Sunday, December 09, 2007

Where is Dora the Explorer for Chinese?

YouTube - Culture Cubs

Maybe I shouldn't even make this comparison. Dora the Explorer is certainly Spanish-lite and not necessarily a good teaching tool. The rush to teach Chinese is hardly subsiding across the world and in the United States. However, while it seems that many parents, educators, and even the government are on board, instructional materials are lacking.

Where are the quality instructional materials for learning Chinese, especially for children? Do they cost too much to produce? Possibly. But, come on, if we can't do it cheaply in China with Chinese, where can we do it. I would love to see a company get its foot in the door in this area. I see nothing but growth in this area in the coming decades. If done right, you could just modify the script for any language that you want to teach to. Sending it to France? Change it from English to French. It would just take a couple studio hours to record the French speaker.

A friend of mine recently sent me this video that is a fun introduction to some words in Chinese (Mandarin), though it could just as easily be for Mandarin speakers learning English. I think that it's a great production. If used in conjunction with other materials and possibly a teacher (online or face-to-face), it could be extremely motivating and effective.

Imagine a program like this that grew with students. They could start with the basics and advance as their students advanced. They could go beyond vocabulary learning and branch into learning culture, critical literacy, and so forth. A program like this would cost to start, but the long tail on something like this would provide revenue for many, many years. Not to mention, the first ones into the schools will stay in the schools.

Now that I'm talking about it, I wonder if I could carry it out. Unfortunately, I lack both the production abilities for this sort of animation and the Chinese speakers. Oh, well. I hope that this gives one of you the impetus to check it out.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

How to access blocked web sites

Sclipo: How to access blocked web sites

How could I not post this link?

Just the other day one of the listservs that I follow had a posting from someone cheering how she had found a previously unknown proxy site for MySpace and that it was going to be blocked now. I just love the ignorance of these people. Yeah! I found the one proxy site that students use to access these evil sites....

Well, as this video shows, there there many, many ways to do this. This is a proxy cold war and the schools are going to loose. For the same reason that the drug war will never be won and media companies will never be able to use encryption to protect their content, if people want something enough, they will find a way to get it.

Stop spending your time blocking sites and start teaching students how best to use what's out there.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Young warned over social websites

Young warned over social websites

These articles drive me crazy sometimes. A really valuable message is couched in fear of online social networks.

These same problems exist in every electronic medium. There is a persistent record. We will very likely see old Facebook videos used as evidence against Presidential candidates 10 or 20 years down the road, but we are more likely to see something pulled out of the Internet Archive well before that happens, since that is where the evidence exists on the pre-Facebook/MySpace crowd.

To say that this is a problem with online social networks is just ignorant. This is a problem with ALL form of publication (the Web is just a big publication machine).

We need to educate learners (of all ages) on how present ourselves online. We teach our children how to say please and thank you. We teach our children not to talk to strangers. We even teach our students not to run around naked outside. How about teaching children to respect others in online interactions, not to give out identifying information to strangers, and no to post potentially embarrassing materials online!

This is obviously not common knowledge and the blocking of these sites just removes the possibility of addressing these issues in schools.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Human Brain Cloud: Play

Human Brain Cloud: Play

This is very addicting. I assume this will be the case for anyone interested in language. It's also a fascinating project. All you do is enter the first thing that comes to your mind when you see a word/phrase. The connections that brings to light are very interesting.

I wonder it this data would be made available for teaching language. Just think. The greatest number of responses would likely signal words/phrases that should be taught together. This is a new form of corpora analysis.

Give it a try.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! - Turkey singing "I will survive" parody

Cool Cat Teacher Blog: Motivational Monday: This Turkey will Survive!

Thanks to Vickie for this video.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my family and friends in the States.


Wisdom of Crowds on the Pitch: 50,000 Fans Acquire English Football Club

Wisdom of Crowds on the Pitch: 50,000 Fans Acquire English Football Club

Not that I'm a football fan (soccer for those of us in the States), but this post really spoke to me. Not as in the wisdom of crowds approach that the author took, but rather in how these fans were able to collectively raise money and buy (influence) a sports team.

The stock market has worked this way from its inception, yet has only really benefited the wealthy. Us average Joe's might be able to buy stock, but not enough to make a difference in policies, approaches, or other decisions. What if this approach took off for the acquisition of majority shares of companies. I don't realistically think that this would work with many companies. The wealth of the world is really in the hands of a few. However, imagine what could be done by just moving one or two big companies.

Mircoloans and micropayments have found a place in the global economic, what about microinvesting? Small investments could add up to lots of power for funds of this sort. Whether driven by profit motives or special interests (Green, perhaps) small investments by large numbers of people could cause significant movement in the corporate world.

I don't really see this as a viable option yet, but I think that its time will come. With raising standards of living in many countries around the world and with greater Internet connectivity, there will soon be both money and information distribution necessary for a movement like this.

Just an idea I'd like to float. It has little to do with instruction, but does focus on a changing society that will look at everything from investment to education differently.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Skypecasts as a mediator of authentic communication - ALAK 2007

Just got back from a wonderful conference. The Applied Linguistics Association of Korea (ALAK) put on a great show at Sookmyoung Women's University today.

Jungtae Kim and I participated in the CALL Fair. We put together a little presentation on the use of Skypecasting in language learning. If you have used Skype, you know that it is a great program, but have you used the Skypecast function? Most people haven't, but it has great potential for autonomous learners and even more formal classrooms. Take a look at the presentation and abstract below. Then follow the link to a quick video on setting up a Skypecast.

Of course, I have to be completely honest. Skypecasts were down today and even last night when I recorded the video. They have been down a lot lately. However, I'm sure that they will be back up and running, but even if they are not there are a few similar sites out there that can be used in a similar manner.

Here is our presentation.

Here is our outline.

Here is a link to a video that we created on creating Skypecasts: Video

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or suggestions


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Walled Gardens are dead!

Walled GardenI got a little carried away in my presentation on Saturday at the KAMALL/KSET conference. At one point, I declared, "Walled Gardens are dead!" While I really do believe this, I should know better than to say it that way. Luckily, nobody called me on it during the presentation, though someone did afterwards.

The reason that I shouldn't have said it like that is that it's impossible to defend and it's not true. There will always be walled gardens. Organizations will always have some sort of closed system for the sake of security, either of the data or of the participants. It's a wild world out there and I can see the need to keep student data in a closed system because it really can be used for nasty purposes.

