Category Archives: Personal Learning Environments

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Clueless, mindless and totally freaky…


I guess I’ve always had that special touch of cluelessness. You can only hope to have it!   I just dug up this short story I wrote in 2006. Clueless, mindless and totally freaky… read on!

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September 13, 2006 - Salida , CO

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Today I arrived in this small mountain town to visit a friend. I had never been to her house but have had her address in my book for years. Jean told me where to locate the house key in case she wasn’t home.  When I got to this remote town, I called to invite her to lunch with me.  The house phone rang and rang.

As promised, she was out.  I ate lunch by myself and was at her house by 1:30 p.m. but still she wasn’t home.  There was no reason for me to locate the key, she’d be home soon.  To pass the time, I took a walk, taking in the view, talking to the cemetery caretaker and then walked back to the hwooden bearouse, through the backyard … and sat on the porch on one of the 4 wooden rocking chairs.

After 30 minutes, I decided to check the planter for the key and didn’t find it.  Then I went to the front door and looked in another planter, no luck. Then I moved the life size wooden bear ornament and sure enough – the house key was there! I entered the house and it was clean and tidy and quite beautiful.

I decided to look at photographs to make sure it was the right house – though the address was the same as the one in my address book.  Out of the house, back to my car (which was parked in the driveway) got my glasses and back inside the house again. There were some photographs here and there but was that Jean and her husband? What was I looking for?  Was this her daughter getting married in the photos? I kept looking for some sort of identification that spelled out I was in the right place.

A huge banner hung over the loft upstairs with the name Murray.  What was Jean’s maiden name anyhow?  I kept looking for more proof that this was Jean’s house – and finally in one far corner of the house was an email printed out and at the top was   To: Sue Murray.  Oh my god! I was in the wrong house!!!

I hurried out of the house, locked it, put the key back under the bear and drove to the middle of town where I was able to get phone connection and called Jean. She was home, waiting patiently for me.  My heart was still beating.  She had moved 2 years earlier. Didn’t she already give me her new address?  I could hardly hear her, my heart was still pumping blood into my ears.  Oh my god!

Feel free to tease me about this if you want.
And feel free to share this with someone that’s been having a hard day.

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snow daisy3-sm

The Teacher Within…


For me it’s about learning and sharing what I’ve learned.

I missed my calling to be a teacher so instead became a trainer. Working with adults and watching them ‘get it’ when a concept clicks is a wonderful experience. I’ve found people learn best when they can ask questions in a safe environment, knowing their question will be acknowledged and addressed.

I also know that people learn best when they can ‘do’ instead of watch. When you learn to tie a knot, paint a picture, mix colors, enter data in Excel, crop a photo, bake a cake, dance the waltz, saw a board, write a book, catch a fish, hike a trial, comment on a blog – it’s in the doing.

So, now for sharing:

I read a book recently titled, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye. In the book, Harold decided to visit a dying friend. He started off to mail her a letter but as he approached each postbox he held back and walked to the next one and then to the next… And so began a walk that lasted several months. As he walked he found out things about himself; he remembered what was important, reviewed times that he let others down, wondered about his marriage, and took us along with him as he sorted out his past. While he was processing, his wife back home was doing the same. She let go of things, admitted truths that she had ignored, dug a garden, tended her flowers and finally, allowed Harold his time away.

The story touched me because the couple that sat at the table on page one slowly thawed and came back to life by the end of the book. We (the readers) were along on the pilgrimage as well. We were able to reevaluate the characters as their story unfolded. We were able to allow, forgive and understand.

Harold Frye’s life was dull and sad and his pilgrimage gave him new perspective and appreciation for the things that were important to him. It touched me and stuck with me after the last page was turned.

That’s all I have to share for now!

Let me know if something touches your soul today (a book, poem, flower, blog post, baby’s giggle, bike ride?)

 

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Libraries, Lessons and Learning


It’s Monday. I visited the library. I checked out 2 books, 3 books on cd and 2 music cds. I grabbed some magazines from the “free magazine” table and read the local newspaper. I read some chapters from books on the ‘New Non-Fiction’ bookshelf and paged through some Northern Colorado Business monthly newspapers.

Cover of "Little Bee: A Novel"

Cover of Little Bee: A Novel

Now it’s Tuesday and I am deep into the audio cd book titled Little Bee by Chris Cleave. The story uses first person voice alternating between Little Bee and her plight from a British immigration detention center and Sarah O’Rouke and her family from Surrey.

As each cd finishes, I contemplate whether to load and listen to the next one or to proceed with my Adobe TV learning, lessons and projects. I can’t do both.

In the Rotarian magazine (March 2013) was an article titled Living by the Book by Joe Queenan. On average he reads more than 150 books a year and reads about two hours each day.  Last year I read 59 books and remembered the stories from most of them. I remember audio books much better than I remember books that I hold in my hand and read. I’ve found that if the author gets too much into the scenery or other details, I skip ahead in a book. When listening to it, I might miss some dialogue or other important information so I never skip ahead. One would say I am an auditory learner I suppose.

