End of intensive four months

I was hoping to update this blog much more often, but the last months were far too busy so I didn’t take the time unfortunately.

But yesterday we in Dublin had our Christmas / wrap up party and we all have finally time to relax again – well, those of us who didn’t start a job meanwhile, started another course or now try to catch up with things they neglected the last weeks and months.

An update for what happened meanwhile is a bit difficult after so many weeks. So obviously it won’t be too detailed. In my last post we were on project 102! So we had project 103 and then of course the work placements – three phases.
In Dublin we were in teams of two for phase one and two and on our own in phase three. But I agreed with both my partners that we work individually on one SME-website each but help each other when needed. I am very glad we made this decision. For one it forces you to do every little bit of the project yourself, no matter if you like it or not and whether you did it before or not so you really learn it. And secondly it saves time as you don’t have to ask all the time who will do what, what the other thinks and so on. But on the other hand it was very nice to have someone to ask for an opinion.

But not only did we work on all those websites, by the 15th November we had to submit a lot of material for the FETAC assessment as well. At the time we were still on our first SME’s and started (or should have started) work on our second SME’s. So those weeks we all were busy like we almost never before have been in our lives. But what was so impressive about this time was to see everyone’s commitment and cooperativeness. Especially on the weekend of the 15th. The amount of people working even late at night to submit the best results possible was astonishing.

The results from FETAC we probably get mid of 2011 and it will be good to get them, but I think for most of us it’s much more important to know anyhow how much we learned in the last four months and how much we achieved – from knowing nothing or almost nothing about web design, writing for the web, photography and post-processing, SEO, marketing to being able to create a website our SME’s are happy with.

As I said some of us continue already with new courses in the area of web and web design and I definitely will look out for another one as well, just not yet.
Others plan to start their own business – on their own or in teams. Like me. At the moment I plan to do it on my own, but definitely will look out for possibilities to team up with others from the course and there is already one project lining up with one of them. And I have one or two people who want me to develop their website so the next weeks will keep me busy setting up my business and learn more in certain aspects we couldn’t cover during the course.

Slowly our websites are going live so the course is not really over yet, as we (and the guys from webactivate) are still working on this and most of them probably go only live early next year due to Christmas.
So of the three websites I created I have one live so far, but at least that.

While we were on the party last night I took the time to have a look around. And was very happy with what I saw. People from completely different backgrounds who only met because they were all unemployed but determined to change that met for the first time four month ago. That day was a very quiet day as basically nobody knew anyone else in the room and only carefully made contact.
And last night we were a group of people (students and staff) that grew together and became friends – a very lively and happy group:-)

So thank you to everybody involved in the last months. Students in Dublin, Galway and Cork. Teacher, administrator, coordinator and director.
I really hope the programme gets funding again so that others get the chance for this course as well.

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Time flies (when you’re having fun ;-))

Not sure, if I still can call this a diary if I haven’t managed to post anything in almost 2 weeks. Must try harder 😉

Or maybe it’s due to Konrads post just one day before my last post that I didn’t find the time? He actually wondered how I manage to do this beside the course.

But basically since then we really have been busy. And the fact that I exhibited on Peoples Photography didn’t help either.

Not only we are working on our projects 102. That now obviously has to be more advanced and in addition needs a marketing plan. Again we are learning during the day how to do all that. And in addition we need to write our online journal about everything we learned in Mahara – unfortunately right from the beginning and we only got it after 1 1/2 weeks. But we in Dublin seem to be luckier than the guys and gals in Cork and Galway as they got it even later.

In the beginning of week three most of us had a kind of panic attack. Which I think is pretty normal in this situation. Week one was all new, all good, all grand. But during week two we realised how much we will actually learn in this course. And that we have to go out there and practice all that after just six weeks. This panic became obvious on our Tuesday morning meeting with Paul. And again I was well impressed how he and Rowan (our Project Coordinator) reacted to that. It helped me to relax and I think most of us.

