Back from the summer, aheading towards busy autumn

After returning to my desk at CET, I spotted a huge amount of tasks that should be finished as soon as possible plus tasks that cannot wait any longer and tasks that should be taken into account in the very near future.

Like last year, this September brings me some teaching activities in Lilleküla, I’m continuing with practical media for 10th and 11th grade.  Plans for the fresh ones (10th) are pretty much similar to the last year, some additional ideas should attract young people to work even more intensive. 11th grade gets a new, free from the grading study, which is going to be follow-up for their last year course. It will be include the reflecting of the schools everyday life through the interviews of the visitors, shooting and filming the actual events like Teachers and Sporting day. By giving students the opportunity express their skills through the actual and visible outcomes it encourages them to improve them more than plain theoretical material, which is available everywhere anyway.

EDEN 2008, Lisbon

5 days spent in the sunny and even tropical Portugal were amazing. The main aim of the travel was to take apart of the EDEN 2008 conference but it didn’t eliminate the possibility that I fell in love in streets of Lisbon.

But I should start with the conference because the fact that it was my first conference outside of the Estonia, plus 15 minute presentation. Incredible experience all in one, that’s for sure but I managed to survive my speech and few questions afterwards. Most of the audience were teachers which means that probably my statements and the topic was a bit too technical. One the other hand, those few questions I got were really in the topic and helped me perfectly to finish my big day.

EDEN conference on the whole reminded me the one which is held by the Estonian E-University on each year – almost the same topics and even familiar questions, that are repeating from the session to session (”definition for the e-learning”, “are we dealing with e or learning”, “blogs and wikis in the classroom” etc.). But as I understood already on the first evening when I registered myself and got the unusable bag and heavy materials of the conference, all this is held more for the meeting place for the old friends and colleagues. Visiting the sessions is like a cherry on the cake but personal face-to-face small talks are represented in every possible situations. Again, something, that reminds me this named Estonian conference.

But hey, Lisbon! First few three days I drank like a mad. I don’t know, where the hell it got but I drank litres of water and still felted myself like living in the desert. Portuguese people really know how to cook and to enjoy their meals. One of my goals while walking around the city was to try something from the local’s kitchen. First three places I tried near to the Avenida Da Liberdade did’t offer any food, although the menu was available next to the open door. Sadly, many of the locals restaurants closes their kitchen between 15.00 to 19.00 or in the other words, no eating between the lunch and the dinner. On the other hand, people should eat more regularly than they usually do, at least in Estonia. But luckily one of the small place was open and I got my soup (1 EUR) and I didn’t regret a thing.

After conquering the old Castle of São Jorge I walked down to the crowded streets and picked first fish restuarant and ordered codfish with onion rings and boiled potatoes. That was the final dot on the i, when previous cuisines consisted of Bacalhau (salted codfish), sardines, chorizos, Feijoada and several more, I just cannot name at the moment :]

Flickr

Thesis defended

Yesterday morning I defended successfully my master thesis “Visual Modelling Languages for Describing Pedagogical Patterns” and I’m really happy with my final grade, which was “B” (equal to 4). Roughly 45 minutes lasted defending process was held in very friendly atmosphere (compared to BA thesis defence two years ago).

I admit, that more concentrated approach would have leaded to the better work and maybe changing the topic only few months before the final date wasn’t the best idea. But after all, all that counts is that the paper is ready and it has gave me solid base for future work in this research area.

First year in Lilleküla

By now, at the end of the May, when school for most of the students is over, I can do a small roundup about my year in Lilleküla as well.

When I was first asked to join their great team, I was pretty astonished – without any teaching experience (I’ve been doing some teacher training but this is completely different area) and clear vision, 45 innocent students were suddenly under my responsibility. Task for the year was to experimentally try how 10th grade students are ready for approach of learning while the structure of the lectures were not so close to the traditional ones.

Practical Media consisted of four different but strongly related parts: desktop publishing, photography, filming and writing. The main goal was to publish at least one issue of the schools newspaper – supervisor for the writing team was Epp-Mare Kukemelk from Postimees who leaded the process of the article writing and theory of the media in general. At the same time I introduced to students basics of the desktop publishing, using the Scribus and after Christmas we switched to Macs and to Pages (new project gave us opportunity to work now with MacBooks and we didn’t depend of the computer class afterwards). Some of the exercises were made in Blogger (basics of the web design), Google Docs (group presentations), Issuu (PDF publishing).

Photographs were working mainly with online tools like Flickr (image search), Nagi (image storing) and Picnic (image manipulation). As we started in September, most of the students registered their self in Estonian photo repository Nagi, which is usable but not very intuitive. And after Flickr started friendship with Picnic, I decided that next year we are not going to use Nagi for our purposes.

Film makers were not so related with newspapers, their projects helmed several group work tasks, where they manage to try several web based techniques and tools like YouTube, YouTube Remixer, Jumpcut and mobile filming. Although school has a great video camera equipment, the fact is that every student is holding itself camera in their pocket and why not to use them for educational purposes?

