martedì 19 maggio 2009

Here I am again! 
I didn't manage to make a link to my map, but I managed to put it directly in my post. So, this is my map!

Our university path is over... : )

Hi everybody! 
This is my last post and you know what? I'm HAPPY!!! Sorry for saying this, I know I should write I'm really sad and so on, but, as I'm an honest person, I cannot hide my real feelings. ; ) The truth is I was tired of writing posts and of dealines. Please don't misunderstand me: I think the work we did in this second and last semester with Sarah was extremely useful 'coz we discovered tools that are gonna help us a lot in using the Internet from now on; I was just tired of working so hard every week. So, now it's over and I can relax a little bit before starting studying seriously for my exams, which unfortunately are coming really soon. : (

About the map on my personal learning environment, I have nothing really important to say. It was easy to build my map, as I'm pretty aware of the tools I use and of the people who help me in my learning process. Come on, we're all aware of them, we're students of the second year of specialistica. I bet that everybody feel like we grew a lot during these university years. We became responsible and mature. During our first university year we were a bit disoriented, we followed our teachers' instructions without being aware of what they were doing for us, but now I guess everybody exactly know what our teachers expect from us and the reasons why they decide to teach us this instead of that. Am I wrong? 
So, what can I say? I'm a bit sad if I think that my "university path" is over, but I'm excited if I think that, somehow, my "real" life is gonna begin soon! I'm not talking about my map, I know, this is a kind of reflective post on my university life... never mind! ; )

Just one last thing: I'm not able to put the link to show you my map, but I'm gonna work on this for the rest of the day. I'm gonna manage it, that's for sure! So, later I'm gonna write another post with the link...    

mercoledì 6 maggio 2009

Internet: let's read the leaflet before using it!

My dear Godness, we can never relax! Today in class we talked about the risks using the Internet. A lot of things came out, such as the risk to run into unwanted material or to infringe the copyright. Problems, always problems... life's hard! ; )

What can I say about this topic? Well, certainly the Internet is a great discover 'coz it really improved our lives. Thanks to the Internet, we can get information quickly, we can talk with friends in real time and we can share our documents. Nowadays everyone, especially young people, can use a computer 'coz everything works thanks to technology. I personally don't like technology so much, but it's part of the world I'm living in, so I started to use it to keep me updated. In the end, I have to say it's extremely useful.

Of course, like all things in life, the Internet can be good or bad, depending on the way we use it. At the moment, almost everyone is addicted to the most famous social network in the world: Facebook. I'm completely addicted to it: I enter it almost every day and I enjoy it a lot. I upload pictures, I make some funny quizzes, I chat with people, I read info about other people in their profiles. My dad hates to see me using Facebook, but I'm convinced there's nothing bad about it. It's true that it's a waste of time and that most times I enter it just for fun, but it's also true it helps me keep in touch with foreign friends and with friends I don't see very often. What's more, we, Facebook users, can decide whether a person can become our "friend" or not, it's not that everybody can see our profile or pictures. It's up to us, we decide who our friends are. Personally, my friends on Facebook are the people I know, I don't accept "friends" I don't know.

As I said before, all depends on how we use the Internet tools we know. If we're honest and aware of the fact that it's better not to put too personal info on the web (such as our address and our telephone number) and that we can't trust everything we find on it (like some advertising that tells you you won a car 'coz you're the thousandth user), we're on the right track! I'm not so ingenuous, I already knew I have to pay attention to the things I do using the Internet.

In my opinion, the only thing we can do is taking the Internet seriously, avoiding to do something that can "damage" ourselves. Avoiding the Internet is really stupid, we'd better learn to use it properly.

lunedì 4 maggio 2009

Wanna know what the most stressful work ever is?

Seriously, guys, dunno how Sarah can know so many things about computers and the Internet. She makes us discover new things every week! : 0  (surprised expression)
As everybody knows, I don't like technology too much, but I have to admit that if someone explains me how to use it properly, it's not that bad.  ; ) 

For example, this is another great tool! It is the simplest way to work together on a document. The thing I appreciated the most about it was that we could change the document we were all working on all together. Last semester we used wiki, and, despite the fact I liked that experience, I have to say it was stressful to wait for my classmates editing it before editing it on my own. lets me avoid this stress, and it's great! 

