Periodic Fable

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HelenWhitehead.com
creative digital writing

Reach Further
Consultancy and professional services in online content, community and e-learning

The eTeachersPortal
creative uses of ICT for teaching writing and literacy in school

Kids on the Net
Website for children to publish their writing, plus digital writing projects for schools

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The Beyond Distance Research Alliance at Leicester University

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The current mood of Helen at www.imood.com

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Saving time and managing information flow

Saving time - vital... Here are some of the ways I'm saving time and managing information flow at the moment:
  • Creating shortcuts on my desktop to my most-used folders - a no-brainer I think. To keep track of multiple projects effectively I like to keep my files in neatly organised folder hierarchies. But then I find myself taking time browsing through layers of folders to find what I want. So I have created shortcuts to the folders I'm using the most at this moment - key project folders, the Camtasia video I'm working on, the course materials I'm developing, etc.

  • First thing in the morning I log into the VPN if not in the office, then I don't have to interrupt the flow when I need something from the server, and it's easy to store things on the server rather than leaving them on my hard drives.

  • First thing I also open a Firefox window with several tabs for my most-used web apps - at the moment typically:

    • My Google calendar
    • Wrike task and project management
    • Sugar CRM
    • Twitter (or Twitterfox or Betwittered in my iGoogle page when they're working!)
    • The community I am working on today
    • Any course I am teaching at the moment
    • Any course I am taking at the moment (currently digifolios.ning.com)
    • My blog admin pages
    • The forum I use most - a small supportive community of fellow elearning specialists

  • I use two computers at the same time when possible, a desktop and a laptop, then if one is doing something slowly, eg, while a backup is running or a Camtasia video is rendering, I can turn to the other.

  • I keep up with Twitter and RSS feeds on my smartphone in any odd moments - even in the kitchen stirring dinner...

  • Now I just need to crack my terrible typing - correcting my typos takes up FAR to much time!

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posted by Helen Whitehead 9:58 AM

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Monday, 13 October 2008

E-moderating really saves time for online teachers

A new e-moderating course for practising teachers and tutors in FE starts today and another (for academic staff in HE) is into its second week starting tomorrow. In both cases it is about experiencing e-learning as a student as well as developing practical skills for online teachers. I am always stunned and sometimes humbled by the many different and valuable perspectives and relevant skills that participants bring to the course.

The idea that the teacher is the only person who knows anything about the subject - in this case online tutoring - because they are teaching the course is so inaccurate. Its my job to facilitate discovery, sharing, learning - and, yes, to contribute facts where appropriate about learning technologies or the techniques of e-moderation.

Meanwhile my own writing course (Season of Inspiration) is into its second week - we have had a blistering week with a talented group of students - and it is so encouraging when the framework I teach others to use can be proved to be so effective in my own courses.

Well designed e-tivities in a careful course design facilitate the forming of a supportive group and provide students with a clear framework to develop their work. And for the tutors it means that with routine questions forestalled (or answered for one another by the students themselves) we don't waste time and can concentrate our e-moderating interventions on facilitating a supportive community to develop collaborative learning to everyone's benefit.

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posted by Helen Whitehead 9:59 AM

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Thursday, 14 June 2007

That email mountain...

Debbie Weil writes in the Guardian about one way to deal with an overload of email. Well, we all face it to some extent, don't we?

Two bloggers in the US have declared themselves 'email bankrupt.' Fred Wilson declared: 'I am so far behind on email that I am declaring bankruptcy. If you've sent me an email (and you aren't my wife, partner, or colleague), you might want to send it again. I am starting over.' This received a lot of sympathetic comments and it is instructive to read the number of suggestions on how to manage becoming 'email bankrupt'. Jeff Nolan then declared bankruptcy as well, saying 'I am going back to voice communication as my primary mechanism for interacting with people.'

Personally, I am an advocate of speed reading. It's fairly clear very quickly whether an email is important or not. After dealing with email for 10 years, I also have a sixth sense for spam from just the title.

I also filter all my regular newsletters into dedicated folders to read when I have time, and have a labyrinthine system of email folders in which everything gets stored, regularly. Oh - and I archive my email. With Outlook it's quite easy to load and search your email archive on a CD. I'll let you know whether it works with other email programs..

I would like to invite you to comment on your top tip for surviving the email avalanche. Your good deed for the day - share with those of us in dreadful 'email debt'.

Meanwhile if anyone has a way to resist checking your email every time you pass your computer, I'd love to hear it!

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posted by Helen Whitehead 1:07 PM

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Helen Whitehead's blog of e-learning, digital literacy, online writing, and digital creativity.

Which methods and techniques using new technologies are of real use?

Writing in the digital age is so much more than delivering information, or traditional stories and poems electronically. Digital forms of literature can include text, hyperlinks, multi-linear plots, superlinear narrative, graphics, interactivity, animation... and so much more.

See http://www.reachfurther.com

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