How I use Instagram as my photo gallery

Instagram

Instagram. Isn’t this some sort of social media thing that young people use to share photos of their food, browsing the latest fashions or posting daring selfies?

I like using Instagram which may come as a surprise to younger readers as I am a Baby Boomer and much older than the typical teenager or 20-something who have naturally embraced this social network.

Instagram is my personal photography gallery – a place where I can showcase my work to the world as well as looking at the photos of others.

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The How and Why of taking notes

Notebook of Mark TwainThe dullest pencil is better than the sharpest memory. Mark Twain is meant to have said this, but most quotations on the Internet get attributed to Twain.

I have been taking notes for most of my adult life. Usually these notes are recorded with pen and paper in a hardcover notebook, and more recently I use computers and my iPhone. My inspiration for keeping notes are the notebooks of history’s most well-known scientist, inventor and artist – Leonarda da Vinci. Leonardo Notebook
I like to take notes so I have a record of my life, thoughts and activities. Long term memories can fade and things we think we will remember, like notes from meetings, ideas and people’s names soon get forgotten. My notes are a permanent record of information, ideas and thoughts which can be searched and re-read. I take notes at work and at home and I always have with me a way of capturing notes – a notebook, my computer or my phone. In this article I introduce you to my note-taking systems.

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My Life with Movies – a digital story

My life with MoviesThis is the video I submitted as my project for the Digital Storytelling online course from the University of Houston.

This story shows how technology has affected the way I have watched and enjoyed movies. This includes cinema, television, VCR, DVD, computers, internet and now iPad.   As technology develops how will the experience of watching movies change and affect the relationship with film?

Watch the video and see for yourself. The duration is 5’33” and you can read the transcript later i n the article.

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Learning to program

MatrixWhat is it like to learn the skill of computer programming? This was the question in a recent online Python programming course. Students were asked to respond to an essay question on the challenges of learning to program, so here are my thoughts.

Some people think computer programming is difficult to learn because they are “not good at logic” or “not a computer person”. Taking an attitude that programming is hard will prevent learning.

Programming is a cognitive skill, like doing mathematics problems, writing English or drawing.  It is possible to learn these skills with the right attitude, perseverance and time to learn and explore.

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Why you should learn to program in Python

python-logoPython is a scripting language that runs on Windows, Unix, MacOS and a variety of other devices like Raspberry Pi. Python is freely available and suited for a very wide range of tasks – system administration, web programming, databases, calculations and graphical interfaces. I recommend Python to anyone who wants to learn to program. Here’s why:

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Learning about my Web usage

web_usage_headI am taking the free online course Web Science: How the web is changing the world.  Its goal is to explore how the web has changed our world in the past 25 years and what might happen next.

The first exercise asked me to reflect on my use of the Web and evaluate its impact on my life. I was given a web based tool to analyse my recent browsing history which generates a pie chart showing the most frequently visited web sites.  I was then asked to answer four questions.

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MOOCS – Free online learning for the world

CourseraOver the last 12 month I have become a big fan of learning in a MOOC –  Massively Open Online Course. I have taken these courses on the Coursera platform where I watch videos, do  quizzes to check my understanding, participate in discussion forums and complete assignments – multiple choice questions or peer-assessed written responses.

I recently started a course on the History of Rock Music which was covered in a recent news story on Yahoo. This course is run by Professor John Covach of the University of Rochester and his comments appear in the article.

After I left university I wanted to learn some Arts subjects to balance my Science degree. In the 1980’s the way to do this was to enroll in an adult education class.  This involved attending a class on a weeknight evening and listening to a  qualified person give a lesson. Sometimes there was some discussion involved but generally there was very little interaction with other students.

I took a course titled Looking at Art which ran for one evening a week for about 4 to 6 weeks. An art teacher gave some interesting talks and projected colour slides of art works. She organized a Saturday excursion to the Art Gallery of NSW which I attended and had a lot of fun. I made some new friends on this excursion as well.

A couple of years later I took an Introduction to Psychology course organized by the WEA   which was interesting, but rather challenging to attend. Classes were  held in the city on Monday evenings and I drove in, and found a parking spot in a side street. I didn’t make any friends in that course and there were no discussions, just a lecture.

Now I am continuing the “adult education” and pursuing courses of general interest in a global classroom.     I discovered the Coursera web site and have now completed three courses – Listening to World Music (University of Pennsylania), Introduction to Digital Sound Design (Emory University), Introduction to Music Production (Berklee College of Music).

Other courses I am looking forward to are Maps and the Geospatial Revolution (I love maps!), Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas and Introduction to Programming for Musicians and Digital Artists where I will learn about the ChucK programming language for audio.

What I like about online learning is the total flexibility in when and where I watch the videos. I can pause or replay a video, download the transcript to use as lecture notes, and interact with other students in the forums. I am currently enrolled in a 4 week course on Teaching Adult Learners on Open2Study.com  – a collaboration of Australia tertiary institutions.

Go MOOCs!