Monday, February 28, 2005

Thank You!

The course in weblogging has now come to an end so I'm looking forward to having some early nights. Over the past six weeks I've often been up until one or two in the morning experimenting with different blogging tools, banging my head off the computer screen in frustration sometimes and chuckling with satisfaction at others. And the discovery goes on. I've spent a lot of this evening inviting friends and family to come and see my photos of Tenerife on Flickr Flickr: Photos from Lezzles and was just as chuffed to get the first comment on one of the photos there (thanks Deborah!) as I was to get my first comment on this blog. I'm not going to write a long appraisal of the course because something tells me that this is not the end. I've loved the boost it's given my teaching and my thinking about technology so thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone involved especially our dynamic course leaders Bee, Aaron and Graham and the webloggers I've interacted with most — Nate, Nancy, Bettina, Cleve and Marco.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

La Parillada

La Parillada
Originally uploaded by Lezzles.
Back from our holiday in Tenerife, and here's one of my souvenirs! It's hard to leave temperatures of 20-22°C and come home to something closer to 0°C! Tomorrow I'll be back in the saddle at work.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The lights are on......

,,,,but nobody's home. I'm going to be away this week but I look forward to catching up with the weblogging group on the 26th. Have fun.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


This is what some doctors are doing with syndicated audio. Snipped from
medmusings: podcasting is new: "Automation in the form of RSS syndication of mp3s with automatic downloads to iTunes, then to my iPod, is really new. It's brainlessly easy to download iPodderx, subscribe to a mp3 enclosure feed, and from then on listen to the audio on my iPod whenever new posts arrive.
This will be a natural progression for services like Audio-Digest, and conference proceedings (e.g. Pri-med). Soon enough we'll be offered pharma-sponsored 'CME' in this fashion, as sure as they're trying to currently entice us via web-based and CD-ROM advertorials. But enough negativism: It'll be a way for AFP and JFP and other free journals with supportive advertising streams to push good content to us as well."

La Positive Attitude

I am so pleased that I started blogging with my 2nd year medical students. They only created their blogs two weeks ago and yet some of them have really surprised me with the interesting things they've written. Med students don't have an enormous amount of free time (or so they'd have me believe:-) but almost all of them seem to have been willing to put the time necessary into creating something meaningful. I've been fairly directive in what I've asked them to post but also tried to leave some leeway for personal input. Their first posts were pre-prepared as a homework assignment: about 150 words on a typical day in their lives. This meant that they got straight down to business on day one and there was no time wasted scratching heads and wondering what to write. Some time was then spent reading other students posts and leaving comments. For the rest of the class, I invited them to look at my blog and my answers to the Proust questionnaire in particular. They copied the questions and provided personal answers. Over the week, I asked them to make at least one more post to their blogs, either on a subject they're interested in, or on medical studies in France, adding a photo if they liked, whatever. I posted comments on most of the students' blogs over that week too and started sending e-mails with suggestions for corrections (grammar, vocabulary, spelling etc.). At the following class I ironed out a few technical problems and they spent some more time reading each other. Homework for the second week was to look at some other medical blogs from and to post their reactions. I also asked them to post a few of their own Proust-style questions and to answer each others'. Unfortunately this ahs been a disastrous week for internet connections all over our campus. (There's some problem with a faulty router somewhere but they're not sure where, or something like that) so a majority of students weren't actually able to maintain a connection for long enough to complete a post. They promised they'd catch up next week. Their current assignement is to post the introduction to a presentation they'll be giving at our next class on 2nd March.
All in all it has been an extremely positive experience for me, the teacher, because I feel I have established better contact with this class than with some others and I think it has been a positive experience for them too, but I'll have to ask them about that (mmmmm I can feel another blogging assignement coming on).
Oh, yes and one of the other positive things has been receiving feedback in the form of comments from people they don't even know (thank you Bee). If you'd like to have a look there's a list at the blog the title of this post links to, and here are a couple of the posts I've enjoyed most (so far): florence974: "Medical Blogs", Funnygirl...: "Discover new and hot medical blogs...", vovoss'life: "ProustQuestion", a typical day in my life: "a student's fears", bloune: "typical day in my life"

European Language Portfolio

One of the buzz words heard at meetings around Europe over the past few years has been ELP: European Language Portfolio. Although no country seems to have opted for an e-portfolio, I don't see why this wouldn't be possible. You can read more about the three parts of the portfolio at the following site:3 Parts of a Language Portfolio

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Don Jose

Don Jose
Originally uploaded by Lezzles.
Do any of you Spanish-based webloggers have tips for holidays in Tenerife? Places to go, things to see..... I know the coast is all concrete but we're going to hire a car for a few days to see what lies inland.