Of course everyone want’s to be perfect. Especially as it’s a chance for us to get off the dole again. But to become perfect in this job? That is just not possible in this time frame, that needs a lot more practice. And errors to learn from. But the fact that we do try our best will help us to get there. Plus we get the best help possible I think.

What really impresses me is the motivation of the people.

They are working late on their projects and/or in Mahara.

They find the time to write long posts in their blog like Richard Conroy in the Galway group.

They chat with Ryan Tubridy like Konrad Walsh in the Galway group.

They run a group in LinkedIn like Margaret O’Farrell in the Dublin group.

They set up a Facebook group like Dearbhla Lenehan in the Cork group.

And they even set up a forum like Tim O’Driscoll in the Cork group. – I’ll link to the forum once he gives his ok that it’s ready to go public. Or you can contact him directly on Twitter.

You can only see the content of the groups if you’re a member. But if you are a WebActivator – why not join those groups?

These are probably just some examples and only the ones I know of. So I can say my panic attack is over (for now ;-)) and I know together we will succeed “out there”.

Moodle and Mahara

A very interesting day at WebActivate today I think. Even though it was a long day from 9.30 to 5.30 I didn’t feel it.

One of the highlights: We eventually got to see and try Moodle and Mahara.

Effectively it means we will be much busier now 😉 As we can now research and read a lot of information uploaded by the trainers in Moodle. And in Mahara we now need to do our daily learning journal which is basically a blog about what we learned and did that day. The first entries will be a special test of our notes and memories as we need to recall what we did since last Monday. But after that it’s another brilliant resource not just because of our own notes. In addition it’s in a way like Facebook, where you connect to friends and if they allow it you can read their blogs as well. And you can set up groups e.g. for your project or your learning group and exchange notes, files or you just chat.

So I think once everyone does it there will be a lot of resources in those two applications. For now I ignore that Mahara  in addition will be used to assess us 😉

After lunch then our first Guest Lecturer: Eoin Lynch from Tengger Productions. Due to technical problems it was a little delayed and the groups from the Digital Exchange had to come over to Thomas Street. But I somehow prefer it anyway if everyone is in the same room for these talks as then more people get a chance to ask questions. Which leads me to the people in Cork and Galway. I suppose they could follow the Session without technical problems but I wonder if they get a chance to ask questions as well. Maybe via Twitter?

And finally then a training in web design where we had a look at quite some websites to see what’s possible, what works and what doesn’t work. Plus a good (and fun) exercise trying to figure out by blurred pictures of websites whether it’s for a business, blog, News, Community or Portfolio. Interesting enough it is possible to decide that correct quite often but definitely not always.

Conclusion: another day full of new insights 🙂

We survived ;-)

This morning started earlier than usual with a half an hour group meeting for all of us in Dublin with Paul Dunne. I hope he does this with the groups in Cork and Galway as well. A very good opportunity to ask questions as well.

And straight after that we had the presentation of project 101. It was quite impressive what some of the teams came up with. We listened to all of them and then had our little presentation. I still think we didn’t do too bad given that no one in our team had previous design or development experience. It did help that thanks to my little blogs I had already time to play around with WordPress. But looking at some of the results there are a lot more features I wasn’t aware of yet. So it was a very interesting morning.

I can only recommend to every participant to have something like this to play around outside the project work. You don’t need to make people aware of it. At least not until you feel comfortable to do so.

Straight after the presentation we were split into new groups for Project 102 – this time a two weeks project. It will be interesting to see how much we benefit from the previous experience. I suppose quite a lot.

And a little side note about Social Media: Thanks to a Re-Tweet by webactivate I had a few more visitors here today. I suppose quite a few of them are other participants. So I hope you come back 🙂 And maybe start your own diary. That would be very interesting.

Nervous?

So tomorrow we have to present our results in the project 101.  Of course you want to be brilliant with what you show. Fair enough. But basically impossible if you work in a team of people you just met, have to fight against the usual technical problems and try to find the time in addition to the course itself where you actually learn what to think of while building the website.  Kinda Catch 22.

