Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Challenges, Results and the Budget

Challenges. Last week the Cabrini Connections website and eLearning portal ( faced a big technical challenge. Therefore, for 3 days the site was not available.

What was it about? Why/how did it happen?

Well… To understand the challenges we faced, it is important to know something about our Web development background and about some new things we have developed at

Background. For many years was hosted by an Australian hosting company. We had a lot of hard drive space, but there was no possibility of hosting more advanced web applications.

Upgrade. Therefore we have started developing and testing new web applications at a new, very powerful Apache server. Furthermore, since our e-learning application moodle, hosted for the time being at, can support 25 concurrent users for every 512 MB of RAM, we had to upgrade our servers to Virtual Private Server business plan hosted by

2 sites. So, we had the official web site, hosted on old server and a powerful new server where we were using domain name. On we had an eLearning portal and on we had the new version of

New Cabrini Connections website is a dynamic web site that runs on Joomla Content Management System (CMS). Joomla is the most popular and one of the most powerful CMS. It has numerous features that will enhance our collaborative web development and improve users’ browsing experience. Suspicious? Well check out And send us your comments.

Cabrini Connections eLearning site (SVHATS) was developed and tested at and recently it has been moved to the webadress. It runs on the most popular Learning Management System - Moodle. Moodle is used by numerous schools, universities, corporations, lifelong learning centers, governments (especially in European Union). To serve as an illustration: at this moment there are 50078 moodle sites from 206 countries.

Pioneers? According to my research,- there are no other tutor/mentor programs that are currently using/maintaining software like moodle in Chicagoland. So, although moodle is widely used, we seem to be the first tutor/mentor program to be taking advantage of it :).

Google Applications. We also started integrating Google applications Education Edition into our domain; so all our students, volunteers and staff can use very advanced Google tools inside the domain. Just some of the Google tools we can use are: gCalendar, gSites, gDocs, gMail (but in our domain – so we call it cMail), 8GB of webspace per user…

That is our background and those are our results – in brief.

So what happened last week?

We had problems with cMail (gMail in our domain), so I contacted our hosting company for help, and… instead of fixing the problem with our domain, they deleted mentorforme account – with both web sites; and

So it took a few days to restore everything.

Who is to be blamed?

Well, I contacted the hosting company, so I am involved… The web hosting support team made a big mistake – deleting an account instead of just domain name.

However we have chosen the cheapest web hosting solution ($45/month for virtual private server with 512 MB of RAM). So, is that the reason why we did not have appropriate support?

I mean, none of this would have happened if we had an experienced professionals working for our hosting company. However, an experienced professional costs $70/hour and has the skills and expertise to warrant their higher cost. To summarize; these problems could have been avoided if we had money for high quality web hosting.

Can you help us to upgrade our web hosting?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Social Science Links


A new week brings new challenges. Right?

Therefore this week we will talk about the Social science links on the Tutor/Mentor Connection Link Library..

Ask Asia. The first site is This is an educational website for students and teachers covering some thirty countries that comprise Asia today. The site features material that ranges from early civilization to current events.

Find more at:

History Learning Site. is the address of History Learning Site. This is a commercial British site that provides numerous historic facts about selected periods of history. However, since it is a commercial site, it is full of ads, which can be quite distracting.

Topics covered on this site include: Ancient Rome, Medieval England, Tudor England, Stuart England, Britain 1700 to 1900, World War One, World War Two, The role of British women in the Twentieth Century, Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, Inventions and Discoveries of the Twentieth Century.

Find more at:

Mr. Woodside's Virtual Classroom is hosted at On this site Mr. Woodside combines the principles of video game design with a mastery model of education. Therefore the result is, as Mr Woodside says: World History Adventure, a year-long exploration, educational game.

Although this site is designed primary for Mr. Woodside’s students, it is a worthwhile resource for everybody.

Furthermore, this site is a good example how multimedia presentations, interactive history simulations, socratic discussions, and other history activities can make learning fun. We call it edutainment. Right?

