Saturday, 28 February 2009

Day 14 - All Things Beautiful

No, I haven't forgotten about the Challenge, but I wanted to do something special for Day 14.
First of all, I don't see other bloggers as competition. I prefer to see the Blogosphere as a club and other bloggers as the people I can learn from and talk to.
Having said that, let me tell you that I haven't used any search terms or Technorati tags to find the bloggers I am going to write about - I used the Webheads Pageflakes start-up page.
I have been present on the Internet for a little over a year. Before that, I was just someone googling in the dark. I owe my Internet presence to the Webheads. Since the EVO sessions have just finished, I have decided to walk with you through the Webheads' personal blogs. I am going to limit myself to ten blogs only (that was the task and, otherwise, this post would be really, really long) , so my apologies to everyone I have left out today.
I will start with Vance's Lifelong Learner Autonomy meets Electronic Village Online , because it explains so well what EVO sessions are.
We are really glad to have Larry Felazzo and Nik Peachey among us.
My favourite post by Larry Felazzo is When A "Good" Class Goes Bad (and Back to Good Again). Although I teach adults, I have found Larry's advice very useful.
Nik Peachey has three blogs and a lot of resources and it was difficult to choose one post to share. Still, for me one post stands out - the tutorial on how to create a personal homepage in Netvibes. Thanks to this tutorial I have my own Netvibes page - a personal website and an
e-portfolio created in several easy steps. And I can always add new things to it.
My Blogging4Educators teacher Carla Arena now blogs here, but I would like you to read her old post on poverty . Mary Hills also wrote about poverty. Can bloggers do something to make this world a better place? I believe they can.
I love the text Nergiz wrote on St Catherine Monastery in Second Life . Thanks to Nergiz, I visited the place and it is amazing.
This is what Illya says about digital immigrants in How many times do we need to recreate ourselves: "So are we a lost generation constantly in search for the perfect tool, which we’ll never find because, even if we do find it, a new one will come along, making the old one obsolete."
I was delighted to find a post about Heidi in Nina's Reading Blog. I read Heidi 16 times as a child. Like Nina, I don't know what I found so fascinating about this book, but I loved it.
I called this post All Things Beautiful. I started with Saša's great video and I would like to finish with Ana Maria's The Message from Water . The video says it all.
Now let me go back to the task. The task was to find ten blogs in my niche and follow them for a week. Did I do as I was told? Well, not exactly.
The blogs are in my niche, that part is true, but I didn't follow them in my reader for a week. Why? Because, with a few honourable exceptions, the Webheads are irregular bloggers. Secondly, I was the one choosing the posts instead of letting a reader do it for me. I went all the way back to 2007 to find Heidi (or did she find me?).
Which brings me to why I believe RSS is not a solution to everything. There are some blogs I have subscribed to via email. There are some blogs I visit regularly (i.e. I go to the website itself). I rarely open my Bloglines reader. You see, I have subscribed to too many blogs and that has made my reader literally useless. That's me. I have always been messy.
When I am looking for a particular topic, I will use Google Blog Search. I rarely use Technorati because it is not reliable. That's all I am going to say about Technorati. After all, this post is called All Things Beautiful.
I would like to add that it has taken me two weeks to write this post. I started with the idea that this should be a tribute to the Webheads. Instead, it looks like one of those "10 things you didn't know about me" challenges. Something like this:
1. I am a Webhead
2. I loved Heidi as a child
3. I believe bloggers can change the world
4. If there was a church like the St. Catherine in my neighbourhood, I would go there to pray
5. I am a digital immigrant
6. I prefer Google to Technorati
7. I am a messy person
8. I am interested in classroom dynamics
9. I am really bad at maths, because there are only nine things in my list.
And now I will dutifully create a Technorati tag here:

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Back to Day 11 - Analysing the Analytics

You may remember that I installed Google Analytics at the beginning of February and I promised I would go back to Day 11 when I had something to report. Now, almost three weeks later, I have a slightly clearer picture of the traffic that's going on through my blog at the moment.

Since February 2nd, 64 people have visited my blog. 74% have visited only once (I guess that's not so good), but there are 22 people who have been here several times. On the average, I have 3 visitors a day (2.74 visitors a day, to be precise), which is great, except for Wednesday 11th February, when no one came. I wonder why no one came on 11th February, but I guess I'll never get an answer to that. Where were YOU on 11th February?!

I don't know what to make of this data. I have never been very good at maths and I am not a great believer in statistics. Still, I am really, really happy that there are people out there who are reading this. We assume (wrongly) that all our visitors will leave a comment. Of course, very few of them do. Another thing I noticed is that the readers don't stay long (some two minutes on the average). That is disappointing, of course, but I often rush through other people's blogs myself. As I have said before, a blog is not a novel. You don't want to spend hours on it.

How have these people found me? As I have expected, my visitors are involved in the same projects as myself - 31 Day Challenge, EVO sessions, especially BaW09. Twitter and my Netvibes page seem to be responsible for bringing a few visitors to my blog. However, 43% came to me over Google search.

The thing I should be really interested in is what gets read. Not surprisingly, A Blogger's Day in Hell was viewed 22 times (thanks, Sue, for linking to this post), the About me page got 8 visits, My First Podomatic Experience was viewed 5 times (and most visitors left a comment, but then I asked for help with this post, so it doesn't count). Motivation was viewed 6 times (I am still hoping to start a discussion there). The biggest surprise is the post about My Most Embarrassing Experience. I have never been very fond of this post. In fact, it was an assignment (the idea was to engage readers to share personal stories), but I wasn't too happy with how I had done it. So, how come it got visited 25 times? 25 unique pageviews! Why? Is it because people like to read this kind of personal stuff? Would I have read such a post? I guess the answer is "Yes". Or maybe, as one look at Keywords reveals, someone was looking for the embarrassing experience stories.