Bits and Bobs (all bad)

Can you see the slider in my last post? I can't! I could for about half an hour this evening and then it disappeared.
I also tried following Nate's instructions to disembed the link but seem to have failed miserably. When I use the html he suggests (thank you all the same Nate!) my blog takes about ten hours to load. Actually, this is a problem I'd noticed with Bettina's blog too where it took a really long time for the button to appear (and even then I couldn't actually see a button, just a black spot) Anyway, just in case this is a Mac thing again, I'm posting the button below just in case and I'll see if any of you leave comments. Maybe you'll be able to see and hear things I can't.

Can you see anything above this line? No? neither can I. However, I have posted the audio file on my other experimental blog at 20six. It took about twenty seconds and you can hear it HERE
Oh yes and I came across yet another compatability problem today. (No, I'm not collecting them, they seem to seek me out). I looked at my own blog at work today (OSX + Safari) and lo and behold, the template is all squeegee: no sidebar, text all centred, massive font for the date, tiny font for the post title etc. etc. etc. It makes me wonder : if I'm having these problems using state of the art computers and newly updated software, what's it like for the people in developing countries using much older hardware and software?
I'm moving on to the week 5 week tasks now. Bye bye audio.

Monday, February 14, 2005

She speaks!

This audio post is a response to a recent post in ElderBob's blog in which he argues that video distracts learners from "the finer points of language". L-derBobEd: On the road again!: In the audio post, you will hear me reading an excerpt from an article I wrote on this subject some years ago.(The text appears below the console) Not very effective use of audio, I agree. It can only get better! I'm also posting it as embedded audio temporarily — as soon as I've looked at Nate's tutorial I'll try to unembed it.

In this article I discuss how the visual element in video can be fully exploited in viewing tasks. I aim to show that the pictures are far from accessory, that as an integral part of the whole message they can be used to facilitate and supplement listening comprehension as well as to prompt exploration of what lies below and around the words uttered. Video relays language in all its glorious context and that context can be used, the visual element being enlisted as the learner's ally, not ignored or treated as a distracting blur of colour and movement that interferes with comprehension.. The more we capitalise on the power of the pictures through tasks that encourage the learner to use the visual information to aid and reinforce linguistic comprehension the better equipped the learner will be to deal with sound and vision in real-life contexts.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

End of Week 4

So what have I accomplished this week?
*I posted one of my own photos to this blog.
*I posted someone else's audio to this blog.
*I downloaded Audacity and recorded myself. Now, I just have to upload the recording to my ISP server. It's a pity there is no Flickr type site for sound bites.
*I created a new blog for my students to avoid confusion between different types of content.
And what have I not accomplished this week?
*I didn't record anything original
*I didn't do a collaborative task (I knew I just wouldn't have time this week)
*I'm still rubbing my nose on the outside of the brightly lit windows of Learning Times because of mac compatablity issues. This has been a major problem for me and has lead to a growing feeling of exclusion.
Apart from that, I have continued to learn loads and am still enjoying tweaking this blog. One of the main satisfactions is feedback through comments and I'm aware of this when I visit someone else's blog.

Friday, February 11, 2005


I can't quite see the point of audio-blogging if you have to put the actual sound file on another server. The beauty of blogging is only having to manage posts not pages. So, I've decided not to offer you a recording of my own voice but an audio quiz. Resist the temptation of looking at where the sliding thingy below links to and then tell me if you recognize the film this sound bite was snipped from. The winner gets a mention in my next post, I can't say better than that. (Thanks Bettina for giving me the html code). Hey, I think I've just invented a new didactic use for blogs.


I've created a new blog for the students in my PCEM2 Option class. I still have to clean it up a bit but from now on I'll be communicating with YOU over at Apoptosis. I've been reading the updates in your blogs every evening. Good work! Some of you have already received e-mails with comments on grammar, vocabulary etc. and I will be posting some general comments for everyone on recurring problems on the all new Apoptosis blog. Just in case that link doesn't work for you, the address is


Here's the abstract of an article I came across this evening FOUCAULT AND INTERNET DISCOURSE: "While some have argued that computing via the Internet offers a vision of freedom and a shared humanity, others have claimed with equal vehemence that it may become the instrument of global surveillance and personal alienation. Foucault's notion of self-fashioning (souci de soi) exemplifies both sides of this debate, since fashions may both be imposed and freely chosen. To present a Foucauldian perspective on fashioning of self online I use instances of recent postings to the Usenet news group Key aspects of self-fashioning that I identify include romantic and modernist images of interior experience, the importance of keeping your 'cool,' the discussion of techniques designed to improve skill or strength, and the purchase and use of chess computers as icons of mastery. Finally, I consider some implications of this Foucauldian approach for future research on Internet self-constructions. " (For chess read weblogging:-))

French blogging

This may be of interest to any of you who teach French or are interested in France. There was a report on this evening's news about business bloggers (Le Meur notably). I tried to find a link to the report but couldn't: France 2 probably haven't archived it yet (you can watch the whole of this evening's news if you like though) and while I was looking I came across this other report on politicans and blogging: Medias

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A pic is worth a lot of blabla

Originally uploaded by Lezzles.
So today we're doing the photo thing. Most of the photos I have on my hard drive are of my children and this one is no exception. It may not be the world's greatest photo but it reminds me of a balmy evening, sandy sandwiches and happy little faces splashing in and out of the water. Roll on next summer. In fact, roll on 19th Feb because that's when we're going to Tenerife for a little holiday.By the way, posting this was a lot easier than I expected (the instructions on the webquest page were a little frightening). There's a "blog this" button on my Flickr page and when I hit that I got to choose the layout, add the text, and publish without even opening my blog.

