Technical Learning Reports (TLRs)

You should post your TLRs on this page as they are due. Please remember to include your name and the TLR number (TLR 1, 2, 3, etc.) so I can give you credit.


68 thoughts on “Technical Learning Reports (TLRs)

  1. Arielle Erenrich
    TLR #4

    One aspect of my group’s final project is to create an online community through interactive forums. This community will bring together people who are enthusiastic about college radio stations and music in general. Right now, my two biggest questions are: How do we create an online community? How do we maintain that community after the project is over?

    To answer the first question, I looked at HASTAC’s online forums. These forums are not separate from HASTAC’S website. They are an integrated part of it. The design features are the same.
    Firstly, anyone with an account can post on HASTAC’s forums.

    HASTAC uses social media to promote its content outside of its own website. HASTAC has the organization’s twitter feed embedded into the forum page. Each section has its own hashtag. The hashtag showing up on the forum page is #dmltrust.
    The homepage is very well organized. There are columns labelled Recent Comments and Featured Posts. This layout allows users to scan the content quickly and easily. Users can understand that if they click on one thing it might be a comment as part of a larger post, or not. Some of the items under Featured Content are events.

    Each post is its own page. The posts itself are well thought out mini-essays about a relevant topic. The page provides information about the author and a link to the author’s bio. Posts may, or may not, be tagged individually. I did not see any tags for one post I examined. But there is a box listing popular tags on the webpage. There are also links to related posts in case a user wants to continue exploring the idea. The ‘leave a comment’ button is prominently displayed at the top of the page.

    I think searching for content looks very doable. On a general page, there is a box on the right side of the page. The box is shaded in a slightly different color to make it stand out. Users can search for content based on topic, keyword, or tags. Users can also filter their search based on the type of content they want to look at.

    Users can also browse content through the Groups, Blogs, and Topics pages. These pages cluster information together in order for users to streamline their search process. The Groups page allows people with HASTAC accounts to clump together based on interest. Blogs can be created by any user with an account. The blogs page has the following sections: recent comments, recent posts, highlighted, and featured. Only one blog is under the featured section whereas there are multiple blogs under all of the other sections. The topics section looks the most like I would expect a forum to look. It highlights a few active blogs on the front page. There are also possibilities for users to search posts by keyword and change categories.

    In conclusion, I think HASTAC has created a very well-designed, and seemingly well-used, platform for community interactions. However, since our target audience is going to be college students, not academics, I do not think we need to have each post be so formal. A simple question posted by a user might generate more comments than a five paragraph post. Why? Long posts can be intimidating to write and read. And therefore might limit possible interactions. In this case, the message board format might work better. HASTAC over-organized its content. While I am still unsure of the best way to organize an online community, researching HASTAC has helped.


  2. Anna Crow TLR #5

    Since my final project group is considering using WordPress for our project, I decided to explore WordPress and find out how to set up a blog on the platform. I had not had any prior experience with it, though I did use Weebly last year for a class.

    To learn how to set up a WordPress website, I watched a series of videos on Youtube (by Bluehost) to get a sense of what the process entails, and then how to manipulate the blog from there. The series consists of seven videos, the first two explaining how to install WordPress and set up an account. When I created a website on Weebly, an account was required, but the platform did not require installation; I did not realize that WordPress necessitated installation.

    The third video was longer than the first two, and the instructor walked through how to create the website, including its themes and styles. From this tutorial, I learned that like Weebly, on WordPress there are specific themes that can be used to start from when designing a website; however, on the latter, users have the luxury of searching for themes with certain criteria. Being that I did not have this option before, I can understand the usefulness for choosing a theme with ideas about it in mind; I had to scroll (and scroll) through an entire list of themes on Weebly, which made it difficult to not only choose one, but to remember the other themes. Generally speaking, a lot of the instructions of how to use WordPress seem quite self-explanatory, which I would assume is highly intentional.

    In the fourth video, the instructor, Paul, described how to create a static page, a term that I had never before heard used. It does certainly make sense, though, that even when wanting to change some pages of a website, others should not be altered. I did not think about this when creating a website with either HTML or Weebly, probably because I was not planning on maintaining either of the sites. One in particular detail that Paul explained in the video about static pages, is how to turn off the comments. I am unsure whether or not my group will opt to keep comments enabled on the first page, but I personally see the value of disabling them for at least the home page. The website can look much more professional and less like a blog, but on other pages with the comments enabled, a community can discuss the content, which I believe is a goal for the project: to create a community.

