Learning how to reflect on my experiences

In science, reflections are the changes in the direction of waves, which occurs as a wave strikes an object and then travels back through the same medium it came from.

Right now as am writing this blog, I have a mirror in front of me. Since a mirror is reflective, I can clearly see how I look like. Seeing clearly the details of me especially the head. I can see the hair on my head, yeah still short no need of trimming it now but shouldn’t exceed 2 weeks. The beard still okay but over the weekend I have to shave it. I can see how nice the spectacles looks on me. I can even open my mouth and see the details. So I can look at myself in the mirror, see the outward appearance of me. Then point out where change is needed and where its not needed.  Then finally, after writing this blog will open my door and present myself to the world to look at me and judge my appearance. Without this mirror, I wouldn’t know how I look like.

In the Autumn 2012, Tord advised me to write reflections on my internship work. Now to confess the truth all along in my life I have been fearing or shying away from writing reflections not even do I have a diary for keeping my daily records. So the first thing that came into my mind was that, what I feared most has come on me. All along been deceiving myself, giving lame excuses of how scientists are poor at writing reflections. My consolation has always been at making sketches, drawings, performing experiments in the laboratory, writing brief scientific reports and so on.

 I wrote a summary of my experiences on the internship work so far done in Latina laboratory, gave it to Tord to comment on my reflections. He read through and we started discussing. Realized that what I called reflections was just a summary of the work am doing. So I understood that reflecting on my experiences is not all about summarizing experiences but rather to analyze them in a personal way; pointing out the positive and negative aspects. It is like you reading this blog and at the end of it all, you comment on it in the comment box telling me your opinion about this blog, the strengths and weaknesses about it.

My observation is that to reflect on my experiences, I have to think, meditate, allow my inner ideas or feelings to flow out and finally blog them. At times am busy busy or lazy lazy to write my reflections. Sometimes I fear to bring out my opinion on a topic. But in this knowledge based economy, I have to reflect on my personal experiences in order to produce original information. Or else I will be thinking  about the 4 Ps (Pick or copy, Paste, Publish and Partying). Please get me right, work without partying makes Luwalaga dull. So I have to enjoy this short life.

If I will always go an extra mile and reflect on whatever I do, eventually I will produce original information full of my personal experiences. One thing I believe in, is that all human beings, harbor knowledge needed in this knowledge economy. If everyone brings that harbored knowledge out, we shall be in position to solve all the challenges we are facing globally.

Have you been reflecting on your daily activities? Would you like to start? You can start by reflecting on this blog then embark on reflecting your work. Let me also read Google apps reflection, and reflect on it.

Point to remember, always when writing reflections keys things to focus on are: ‘think about the experience’, ‘measure’, ‘judge’, ‘bend back’, ‘meditate’, ‘critique’.

Experiences with digital technology in learning and teaching – Lithuania presentation

Slides

DSC_0164Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Am luwalaga John Groover. A civil engineer by profession  and an educator. I come from Uganda, East Africa.
Am working with Kyambogo University, Kampala, Uganda.
In 2011, I came to Norway as a teacher exchange at Oslo and Akershus University College.
This morning am sharing with you my personal experiences with digital technology in the area of learning and teaching. Based on the work I have been doing in the two Universities.
At Kyambogo University, I taught concrete technology course unit. Concrete is a form of construction material which can be manufactured in almost all parts of the world.
Concrete is obtained by mixing sand, coarse aggregates, cement and water homogeneously. All concrete ingredients are always tested.
If I may pick out one concrete ingredient say sand.
Then look at one test performed on sand say ‘sieve analysis test’.
Sieve analysis test is performed by grouping together sand particles according to their size ranges using sieves. This can be achieved by shaking the sieves containing the sand particles.
Then after, determining their mass percentages in each size range.

Old way of working

At Kyambogo University, I used to write the teaching notes on papers.
Sometimes dictated the notes to students.
In some cases wrote the notes on the blackboard.
I could also type some notes, print and give them out as handouts..
Or photocopy some information from a textbook and give students to read.
During this period I had handwritten procedures, then turned them into a microsoft word document as seen here.
I had interest in digital technology but did not have an idea on how to integrate it in the classroom. I and the students had access to digital technology devices like computers, phones, TV and projector. The internet bandwidth on campus was very low but one could access internet in internet cafes at a fee.

Transition period

When I came to Norway, became more interested in integrating digital technology in the classroom.
In summer 2012, I joined LATINA Laboratory; LATINA stands for ‘learning and teaching in a digital world’.
LATINA aims at equipping practical e-learning skills  to people for the purpose of integrating digital technology in their daily activities. I continued working with LATINA lab.

Way Forward

Am turning some of the teaching materials into a digitised format.
I turned the previous microsoft word document into a google document as seen here.
And finally  turned the same google document into an ebook using free open-source software as seen here.