Now, about the references Sarah and Francesca Helm used for their book... what a mess to correct them! My God, this was the most stressful work EVER!! At a certain point my classmates and I were really desperate... my dear Godness, we had to check every reference paying attention to the kind of reference it was. If the reference was an online interview, we shouldn't put the publisher, if it was a book we should write the date, and so on... thanks God we finished this E-tivity! I didn't like this work AT ALL! But I have to do it for my next dissertation : ( , so I guess it's better to be prepared!  

martedì 21 aprile 2009

No, citing is not easy at all!

I knew that writing is a hard task, but now I found out that citing is even worse! Oh my God, did you take a look at the websites Sarah provided us about the APA and MLA styles? Well, Americans take the matter of citing seriously. Wow, I'm surprised. : 0   I mean, I knew that there were some rules about citing, and I actually followed them in writing my BA thesis, but I didn't know there were different styles to do it and strict rules like the ones I just read. Ok, let's take a deep breath and start comparing the APA and the MLA styles, focusing on what I already knew and on what I didn't know at all. Let's see if my BA thesis is a complete disaster! ; )

The APA style is most used to cite sources within the social sciences. It gives you suggestions about footnotes, references and in-text citations. It gives you guidelines about the general layout and the structure of the text, that is, what the text should look like and the sections that it should have. Ok, I already knew these rules. The thing that strucked me the most was reading all the rules about the in-text citations. It's true that I already knew the majority of these rules, such as capitalizing proper nouns including initials, capitalizing all words that are four letters long and italicizing the titles of longer works. It's also true that I didn't know that shorter titles shouldn't be italicized and that the first word after a dash or colon should be capitalized. About the short and long quotations, I already knew that the long ones should be in a free-standing block in typewritten lines, omitting quotation marks. I knew that writing the page number in the in-text references is suggested, too. So, ok, I was quite prepared!
The MLA style focuses on the way in which references should be written. The MLA style requires that you provide brief parenthetical references directly in the text identifying the exact part of each work that is quoted or on which the ideas of your work are based. I didn't know this rule, in my BA thesis I just put the general references in the footnotes. The MLA style requires that you provide an alphabetical list of "Works Cited" at the end of the paper, too. The general format required by this style is the same I used in my BA thesis. About the material found online, I have to admit that in my BA thesis I didn't put too much attention in citing the websites in which I found the information I used. I just put a section called "Sitography" at the end of my paper, without specifying the information I found in each of them. One thing I liked about the MLA style is that it suggests you write "Works Consulted", "Works Cited" or "Annotated Works Cited" instead of "Bibliography" 'coz they're more specific. A thing that I didn't like about the MLA style is that it suggests you underline instead of using italics in writing the titles of the works you use. I personally think that using italics is more elegant than underlining, but maybe it's because using italics is part of the Italian way of writing. So, this time I was not so prepared...

To sum up, I can say that I was aware of the majority of the rules I read, but of course I didn't know all of them and the ones I knew were not so fixed in my mind. If I re-read my BA thesis, anyway, I can say it's not that bad regarding quotations. It lacks regarding the abstract and the "sitography", but I'm gonna follow the new rules I learnt in the next dissertation. Well, following all these rules is not easy at all, it seems a BIG effort to me, but I guess that complaining isn't going to change the situation... ; )

lunedì 20 aprile 2009

Readable, clear, concise, interesting, simple...what else??

Writing is a hard task, if you wanna do it in a proper way. It's not just a matter of putting on a piece of paper your thoughts, you have to organize your ideas and put them in a logical order, otherwise your reader isn't going to understand anything. This is true not only if you're writing an academic paper, but also if you're writing a blog post. 

An example of a well-written paper is the article I found, which is called "Motivation and Second Language Acquisition", by R.C. Gardner, University of Western Ontario. I have to point out I changed the article 'coz the previous one is not available online any more. Don't worry, this article is even more interesting than the other one. As you can easily get from the title of this new article, Gardner talks about the role of motivation in second language acquisition, distinguishing two types of motivations, language learning motivation and classroom motivation. 