    Paul explained how WordPress handles dynamic content in the next video. Besides indicating that the page should be a “post page,” the user should “add post.” From there, a post can be created and then published, and then the website can be refreshed and the changes will appear. One great thing about WordPress–in comparison to using HTML, or even Weebly–is that the program easily accounts for Youtube videos. All that needs to be done is for the link to be pasted into the post. Paul also described widgets, which are selected by simply clicking and dragging, much like how Weebly requires changes to be made.

    In the sixth video, Paul discussed plug-ins, which I admit I had not understood before he explained them. After hearing that explanation, I perceive them to be akin to apps–code, or programs, that allow something specific to digitally occur that would not, otherwise. Much of this video centered on creating photo galleries. For the final project, I do not think that such galleries will be required.

    In the final video, Paul covered how to upload a document to the website. First, the user needs to install the GoogleDoc Embedding plug-in. From there, he or she simply uploads the document and embeds it in the page where it should appear on the website.

    I have a better grasp at WordPress after watching the videos, and will begin to tinker around with the actual site. I had before considered it a more difficult version of Weebly, but I now realize that even though WordPress does appear to be more complex, it also appears to offer more options for the website creator.


  3. TLR #5

    I knew that I needed to focus on TEI for my final project. I googled TEI tutorials and found a website that promised I could teach it to myself. The first “generic” tutorial I found was “Introduction to XML for Text”. I already started checking out XML, but figured the more practice the better, so I decided to explore this site first.
    It turned out to be a brief overview of XML, so I read it and moved on to a link I found on the page—“TEI by Example”. I found all the tutorials on this web site to be just information that needed to be read. I started to thoroughly review the material, but what I was really seeking was somewhere where I could practice TEI.
    I felt overwhelmed with all of the details of TEI that needed to be taken into account. Without knowing exactly what I was going to have to do for my final project, I was just trying to get a sense of what TEI entailed.
    I decided to see what other web sites had to offer. I clicked on “Getting Started Using TEI”. Again, it appeared as though a lot of reading was involved, but I delved into it possibly picking up/retaining more data than I previously had. This webpage proved a little more reader friendly than the first one I was perusing. It answered questions like, “how hard is TEI, and where do I get help?”, and “why not just HTML?”
    Funny enough, I clicked on a link from the page for “TEI Workshops”, and it led me to the original website I studied. So was this the go-to site I really needed to focus on? I did not find any other type of tutorial or examples on this page besides the link provided.
    I skimmed another website from my TEI tutorial search, and again, I found that they offer links to the TEI Consortium as well. I realized this was the site that I should focus on.
    Back on the TEI Consortium page, I tried my hand at some of the exercises, but still feel like I need to continue practicing XML. I mentioned earlier, all the information compiled on this web site seems overwhelming, and my final project almost a daunting feat at this point. I hope once I speak with the librarian, I will have a better perspective, and feel less intimidated.


  4. Taylor Britt


    After my last TRL that talked about my experience with Javascript, I thought it was time to move on to learning XML. Code Academy was very helpful teaching me the previous coding languages, but for XML went to w3schools. This website also had information and tutorials on HTML, CSS, Javascript, and other common coding languages. I particularly liked how they provided examples that included specific information and errors from which I could learn from. Such information included the language purposes, strengths, and common applications.

    XML, which stands for Extensible Markup Language, is something that was recommended to me so that I might be able to contribute to my groups final class project. The website described XML as a tool that was designed to describe data and that it was software and hardware independent. The introduction suggested that I have a basic understanding of HTML and Javascript. Luckily, I had already familiarized myself with the basics of both languages in my previous TLR’s.

    W3Schools gives very good information on what XML can and can’t do. Where Code Academy walks you through each step with hands on tutorials, W3Schools gives you a laid out lesson plan to view examples of how XML works. How XML handles elements, attributes, syntax, encoding, and other aspects of the language are a bit more complicated that HTML or Javascript. There are even differences in how XML stores information depending on which operating system the user has. Because of this, XML feels complicated to me, and I will have to devote more time in order to learn as much as I can.


  5. Taylor Britt


    My previous TRL talked about my initial experience with the XML language. I have had more time with it by now, but it still gives me a bit of trouble. Going beyond the basics has proven to be a difficult task for me. But, it has also shown me some of the other things that XML is capable of. After going there the basic tutorial sections of W3Schools website, the next step in the learning program was to look at the validation and error fixing of XML coding.