So taking that into account plus the different levels of web-knowledge, writing skills and creativity we did well. And I suppose the main goal doing this project was to learn from doing mistakes anyway. If we knew already how to do it – why are we in the course in the first place?

But thanks to Eoin, one of our trainer, I realised a very handy WordPress feature. Revisions. Reminds me of Lightroom but probably a very common feature I just haven’t come across often yet. So whenever you mess up your WordPress updates: Just go back to a version you know everything was fine.

This might not be that useful when you’re working on your own. But we just found it very helpful. Robert was updating one of the pages and asked me via Gmail chat to have a look but I absolutely couldn’t see what he changed. When I had a look at the revisions history Augusta was in the edit mode for that page as well. So I suppose that’s why I couldn’t see Roberts update. Going back to his version I could. I just hope, Augusta didn’t change anything that I then reversed. Tricky, tricky. And confusing.

But I’d say the most important thing we learned in this particular project – and not really a surprise: Working in a team communication is basically the most important part of it.

So fingers crossed we survive our 5 minutes presentation tomorrow morning 😉

And as we start at 9am already I had a look at the DART timetable. It feels like I should go to bed now even though it’s only half an hour earlier…

Week one

Where did the weekend go? Almost time to start week two on the programme. But it was a nice and relaxing weekend. With some work for the project 101 and homework for an article we didn’t get finished on Friday afternoon.

Our project is quite ok now. Given the fact it’s the 101. And even though there are things about Gmail I don’t like at all I have to admit there are some handy features. Especially that you see in the tab name when you have new mail (updated automatically) and the chat function. Robert and I used it already today. Much more handy than mail.  So another programme I’ll have open whenever I’m online.

Obviously week one was not only to get used to learn again but as well to get to know others on the course which includes connecting via LinkedIn and Twitter as well. Looking at the webactivate list on Twitter I’m almost surprised how many people only now started there. But at least they did now 😉

And as for the course content: We went out to take some pictures for our project and played around with them in GIMP. We just still need to get used to sending them to everyone via mail. So we didn’t have them available for more tuning this weekend. But at least a few are uploaded already. And I got the chance to create a logo for our internet cafe – well a quite quickly done one but not too bad according to the other team members. Just the fact that we use around four different fonts annoys me. But we are there to learn, right?

Other than that we got a first insight into marketing and how the internet changes our reading behaviour. And had an excercise about writing.

But what we probably all enjoyed the most was working on our project. At least our group forgot the time over it and the trainer didn’t check either. So we were late for the next lesson – of course the last one on Friday afternoon. So the trainers there weren’t amused and were right to be annoyed. But nonetheless even that last session was fun.

So from what I see on Twitter and LinkedIn people were working over the weekend and are looking forward to this week even though we don’t know the timetable yet.

Day two and three

Already Wednesday night! I better write a little update soon. In a way I’m getting into the new routine and I think we all start settling into the course. It’s just difficult if you can’t decide which hobbies that you fostered while you had the time you better cut down. But it’s still early days and one week with not much sleep won’t harm, right?

I should have the time over the weekend to write a little more especially about what we are learning. I think it was our trainer Jane who called it today a crash course. Suppose that’s right, as we learn a lot of things and that quite fast. But as everything gets explained very clear and in a friendly atmosphere. So you don’t really realise how much (mainly new) information you get.

Yesterday we got our laptops. Unbelievable, but they are shiny new HP laptops. A joy to work on. And we got our 101 project. So a group of 3-4 people could choose a fictional SME business for who we create the website within one week. On Tuesday I think we have to present it and say as well how we took our decisions, what went good and what can be improved.

And all we learn until then will be useful for that. Like today: how to write for the web. Oh, and tomorrow is photography in the morning. Intro into digital photography and offsite photo session. Fingers crossed the weather helps.

Better catch some sleep now 🙂