When I am at the computer, I listen to music while I am working on my projects. The music helps with the flow of learning and for some reason my brows are less furrowed when the beat goes on…

The magazines that I brought home with me (recycled instead of thrown away) are playgrounds of images – of designs that I’ve only noticed now as I work in the world of graphic design. Headers, sub-headers, number of columns and image placement – all mean something now. I think about the person (or team) behind the scene who determined the color structure and the layout. The magazines that I once gathered for content are now kept for ideas for future projects.

My world is surrounded by ongoing learning, lessons and application these days. Free tutorials on youtube.com, Adobe TV, lynda.com and other sites help me to continue learning as I sit in my warm computer room (the rest of the house shivers in 60 degrees temperatures). Learning when to push away at the end of the day is the hard part  - and it usually happens with a smile on my face.

Using LinkedIn Endorsements


This past week I saw a new feature in LinkedIn (linkedin.com) called Endorsement. I was able to click on a person in my circle and ‘endorse’ their skills. It’s a simple click and it pleased me to endorse a wide range of colleagues who excel in their work. Some of these people have been out of my life for a very long time.LinkedIn Endorsement

So, it was a surprise when I received a return email from a ‘recently endorsed by me’ colleague titled “Can you endorse me?”

This is the deal – when I endorse someone, they get a message that says this:

Dear Anne, I’m sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work that I can include in my LinkedIn profile. If you have any questions, let me know. Thanks in advance for helping me out. – Marge

UGH! That wasn’t my intention at all. Now all those people I wanted to applaud —are assuming I wanted their endorsement.

I think this is a great tool and an excellent way to say something positive in a professional forum but I don’t need the additional email asking for an endorsement too.

Sometimes it feels good to do something nice … just because.

No Comfort Zone Update – September 2012


Hello everyone,

It’s been too long since I offered an update on the NO Comfort Zone activities I’ve been up so I will now try to recall and share them with you.

NO Comfort Zone 2012 Challenge iconJune was totally out of my comfort zone as I was asked to be editor of a monthly newsletter. In addition to editing words, writing stories and cropping photos – it was also an online collaboration with the media team. Lots of discomfort, lessons learned, new paths suggested, errors, and a handful of successes.

July I coordinated a Fiddle contest and over 40 musicians signed up to play their fiddle, back up others, sing, dance and have a great day. For me, it was about organizations, tallies, awards, photos and some deep breaths. Fun and challenging!

In August, I was back in the classroom at the community college learning Adobe InDesign. I have the product but do not know how to use it. My instructor used it when it was called Quark so I know I’m in good hands. The assignments keep me on the edge of my seat and totally focused when I’m in the classroom. At home, I take the edited articles that I receive monthly and create my own newsletter. This is the best way to learn!

OH yes, a bit more ‘NO Comfort Zone” experiences in September when I hiked with a handful of people who I never met before. I met them through a local Meet Up group and we hiked into the beautiful and colorful Rocky Mountains. It was one of those amazing days when the cool mountain air added to the flavor of the day.  It was a day filled with aspens and evergreens and blue skies and cold lakes. It was an autumn day that I longed to experience.

And September moves on. Other ways to get out of my comfort zone – job hunting, challenging class assignments, clearing out furniture and more. I promise to be better at sharing the MORE part with you.

It’s a year of growth, fun, memories and lots of discomfort. And it’s all good!

Related Stories:

No-comfort Zone Week Ending Sept. 16 2012 (quillfyre.wordpress.com)

Internet Goodie #7: Bookmobile gone wild!


With all the online resources we have at our disposal, it’s hard to believe you could ever be without a good book to read.

Bookshelf full of books

Bookshelf full of books

At Goodreads.com, you can find great book recommendations and once you sign up you can track what you’ve read and create a list of books you plan to read. You can join or form an online book club, make friends and have a new place to call home.

Eye On Books is full of podcasts by authors that explain their stories and reveal the source of their inspiration.  These authors fill in back stories using their words and explain their thought processes. Be sure to check it out – you’ll be very happy you did.

Another source of books is your nearest library. At my library, I can check out books, books on tape, books on cd or online books. The online books can be downloaded to my computer or mobile device (like an iPod or MP3 player as well as iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone, Android)  You may be pleasantly surprised at what they have to offer.

If you’re in a book club or just want a list of some good books to read, check out 100 All Time Best Book Club Books. The great thing about these lists is you’re bound to find an author that writes the kinds of books you like to read.

Now that mobile reading devices like the iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone, Android are in the hands of thirsty readers they might be looking for free books. At Project Gutenberg over 33,000 free ebooks are available for download. Perhaps you can start to look at the top 100 ebooks that were downloaded yesterday at the Project Gutenberg website. You’ll be hooked for sure!