Anyway, ideas for the september 2008 are still in the very alpha stage, so I will introduce them sometime in the summer.

It was a very useful and busy year and thank again for this opportunity, specially Hans :]

Vapiano

Although usually I don’t mind eating in the university’s cafeteria and their pancakes are almost the best ones in the world, sometimes its good to have some alternation for a change.

http://www.vapiano.de/ee/index.php?lang=ee

Yesterday’s pick was recently opened fast food restaurant Vapiano (take it easy in Italian). It may sound a bit odd, but this quite cheap and self-serving restaurant (also naming itself as a fast casual) offers quite refreshing experience in the field of the lunch places in the center of the Tallinn. Menu consists of the pasta, pizza and salads, which are all fresh and ready made in the local kitchen. From the half-open kitchen it can be observed, how chefs are combining the pizza for you or mixing the salads. Very thin and delicious pizzas are served in 15-20 minutes and costs from 50 to 125 kroons, depending on the the ingredients, so as pastas and salads.

One more thing, that has not been very popular yet in Tallinn, is use of the RFID chip cards that are being used as a credit cards inside of the restaurant. All the orders are being paid before leaving at the exit of the restaurant. Actually very convenient.

Vapiano in Tallinn is located next to the Roterman Quarter and right next to the Coca-Cola Plaza.

My bookmarks are mine again

I must admit that I’ve lost the contact with my del.icio.us bookmarks… until today. 1392 web links, that are saved under my account are although accessible via web-based environment. On the other hand its not suitable for managing them as easy I could wish.

Today, after installing Firefox 3 RC 1 plus del.icio.us plugin for FF3 I admit that this team works together like a charm. New plugin isn’t just a small window for saving the bookmark, it is providing an opportunity for browsing and sorting the tags and bookmarks straight from the browser sidebar. Another great feature is syncing between FF bookmarks and those one, which are saved into del.icio.us which will help me to determine duplicates in either of the environments.

Highly usable del.icio.us plugin is available here but needed Firefox 3 is still in development phase, so use it as a developer or wait until the June 2008.

Interactive Media & Knowledge Environments

IMKE (Interactive Media & Knowledge Environments) master program is starting this year again.

Interactive Media and Knowledge Environments (IMKE) is an accredited international new media master program offered by the Institute of Informatics, Tallinn University with all instruction in English. The special focus of  IMKE is on knowledge environments, i.e., online community applications of the Web 2.0 that facilitate sharing information and constructing knowledge including, for example, games, learning environments, and citizen’s media. The schedule is designed particularly with working, and distant students in mind.

– imke.tlu.ee

As a part of the really first (or pilot) group of IMKE students, who are finishing or are planning to finish their studies soon, I must confess that those two years have gave me more deeper education and skill than three years in BA studies. Yes, of course, that is a reason why we have master studies, but I’m sure that there is not many curriculums in TLU, that are providing students so versatile learning opportunities without depending deeply on students previous background.

Sure, we had programming courses, where we tried Python for s60 devices (Nokia) and some great visual experiments with processing but none of these really required programmer background, teachers approach supported us on different level and as we got better, their exercises got harder. As it should be.

During the first year I took a part of the practical workshop about paper prototyping in UIAH, Helsinki. During the one week activities I got a chance to meet very interesting people and with their projects, which were a bit more artistic than they usually are in TLU (there are hardly any independent students projects in that terms). And one thing that I understood was that IMKE curriculum in the whole should intent to be something very similar – casual atmosphere, free (at least in the first sight) of all kind of restrictions and exams and grading as they are now.

In order to join IMKE, you do not have to be a superman. Requirements, schedule, courses, and all the needed information is available on IMKE and TLU websites.

Petri Kola @ KERG seminar

The Knowledge Environments Research Group (KERG) seminar is intended to be the forum for discussing research issues related to projects and personal research agendas. Representations can also be reviews of conferences or workshops. Presentations of individual researchers or research groups from other intitutions are invited regularly.

kerg.tlu.ee

Next week guest talk on 12th of May is Petri Kola from TAIK. He is a PhD student, who’s research area is communities and collaboration in the web. His a developer of the Tutkimusparvi which is aiming at the particular kind of self-organising research community approach.

Starting from a scratch

First of all, I should introduce myself, and what would be the best place to do it then this weblog here?

My name is Priit Tammets and to be correct, not very new in bloging. I’ve been doing it since 2003 in different variations – in Estonian, in English, as a photoblog and microblog (I’m still Jaikuing). A purpose of this one is to give myself an opportunity to express my everyday life (both working and private, of course) in a format, that will ensure the possibility, that someone else, a total stranger, can find it here, reads it and even gives me feedback about… something.

This very first posting is just an introduction, more info about me is located under “About” link that can be accessed on the top of the page.

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