However, this doesn't mean that the concept isn't dying. There are surely benefits for users with technologies (or services) can play nicely together. More and more, people are providing their content to the world. Whether this be videos, pictures, or ideas, users expect to be able to share this content with the world and set restrictions themselves (not the organizations/services).

I might be an idealist, but I think that ideas should be free (as in free beer AND as in freely expressed). We have both a right to benefit from the sharing of information (instructional or other) and the responsibility to share information that we possess.

Many teachers are walking the walk. They are putting their ideas in terms of lectures, activities, lesson plans, and so forth out there for public consumption. This can only benefit other teachers (and learners) who can incorporate these ideas and products in to their instruction. In this way, the sharing of ideas has moved (or is moving) from the break rooms to the ether Net. These ideas are them being collected from the ether, organized, and re-shared with others. This is where services/technologies like blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, and others come in. They enable anyone to collect, organize, and re-distribute these ideas (content) in any way they see fit. We then develop connections with these re-mixers of ideas, which forms our personal (learning) networks.

There will come a point when the walled gardens simply can't compete. They will be (or already are) relegated to spaces with a minor impact on learning/working/playing and will be seen as just another place that users have to remember to go to get the occasional message or tidbit of institutional treasures (information that can't be shared).

Call me deluded, call me a dreamer, but please call me :) Leave a comment and let me know what you think.


My Apologies

Hi have to apologize to those who expected to see a posting on the survey that I conducted a couple weeks ago on Teacher Overload or technology use by educators. I have been really busy with 3 presentation and a workshop this month. I do promise that I'll get it out ASAP. The last presentation and workshop will be on Saturday. I'll have a little extra time to filter through the data at that time.

Again, sorry for the delay.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Using Web 2.0 Technologies to Deliver Individualized Instructional Resources to Language Learners

Korean Association for Multi-media Assisted Language Learning (KAMALL) 2007 Conference

Below is a copy of my presentation for Saturday, November 10 at Korea University in Seoul, Korea.

Here is the presentation.

Here is a copy of the presentation slides with my notes (.pdf file via Scribd)

Here are the files associated with this presentation.

Don't know where Korea University is? Here's a map.

View Larger Map

Please, let me know if you have any questions. Leave a comment here and I'll be sure to get back to you.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Play Web 2.0 Truth AND Dare

Cool Cat Teacher Blog: Play Web 2.0 Truth AND Dare

Vicki Davis passes on some great resources and often adds unique insights to them. This is one of those postings. I'll embed the video below, but I encourage you to check out the link above to see her questions. They are a great conversation starter.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

TESL-EJ June 2007 -- Pedagogical affordances of syndication, aggregation, and mash-up of content on the Web

TESL-EJ June 2007 -- Pedagogical affordances of syndication, aggregation, and mash-up of content on the Web

Good article on how syndication, aggregation, and mash-ups can be used in education.


socialmedia » A-Z of social media

socialmedia » A-Z of social media

Here is a growing wiki glossary of socialmedia terminology. Great for the newbie and expert. Always something new popping up here.


Commoncraft " plain English" videos

Commoncraft has a series of " plain English" videos that are great. I'll embed some of them here.

This one is about social networking. This is a fundamental concept that you should understand.

This one is about RSS, which is the most popular standard for XML syndication.

This one is on social bookmarking, which will be central to my presentation.

This one is on using Wikis.

This one is on using Google Docs.


Web 2.0 Workshop

Web 2.0 Workshop by Vicki (Cool Cat Teacher) Davis

This looks like a really great workshop on a large number of topics regarding the use of Web 2.0 technologies specifically in education. It is organized into a series of short videos that can walk you not only through the technologies, but also the rationale behind using them.

The videos are free for now, but I'd get in there fast to take a look before they disappear.


Tag the Network: An Introduction to Social Bookmarking

Tag the Network: An Introduction to Social Bookmarking

This is a great wiki on social bookmarking. Being a wiki, it's never really finished. Check it out and, if you feel like it, add to it. It still needs to be filled out a little.

Loading the IUCALL in preparation for KAMALL 2007 presentation on Saturday

I'm going to try to front load IUCALL with as many good resources on Social Bookmarking, Syndication, Aggregation, and other such Web 2.0 technologies as possible before my presentation on Saturday. I would like to use this to educate the general public, but more importantly, the people who came to my presentation (or those who view the PowerPoint and notes) that I'll put up here later.

The process that I'm going to lay out is relatively easy; however, there are some difficult concepts that have to be learned before truly understanding what this means. I don't just mean understanding what my presentation and proposed approach for delivering individualized content are all about. I mean what the Read/Write movement is about. I find that one has to experience what this is about before truly understanding it.

Therefore, I am going to load this blog up with tutorials and other informational resources that can be looked through before, after, or during my presentation.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Educating the Dragon » Blog Archive » Look out Mrs O’Malley! ….detour ahead

Educating the Dragon » Blog Archive » Look out Mrs O’Malley! ….detour ahead

This is a great example of how, with the right equipment AND the right methods, a teachable moment can become more teachable. How many times have teachers glossed over this difference or simply stated the first thing that came to their mind (often wrong). With the tools at your fingertips, there is no excuse for not checking it out immediately. The teachable moment is IN THE MOMENT, which is where it should be.

I understand that it has always been possible and good teachers have always encouraged students to go figure these things out at the library or through other research. However, when you remove the immediacy experienced here, you remove much of the motivation. Many people bemoan instant gratification and today's technologies that urge it on. However, this is how the world works. We address our needs when they arise. When it's no longer a need, it's off our radar.

Cheers to Simon.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why & how to use online message boards

James Trotta
Jason Ham

Teaching English in Korea ESL Blog

Learn English grammar online (discussion forum)

Forum is open to the public

Started out by doing grammar tasks (go find this form used out in the Web) then moved to student-directed topics (whatever you are interested in) and then moved to prompting culture topics.

Polling is good to get students going on the topic. I think that this is a good method, good suggestion, that I hadn't thought about before.

They pay NES $.20 per post to reply to learners' postings. Great idea, though James did say that it was coming out of his pocket. I don't think anyone is going to make a living off of it, but it is a small motivation to participate.

Using Ning for language classes

Using Ning for Language Classes

Joshua Davies
Donaleen Jolson

Sunday 12:00-1:20

This was one of the highlights of the conference for me. Not because I didn't know about Ning before. I was planning on using it for classes, and potentially as a portal, long before this presentation. However, it was great to hear about someone using it and how they use it.

