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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Graduation Day at CSU

It has been such a whirlwind of a year and I am not sure how I managed to get everything finished on time. But I know that I could never have done it without the support of my gorgeous husband and my supportive family.

Finishing this degree marks the end of my life as an Information Technology teacher and the start of my career as a Teacher Librarian (I am sure we can come up with a better name). I decided to make the trip up to the main CSU campus in Wagga Wagga to participate in the graduation ceremony. The grounds are so spacious compared with the institutions that I am used to in Melbourne. One of my lecturers, Roy Crotty, was telling us that it used to be the Wagga Agricultural College.

One of the things that I love about graduation ceremonies is reading about the new Ph.D students and what they have been researching. My husband would shoot me if I continued my study at the moment, but that doesn't stop me from being interested in what others have researched and achieved.

Julia Bale received her Ph.D at the same ceremony and her research looks at the Information-Seeking Preferences of Secondary School Teachers. Her presentation on the ALIA web site looks interesting and I am hoping to learn more about the implications for her research.

Jacob Wallis received his Ph.D with the title "#digitalactivism: networks, new media and political action". Another Ph.D that would be interesting to look through. We joked that perhaps after the graduation ceremony he might have tweeted #iamthedoctor

After the graduation ceremony we had dinner at the Golden Season in Wagga Wagga. Reminiscent of Smorgy's in the 80's, the restaurant was decked out in 70's cane furniture, Mediterranean pictures on the walls and all you can eat chinese buffet. Most strange. Once we all had a bite to eat, we had the opportunity to chew the fat with the fellow students and lecturers and thank them for their care and guidance throughout our journey.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We love Neil Gaiman and his wisdom on writing

I came across this web page with quotes from famous writers and it got me thinking about how I love Neil Gaiman quotes on how to write.

For students there is a fear of putting yourself out there, for writing something and opening yourself up to the vulnerability that is scrutiny.

But before you start worrying about what people will think about your writing, you have to actually write something. And when you finish writing a piece, it is just the beginning of the process not the end.

Further reading:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Using Hemmingway with students to improve writing

I came across Hemingway Editor and thought that it might be good tool to use with students who are still developing their writing style.

It has a rather simple interface and I like the way that it uses colour to identify areas that need further drafting. Students could use the tool by writing into the web site or doing a cut/copy from MS Word. The information gleamed from the Editor would prove useful for further analysis.

There are lots of ways that you could incorporate this into the English classroom.

I quickly wrote the following text in reaction to this provocative article that crossed my path. Can't our teachers be trusted to dress appropriately and it identified several long and complicated sentences and also the reading level of the piece.

"The issue of the professional dress policy is an interesting one. On one hand, it is important to define the acceptable dress for everyone within the schooling environment, but on the other hand it needs to be done in such a way in which it does not marginalise one gender or the other. 

For the policy to single out that identify that female staff members should not wear provocative clothing, assumes that female staff members hold some power over both students and colleagues alike. "

I copied this paragraph (above) into Hemingway Editor and it identified the reading level of my work and also suggestions for improvement.

I would imagine in an English Classroom that you could then deconstruct the paragraph and talk about how you might improve the writing.

Further reading:


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Monday, December 1, 2014

Some thoughts on Agile Development for Library Web Site Design

Gone are the days of big web site re-designs and launches. A very poignant presentation from a Web Services Librarian at Arizona State University talks about agile development when planning and maintaining a Library Web Site.

screen grab from presentation

The argument is that we should be continually improving and evolving our web sites without the very "late 1990's" web site re-launch parties. Instead the presentation encourages continuous improvement to the website incrementally rather than in one hit.

This great diagram by Logic Boost shows us the benefits of making small changes and slowly building the web site up rather than the plan-relaunch strategy (waterfall).

This methodology fits in beautifully with the concept of "continuous improvement" within a business setting. The idea that regardless of what you are working on, there will always be improvements. That you never actually get to the "ultimate" web site, because you are continually improving.

Most of the diagrams for agile methodology don't have an evaluation step in them. If you are going to slowly improve your web site, consider doing periodical evaluations of the site to ascertain whether your site is achieving it's objectives.

Some further reading:

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