August 2010


I had a spare hour or so this morning before heading off to Heritage Park in Calgary to ride the steam train with little Silas.  So I decided that it was time to investigate HOW I was going to keep track of any research I came across.  Up until this point, I’ve been  bookmarking any sites.  But a spot to keep the actual text of the article, with a mechanism to help me with citations, seemed like a perfect idea.  Trust me, I need all the help I can get with APA…

Because Refworks was recommended, I started with it.  I created an account, and printed off the start-up guide.  What I wound up with was a confusing 9 pages, and a VERY user unfriendly program.  Or, at least unfriendly to this user.  I couldn’t figure out what to do when I found an article I wanted to keep, and even after reading the user guide, I was still puzzled.  Perhaps a Tuesday morning isn’t my best thinking time.

So then I moved onto Zotero.  I was really hesitant to look at this one, as it only operates in Firefox, and my iPad only has Safari.I really like surfing on that darn thing, but the fact that it is locked down tighter than Alcatraz is seriously annoying at times.   So I finally took at look at Zotero, and was instantly impressed.  I downloaded the software, and now when I surf anything, there’s a little icon on the bottom right of my screen.  If I find an article to keep, I just click on the icon and then follow the super-easy instructions.  I can also create a group and share my findings with others.  I surfed the groups already in existence, and actually found a few article that might be helpful.  I could create my own group, and start collecting research, but the only way others could contribute would be to join the group (and I haven’t figured that part out yet).

The problem with Zotero is that the information is saved to my computer, and that’s it.  So if I was at school and wanted to check something, I couldn’t do it.  There’s no cloud computing here.  Because I have a laptop that I use everywhere, hopefully it won’t be a problem.  And maybe when it is, Zotero will have branched out into the cloud world…

So I am going to try Zotero.  I would love to hear from anyone else who is at this stage to see if you prefer Refworks, or have found another program that works for you.

Now all I have to do is actually START reading…

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So here I am, back in Calgary.  I’ve slowly started to get back into the school routine, bit by agonizing bit.  Today I managed to get quite a bit done, including setting up my iCal as my teacher planbook.  You have no idea how excited that makes me!  Now I can open up my laptop, click on the particular class I am teaching that day, and my attachments are there, waiting for me.  Bliss…

Except for one problem.  I don’t actually have the attachments.  I have a paper binder, 3″ wide and bursting at the seams, but somehow Royal Roads has made me rethink EVERYTHING.  My old lesson plans just seem so…well, wrong.  I think I’ve been ruined by Kolb’s learning theory.

Then, there’s D2L – that’s our LMS here at the Calgary Board of Education.  I’ve never been much of a fan, probably because it is so rigid in it’s design.  Actually, it’s not dissimilar from Moodle, come to think of it.  In previous years, I’ve chosen to dump D2L in favour of my own website.  The major problem with that occurs when students want to submit assignments to me.  I could send them to drop.io, but that might be one too many steps for them.

So while making new labels for my shelves (colour coded, naturally) and setting up my iCal was easy, the decisions on what to teach and how to teach it remain…

…Sigh.

As I sit here Tuesday night with my colleagues, I am swimming in a veritable sea of learning theory.  The question is:  swimming, or drowning?

Malcolm Knowles (1980) has produced some great ideas on the adult learner.  He suggests that they are capable of autonomous learning, seek relevancy in their work, and can be internally motivated.  These are things that certainly separate andragogy from pedagogy.  But is what Knowles has outlined actually a theory, or are they merely assumptions about adult learners?

Kolb clearly has a theory, that fits well with the assumptions of Knowles.  I am guessing that is in large part due to the fact that Knowles came before Kolb, and his theories on andragogy are widely  known.  So while Knowles helps me to understand the adult learner, Kolb helps me figure out what to do with them…

The million dollar question now is how can I incorporate what I have learned into my daily practise?  The important difference is that I do not teach adults (though many of those I teach honestly believe they are indeed adults).  But both Knowles and Kolb can serve as a template of assumptions and theory that I can apply to a different group.  And when the learning, behaviour, and motivation theories are thrown in, it will really help me shape my work.

Or drive me crazy.  It’s definitely one of the two…