Free Online Resources: Grammar and Writing — Kristen Twardowski

Like any good grammar junkie, I keep a list of resources for when questions arise about the English language. The following are some free sites that I find myself referring to time and time again. They have been so helpful over the years that it would feel stingy not to share them. OWL: The Purdue […]

via Free Online Resources: Grammar and Writing — Kristen Twardowski

Storytelling is Essential to Communication

Aristotle laid it out over 2000 years ago, and it’s constantly repeated on the web: stories are how we humans communicate meaning. Whether it’s a New York Times article about the importance of storytelling for business and ads – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/13/your-money/storytelling-to-find-a-job-or-build-a-business.html – or a presentation for a class,

telling stories is how we communicate meaning – and it’s a learnable skill!

Dyscalculia

I’ve just read a very interesting post on a version of dyslexia that deals with numbers –  http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/about-dyslexia/schools-colleges-and-universities/dyscalculia.html and now I understand a lot more about how my mind works, and doesn’t work.

I have trouble with left and right, and trying to read maps is painful and embarrassing. I also switch numbers (1,2,4,3,5 etc.) if I try to read them quickly. I have to be VERY careful with large numbers as I can confuse 1000 with 10,000, etc. Plus it’s very hard for me to remember telephone and other numbers, even dates in history. So I think I have dyscalculia. I am also mildly dyslexic, and have some trouble with spelling, but I love words and writing. Despite those limitations, or maybe because of them, I’ve been told repeatedly that I’m a good teacher, good at helping people learn.

I am deeply grateful that I was able to learn and develop tactics that allowed me to survive and thrive as a student and as a teacher. Both as a teacher and as a learner I have observed that people often don’t remember how they learned something; we just own and use what we’ve learned and move on. So I can’t remember how and from whom I learned my tactics for surviving my weaknesses by adapting my strengths to cover for them. The only way I can express my gratitude is to show others alternate learning and performing routes that might work for them. And share with everybody what I learn about how our human minds work, and how differences in how they work can be dealt with compassionately.

Giving people the space and opportunity to learn how they learn, and how they can deal with their weakness as well as their strengths is not only wise and kind, it creates a better world for all of us.

If you are reading this and think you might be dyscalculic, check out your sense of self-worth and see if you have learned to focus on adaptations to help you survive, or if you dwell too much on what you struggle with. Perhaps you need to acknowledge how hard you work, as much as what you can’t do easily. To boast and inspire, I eventually got my Ph.D. and posted my thesis on line –  http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/2063617 and here’s my not quite up-to-date e-portfolio – https://joanvinallcox.wordpress.com/my-e-portfolio/

Communicating With Today’s Tools and Today’s Knowledge

Charles Bell: Anatomy of the Brain, c. 1802

I believe, in this world of rapidly changing technology and increasing knowledge of how our brains ‘work’, that students of communication need to know more. (For the record, I believe it’s a human need to constantly learn more about how to communicate, but for the sake of argument, let’s limit this to senior post-secondary students of communication.)

For sure students who want to go into any field that includes communication need to know how to read and write ‘correctly’ and powerfully.  (True since the spread of the printing press and literacy.) They also need to know how to speak with rhetorical power. (True since before the advent of writing.) Now they need to know how to record themselves aurally and visually, and how to use sound and images to shape their messages. The tools for communication have both increased and been democratized. The web has opened up the world of communication possibilities.

The skillful writer now shapes the presentation of her or his text. At the simplest: What font? What type size? What headings? What length of paragraphs? Bullets? Paper type? Now there are multiple decisions to be made – by acceptance of what’s already there or by conscious choice. And each of these choices will affect how the readers will grasp the intended message.

When a person approaches creating a piece of communication now, the choices have multiplied: text (paper or digital), speech (live or recorded), image (still or moving), or some combination of these. Where and how to place or deliver these messages is now a moving and evolving target, (and not my focus here).

Now, what the student of communication needs to learn is how these choices will impact on their audience. They need to have the traditional information about their intended audience but I maintain they need to know more now. They need to know what part of the brain will be responding to their communication choices. Do they want the information to be recognized? Dealt with strategically? Or felt?

Now teachers of communication skills need to know something about, and teach about, where (and thus how) the audience’s brains will take in the message. I suggest reading, watching and listening to “How New Technologies are Changing our View of What Listening is” – http://www.learningthroughlistening.org/Listening-A-Powerful-Skill/The-Science-of-Listening/Learning-Through-Listening-in-the-Digital-World/How-New-Technologies-are-Changing-our-View-of-What-Listening-is/146/

Joan Vinall-Cox, PhD – joanvc@jnthweb.ca
JNthWEB Consulting – http://jnthweb.ca/
Social Media & Learning
https://joanvinallcox.wordpress.com/my-e-portfolio/

The Web is a Bottomless Toy Chest

I like to play on the web, and my biggest problem is my “I-can’t-catch-up” anxiety. There is always more to explore. And for free, either for the basic version or for a month. I can never try everything out. I can’t catch up. Ever.

I make things even more intense by following people who suggest really interesting web toys. Like Jane Hart, with her Jane’s E-Learning tip of the Day

If you teach or train, or just like to play on the web, you should check out her blog, and subscribe to it.Another of my current people to follow ’cause they give really neat toys – whoops, I mean URLs – away, is Steve Rubel – http://www.steverubel.com/ – Twice he mentioned Posterous. The first time, I tried it but left it orphaned. The second time, months, maybe years, later, I found my original account and started playing, even sort-of lifestreaming, copying him. Great fun.

His constant exploration and evolution is inspiring. Check him out, and subscribe to him in Posterous, and maybe to me too;-> As they say on tv, “Time well wasted!”

Reading Content; Content Reading

All learning is contextual, in my opinion. You have to already know some aspect in order to learn more. I remember my Psych 101 prof, many, many years ago, saying that any book with more than 10% new content would be unreadable. So this video, found through krea_frobro747 on Twitter, appeals to me because it makes sense of my experience both as a reader and as a teacher of reading. Anyone concerned children learning to read, here’s foundational knowledge. (Might help mild dyslexics, too.)

In fact, when I roam the web trying to learn, I have problem trying to understand posts where I can’t bridge the gaps because I’m missing crucial knowledge. I guess the real take-away from this video is the more content you know, the more texts that are accessible to you, and the more you can teach yourself.

It’s like watching (or reading) the news. Initially it’s all disjointed and confusing. But watch and read long enough, and you pick up what you need to know to understand it. You see the patterns; you learn more faster. That’s why experience is valuable; your knowledge net is large and finely detailed.