Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Finally got my domain name!

I finally got my domain name today! I think I should have made the request for to the web host to attach the new domain to my existing domain again, after I paid for it. I had made an enquiry before I paid, and I think they just went ahead and processed the fee and the registration.
My new domain is profpenny.com and I've set up my Moodle EFL course at www.profpenny.com/Englishzone

I learned something interesting today:
That URLs are case sensitive. "englishzone" comes up as a 404 error but "Englishzone" works!
I'm wondering now whether I should have used lower case for all the letters, as it may prove a stumbling block for students to access the site. OR is that a useful way of teaching the Korean students that the word "English" needs capitalisation!

Anyway, I chose to automatically setup Moodle through the Cpanel of my webhost (www.unlimited-space.com), using 'fantastico' It was unbelievably easy.
The only thing I am not sure of now is why I am having trouble uploading resource files - the files seem to upload but the don't open as they seem to be not in correct folders or directories. I will try to make some dedicated data files for audio and photos and see if that helps.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

the waiting game

I'm still waiting for verification of my new domain name 'profpenny.com' so I can actually set up my website and host Moodle on it. It doesn't really matter for setting up the Moodle course framework whether the host is the local host or my website, but it would be nice to get it done. It seems that uploading resources doesn't work properly on the local host. I am assuming that the resources have to be held on the web host server in the correct folders for public access.

I think I wasn't setting up the folder system properly in Moodle today - I had forgotten how totally unforgiving the assigning of correct web folders is...
But I was generally pleased with setting up a wiki, a blog, a Message box system, a calendar and a few other bits & pieces. Using moodle is fairly easy - it just takes a few hours of poking around and seeing what happens when you change things.

Monday, January 21, 2008

progress on Assignment 2

In the past 4 days for assignment 2 I have:
* registered a new domain name "profpenny.com" with my current host provider at www.unlimited-space.com
* downloaded 'Moodle4Mac' from www.moodle.org
*played with Moodle settings

I hit a snag with getting my domain name registered as i didn't receive the automated payment details email, and had to chase around by email. I am currently waiting for confirmation from the webhost - unlimited-space.com - that they have all the technical requirements to actually host Moodle properly. I didn't think that there would be issues, but apparently some webhosts just don't use all the required bits & pieces...

I was proceeding on the basis that I can add an extra domain name to my existing hosting account at no extra charge, but now I can see that maybe I should have gone through a dedicated Moodle host. Damn... but maybe it will be OK?

The set up for the Moodle page was difficult as there are very few instructions of what to actually do and I spent about an hour just looking around at the MAMP administrator page wondering what the hell to do. What is MAMP anyway?
Then I realised that there is another 'Welcome to Moodle for Mac' page that does NOT show up automatically after you install the Moodle package. It's found at :-
On this page I can log in as 'admin' with a password of 12345, but then what?

Looking at wiki software

Today I spent all morning looking at various wiki software. I am trying to work out how to use a wiki/ blog/ forum for my Korean EFL classes. It's got to be super easy to use, must have closed , invitation only access, and be free!
I found a site called WikiMatrix that compares them all by features www.wikimatrix.com.
And I tried out a business-oriented wiki/ forum called CentralDesktop. It was very clean, easy to use, and I had it up and running in 2 minutes but - for an unlimited number of users it would be $99 per month!

Netcipia (netcipia.com) looks good and was recommended by Justyna as a project wiki for teachers, but it's not quite so easy to use and is probably a little too complicated for Korean EFL students.
I think Justyna might be right - just get them to set up a Blogger account - the set up page is in Korean so they don't have all the hassles of dealing with technical instructions in English - they can just focus on their blog content. Good idea. I'd been forcing them to set up an English only Yahoo! email account (because their Korean email accounts do not accept English language emails) and then sign up and use the phpBB forums only in English - and it was Ok for the top 20 % of the students but for the lower level students in each class it was just a stress, and hampered their learning.
Hmmm... the search continues and I must narrow down the focus for my Assignment 2.

Friday, January 18, 2008

pondering assignment 1 questions...

I think I've finished my report on my knowledge Garden wiki page "Wikis & tikis for Dummies"
I wasn't quite sure if section 11 about "suggestions for the way the wiki could be improved as a learning environment ..." was referring to my facilitated page or kG as a whole, so I took it to mean the latter.
My main issue with using the knowledge Garden has been the non user-friendly layout, template and poor navigation. So while I am still interested in exploring wikis as an educational tool, I want to look at others besides the TikiWiki powered one, that may be easy and simple to use, especially in an EFL environment. (My Korean students would never handle all the technical difficulties of kG, let alone the tiny font, etc - I found kG extremely difficult even as a very experienced computer user and a native-speaker of English!)).
Justyna has obviously been looking at similar issues and she posted a link to Neticipia as her chosen wiki platform. I will have to check it out myself when I get some time (after this course has finished).

Monday, January 7, 2008

Thoughts on my WIKI page on kG - Wikis n Tikis for Dummies

After the Wimba conference session this morning with lecturer Peter Evans and fellow FET 8611 students,
I feel like I have clarified some issues I have been having with my facilitated Wiki page on Knowledge Garden - "Wikis n Tikis for Dummies".
There are significant issues of setting up a wiki page under fairly strict assessment guidleines about number of words, content, number of contributors and needing to be "fairly complete" after only a few weeks. It can become a very artificial exercise - as it seems to be the inherent nature of wikis is to grow and change according to time and user needs.

At present my wiki is only about 1600 words - far short of the 3000 needed for the "finished" wiki page. However, I feel that as my page is not meant to replicate other existing "introduction to using wikis" pages in knowledge Garden, but rather answer some basic questions that maybe aren't addressed elsewhere (like how do you pronounce wiki and tiki?) AND , most importantly, to give links to the other relevant pages - it is OK for it to be shorter. I don't want to fill it up with theoretical or instructional information just for the sake of making up a word count.

Maybe what I could do is add a section for people to share their beginning experiences with using wikis.