Wedding Day Animated Gif

WeddingYesNoScaled I was looking through some pictures I took at my daughters wedding and a pair caught my eye. I haven’t done an animated gif for a while, so here it is.

Notice the head movements: he says “yes”, she says “no”.

That’s my girl.


Let’s Hear it for Audio

Program for Online Teaching Certificate Class – week 14


This week’s blog post is more of an experiment than a contribution.

Since its audio week, I recorded myself rambling on about audio learning. It’s an unscripted, unrehearsed talk that I did during my morning drive to work the other day.

I posted it on Soundcloud, which provides embed codes, and embedded it below. If the embed doesn’t work out, here’s a link to the recording on Soundcloud;  you can listen from there or download it.

I used Audacity to filter out some of the road noise and eliminate some of the longer pauses as well as some of the “ummm”s and  “ahhh”s.

It’s about five minutes long.
Audioruminations by wwnorm

Are there any questions?

I’m a Flickr Fan

I like using Flickr for sharing photos. There are several similar services that I’ve tried, but Flickr remains my favorite so far. It integrates well with my Android devices and it allows for easy sharing. I especially like that I can send out links to my pictures that anyone can visit, even if they don’t have their own Flickr account. Anyone can browse for publicly shared pictures. You only need to login to post pictures or join the various social groups within Flickr. In some cases you don’t even have to logon to leave comments.  You can also get embed codes for pictures to add to your blog or website. I’ve heard that Facebook actually stores more photos than Flickr or any other online photo service, but I don’t think you can embed them anywhere else or browse them without logging into Facebook.  Maybe you can, but I don’t know how.

By the way I’m not an employee or owner of Flickr, just a mostly satisfied customer. Yes, I am a customer. So far it’s the only online service I’ve paid for, (other than my hosting service and ISP). The so-called Flickr-Pro service works out to less than $2 a month, which is a good value to me. I frequently misplace more than $2 a month, so it doesn’t strike me as all that expensive. Actually, the main advantage is the nearly unlimited access.   Free accounts have limits on the number and size of pictures you can upload but most of the features that I use are available to free accounts.



Flickr Screenshot

I’ve written about some of the things I like on Flickr in some earlier posts. In the first post, Flickr Fun, I showed how to use the annotation feature and a third-party utility called Mbedr. I also looked at several tools for adding Flickr image citations in your blogs.

Last Fall I learned that you could get RSS feeds for Flickr streams from tags or groups or users, and I wrote a short post about that, More Flickr Fun.

Feel free to check out those earlier posts.

Flickr Tagcloud

Flickr Tag Cloud

Today I wanted to describe Flickr Sets. Sets are like categories or albums where you can group photos that are related in some way. You can then view all your related photos together. You can arrange the photos in any order. You can share a link to the whole set instead of sending out links to individual pictures.  I have created several sets of my own pictures for special events or just for fun. My sets are all public on Flickr.

Flickr also automatically creates slideshows for your Sets. When I have pictures I want to share on Facebook, I usually make a Flickr Set and post the link on Facebook back to the Flickr slideshow. You can also get embed codes for the slideshows for your blog. This morning I scanned in a few old pictures from a home improvement project and created a set/slideshow. It tells the story of an addition we built several years ago. It’s not a very interesting story, but I think it demonstrates the possibilities.

Here it is embedded. You can also see it on Flickr.

Students and Digital Storytellers might have some fun with this 3d Rotating Image Cube. Actually it has nothing to do with Flickr, but I loaded it up with pictures from Flickr for this example. I picked six pictures I uploaded to Flickr for the DS106 Daily Create and entered the URLs into the website. I got back an embed code which I’m using below. The rotating cube is pretty awesome. You can affect the rotation effect by moving your mouse around it. It’s done in Flash though, so if you’re Flash deprived, you might not be able to see it. (I don’t have any affiliation with swfspot, I just think it’s cool.)

A  few weeks ago, Cris  wrote about getting a ‘twofer’ by blogging for etmooc and DS106 at the same time. Building on that, I think I’ve got a ‘threefer’ here. Pedagogy First is just finishing up a week on Images and Screenshots, while DS106 is just about to begin its week on Visual arts, and etmooc is in the middle of its session on Digital Storytelling, so I think I can post this to all three groups. I don’t get to blog as much as I’d like, so I like to get the best mileage possible.

That’s my Story, Are there any questions?

So much information

I have 3 reasons for joining etmooc.