This post is linked to some general information and the presentation is embedded below.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

KOTESOL 2007 - Content-based ESL for EFL learners

Clara Lee Brown

Univ. Tenn, Knoxville

CBI in Korea,

New emphasis on English, with greater competency requirements, English Villages, native speakers....lots of money.

She emphasized the need to use the language, rather than learn the language (Krashen lover :)

Message is more important than the delivery of the message.  Communication is king.

Really, this is a commentary on EFL in Korea, hitting on the need to revamp the system.  Change the goal and change the approach (Paradigm Shift)


What she doesn't address is modification, error correction, dual-language instruction, and lack of authenticity (CBI in Korea is NOT authentic).

Because CBI EFL in Korea not authentic, we have to be very careful in how we carry it out.

Authentic materials are NOT comprehensible input, which she says is a rationale for CBI.  Then she recommends not buying textbooks and using authentic materials ???  This is directly taken from Krashen. (She addresses this later, but really glazes over the need for output.  Emphasizes input again).


Just like you have to break through the affective filter to reach the LAD, she's got to break through my filter to reach me.  Her blind focus on input, raises my filter.


I really enjoyed her approach with the audience and I think that we have more in common than not, but her presentation put me off a little.  I'd love to discuss it with her in small group.

Using blogs to improve writing fluency

Terry Fellner

Matthew Apple

Maggie Lieb

Saga University

10:30-10:50 AM

Looked a writing fluency. Established fluency = word count + lexical frequency + comprehensibility

Focused on increasing writing fluency.

  • Enlarge active vocabulary (from passive to active)
  • Increased exposure to vocabulary
  • use of blogs
  • concordances
  • Movie trailers
  • Grammar games
  • Diamond ranking (Fellner, 2005)

Used daily topics, in a 7-day course,that were emailed to the students. They were restricted to 20 minutes for a blog posting. They then commented on classmates' blogs.

They wrote more (though that is a little fuzzy). They did control of typing speed (great idea). They tested on first and last day.

KOTESOL 2007 - Forums 2.0: Getting the most out of online forums

Forums 2.0: Getting the most out of online forums

Thomas Pals
Michael Shawback
Mark Sheehan

Shizuoka University of Art and Culture

9:00-9:50 AM

They encourage students to post on forums anonymously, though teacher has admin function that allows for identification. They developed a module to do this.

They use Proboards, which is a free (self-hosted) system.

Most of what they talk about is the description of the systems and their methodologies for use. They have a very rich discussion board, with a lot of topics and good participation. However, they look like they have serial discussions, which aren't very good for critical thinking. More cognitive support is necessary to take learners to the next level of engagement.

They are also using the forums to connect cohorts over the years. Nice usage of the technology, in my opinion. I'm interested in doing the same thing with a social network like Ning.

Overall, it looks like a very good application and it seems to be modifiable.

Some links:

Presentation Movie

KOTESL 2007 Presentation » SlideShare

KOTESL 2007 Presentation » SlideShare

Here is a copy of my presentation on slideshare. You might have to manually advance it to get it started. I don't think the embedded video (in the presentation itself) will play.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Overview of Web 2.0 Technologies Used in the CALL Course

Overview of Web 2.0 Technologies Used in the CALL Course

This video is a more in-depth look at some of the technologies introduced to the CALL class (though not all were actually used by them)

Web 2.0 Collage

Web 2.0 Collage

This is the collage of Web 2.0 sites that I show at the beginning of my presentation at KOTESOL.

Friday, October 12, 2007

YouTube survey

SurveyShare YouTube Survey

Hi all. This is a survey that Curt Bonk is conducting on the use of YouTube in education/training. It's a quick (10 min) survey that includes watching 1 short education/tech-related video. Go help him and fill it out.

You can help me too. If you refer someone, you get some free time in the pro account for SurveyShare, so drop my email address in there (


Monday, October 08, 2007

CogDogRoo » StoryTools

CogDogRoo » StoryTools

It always amazes me when I come upon a posting like this. I'm amazed because there is something new. I feel like I'm at this 24/7 and see everything out of the starting blocks, but there's always something else.

This is a list of applications that can be used to tell digital stories. There is something here for everyone and enough to keep you exploring for quite a while.

Some of my favorites are: VoiceThreads, VUVOX, Scrapblog, Google My Maps, Splashcast, Animoto, Slideshare, and Sketchcast.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

K12 Online 2007 - Schedule

K12 Online 2007 - Schedule

This is a must-attend event. I really hope that I can make these presentations considering that most are around 9:00PM my time.

Check out the schedule. If this was a regular, hotel-based conference, I would say that it was unprecedented in scope and in simply fascinating topics. Most traditional conferences have a handful of presentations that I'm interested in, and, thus, I don't sacrifice much to attend them.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Top 100 Tools for Learning

Top 100 Tools for Learning

This is a great list of tech tools for teachers. I was familiar with most of these applications (this IS nearly a full time job for me!), but there were also a few absolute gems that I hadn't used previously.

This is certainly worth a look and could prove to be excellent fodder for discussion.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

eXe : eLearning XHTML editor

FrontPage - eXe : eLearning XHTML editor

This is simply the easiest multimedia authoring tool that I've come across. While I can do this coding myself, it takes me forever to do so. I was able to put together a sample in a couple minutes that I exported as an HTML folder, which I uploaded and used in 5 minutes. I exported to a SCORM 1.2 zip, uploaded to Moodle, and launched a SCORM activity in about 5 minutes.

This is insanely easy to use and can really broaden your horizons. My only desire is an export to flash option. This could be just around the corner given the fact that this is an open source project.

I can't say enough good things about this. Try it out.


Monday, September 17, 2007

How “open-source” is Sakai? at bavatuesdays

How “open-source” is Sakai? at bavatuesdays

This post just re-awakens my criticisms of Sakai. It was bad when I first started using it, it's bad now. There are many more bells & whistles now, but they aren't much more than squeaks and moans.

Here is a copy of my reply to that post


Indiana University moved to Sakai about 4 years ago as its university-wide CMS. Having heard great things about it, I was eager to give it a try. Prior to that we were using an in-house CMS that left a lot to be desired.

After a brief test period, I pushed very hard not to retire that clunky in-house solution. Sakai was slow, confusing, and was a step down from other popular open-source elements out there. Not to mention, it had (has) one of the worst discussion forums I have ever used. Since then, the build at Indiana has added a lot of new, exciting features. Unfortunately, nearly all are sub-par.

