Thursday, June 21, 2012

On Skype and Google Hangout

             I should have written two different posts, I should have written two posts about each of these meeting, as there is so much to be said. But here I am, doing two in one, not because it is my favourite type of instant coffee (you know 2in1 little bags, enough for 1 cup of coffee) but because of chronic lack of time due to the end of yet another school year, plus the secondary school entrance exam for my daughter, plus some never-leaving workmen on the upper floor of my house……
          First things first, as they say! I’ll start with Skype. If you asked a Man in the street if he or she has ever used Skype, my guess is four out of five people would say YES. Now I would also very gladly join four fifths of the world, yet I would feel the need to explain that until quite recently, I used Skype to talk to my family only when my daughter was around to set up everything. Like a real film star, I appeared on the screen with my broad smile, not bothering my brain with technical details about it.
          So a couple of Tuesdays ago I was on my own with Skype and all the unsettled questions from the past. To begin with, I forgot my Username! Luckily it was in the computer together with some other names of mainly my daughter’s friends.   It was an easy pick, but what to do with it? I went in and nothing happened! There was no meeting there! I clicked different buttons, nothing again! That almost forgotten Tapped-in-feeling of being lost began to creep into my head again. This time I didn’t mind. Not knowing where you are or where you should go was fun this time!
          All of a sudden, just like teleported form one dimension to another, I found myself in the middle of a lively conversation my BaW friends had already started. And what a chatty group of people they were, enjoying themselves, having such a good time talking about really interesting teachers’ stuff.  It was my pleasure and honour to be there!
        Has BaW experience changed me personally? This is the question Ayat asked me there. I hadn’t actually thought about it before that. I said yes because that is what I felt but I couldn’t explain well. Now that I have thought a lot about it I can say: Absolutely! It has changed me in so many ways and I wasn’t even aware of it.
        It’s not only that I became much more confident with technology, although that alone would have been a great success! I was also given this unbelievable opportunity not only to meet so many wonderful people all over the world but to be proud to be one of them! It has rocketed my enthusiasm and optimism sky-high!  And only one more thing, though there are many more to think about,  BaW experience has turned me into an adventurer! Because of it I am looking forward to the unknown just because it is unknown to me :}!
          And so, I was looking forward to the Google Hangout absolutely unaware of what it is or how to use it or what to use it for. And it was beautiful! The beginning was just as I expected: I was lost in the corridors of the unknown. I was puzzled but not confused! I kept trying and failed but this time it wasn’t a nightmare, it was a challenge! And when I joined the others, one hour later, it turned out to be one of the most hilarious online meetings I have ever attended. I chuckled and smiled long after it finished.
            If you asked the same Man in the street about Google Hangout, my guess is five out of five people wouldn’t know about it. You will need to ask another five, and yet another…. Simply, Skype is General Knowledge, everybody uses it, everybody knows about it! Not the Google hangout! But I hope it will change. Soon!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Dawning of the Age of Technology

