Who is Smik?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Education.au Blogfest #5: Giving visitors something to do

Task #5 in the Education.au BlogFest asks us to focus on giving visitors something to do, i.e. letting them participate in an activity on your blog.

It is not always easy to embed an activity in your blog - many of the activities send people off to external sites. So I've got an example of each.

First of all here is something i created about the BlogFest at Xtranormal.

Hopefully you will be able to see it below (just click on the little red arrow if you can) - otherwise see it online here.

The second activity definitely takes you off to an external site but I am sure you will enjoy it.
Just click on the image for transportation by my magic carpet.

The game is actually a promo for Quebec’s Musee de la Civilisation for their Egyptian exhibition open April 2009-April 2010. The participant can take part in 3 games related to funerary rites, and learn additional information.

Interestingly you play the games before reading any text (although you can choose to read information first), and you can re-try each game until you get it right. I think as a learning object it works very well. In terms of using it in a lesson to engage it is not too long, and would fit the bill for most students.

How did you enjoy these activities?

Friday, 15 January 2010

Education.au Blogfest #4: Monitoring Blogs

Task #4 is 2-fold.
  1. In your blog post list at least 10 blogs you think are worth following. You might like to write a little comment about the blog, the author, what you find valuable etc.
  2. What tool do you use to follow blogs? Does it have any drawbacks? What do you think are its good points?
I monitor quite a number of blogs, but don't always get around to reading all their posts.
I keep thinking I should reduce my list, but somehow that is a task that doesn't get done very often, and then I discover some people have stopped posting.
I'm just going to list some in the order that they appear in my RSS reader
My primary tool for following blogs is RSS Reader, software that runs on my computer.
It is quite an old copy and recently has been having a bit of a choke on some blogs with the result that I no longer follow them because RSS Reader hangs.

The disadvantage of using RSS reader is that you have to be on your computer.

Another thing that occurs to me is that I don't actually visit many of the blogs I've named above, because I can read the posts on my computer. So I don't always take part in the conversations that I've been talking about. I am more of a "lurker".

Other methods of following blogs
  • if you are using Blogger, then use the Bloglist gadget to create a Blogroll - also add the Followers gadget to your Blog.
    Use the Followers list provided on some Blogger blogs and then you can see those in your Reading List in your Dashboard.
    These will then also show up in your Google Reader
  • Use iGoogle
  • use Friendfeed: see http://friendfeed.com/edau2009
  • if the blog RSS feed doesn't seem to work for you, then use something like Feedmyinbox which allows you to have blog posts sent to you by email.
  • Some blogs also have a "follow me by email" link.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Education.au BlogFest #3: embedding content

Our new task is to embed content in a blog post.

I have a number of things already embedded in my blog's public face.
If you look to the left you will see a widget provided by BoxNet which is a public storage facility. The widget shows people what I have stored and allows them to access presentations etc. I have often used it in conjunction with workshops so that participants can check up on what they covered in the workshop.

Until today, I thought that the Odiogo widget that I have embedded in my blog allowed visitors to have my posts read to them. Today I have discovered that it isn't working. I'm not sure how I go about removing it if I can't remedy the problem.

On the left you can see that I also have an edna search embedded, and below that various RSS feeds including the edna headlines.

What all these widgets are supposed to do is to provide content with minimal effort on my part.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Education.au BlogFest #2: Images

Our second task in the Education.au Blogfest relates to images, and I'm hoping to learn a bit more about useful tools.

I use quite a lot of images on my posts, mainly to create more white space around the text.
I actually have a number of avatars and images that I use depending on who I am posting as.

The top one, the galah, is the one I use on my book blog, the one underneath is one that I've used in online forums etc, and the bottom cartoon character is one that I created for using in OzProjects.

One of the drawbacks of our current Education.au blogs is that we don't have any avatar images attached to our "about" pages, so nobody really has any idea of what we look like. In fact, that's something I try to remedy today.

On my me.edu.au page, I was using yet another image, but yesterday I changed it over to my "headphones" one.

What do you feel most comfortable with - a "real" picture or an avatar? Can an avatar help in saying things about you that a photo doesn't?

For my images I use a combination of photos that I have taken, items I can find that use Creative Commons licences on Flicker, together with XnView that I really couldn't be without. XnView is particularly good for playing around with screen dumps and I use it a lot for cropping and creating new images.

I think the layout of your blog post is pretty important. There should be lots of white space, and if you use images, then you tend to shorten the length of the lines of text, and that makes it easier for people to read.

You should also avoid writing dense paragraphs. Images will help you break them up and once again make things more readable.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Education.au BlogFest #1

This is my first post in the Education.au BlogFest, an internal professional development incentive to introduce people to blogging and to augment my own skills.

Our first task is to write a post about joining the BlogFest and to say what we hope to get out of the activities over the next 3 weeks.

Since I am "leading" the activity, I suppose my aims are a little different to other participants but perhaps they are not.

I hope
  • to get a better understanding of the potential of a blog for professional development
  • in particular, the major obstacles others face when they are starting out. When you've been doing things for a while like I have, it is easy to not recognise potential problems.
  • I hope to persuade the participants to see blogging as the beginning of a conversation, and
  • I'm hoping to provide a stimulating experience.