Analytics is really great. It has made me feel more confident, but it has also made me reflect more on who my readers are and what they are looking for. Of course, it has managed to confuse me even further, but that's another story.

What links here:

Monday, 16 February 2009

My Father's Story

This was a Week 4 task in Images4Education.

Mixbook - Create Beautiful Photo Books and Scrapbooks! | View Sample Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book

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Friday, 6 February 2009


These are the notes I used for my talk on student motivation last March. This is work in progress. I would like to do more research in this field. Your comments are welcome.
View more presentations from lunas994. (tags: student motivation)
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Thursday, 5 February 2009

Somewhere between Days 11 and 12

The Day 11 challenge was to dig into my blog's statistics. I installed Google Analytics last night and I am very proud of myself because it involved working with hypertext and I managed on my own (on my problems with hypertext reed Day 4). 24 hours later I got the first results. 12 visitors! I think it is great. But I don't think 24 hours is enough to analyse my results. So I have decided to "do" Day 11 later, when I have something to analyse. Maybe in a week's time, or even later. It is a great tool and I recommend it to everyone. It does boost your confidence to find out that you have had 12 visitors in a single day. And here I was, thinking that nobody was reading this but myself.

Since I hadn't quite completed the Day 11 challenge, I decided to move on. My Day 12 challenge was to introduce myself to another blogger. I looked at the blogs in our wiki, picked a name at random and was amazed. I discovered Ana's blog. Ana has some great photos in her blog, but I like her texts too, especially the one about her school. So I sent an email to Ana and introduced myself. She did reply, which is great.

I am beginning to understand why this is called Building a Better Blog.

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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Day 10 - Goodbye to the Voki Girl

She is gone. The elegant girl with a perfect hairstyle, the unassuming creature that never spoke until you clicked the Play button, whereupon she wished you "Welcome" in a perfect accent. It is with tears in my eyes that I removed her. Why did I remove her? Because I couldn't answer my husband's "And what is this for?" (Day 2 - A first time reader audit).
I would have removed her earlier, but I strategically waited for Day 10, which is the Declutter your Sidebar Day.
I also removed Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat. I removed the Feevy, because of the way I was using it. I only had my class blog in it - visible from my profile.
I removed the Links widget because there was only one link in it. I intend to put it back in and to add links to other people's blogs (I believe it is one of the tasks). I also removed the Internet Slang widget - it is more suitable for my class blog than here. I replaced the Delicious button with my Diigo bookmarks. Then I remembered to add the 'Bookmark This with Diigo' button.
Then I started adding things (I know, I was supposed to remove them, but it's in my nature, I am a hoarder).
I added the Ning badges for the sites related to blogging (Blogging for Educators was already there and I added Building a Better Blog, EduBlogger World and Classroom 2.0). If anyone would like to see the full list of the Ning groups I belong to, please take a look at my Netvibes page.
I added the Search this Blog widget which I am very proud of.
I believe that my page loads faster now and at the moment I have a reason for everything that is in my sidebar.
However, I am always eager to hear your comments.

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Monday, 2 February 2009

31 Day Challenge - Days 6 and 8

I followed Sue's advice and left Day 7 for the end. Makes sense. When I finish the Challenge (one day, in the distant future), it will make sense to do Day 7 - which is to make my next week's posting schedule. Then it will be the right time to think about what I want to do next with my blog.
Today, my tasks were easy. First I had to email an old reader. I chose Jeanette for three reasons:
- she has been giving me continuous support during the Challenge
- she is doing the challenge herself, so she would know why I was emailing her (I still have the fear of being seen as a spammer)
- she has email enabled in her blog :-)
Earlier this evening I got a visit from a couple of Webheads who left some nice comments in my post about my first podcast, so I followed them back to their blogs. I read Hala's post on procrastination and recognised myself in it. So I left a comment.
Now I will go and declutter my sidebar. I think I really need to hurry up here, I am lagging behind.

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Sunday, 1 February 2009

Day 5 - Conduct an "About page Audit"

If I go on like this, it will take me 31 weeks to complete the challenge.

Yes, I was really busy at work and so on (the usual excuses), but the truth is that it took me a week to complete this task. I read about it in the wiki, I looked at Darren's description of the task and I read a lot of people's "About me" pages. Then I thought about it. Who am I? How do I want other people to see me? How do I get the right measure of my professional life and my private life.

Then, there was the question of RSS and email subscriptions. I realised, to my horror, that I didn't have a Subscribe by RSS button. So I had to get one. The first one I installed didn't work, the second one appeared in triplicate. Finally, I got Feed Burner buttons - both for RSS and for email. They seem to work.

Writing the actual post was easy after all this preparation. What was difficult was working out how to put a link to the post somewhere it could be seen. Blogger doesn't allow you to simply create a new page. Luckily, I discovered a Blogger gadget called Text - it allows you to use hypertext and it has all the features of a regular blog - including easy linking. So I created the link to the About me page in the Text gadget and placed the gadget in my sidebar. Not very elegant, but it works. If anyone knows of a better way to do this, please let me know.

I would also like to know whether it was easy to see the "Who am I and what's this blog all about" link in the sidebar. Did you find it? Or did you have to click here.

And, if you have a few extra minutes, please look at the actual post and tell me what you think. Was it enough? Or too much? Is this what my readers would want to read about or should I change it?

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