Being open-source, we imagined that it would be easy to do a little of our own development, but this is where university bureaucracies make open-source nearly meaningless. At that time, the process ran through a chain of requests, committees, and finally a masked developer somewhere in Michigan who might, if it fit in with the grand vision, look into finding an existing module or developing a new one to fit our needs.

I've gone back to Sakai each year for the last 3 to test it out as an instructor. Each time I turn right back around and use Moodle on my own server. I might be one of the few who don't want to use their own. Though it's easy to use and provides a lot of freedom, it's just another thing I've got to manage. I just want to simplify my life.

I still hope that one day they'll get it right. I'm hoping that one day, they'll offer workshops on how to teach better instead of how to configure your class workspace.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

KnowledgeWorks - Map of Future Forces Affecting Education - Education Map

KnowledgeWorks - Map of Future Forces Affecting Education - Education Map

Neat conceptual map (with links)on the future of education with a particularly techno-centric viewpoint (not saying that is a bad thing)

A good conversation starter


Monday, September 03, 2007

Remove Vocals from Mp3s using audacity (Win/Mac/Linux) Free

YouTube - Remove Vocals from Mp3s using Audacity

This is a great tutorial for removing vocal frm tracks. This is very useful when you just want that muzac playing.


Monday, August 27, 2007



This is a cool tool. You upload photos for a slideshow, then you can comment (audio or text) on each of the pictures. What's better, though, is that others can also comment.

Here is my sample (terrible production value, but I can work on that). It is a few pictures from a 4th of July parade.

I'd like to point out the URL above. You can share this slideshow with others, but it has to be make public to embed in a blog (external website). So, I created a friend (my other email) and "shared" the show with that friend. That led me to this URL. While I don't mind my presentation being public, I don't really want all users of that site to be dropping in and leaving messages. This would be particularly problematic if you were using this for a class. So, either get all of your students in your friends list, I do something like I described above so you can post a link to the content.

This could be a great tool to elicit iCBT-type test responses from your students, or other contributions of voice or text. While it does not work as a threaded discussion, you could have serial discussions through this medium, which is similar to what you get with most blog commenting features.

This might also be good for tutorials. Users could see a screenshot or other images and listen to or read the instructions/descriptions. I picture this as being good to use in one window with the software interface in another window (using audio puts less focus on the image, but it's there if they need it).


Monday, August 06, 2007

Teachers vote to ban internet | The Register

Teachers vote to ban internet | The Register

Oh My! The Luddites are calling from Brittain.

These folks make your network admins look reasonable.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Web 2.0 Backpack: Web Apps for Students

Web 2.0 Backpack: Web Apps for Students

As you can probably tell, I'm wading through a lot of postings at Read/Write Web and it looks like I've been missing a ton of great stuff. Here's another.

This is a great list of online applications that can greatly benefit both you and your class.


The Fischbowl: Blogging: In Their Own Words

The Fischbowl: Blogging: In Their Own Words

Really a must see video for those of you thinking about using blogs with your students or even if you have hesitated. The video features teachers and students talking about blog usage in their school with great insights into the benefits of using this technology. The the video also provides some good ideas for using blogs in your classrooms.


Finding the Perfect Shot: 5 Stock Photo Search Engines Reviewed

Finding the Perfect Shot: 5 Stock Photo Search Engines Reviewed

Here's a very timely post. If you're looking for images to use on your sites, check out these photo search engines.

Most return free to use images, though, remember that free to use doesn't mean that there aren't any restrictions or requirements. Many require that you link back to the image or the site at a minimum. Read the terms of use on each image site (not just on these search engines) to make sure that you are using the images correctly.

By the way, note that I am posting a link to the Read/Write Web blog again. This is a great blog with many contributors posting on great topics mostly concerned with Web 2.0 (otherwise known as Read/Write Web).


Video Editing 2.0: 8 Ways to Remix Online Videos

Video Editing 2.0: 8 Ways to Remix Online Videos

Don't have video editing software? No problem! Here are some online versions that will take you a long way. Not only do the software exist online, but so do your videos. So, your students can easily work on their videos at school and home and not worry about software or transportation of large video files.


No more school as council opens 'learning centres' - Independent Online Edition > News

No more school as council opens 'learning centres'

I think that you will here a lot about this over the next few years. Both success and failure will benefit our understanding of this movement, which I think is gathering steam in academic circles and even political circles.

I personally think that this is an important direction to be researched in education with my gut reaction being that it is the right direction to move in. Of course, I'll check my gut until I see some results :)


Using YouTube for Vocabulary Development

An ELT Notebook: Using YouTube for Vocabulary Development

Nice lesson plan and a good way to get feedback on your lesson plans. Put them up on your blog and ask people their opinions of the lesson plan. You'll notice that someone commented on this the next day saying that they already used it.


Friday, July 13, 2007 Election 2008, candidate videos and profiles, Your Voice, Your Vote Election 2008, candidate videos and profiles, Your Voice, Your Vote

Want to do something with American politics? Check this out. This is a collection of videos of 2008 candidates speaking on campaign issues.

Of course they don't say much, but, hey, they're politicians ;-)

If you can't find a topic to discuss in here and some sort of research project, you're just not thinking.

Have fun.


CMU_Podcasting_Jun07.pdf (application/pdf Object)


Wow! Super article (white paper) on the use of podcasts in education. I think that this is really well balanced and brings together some current research (what there is of it) to support it's arguments. This is a must-read for anyone interested in implementing podcasts in their courses or across the curriculum.


Virtual Games Hone Real Business Skills

NPR : Study: Virtual Games Hone Real Business Skills

This is somewhat old news in the gaming community, but it's always nice to hear it on NPR. This piece relates findings on an IBM study that online gaming (they are mostly referring to games that have social aspects to them, namely Massively Multiplayer Online Games--MMOGs) sharpens skills of collaboration, self-organization, and risk-taking.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Pedagogical affordances of syndication, aggregation, and mash-up of content on the Web

TESL-EJ June 2007 -- Pedagogical affordances of syndication, aggregation, and mash-up of content on the Web

Barbara Dieu and Vance Stevens are two VERY active and very smart players in the field of CALL. This is a great article that gives an overview of popular technologies. Some we are using and talking about and some others that we are now (we only have so much time).