          Oh, don`t  get me wrong, this is a very personal story. It is how I changed from a second-hand user of technology to …… technology-friendly user! I have never heard anyone actually saying `second-hand`  user of technology ,but that`s exactly who I was. You see, I did use technology, but only if somebody else set up everything for me. So I had a facebook account because my daughter opened it for me. I used Skype only when she was around. My sister downloaded from youtube for me. I used Twitter but only for direct messages to my friend Natasa, who opened my account. It gets even more sophisticated! I made a few PPTs! Actually I did the typing, my daughter did everything else, including saving. …… So you see, there was always a pair of first hands to help. Mine were the second! Very kind of them, but I could have asked them to explain, to teach me how to do it. Maybe I did, and maybe they did explain. And then maybe I did something once and then I definitely forgot everything! I`ve told you I am forgetful in my first blog, remember?
          I must say I`ve come a long way from the decision to change that and to join BaW. It seems so long ago that I can hardly remember the beginning. Is it possible it was only five weeks ago? Time flies, doesn`t it? And yet, I can still feel the occasionally bitter taste of the first week! I stiill see my giant photo serenely smiling from the deleted BaW wiki page! I can still remember wandering around Tapped In Building like a ghost invisible to everybody and everything. I, in a nutshell, felt like Alice in Wonderland, I even wrote about Alice and me! (take a look at two blogs down)  And I also wrote the letter to the mods, trying to explain, justify, confess, come clean, like I was keeping a bad secret that needed to be said aloud. I still keep the letter just to remind me! 
Dear friends in need, dear moderators! I just feel a need to write about the first week here. So, how was it for me? Well, it was exciting, frustrating, amusing, time-consuming, enlightening, painstaking, groundbreaking, rewarding! I felt great, satisfied and happy when I didn’t feel lost or confused! To sum up, it was beautiful!!! Now I have a confession to make. (No, I`m not an alcoholic :) ) I don`t think I am passionate about technology :( !I wish I was! I really wish! I think it is useful, I think it is necessary and I am keen on it. But I don't feel on the safe side with it. I hesitate to use it. I am afraid of making mistakes! I know it is wrong, (I keep encouraging my students to do so. NB I teach adults in a language school). So, why did I join the courses? (Alas, I'm also on the Digitools, too!) Because I want my computer to be my friend, not my misery. Because I need some driving force to make me sit and learn about technology. Because I need a friendly push, advice, encouragement. And that is what I've realised I have here with you. Thanks a million for that! Thanks to organizers, moderators, peers for sharing and caring. You are doing a great job! And I'll keep clicking :) ! Lots of love to you all!
 After saying that, I felt much better, I felt free from my guilty conscience! Free to go on!  How great and supportive you mods and webmates were then! And that was the point of no return! I crossed the Rubicon, it was time to conquer Rome!
          Yes, it is true that all the roads lead to Rome, just some are more direct than others. Of course I chose the most indirect roads, I chose a lot of bypasses and detours, not to mention blind alleys. Especially at the beginning! It changed in the weeks to follow, and I`m extremely satisfied with what I`ve learned. And I`ve learned here absolutely everything I know. I still don`t use highways, too much speed for me. I`m probably still on country roads, but I don`t mind. I know this is just the beginning of an exciting journey to the age of technology. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Alice in Wonderland ...and me

                   (Disney)                                                 (Code Lyoko - edited in piZap)

`Alice in Wonderland
How do you get to Wonderland?
Over the hill or underland?
Or just behind a tree?`

          I have been humming this little song for more than three weeks. Why? Oh, because I like Alice in Wonderland and I like the song and most importantly I feel like  Alice now. You can guess why, can`t you? Yes, down the hole I went and into a strange land for me, where nothing is impossible just some things are impassable if you don`t know how to pass them (I paraphrased the Doorknob a bit here). 
          So why do I feel like Alice? Oh, believe me there are many reasons. Just as for Alice everything was curiouser and curiouser in Wonderland, equally curious is everything for me in this Cyberland. When I first met Alice and her Wonderland many years ago, I was most impressed by those magical portions EAT ME and DRINK ME that changed her size so dramatically. And she didn`t even know what would happen to her, still she ate and drank the stuff politely. When I started my journey here, I was truly  puzzled by so many signs saying PRESS ME, LOG IN, SIGN IN, SIGN OUT, JOIN IN, POST….  I didn`t know what would happen to me if I did what they asked me to do, but I clicked the buttons anyway.
          Even more strangely, the buttons were not satisfied when I pressed them once, they kept calling me to do it again. So I signed up for Yahoo Groups, and Pbworks and Edmodo from Digitools, very likely three or more times! I knew it  because I was getting the messages You are already signed. So I was never  sure if I did everything I should have done or didn`t do what I shouldn`t have done or whatever!
          I knew I had gone too far when  a message came `Someone has requested access to`. Oh dear, what did I do? I mean, I didn`t want any access to anywhere, I wanted to do what I should, not what I shouldn`t. And the message politely explained  that access is not given to reference pages in the wiki, only to pages where the participants will collaborate  when they are ready to write intro. Well,  I had maybe seen a wiki page once or twice before that, so I didn`t know what reference pages were or how to collaborate in one. I knew I wasn`t ready to do anything! And that moment I knew I had drank a portion that shrank me to the size of  the White Rabbit. And I also knew I had to find a way to undo the undersized me!
          As Lewis Carroll said: `If you don`t know where you are going, any road will take you there!`. I didn`t know where I was going but I wanted to get there quickly! So I decided to collect any courage left and to INSERT my photo and intro in the participants page.  I kept reading the instructions remembering the Doorknob`s wise words: Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction!  And indeed I was directed and managed to do it and was instantly restored to my original size! 
          Just I wasn`t quite happy  with the size of the photo, it wasn`t quite right. Since one good turn deserves another, I ventured into something that turned out to be my major disaster….but that deserves a post of its own. J

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tweeting, flashing and something else.....

