Tuesday, 19 May 2009

PLE - Personal Learning Enjoyment!!

this is my map about PLE

During last Thursday's lesson I filled the "Learning Target" form. I felt a little bit uncomfortable because I virtually know what I want and what I need for me in the future, but when I am supposed to think practically about it, I always encounter some difficulties. Moreover, this week I thought about how to create my Personal Learning Environment (PLE) map. It was not easy because I'm not used thinking deeply about such sort of things. Firstly, I wrote the map's structure on a piece of paper, edited it after few days taking account of the links given by Sarah and then I downloaded FreeMind (another very interesting and useful tool) filling the form with my notes.
I think Personal Learning Environment is basically composed of the different learning categories:
  • Alone learning and
  • In-group learning
each of them is based on the so called (by me) 'the 3 W': What, Where and When.
  • What: description of the used tools and services (Internet, newspapers, media, etc.)
  • Where: description of the location (at home, at school, on the road, etc.)
  • When: description of the moment (in the morning, in the weekend, etc.)
Moreover, I found 3 sub-categories of What:
  • Internet tools and services
  • Traditional tools and services
  • Others
I didn't copy the categories in the given maps because, as I am supposed to create a 'Personal' Learning Environment map, I decided to create one based on my own criteria. I hope you will appreciate that!
Tell me,
have a nice day!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Be careful of yourself on the Net

Picture by glenn.mcknight taken from flickr.com
"Be careful of your data" sounds as much as a stupid expression as it is so logic!! If you usually surf on the Net it isn't! The reason is that any person on the Net is potentially able to copy some pieces of information (yours) and use them without asking for. And you won't never know when, why and where they have been stolen.
Many people usually think "It won't never happen to me". What a shallowness!
Let's think on a financial point of view: have you ever bought using Ebay, Amazon, on others? Have you ever used Paypal?
And now on a personal one: do you have a blog, a website, a personal page? What do you usually write about youself (thoughts, opinions, simply about your life )?
If you try to answer carefully to these questions and your answers are often "Yes", well, your personal data are in danger! When you join in a website you give many of your personal data (full name, address, telephone number, and in case of ecommerce websites your credit card number, too). It's not easy to decide whether the site you're joining in is a safe one, but there are many clues if you want to feel 'serene':
1. keep your wits about you at all times (operate with caution and appropriate scepticism);
2. question why a Web site is asking for information about you;
3. never give any online security details to anyone unless it is completely necessary;
4. Look after your password (change your passwords regularly, avoid standard passwords and do not use the same password for every secure site you are registered with);
5. never click on links in emails;
6. keep up-to-date (keep your security software, such as anti-virus, up-to-date at all times);
7. remove the spies (check all files on your computer at least once a week using anti-spyware and adware applications);
8. keep your connection secure;
9. if it seems too good to be true, it probably is (don’t open emails or go to sites that claim you have won a prize. If an email looks suspicious and is unsolicited delete it and don’t open it);
10. know where to go for help should you be a victim of online identity theft (there are wide range of organisations and groups that people can turn to for advice). (Nik, 2006b) (1)
Moreover, I thought about my webpage. As I often post pictures of my nail works or my personal pictures, I decides to protect from 'copying and pasting' them anywhere, by writing my name or my website's URL on them (generally in the middle). If on one side I can solve the problem of stolen pictures, on the other side I cannot avoid information theft. Anyone can actually copy and paste my personal data (taken them from the profile). As this problem has not been solved yet, I cannot think that Internet has to be closed or something like that. The problem is not the existence of Internet, the real problem is how people use it. I think information about pros and cons is a good solution, but an important change has to be made on people's minds!
And you? What do you think?
Have a nice evening,
(1) Nik. (2006b, February 14). What can users do to protect their online identity? Message posted to http://www.easypeasy.com/guides/article.php?article=170 retrieved May 6, 2009

Monday, 4 May 2009

Have your ever heard about Google Docs?

Picture by saxoji2000 taken from flickr.com
Google Docs is one of the most useful tools provided by Google technology. I used Google only for searching on the net or saving pictures. I never took into account the small arrow near the last word of the toolbar (Other). There is a world inside!!
During this English course I knew more about Google (Google Scholar, Google Books, etc.) but I saw Google Docs only on Prof. Guth's monitor. She uses it as a virtual Office Pack available on the net simply by log on with username and password. You don't need any USB key, and you don't need your pc!
I used it during last Wednesday's lesson to correct a "Word" document shared with all my peers. It was absolutely interesting and useful: I corrected the file and I saved it. As I saved it, it was immediately viewable by the other students. It is useful because it is comfortable (no need of USB key, CDs, DVDs, and so on). However, I was a little bit confused because we were using it at the same time (about 20 people I guess) and everyone was editing it. We did need to save it immediately after a single edited word and you weren't able to be concentrated enough.
I worked with my peers, so it was easier to make corrections and save them. But this was the only problem I found.
I don't know if Google Docs will be useful for my studies, because I'm attending the last semester and everything will finish in few weeks. But I know this tool now and I hope to use it again for my job...for example!!
Have a nice week!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Make your stylish choice: MLA or APA?