    The lessons plans were presented clearly, with a basic description of what the subject would be and why it is important to learning XML. Subjects such as XML validator would be necessary to fix any errors in the document, otherwise the entire XML application would cease to function. Very much the same as any other coding language, elements need to be correct in order for the desired effect to take place. XML documents that have correct syntax are called “well formed,” and if the document has been validated against an XML schema it is both “well formed” and “valid.”

    Of course XML isn’t a language that does anything, but merely another tool to describe data. XML is used in conjunction with a variety of different languages to achieve the designers desired product, Javascript being one of them. W3School showed me examples of how XML is used toward various applications, such as a CD catalog. Another example shown in the lesson plans was how to display XML data in an HTML page. That was an interesting mix of HTML and XML languages, which really put me to a small memorization test when I tried it out for myself.

    While this is my last TLR for this class, I can say that the process of learning HTML, CSS, Javascript, and XML has been a interesting experience. Of course I will continue to learn additional coding languages in order to succeed in my final course project. Despite the many challenges of learning a coding language, it has been very rewarding and I am sure that my efforts will pay off in the end.


  6. For my final TLR I decided to focus on learning tools that will help me with my final project. I have been approaching html all semester and exploring how to use that tool. For my final project xtml and tei are important contributors to the development of my final project. I am still nervous about exactly what it is I need to have mastered to help with the project the UMBC library has begun. However, hopefully these skills I been learning make sense better once I put them to work. We learned last class how computer skills in technical fields on a resume make a person more valuable for a work field. Ever since I was in fifth grade and computers just came out, I have been told that technology is the path our futures are leading towards and it would be wise to pursue a degree in it or learn some skills within the field. Being a student has not taught me anything [before this class, ofcourse] about technical skills whereas I have learned most of what I do know, through the building of my own technologies online during my personal time. I decided to review more html this week because I wanted to make sure I understood it as best as I could. The tools we been using for our tlr’s help us design and create websites which is the knowledge I imagine will be asked of me. I think that W3Schools and HTMLDog will be great tools to refer back to if I need them when I am doing my final project because of their vast range of example options for coding. The difference between XML and HTML is that XML describes the data that HTML displays. I tried to understand what this meant and I realized it is basically the content of the information/data in which the technology was subjected towards while the html helps create this display of that content. I learned when exploring how the tool works, what flaws you could possibly experience when creating it as well. I found out that “If the encoding is not correctly interpreted by all the three computers, the browser might display meaningless text, or you might get an error message”. The text encoded must be interpreted by your computer and the other ones in which the information is pulled from in order for it to be successfully interpreted by people and technologies. This is interesting to me because it defines text encoding as a language within itself only understood by others that know the language in terms of computers. I hope I do not experience this problem as it sounds unfortunate, but found it useful to understand any problems I can detect before panicking. I am curious to know what the librarian says about our project today in class because I want to learn more about what we are going to be doing.


    • Nick Urick

      TLR #5

      For my most previous TLR I chose to start looking into the coding language of XML. I decided upon this due to my groups final project, which relies heavily on markups and coding a portion of a book to the internet. In order to learn xml I downloaded an application called “XML Tutorials.” This gave me a lot of information on xml, the xml “tree,” elements, attributes, and important info differentiating between xml and html. Also on a side note, I later found this application to be directly linked with the W3 Schools tutorials suggested to us by Dr. Ceraso. Overall the application proved to be helpful and helped me obtain a foundation in xml.
      For this next TRL I have chosen to keep learning more into XML. The app. I downloaded was full of helpful information, and even gave a few examples, but I wanted more of a walkthrough like the W3 School tutorials have with html and css. I googled “writing xml” and found site along the lines I was looking for.
      The top line of the page is titled “Writing a Simple Xml File.” The site first instructed me to create a text edit file. One thing that struck as being helpful is how the site provides a link to an already existing document so one can monitor their work along the way. After doing so I moved on to step 2.
      The second step involved “writing the declaration.” This is extremely important because it identifies the file as an XML file. I typed in the code the site instructed me to my text edit document. By doing this I “conformed” my xml document to version 1.0 of xml. Another important part of this is that since the document has not been specified to “stand alone,” it is assumed that the document may be linked to other documents. I am not saying it will because of a lack of info, but I believe this will probably be important for my groups final project.
      The next step was adding a comment. For this step I was instructed to type in a specified text, for adding a comment, but then move on to the next step.
      The following step was titled, “defining the root element.” A root element is something I learned about for my previous TLR. This is the single element that contains all other elements. For this portion I was instructed to type in a specific text to be noted as the root element.
      The next step involved adding attributes to an element. Once again from my previous TLR I learned that attributes provide more information about the elements. The attributes are “data items” that do not require and structure. This part will be very important to my groups final project because it sounds as though we will be doing a lot of tagging. In order to create an attribute one can use underscores, colons, periods, and numbers and characters. Although these are all listed, the site warns to stay away from colons. The site instructed me to add a few attributes that included a title, date, and the author.
      After adding attributes the site has three other steps of XML. These are “adding nested elements,” “adding HTML-style text,” and “adding an empty element.” Since I do not know the exact parameters of my project I not want to over complicate things and decided to just look at the html-style text portion. The problem with this step is that it simply asks you to type enter text in my text-edit file and move on. After adding this text I decided to stop until after my group meets with Ms. Loeper from the library.
      Overall the combination of these last two TLR’s has given me some confidence and definitely an understanding of XML. I think the approach I took was also helpful by understanding the basic foundations of the language before jumping right in and trying to apply it to a document.