If you have time (I know, probably not now), I suggest taking a look at this. It will give you a lot of food for thought.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007


WebQuest.Org: Home

Yeah! updated their site. It's much easier to navigate now. Unfortunately, this might mean that I have to change some of the links I have to these materials :(


Tech Teacher: Cut Through the Web Noise | Edutopia

Tech Teacher: Cut Through the Web Noise | Edutopia

This is a timely article from edutopia on using RSS to keep up with all that is on the Web. It's not as in-depth as what we are doing, but seeing it written in different ways could help your understanding.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Prometeus - The Media Revolution

YouTube - Prometeus - The Media Revolution

These are fun videos. It's like mini-science fiction documentaries. This is just for fun, but I think that you'll like it.

This is another video that predicts global domination for Google, through the purchase of all competitors. Like I said before, these are fun, but hardly believable....though, who knows?


How To: Use Social-Networking Technology for Learning | Edutopia

How To: Use Social-Networking Technology for Learning | Edutopia

Nice article in edutopia about using social networking for learning. It's always good to hear some good suggestions rather than just, "Shut it down!" :)


Ning: A Social Network for Adults | Edutopia

Ning: A Social Network for Adults | Edutopia

I've been hearing a lot about Ning lately. I might even try to incorporate that into class, if possible, this semester. This is very similar to listservs in the topics covered, but the tools and groupings are more similar to other online social networks such as MySpace and Facebook.

I just recently joined. See MY PAGE. This is for the "Classroom 2.0" group that I joined.

Ning isn't just 1 social network. It is a platform for creating your own social networks build around your own interests. You could even do one for your classes that will keep students connected to the class beyond the boundaries of a single semester or school year.

Check it out and see how you like it.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How Not to Use MySpace in the Classroom | PBS

PBS Teachers | . How Not to Use MySpace in the Classroom | PBS

This is the story of a very unfortunate (and somewhat ignorant) teacher in Maryland. While many folks keep personal blogs (MySpace, Facebook, Blogger, or elsewhere), they have to understand that these are largely public entities. Even private sites are only a copy and paste away from a jaded friend releasing your thoughts to the world.

My father is the Don of my family, but none others that of know of. However, he had good wise guy advice for me years ago. Don't record it unless you want the world to see it. This has served me well over the years, particularly when you consider the amount of digital communications I've dealt with.

Remember that for this class and beyond. If you are going to do something that you don't want traced back to you, use a pseudonym. I use danielcraig for just about all of my public accounts and I also have some anonymous accounts for when I want to vent or otherwise put myself out there in a compromising position.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Welcome to CALL summer 2007

Hi Folks,

Welcome to the CALL Class blog. I'll use this blog primarily for posting reviews and "how to's" of technologies and resources that I find useful for language teachers. For the first few postings, I'll cover some of the sites that we are using in this course including Moodle, Blogger, & Wikispaces.

Your role as a reader (and student) is to read the postings, check out these technologies, and comment on my postings. Comments can range from, "that's great...." to "how do I..."

Let me know if you have any questions.

Monday, June 11, 2007


This course will utilize two sets of blogs: class and student.

The first is the one you are reading right now. This is what I have termed the CALL Class Blog in most of the course documentation. This blog will focus mainly on describing the technologies that we are going to use in this course. There will also be postings on concepts in the class and, most importantly, links to other resources (mostly other blogs) that are discussing important topics in the field.

Student blogs will be ones that you all maintain as part of the general participation requirement for the course. At minimum, you will be required to post critiques of Web/Software resources and readings (see schedule in Moodle). I would also hope that you'll go beyond these requirements and use this space to reflect on your learning in this course and to collect, reflect, and begin a discourse on the use of technology for your context and beyond. I know that this is probably too much to ask for a summer course, but maybe you'll be inclined to continue these after this course ends.

After all this talk about blogs you may still be asking, "What the heck is Dan talking about"? Good question. I shouldn't get too far ahead of myself in this regard.

Even if you do not watch TV, listen to the radio, or read newspapers, you have likely heard of Blogs. You may be asking yourself what this mysterious entity is that got Trent Lott to retire, Dan Rather's mistakes exposed, and even announced the birth of your nephew?

History of Blogs
Weblogs have been around for years. According to Wikipedia the first use of the term Weblog was made in 1997 on The Robot Wisdom Pages. This site is a collection of commentaries on personal and professional issues most of which relate to news articles or other postings on the Web. The Weblog is credited with shortening the term to Blog in 2002.
Blogs have since taken on different meanings to different people. For some a Blog is a set of Internet technologies that manage the history and "business" of Blogging. Most Blogs include features for posting messages, commenting on posted messages, and archiving messages and comments. Others would contend that Blogging is a socio-technical movement that shifts the power of large media organizations to individual citizens. Both are right.

What Do Blogs Mean to Educators?
Blogs can serve many roles in education, limited only by your imagination. Blogs can act as a virtual collaborative space for teacher and students to interact with each other and the greater world. Blogs can be used to store and develop e-Portfolios, encourage peer feedback on writing assignments, or simply hold ongoing discussions with the class members or even the world. Much of this has been possible for many years, yet the focus on Blogging and Blogging technologies has given educators the ability for inexpensive (or free) and relatively easy ways to accomplish these tasks.

Extensions of Text-Based Blogging
While blogging is largely text-based, there are many extensions of this concept with other media (or combinations of media). Podcasting (audio-based blogging) is the most popular of these "other media" blogging options. Named for the ubiquitous iPod mp3 player, Podcasts are very popular and have even been integrated into iTunes (the Apple audio software that does many things including the management of files on the iPod).

Other trends include video blogging, mobile blogging (really just indicates that the blog is updated/customized for viewing on mobile devices like cell phones), picture blogging (many people use Flicker for this--I don't use this as a blog, but here is my site, tablet blogging (using Tablet PC's), Flash blogging, and so forth.

Further Readings

Educator Blogging Sites

Free Blogging Services


Many of you have likely used either Oncourse or OncourseCL. These are the default course management systems (CMS) for Indiana University. I too have used both of these and I have found them both severely lacking.

OncourseCL is the newest incarnation of the IU CMS. It has a number of really useful functions, but there is one major problem with the application. The discussion forum functions (there are actually 2 in this system) are terrible. Aside from reduced functionality over the previous application (Oncourse - original), the discussion function in OncourseCL is terribly slow.

I used OncourseCL with an online class last semester for the first (and hopefully last) time. It was a nightmare.

First these reasons, I have chosen to use an outside system (hosted on my own service) called Moodle ( I used Moodle with an ESL methods course that I taught in fall 2005 and it worked great.

