Saturday, September 30, 2006

U.S. homework outsourced as 'e-tutoring' grows - Sep 28, 2006

Interesting article on the outsourcing of tutoring. With call centers providing support for all sorts of products and services in India, why not online/phone tutors?

I think that this will be a real challenge to English teachers internationally (not necessarily within the States) and rightly so. For years, English teachers abroad have really been overpaid and have consistently driven up the cost of English education in many countries.

For example, here in Korea, people are starting to attend more and more "English camps" in the Phillipines as well as hiring more English teachers from countries other than the usual U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K.

I see this as being a significant future trend.

A Teacher’s Tour of YouTube

Wow! edutopia is hot today. I don't think that I've ever written them up twice in a semester, much less a day.

This is a quick introduction to YouTube ( If you haven't heard of it, you will. With just about everyone having a videocamera these days (most new cell phones have them built in), this site is one of the most popular on the Web. So much so, that it is threatening market share from the networks with younger audiences.

Check it out.

'Yo, can u plz help me write English?'

I thought that I'd repost an newspaper article that Ellen drew my attention to. It's an interesting piece that discusses the "problems" of chat-ese creeping into academia.

I would have to put myself squarely into the, "just educate them when to use it" camp as opposed to the "banish the evil chat software" camp.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The New Face of Learning

Here is an article by Will Richardson in edutopia. He writes the Read/Write Web blog that I point to every once in a while.

He writes here about the Read/Write Web and the changes that this brings to education (and society in general).

edutopia is an interesting, practice oriented online magazine/journal (I'm not sure how to classify it) from the George Lucas Educational Foundation. You should add this one to your reading list. They have quite a few good articles.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Microsoft releases fix for browser flaw

Well, it's about a week late, but our pain pushed Microsoft into action. They've released a "patch" for the security hole in Internet Explorer. This article also indicates that it is a problem in Outlook as well, which I didn't know.

So get your computer updated right away if it hasn't already done it for you.

The Sims Teach German -- Video Games for Foreign Language Learning - Google Video

This is a really interesting presentation on the use of video games for language learning.

This particular presentation focuses on the game Sims2. At first, I thought that the approach was much too focused on reading, but the presenters really do go on to make a case for using this game to work many aspects of language.

I think that this is the best use of existing games that I've seen. Most projects focus on expensive development of games that are outdated before they can be released. This use focuses on somewhat easy and quick modifications that can be made for language learning (or other topic even).

I'd recommend that you check it out.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Overview of our server problems and some security measures

Here is a little information about the problem and some security steps that you should take.

Server Problems Fixed

It’s been a hectic weekend, but I think that the initial excitement might be over. This was a scary example of content-content interaction. The hosting company ( has signaled the all-clear. They insist that their servers are clean and all is well (see their posting on the service’s discussion forum -

Even though they have signaled the all-clear, I’m still a little hesitant to open Moodle up until I’ve monitored the discussion forum for problems for the next couple days. If all still looks good, I’ll re-open the site on Tuesday.

Here is a little write-up of the problem in Netcraft ( I have a feeling that I’ll find some more write ups next week. This was caused by a combination of a security hole in MS Internet Explorer (which is still there) and a popular website administration tool called Cpanel (which has been patched). Cpanel is widely used by Web hosting companies, which should give you a little pause when you consider what can happen when things go wrong.

What security precautions should you take now?

I’ll reiterate that this should only be an immediate concern for those of you using Internet Explorer on a PC AND who accessed the Moodle site from Thursday night to Friday evening. Some obvious problems would be pop up advertisements (even when your browser isn’t open), but you might not even notice anything. I had to search for a problem on my computer, though I never had any pop ups. The steps below are my suggestions.


