Wednesday, July 13, 2011

That blog-list again

I've been a bit slack here with my posting but there's been a lot more activity on my other blogs... please check 'em out!

Addicted2wheels - bike racing for everyone
Offline - my take on the planet and its politics
Dopage - all the dope on the dopes who dope, allegedly
Secrets of a Sydney Past - personal photos and recollections of Sydney's history
Central Coast Imagery - my photography blog
Musical Must-knows - software and gadgets for the electronic audio artiste
My Alfa Blog - as in rust-free Italians
My PC Help Blog - as in fixing hardware and software

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Just because I can, here's some thoughts and links on adult learning

I've done a bit of training and written courseware, and of course I've been "trained" myself. Fundmentally, it's keeping adult trainees engaged and awake that matters, followed by ensuring there's a "takeway" that is practised later. You can "teach" as much as you like but I'm guessing that 80% is forgotten within a week - or less. You may get better recall with prompts (reminders or exercises post-course) but nothing succeeds like "use". If it isn't used it will eventually be forgotten.

So engage, keep it relevant, break it up, get them involved and set clear goals and expectations. Then keep them awake, provide several delivery methods using all senses (perhaps not smell) and get them to practise new things. Then send them out the door with reminders like some takeaway task that asks them to reflect and practise what they may have learned. Oh, and remember the feedback! 

Anyway, some quotes and links....

PRINCIPLES OF ADULT LEARNING
# Adults are autonomous and self-directed. They need to be free to direct themselves. Their teachers must actively involve adult participants in the learning process and serve as facilitators for them... ...They have to be sure to act as facilitators, guiding participants to their own knowledge rather than supplying them with facts. Finally, they must show participants how the class will help them reach their goals (e.g., via a personal goals sheet).

# Adults have accumulated a foundation of life experiences and knowledge that may include work-related activities, family responsibilities, and previous education. They need to connect learning to this knowledge/experience base...

# Adults are goal-oriented. Upon enrolling in a course, they usually know what goal they want to attain. They, therefore, appreciate an educational program that is organized and has clearly defined elements...

# Adults are relevancy-oriented. They must see a reason for learning something...

# Adults are practical, focusing on the aspects of a lesson most useful to them in their work...

# As do all learners, adults need to be shown respect. Instructors must acknowledge the wealth of experiences that adult participants bring to the classroom. These adults should be treated as equals in experience and knowledge and allowed to voice their opinions freely in class.
Adult Learners and Learning: A-Z Resources
Because of their life experience, adults approach learning differently than children. Generally, adults…

* support themselves hence are generally self directed
* have their own ideas about what’s important to learn
* tend to be concerned about effective use of learning time
* have life experiences to which they can relate new learning
* tend to learn when they need to in order to solve a problem or fulfil a need
* are more likely than children to reject or explain away information that contradicts their own experiences or beliefs

Hence, when planning and delivering learning for adults there are some principles that, when applied, can assure a more rewarding and effective experience.
How Adults Learn :: Ageless Learner
Learning can be defined formally as the act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skills. In contrast, memory can define the capacity of storing, retrieving, and acting on that knowledge. Learning helps us move from novices to experts and allows us to gain new knowledge and abilities.

Learning strengthens the brain by building new pathways and increasing connections that we can rely on when we want to learn more. Definitions that are more complex add words such as comprehension and mastery through experience or study.

Physiologically, learning is the formation of cell assemblies and phase sequences. Children learn by building these assemblies and sequences. Adults spend more time making new arrangements than forming new sequences. Our experience and background allow us to learn new concepts.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

So what exactly is SEO? SEM? And those hats - black or white?

SEO is simply the art or suite of techniques used to improve the "visibility" of a website to search engines. That's to say it's aim is to improve the page rank of the site and thus increase the likelihood of being "clicked on" by prospective viewers (and ultimately customers).

