Archive for July, 2008


Today I was able to talk to Professor Maher about my final project blog rough draft. Her comments have been helpful as they gave me another way to look at what I had presented to her. She stated that my draft was a “skeletal structure up for your site but you still have a lot of work ahead of you.” She suggested that I work on the following this weekend:  

1. Build out the Content, add pages, etc

2. Adjust your blog’s design to reflect your subject matter

3. Create clear organization

4. Make use of widgets when applicable

5. Drive traffic to your site  (build your blogroll).  Who will visit your site?  How will you contact them?

I totally agree with her assessment and I am going to follow her suggestions to improve my blog. What I am hoping to achieve is to create a functional blog that can be put to use by my community. I am so interested in seeing this blog through and I am very confident that I succeed. As I have stated in my previous blogs, the purpose of this blog is to function as a central information and communication hub for members of my community.


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The above link will take you to my final project flow chart which I made using word document. The flow chart is comprised of different segments that will appear on my community blog. I am still accepting suggestion on how best my blog should appear.

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The Zim Village Blog is a community blog for Zimbabweans living in Columbus, Ohio. This blog is a final project for my New Media Techniques class and the purpose of this blog is to be the center for community information and communication. Community members will access information or post information.

Professor Maher gave me helpful positive feedback on my treatment for this project. One of her suggestion was  that I should identify people interested to be regular contributors as well members of the audience who will read as well as comment on the blog entries. 

I talked to progressive members of the Zimbabwean community who embraced the idea. While the blog will be open to all members of the community , I have identified people who are interested in being regular contributors. Below are the profiles of some of the regular contributors on my blog.

Mr. Zvidzai Ruzvidzo: Mr. is the current Chairman of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Ohio branch. The MDC is Zimbabwe’s largest opposition political party and it has branches in North America, United Kingdom, and South Africa. Mr. Ruzvidzo indicated to me that his weekly contributions will focus on the political developments in Zimbabwe and how the international community is responding to the Zimbabwean crisis.

Dr. Douglas Mpondi: Dr. Mpondi is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Flint where he teaches online classes on cultural studies and African politics. Dr. Mpondi graduated from Ohio University in Athens with a doctoral degree in Cultural studies. He welcomes the idea of a community blog as a platform to access information about developments taking place in Zimbabwe and issues that affect Zimbabweans in diaspora. He told me his blog entries will be on anything of interest to members of the Zimbabwean community in Ohio.

Mr. Hannington Tsikiwa: Mr. Tsikiwa holds an MBA from Franklin University and works for Chase Bank’s financial department. He is an avid sports fan and is interested in blogging about social issues in the community. He is the team manager for Zim-Ohio, our community social soccer team. He is a community organizer and is always leading most of the community events.

Contributors and users of this blog are any members of the Zimbabwean community in Columbus, Ohio. They will consume and create information bout community social events. Under the events section, community members can post information about anything that may need community help and attendacnce. There will be a discussion section where people will debate issues taking place with relevance to our community.   


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Talking to Lyssa and Dr.DougFinally I am excited about Second Life. My opinion about it is changing form a pessimistic position to a more optimistic one. Second Life allows people to communicate and the fact that your avatars are present, it makes the communication visually interesting. For my assignment, I used the search option in Second Life and typed Commonwealth Island. Then I navigated the events section and until I came to Insight Virtual College. The mission of IVC is “to educate SL residents in a wide variety of topics with quality instruction and top notch teachers.”

The first avatar to respond to my greetings was Lyssa Vavleck, who is one of the IVC instructors. I was joined by LucasJames Sting, a Ph.D. student at Louisiana University and last DrDoug Pennell, a professor at a Medical School. The only issue I had with the introduction is that their is no way to verify the truth of what people say in Second Life. I introduced myself as a student at American University, Washington DC and that I was in Second Life to do a class assignment. When I started my interview, I found out that I had no control over it as the avatars would just respond to my questions. I ended up drifting my discussion to the general term “new media technology” instead of focusing on blogs only because of the responses I was getting. If I was having a conversation with one avatar, it would have been easy to conduct the conversation. However, I still value what they had to say about incorporating new media in college classes. Below is the script of the conversation.