  1. I suggest that you clear your cookies, cache, and history. This is a little bit of a pain because you’ll have to re-type in your passwords to all those websites that just logged you on automatically (i.e., Blogger, Wikispaces, etc.). It also means that websites you normally visit will take a little longer to load, because the “cache” keeps copies of all the images on the sites, which makes them load quicker the 2nd time you visit. However, this will also assure that you don’t have any problems when accessing Moodle again.
    1. Open Internet Explorer
    2. Click on the “Tools” menu, then click on “Internet Options…”
    3. Under the “General” tab, click on “Delete Cookies…” (wait), click on “Delete Files…” (wait), click on “Clear History” (wait).
    4. Click ok, close Internet Explorer.
    5. Empty your computer’s “trash” (deleted items).
  2. Everyone should update your virus protection and run a full scan on your system – Symantec Antivirus (the one that you can download at released an update about 12 hours ago. This update found a “Trojan” (like a virus) on my computer that wasn’t found with previous scans.
  3. I strongly suggest that you use the Firefox browser for a little while. I have been a long time users of Internet Explorer and I never really paid much mind to the potential security risks. However, this issue is particularly bad. You just visit a website and you can get a virus. While Firefox is not immune to this, it has been more reliable over the years. This may be because it has a smaller percentage of users and virus writers like to make a bigger impact. Whatever the reason, Firefox is safer until Microsoft fixes the problem in Internet Explorer. You can download Firefox (free) at


  1. Make sure that the Antivirus program “Quarantines” or deletes the offending virus. You should see a report at the end of the scan telling you which of these it did. Also, the message may tell you to restart your computer. Do so.
  2. System Restore – This seems to have made a difference on a couple of computers that had problems (though a recent update from one person indicates that problems eventually returned). It sets your computer back a set number of days (I would suggest Wednesday or before to be safe). This should not affect documents that you’ve created since then, but I would suggest that you back them up just in case.
    1. Click on Start >> Programs >> Accessories >> System Tools >> System Restore
    2. When the window opens, select “Restore my computer to an earlier time” then click Next.
    3. Choose a date on the calendar (only bold days) then choose a restore point from the list on the right. Click Next.
    4. Then you’ll see a summary of what you are going to do. Read it and follow any instructions there. When ready, click Next and let it do its work.
    5. Wait
    6. When the process is done, it will either tell you that it was successful or not. If it was successful, go to #7. If it was unsuccessful, disable your antivirus, then do this process again. If it still doesn’t work, let me know.

  3. If the System Restore finished successfully, restart your computer. If not, contact me.

  4. Turn off your System Restore. This cancels all of your previous restore points, so make sure that your restore worked. Viruses can hide in the System Restore files, so I want to make sure that it’s not given an opportunity.
    1. Right-click on “My Computer” on your desktop.
    2. Click on “properties”
    3. Click on the “System Restore” tab
    4. Check the “Turn off System Restore” check box.
    5. Click “OK”
  5. Run your Antivirus program again. If there are no warnings, you’re probably good.
  6. Turn on your System Restore again (same procedure as above). This ensures that it is ready for the next emergency.
  7. If you run into any problems, contact me.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Top Web Apps in Japan

Here's one for you Steve.

Read/Write Web comes through again in its series on top Web apps from countries around the world. This time it's Japan.

This is a great series and it really should be a lesson to all of us (mostly me). We need to contribute to the greater body of knowledge and not just report on what other people are doing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wikispaces for teachers100K

Look who's giving away free space. Wikispaces is offering AD-FREE wikis for those certifying that they will use the space for K-12 education. I'm not sure how you all signed up, but I'm guessing that your sites will have advertisements. Check this out and see if you might want to set up another space (just in case).

Parent's guide to computers in education.

Very interesting publication. I think that you all might find it useful to see what Dave Moursund thinks parents should know.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Social Bookmarking Faceoff

Social Bookmarking. I'm not too into it yet, but I'm getting there.

Social Bookmarking has two major components. (1) online bookmarking - the storing of you bookmarks online. (2) social sharing - your bookmarks are shared with others and the technology facilitates this sharing.

Here is a comparison of popular services from the Read/Write Web blog. It's nice to see that there are more options out there, but I've only heard about one of these.

The only one that I've used is (, which I've had mixed feelings about so far. I'm just getting to better understand how to use it best. ( The feature that I like the best is that it shows me how many other people have bookmarked the same site that I did.

Check these out for yourself in your spare time (if there's any).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mr. Picassohead

Thanks for Elizabeth Hanson-Smith for bringing this to my attention (though there's no link on her post :)

Similar to the sketch program that I blogged about the other day, Mr. PicassoHead is a Flash interface that enables you to create a Picasso-esque picture in minutes. Not only is it fun, but this can be used with students in many ways: discussions on art/artists, creating characters for stories, or even an interesting twist on topics of bodyparts.

