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Blog problems »

update:

I’ve now moved my blog! The new site is almost ready – you can find it on

http://rubyonwheels.wordpress.com/

Goodbye edublogs!!!!

Oh dear – I haven’t looked at my blog for some time (a combination of being off work ill and then changing workloads …) and have just given the link to some students. I was horrified, however, when I looked myself at the recent blog posts and saw that some unwanted links had appeared in the content of the posts.

I’ve just had a trawl round the “edublogs” site to find out what is happening, and have discovered that last year (2009) there was a lot of forum discussion about this topic because others had noticed the unwanted links. My summary of the situation: yes, edublogs have allowed content links to be created; they only appear in free blog sites; if you want rid of them you have to pay. End of story. And end of my association with edublogs, I’m afraid!

I’m just working out how to save/store some of the stuff on this blog so that I can set up a blog somewhere else.

hrmph …

Another language gone … »

I’ve just noticed that the last speaker of “Bo”, a language that used to exist in the Andaman Islands, has died. What struck me particularly about the report was the sentence “Boa Sr spent the last few years of her life unable to converse with anyone in her mother tongue.” That’s a very poignant thought. Also, I wonder what it’s like to know that when you die, your language will die also?

I suppose, though, that the idea of a language dying only becomes distressing if you believe, as I do, that language, culture and a way of seeing the world are all bound together. So when we no longer have that language, we also no longer have that unique way to conceptualise the world around us. In 2002 Davie Crystal published Language Death (see a preview of the contents here). He mentions that the death of a language is “everyone’s loss”, reminding me of Donne’s “and do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”.

Read the article in the Guardian here.

Virtual graduations »

virtual graduation

virtual graduation - photo courtesy of F Littleton

November 26th saw a new innovation for virtual worlds. Some students who are distance learners were graduating, but were unable to come to the ceremony – Fiona Littleton, working with colleagues in informatics, created the first Second Life graduation held in parallel with McEwan Hall graduation. 4 MSc graduates graduated in Second Life with 2 graduating at McEwan Hall. The live feed from McEwan Hall was streamed in to Second Life.

21 Guests in total attended the ceremony in Second Life – university staff, current students and visitors from other universities.

The event has now been nominated in the edublogs “best use of a virtual world in education” awards. To vote go to http://edublogawards.com/2009/best-educational-use-of-a-virtual-world-2009/ I must admit, it’s a difficult vote – I was also impressed by the Virtual Round Table conference, and CANVAS …

BBC Coverage:
news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/8378291.stm

More details on the Virtual Graduation:
www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/display/VueWiki/Virtual+Graduation
or contact [email protected]

More details on MSc in E-learning:
www.education.ed.ac.uk/e-learning

update: the virtual graduations have won the Edublogs awards for the “best educational use of a virtual world” – see all the award winners here

Attempting to write »

OK so the blog is looking a bit dismal again, but at least this time I’ve got a fairly water-tight excuse – ended up in hospital at the beginning of October, finally got diagnosed with viral labyrinthitis, and still off work (yikes!) and finding out for the first time in my life what I’m supposed to do with doctor’s lines and such-like. I thought earlier today that I would try reading some blogs, as a nice easy way to get the brain functioning again (yes – I heard you snigger). And then I came across a writing challenge in Miss Leonie’s blog and I got caught up in the general optimism of actually writing something that could approximate to a novel. It seems there’s been a challenge on for November. I’ve got this very small suspicion that before the end of November I won’t be able to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, which is to write 50,000 words in one month. It’s still November (he he) so I guess I can still join in.

The idea is to get writing. Yes, always easier said … Miss Leonie has outlined the challenge here and the basic idea (hope you don’t mind me summarising it here – it’s so that I can remember what I’m doing!) of the first part is in one week to:

  • write an outline of a story
  • make it minimum 1,000 words
  • must include at least 5 chapter ideas
  • must include at least 3 characters

So I’ll have a go. Why not? By this time next week I’m supposed to post/photograph a blurry image of my first words just to prove that I’ve done it.

It’s a bit daunting, not just because I might find out that the wonderful best-seller is not that good after all, but also because I’ll keep reading the blogs of Miss Leonie, Loobylu and Tracylee, and they’re all just way too interesting for me to be able to keep up :’-(

Let bikes use bus lanes »

I headed in to Edinburgh today, which is unusual for me on a Saturday, but there was a bike rally on and I thought I’d show some support. Although this wasn’t an SMC event, several SMC members turned up to support the general biking community (in particular, Edinburgh bikers and those who, like myself, commute into Auld Reikie every day). We met up at Hermiston park-and-ride – first time I’ve ever been there and I can’t say the experience tempts me to rush back; something to do with no coffee machine and the toilets locked …

A sizeable group gathered and at 12 noon we lineup in the parkheaded off, following the police car and flanked by police riders. There had been a few rumours about the police wanting to get this over with ASAP, but we actually kept a fairly slow 10-15mph for most of the route. Every so often we got some waves from friendly pedestrians, who most likely had no idea what we were doing. The busiest area was the Grassmarket; plenty of people watching us and bemused tourists obviously wondering if they should look as if they expect this sort of thing every Saturday in Scotland’s capital. We reached the end of the route at Holyrood Park without any incident; the police outriders had done a fab job. There were a couple of speeches, urging us to lobby our councillors or (if we live outside Edinburgh) one of the ones marked on the sheet for general receipt of letters. The SMC contingent retired to a nearby coffee shop and sat in the sun to tell tales of biking daring-do.

Did we achieve anything? Difficult to say so yet, but hopefully some lobbying will make some waves.

Was it worthwhile? I’d say yes – seeing quite a number of people there does give the feeling that there’s enough motivation to get something done, and hearing the examples of other places in England where the idea has been successful does give a sense of purpose and hope for change.

I thought it was brilliant seeing the huge range of people – young racers, parents with kids, middle-aged sensible types (hmm … wonder who they could be …) and there were great photo opportunities :-) Oh – and the sun came out!