Personal Learning Networks

Definition

According to Wikipedia, PLN(Personal Learning Networks) consist of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a Personal Learning Environment. An important part of this concept is the theory of connectivism developed by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. Learners create connections and develop a network that contributes to their professional development and knowledge. The learner does not have to know these people personally or ever meet them in person.

Social networking have created a culture of “connectedness” whose insight, increasing knowledge, and experience has the potential to revolutionize the present education field.

It is Important

To develop a learning network is essential for people who enrolled in continuing education programs. Creating a personal learning environment helps adult learners focus on their education goals, while avoiding time spent on all the distractions the Internet offers. These networks consist of services, communities, and tools that constitute the individual educational platforms learners use to direct their own learning and pursue educational goals.

A learning network is a collection of free, widely distributed, web-based tools, RSS feeds, and typically located within a blog or wiki that is controlled by the adult learner. These are a collection of customizable tools which are personal and independent of school or work. The important aspects of a personal learning environment are its capacity to access, gather, and process information.

Some Important Components

(1) Social Networks:
Some social media such as Facebook, twitter, mySpace, etc., are quite popular now. People use these kinds of social networks to share instant news from one another, and bring people together within the shortest time, and it doesn’t cost you one penny. Where you can also find some groups, which has many people having the same interests or expertise as yours; joining the group will be another good way to create your PLN.

(2) Micro-blogging
This is a form of blogging built on brief (140 characters) text updates. Presently, Twitter is the highly dominating micro-blogging tool and it’s really easy to use. The stream of user updates creates a stable flow of information. That’s why micro-bloggers build a network of individuals whose updates they choose to follow. The keys to success are following people who post interesting and relevant content. You should also be an active participant in the network.

(3) RSS
Really Simple Syndication is a system for delivering frequently changing web content. News sites, blogs and other online publishers can syndicate their content via an RSS feed. Google Reader and Bloglines are among the more famed RSS aggregators. Sign up for an account and when you read a blog or other self-motivating and active content provider that you like, simply subscribe to their feed and let the RSS reader convey the web to you.

Now you got the basic idea of what PLN is, and I think it’s a good timing to create a PLN for yourself if you don’t have one yet.

Referrence site:
Wikipedia
Your Own Personal Learning Network
15 Tools for Developing a Learning Network
PLN: Your Personal Learning Network Made Easy
Build Your PLN

Knowing About SaaS

What is SaaS?

SaaS, typically pronounced [sæs], means “Software as a service” (sometimes referred to as “software on demand”), which is the software that is deployed over the internet and/or is deployed to run behind a firewall on a local area network or personal computer. With SaaS, a provider licenses an application to customers as a service on demand, through a subscription or a “pay-as-you-go” model.

SaaS was initially widely deployed for sales force automation and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Now, it has become commonplace for many business tasks, including computerized billing, invoicing, human resource management, financials, content management, collaboration, document management, and service desk management.

The Key Characteristics

There are some characteristics of SaaS:
(1) Activities managed from central locations rather than at each customer’s site, enabling customers to access applications remotely via the Web.
(2) Centralized feature updating, which obviates the need for end-users to download patches and upgrades.
(3) Network-based access to, and management of, commercially available software.
(4) Application delivery typically closer to a one-to-many model (single instance, multi-tenant architecture) than to a one-to-one model, including architecture, pricing, partnering, and management characteristics.
(5) Frequent integration into a larger network of communicating software—either as part of a mashup or a plugin to a platform as a service. (Service oriented architecture is naturally more complex than traditional models of software deployment.)

In addition to characteristics mentioned above, SaaS sometimes provides:
(6) More feature requests from users, since there is frequently no marginal cost for requesting new features. [citation needed]
(7) Faster new feature releases, since the entire community of users benefits. [citation needed]
(8) Embodiment of recognized best practices, since the user community drives the software publisher to support best practice. [citation needed]

More About It

SaaS is becoming an increasingly prevalent delivery model as underlying technologies that support Web services and service-oriented architecture (SOA) mature and new developmental approaches, such as Ajax, become popular. Meanwhile, broadband service has become increasingly available to support user access from more areas around the world.