This one should be a little easier to save your finished product than the sketch application. All you have to do is email the finished product to yourself. However, I chose that option but haven't received my email yet (couple hours later).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Writer Zone (now called Windows Live Writer)

Here's one for you more adventurous types. This is the blog for Microsoft's "Live Writer".

This is an editor for blogs and it works with quite a few blogging application, including Blogger. Even though this was written for Microsoft's Live Spaces (think MySpace, but not as popular or good), it seems to work really well with Blogger.

For a full review, see my personal blog posting on it (Live Writer).

Grandview News

This is a nice example of elementary school publishing. Great examples of writing, graphics, and podcasting.

Thanks to weblogg-ed for pointing this one out.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Asian Mobile Web Years Ahead

Another timely post. I just replied to a mobile browser post in our discussion forum.

New Govt Report Exposes the School-Home Digital Divide | PBS

This is a rather timely post. I just referred to this topic in the forum. Andy Carvin blogs about a new report from the NCES regarding the digital divide.

Not too surprising, but informative.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Web Photo Sharing Site Faceoff

This post comes in pretty handy for me. I've been on the lookout for something a little better in the way of photo services.

I run my own photo gallery (surprise, surprise), but there's nothing "extra" about it. For example, Flickr makes it easy to organize, re-organize, share, insert in blogs and Web pages, and a new, nifty feature lets you organize your pictures by where they were taken (Flickr Map - click on the pink dots to see pictures). (Dan's Account)

However, I'm not into paying for the PRO account in Flickr, since I already pay quite a bit for my hosting service (my website). Though, the service is neat enough that I'm still thinking about it.

Anyway, it's nice to see a review on a few others. Check it out. Let me know if you give any of these services a try. It would be something nice to write up in your student blog.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Realistic face sketch

This blog points to an interesting Flash application. It is a face sketcher that really requires no drawing skill.

This is a fun tool, but it could be more than that. It could encourage students to create their portraits or for characters in student created literature.

Check it out. I spent way too much time on this one, but it was really fun :)

My wife wasn't very impressed with my sketch, but I got a kick out of it.

Unfortunately, it was really difficult to get the image this far. The designers did not intend for you to be able to save these images, so they might not be happy if I'm doing so (I apologize to them if they'd rather I not do this). I had to hit "Ctrl PrtSc", open my image editor, open a new image (should default to size of your screen), paste (Edit >> Paste), then crop out everything you don't want, then save.

Have fun

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Top Italian Web Apps and more

Here's one for our resident Italian teacher in the class. Read/Write Web is an educational technology blog that I follow. Actually, it's more like a technology blog, but I find so many of the posting relevant to education.

In this post the author describe some Italian applications and describes the state of Web technology in Italy.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Here is an interesting website for advanced grammar. It is a Blog/Podcast that covers really interesting grammar points.

The blog is a transcript of the podcast, which may help those of you who have trouble following the audio version. Actually, it even helps me because I need to see these things in print to really understand them. I assure you that these are points that I need help with all the time. This is one of the reasons I brought 4 of my best grammar books with me to Seoul :)

Grammar Girl's podcast is clear and she speaks at a moderate pace. It's slow enough that it will be easier for high-intermediate/advanced English langauge learners to understand, yet it's not so slow as to bore either the advanced learners nor their native English speaking teachers.




Thanks to Autono Blogger for pointing this one out.

I don't think that I have the time to add this function to my websites right now, but it's really a fascinating approach. Co-link essentially adds a menu to each of your links. That menu lists possible sites to visit. That's nothing special. What's great is that it also allows users to add links to the menu.

Just imagine. You visit a website and they link to a resource that you don't think is very good or you think that they also need to link somewhere else. You can just add a link there.

Now the down side. There doesn't seem to be any controls for managing these links. Let's face it, not everyone out there is looking to add value to your site. It would be nice if there were some tools to mitigate those nasty folks.

A site like Blogger could add this kind of control and use the same interface that they have for comments. Maybe even link moderation, just like they have comment moderation.

Maybe it's more trouble than it's worth, but I still think that it is even more than neat tech, it's a useful tool.