I think that you will find this a pleasure to use, once you get the hang of it. We will be using numerous functions build into Moodle. Primarily this space will provide discussion forums, group chats, and miscellaneous documents (readings, Web pages, and wikis) all wrapped up in a neat package.

However, you will also notice that we will not be bound to Moodle. We will be using numerous, free, online applications that will both provide us with opportunities to interact and will give you practice in using these technologies in an educational context.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


What in the world is a Wiki?

This does sound a little strange, doesn't it? For an indepth description of Wikis, see the Wiki entry in Wikipedia (

The Wikipedia entry is a little verbose, however, so I'll give you the simple explanation here. A Wiki is basically a Web page (or site of connected pages) that anyone (or at least permitted users) can directly edit. Most are set up pretty much the same. There are a number of "tabs" on the page, one of which says "Edit". Clicking on this tab will open a text editor. This editor is pre-loaded with the text that currently exists on the page. You can edit this text and add more of your own. Then you click "Save" and the page then displays the entry with your changes.

I find that collaborating in this manner enables uses to create a page that represents consensus of the users. Adding, editing, and even deleting other users' works is difficult at first, but once you are used to and understand the process it is very effective. The finished product (not that it's really ever finished) is usually a piece that reflects not only the groups' understanding of a concept, but also can reflect the process that the group went through to get there (most Wikis also have a "history" tab that tracks all changes).

You will notice that I used Wikipedia quite a bit these days. While there is a great deal of debate as to the benefits and drawbacks of using this resource for research purposes, there it no better provider of information on current technologies and trends that Wikipedia. I often use Wikipedia and Google as jumping off points for any information gathering that I do.

How will we use Wikis in this course?

We will using two separate Wikis in this course: Moodle and Wikispaces.

Moodle has a build in Wiki that we will use for numerous purposes. I will use it to post course requirements and descriptions. You will notice that the assignment descriptions are in a Wiki. These can only be edited by the instructor, so it is probably not the best use of a Wiki, but it is an easy way to post and edit a Web page. The second use of Wikis in Moodle are ones that you will be editing. I keep these in Moodle because they contain personal information such as contact information, links to your student blogs (see the blog entry below), your MS Messenger account information, chat meeting times, group assignments, and so forth.

We will use Wikispaces (CALL Class Wiki) for more public works. This includes an assessment activity late in the semester as well as a list of CALL resources that we will keep as a class (an extension of the Website/Software Evaluation assignments). These assignments will give you the opportunity to work with and collaborate using a Wiki.

I chose to include an external Wiki (in addition to Moodle) because I wanted you to have experience using a Wiki service that you can use with your own classes. Wikispaces is a free service that can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection. The same is not true of Moodle. Similarly to the student blogs that you will keep, this makes your work public. Publishing your work in this manner makes you an active participant in the field, which will hopefully ease your transition into the CALL community.

Five Flashcard makers online

Virtual=Real: Five Flashcard makers online

Thanks to Elizabeth Hansen-Smith reporting on a posting by Larry Ferlazzo.

This is a list of online flashcard makers. For many reasons, I would say, "why bother?" It seems that this is just a prime example of needlessly taking the physical and putting it online.

However, like many online services, the benefit is largely in the portability of the "cards". I, for one, have hundreds of Korean flashcards (traditional notecards). The problem is that I couldn't possibly carry these around with me. However, I have a computer connected to the Internet just about everywhere I go. Faced with a little free time, online flashcards would be a great, productive way to fill that time.

Some of these allow sharing (i.e., Web 2.0), which would be beneficial both for sharing your lists and for viewing what others are studying.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Net Neutrality - Plain English

Net Neutrality - Plain English

I'm obviously on a video roll today :) I think that this is the same guy behind the other videos. This one is a very different format (TV news editorial), but just as effective.

For those of you who don't know about Net Neutrality, this is a good explanation. I won't get too much into it, because I don't want to politicize the class, but this is a good (very biased) introduction.


Wikis in Plain English

Wikis in Plain English

Another video by the "Plain English" folks. This one is about Wikis. While I'm not sure that this approach makes the concept easier, it's nice to watch :)


Video: RSS in Plain English

RSS in Plain English

This is a neat video explaining what RSS is and what it's good for.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Configuring the Web: individualized content delivery using common Web 2.0 tools

I'm posting this because I'd like feedback. Both positive and negative feedback will help. You won't hurt my feelings, so give it to me :-)

Individualized instruction is the goal expressed by many of us who expouse the glories of technology in the classroom. For a long time, however, I have not been truly satisfied with my suggestions on how to do this.

Too Much Information

In my attempt to process all of the information coming in on new Web 2.0 technologies, student blogs, friends blogs, news sites, and so forth, I welcomed the use of RSS aggregators. These wonderful applications/services collect all the stuff I wanted to follow, organized it in one convenient location, and even reminded me of which posts where read and unread. I knew that these could help graduate, education students in the Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) class to process the loads of information that I was throwing at them and expecting them to find on their own.

What About Language Students?

After implementing this with a couple of classes, I found that it worked with those who an aggregator (which most had to in order to keep up). This left me wondering about how these teachers can take this technology and use it with their students. We talked so much about using it for our own information gathering needs, but the only thing that the teachers could conclude was that students would use it in a similar way. They could follow some blogs, wikis, or other content sources with their aggregators, but little thought was given to directing content to the students other than posts on the class blogs.

Therefore, I started thinking about how we could use the existing, configurable, Web 2.0 technologies (in other words, no development, only configuration) to both individualize the content we provide for students and enable them to build their connections to content. This is what I'll now lay out for you in version 1.0.

Configuring the Web for individualized Content Delivery

I'd like to state that while this is an entirely unique idea for me, this very well could have been written up or implementation before. I would really appreciate comments on this. Point me in the direction of any mention to it in articles, sites, or listserv archives. I would like to give credit where credit is due.

Here is my original sketch of the organization. Note that there are 2 responsibilities represented here: teacher and student.

I've changed this somewhat, but the concept remains the same. Teachers simply gather content and tag it. This content then gets pushed only to the students who need or want it. Let's get started.