How so? Well if you search for a term or phrase in any search engine (and whilst they are all different in their approach let's assume for now that the differences don't matter so much) you'll be presented with what the engine believes are the closest matches to your request. That may be a zero result if you worded the search poorly or are looking for something totally obscure. Or it may be zillions. For a popular product or service it will be at least thousands of pages. Most people will just look at the first few suggestions, but some will dig deeper.

Very, very few will keep going on page after page. It depends on success, too. If the first link is a great one then problem solved and our searcher stops. However the searcher may wish to get another opinion or look around some more to be sure, so a percentage will dig a bit more. But if you are on page 1,222,599 you may as well not be there at all.

So if you want to actually be successful and be noticed then you need to understand the search engines and how they find and rank query matches. Implementing your understanding by modifying your web pages is the art and practice of SEO. The alternative is to have great content and ensure that your web pages address your market - and effectively forget about SEO completely. Many large corporations do exactly that - they don't get into the murky waters in the first place. Of course they are so big and well known that search engines simply can't ignore them, either...  

But not all of us are big and well known. Hence SEO matters. But you can also pay your way up the page rankings by SEM - search engine marketing. Whilst it seems sensible enough - it's just capitalism at work, putting a price on everything it can - it is also arguably a distortion of the market (search for Adam Smith if you want to research the theory). You may have seen highlighted, colour-coded results appear at the very top of your search results - these are paid results. However many people will not recognise or understand the difference between paid and unpaid results, and thus the search engines create a distortion.

SEM is an arguable practice but it's one we have in some sense accepted. It's an open practice, but one that many may not understand (in which case it is effectively hidden, isn't it?). Now to be corrupt by one definition simply means that you make a gain of some sort from allowing a distortion to take place, usually (but not always) in a hidden manner. It's like paid queue-jumping. If we could simply pay to be head of the queue (and in many cases you can!) then the argument goes that a bribe has been offered and accepted. But we are choosy about what we call a bribe and what constitutes corruption, based on things like public good, significance and openness to scrutiny. I am not judging the practice here, but let's just say there are opposing views on the legitimacy of paying to get to the head of any queue!

Less controversially you can also drive traffic directly by paying some search engines for advertisements in your favour that will appear on popular pages, including search results. Again the distinction may not be clear but it's arguably clearer than simply paying to be at the head of the search results.

Confused?
Well it doesn't get any less confusing when SEO is broken into "white hat" (ie generally acceptable SEO practice) and "black hat" (ie unacceptable, at least to search engines if not most ethical people). You can argue that since search engines themselves are not saints and are prepared to sell their souls for SEM that therefore blackhat is also legitimate. But that ignores the many blackhat practices that simply wouldn't pass an ethics test. If it looks like cheating, it probably is cheating. That doesn't mean that every so-called blackhat practice is wrong, but many clearly are dubious or downright duplicitous.

But we are not always clear on what "wrong" is, or whether it is legal. Sometimes we define a technique or tool as blackhat based solely on the views (and actions) of the search engines themselves. If they believe it's cheating, then as far as most people are concerned it's game over: search engines simply own the game.  However if it is clearly illegal in your state, province, nation or other jurisdiction, then it is definitely blackhat.

I'm sure there's more to be said on this subject, so please search widely... and wisely.          


Search engine optimization - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site or a web page (such as a blog) from search engines via "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results as opposed to other forms of search engine marketing ("SEM") which may deal with paid inclusion. The theory is that the earlier (or higher) a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search and industry-specific vertical search engines. This gives a web site web presence.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work and what people search for. Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content and HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines.
Further research: How to make money online

Monday, June 07, 2010

Topic of the Week: SEO

I've decided to research SEO - that's search engine optimisation to you (and me). I'll probably touch on SEM (search engine management, apparently, although it sounds more like management of the actual search engine - which would be Google's or Yahoo's job, surely? Anyway, I know what they mean).

Anyway, expect some posts to fly around.

But first, my take on some history.

