Category Archives: General

Disconnected (or my week without the internet at home)

I recently moved house. It’s an exhausting experience. Not only are there the emotional stressors involved with buying and selling, but also the physically draining process of packing and shifting. Settling into the new house is of course exciting. However connecting to the internet at the new house takes time…a long time!! Our provider estimated 10-20 days!!!!! While thankfully it was in actual fact only 8 days, that 8 days of disconnection highlighted just how dependent we are upon the internet in our daily lives.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by julianlimjl

First world problems, I know. This post is merely an observation of how ‘everyday’ the internet has become – and how many little things we do with the help of this marvel, which¬† didn’t even exist for so much of my life.

During these past weeks I have still been going to work each day, and working online for the majority of this time. However, each evening brought a new ‘we need the internet!’ scenario.

Cooking dinner – that recipe is on the Jamie Oliver website!

Choosing the evening viewing – the TV schedule website was inaccessible.

Reading up on a news article that piqued our interest – no Reddit to read others’ opinions.

Squabbling over what other singles an artist released when they were mentioned on Spicks n Specks – nowhere to research!

Needing a new book to read – with no Amazon and no access to our Digital Library to download e-books, I had to plan my downloads for work time and hope to goodness I didn’t run out during the evening!

Changing address details for the myriad of services modern life accrues – all online!

A compounding problem was that we have never had a land-line – we use VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) to run our main phone, so without an internet connection, we also had to rely on our mobile phones (which was really no big deal at all, just another example of how dependent we are on the internet).

Some of my friends thought I should be having a wonderfully restful time, disconnected from the demands of technology. Others who knew me better understood how so many of my habits were connected to the online world, and made delicate inquiries as to how I was ‘coping’.

In truth, I coped fine. It wasn’t horrible having no internet – just disconcerting, to realise how my life has changed and become framed around this always accessible information source. Students in school today must find stints without the internet even more challenging – after all, they have never known a life without it.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by superkimbo

It’s this ubiquitous nature of 24-7 information access that we must remember when planning learning – that for many of our students being connected is a natural state of being, and that our teaching should focus on developing their critical literacy (just because the information is there, doesn’t mean it is quality information) and on building their skills to take the content, and actually do something with it. To use this great resource to be constructive and creative, and not as a simple vacuum of time. - Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to someone I hope never gets fully replaced by Wikipedia.

Now, I shall go and indulge in some time vacuuming myself – after a long week without social media (read largely Reddit :-)) I am going to catch up with what has really been happening in the world while I’ve been away. It’s going to be a late night!


How long does information live?

Over the last few hours I have devoted myself to catching up on all of the posts and comments generated by the very active EDCMOOC pre-course participants! There is such a wealth of information and wisdom. Quite a number of participants have commented on the overwhelming flow of ideas, tools, discussions, questions, and many have asked how to handle all of this.

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Will Lion

Sadly, I have no definitive answers (although I manage a number of curation tools and I use these regularly to help me stay on top in my position as Education Officer: Digital Learning for Brisbane Catholic Education), which undoubtedly help.

These tools only go so far, however. You still need to read or at the very least skim the material to establish what to save and where to save it. You need to evaluate the information – is this something you need to read now, later, or never? There is just so much out there – you can’t deal with it all!!

Amidst this flurry of infowhelm, I began to look at the dates information was published, and wondered what the shelf-life of information is. When I was in high school (a long, long time ago!) it seemed ok to present research from books that were ten, even fifteen years old – indeed, most of the books in my school’s library were of that age!! That was the extent of the information I had access to, and therefore I used it to the best of my ability. Upon beginning a Bachelor of Business, I found that research that was more than five years old was looked upon with disdain by my lecturers; unless we were talking about classic economic principles or basic psych research.

One of my courses, a Graduate Diploma in Religious Education had Theology subjects where the texts were attributed to scholars of hundreds of years previously; so clearly the context and subject matter to some extent determine the age of ‘acceptable’ information.

However in this EDCMOOC, where tools live and die in a matter of months, where start-ups become standards in the course of a year and where technology changes over the course of what seems like hours, just how long is it until information expires in this context?

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by shareski

I find myself looking at articles written in 2010 and questioning their validity now in 2013. I look back at documents I created even six months ago and find them dated, with websites’ changing looks and perpetual beta rendering screen captures and descriptions useless for new learners.

And so, to the list of curation and collation tools, I add the filter of time. I respect that some things never change – good teaching will always be good teaching; and many truths hold no matter what format they are delivered in; however when overwhelmed with choice as to what article/post/infographic to examine, I will add the lense of timeliness and discard those that reflect on sites that have since changed or grown or simply transformed (let’s face it, Facebook was completely different even six months ago to it’s current form).

I’d love to know your thoughts; and if you have any other filtering strategies, please share!!

This is why I love the internet

It began for me a long time ago – a love of reading, of investigating, of learning new information. I read every book in our bookcase at home, visited the library (both school and public) and still I wanted more. I even read all of our World Book encyclopedias! When Mum and Dad bought our first computer, I was about 13, and a new world was opening up. One cd rom could hold mountains of information – and stuff like Encarta kept me going for a while…but then – in the early ’90s…came the internet!! Yes, it was slow at first – infuriatingly so – but wow – a bookshelf that never ran out! As the years have passed, and with the explosion of content sharing mechanisms such as blogs, and wikis, as well as tools that allow you to randomly access the wealth of material out there (StumbleUpon and Reddit, I’m looking at you) this bookshelf has grown richer and more involving. It has transformed from a one way channel of text to multiple streams of whatever multimedia you can dream of – images, videos, music, text…and the interactivity means that whenever you have a question – no matter how obscure, no matter how simple or complex – someone out there has an answer for you.

This morning, when I saw this:

Freezer Friday

Click on the image to see the entire album

I was reminded once again about the amazing sharing and the insights we can gain from this powerful tool. This guy is clearly a gifted cartoonist – and using his freezer as his canvas is genious – however just 20 years ago, his talents would never have been viewed by myself; particularly if he restricted himself to the freezer!! Today, I can not only enjoy his sketches, I can share them with you – and so will countless others.

The power of sharing our talents and wisdom via the internet never ceases to inspire me; and provides me with the tool to become a lifelong learner in ways I never could have imagined if I was born even 40 years earlier…this is why I love the internet!!!

You have taken your first step into a wider world…

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Sweetie187

Welcome to my blog! I am not new to blogging (you may have read my work on the ResourceLink blog), however this new blog, just in time for 2013, is my first online portfolio style blog, where I hope to gather together my learning and experiences from across many different areas of my life. It is both professional and personal, and will become a record of my online learning life.

In a few weeks I’ll be joining with people from all over the world in completing my first ever Coursera course, in E-learning and Digital Cultures from the University of Edinburgh.

This is going to be followed up with my first subject in a Grad Cert in IT from QUT; majoring in Digital Environments…so I’m going to have heaps to write about and share!

I’m also toying with the idea of doing a 365 project this year, as well as continue working full time in my role as Education Officer: Digital Learning for Brisbane Catholic Education…so I’d better get organised with linking my learning to this blog!

Til next time…