Find more at

Mr. Roughton's site is quite similar to Mr. Woodside's Virtual Classroom. You'll find history lesson plans, assignment ideas and more. It is nice to see how much effort some teachers invest into the quality of education they provide. Find more at

The History Place, hosted at, provides lots of data about selected chapters of world history. However, the same way as the site is full of commercials (covering 30% of used screen surfaces).

Find more at

What do you think about these links?

Please send us your comments: SVHATS >> Cool Links and Cool Cash >> Social Science Links.

Monday, February 9, 2009

National African American History Month

A few days ago (February 2nd), President Obama made a beautiful Proclamation of National African American History Month.

He ended with this paragraph:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 2009 as National African American History Month.

I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs that raise awareness and appreciation of African American history.

You probably knew that the whole Proclamation is available at (I encourage you to read it).

So, how will we celebrate the Black History Month? What activities we will do?

What. This week we will do collaborative e-learning activity Black History Links.

How. Our goal is to prepare a list of the 10 best websites about Black History. When we finalize the list, we will publish the links in the Tutor/Mentor Connection Link Library.

Action. So, what are your favorites?

Proposal. This is a list of sites I consider to be excellent sites about Black History (full list is available at Links Library >> Homework help, tutoring resources >> Black History Studies):

  1. National African American History Month, 2009 A Proclamation by the President
  2. African American History Month Website
  3. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  4. African American History @
  5. Wikipedia about African American History
  6. Wikipedia about African Americans
  7. African American Women Writers of the 19th Century
  8. Black History Hotlist by
  9. - this site is dedicated to providing reference materials to the general public on African American history
  10. Africans in America
    PBS overview of African American history includes excerpts from primary sources.
  11. Civil Rights Documentation Project
    Project emphasizing civil rights legislation from 1963-1965 includes primary sources and a timeline.
Collaboration. Would you add any site to that list? Do you think that some of the aforementioned sites are not good enough? Or....?

That is a challenge for today. There are a few more interesting links in Black History Studies .

Why I did not mentioned them here? Well… some things you have research on your own. Just go to Black History Studies and browse.

And send us your comments: SVHATS >> Cool Links and Cool Cash >> National African American History Month.

I’m very enthusiastic about your comments.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Homework Help >> Written skills

Starting to write an article or to speak a new language can be a challenge. Right?

Everything seems to be so easy, understandable, but when you have to put it on a paper (type in a computer?) or say it in an another language … well…

That’s why on the TutorMentor Connection web site we have the link category Homework Help >> Written skills.

So, let’s check the websites mentioned there.

NoodleTools is one of the leading bibliography software on the Internet, transforming bibliographic instruction methodologies. NoodleTools software supports the entire research process by.

  • Searching intelligently
  • Assessing the quality of results
  • Recording, organizing and synthesizing information using online notecards
  • Formatting your bibliography in MLA, APA, or Chicago/Turabian style

Full NoodleTools service is for members only (you have to pay), but there is lots of free stuff. provides an automated information organization program. You know the dilemma I mentioned at the beginning of this article: Everything seems to be so easy to understand, but when you have to put it on paper ( or computer) … well… it is hard to find a way to start and it can be even harder to present those thoughts clearly. That is where the website can help. Try it. And send us your comments. is a site that provides numerous language learning tools for almost any language in the world – for free. Of course, if you are ambitious, you can hire a tutor…

If you want to check BBC language learning tools, go to There you can find well illustrated, very interactive tutorials for all world languages. Some of the tutorials are in the format of a game. For example ‘Japanese Challenge - Can you avoid social embarrassment?’ is a game that puts you in the center of Tokyo and challenges you to find a way how to communicate properly.

eSpindle Learning, a nonprofit parent initiative, helps students gain a rich vocabulary, creating confident readers, writers and spellers. It provides numerous interactive spelling & vocabulary building activities. Try it. A 10 day trial is free, otherwise it is $9.50 per month.

The last website mentioned in this category is Word Cont site visualize the way we use language. It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonness. I am not certain how we can use it, but it is interesting to see that word ‘Tutor’ is on 6584th place and word ‘Mentor’ is on 16931st place. Right?

What are your thoughts about it?