Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My CENL2008 Experience

It has been a rewarding and exciting experience to go through this digital literacy online course. The act of having to juggle between faculty responsibilities and completing the weekly tasks and assignments adds to the challenge. Although I have been struggling to keep up with completing the online 'homework' and yet meeting the various deadlines of my assigned faculty responsibilities, I never regret taking up this course (My HOD told me that there is no pressure on me to take up or not to take up this course!). So what have I experienced in this course? Well, read on.

What have I learned? What did I find more interesting?

I have learned and found out that the articles obtained from Wikipedia can be edited from time to time, so is not a static article. I have also learned that it is possible to see or check who has edited the article and to what extend has the article been edited.

I have also learnt the existence of social bookmarking sites such as that enables me to save my bookmarks in the Internet and also share the bookmark with others. The social bookmark also allows me to type a heading or topic of my interest and the programme will list out all the websites that have been tagged with that heading/topic. From there, I get to browse websites that are of relevance to me, thus saving time on clicking on websites that eventually turned out to be irrelevant. Previously, the only bookmark that I know of is the "Favourites" button in my Internet Explorer and this method of bookmarking is 'isolated' and 'lonely'.

Blogs are something that I have become excited in ever since joining this course. Previously, I knew the existence of blogs but just could not comprehend what the blogging excitement or blogging enthusiasm is all about. With the assignment of having to set up my own CENL2008 blog, I discovered how to tinker around with the layout and settings (e.g., adding favourite links, resource links, photo slideshow, html/javascript code, statistic counter, tickers and various other website/blog 'ornaments'). With the CENL2008 blog assignment, came my initiative (and excitement!) to set up another blog that serves my personal side, i.e., a blog that records the events, developments, rants and rave of a new working mother and her baby and to develop my baby's blog into a one-stop resource centre (or link, perhaps?) for all things related to trying-to-conceive, pregnancy and parenting, including links to personalized baby movie trailers, baby- or children-oriented online games, printable colouring pages, printable personalized story books and in the future, links to parenting-related freebies.

I have also learned that I can actually do a voice recording and then upload it into the Internet via podcasting hosting sites. This lesson has also made me aware of the existence of a free software called Audacity that does voice/sound recording and editing. After tinkering with Audacity (and of course buying a headphone that comes with microphone), I realized too that the simplest item that allows you to do podcasting is to merely record your voice using handphone with microphone function and that it will be automatically recorded in mp3 format. What follows after that is merely to upload into a podcasting hosting site. However, if I record using Audacity, I will need a converter software to convert the recording in wav to mp3. In other words, more steps are involved if I use Audacity. The only thing is that Audacity allows voice editing whereas the handphone does not.

I learnt also about the existence of microblogging and how microblogging serves more as a brief dialogue for people to communicate about what he/she is doing at any one time. In other words, microblogging is a tool that allows a network of people to stay up to date with each other.

Social networking, however, is not new to me, but the functions and wonders Facebook can do is new to me. I started off with Friendster and thought that there is all there is to social networking. Not until I used Facebook do I realize that Facebook is a lot more fun than Friendster and incorporates the microblogging function as well. Previously, friends have invited me to join Facebook, but I never bothered because I felt too lazy to refill in all the particulars of my profile like how I did in Friendster....until the CENL2008 assignment forced me to!

The aggregator is also a new thing to me. I never knew the existence of aggregator before joining this course. Sure, I do remember seeing the word "RSS" or the rainbow-like icon in websites but was never bothered to find out what they mean. This course sure has forced me to 'open my eyes'!

What would I have liked to explore but is not covered?

This question is more difficult for me to answer because if I have known the thing existed, then I would have explored it already before joining this course. Or to put it in an analogy: a student must know what are the things that they still don't know before they even know what to ask.

Whatever it is, looming questions in my head are:
  • How do we start a fresh new article in Wikipedia? This is what I pondered if I want to set up a Wikipedia page for my students to edit for assignment purposes.
  • How do you set up a website? Or even a moodle?

If I am to teach this course, what will I do to improve it?

I am satisfied with the CENL2008 online course because it has taught me a lot of things and sets the foundation on how I can apply this knowledge to enhance the 'digital' element/side of my teaching career. Thus, currently, I do not have any suggestions to improve it. Perhaps I will have suggestions to improve it when I'm in the process of implementing digital technologies/tools/media into my teaching.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trying Out Aggregator for the First Time: Google Reader

After reading through Week 10's reading in LTC Wikipedia (, I still have a rather faint understanding of what aggregators are until I watched the attached video. The turning point statement in the video that made an impact to my understanding is that instead of going straight to our target websites to see whether anything is updated, these updates are fed directly to our 'personal search homepage sort of'.

