December 29, 2010

Top 10 Things I Love About My New Kindle...Thank you, Santa!

I now have all the resources I need to increase my number of books to read in 2011. My New Year's Resolution was to read a book each week. But after hearing about the annual count of books read by the avid readers in my life, and seeing that I am now the owner of a funky fresh Kindle, surely 52 books seems to be a modest goal.

On to the Top 10...
1. Freebies! - Thanks to the copyright-free days of pre-1923, there are enough free downloadable e-books in cyberspace to keep all of us from having to reach for our virtual wallets. After splurging this holiday season, frugality will be my friend into the spring.
2. Catch Up On Classics - I know I need to read more Swift, Dickens, and perhaps refresh my love/hate relationship with Chaucer. Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote... 
To begin my e-book career, I am bouncing between freebies, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Oliver Twist. Oh, and I downloaded the top "selling" free game as well. ;)

3. Fits In My Back Pocket - So far I've only tried this with jeans. Can't wait to take Walking with me on my next hike!
4. Just Read, Baby! - That's what it's for. Don't argue with me that you can do the same thing on some phone app or your iPad. I'm just trying to get lost in a story, not stay connected with the rest of "real" world.
5. Noone Else Wants To Use It - They're all playing with their own gadgets. Plus, who picks up another person's book, reads some of it, then remembers to replace the bookmark where they found it?
6. Battery Life - That e-ink takes little to no energy to display. Going to Europe for a couple of weeks and can't fit your Kindle charger? This puppy will last up to a month!
7. No Glare - Hey, it's winter so I'm not out e-reading by the pool. But so far, I have yet to get distracted by the reflection of my eyes. This is also an effect of the e-ink technology.
8. Author Pic Screensavers - When it times out, it still continues to inspire with its black-and-whites of famous authors. Hello, Emily Dickinson, Jane Austen, and Oscar Wilde. I will be reading each of you soon!
9. Eco-Friendliness - I'm not burning gas to hit up Borders or Barnes & Noble. I'm not purchasing some classic that will sit on my bookshelf--it's former tree self wondering when giving up its life will no longer be in vain. Just polluting my own little WiFi network, that's all.
10. Just Read, Baby! - Yes, I am using this one again because that's all I want to do. Just read.

December 22, 2010

Hello, my blogger friend. Haven't forgotten about you. It's the holidays. You understand, right?

Yes, I did most my shopping online. Yes, there's always time to blog. Sorry for pushing you away.

But right now I'm losing money playing poker online. Until next time...

Happy Holidays...and Go Ducks!

December 10, 2010

Collaborative Learning Environments: Online Vs. Traditional Classrooms

Adjuncting. Can I use that as a verb?. It certainly feels as if I'm in action, from the keyboarding and mousing my facilitation of online courses to the cardio world of last-minute tie tying, speed limit pushing, and eventually in-front-of-the-whiteboard pacing for the on-campus night courses I teach.

It does help to know that I am not alone, though. My students...they are with me, right? We're collaborating--no matter in what setting the learning takes place. Woohoo!

But is the online learning environment more collaborative than the traditional one? Why in classroom settings am I always referred to as an instructor; whereas, for online courses I'm trained to be more of a facilitator?

Collaborative learning environments create a setting in which the facilitator takes an andragogical approach to teaching rather than a pedagogical one. This approach better fits adult learners that are more autonomous in how they acquire and apply information. Coupled with the online classroom, the facilitator’s role is to establish the tempo of the asynchronous learning environment.

In traditional settings, instructors and students depend upon live interactions for feedback. Here, an instructor’s interpretation of student comprehension may be limited to the scheduled hours spent with the class. In contrast, the online facilitator elicits ongoing class discussions which require students to respond to the facilitator while also encouraging them to build collaboratively with their peers.

Having experienced both learning environments as an instructor as well as a student, I feel that each hold their value in their own unique ways. Being an English major, I appreciate the lively debates that the asynchronous model allows because its flexibility fosters critical thinking and research skills. On the other hand, if I were to take a math course, I would choose a traditional setting for more immediate feedback.

As a composition instructor, the online learning environment is appealing to me because it contains aspects of a writing workshop, establishing me as the facilitator and my students as a collaborative learning team. Yes, learning through a workshop model is possible in a physical classroom, but I often feel the students expect to receive actual instruction from the other side of their desks.

What say you? Please indicate in my poll to the ------>.

December 1, 2010

Post-Thanksgiving Thanks

Back in February, our family suffered a tremendous loss when my wife's father, Rick, passed away. Being a military family, they (Dad, Mom, my wife, her sister and brother) moved around often, making friends wherever they lived. One of their closest family friends is James Colvin.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Colvin (while shotgunning beers in the cold of midnight, my bro-and-laws began referring to him as "Mr. Jim") when he drove down for Rick's funeral. Yes, the circumstances under which we met were emotional for all, but through the pain I recognized that Mr. Jim is one of those people I will always be proud to have met. Further confirming this sentiment is how highly regarded my wife and her family hold him. Mr. Jim attended our wedding this October, making our special day all the more special.

The other day, I ran across a Muskogee Phoenix article on Mr. Jim. What an asset he has proven to be for my wife and her family through the years. And what an asset he has been to our country! Many thanks to staff writer, Keith Purtell, for a great article on a great man.

Life has its own way of getting people together. Thankfully, it continues to introduce me to remarkable people. I'm sure you all have met people recently who have added significance to your life. If you have, I would love to hear about them!