Although I wasn't aware of it at the time, the Internet as such was born out of US defence research in the late 60s (say 1969). I may have heard of it as ARPANET or something like that in the 70s but it didn't really register. And I didn't see my first cabinet-sized modem until late 1975. It was painfully slow but usefully connected banks to central computers. It was the first hint of what was to come. However modems didn't really kick off until bulletin boards came into use in the '80s. I tried both out in around 1986 or so and could see some possibilities. I could see a use for modems, for sure. And the French caught on fast with a national network I think they called Minitel or similar. And it was about that time, or maybe 1990 at the latest that I saw the Internet running usefully at Sydney University (in text mode but able to exchange files - the first such file I saw was a graphic of the USS Enterprise, of course). So the building blocks were in place. Modems were out there getting used, the universities were churning out fresh graduates with a taste for the early Internet and early-adopter games and email systems were kicking around. There was pent up demand by 1993, and a full on explosion by 1994. Of course the clincher was the World Wide Web.

So what was SEO like in 1994? It wasn't much at all. The Internet and the Web were functional but search "engines" didn't really exist. We did searches for details held on servers, but there was little cross-referencing that I saw. What I did see were lists. And the lists grew and grew. pretty soon we had lists of lists. Coupled with early browsers and the "bookmark" function we could catalogue our lists as we found them. Primitive, I know, but the Web was a smaller place in the '90s. Out of those lists came the first search engines, and then came Altavista - the first really superior search system - and of course Yahoo. But Altavista was the hottest engine in town until Google launched with that classic no-frills look and a new algorithm that estimated popularity by counting links. Bingo. Now you could really ditch bookmarks and almost all lists - one search engine could just find the good stuff and rank it correctly most of the time.


By my personal reckoning we can say that SEO was born in about 1998, or '99 at a pinch. It was the result of those competing search engines and the new-fangled approach of ranking by linking. It's grown more sophisticated over the years as various players have tried to manipulate the search results to their own advantage - after all, everyone want to be found, don't they?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Armstrong goes with Astana team's testing - why double up when you don't have to? Will ppl now say it's not independent enuff? http://ping.fm/J4qIY

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Small sample but US bike dealers report upswing in high end: http://ping.fm/xDIQZ
Before Google we loved Altavista. There's little to stop us switching again: http://ping.fm/2j0XR
More photoshopping - an ancient cockatoo that's survived the heat: http://ping.fm/QRmSF
Doing my photoshopping - here's an orb weaver despatching a bee for lunch: http://ping.fm/skCgp

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Harvard blog on 'smart' vs 'dumb' growth: http://ping.fm/b9lTf

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Google and IBM offer to WiFi your medical devices and store data globally: http://ping.fm/j4FVa
In denial: UK motoring magazine thinks 30mpg is good enough for a bloated fast 1.5tonne medium/small car: http://ping.fm/cOwvN

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

How about an Indian-built laptop for $20 now, hopefully $20 later? http://ping.fm/XHLm1
Google's Latitude maps and tracks your presence: http://ping.fm/OU59D

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Desperately flakey uptake figures on Blu-ray takeup in Oz, 80% of which are actually PS3 sales: http://www.smh.com.au/news/digital-life/home-entertainment/articles/bluray-takes-off-as-prices-drop/2009/01/30/1232818694763.html
Enhanced GPS stalking tools, or a reassuring way to keep track? http://ping.fm/OvajI
What I could do with 20 Petaflops... well video editing would be quicker: http://ping.fm/uVagf
wordy insightful piece on crime, punishment and US cyclist Jock Boyer: http://ping.fm/GWtta

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Instant cred. New pre-worn guitars from Fender: http://ping.fm/jfdgG

Friday, January 30, 2009

Shock horror: Wii Fit only works if you use it! http://ping.fm/PUd2Y

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Excellent article on Canberra riders like Rogers, Hayman, Stephens: http://ping.fm/qsuwa

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Interesting first-hand account of the Mascot road rage court case: http://ping.fm/RTpL0

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I finally saw those baby Koels and they are actually juvenile Channel Bill cuckoos.. http://ping.fm/OVtM7

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why stop at software-related patent reform - what about IP law generally? http://ping.fm/SOtPh
Graeme Brown finally got his win at Le Tour Down Under: http://ping.fm/ZyQIx
I do like that ping includes video... just so hard to choose btween these social micro-blogr tools!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Read some feeds... if you dare

I am writing, I really am!

