The White Screen of (Slow) Death
The week was characterised for me by being on travel and working with mobile devices and a slow 3G connection. It is a time to remember that not all our students and distance learners are on fast broadband networks, and every item of content, image and thumbnail download and reload for trivial clicks must be paid for. I experienced blank white browsers screens for over a minute while typical content management systems like WordPress composed their page for rendering… made up of hundreds of images and user icons.. and then showed it all at once.. immediately followed by some click to get you really where you want to be (like login prompt) followed by a total reload of every one of the same content items. These systems are poorly designed for bandwidth limited connections, mobile devices and so on. The systems seem not to have provided fall back styles, and forgotten the art of low bandwidth images, progressive rendering of pages with image and tables sizes predefined, etc.
Twitter, Discussion Forums and Blogs
My life stream this week indicates I can continue to interact reasonably well with others I collaborate with via Twitter while on travel. Though not having a simple way to view new tweets to #tags is an issue… only supported in systems I have with TwitterDeck on my desktops. Threaded discussion Forums are easy to follow, keep up to date with and input to, they can be looked back over indefinitely, searched, and new posts can easily be seen. I would say should be a preferred mode of operations for distance educators. Skype is okay if permitted in your location, but is bandwidth hungry, needs a 100% time connection (3G can drop out frequently in low signal areas), but not ideal for some topics that do not require synconicity. Blog posting are possible, but massive over use of images, header images and so on make this an expensive and time consuming frustrating process for the distance learner or user.
Reading and Comments
I did manage to get on top of core readings for my MSc in e-Learning modules and do some of the secondary reading. That was useful to interact with other students. It allowed for a bit of fun on the Digital Cultures course Skye chat this week, where one of the core reading authors was present. I was half serious about my comment on “tabloid headlines” for phrases such as “uncanny” environments and “hierarchical violence”. But “strangely” and in “uncanny” way I find myself using those phrases as I start to look at a visual artifact for week 4.