Reflections on EVO (2009 and later)

My first professional blog

Posts Tagged ‘evo2009mlit’

Working with photos

Posted by Mariel Amez on February 6, 2010

I’ve been silent for a while because I was away on holiday. I travelled to Colombia: Cartagena de Indias and the island of San Andres.

I have owned a digital camera for about a year, and never really sat down to work out what to do with the photos. As part of EVO 2010 I decided to learn a little while reminiscing about the wonderful days spent in these dreamlike locations.

First of all, with Windows Live Photo Gallery (which I discovered was installed on my netbook) I set out to enhance the pictures: I removed shadows, added sharpness, cropped some “unwanted participants” out of the photos.  I used Corel Photo-Paint (also lying dormant on my hard disk) to blur the faces of every person appearing in crowd scenes.   Then I tagged, named and rated the hundred photos I had taken, and  found out that WLPG would directly export pictures  to my Flickr account, where I created two albums, one for each location, with a selection of the higher rated photos.

I had used Flickr before, but resented the impossibility to embed in WordPress blogs (only linking is allowed). Looking at Michael‘s  “Journey of Light” blog, I had the idea of inserting a thumbnail together with the link, which would improve the effect.


See Cartagena slideshow.




See San Andres slideshow.


After that, I turned to Slide to go on experimenting. It turns out it’s much easier to “borrow” pictures from Flickr than to upload them again, which is possible as long as they have been marked as “Public”. I created a Funpix (click to see it), using as many tools as possible (Glitter Text, Effects, Skins, Themes).

Slide seems quite similar to Picnik Flickr‘s default individual photo editor. The main difference seems to be that, unlike Slide, Picnik does not require an account and  allows you to download  your creation. I had tried other editors for DMPT, as I recorded here.  

Finally, I created this “fun” slideshow complete with music and all (skins, themes, effects) on Slide, which does provide a WordPress code – provided you are working in English, but not if your language is Spanish.

I really need to start catching up with the sessions, but I feel I have learnt quite a lot through these picture selections.


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Multiliteracies: Wordle

Posted by Mariel Amez on February 13, 2009

 Creating a wordle was exciting. Finding out a way to make it a post, time consuming!! I used PDF creator to “print” it as a JPG image, inserted each image in PPP, then uploaded at Slideshare, got the embed code. By the end I realised one title was missing: The second slide corresponds to “Country Lovers”, by Nadine Gordimer, at

I think this would be great to arouse interest in a story: look at the wordle and predict before reading. I am definitely going to use this tool.


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Multiliteracies Week Five

Posted by Mariel Amez on February 11, 2009

I am definitely behind schedule now, but worrying less.

Yesterday during the Second Life Elluminate discussion, one of the speakers referred to an article Vance wrote quite some time ago. On pp. 29-30, he refers to the metaphors for communication in

Scollon, Suzanne & Ron Scollon. 1982. RUN TRILOGY: Can Tommy Read? Paper presented at the symposium Children’s response to a literate environment: literacy before schooling, University of Victoria, October 9, 1982.

        These are the conduit and the berry bush. In the former, information is packaged for delivery by an originating entity and passed in linear fashion, as if along a conduit, to a receptor at the other end who receives and processes the information.  (…)  More suitable for CAI is berry-picking, a metaphor the Scollons borrowed from Atabascan culture. In the berry-picking mode of communication, the learner treats information as if it were berries on a bush. The teacher/facilitator arrays the information on the bush, and learners pick and choose what strikes them, stopping when sated and returning to the bush when hungry. (my emphasis)

So that is the firehose metaphor Vance used in his comment. That is exactly what this course is about: a giant bush filled with berries. I will try to pick up as many as possible, but I also need time to taste and digest them. I will change my approach now – besides, my holidays are officially over, and I am going to be short of time. But I can certainly say I have discovered a brave new world with incredible people in it.

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Posted by Mariel Amez on February 9, 2009

 I have found a very interesting discussion of Nings in Gabinete de, accompanied by a video explanation. Both of them are in Spanish, but several of the members of Multiliteracies are Spanish speakers so that should not be a problem.

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I believe this will be a good option for my classes. I have to use a  “private, closed” platform with most of them (institutional requirements) but I think the Ning will give me more flexibility.