Picture by Adam Lyon taken from Flickr.com

Let's see closer the meaning of these two citing styles:

MLA: Modern Language Association is a style which provides guidelines for citing sources when you work on a subject or a topic and you need to make your search on other poeople's work. Particularly used for humanities search.

APA: American Psychological Association with the same purpose of MLA. Particularly used for scientific search.

They both are widely accepted and used by anyone who decides to cite sources for English-written works.

They can be used to cite sources for works written in other languages, too, but no specific regulations or guidelines have ever been given.

During my school career I have never received advice to cite source for my works, I did it on my own, probaly making mistakes. I'm writing my MA thesis and I'm trying to follow these guidelines. I prefer APA style because I know it more and I used it as I was attending the English course during the third year at the University.

They seem to be quite similar, I mean, you are supposed to cite the sources of your work, you will probably write the author's name, the title of the work (book, website, and so on), year, editor and publisher. But these are too generic data. APA and MLA formats have been written in order to make order. When you decide which one you need, you need to be aware of their differences and characteristics.

In-text citations:
MLA style: author's name and date of publication
APA style: author's name, date of publication, page number

Authors and editors:
MLA style: list of the available names and in case of more than one author, only the first is mentioned and followed by 'et al.'
APA style: list of all authors and editors with the initials of the first name and the complete last names

MLA style: underline the title and capital letter of any important word in it
APA style: use of italics and capital letter only of the first word

MLA style: short names
APA style: complete names

Place of publication:
MLA style: only the name of the city or the town
APA style: state abbreviation when the city or the town is not known

Pages (always indicated when you are referring to a specific part of the source):
MLA style: first page and the sign '+'
APA style: first page nad additional ones

MLA style: the date has to be put at the end of the citation
APA style: the date follows the name(s) of the author(s)

If I have a look to all of these guidelines and rules I go crazy. I really need to study more about them. I'm still working on the article to be presented on next Thursday's lecture, because I have many difficulties using these two styles separately.

We will see...
Have a nice day,

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Blog post structure

Picture by paolelfa taken from flickr.com

Writing a blog post is for me writing thoughts or respect tasks following "the mind flow". Now I understand it should be much more. I have never thought about the structure of the blog posts I've written so far, but they have a structure anyway.

I've always tried to focus and make the topic clear right from the title, and where possible, I tried to catch the reader's attention by means of an enjoyable language and style.

At the beginning of the post there is always the main topic, in order to have an idea of what the topic is about. Then there is the text body and at the end I've always put questions or suggestions, giving the reader the curiosity of explore, know and learn more, as I would do!

But the structure is never thought or planned before. Now I know it is a mistake! If I don't organise the structure I wouldn't probably be clear and effective. The post will appear as confused and no reader will read my posts again.

Reading through some 'academic' blogs found in e-tivity 5, I see how they are well structured. Most of them have an evident 'academic' structure: Introduction, Body and Conclusion, with all the characteristics described in Handout 2 (Logic, cohesion, clarity and coherence).

Therefore, I think the main aim of the blog determines the style. If a blog is 'academic', it is probably made of well-structured posts. If the blog is 'personal', it would probably be made of posts with personal thoughts, opnions and not necessarily well-structured!!

What do you think? Let me know...


IPR and Plagiarism...do you really know enough about them?

Picture taken from flickr.com

Having an English / American native speaker teacher gives you the possibility to know a lot about his / her culture. IPR and Plagiarism are part of the culture. I didn't know anything particular about IPR and Plagiarism, and one cause is Italian culture and the education system.

Right from the primary school the students are supposed to carry out some tasks without giving too much care to the information source. Therefore, the students won't never be able to select a reliable source and they won't never be able to avoid Plagiarism or to respect IPR.

This is one of the biggest fault in the Italian education system. Thus, and very often students need to be aware of a particular problem (i.e. IPR and Plagiarism) and they need to learn everything about it on their own.

During my school career I didn't learn a lot about this topic and I have never heard before the abbreviation IPR (even if I know something about Intellectual Rights). But I learnt something about copyright and the legal consequences. This course gave me the possibility to learn more, and above all, to think more about what I do with someone else's work. More specifically, Internet is a very useful tool, but a dangerous one if you cannot use it: if you copy and paste and use the material for your personal purposes without taking too much care, you are probably using Internet in the wrong way.

I think about every single time I took photos from websites and pasted them to my personal pages without writing references.

Now I feel quite afraid and I feel the necessity to write references or credits.

Thinking of being expelled from the University because you are accused of Plagiarism should make the students (in this case) more responsible for their work and that of other people.

I will surely search more material about this topic.

"Prevenire รจ meglio che curare"
(trans. "Preventing is better than curing")
Have a nice IPR and Plagiarism search...

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Internet sources? Use GOOGLE in a more effective way!