Reflections
Before

  • Teacher centered
  • The locally available digital technology was never used.

Now and after

  • Integrating  locally available digital technology in the classroom
  • Materials created can be used over and over again.
  • Sharing of materials can be done on social media
  • Work place is for learning.
  • Classroom is for sharing experiences.
  • Both students and educator are learners.
  • Learning is centered Students

Conclusion 

In conclusion, integrating digital technology in teaching and learning is a necessity in today’s education system. Many innovations of digital technology software and devices are at our disposal.
As an educator, when it comes to choosing the best devices and software to integrate in the classroom, the needs of students come first.

Discussion

How do you integrate digital technology in your daily activities?

 

QR Code

Photo TitleQuick Response Code is a matrix barcode designed to be read using barcode scanners on tablets or smartphones.

The above QR code leads you to my home page. You can check it with your device or click here.

Photo Caption

Ebook

when I attended LATINA (learning and teaching in a digital world) summer course was introduced to what an ebook is and got interested in it. I enjoy reading ebooks using tablets, smartphones and ordinary computers.

I wished if could also turn some of my documents into an ebook. During the summer study we were supposed to do a project and as a group we made an ebook. Got more interested in making more ebooks so thought of  going an extra mile of learning how to make ebooks.

If you are wondering what an ebook is, it’s just a digital document prepared to be read by people using ipads, ipods, smartphones and computers.

Recently I have been working on a specific task describing in details how to determine grading of sand test in a laboratory. This is a civil engineering test performed on sand to look at how diameters particles of sand are distributed between range of 5mm – 0.063mm. I have done this test in the laboratory since 2003 and teaching students on how to carry it out but I had never taken time to write all the details of this test.

The document was first prepared by taking notes on paper; then turned it into a Microsoft document; then as seen here into google document . After coming up with this document, I embarked on turning it into an ebook.

I created the ebook using Sigil open software by:

  • copying and pasting in the Sigil page,
  • edited the pasted document,
  • Assigned the headings to different layers in order to come up with the table of content,
  • inserting links, images, and videos.

When it came to images, the images from google document couldn’t be pasted in the sigil software so I had to insert them separately. So all images to be placed in the sigil software have to be edited before transferring them to sigil software because images can’t be edited inside sigil software.

Another challenge I encountered was inserting videos in the sigil software such that when someone is reading the ebook can watch the video on the same page without moving away from that same page. So for the videos to be viewed in an ebook created using sigil software, a link has to be created and someone has to be connected to the internet. This becomes a challenge where someone has to read the ebook and there is no internet.

After I went through that, the ebook was finally ready to be viewed and this is a copy of the ebook.

As a teacher, learner and researcher, I find reading ebooks using tablets, smartphones and ordinary computers more convenient than reading plain documents. Many of my clients (students) are interested in using digital gadgets and my task is to find ways of reaching them so that I can serve them well. So learning how to turn my work into ebooks will help me reach as many of my clients as possible.

Mind map

Recently I have been working on a task writing about how to carryout grading test of sand in a laboratory. I have done this test in the laboratory and guided students on doing the same test so many times. I could demonstrate this test in the laboratory to students in one hour and give them instructions but I had never gone deeper in writing the details of these instructions. So in this task I was supposed to write all the details involved in this test.

I thought the test procedures would be very easy since am aware of what it involves but to my surprise, I was shocked that there was a lot of points to be included. By the end of of it when I tried to produce the table of contents, it was messy messy as seen here. So I came up with an idea of presenting the table of contents using mind map. A mind map is where you have a an idea or title as starting point, link it to different subtitles, link the subtitle to different sub-subtitles and so on. Mind maps can be used in different way like solving a problem at hand, building a team and so on.

The first thing I did was to create the document using Google docs which automatically generated for me the table of content.

The next step was to decide on how to create the mind map, either by drawing, or using Microsoft word, or using mind mapping software like freeplane, wise mapping wikkawiki, freemind and others. I chose to use freemind mind map software because it could bring out my ideas well. Freemind is an open source software which can be used or downloaded by anybody freely.

With the freemind software installed on my computer, the next step was to open it and start feeding in the title, subtitle and so on into the various link basing on the table of content already created. After creating the mind map, then I had to export it in various formats like pdf, jpg image, svg.

The mind map I created is as seen here

below is an image showing the mind map

 

 

Images in web page

Images speak louder than words in conveying messages to the web users. Images tries to illustrate relevant technical part to the web users. So care must always be taken when selecting suitable images to insert in a web page. There are many images you can search on the internet but when choosing the best image to use, think of copyright law. During working on the digital teaching module, I have looked at images from flickr, picasawebalbums and googleimages.