  •  interest in the topic, especially as a forum to learn and discover new tools for content creation and management.
  •  participating in an online community of smart dynamic people
  •  an opportunity to revive my blogging

Several people have already described the etmooc experience with words like fire-hose, sea of information, flood, etc. (curious, all related to water)

It’s not so different from the Internet at large except that a random look around etmooc results in even more interesting stuff than a random look around the Web. It’s much more concentrated.

Side of a building with 4 satellite dishes

photo: N Wright CC Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

It’s been called information overload, and the Blur, among other things. I wrote about it once before, when I was starting out in the Pedagogy First class.

Here’s a link to my earlier post.

I’ve been checking etmooc each morning to see whats new. I usually find something like this:

That’s a lot of new information to fit into an already busy day for me. Really too much. I’ve been scanning through everything, trying to pick out what’s most interesting to me. Right now I’m focusing on how others are managing the fire-hose, and stories about blogging.  Many experienced bloggers here have offered a lot of great tips; but its really interesting to look at what new bloggers are doing and seeing new approaches being tried and tested. And of course, I’m always interested in reading reviews and news about new digital tools, online or otherwise.

There are many other topics under discussion as well, but limiting myself to a few areas is enough to keep very busy. I’ve read a lot about blogging this week and last, but haven’t had much chance to practice. The thing is, if I can set a few hours aside some evening to focus on etmooc, I’m faced with the choice of blogging about something I already know or have done, or I could spend the time learning about and doing something new. I usually go for the new, and the blogging gets pushed side. I suppose that’s a bit selfish, choosing to take rather than give, but that’s how it seems to work out. Well I found a few minutes to write up this post. Now its back to the fire-hose.

I’ve really enjoyed the live sessions, or the recorded playbacks of the sessions I couldn’t attend live. It’s great to have the recordings available.

Well, if you’ve seen any other posts with strategies for dealing with the information flood, feel free to link them in the comments. Especially interested in hearing from fellow etmooc-ers on the subject.

Are there any questions?

Jumping into #ETMOOC

I decided to dive into #ETMOOC which is just starting up this week. Despite my misgivings that I’ll have time to make much of a splash, I decided to join anyway. A number of people I follow are talking about it a lot, the topics and format are exciting and the community potential is attractive as well.

So this post is my introduction and test post to get my feet wet and to see if I can get my blog onto the feed.

I’m Norm Wright. I’m in Rochester, NY. I’ve been swimming around in Pedagogy First and DS106 for the last year or so. Although both of those programs have denied being MOOCs, the format is similar, as least in regards to the use of aggregated blogging, and other social media. So I think I’ll manage to keep afloat here.

Although I’m not actively teaching at the present time, I did teach (face-to-face) IT classes part-time for 5 years at a local business school. As much as I enjoyed that, I had to take a break from that due to the work load of my full time job. In real life I work in software development (mainly C++ & Java programming) which has been my primary occupation for ages.

Nevertheless, my interest in education and technology remains high, so here I am. Besides, I like the people associated with this class, so I’m glad to have a chance to hang around and keep an eye on what you’re doing.

I’m looking forward to it.

Are there any questions?


All my daily creates #ds106

it's a surprise!

Happy Birthday Daily Create

Earlier this week we observed the 1-year anniversary of the Daily Create, one of my favorite parts of DS106. In honor of the momentous occasion, I posted a collection of all my daily creates. Feel free to check it out here: All My Daily Creates

That’s my story. Any Questions?

#potcert Building Online Class

It’s week 7 in the Pedagogy First Online Teaching Certificate course and a topic this week is Building Community in online courses. While there has been some questions as to whether the community is necessary, there seems to be wide consensus that it is helpful and useful. A big question seems to be HOW to start and sustain an online course community. The most common suggestions have been having students commenting on each other’s blogs and the use of discussion forums. Some suggest requiring participation as part of the grade, while others suggest an optional approach and hoping that the community somehow will spring forth on its own. Lisa observed in her blog that sometimes it takes off and sometimes it does not.


As part of this week’s assignment, we have been encouraged to comment on at least six  participant blogs, as well as a following up every few days to keep the discussion going. It seems to be working well as It looks like there are more comments than usual this week.  I’ve noticed that very similar conversations are going on in several different blogs. I keep finding I want to leave the same comment more than once. My dilemma has been whether to repeat myself here and there or to select one blog to leave my comment. In my indecisiveness, I haven’t left any comments at all yet. I wonder if other students get confused like this. It feels like the conversation(s) would be more useful if they were all together. I guess that’s why we have discussion groups.