So my first trial of aggregator is the Google Reader (, since I already have a gmail account. At the same time, I go to the URLs of my favourite websites that are constantly updated (usually websites with message boards) so that I can copy and paste the URLs later. Now, going back to my Google Reader page, I click at "Add subscription" located somewhere on the left panel of the page. Automatically, a small box will appear where it prompts me to paste the URL of my favourite website. The next step is to click the "Add" button and voila, the link will appear when you click "Refresh" (on the light blue panel). Also, the latest updates of the URLs you add will show on your Google Reader page.

The good thing about Google Reader is that you can automatically see the latest updates on those websites you are keeping track of and then decide whether the latest updates are worth a further read. In that way, you get to save time on going/clicking to that website if it turns out that the updates to that website is not of interest to you.

Also, in my opinion, the Google Reader is more like a sophisticated version of bookmarking (e.g., the "Favourites" button on the Internet Explorer) or social bookmarking (e.g. In bookmarking or social bookmarking, you only get to bookmark URLs of your favourite websites, but you can't see what are the latest additions or updates. At the end of the day, you still have to click on the bookmarked URLs to check out the latest updates. And of course, social bookmarking allows you to share the bookmark with others based on the labels that you tag the URLs with and vice-versa, plus perhaps a little note (written by the bookmarker) on what the website is all about. But Google Reader gives more advantage - besides having the bookmark function, all the updates (or 'feeds') of your bookmarked websites are shownly directly in your Google Reader page, so you don't have to waste time going to those websites if it turned out that there are no updates at all or if the updates don't concern you at all. Also, the Google Reader has the shared items function (which is exactly the function found in social bookmarking) and it allows you to decide how public you want the sharing to be.

Wow! Technology is simplifying multiples steps into just one step (or few steps!)....making complicated things simpler!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Twittering Reactions

Just before lunch today, I opened an account in Twitter and started twittering,"I am learning to tweeter." Then my eyeballs glanced to the top right side of my twitter webpage. What I saw was "0 following, 0 followers, 0 updates" Oh my, I felt virtually lonely! :-(

Then I started clicking those right hand panels to see what's in store. Turned out to be nothing substantial. So I decided to see how the others are doing their twitters by going back to my UCSI email inbox and retrieving our coursemates' links to their twittering URLs. Clicking on their twittering URLs led me to this "Follow" button. I reckoned that I might as well start following others first if I want people to follow me. So there I go clicking all the other coursemates' "Follow" buttons. My eyeballs glanced again at the top right side of my twitter page. "9 following, 0 followers, 1 update". lonely heart! So I decided to post another twit: "Tweet, tweet....can anyone in CENL2008 see me tweet?"

It was already 1 pm, so I decided to go for lunch. One hour plus later, I was back at my laptop and suddenly thought of looking at George Siemen's Week 8 email. Perhaps I can find his twittering URL there. And there it was, so I clicked to follow him. Now I have 10 followings. And to my surprise, there are three others following me already! And they can see me! Yay! (Thanks to Shahrinaz, George Siemens and Penny Wong!)

Tweet! Tweet! How sweet!

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Experience on Searching for Educational Resources

My main source of educational resources are from books....yes, hard copy books. And that's usually if I'm looking for established knowledge in a particular field. However, if the knowledge is still evolving or developing, I will usually resort to the Internet. Or if the hard copy books are not available, then I'll resort to the Internet. There are two parts to my account of experience - (1) educational resources as materials or supporting materials for my lectures; and (2) educational resources for research purposes.

The first part: I lecture on a course known as 'Introductory Medical Science'. In this course, one of the topic is on case study in Life Science research. Being from Reproductive Biotechnology background, my obvious favourite subject is on mammalian sex selection (natural methods and scientific methods) and assisted reproductive technology (ART). My search for educational Internet resources for ART and scientific methods of sex selection is much easier compared to the natural methods of sex selection. Videos and educational articles on these subjects are plenty and easily found in the Net. Merely typing "Videos on IVF" in search engines gives good matches. However, for natural methods of sex selection, the effort is not so easy because you are more likely to come across websites that advertise natural methods for choosing the sex of your baby with claims of 97 to 99% accuracy. And obviously these websites do not reveal their science behind their natural methods (that's their trade secret!), so I can't get any educational resource from there. However, to date, this is the most useful and educational website on natural gender selection:

