martedì 19 maggio 2009

A road map for the future...

Hi all!
How are you? Summer is coming, and I'm really happy about that! Unfortunately I'm working in an ice-cream shop, so during the weekends, instead of going to the beach, I prepare huge sundaes for hundreds of terrible children! :-D

I think this will be my last post about this English course and I'm really sad because I guess this is the VERY last English course of my university career! So this time I would like to talk about my Personal Learning Environment.
A PLE is literally our 'learning environment', our learning universe in which we find both formal learning (university courses, institutional education...) and informal learning. It is the collection of tools we use when we learn both guided by someone else or by ourselves. The name itself says that a PLE is PERSONAL, so there's no right or wrong but just the way you see it and just the tools you use.

This is the first time I sit down and reflect carefully on my PLE. I've always considered informal education a fundamental part of my learning experience, but developing my mindmap I was struck by the number of aspects I can relate to the informal environment of my education.

In order to collect all the tools of my educational environment I started with a brainstorming: I created a list of things I do or use when learning English without trying to organize it. That was a second step. I divided the tools into 6 categories: People, Web, Texts, Spaces, Audio and Looking for Information and divided them - except for Looking for Information- again into Formal and Informal.
At the beginning I divided the different aspects between formal and
informal and then into minor categories, but then I realized that the most important aspect was the means and not the 'environment', being it formal or informal.

I have to say that it was not that easy. It took me a while to focus on the different tools of my learning experience and to organize them in a comprehensible way, but I didn't imagine it could be so useful. Now I know that ending my formal education doesn't mean ending my learning experience. There are a lot of tools I can use and I have to make the most of them to become a good informal learner! :-D

Well, I think that's all...
This time I cannot say 'see you next week' :-( but I hope I will manage to use this blog even once the course is finished because I really like it!

Good luck and keep on learning! :-D


PS: I created my mindmap with FreeMind, another useful tool provided by the Internet. I guess it can be useful for a lot of purposes, so if you want to use it you can download it: it's free! :-D

venerdì 8 maggio 2009

A beacon in the dark...

Hi all!
How are you?
We're almost at the end of this course and I have to admit that I've learned a lot! I've been reflecting on interesting things and learning how to use the different tools the Web provides.

On the other hand, I've rarely considered what happens to the info I put on the Internet. Yes, I know I shouldn't put personal info such as address and phone number and I have a good antivirus and firewall to protect my pc, but I've nevere really thought about this problem.

What struck me most was reading about Facebook Beacon. I didn't know anything about that and I was almost shocked by this way of using Facebook users' information. I'm a proud owner of a Facebook profile :-D but I thought it was pretty closed... Now I know that they're able to register my purchases or activities in other websites and publish them as a News Feed in my Facebook profile! I suggest you read this article because it's really illuminating!

Of course the solution is not to avoid using the Internet! I guess it would be almost impossible for me :-D! What I think is important is to start using it in a critical way. We should always consider some aspects:
  • Be sure you have a good anti-virus and an active firewall to protect your pc;
  • Don't publish personal information (numbers, addresses, credit card numbers...) on the Internet - be careful with Facebook...
  • Always evaluate online resources. It is important both for research but also for protecting your personal information ( think about e-mail spoofing or phishing...).
Again, I suggest you read this site about identity theft.

Well, I think that's all for now! Have a relaxing weekend!
See you next week!


sabato 2 maggio 2009

I write, you write, she writes...

Hi all!
How are you?
This time I would like to start with an question: have you ever heard about Google Docs?
Let me tell you something about this useful tool!

Google Docs is another fantastic tool provided by Google. It gives you the possibility to have
always your documents at hand because they are online! Forget about usb devices, e-mail attachments or things like that! You can open and edit your docs from any computer! I think it can be very useful for me: I often start working on a doc from my computer and then need to edit it from the university labs. This can be a problem because sometimes you're not allowed to use a pendrive or you cannot access to your e-mail account. Google Docs helps you solve these problems!

Google Docs is perfect if you're looking for 'interactive writing': other people can edit the same doc - at the same time - and work on it to have a successful collaboration on the same piece of writing. This doesn't mean that anybody can modify your text: only invited people can see and edit your doc; it is private sharing.

Google Docs can be useful not only if you need to work on different computers, but also if you need to work with other people on the same doc. As far as I'm concerned, I think I would like to use it while writing my final thesis: it would be useful to share my thesis with my supervisor and it would be easy to get his corrections. True, reading a long text on a screen can be difficult, but it would save a lot of time and paper!

See you next week!