There is a discussion group on Facebook  that many of the potcert participants have been using. In fact the discussions are quite good and it’s often the only reason I log into Facebook. I don’t think the Facebook format is the best style for discussions, but it seems to be working out.

I tried using Facebook groups in a couple of my courses (F2F) at one time.  Many of the students thought it was a pretty good idea to have these discussions, and there were a few students who seemed to object to the intrusion of schoolwork in their Facebook spaces. For the most part, students used it as assigned, but it never really developed much momentum. Only one topic really got much extra attention. That was in an e-commerce class and I asked for reactions to the idea of Facebook adopting a paid membership model. That got a lot of responses and I suspect it’s because the topic hit a very personal  chord with many of them. Maybe there’s a hint there to how to get students more engaged in online discussions.

I have a couple of widgets in my blog sidebar that show recent comments on my blog and recent Tweets. These little excerpts provide links directly to the conversations. I wonder if there is a similar technique to list recent discussion forum posts. On a course webpage, it might provide a prompt to get students into the discussion. They would see some excerpts from recent posts with links to the forum. I don’t know if it’s possible to do that in an LMS but it seems like it would be helpful.

Are there any questions?

More Flickr Fun

A follow up to an earlier post: Flickr Fun.

This may be old news to some, but I just learned about Flickr RSS feeds for Flickr groups and tags. If you’re not familiar with RSS maybe you should check it out.  If you like to follow a lot of stuff online its a great way to do it. I follow lots of bloggers and even Tweets in my RSS reader. I tend to check my RSS reader even more than email and Twitter. It’s great with an RSS reader on a smartphone.

So when I found out there were RSS feeds for Flickr I was pretty excited. Now I can see what’s going on in The Daily Create from my newsreader, at least on the days when we’re posting to Flickr. Now that we’re using the dailycreate tag its really easy to follow the Flickr Daily Creates in RSS.

Here’s the short version of the story, follow this link to subscibe –

You can follow other tags on Flickr the same way, just replace dailycreate with the tag you want.

You can also subscribe to Flickr groups. For instance, last year I joined the Flickr group “2012/366photos”. Its a place you can post a picture every day. I thought it was part of DS106 when I signed up. It’s not, but a lot of friends of DS106 post there. To subscribe to the RSS feed for the group, use this link –

That funny code “600611@N20” is the groupID. You can subscribe to other groups by replacing that number with the ID of the group you want to follow. To find a group ID, use a site such as  getFlickrID  or idGettr

You can even get the feed for a particular user. You get the user id from one of those sites I just mentioned then put it in a url like this –

That will get you a subscription to my Flickr photostream.

More technical details about Flickr RSS feeds can be found here:

Do you know a better way to do this? Leave a comment, or share any other Flickr tricks you know.

That’s my story. Any questions.

Designing classes #potcert

Weeks 3 and 4 in the online teaching program have been about course design. Part of the lessons this week was about stating goals and objectives for our classes. While the distinction is still a little fuzzy to me, I’m thinking of it like this right now: The goals are like a description of an ideal state we’d like to achieve with our course, while the objectives are measurable steps we can take towards reaching that state. It’s not really a perfect definition, but it’s how I’ve come to think about it.

In the face-to-face classes I’ve taught, goals and objectives were usually handed down from on-high and I didn’t really have a lot of input into that. For one thing, I was teaching night-school classes and there was a day-school version that was supposed to be equivalent, so I guess it makes sense to have common goals and objectives. Nevertheless, I had the freedom to run my classes as I saw fit.

I teach technical classes, such as computer programming. I initially thought it would be an easy transition to online classes. After all, most of the course work is on the computer, and the online course is on the computer. Further, there’s a lot of material already on the Internet – lectures, free e-books, videos, code samples, you name it. There are also good programming textbooks for beginning students. I don’t think I would have to create a lot of online presentations; rather I could collate and curate existing content, prepare assignments, assess progress and answer questions.

However my face to face classes weren’t really like that. I tried lectures and presentation at first, but I wasn’t getting too far with that.  Even after some of my best sessions, there were rarely any questions from students. I sometimes wonder if I did such a good job that there was nothing more to say (unlikely) or that I lost them in the first two minutes (more likely) or perhaps my demonstration was drowned out by snoring (did I mention it was night school?)