The second part: Searching for educational resources for research project use. Protocols on how to do various laboratory techniques such as agarose gel electrophoresis, polymerase chain reaction, gel extraction, Southern, Northern and Western blots are also easily found in the Net. Forums or message boards for troubleshooting aspects of these techniques are also easily available. An example is For project students who need to start a lab technique but feels jittery about it, and if I'm too tied up with other responsibilities, I will recommend protocol websites that offer videos for them to see how something is done. Ideas on how to troubleshoot lab protocols are also available in in the form of message boards. Databases of DNA sequences of various species are available in
Abstracts of research and review articles can be found in These abstracts also link you to the full text article in pdf format. However, many of these full text articles require subscription or payment before you can download them. If payment is required, usually I will do a search of the correspondence author's name in a search engine to find his/her email address. Then I'll email him/her directly requesting for the full text pdf format or the hard copy reprint to be mailed to me. And fortunately also, most of these authors responded to my requests promptly!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Experience with Podcasting

I told Hubby that I needed to get a pair of headgear with microphone function for the digital literacy course I'm taking. So, on 26th October 2008, Hubby took me to Plaza Low Yatt to look for that item. Plaza Low Yatt is supposedly the hub of IT gadgets in Malaysia. Just a few days ago, I saw an advertisement in 'The Star's' Metro section that a tenant in Plaza Low Yatt was having a Renovation Sale. However, before we headed to Plaza Low Yatt, we headed to Sungai Wang Plaza to just to check out the prices first.

Finally, on 2nd November 2008, I found the time to start tinkering with Audacity programme and do a trial run of my voice recording. Being new to the headgear and microphone and also the Audacity programme itself, I fumbled my way through, making silly (and perhaps unthinkable!) mistakes along the way. This was what happened:

  • After identifying the 'start recording' and 'stop' buttons in Audacity, I clicked on the 'start recording' button, only to find nothing nothing seemed to budge. Then Hubby told me that if voice recording is taking place, the line should become jagged (but my line was straight! Help!). Then only do I realize that actually there's a switch for the microphone. So I on the switch, click 'record' and started yammering , then click 'stop'. To listen back what I recorded, I clicked the 'play' button....and still no sound! Help! So Hubby suggested that I double click the 'Volume Control' icon near the task bar to check whether anything was accidentally muted. Well...none was muted. Then why no sound!? Then I tried increasing the volume button of my laptop's speaker and voila! I can hear my yammering already! Yay!

So, next is for me to see how to save that yammering sound. So I clicked "File" and chose "Save Project as" and to my dismay, the note said that the type of file saved may not be compatible with most programmes. Then, I tried clicking "Export as mp3" and to my dismay also, it prompted me to install some .dll code (I don't know what's that!). So now my last option was to click "Export as WAV" and voila, it's done!

After all the trial and error, now I was ready to do the actual voice recording. I decided to present about a modified way on how to bath the baby because on that day when I woke up in the morning, my left hand hurt so much when I moved my thumb (thanks to carrying my heavy baby for the past 5-and-a-half months already!). For your information, I had the same problem with my right hand too just a few days ago and the pain (tendon pull type of shooting pain sensation) had not really go away yet (up to this time of writing the blog!). So that whole morning I was wondering whether or not I should bath the baby since my mother-in-law was not around to help and my husband (just as other male members of the family!) has no idea how to bath the baby. After much thought, I finally came up with the modified approach of bathing the baby and somehow felt sort of 'proud' of the 'acheivement' and decided to share this tip through podcasting.

The next day is a working day, so the broadband was available for me to find a free podcast hosting website to upload. First, I tried one of the hosting website (can't remember the name) that offers free 100MB but to my dismay it required some validity certification in order to access the website. So, next I tried Podomatic and managed to set an account and upload my podcast. However, when I go back to check my account, the podcast entry is there but there's no download! Hmmm.....must be some system error somewhere. I clearly saw the upload progress when uploading my podcast.

So today, the day I'm writing this blog, I tried to upload the podcast again and this time with success because there is a pop-up prompting me to download the WAV file. So you can go to this link:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Writing - the core of educational blogging

When I read the article on "Educational Blogging", this interests me:

"No matter how much we want to spout off about the wonders of audience and readership, students who are asked to blog are blogging for an audience of one, the teacher." When the semester ends, "students drop blogging like wet cement."

I think this holds true if blogging is imposed as one of the criteria of evaluation of a course. The student will feel that they are forced to come out with some form of opinion about a theme that the instructor puts out because the student really needs the marks to help make the grade. Unless of course the student is really passionate about the subject and also really likes to express himself/herself in writing, then the true objective of educational blogging is met. Otherwise, if the student finds it a chore to write, then it's highly likely that the student will just drop blogging once the course is over and done with.

In the context of Malaysian students, many of them find it a chore to write, especially if the writing is academic in nature. Why? Simply because writing (for academic purpose) is a thinking process. Not only do they have to think about what to write, but also how to write, how to structure the sentences, are the writings sufficiently grammatical, are there enough points to earn the best possible marks, etc. And sadly also, students nowadays don't like to think. They prefer to merely be spoon-fed, or in other words, they see the lecturer as the giver, and they the receiver.