Try these for size:


Monday, May 21, 2007

Not just writing, but writing-related...

A crawl through the web exposed these ideas... not all writing-related, but mostly...

A BBC account of the genesis of the Blooker awards. The LuluBlooker itself. Worth remembering: Google's book search. Spot your book and complain about breach of copyright, or enjoy the wider fame and possible fortune that accessibility confers? Evidence from Businessweek that it actually happens. An O'Reilly blog asks, are blogs and bloggers up the the task of becoming books and book authors? Lifehacker on how to turn your blog into a book. A good read. Poynter offers some excellent writing tips for journos. Problogger on - again - how to turn your blog into a... you guessed it! If you write a Livejournal blog you can convert it into a book with this tool. Burridge on how to turn a Roller blog into a book format... More evidence. Blurb's blogslurper will suck you blog into a book format and then publish it for you, if you want. And here's a blog-to-PDF tool that looks useful.

Have fun!!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Songware?

Songware? It seems odd that a great live band like the Who would find itself promoting software-generated songs, but apparently Pete Townshend has been working - nay dreaming - about this for 30 years. Who's next grew out of Lifehouse - Pete's idea of a connectedness that expressed itself through songs... and was for Pete a glimpse of a future world where connectedness was pervasive, electronic and creative. Which brings us to The Method, software that apparently takes personal data like a birthdate, a photo, an audio file and a beat and produces music.

Pete talks about it here on MP3.com... The legendary Who guitarist and songwriter said... that he is set to launch a new Web site that he has been thinking about for nearly 30 years. Dubbed The Method, Townsend said the site will use music composition software to take a person's physical attributes and compose a brand new, personalized piece of music for that person.

"I've been thinking about this for such a long time," he said. "The gathering that the Internet offers is meditation. You lose yourself when you're listening to good music." Townshend said he hopes the site will provoke more people to take advantage of the immediacy of the Web.

And Yahoo! says this: Rocker Pete Townshend on Wednesday unveiled an Internet-based software program that will help music fans compose personalised tracks at the click of a button. The Who guitarist/songwriter said that with a voice recording, a digital image and a rhythm clapped into a microphone, his new "Method" software will create spontaneous digital music and allow anyone to be a composer, and possibly a rock star. "You can put data in and get a piece of music out. It's as simple as that," said Townshend, a technical wizard who pioneered the use of the synthesiser more than 35 years ago on the classic tunes "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Baba O'Riley." The project, which started percolating during his art school days in the 1960s, was developed by mathematician/composer Lawrence Ball and software developer Dave Snowdon.

From May 1, users will be able to get free access to the Web site (http://www.lifehouse-method.com) for three months, and will be able to compose instrumental tracks that they can e-mail or post on their Web sites. From August 1, it will become a subscription-based service.

Sounds intriguing, anyway.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another way to go... Tumblr

One more blogging-tool-with-RSS-aggregator is never enough. If you want a sure fire way to get a blog started and don't want to get your hands dirty with templates, try tumblr. (Presumably tumbler is taken.) Mind you, you can still play dirty, as I have done here: http://gtveloce.tumblr.com/
 

These posts represent my opinions only and may have little or no association with the "facts" as you or others see them. Look elsewhere, think, make up your own mind. If I quote someone else I attribute. If I link to a web site it's because I have visited it myself and wish to refer to it, however that linking doesn't denote, imply or suggest any ownership, agreement with or control over that content. If an advertisement appears it's because I affiliate with Google, Amazon and others similar in nature and usually means nothing more than that... the Internet is a wild and untamed place folks, so please tread warily. My posts do not constitute consultation, advice or legal opinion of any sort.

All original material is copyright 2010 by myself, too, in accord with the Creative Commons licence below.

Creative Commons License
GTVeloce blog by Robert Russell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License.
Based on a work at gtveloce.com.