SaaS is closely related to the ASP (application service provider) and On Demand Computing software delivery models. IDC identifies two slightly different delivery models for SaaS. The hosted application management (hosted AM) model is similar to ASP: a provider hosts commercially available software for customers and delivers it over the Web. In the software on demand model, the provider gives customers network-based access to a single copy of an application created specifically for SaaS distribution.

Why SaaS?

If you understand what are the benefits you may get by using SaaS, you would be thankful to know about SaaS. Here is the list of the advantages:
(1) Save money by not having to purchase servers or other software to support use.
(2) Focus Budgets on competitive advantage rather than infrastructure.
(3) Monthly obligation rather than up front capital cost.
(4) Reduced need to predict scale of demand and infrastructure investment up front as available capacity matches demand.
(5) Multi-Tenant efficiency.
(6) Flexibility and scalability.

Referrence site:
Wikipedia
Software as a Service
SaaS Showplace
SaaS.com
Where to Find the Latest SaaS News and Breakthroughs

Enjoy your own characters!

Ok, so we all know that there aren’t too many choices to arrange the text with PhotoShop with the default settings, and what if we want something more? Is there any other ways to bring the effects? My answer is going to satisfy you. Let’s learn to create something new now! And here is an example for you:

Follow the steps:

1.  You need to create a new document sized 300×500 pixels and fill it with color #1a142c.

2. Now, create a new layer, and get out the Elliptical Marquee Tool to create the selection as on the image showing below and fill it with this color-#6d56b2.


3. Remove the selection (Ctrl+D or Command+D), and apply Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur with the following settings-change the layer opacity to 70% for current layer.

We had done with the background so far, so let’s move on to the main subject today-text effect. Select the Horizontal Type Tool and write out the letter “p” with the KabelBd font in any color you want.

4. Then, apply next Blending Options to the current text layer:
• Drop Shadow
• Outer Glow
• Gradient Overlay
• Stroke

That’s how you got the result looking like the image below.

3. Your next step will be having a right-click on the layer on the panel thumbnails, and select Copy Layer Style menu.

4. Move under the layer with letter “p”, and write out another letter “h”.

5. Do the right-click on the panel thumbnail again, and then select Paste Layer Style menu. And this you should now have the same result:


6. Use the same way to add some more letters.

7. We’re now going to finish off the tutorial by adding some shapes to the background. Use the Custom Shape Tool, and select the star shape as on the picture below from standard shapes gallery.

8. Add the star shape to the background.

9. After that, set up fill opacity to 0% and apply the Stroke layer style to the current layer. Do you have the same result here?

10. If you want, you could add more stars with the same method.

How do you like this text effect? Once you understand the PhotoShop tools better, you’ll be able to create more possibilities for any text next time.

Reference website: http://www.photoshopstar.com/graphics/photoshop-star-cute-text-effect/

Viva CSS! – Learning Navigation Bars

Web designing is indeed an inextricable, complicated and toilsome job. It requires a lots of proffessional skills and patience. This is what I feel after starting to learn about XTHML. However, the joy of finishing a website or run a function successfully is also beyond description. 

What is XHTML, CSS and JavaScript?

 XHTML stands for “EXtensible HyperText Markup Language”, it’s a stricter and cleaner version of HTML. In order to establish a website, you’ll need to know about XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Each of them controls different functions of a website. 

CSS means “Cascading Style Sheets”, which controls the style and layout of multiple Web pages all at once. By editing CSS, all formatting can be removed from the HTML document and stored in a separate file. 

JavaScript is the most popular scripting language on the internet. It works in all major browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari. The main function of JavaScript is to make your website becomes more dynamic. 


About the navigation Sytem

 Navigation system is such an important element of each website. There are many kinds of navigation systems used for the websites, such as sitemap, searching bar and navigation bar. Today, I’m going to share some CSS about navigation bar because a good and clear navigation bar will bring huge success for a website, and it’s also the easiest part to start. 

A navigation bar is the main menu of a website, which shows all the information you could find within it, and in order to shorten the searching time, we usually categorize everything. It’s something similar to the image below: 

 

How to make a navigation bar by CSS?