Reference sites:

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Internet Goodie#4: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane …


NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2008 May 18 ...

NASA Picture of the Day via Wikipedia

Yes, it’s time to look up into the night sky to enjoy today’s internet goodie to learn about the sky, earth, astronomy … our universe!

April is Global Astronomy Month where Astronomers Without Borders come together to celebrate One People under One Sky.

By following the links below you’ll see:

  • Views of earth from the sky
  • Views of the sky from earth
  • Links to astronomy sites
  • Websites for children
  • Video of Astronomy Online Class – Our Solar System – The 8 Planets
  • Astronomy Cast – a podcast about the cosmos
  • NASA Picture of the day
  • Astronomy web links to many more wonderful places

Be sure to look up with a new appreciation for what’s in the sky … and if you’re not sure what’s overhead – go to AstroViewer and download the interactive night sky map.

Do you know of other good websites, videos, podcasts or blogs related to the Universe? If so, let me know!

Posaday2011

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The internet isn’t totally evil.


GIMP Icon

GIMP Image via Wikipedia

As I mentioned previously, there is evil lurking on the internet. Tracking cookies and data mining by websites that we ‘thought’ were our friends only to find out that is not so. They all want something. To be balanced and fair (like Pox News would say), the light needs to shine on the good side of the internet as well.

There are many free resources that were created using open source tools that are useful, helpful and available to each of us.

One useful tool that I have installed on my desktop is called GIMP.

GIMP is a free photo editor that is comparable to the high priced Photoshop. You can use it as a paint program or perhaps to crop, resize and retouch your images. Like Photoshop, you can spend more time learning the system and use it in more advanced ways if that is your calling.  Remember it’s free so use it and promote it whenever you can!

GIMP download

Want some helpful tutorials and videos to help you learn GIMP? Check out GIMP-Tutorials.

So, money is no longer your excuse to manipulate your photos, images and graphics … having fun yet?

 

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Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell


Is it luck or positioning? Do successful people have more attention, money, intelligence or opportunOutliers: The Story of Successity or was their year of birth the deciding factor? Do gymnasts perform better because of their coaching or because they are located near a gym?

The best hockey players are born in the first four months of the year – only because the cutoff date is January 1. Those born in June or later have already missed 6 months of play and are at the back of their league.

So, Outliers is more an explanation of why some people are successful. Those computer guys … Jobs, Gates, Joy… were all born in 1954-1956. They were a product of their time and embraced the computer world at a time when others were reading Archie and Mad.

Why are Asian students so much better in math than US students? It has more to do with their language concept of numbers according to Gladwell. US students lag behind the rest of the world for a variety of reasons but in particular are the shorter school days and long summer vacations. Some schools, like KIPP schools operate six days a week and year-round to increase learning and change the lives of many students.  More time in the classroom would certainly change the outcome for a whole population of slackers.

The thread in this book is that external forces make all the difference. Having unlimited computer time as a 13 year old, gave Bill Gates a head start that others would never have. And being born in 1955 didn’t hurt him either. Or perhaps, Bill gates and those other successful men followed their passion and didn’t step back. They embraced computers and found any open door they could as a way to stay in that world. They took what they learned and shared it with the world

So, being in the right place at the right time is the key to being an outlier – right? Or perhaps … a bit of passion, a kernel of an idea,  a nudge of encouragement and a hint of goodwill are all part of the success equation.

Your Life is an Open Book …


…When you purchase a Nook, Kindle or Google Books E-reader.

The E-readers are sleek, smooth and novel. We can download our favorite books and articles from magazines, journals and e-books and fit a bookstore in our pocket.

Don’t Look Now…

And that bookstore has us in their pocket too. Google Books logs all your search data with an IP address and will associate searches with your Google Account if logged in. Amazon also logs data about what you’ve viewed and searched for. The privacy policy for the Nook isn’t clear, according to the EFF, but Barnes & Noble logs data on searches made and pages viewed on its website. This information from ReadWriteWeb.com touches the surface about the eyes that watch us.

Who Monitors What You’re Reading?

“Google logs the books and pages viewed, and while Amazon does too, EFF says that the “exact parameters of information logged in unclear.” It’s not known if the Nook monitors your reading after purchase. But Sony Reader, FBReader, Internet Archive, the iPad, and the Adobe Content Server do not.

Who Tracks What you Buy?

Again, Google and Amazon track the purchases you make on their sites. The privacy policy is unclear for both the Nook and the Sony Reader. The iPad will keep track of purchases made on the iBookstore and via other Apple apps, but otherwise no.”

Read more at I Know What You Read Last Summer – E-Readers and Privacy

Is your ebook reading up on you?

Kindle and Nook Pollution