I’ll update this post as soon as I get started with it.

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Microblogging (Part II)

Posted by Mariel Amez on February 9, 2009

I was going through Cristina Costa’s slideshare presentation, and I noticed that the following was listed among her favourites:

I’m including it here to remind myself  of the potentialities. 

At Jennifer’s suggestion I have also included a link to my Twitter account in the homepage to this blog.

I feel I need to explore other tools before getting deeper into Microblogging.  But let’s see where the journey takes me.


Part III (Februry 15th)

I found this presentation through Vance’s blog or delicious account (I’m not sure), and I loved it!

I’m going to follow the example of Historical Tweets to adapt to Literature lessons. What would Nick tweet Jordan after talking to Gatsby in Daisy’s garden? Examples would be endless…

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Multiliteracies: Microblogging

Posted by Mariel Amez on February 1, 2009

I started reading on this topic from the Multiliteracies Ning forum, which enabled me to take a look at Jennifer’s blogpost and the wiki that Claudia recommended.

Somehow, I got to this other interesting blog post, with links, experiences and suggestions, and that led me to a teacher’s account of an experience with Twitter in the classroom, including quotes from students, before reading Vance’s.

The article Microblogging and Relevancy mentions

it could be argued that if information is not provided to students in a meaningful way, the students may or may not really grasp or understand the intention of the instructor.

This should be a paramount consideration. I dare say all my sts use text messaging, but I wonder how many are acquainted with Twitter. It is a fact many of them barely use their email account, and do not blog for personal reasons. So I believe we should tread softly, so as not to overwhelm them with technology. As Alan Lew puts it,

I think I had a higher number of student drop my university class last semester when they saw all the social software things I was going to introduce in the class. It worked for those who stayed with me (…)

After all this “reading about”, I felt it was time to have the hands-on experience, so I signed up for Twitter and started following some of the people here.

I’m stopping now. If you keep track of my contributions today, you’ll find I have been at it for 7 hours non-stop. I really need to get down to some housework…

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Multiliteracies: Week Two Seminal Viewing

Posted by Mariel Amez on February 1, 2009

This video consists of a  debate between David Weinberger and Andrew Keen on the implications of social classification. Both make interesting points mainly on the question of hegemony, democratisation and culture. I would like to comment on an issue mentioned almost in passing by Andrew, which is mostly how democratic is a medium that has so very few members, and whether we are going towards a new medieval age of oligarchy. The fact remains that millions in the world are illiterate by any standard, and even more millions are “multi-illiterate”, if I may be excused the coinage. Having said this, let me make it clear that I am not suggesting we should just sit and watch and mourn this fact. As educators we have a duty to develp multiliteracies in students. But I also believe we should not delude ourselves that “the world” has been empowered by social networking, folksonomies and the like, when it is clear that today, perhaps more than ever before, some are more equal than others.


Vance mentioned an article called Is Google Making us Stupid . At first I couldn’t find the link , so I googled it and found it, only to eventually find the link….

Our puzzlement as to “where should we publish” the tasks set for this seminar illustrates some of the points made in this article and also raised by David in the video: the way our neural connections have to be re-shaped and how we are used to clasifying “physical” rather than digital material. 

I must confess I worry about the place of poetry and literature in general in an information-laden society with no room for “quiet spaces”, as illustrated in the quote from Foreman’s essay:

‘the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self-evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the “instantly available”.

Another issue worth considering is :

“The faster we surf across the Web—the more links we click and pages we view—the more opportunities Google and other companies gain to collect information about us and to feed us advertisements. “

And going on with the business-side, you many want to check  “The Economics of Giving It Away” , referred to by Andrew in his blog:

“Just as King Gillette’s free razors only made business sense paired with expensive blades, so will today’s Web entrepreneurs have to not just invent products that people love, but also those that they will pay for.”

Finally, Joel’s Multiple Literacies wikipage provides a remarkable discussion of the video, and extrapolates the issues to academic publication. I agree that the potential for wikibooks to be reviewed is definitely an advantage, but I also see his point about the scarcity of reviewers willing to do the job “for the joy of it”  in an atmosphere of  credentialism.  I have also seen a pervading “relaxation” of quality standards when a paper is meant for digital publication as opposed to a printed version, which I suppose is what Joel means when he says

“I’ve read a number of articles recently that really aren’t ready for being reviewed”.