Script Of My Interview

[8:41] Teleport completed from http://slurl.com/secondlife/Jades%20Jazz%20Island/33/214/31
[8:41] Connecting to in-world Voice Chat…
[8:41] Connected
[8:43] You: hi there
[8:43] You shout: anybody home
[8:45] You: hi there
[8:46] You: hi there
[8:46] Lyssa Vanvleck: Hello 🙂
[8:46] You: can i talk to you for a minute about blogging
[8:46] LucasJames String: Are you an instructor here?
[8:46] Lyssa Vanvleck: Yes
[8:47] You: no i am new to sl and i have to do a class assignment
[8:47] LucasJames String: Oops, I just looked at you and noticed the “IVC Teacher”
[8:47] LucasJames String: what type of assignment?
[8:47] Lyssa Vanvleck: lol, I just put it up 🙂
[8:47] Snuffles: nibble… nibble… nibble…
[8:47] You: to talk to someone in sl about blogging.
[8:47] You: its my first da in sl
[8:48] LucasJames String: blogging within SL or just blogging in general?
[8:48] You: just blogging in general
[8:48] Lyssa Vanvleck: Welcome to Second Life Wilmaxtiger!
[8:48] LucasJames String: I am new to SL also, I read about my university having a virtual campus a week or so ago and decided to check it out
[8:48] You: I am taking a class at American University in Washington DC
[8:49] You: Its a new media class
[8:49] LucasJames String: Cool, I am a PhD student at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge
[8:49] You: Thanks to hear that. WHats your area of study
[8:49] LucasJames String: Biochemistry
[8:50] You: I am an MFA at American University and majoring in film production
[8:50] Lyssa Vanvleck: Film production, cool.
[8:50] Snoopy watches Wilmaxtiger Andel intently.
[8:50] Lyssa Vanvleck: So is Biochemistry 🙂
[8:50] You: Do you use blogs in Biochem
[8:51] LucasJames String: some people do
[8:51] You: Do you think they help some students to express their ideas
[8:51] LucasJames String: my personal blog is more about random things I find quirky or funny
[8:51] You: If they are shy to talk in class
[8:51] LucasJames String: yes I think that may be a good idea
[8:52] You: How about professors assigning homework on class bloggs instead of blackboard?
[8:52] LucasJames String: I think that could be an interesting experiment
[8:52] LucasJames String: given that the students could provide immediate feedback
[8:53] LucasJames String: and also pose questions that could be answered by either the professor or their fellow students
[8:53] You: My think is that Web 2.0 is revolutionarising education
[8:53] LucasJames String: I’m not familiar with web 2.0 what is it?
[8:53] Lyssa Vanvleck: I would agree – at least it has the potential.
[8:53] LucasJames String: we just implemented a new system called Moodle
[8:53] You: The carent format of the web that allows us to do virtually anything online
[8:54] LucasJames String: i see
[8:54] You: I am trying to type very fast so forgive me about the spelling mistakes I am making
[8:54] LucasJames String: Same here, ha
[8:54] LucasJames String: What do you teach Lyssa?
[8:55] Lyssa Vanvleck: Building, at the moment.
[8:55] Lyssa Vanvleck: I’m also working with another teacher to develop a scripting class.
[8:55] You: Lyssa, do you use new media technology in your classes?
[8:56] Lyssa Vanvleck: Well, I think SL itself is new media technology 🙂
[8:56] LucasJames String: I read the other day that this fall my university will conduct lectures in SL
[8:56] You: Yes, how about blackboard, blogs, videos and stuff like that
[8:57] Lyssa Vanvleck: At the moment, no. Although I may start to incorporate that as time goes on. I know that one of my fellow teachers is planning on using some of that.
[8:57] LucasJames String: Since blackboard added the chat feature it became more intereactive but not many students use it
[8:57] You: What is the response from your students when you teach them in SL?
[8:58] LucasJames String: A benefit of SL is that since it is more visual it is more engaging
[8:58] Lyssa Vanvleck: Well, I’ve only taught one class so far 🙂