Teacher's Role

  1. Teacher has or sets up a account (
    1. This can also be any account that enables RSS pages for individual “tags” or “keywords”. Many blogging applications will do this as well. However, I find that is easy to use and integrates well with and is supported by many services.
  1. Teacher begins to populate with pages of interest for the class (or classes) that they teach. This can be anything from grammar to writing and from audio to video. Of course, this is an ongoing process, but it's nice to start off with some content if possible. In, these can be imported from your browser of choice. An even better way is to install this add-on to your Firefox browser or this Explorer add-on, which will import your bookmarks (or favorites) to delicious and add a button to your browser that makes adding bookmarks to very easy.
    1. These “bookmarks” must be “tagged” in order for them to be sorted automatically at a later time.
      1. These tags should be somewhat standardized, if possible.
        1. Class name (e.g., web2esl)
        2. Skills areas (e.g., writing, grammar, speaking, culture, etc.)
        3. Types of content being linked to (e.g., audio, podcast, video, videocast, quiz, blog, etc.)
        4. Student names or pseudonyms. Of course, with larger classes, you will likely want to stick with skills areas because doing this for individual students could get unwieldy.
  1. Continue to add to your bookmarks whenever you find interesting resources or whenever your students need some outside assistance. There is enough content already out there to keep you and your students busy for a long time. If you need something a little more customized, blog about it or publish it in another RSS-friendly manner.

  2. That’s it.

Students' Role

  1. This is not a transmission approach to learning and, therefore, students are required to be somewhat independent learners. With this in mind, there are some things that students will need to do to take control of their learning and become part of this approach.

  2. Students must use some sort of aggregator. For our purposes, we will be using a “personal homepage” service called Netvibes ( ). This is far from your only option, but, at this time, it seems to offer one of the best services of this type. Students can also use more traditional RSS aggregators such as the Web-based Bloglines ( ) or Google Reader ( ) or desktop-based Feedreader ( ). I believe that there are similar functionalities built into online social networking services like MySpace ( ), FaceBook ( ), and CyWorld ( ). Other services similar to Netvibes also exist, such as PageFlakes ( ) [edit 5/26/2007 - The esteemed Will Richardson posted on using PageFlakes as a student portal. This is similar to what I am doing here and, in fact, portals can do this very well, but Will's idea is a general class (or topic) page and doesn't address individualization. I found this thanks to an anonymous commenter who suggested that PageFlakes is a better option than Netvibes. She pointed to a blog at for more information, which pointed to a PageFlakes page just for students and teachers at] The purpose here is to get them involved in this approach and not to use a particular technology. They likely know these technologies better than you. Let them use whichever service/application that they want to use as long as they get the content delivered to them in a reliable and usable manner.

  3. Have students load their aggregators with some important Feeds. The instructor can also provide an OPML file (list of RSS subscriptions) for import into most aggregators. With Netvibes, you can "share" your tab with the group, which will enable them to add the whole tab to their account. It will load exactly how you had it set up in your account, but after they add it, it belongs to them and they can change it as they like.
    1. Give the students some RSS feed pages to begin with. Here are some examples
      1. Your class blog –
      2. The class feed -
      3. Their personal page feeds – (you should have at least one saved bookmark with their names in the tags) –
      4. Skill area pages – ,


Here are some suggestions on carrying this out with students. I'm sure that many more will be added through experimentation.

  1. Use it - Make this your main form of online communication with individual students and classes. If they are getting messages from multiple locations you're just going to end up confusing them.

  2. Record it - How many suggestions, mini-lessons, and other pearls of wisdom have been lost to the ages in individual or small group discussions with your students? Get this information down in text, audio, or video form and you can re-use it every time the situation arises. Spend more time now to save time later. Start building your own repository using your blog or other mechanism for online storage. Opening these can help you, your students, and other learners/teachers on the Web looking for insite.

  3. Enforce it - For those classes/students who are less than motivated, it might be necessary to check their attention. Here are some ways to do that.
    1. Make it clear that important (and graded) assignments and activities will be scheduled via the feeds, both for the class and for individuals. Make certain that they understand that they are responsible for these activities (no excuses). Then make sure to carry through on this in a reliable fashion.
    2. Quizzes – link to quizzes that the students must take (for a grade) that are only announced on the class feed or individual feeds for more individualized attention.
    3. Schedule activities or assignments using the class or individual feed.
    4. These methods will keep them on their toes and paying attention. You can’t make someone learn, but you can make sure that they are aware of opportunities to do so.

The End

I intend on making a screencast of this process in the near future. I'll post it here when I can.

This is where I'm going to end this epic post (I rarely go over a couple paragraphs). Thanks for making it this far.


Think Before you Post - Public Service Announcement

This is great. Show it to all of your students.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Microsoft Popfly

Microsoft Popfly

I was a little weirded out by the top-level domain .ms, but this seems to be a legit development project by Microsoft.

I couple weeks ago, I posted about Yahoo! Pipes, which is a really cool service that I have yet to even scratch the surface of. Well, it seems that Popfly will be Microsoft's answer to this. However, given their descriptions it looks like it's going to be much more (though there's nothing new about Microsoft hype on products that fall flat).

Right now, they are just starting the buzz. It's currently in private alpha testing (meaning they haven't hit beta testing yet, which would give more of us non-employees access). Stay tuned.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Zamzar - Free online file conversion

If the name isn't fun enough, just check out what you can do here. Zamzar is a conversion service.

These days it always seems that we don't have the right file type when we need it. I have a Word document and need a PDF. I have a MS Video file (.wmv) and need a Quicktime version (.mov). Well, this website will do the conversions for you. Granted a video will take a while to upload to their site, but when you're stuck, you're stuck. This is a great service to use in a pinch.

It's fast and seems reliable. I've converted a few .docs to .pdf so far. I'll have to wait on the video files.

I should add that it will convert files already online. So if you have files, audio, or video online that needs to be converted, this service will do it.

Want to convert YouTube videos? Too bad. You'll have to try something else. This service requires that the URL you supply have a file extension on it, so referring to a database (like with YouTube videos) won't work.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Yahoo! Pipes

How has it taken me this long to use this. I've heard about it numerous times in recent months, but I didn't think much of the descriptions.

This might make your eyes roll back when you see the interface, but the possibilities are incredible and it is well worth learning if you are interested in being a couple years ahead of the game. I only tested if for filtering so far, but it could be done for so much more.

One thing that this does is to create an RSS feed (even from a group of other feeds) that is SUPER customized.

I've been thinking about using an approach like this to deliver individualize feedback and tools for learners in both the CALL class and my EFL courses. I see some real potential in this tool (which is still in Beta).

All I can say is Wow!


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Video: RSS in Plain English

Take a look at this video. You should already understand much of this if you have followed up with your subscriptions begun at the beginning of the course.