Monday, 30th January
          Pity I didn`t know how to use wiki when I started  this course. (But then again, I didn`t know many other things either.)  I could have recorded all my misfortunes as they were happening to me. So to change it, and to return to the true meaning of the word logbook,  I will write here about my first tweet meeting, which happened yesterday.
          First of all, I did have an account even before BaW but I used it only for direct messages to my friend Natasa and nobody else. And yesterday, quarter of an hour late for the beginning, I jumped into the conversation Bawers had already started.  The messages were flashing and disappearing quickly, I was trying to at least decipher them as half of each message was not in English at all (they were in symbols and codes).
          After five minutes I dared to send a tweet myself. It was something like Hello I am here! Can you see me? Surprisingly it did appear among other messages, but it looked so misplaced! Everybody else was talking about tools they use in the classroom and I was checking the connection! Really funny! At that moment I decided not to tweet anymore!
          Another pitfall for me was the fact that I don`t use any tools in the classroom. (Never have but will definitely. Actually, I won`t use them  in the classroom but OUT of the classroom!). Therefore I had nothing to say to other tweeterers (I haven`t checked this word out).
           And then Marijana sent a tweet `Can the newbies follow us?` Ha, I thought to myself, this is my moment. So I quickly and carefully typed the answer - I kind of can but do not use tools in the classroom. Hope to use. And sent it! So again after enormous number of tweets mine appeared, totally unrelated to anything miles around it. This was not funny, this time it was hilarious!
           I felt like in a conversation where a group of  philosophers discussed the meaning of life  and one particularly frivolous girl kept interrupting with  comments on  Lady Gaga`s outfit. Only  in this conversation I was the party breaker.
          To conclude, I spoke little, but in  the wrong place and at the wrong time. However, I learnt a lot! I realised people use the button `Reply` when they want to reply to somebody! Great! Then the beginning of a message shows the person you are replying to! Even better! Also, the links are not the original ones but coded versions. Anything else? Well, Rome wasn`t built in one day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The first blog post

          The first blog post ever! It should be something really special!So what should one write in one’s first blog post! Something interesting, charming, witty! Something about oneself as well!
          I was thinking about it a lot! I was thinking hard and  I had some good ideas! And then one moment I realized I had already posted my first blog! Really! I am not joking and it is possible, at least, for me it is possible!
          How did it happen? Where? and why? (you may wonder).  As a matter of fact, that unfortunate  moment I disovered  that Posterous is a blog!And it happened last August when I was attending a teacher refresher course in Oxford and my dear teacher Jane wanted to teach us some technology. She opened a Posterous account for our group as well as for each teacher in the group!
          I remember very well that Thursday morning when the 12 of us were in a computer classroom struggling our way into doing something with our blogs. Had I but known I was doing something that important! I would have tried harder! I would have thought more! But that morning , totally confused and lost in the digital sea, unaware of the importance of the situation, I wrote my very first blog! It was absolutely nothing like the first blog posts should be like.
          Hello! I have forgotten my password!
Yap! That was it! Nothing more, nothing less!  I don`t find it witty, charming or interesting. It does say something about me, though. It says a lot, if you have time to think about it.
          The most obvious thing it says about me is that I am forgetful! How very true! I forgot the password I had just invented! It was the matter of minutes! And I am getting more and more forgetful as my head is running out of memory capacity! It also comes with getting older!
          It also sends a subtle message that I am not on very friendly terms with technology! Or better said, I am trying hard to be friendly with her (in Serbian language the word technology is feminine gender so I can easily imagine her as a kind of modern wisewoman). But she doesn`t seem to return my tokens of friendship. She keeps giving me puzzles. She keeps speaking in riddles!
          Another thing my first blog post says about me is that I speak my mind! I say what I think! Especially about myself.  I admit my mistakes. It can be a good thing, it can be a bad thing. That`s me!
          And if I connect that first post to this post, it says I don`t give up easily. As my dear friednd Victor used to say: If you can`t make it the first time, try, try, try again! And I`ve kept trying! I`ve travelled a long way from that simple message to this not-the-first blog post. It`s been a bumpy ride! I`ve had my ups and downs!
          But I`ve come to the perfect place! I have met some wonderful, outstanding, unbelievably good people here. They were so helpful, supportive , friendly, encouraging! Now I understand the meaning of `Proud to be a Weabhead!` The pride is well deserved! And for the end I would just like to say: Thanks a million for everything you are doing! J