Photo by Jeannie Kays taken from flickr.com
I didn't imagine how wide is Google Search. I've always used it in a very normal and "direct" way, writing inside the blank bar the words I needed. Well, Google offers many search tools. And more specific!!! Always about good sources, if you are looking for something particular, a book, for example, Google is available with its Book search. Or more. Are you looking for a Blog about the topic you are interested on? Google Blogs is the solution! And if you are looking for some specific texts (.pdf, .edu or others) you can use Google Scholar tool! During last week's lecture I only surfed on Google Books, and I found many interesting books about the topic given by our Professor Sarah Guth (personal learning environment). By clicking on a result link, you will explore some free pages of the book about that topic. Therefore, you will be able to think if that book could be useful for your search or not.
I think I will use all these tools for my next search on Internet.
You can do it as well!

Be careful with SOURCES!

Photo taken from flickr.com
During last Wednesday's lecture, we thought and learnt how to choose among a huge number of sources. It was a very useful lesson, because we all are preparing our thesis or looking for materials on the net in order to write it. We have started thinking about what criteria we normally use to define or to establish if the source we are using is good, bad, authoritative or something else. Well, I always think how it could be so difficult thinking about something, you normally do carelessly.
And how wrong am I!!
I think about a topic or some specific words (i.e. tags) and then I connect on Internet, write down
http://www.google.it/ and finally look for the tags I've chosen. Moreover, I choose one or more among the results and then I start reading.
It's not completely wrong, but it's not the right way to do a good Internet search!
When you start searching, you are supposed to have all ideas clear in your mind: what are you looking for? what style do you need? what kind of author? and so on. Only answering to these questions, you will be able to search in an effective way. I read this web site
Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) about this topic. There is an explanation of this particular mental approach to search.
Moreover, thinking about what kind of source you are reading through, it is necessary to know the author, and last but not least, the text shouldn't be written by a no-one (like Wikipedia, or similar).
It's not easy at all and for this reason we talked about that at school, and we listed our criteria (you can read them

Do you always think about what are looking for?


Happy del.icio.us to you!!

Photo by Laughing Squid taken from flickr.com
Have you ever heard about del.icio.us? Well, this is the moment. Del.icio.us is another useful Internet tool. With del.icio.us you can save you time (as for Bloglines) but for different purposes. Del.icio.us is based on Social Bookmarking. Let's think about these important words:

Social: because you can share your bookmarks with a community of REAL PEOPLE, you can create your own Network with people you know (our peers, our colleagues, our friends, and so on) and you get always new Bookmarks, that you can use whenever you need or you want.

Bookmark: "A bookmark is a thin marker, commonly made of paper or card, used to keep one's place in a book and so be able to return to it with ease" (from Wikipedia). Well, we're exploring Internet bookmarks. They work in the same way of bookmarks for "normal" books, but for Internet purposes.

With del.icio.us you can create a Bookmark for a Web Page you like, you need, or whatever and you only need an Internet connection, go on Your del.icio.us and get your bookmarks ready!!
I created a Network with my peers' usernames, and then I explored their Bookmarks for some Web Pages. These are my choices!

Chiara's bookmark: I was attracted by the description of this web site http://www.esl-lab.com/ . It is funny and useful at the same time. There you can find a great number of quizzes and exercises, divided by levels (Easy, Medium and Difficult) and purposes (General Listening, Basic Listening, Academic Purposes, Vocabulary Lessons, and many others). I think I will add this Bookmark on my list, because I think it will be very useful to improve my learning skills. Thank you Chiara!! ;-)

Arianna' bookmark: I've chosen this one http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/idioms/ because I'm very interested in English Idioms. If you listen to an informal dialogue or to a film in English, you will surely encounter a lot of idiomatic expressions. With this useful web site, you can look for a specific expression, searching it by its initial letter or you can explore the site by the quick menu on the left side of the page, in which you can find anything you need (idioms, phrasal verbs, and so on). Thanks, Arianna :-)

Ilaria's bookmark: I was looking for something new, interesting and different from the famous MTV.it. This is the solution http://www.lastfm.it/. There you can find news about music, watch music videos and some more...The only thing I cannot understand is that at home, the site is in Italian, and from a University computer, it is in English!! However, thank you Ilaria! ;-)

See you soon

Do you wanna FEED with me?

Photo by Annie Mole taken from flickr.com

If you want to be always updated from your favorite Web Sites...well, it's time to use Feeds and Feed Aggregators. It was an unknown tool!! I subscribed on Bloglines and I followed step-by-step the instructions on our course blog. It was quite easy, but the real problem was understand WHAT IS THE REAL UTILITY OF FEEDS!
Well, I've written it at the beginning of this post. And Feeds are very useful. I'm still using Bloglines in order to avoid non-sense use of Google, and going directly to my favorite Web pages and above all, to those pages, which have been recently updated!

And it is simple!

You only need to copy and paste the URL of the page you need, and then...you're ready!!

You have a quick playlist of your favorites and you can always see if those pages have something new or not, because the name of the web page is highlighted whenever new posts or such sort of things are added!

I am registered for updates on New York Times and BBC above all, because I really like reading news coming from other countries, or reading shared news from different point of view. I like exploring media, too. Videos, radio, and other audio files are added every day!

Join Bloglines now!