Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Fiat 500 Festival, Treviso - 10th April 2011

One of the things I like best about living here in Treviso is the fact that virtually every weekend there is something happening in the city centre.  We never seem to see these events advertised anywhere so, invariably, we stumble across them during our leisurely Sunday walks.  In this way, we have enjoyed, at different times:

  • a chocolate celebration, which included entire rusty tool kits made of chocolate which begged the question, 'Why?'!!
  • a raddichio fair when the entire main square was covered with a carpet of this prized local vegetable and we were able to sample such delights as raddichio cheese, raddichio wine and even raddichio gelato!
  • an open-air nativity play with real animals a la The Vicar of Dibley!
  • a huge outdoor playpen for babies and toddlers featuring more toys than I have ever seen in one place.
  • an Austrian wurst market.
  • a skating rink.
  • a picturesque Slovakian Christmas market with the best gingerbread I have ever tasted.
  • a fruit and vegetable carving expo.
as well as numerous antique fairs, book markets, plant sales, art displays, craft stalls, and specialist food fairs.  The list goes on.  There is always something happening!

And then last weekend ....... the Fiat 500 Festival!!

As usual, we didn't know it was on in advance.  We had been for a long walk and were heading home when we saw a few of these iconic cars heading for the city centre.  We followed them and came upon about 300 of them massed in the Piazza dei Signori and the streets leading to it.  I defy anyone not to smile when they see an example of this epitome of Italian eccentricity and here we had hundreds of them pimped, polished and paraded through the streets for all to see!!

There were cinquecentos in every colour with many of the drivers dressed to match their vehicle!  There was a 'Hello Kitty' version; one painted to look like the sky; a 'half-500' where the already-tiny car had been sliced in half to look like a two-seater settee on wheels; a very old model complete with old-fashioned wooden skis and poles which were so much bigger than the car itself; and even one which had been entirely covered in postage stamps!  There were also a couple of examples of the Fiat 600, the fantastic three-row, six-seater model with the flat windscreen which was used in Rome as a taxi, and which was immortalised in the film Roman Holiday.

We just couldn't stop grinning as we walked amongst these funky cars - a great way to spend a Sunday morning!

I've included some photos with this blogpost and you can see more here.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

MobiMOOC - Reflections on Week One

Well, week one of the mobiMOOC course has been inspiring, interesting, baffling, frustrating, absorbing, time-consuming, and thought-provoking - probably all in equal measure!

I have learned a lot and have found some of the links really useful.   For example, I am now fully conversant with Evernote and have become one of its most vociferous advocates almost overnight.  I have also learned (finally!) how to correctly place a link in a blog post (see previous link to Evernote!).  I am also getting to grips with QR codes, although I have to say that I am not yet fully 'au fait' with these!  I think I'm beginning to understand a lot of the terminology associated with m-learning, and I have made some useful contacts in my field of EFL teaching.  I have also been mightily impressed with Inge 'Ignatia' de Waard in her role as facilitator for week one - I don't believe she can have slept at all this week judging by her almost continuous online presence!

So, it's all been good then?  Well, no, not really!  I feel like I've had to plough through a lot of irrelevant or repetitive material to get to the useful nuggets.  As an ardent supporter of the 'Plain English Campaign', I have found some of the jargon incomprehensible.  A glossary which explained the numerous acronyms and other specialist vocabulary would have been quite useful.  This is why I was drawn to and commented on, the post by Jenni Parker when she attempted to define the terms.  She blogged about it here

For me, speaking as a teacher, the first rule of learning is that it should be fun.  Don't get me wrong, I take my job very seriously, but see the key to my success as a teacher as being my ability to engage my students by making their lessons enjoyable for them.  Fun has been a little lacking for me in week one of mobiMOOC.  The contributions from participants have been commendable - informative and stimulating - and yet somewhat earnest.  So, I have to say that a highlight of the week for me was watching the recording of the Elluminate Live session (I was unable to participate on Monday night due to teaching committments).  One of the contributors, John, popped up centre screen and started eating his supper, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we could all see him!  Inge made reference to the fact and John, rather than switching his webcam off, simply angled it to give us all a view of the top of his head and the ceiling.  I know I could have closed the window, but I kept it open just in case John had any other tricks up his sleeve!  Thanks, John, for giving me a laugh!!

So, am I disheartened after the first week of mobiMOOC?  No!  I will continue and I am sure I will learn more as the weeks go on.  I'm no nearer to deciding on my mlearning project, but, as this is the topic for week two, I am confident that will change.

I'll let you know this time next week!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

MobiMOOC 2 April - 14 May 2011

I signed up for this free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) about mobile learning a few days ago, having seen a link during an #eltchat about the subject on Twitter on Wednesday evening. During the said chat, I felt like I was missing something - like I wasn't really part of the gang. I was ashamed of my own ignorance, so I decided to do something about it and registered for the course.

What on earth is a MOOC? This was my first question, so I turned to the oracle that is YouTube & found several videos including this one which gave me the answer:

Having established what a MOOC was, I now had to get to grips with what mlearning was. I lurked around the mobiMOOC wiki ( and the group discussion pages ( I read all the information provided by the facilitators and the posts from course participants. And then came the revelation! I'm not as ignorant as I thought I was! Unfamiliar with the jargon certainly, but not totally clueless in reality.

You see, I already engage in mlearning every day. I just didn't know I was doing it! I use my mobile phone to talk, to send & receive messages, and to take photos which I sometimes use in class. I use my i-Pod Touch to access the internet via wi-fi, to manage my contacts and my diary, to keep notes, and to listen to podcasts and share them with my students. I use my laptop to do everything else, including to write my blog. All of these things, I now understand, are mlearning!

Forgive me for being a bit late to the party, but I'm here now and I won't be lurking behind the curtains any more! I'm starting to go through the course materials and following up on links provided by my fellow participants. I'm hugely encouraged by what I have seen so far and I'm really looking forward to being more actively involved over the next few weeks.