 First, you need one standard HTML as a base. Use the <ul> and <li> elements to make the category that you designed for the navigation bar. Let’s take the above image as an example, so there are six main topics of it-”Home”, “News”, “Article”, “Forum”, “Contact” and “About”, and of course all of them should be clickable. The HTML tags will look like the following: 

 Step 1  

 

 Step 2
Now we finished a list, but don’t forget to remove all the bullets, margins and padding. Weonly need to add something to the <ul> attribute: 

 

Step 3
After editing the HTML, open a new file for CSS. And edit the <a> elements: 

 

  Step 4
Inline List Items:
One way to build a horizontaaal navigation bar is to specify the <li> elements as inline, in addition to the “standard” code above: 

 

  Step 5-1
Floating List Items:
For all the links to have an equal width, float the <li> elements and specify a width for the <a> elements: 

 

  Step 5-2
Or you could also have a vertical navigation bar:    

So, that’s how we create a basic navigation bar, and the best way to learn it is not to read this article but do some practice yourself. Hope it works well for you!    


Reference website:
http://www.w3schools.com/css/css_navbar.asp

The way to keep us connected

This is how we understand one another!

Hey, here comes a few questions for you, simple questions: When you walk into MacDonald’s, how do the clerk know about your decision for lunch? It’s communication! How does Rita share her good news with friends? Yes, it’s communication! How could I persuade a client to buy my works? It’s communication!And how do we learn knowledge from the instructors at BCIT? You know the answer is still “communication”!

Now, I think it’s clear enough for everyone to understand the purpose, the importance and the effects of communication. In daily life, we are using many different ways communicating with others anytime and anywhere, it could be a text message, an eye contact, a meeting, an argument, a song, an art, a smile, an image, a blog, or any other things. Therefore, communication is the most basic, but also the most important behavior for all the animals in the world, and human beings are just a part of it.

Why to learn?

Since we are doing communication all the time, we are supposed to know it well, then why bothering to learn more about “communication”? Believe it or not, but the truth is that most people don’t really know about making good communications, and that’s how the misunderstanding and disagreement start. To avoid something like that happens again and again, we should really learn to communicate well.

The first thing to improve our communication skills is to learn to express yourself properly; no matter which method you’re going to use-write an article or make a speech, there is one purpose only-your message must be conveyed to your audience clearly and correctly.

Isn’t that easy?

Let’s say you are writng a letter to your boss because of some complaint, could you make this letter effective? “Come on, it’s just an email, what’s so difficult?” These words might come out from your brain right away, and I felt the same way too not long ago. However, many problems appeared when I actually started to write the mail. “Is this a good title?” “Will the content be too general? But I want him to understand what’s going on indeed!” “Is this too strong?! Or maybe I should emphasize more on this part?!” Trust me, it’s not as easy as you imagine! Sometimes, the more official and important the letter is, the more perplexing it could be.

I just learnt some tips from my instructor recently, and I found they are helpful! The best way to do is keep your content chunkable and scannable because your boss has to deal with countless emails each day, so he couldn’t spend much time on every single mail. For this reason, he’ll scan all the mails (the title and the content) once quickly, and decide the priority. If you make it too long, then he’ll lose his patience for finding out the the real purpose of it. It would be better to provide some possible solutions as an advice in the end because that will help your boss know your needs better, and it’s also save him some time to response.

Do you know that?

New Meida students, have you ever realized that we need to put more effort on this class? Because we always work as a group, and we have to meet our future client’s need, and ensure the target audiences will receive the same information as well. How could we complete all the process without communicaing well? To achieve our goal, let us start to communicate with the world from now on.

“New Media” V.S. “Printing”

Nowadays, we have more than one way to obtain the information that we need; we could watch news on TV or do it on-line, and we can also read an article from a book, or download it from the website. No matter which methods we choose, we all get what we need eventually, so what are the differences between these two tools-New Media and printing?

Time is money!

 “Have you seen that news?” If I asked my friend this question ten years ago, I might get the following answers: “Oh yes, I read it from the newspaper yesterday!”, or “I saw the news on TV last night!”. As time goes by, life becomes really different with the power of high-technology, and the internet is included. So, if I ask the same question now, the answers become: “I didn’t know that, but I’ll go and watch it later on-line!”, or “Oh yeah, I just read it from my Blackberry on my way to school!”.