Generally speaking, Gardner is really clear in the whole article. He provides many schemes of what he's explaining and he often points out what he's gonna say and demonstrate. For example, at the beginning of his article he says: "In this vein, I intend to direct my attention to the following four points:
a. Two motivational constructs
b. Stages of language acquisition
c. Cultural and educational contexts
d. Results from Spain". 
By reading this scheme, the reader is ready from the very beginning to follow Gardner's flow of ideas, which is really logical. In fact, there is an intro, a body and a conclusion. The intro is the abstract, which briefly explains what the research consists of and the conclusions it drew. The body consists of four brief paragraphs with a title each, and the conclusion is the last paragraph. This clear structure makes the article readable and easy to get. The reader is able to follow Gardner's discourse without getting lost in his thoughts. Moreover, Gardner uses a simple language and short sentences, which help the reader not to get bored. For example, when he has to explain what the initial stage in second language acquisition is, he simply says: "The initial stage is Elemental. In this stage the individual is learning the basics of the language, vocabulary, grammar, pronunciations, etc. (what Lambert would term the vocabulary cluster). We see this in the development of one’s first language when the toddler learns new words, begins to put words together, mispronounces some words but corrects them later, etc... With the second language student, we see the same process when initial vocabulary is learned, equivalents with the first language are recognized, simple declarative sentences are memorized,etc." As you can notice, the explanation is easy to understand, with no specific terms. The text is cohesive, too. For example, after analysing the four stages in language acquisition, Gardner says that "This analysis is not meant to be definitive as to the stages of language acquisition, but it does serve to highlight what is meant by “learning” the language, and to emphasize that it has different meanings at different stages of the learning process." The word "this" is pointing back to what he explains before. About the audience, I think this article is written for students 'coz, as I said before, it's really simple and readable.

Well, certainly our blog posts should be like this. I mean, of course a blog post has to be concise, but it should be cohesive, logical and clear as a well-written academic article. I think writing a good blog post isn't as easy as people think. On the contrary, it's more difficult to write a good blog post than a good article 'coz you have to say something interesting in few sentences, but you still have to pay attention to the structure of the text you're writing. A blog post has to have an intro, a body and a conclusion, too, just like an article, but it has to be more concise. This is not easy at all!

Big brother is watching you!

"If you don't tell whose work it is, you are pretending the work is your own. This pretending is called 'plagiarism,' and it is just like cheating. It's not fair. It's not nice. It isn't OK. It's stealing." 
(Simpson, 2005, p. 180)
Hey, this is not plagiarism, I put the reference! ; ) I started with this sentence 'coz I think that it clearly and briefly explains what plagiarism is. Yeah, it's stealing, that's bad. Plagiarism has to be avoided.

Plagiarism... I have to admit I didn't care too much about it in the past. I often put some sentences I found on the web or in books in my papers pretending they were mine. I thought it was pretty normal and that it was not so bad, but now I know I have to feel ashamed... as an excuse, I can say that Italian people in general don't care much about plagiarism, but I know this isn't a good reason not to respect IPR. ; ) ; ) Probably Italian people like cheating, as Sarah said. No, I don't think this is the reason, I think we're just not informed, just a bit ingenuous. ; )
However, as Sarah explained us, IPR are really important to Americans. American students committing plagiarism can be expelled from university and American workers can loose their job. This sounds incredible to me, but I have to admit that copying material that it isn't ours it's irresponsible and not respectful to the person who created it. Plagiarism is a really serious issue.

I found lots of websites of different American universities talking about plagiarism. I saved some websites in delicious, especially those that give suggestions and tips in order to avoid plagiarism, which isn't so easy as we can think, the reason being we have to pay attention to anything. Even a picture can be protected by copyright! 

So, what can we, poor Italian students, do? Well, it's better to use our own material, and, if we'd like to take other people's material, we have to check if it's public domain or if there are some restrictions to use it. In every case, if we use other people's material, we have to put the reference! Pay attention guys, BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU!!!
P.S. The only thing I didn't get too much is why Italians don't care about IPR. Nobody check if the material we're using it's ours or not. Well, it's a matter of being honest or not, ok, I'm not gonna cheat any more, this is a promise! : )