[8:58] Lyssa Vanvleck: But everyone like it. It was the basics of moving and rotating prims, so we had a hands-on activity to get everyone comfortable with the concepts.
[8:59] LucasJames String: do you broadcast your audio with shoutcast?
[8:59] You: How about the issue of digital divide? Don’t we exlude othe students by using this technology
[8:59] Lyssa Vanvleck: Hmm..
[8:59] LucasJames String: in the long run I think more students are reached than not
[8:59] Lyssa Vanvleck: Yes, and no.
[9:00] Lyssa Vanvleck: I would guess that we exclude some students, but gain a bunch of others that woudl never have been involved otherwise.
[9:00] You: Lyssa can you expand on your answer please
[9:00] LucasJames String: If you are teaching in a class room there is a mobility divide
[9:00] Lyssa Vanvleck: For example, my husband and I listened to an astronomy course on podcasts through iTunes. I am sure that not all the students in the course used the podcast lectures, but my husband and I did.
[9:01] Lyssa Vanvleck: So, he missed out on some students but gained new ones.
[9:01] Lyssa Vanvleck: Does that make sense?
[9:01] You: Thats interesting to note
[9:02] You: What is the future of education vis-a-vi new media technology? Are we going to see more online classes or the traditional onlocation classes?
[9:03] LucasJames String: I would say the future is that they will occur at the same time, real life lectures will be held and broadcast over the internet
[9:03] Lyssa Vanvleck: Hello Doug 🙂
[9:03] LucasJames String: thats what we do here at LSU
[9:03] DrDoug Pennell: HI there
[9:04] DrDoug Pennell: Hi Lucas
[9:04] LucasJames String: Hello
[9:04] Lyssa Vanvleck: I teleported Doug over, I thought he’d be interested in this conversation 🙂
[9:04] LucasJames String: Hows it goign?
[9:04] LucasJames String: going
[9:04] You: Are yoou a teaching assistant at Louisiana?
[9:04] DrDoug Pennell: Good – a great day to be virtual.
[9:05] LucasJames String: Sure am
[9:05] LucasJames String: this fall I am teaching genetics
[9:05] DrDoug Pennell: HI Wilma
[9:05] You: What kind of technology do you use in your classes?
[9:05] LucasJames String: well all of the course material is posted on line
[9:06] You: How about office hours, do you hold them online or onlocation?
[9:06] LucasJames String: I try to incorporate videos into class when I can although sometimes there is a shortage of good videos given the techincal nature of the field
[9:06] You: Whats the response of your students when you use videos
[9:07] LucasJames String: In the past when I was teaching intro biology I was able to hold them online however when I am teaching genetics I hold them in my office
[9:07] LucasJames String: I think they like the videos, it gives them a nice break
[9:07] LucasJames String: and also hopefully teaches them something
[9:07] LucasJames String: It is a good way to keep people interested
[9:07] You: Do some of your students use their laptops inclass when you teach?
[9:07] LucasJames String: yes, quite a few use laptops for note taking
[9:07] DrDoug Pennell: MOst of mine do
[9:08] LucasJames String: every semester it seems to increase
[9:08] You: Is it distructive or thats the nature of students of today, the digital natives as they are called
[9:08] LucasJames String: we post lecture outlines and the students fill them in as we teach
[9:09] DrDoug Pennell: I had one of my students hitting me over the head in SL as I was demoing my testis tour to the class 🙂
[9:09] DrDoug Pennell: He was logged in but I couldn’t tell which student it was
[9:09] DrDoug Pennell: It was quite hilarious
[9:09] Lyssa Vanvleck: lol
[9:09] You: How do you know they are not surfing the Internet?
[9:10] DrDoug Pennell: I don’t – and soe surely do
[9:10] DrDoug Pennell: BUt they are extreme multitaskers
[9:11] You: Last semester, we discussed the challenges of technology in the classroom in my teaching course. My professor was like she move arround the class to check on students using laptops
[9:11] Snoopy watches DrDoug Pennell intently.
[9:12] You: DrDoug, do you blog in yourr classes