 

See? This is the power of internet, it keeps updating the information all over the world. We can find what we need in the shortest time, and this helps a lot for the businessmen especially since most of them have the same proverb-”Time is money!”.

 

What if you were not a businessman, it’s still beneficial because you could take full advantage of the time that you had saved, and use it to finish some more things at the same time, or just get some extra time for entertainment. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

 

More possibilities.

We always see some pictures and patterns on the printing matters, and that’s probably the best way to enrich it, but it could be represented with many other ways on the website, even if they are exactly the same thing-the same article, the same news and so on.

 

New Media brings more possibilities which is differ from the traditional printing, so now, we can see many pictures-not just one or two- relationg to the article without any limits of the layouts; furthermore, we can keep finding more about the keyword by clicking on the hyperlink. Or maybe, the whole article is originally extracted from a video, in that case, we can only read the words on printing matters, but we might be able watching the video as well, if it’s an on-line article.

 

Which is better?

Although it seems that New Media overwhlem printing industry in many aspects; printing matters are still irreplaceable. We all enjoy the convenience and variety of New Media; however, it tends to change our habbits of life in some way, and for most people, it’ll take a lot of time and effort to get used to it. And that explains why many of us still prefer reading a printed book, rather than read it from the monitor. Besides, the printed one is portable, but the downloaded one is only readable with proper equipment.

 

When it comes to the money issue, we might choose to pay for an e-book, and the reason is mainly because of the better price. Or perhaps, sometimes we just need a part of information from one book, but we won’t need that book anymore hereafter, then we might not want to buy a physical book. Bascially, the only standard for measuring the benefit or shrtcoming of New Media and printing is depending on your own needs. And that’s why both of them are important, and are coexisted.

 

After all, new techonology is for improving our life by giving us more choices, which allows everyone to choose the best resolution for their own problems.

My Photoshop

Photoshop is the first and the only software that we need to in the first term, before now, I naver had a chance to use it.

 

Luckily, our instructor, Mak, is such a great one, I’m so interested in Photoshop now, and that’s all because of his patient, accurate, professional and excellent teaching method!

Everytime when Mak wants to teach us some kind of functions, he explains the whole system or theory first, and then he does the demonstation. Before moving on to next part, he usually gives us a chance to practice those fuctions; at the same time, he walks around the entire classroom until he makes sure everyone knows how to manipulate correctly, and doesn’t get lost. This is really helpful, especially for someone like me-again, a total beginner. And I wasn’t afraid of asking him questions; therefore, I feel so gratitude to Mak, and look forward to learn more from him.

 

Last week, Mak gave us two assignments-by the way, we have a lots assignments each week, even though this is just the first term, sigh!-one is to make some selections of an old, black and white photo, and fill in colors. The other is more tough that asks for a midterm project proposal. We need to find out a topic for this project, and it could be presented in any formats, such as a book cover, a poster, a CD sleeve or so. There isn’t too many limitation actually, which is good since it becomes more flexible for everyone, but that also means the range is going to be very broad.

 

Some of my classmates got their topics in a very short time because their friends are coincidently looking for someone to produce thier advertising products. Unfortunately, I don’t have that many friends so far, and I guess that’s part of the problems of moving abroad. However, it’s not that bad either, I decided to find a topic which relates to my personal preference, and it’s my belief that I would be more passionate and unrestricted by doing this-I’m my own boss now, doesn’t it sound great?

 

Anyway, my proposal is about designing the poster for a fashion show with a particular subject of “butterfly”. This exhibition is only existed in my imagination, so I’m allowed to produce anything that I want on the poster, plus, this is all about fashion and trend, so it could be a morden style, a classic style, or a surreal style, and either one can be easily accpeted by the audiences.

 

I really like this topic, and many pictures and ideas came out of my head right after I made the decision. This also enable me to finish my thumbnails quickly at the same time.

Now, my proposal had been approved by Mak, and I need to work on it from now on-we only have two more weeks to finish it. Although I still have many questions about how to finish my ideal poster, I’m still very happy and excited to welcome my first work with Photoshop. And I know that I’m going to gain more hard-skills and useful experiences by finishing this project. There is still a long way to go-what I mean is being able to work in this field-but it’s one step closer to my dream as well! Keep moving on!

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