We can only hope this practice will be modified as digital publication of academic articles becomes the norm rather than the exception.

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Posted by Mariel Amez on January 31, 2009

I was interested in Yulia’s question in her blog “what is the first association that comes into your head when you see the word ‘Russia'”?

What ideas come to your mind when you hear someone comes from Argentina? I know several fellow countrypeople are around, so please abstain.

On a more general tone, how many different classes do you teach? How many actual f2f  teaching periods do you do a week?  Personally, I work in 3 different institutions. I teach EFL in exam courses (two classes, FCE and CPE) 9 hours a week, and Literature in English in 6 different courses, which amounts to 14 hours a week. I’m also an assistant to Phonology lessons, supervising pronunciation lab work mostly, for about 10 hours a week. That is all f2f: no office hours, no marking or preparation time included – which I do in the small hours or at weekends.

I would really like to hear from you.

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Multiliteracies: Week Two

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 20, 2009

I’m overwhelmed. I’m lost.  It’s 3 am (thank God we are on holiday) and I cannot begin to imagine how these webheads manage to get at least a few hours’ sleep. I tried some of the links in the participants’ pages, went deeper and deeper, found so much great material, started a wiki for my FCE class starting in March, explored the evo2009mlit tag on delicious, read one of the articles….

Another issue. I’m a very private person. And a control freak. Both are clearly incompatible with this. What am I going to do?

Let’s try to get sth in black and white. I read the article Folksonomies. Tidying up Tags? I have experienced some of the problems mentioned while tagging on Delicious: plural vs singular; linking of compound words. And that’s only my own tags. A further issue. I decided to tag in Spanish for sites in Spanish, and in English for those in that language. But it doesn’t really work, as it doesn’t really matter to me which language the info is in, and I’m narrowing my perspective. I have to sort this out.

As regards “hegemony of popular tags” vs “loss of valuable metadata”, I believe some education might help. Instructions such as “use just nouns in the plural”, “for compounds use underscore” (I haven’t been consistent in either case), “don’t use capitals” would not amount to transforming a creole into the Queen’s English. Another issue is Page names. When they are not provided automatically, we are not consistent in naming them, obviously. I have found that using the evo2009mlit tag, the same page appears twice. I think the filing system should use the URL instead of the name, perhaps mentioning “also seen as…” as emule does.

It’s 4 am now, and I have subscribed to Technorati, added the widget to this blog and some other stuff.

Although I have watched the video RSS in Plain English, I still haven’t figured out how to aggregate. It mentions My Yahoo is an option, but  it tells me  “Please enter a valid URL and try again” when I try. I need to read further on the topic.

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Multiliteracies: Week One

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 18, 2009

I believe the concept of multiliteracies as developed in the article can be linked to the conclusion of Wesch’s video: making students knowledge-able, that is to say, able not only to “read” critically all the varied media available, be it visual, multimedia, electronic or any form yet to be developed, but also to be “active designers of social futures”. Empowerment is a key word in both texts.

With regard to the article itself, I would like to share with you the following “Immigrants See Charter Schools as a Haven” (I’ve already tagged it on Delicious as” evo2009mlit”)
It seems to suggest that since integration in a context of local diversity is hard to achieve, the answer of some immigrants to America is segregation. I take issue with such a view, and I would like to know what you think.

On the other hand, the article on multiliteracies focuses, I believe, on the skills required by the marketplace, and how schools should cater for it. I’m afraid I cannot fully agree. It is true that unless learning is democratised we cannot dream of effecting any kind of social change, but I also think that schools are becoming increasingly utilitarian, which is not positive. Where will our future philosophers and poets be educated, for example, if not at schools that teach them to create, regardless of the market value of their creation?

One final thought on the superb Wesch video. I must confess I feel overwhelmed by the expansion of the tools developed in the last 5 years, and I cannot help but thinking how many more will be created in the next 5, or 10? How with this rage shall we hold a plea? Plenty has already been written on m-learning, and Wesch hints at it. What are our chances – and our sts’ – to cope and keep abreast?

Looking forward to reading your views.

Mariel Amez

NB:  First published in the course wiki

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