Friday, 27 February 2009

.........and then three come along at once!

1. listening to Radio 4 on Weds afternoon (Thinking Allowed, Laurie Taylor) about ill health and redundancy. It made me realise how the fear of redundancy is so debilitating too. This is something that afflicts the flexible worker as much as anyone else. Ironically I spent 10 years working freelance in various aspects of teaching and consultancy and rejoined the salaried masses because I thought I would be more secure (lol*).... in the last 8 years I have been made redundant twice and on fixed term contracts for over 5 years.

Then this morning I was chatting to a colleague who, like me, has been facing the end of a "fixed term" contract for several gloomy and unsettling months. (Joyfully my colleague has just been offered a new post with the same employer! Yay!!) But this is about the third or fourth person I have spoken to recently facing such uncertainty and one has to question how this affects productivity and creativity.

For some it's a question of going into lockdown, hiding under the duvet or infecting everyone around with a slightly depressed and anxious air (me). For others it's about going into overdrive to impress your current or potential new employers that you are a good team player, reliable and productive (er, this is me too) .... either way, I don't think its a situation that is good for the soul. So I'll end this section with an uplifting Tweet from His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Oh yes, he's on Twitter too, you unbelievers!)

"Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck"

2. the power of the wiki is incredible: I am working on three simultaneously - using one as a personal learning portfolio to present my teaching log for a PGCE in Higher Education, a second as a staff development and networking site for academics new to e-learning and the third as an induction programme for new students on an e-learning programme. Interestingly, I am not deliberately using them to try to develop collaborative working or encourage any contribution from other members (other than discussion threads and member profiles) - simply as informal websites I can edit, add content too, and present in an attractive and interesting way (I am using by the way - not least because they will get rid of ads for free if its a site for educational purposes).

However, I was really struck by this use of a wiki in Australia to deal with the ongoing crisis caused by the recent fires. (Interesting aside too that the wiki's fame was spread further by use of Twitter...and, yes, I am virtually proselytizing now!)

3. Somebody (@Onenterframe) sent out a random tweet this week asking for one word that summed up the reason for your success in life. I couldn't do it in one word, but it is about passion for learning (as someone else - @dreig - noted to me in another Tweet today!)

So my personal learning this week - a tad on the geeky side - has been about creating video tutorials for e-learning students. I have discovered two exciting things recently: I can create a powerpoint preso, save all the slides as JPG files then drop them into Movie Maker so I can add audio, upload to YouTube. Yes I KNOW I could use Articulate, but at the moment I can't seem to make it work for me, I find the audio recording tedious and difficult to edit, and then I have to host it somewhere......

Second new thingummybob - Camstudio. I like Jing a lot for capturing what I am doing on screen, with a voice over, so I can show students how to do it (how to use a blog or a wiki, how to get to their student emails for the first time...). Its quick and free and looks great when its done. But I can't edit it in Movie Maker and I only get 5 mins recording time etc. So Yesterday I switched to Camstudio (also free) which creates avi files of indefinite length that are editable in MovieMaker, uploadable to Youtube and so can be cut, interspersed with slides, have music added... you name it.
I am of course hoping for an Oscar next year or at least some sort of geekgirl award.....
*(I only ever use "lol" for sardonic impact)


  1. indeed! Uncertainty is what really pulls me back all the time. I rather know something than waiting around to know what I don't's the incapacity of not being able to do anything to get information but wait that really drives me mad. And with that I go out of focus...the world around me gets blurry and I feel inert to act towards a world that keeps moving! I hope that uncertainty leaves you too and soon. There is nothing like knowing so we can act upon it!

    That wiki is a great example of collaboration and need. People get so more meaningfully involved when something appeals to them, being it for a matter of crisis or happiness... it's when people feel the need to be in touch with others that the power of the community surfaces in full swing!
    One word that's hard... but I would be saying passion too. That's the fuel to any kind of activity and relationship. We need to put a bit of us in everything we do! ;-)
    Great post as usually!

  2. Really enjoyed this post, I have fixed-term contract too, so it's completely relevant to me. Haven't got to the anxious state yet as I have 10 mths to go. Redundancy scares me because I do feel as though my job is a big part of who I am and am not sure how I would change as a person without it.

    I'm always impressed by how you really put thought into finding the best tools to meet a particular task. I guess that's where the passion for learning comes in, for me the main selling point of these sorts of tools is that they can improve and enhance learning.

    Interesting that you find Articulate tedious for audio recording... been thinking about getting it for developing slightly more formal learning packages. Would love to hear more thoughts on Articulate from you, if you have time.

    I'd also like to know what you do to get wetpaint to remove ads since my wetpaint wiki is also for educ purposes.

    Nice to tweet with you recently,