interest.  Questions focused on peer marking, whether students continued to blog after the ‘forced’ activity, and an interesting question about academic ‘exposure’ when you relate professional development to your own experience.

What would I change?  I was a little rushed towards the end, but as that was focused on my own, rather than student’s experience, then I think this was allowed.  I’m also aware that my voice ‘dipped’, my Black Country accent may have been difficult for some people to follow.

I’ll probably post more later – but now I’m going to collapse for an hour so that I’m ready for the conference dinner.

Still no luggage – update, luggage appeared!

A minor inconvenience turned into a major inconvenience and is now a bit of a crisis.

No sign of luggage – courier says it will be with us some time before 12:00 noon local time (5pm UK). If it does arrive (and this is a very big ‘if’ I feel) this gives me less than four hours to sort myself out for the talk this afternoon.

Delegates have been very kind, and one offered a spare shirt, thanks, but until I’ve got my luggage I can’t consider giving the talk.

Feeling very lonely and jet-lagged at the moment.

Update – Luggage has arrived, and all is well with the world. Let’s get into conference mood!

I’m here, but not my luggage

Well I’ve made it to the teachers college at Columbia Univesrity, but unfortunately my luggage hasn’t.  It didn’t make the connection at Dublin, leaving me with just the clothes I’m standing up in.

I’ve been reassured that it’ll be with me by the end of the day, but confidence is not high, as they would say.

I’ve got contact numbers, and am having it delivered to the building I’m tapping this in – but I need to be in my room for the delivery as the security guards won’t accept the case otherwise.

This aside, the flight was good, in a brand new Airbus A330 with seat-back entertainment – which I found out was Linux based as it rebooted every fifteen minutes or so.  Luckily it didn’t do this whilst watching movies.  My good intentions to blog, review tomorrow’s talk and do wholesome ‘stuff’ on the flight disappeared as soon as I found I could watch ‘Blades of Glory‘.

Not a great start to my NY adventure to be honest.  It can only get better I guess.

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go.

But, Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

It’s the last day in work, tidying up loose ends and making sure that I’ve done all that I need to here.  Tomorrow is annual leave, packing, podiatry, and preparation.

I’m taking all the technology I need to blog whilst away, but I’m also aware that these postings may be under more scrutiny, especially after my talk, which has been moved to the final slot on the first day… hmmm.

At the weekend I was in Leeds, and took the chance to see Leeds University’s Open Day.  I’ll be comparing and contrasting that experience with my own on Friday, briefly blogged about.

I’m aware that my postings have become shorter – and my readership has not reached double figures after the weird day last week.  Maybe this is because of the end of semester.  Let’s hope that ICEL 2007 sparks some interesting subjects for discussion.

So, next time I post it should be from Columbia University.

Open Day

It’s the UCE Open Day, and it’s chucking it down at the moment.  I’m manning the stand for as much of the day as I can.  I quite enjoy it, though when wet it’s not fun.

Here’s a quick shot taken before the event started.


Most of the queries so far have been from lower sixth form students, who won’t be joining us (possibly) until September 2008.

The Open Day is both today and tomorrow, and we’ve got over 170 people registered as planning to come to the Business School stand – let’s see how many turn up over the two days.

Study skills development

Each year at UCE the Essentials guide is updated by the Essentials team. This is led by John Colby, a really dedicated guy, but with input from an number of other lecturers, study support tutors etc.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done in the past, and not too upset when parts are ‘lost’ to make way for the next edition. Examples of my work include formal reports and communications, which includes academic email, something which is a real bugbear of mine.

For the 2007 guide, I’ve been asked by John to look at essay and paper writing, and develop this for the specific Business School audience. There are lots of web sites and traditional study guides, but clearly there is a skills gap still. In particular, the expectation from International students of what an essay is, compared to home students and lecturers is wildly different.

I need to go beyond the ‘reference correctly’ and ‘say what you’re going to say, say it, say what you’ve said’ guidelines. I’m early on in my research, but one suggestion which I like (and has an acronym people won’t forget) is PEE (hurr hurr) – Point, Example, Explain. It’s these sort of things that students can remember, and apply to their own learning.

Critics could say that they are simply academic tricks – I prefer to think of them as techniques, or even skills. Just because they are easy to remember doesn’t make them any less valid.

The trick is to bring these together into a coherent whole, accessible and relevant to a specific student audience. No worries there then!

A strange day on the blog

I didn’t think that me posting an entry titled ‘Admin’ would have caused so much interest – but look at the graph below which is the number of non-RSS hits to my site over the last month.

Graph of hits

So the number of hits yesterday was four times more than my best previous day!

I’m working on one of three ideas

  • WordPress has revamped its hit counter.
  • As this blog is the subject of my ICEL 2007 paper, some people have received an advance copy and are having a look at what on earth I’m writing about.
  • I’ve written something of real interest to people!

This now takes my counter to 999 hits as I type. I’ll do the maths later (it’s still too early) to see how long it took me to get to 500, and then from 500 to 1,000.

For those who did visit yesterday, thanks for stopping by.

Update – I’ve done the maths.  It took 130 days to hit 500 users,  63 days to hit 1,000 users.  So far today I’ve had 42 hits, which is double my usual rate.  I’m not complaining, but won’t post again about this – blogging about blogs can get boring.

Admin day

A hellish journey in (due to this and this) this morning, I’d better not start a category of ‘travel rants’ or this blog could turn nasty.

Luckily no student appointments planned today, so I was able to vent my frustration on completing the placement paperwork, and preparing the module boxes for my modules ready for the external examiner’s visit on Friday.  I’ll not be able to make the external exam board, as I’m staffing the Open Day stand which will be a tent (OK, marquee) in the middle of the car par – Not fun if it’s too hot, too windy, or too wet – we’re looking for a cloudy but warm day.

I’m now in the process of navigating the paperwork labyrinth required to get my PRINCE2 recertification sorted.  I’ll talk more about this when I start revising for the exam – but before the end of November I’ve got to sit a 70 minute online exam to ensure my Practitioner qualification does not lapse.

Meanwhile, here’s a little promo for our university showing in local cinemas – would it persuade you to come and study at UCE?

A good day to work from home

Apart from a quick pub lunch with a friend, I’ve been at home all day. It sounds like it’s been a good move.

We’re happy to consider ‘snow days’ as a good reason not to come in, but the rain over the last few days has been torrential. My only ‘victim’ has been a garden gazebo, erected in anticipation of the (now cancelled) BBQ tomorrow. RIP, you provided good service.

As I type, there’s a storm happening out there. Web sites appear to be showing roads flooded all around me, and a friend who lives close to University reckons there’s problems on one of the two main roads which feed to/from the university. Combine that with another friend whose area has had a power cut, and you start to see that there’s problems in the Midlands at the moment.

I’ve done some of the paperwork planned for today, but I’ve also been playing with the new version of Audacity. I’m hoping to do some podcasts for my moodle modules next semester, and this will be the ‘weapon of choice’ for this. It can also catch any audio stream that your computer can present, and is also the same application across the three platforms I use (Windoze, Linux and Mac). It’s not the most intuitive user interface, but I’m learning.

For those of you who are not swimming back from work, have a good weekend.