Monday, February 07, 2005


I've just posted comments to all twenty-one of my medical students' blogs. (BTW if you people are reading this it's spelt medicine NOT medecine in English!). I know all of their secrets now, one is scared of snakes, one is a Bollywood fan, one can't get enough of ER, one is addicted to chocolate mousse, another hates his four brothers-in law.....In short, surprise, surprise, they all have lives outside of the English classroom.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Here's a good example of an aggregator being used to do all the work. I spent ages this evening looking for medical blogs that my students might be interested in then I stumbled across this site which has done all the work already. - The News Aggregator for Medical Topics

Thumping my head off the computer screen

It seems that I am destined to forever stand just outside the cosy rooms in LearningTimes with my nose pressed against the window. To access the rooms you need the app Elluminate and to run Elluminate on a Mac OS9 you need WebLauncher. I have WebLauncher but I CANNOT CONFIGURE THE BLASTED THING. When I click on configure, I get a message that tells me, wait for it "This software is not compatible with Mac OSFU9.1. Mac OS 8 or superior is required" There is just no answer to that.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Cognitive overload (mine)

So now I have three new buttons on my bookmark toolbar : "Blog this", "Bloglines" and "Furl" and when I come across a page that I think I might like to look at again, I have to stop and think about what to do with it — Save/bookmark/blog/RSS/or Furl? Methinks that's a lot of choices. I can see (and, indeed, am already benefiting from) the advantages of RSS. Furl, I find seductive. "Blogging it" is fun and feels like instant sharing. Maybe I'll just do all three for a while.
Meanwhile, I've done a bit of this week's recommended reading.
This article is a good intro to RSS:
Blogging and RSS
This one has lots of good examples:
mcli Forum: Fall 2003: Technology: RSS
The suggestions in this one don't seem all that cool to me, in fact they sound a little laborious:
Contentious » 10 Cool Things to Do with Furl
And frankly, I'm not convinced by the didactic approach in this one (sounds more like snooping than learning):
elearnspace: Furl instead of blog

We have lift off

Yesterday, my second year medicine class and I spent an hour and a half in the multimedia lab and they all set up blogs. See last post for the addresses. There were no major hitches and everyone or almost everyone, (I'm looking at you Pierre :-)) seemed pleased to be creating something new and individual. The first post was a short essay they had written at home entitled "A Typical Day in My Life". They left comments on each others blogs. Then they copied the "Proust Question" (see earlier post) and most had time to answer these and post. As homework, I have asked everyone to post at least one more message and to comment on what the others post. If they wish they can also post photos, links etc. I have a feed from each student blog into my Bloglines so that I can easily consult any updates.
Here are a few questions this whole project has raised in my mind
1) The question of correction. The students' posts aren't in perfect English and I'd like to make some suggestions for corrections. I think I might do this by e-mail rather than in comments.
2) The problem of multifunction blogs. It's nice not to have to play around with lots of different blogs but this one is obviouslydeveloping a bit of a split personality : it's a way of communicating with students and also a metaanalysis tool for the Weblogging course. I should probably have opened a new blog for class communication before I started.
3) Evaluation. This is a language class not a blogging class. Is it going to be easy to distinguish what has been achieved language-wise from web know-how?
4) The eradication of text-messaging habits. (Or is that necessary?)

I'm struck, as I reread these perceived problems by how retrograde I sound: evaluation and correction are usually the last things I have on my mind when I teach.

PCEM2 Students if you can see any problems linked with blogging in class, or if, on the contrary you have something encouraging to say, please leave a comment here.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

PCEM2 Student blogs

Continuing tribulations

I'm a Bloglines subscriber. Yippee. But haven't yet worked out how to do these two things:
3rd Week:
"# Organize the items into folders however you wish.
# Comment on a post of one of our participants directly from the aggregator."
Tomorrow, I'm going to try to get twenty students to start blogs. Is this perhaps a little premature I wonder. (Don't do it! Don't do it! I hear you cry)
By the way I'm posting this directly from the "Blog this" window. Hope it works. xxxxxxxxxx (Those are not kisses, they're crossed fingers)

Ooops, it didn't work. The first time I inadvertently posted to the team blog and had to rush in there and quickly delete it before anyone realised what a plonker I am.


Being confined indoors most of the day, just the four of us, is reminding me of the days when my children were wee and most of our weekends ...