[9:12] DrDoug Pennell: I sit in the back of the room ocassionally when my other faculty are teaching
[9:12] DrDoug Pennell: No – I used a wiki this year for the first time but no blogs yet
[9:13] You: Do you think blog is a wonderfull teaching aid?
[9:13] LucasJames String: The internet can be a distraction but also a huge help. It leaves the student with the responsibility of decided whether or not they learn.
[9:14] You: But most of the freshman are still not that mature. The temptation is huge
[9:14] LucasJames String: I have not seen them used too much, yet (please excuse the typos)
[9:14] LucasJames String: true, also lots of freshman dont show up to class
[9:14] Lyssa Vanvleck: If they don’t want to learn, they won’t learn. It doesn’t matter how few distractions there are.
[9:14] DrDoug Pennell: I teach mostly medical students so the demographic is differnt
[9:14] DrDoug Pennell: different
[9:14] LucasJames String: so if they can access the lecture online maybe a few of the lazy ones will tune in when they would not have
[9:15] You: As a professor don’t you have the responsibility to encourage your students to learn?
[9:16] LucasJames String: There will always be students who are not motivated to learn, and many of then drop out. There is only so much a teacher can do to “make someone” pay attention.
[9:17] DrDoug Pennell: all of our lectures are recorded anyway – the students can view them at home
[9:17] LucasJames String: that is really nice
[9:17] DrDoug Pennell: Great for reviewing your notes
[9:17] LucasJames String: only a few of our courses have that capability
[9:18] LucasJames String: brb
[9:18] You: The Chronicle of Higher Eduaction had an article about recording lectures. The key question the article raised was what is thei mportance of comming to class if students can always access the lecture online? What do you say
[9:19] Free Radar HUD v1.1 by Crystal Gadgets
[9:19] Free Radar HUD v1.1 by Crystal Gadgets
[9:19] DrDoug Pennell: I don’t care allthatmuch if the students want to watch from home – it is not as good as being in class and they know that.
[9:19] DrDoug Pennell: THe “recording” is not a video – just the powerpoint slides linked to the audio
[9:20] Lyssa Vanvleck: If I personally can access the lecture and I am not in the class, that means more awesome ways for me to learn things – like that astronomy course. But thats a little different then what you were thinking 🙂
[9:20] DrDoug Pennell: When we polled the students they used the “recording” for review
[9:20] You: Thats interesting
[9:21] DrDoug Pennell: ran them back at 2x teh speed to git the points they missed in class
[9:21] DrDoug Pennell: the and get
[9:21] LucasJames String: do you have the ability to poll students during class?
[9:22] You: What do the students say about lectures being posted on line
[9:22] You: Does that affect attendance
[9:22] DrDoug Pennell: Yes – we use Turning Point
[9:22] DrDoug Pennell: Attendance is a little lower – but again these are medical students
[9:23] LucasJames String: how large are your classes?
[9:23] DrDoug Pennell: for my undergraduates I don’t tell them about the “recordings” until a few lectures into the course
[9:23] DrDoug Pennell: I have about 140 Medical studetns and 200 undergraduates
[9:25] You: I am interested in finding out how many colleges and univeristies are embracing these teaching technologies
[9:26] You: How they impact students interms of doing their own research to augment the lectures
[9:27] You: Guys, this is my first day in SL and I would like to thank you all for the conversation.
[9:27] Lyssa Vanvleck: When I was a student, I never had time to do any research beyond what was required in class.
[9:28] You: It has been interesting and I will keep comming back to IVC.
[9:28] Snuffles watches Wilmaxtiger Andel intently.
[9:28] DrDoug Pennell: Welcome Wilma – glad to have you
[9:28] Lyssa Vanvleck: We’ll look forward to seeing you!
[9:28] You: Thanks
[9:28] You: Bye
[9:29] Lyssa Vanvleck: Bye!

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