I soon found out that students have a lot more questions after they start working on a project than they do after a lecture. The problem with that is they are at home working on the projects with no one to answer the questions. So they get stuck, frustrated, give up and save their questions for the next class, losing several days of work in the meantime. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this “It all made sense when you explained it in class, but when I tried to do the homework, I didn’t know where to start”  If you’re hearing a lot of that, something must be wrong.

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

After some experimentation and trial and error I ended up “flipping” my class and had students work on projects during assigned class times. I figured it was better to have them in class with me at the point where the questions emerged. My classes were like a computer-lab. Students, especially night students, liked having something to do (it helps with staying awake). Being less formal than a lecture, there were more questions for me, but also more chatter within the class and more ideas flying around. When I was tied up helping one student with a problem, students would find help from each other instead of waiting for their turn with me.  My students seemed to do much better in this arrangement, and attendance improved too.

Now I find myself wondering how to capture this kind of experience online. I don’t want to have to make myself available 24/7, but I’d like to find a way to teach them to get quick answers to their questions. My face-to-face students rarely used email to ask questions, they seemed to prefer saving the questions for class. Hopefully online students would not be so inhibited.  I’ve never tried online forums with programming classes. I can’t imagine these students using a forum for any reason other than to ask questions, so I would have to monitor it closely or no one will be there to answer questions.  I think a few screencast tutorials to cover the frequently asked questions would be helpful; something like the tutorials and worksheets we had here in potcert. Twitter might be useful too, though in my case, very few of my students used it. Perhaps online would be a different story.

I’m sure if I get some time to do a little more research online, I’ll find some more ideas but I’m starting to think this course design activity is going to involve some more experimentation and trial and error.

By the way, I found the tutorials and worksheets very helpful. After watching the tutorials I tried the worksheets and had my own moment of “It all made sense when you explained it in class, but when I tried to do the homework, I didn’t know where to start”. Luckily the tutorials were recorded and I could go over them again (and again). That’s how I’d like things to work in my classes too.

That’s all for now. Let me know if you have any questions.

What >>> How (#potcert)

The title is meant to say that what we teach may affect how we teach. Do you agree?

For the second week of the Online Teaching Program, we were asked to complete a questionaire which “represents your perspective as you think about your classroom teaching”.

I had a hard time selecting a best answer among the choices offered, but eventually came through with a score of 15. The range of possible scores is 5 – 20, with a low score indicating a preference “toward student-directed, constructivist learning models.”  and a high score indicating a preference for “presentation, demonstration and modeling.”

Over on the Facebook group, a discussion got started when Jenny remarked on the questionnaire – “It depends…”  That’s when I realized the source of my difficulty with the questionnaire. I repeated the exercise, keeping a specific class in mind and completed it with more ease, and a score of 17. Trying again with a different class in mind I scored 12.

I spent a lot of time wondering about this and trying to think of what “it depends” on.

Here’s some of the things I came up with.

  • Is this a beginner’s course?
  • Is it about learning how to do something, or how to think about something?
  • Have I taught this class before?
  • How much flexibility do I have in selecting content for the course?

There’s many more, feel free to add to the list in comments.

I also found myself wondering about how some disciplines seem to fit better with one approach more than another. Thinking back on my own schooling, I recall that math & science class discussions consisted mainly of Q&A; questions fired at the instructor and answers back from the instructor with very little crosstalk among the students. Engineering and design classes had more collaborative discussions, with classmates sharing ideas, building on them and discussing pros & cons. In literature classes there was a lot of learning from sharing interpretations with each other in class discussions and the teacher was just another voice in the discussion. These are just my impressions from memory, rather than based on any particular research.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Caitlyn Willows

Speaking of my schooling, I’m old enough to say that most of my formal schooling occurred before anyone ever heard the word “online”. Traditional classrooms and independent-study were pretty much the whole ballgame.  That’s not to say I don’t learn online now, I’m just saying that’s how it was in those formative years. I wonder how much that affects my teaching preferences today.

So I think it really does depend on a number of things for me. Maybe there’s a universal formula that applies to all situations. Someone mentioned a rule of thirds; one third lecturing, one third discussion and one third one-on-one interaction with the teacher. I never heard that before but it’s interesting. Does it work across the board?

Once again I find myself at the end of the week before getting to my blog. I’ve been reading all week and I managed to drop some comments here and there, as well as some email correspondence. So I’ve been participating but not very visible. Actually I’m trying to clear some other projects out of the way and make some more time for this.

Meanwhile, let me know if there are any questions.