Friday, November 26, 2010

Fun On Friday #92: Advent Calendar

Last Friday in November, so I though links to advent calendars would be appropriate.

Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
Of course, the problem is, since I can't check them out before December starts, I'm going on guesswork as to which of the many online calendars available will be worth watching as Christmas approaches. So on gut instinct and little else, I'm going to recommend the following three:
  • Santa Games Calendar: It looks like there will be a game/puzzle for every day - which sounds promising.
  • Woodlands Junior Advent Calendar 2010: A school based calendar seems appropriate for an edublog and this one claims that it is an "...interactive advent calendar contains fascinating facts and information about how Christmas is celebrated in different countries around the world".
  • Liverpool Museums Online Advent Calendar: There is no information at all about this calendar on the web page but I'm guessing that an official national museum calendar is likely to be of interest to schools and educators.
Did you use an online calendar last year, or do you have any calendar you' like to recommend?

Update: Disappointing! The Santa Games is the best of the three but it's too hard! I can only spot four differences. The Woodlands calendar is refusing to believe it's December the first and the Liverpool Museum shows a nice picture... but tells you nothing about it. Have you found anything better?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fun On Friday #91: The Blues!

Sometimes, you've just got to sing the Blues.

I was in two minds about whether this should be a Fun On Friday or a post on Feedback. In the end, I decided to put it here. The Blues Maker lets you choose the Blues harp breaks and the lyrics to create a unique... well, unique-ish, Blues song to order.

Once your customised song has been "recorded", you can share your creation with the world. Here's mine.

If you have a go, let me know where I can find your song.

{Sorry Fun On Friday is late again... I fell asleep on the couch last night with the laptop on my knees!}

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How To Look Good Glaikit

How To Look Good Glaikit may seem an odd title for a CPD event but it looks like it's going to be an interesting couple of days. The two-day event will look at ways of creating and sustaining online learning communities in Glow.

{Live-ish blog to capture some of the things that strike me as the day progresses.}

© R. A. J. Muir 2010. Used with permission.
Chinese proverb: When the winds of change blow, some people build walls while others build windmills.

CPDScotsman says, "You can't lurk collegiatly". Can you force people to contribute? What about the concept of virtual learners? An interesting discussion developed initially in the room but then in the Twitter backchannel. One Tweet that caused a bit of discussion came from @ewanmcintosh:
Fact: 90% of users won't contribute anything. But without them your community dies. Taking w/out contributing is part of ecosystem
I was going to comment on this and include some of the other discussion but I think it deserves a blog post of its own. I'll try to do something on it tonight.

We had to list five things we want our online communities to achieve. My five are:
  1. Foster a sense of belonging. The online community should support social as well as educational activities.
  2. A place to learn. This should allow people to learn by watching as well as by contributing - it is possible to over-emphasize the value of contributing.
  3. Effective contributors. Different levels of participation possible but as people become more comfortable in a community, they may grow into being effective contributors. (See Salmon's Five Stage Model.)
  4. Creative users. The online community should free people to be creative, not constrain them to one way of working.
  5. Help rather than hinder. If the online tool gets in the way of learning, find a better tool! See the cartoon above - the tray is supposed to help you, not add to your burdens.
It was a think, pair share type exercise and, eventually, four of us working together came up with an agreed set of five aims. A dot voting exercise (see for an online example of this type of activity) was then employed to identify the aims that got the most votes from the community. The voting will be summarised and shared later and I'll try to post the results here when they are available.

Towards the end of the day, there was a demonstration of a CPDMeet web part which was designed to make it easy to set up online events. This template included a series of buttons (Glow hotspots) in a follow up activities section. One of the buttons was, "Say thank you", which sends an email to the organiser/presenter. I like this. If you want to up participation levels and minimise lurking, make the participation bar as low as possible. In facebook terms, give users a Like button to click.

It is now the end of the day, and to be honest, I'm not sure I did what I was supposed to do (i.e. set up or improve a Glow group) but I learned a lot, participated in some cracking discussions and shared resources... and I had fun! I may get into trouble tomorrow for not doing what I was told to do today but I'll cross that online bridge when I come to it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fun On Friday #90: A Nags Arm

Short and sweet this week.

Go to the Internet Anagram Server, type a word or phrase into the find anagrams box and generate some anagrams. Now choose an anagram you like the look of, copy it and follow the Anagram Animation link at the top, right-hand side of the page. Type in the original text, paste in the anagram chosen earlier, and generate an animated anagram.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Fun On Friday #89: A maze of twisty games all alike

The first computer game I ever played involved hitting a small white square from one side of the screen to another with a white rectangle. I loved it but it cost money to play and (as far as I knew) the nearest machine was at the airport - not exactly easy to get to.

I know that games nowadays are all about graphics and the current crop of of games machines have the processing power of half a dozen super computers but, for me, it has always been about the gameplay. This is why I loved the original Colossal Caves Adventure game. No graphics, typed commands, frustrating axe throwing dwarves and an extremely confusing maze of twisty little passages, all alike... but I spent hours on this game. (Hours I probably should have been spending on my numerical analysis notes!) No bells, no whistles but a game that sucked you in and kept you coming back for more.

I think my favourite bit was arriving at a room where the description took up the whole screen. There were no puzzles to solve, no treasure to find, just the following:
You are on the edge of a breath-taking view. Far below you is an active volcano, from which great gouts of molten lava come surging out, cascading back down into the depths. The glowing rock fills the farthest reaches of the cavern with a blood-red glare, giving every- thing an eerie, macabre appearance. The air is filled with flickering sparks of ash and a heavy smell of brimstone. The walls are hot to the touch, and the thundering of the volcano drowns out all other sounds. Embedded in the jagged roof far overhead are myriad twisted formations composed of pure white alabaster, which scatter the murky light into sinister apparitions upon the walls. To one side is a deep gorge, filled with a bizarre chaos of tortured rock which seems to have been crafted by the devil himself. An immense river of fire crashes out from the depths of the volcano, burns its way through the gorge, and plummets into a bottomless pit far off to your left. To the right, an immense geyser of blistering steam erupts continuously from a barren island in the center of a sulfurous lake, which bubbles ominously. The far right wall is aflame with an incandescence of its own, which lends an additional infernal splendor to the already hellish scene. A dark, foreboding passage exits to the south.
If, like me, you have fond memories of text based adventure games, or if you are just a young thing and wonder what on earth I'm talking about, the place to go is the iFiction site. Here you will find 264 classic games. And, of course, the first one you should check out is the Adventure game.

(Hint: If I were you, I'd go east first and if you are completely stumped about how to play, type help.)