Tuesday, November 27, 2012

challenging [chal-in-jing] (adj.)

Setting up an online course on Moodle is quite challenging. In the past, I worked with Highlearn (and was quite good at it) and this is the first time on Moodle for me. On the one hand it is going quite well, on the other hand I am having a lot of trouble getting everything to work the way I want. This course is taking me far more preparation time than a regular course battling with Moodle (and hopefully winning).

The word "challenging" comes from "challenge" which nowadays means a figurative invitation to a fight. This word underwent many changes. The figurative meaning came after the literal meaning "to challenge someone for a fight" which originated in the 1520s. This was based on the earlier meaning of "to accuse someone or to dispute something" from the Old French "chalone" (late 13th century). Chalone came from Vulgar (=ordinary) Latin "calumniare" , meaning "to accuse falsely" which in its turn came from the Latin  "calumnia" meaning "trickery". 

So although the word "challenge" started off with quite a negative connotation - trickery, falsely accusing-, it has made a remarkably positive turnaround now having a positive connotation - of something that invites you to battle it but that will usually let you win in the end.

Let's just hope that my feelings towards Moodle will evolve in the same positive manner. The battle continues... 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Begin [bih-gin], v

Last time I wrote in this blog, I was a student learning about technology in education (online course University of Oregon). The tables are turned now. I have been asked by the college to teach my students about this topic and have thus become the teacher. It is quite exciting. I have set up an online course and my first student has started working this week .

As I require my students to write blogs, I decided it's about time to update my own. Not sure if I will be able to manage doing this weekly but at least here I am making a beginning.

The word "begin" comes from Old English "beginnan" meaning "to begin, attempt, undertake," from "be" (meaning "thoroughly, completely") + W.Germanic *ginnan, of obscure meaning and perhaps "to open, open up". Cognates in German and Dutch "beginnen".

On February 11, 1861, President-elect Lincoln made his departure from his home in Springfield to begin the rail journey to Washington, where he was to be inaugurated a month later. Lincoln himself felt a premonition that this was the last time he would see Springfield. Standing on the rear platform of his railroad car, he bid the townspeople farewell, closing with these words: "Today I leave you. I go to assume a task more difficult than the which developed upon George Washington. The great God which guided him must help me. Without that assistance I shall surely fail; with it, I cannot fail."

Let us, with G-d's help, begin this endeavor. Be'ezrat Hashem (with G-d's help), it will not fail.