  7. Greg Lee
    Professor Ceraso
    English 435
    4 November 2014

    TLR #5
    After I finished up the tutorial on XML I had to decide what came afterwards. After meeting with my group I decided that I needed to know more about creating interactive web pages. The point of our projects is for the user to easily navigate our site and have them follow along with the story that is being told. I found PHP 5 turtorial on the same site that I have learned Java Script and XML from, which is
    PHP is an acronym for “PHP Hypertext Preprocessor, the great thing about PHP is that it is free and accessible to all. Unlike HTML, and like XML PHP was case sensitive. I found it interesting that they compared PHP to algebra, and after being given x and y it was easy to find z from these variables. I did not understand the meaning of the global and local scopes unfortunately.
    The greatest thing I was able to learn from PHP is to restrict access from certain groups. So if I was to make my site an over 18+ site I can do that easily now. It is different from a firewall, which I previously learned how to do because that prevents unwanted viruses that can damage the site itself, not just visiting users. I was also able to upload the video I wanted for the site we are creating. The video of Lord of War is used for reference into what we are trying to build.
    After this I will have to find a way to incorporate sound into the site we’re building because the animation involved is a lot more complex than PHP. I have been recommended by teammates to use scratch and from my teacher to use Garage Band.


  8. Arielle Erenrich
    TLR #5

    I wasn’t sure what else to do for this Technical Learning Report, so I returned to Code Academy and learned more about CSS. Initially, I thought I knew enough about HTML to believe I did not need to review it. So, I jumped straight into CSS. After a learning CSS and then taking a break from it, I realize that it would be nice for me to have a stronger foundation in HTML before I really do much with CSS. I would feel more confident.

    The month or so that I took off from learning CSS and trying to figure out what other skills/knowledge I might need to create my final project took a toll. The first two tutorials I went through were basic things: changing a font family and changing a font’s color. Basic. Familiar. And yet, I still needed multiple attempts in order to pass the tutorial. I had to look back at previous lessons to see how to properly write the code. I completed the third lesson of the night on the first try.

    After I finished the next set of tutorials, Code Academy gave me a few review lessons. These are much appreciated since I need to practice new skills multiple times in order for me to internalize how they work. I surprised myself on how easy the review was for me to do. I remember the basics of how to write something in CSS! I passed through each review tutorial with only one try. Of course, the instructions were very straightforward and no one asked me to do multiple complicated things at once.
    Of course, I had trouble with the final tutorial. I thought I did everything right and according to the instructions I was given. Apparently not. I had to go back and double check how to write CSS code for text-decoration.

    So, one thing I realized is that while I may have enough rudimentary knowledge to say that I know a little CSS. I completed the first 26 tutorials on Code Academy. According to them, I officially know the basics of CSS. I would not be comfortable creating a website from scratch. I worked through CodeAcademy alright because they provided me with basic instructions and the ability to go back and review what I forgot. While working on the last tutorial, I realized that there are instances where I am doing something wrong without knowing it. How can I look up the right information if I do not know what I do not know? This might be a problem. That is why I think I need a stronger foundation in HTML first.


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