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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