Nice video.


Student Books on Lulu

Great posting on a student publishing project. How cool is this? It is so modern, yet a little retro at the same time. How about some new books for your library. How about your students as the authors?


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Comedy Central: Crash Course in Comedy

This is a really cool contest and application. I hope that they keep it around for a while, but it will likely disappear after the contest.

This application uses a technology from Oddcast who create avatars for use in Web pages. The audio can be drive by text (text is converted to speech by the computer), a audio file, recorded by phone, or recorded directly by microphone. You character will then perform this.

I thought that this was really fun and could be used in many ways that have nothing to do with comedy OR you could have students try their hand at humor (a difficult cultural and linguistic task)

I made a very brief example. Click HERE to check it out.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Google Maps

I know that this will just end badly, but I think that I love Google. They just keep on coming out with new, cool, tools all the time.

I've loved Google Maps (, but their newest feature just thrills me to no end.

You will now notice a new tab in Google Maps called "My Maps". This lets you annotate, save, and publish your own personal maps. Don't think that this is just a way to look at places, it is most definately a communication tool as well. These annotations can tell a story with text and images.

It was so cool I had to map out a few places around my campus. Check it out.

Lastly, this tool is incredibly easy to use. There's not that much functionality yet, which is good because there's not too much getting in the way of you using it. I predict that this will become one of my favorite tools to use both personally and professionally.


Friday, April 06, 2007

How to Use English Punctuation Correctly - WikiHow

This could provide some of you with a lot of fun. Do you see yourself as a punctuation perfectionist? Why not give advice to others by editing this wiki?


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Teaching EFL to Children: The Delight of Being Constantly Challenged

Here is another article on TESL-EJ. It isn't really a tech article, but it is a good example how you can get teachers' stories out there using a simple Web page (in this case an online journal).

These are personal stories of Cambodian English Teachers collected at/as a result of the TESOL Conference in Cambodia.



SuperMemo 2004

This is a neat-looking software reviewed on TESL-EJ (a nice journal with many practical articles for language teachers).

The software seems a little overpriced in today's market, but the features are quite useful. It is basically a flashcard program, but it has a lot of features that you aren't likely to find on the free ones, including support for HTML and multimedia (I don't know if you can embed something from Google Videos or YouTube--that would be nice).

Given the price, I don't think that I'd buy it, but something like this to provide ongoing review of language learning is a good idea. An approach like this is something that we should encourage our learners to do.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Creating ePortfolios with Web 2.0 Tools

Some nice comparisons and examples of using different tools for e-portfolios by Helen Barrett.

These are not all exactly the same on different formats, however, this could be because of the affordances (abilities) of the different tools.

These are not the only tools out there, but it is a good representation of what's available. Also, she does not take advantage of the ability to embed audio, video, and images in the pages. The pages are largely text. I would suggest that you utilize these evironments to much more with visual design and multimedia


Monday, March 26, 2007

Whip Learns to Golf

Even if you are not a golfer, take a look at this. Thanks to Bee for pointing this out.

This uses one person's experience with learning to play golf as a vehicle for discussing learning theory. It is a really interesting way to do this.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

4 Corners Broadband: You Only Live Twice

This is an impressive documentary by the Australian Broadcasting Company on Second Life. It is easily the broadest, yet most in-depth look at Second Life that I've ever seen. It is a must see for anyone interested in this phenomenon.

They hit on so many different aspects of the service and the culture growing up around it, I'm just amazed.

* NOTICE - There are some adult themes in the documentary when they discuss adult content in the 3-D world.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

NTeQ Lesson plans

I have no clue what NTeQ stands for, but it is aimed at helping teachers integrate computer technology into their classrooms. It is run by Gary Morrison (big name in Educational Technology) and Deborah Lowther.

There are a ton of lesson plans here organized by grade and topic. I found some real gems in there, however, the biggest problem is that many are incomplete and nearly all of the Foreign Language ones (including ESL) are missing objectives...come on teachers!

That being said, many are really good and include what to do and what technologies to use. They are also not overly prescriptive. They provide general suggestions that you can play with if you'd like.

There are lots of lesson plan repositories on the Web. Have you found any that you like?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Discussing Media Literacy With Dan Rather | PBS

While this is not a revolutionary posting, the simple fact that a person who has been welcomed into people's homes for 40 years as a journalist is commenting so elegantly on media literacy is of particular note.

I really like the way that Rather explains the need for media literacy as an essential part of education. This is the type of story that you would expect from one of those old, professors who have seen it all and see what's old becoming new again.

Media (or Information) literacy is one of the solutions that I advocate for dealing with the "problems" of inappropriate activities in online spaces from chat to MySpace. Telling students not to use them will work as well as the "Just Say No" campaign of the 80's (the generation preached to during that time showed unprecedented increases in drug use in the mid-90's). Educating people (I'd include adults on this) about the problems that occur in public (virtual) spaces and ways that they can protect themselves prepares them to engage the spaces and not just hide from them.

What's your view on this?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Rows of desks and lectures? Too old-school |

Could you see yourself in a "New Tech" school?

More schools are popping up under this model. I haven't heard much about them before and the paper provides a rather shallow review.

I would venture to guess that you are going to see more alternative models popping up over time and that this is one of many.

I would love to see some case studies on these schools. I want to know how they hire, fire, train, and instruct (of course the last one is of most interest). I'd also love to know if Dr. Reigeluth's (IU IST professor) Decature project is part of this. His is a large systemic change project with Decatur schools.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Everyone is commenting on this in the listservs and I assume that it's being blogged about quite a bit too. Time to unleash it on you all :)

This is an interesting project that uses Google Earth (which is a program you have to download to your computer) to map out the literary routes for a number of novels. I'm assuming that you will see many more in the next few years.

Go to the site for information, resources, including the .kmz files for use with Google Earth.

Also check out Google Certified Teacher program ( Looks interesting for those of you a little more ambitous on the technology end.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Wikis in the Classroom

Here is another fun and informative video by Cool Cat Teacher (

Monday, March 05, 2007

Humanity Lobotomy - Net Neutrality Open Source Documentary

This is a very interesting video on "Net Neutrality". If you don't know anything about it, look it up. This is the classic battle between freedom of information and governmental/corporate control of information. Attacks on this norm could kill innovation in online.

Save the Internet | Rock the Vote

Sunday, March 04, 2007

ImageChef - Customize Photos, Clip Art

Here's a neat site that enables you to customize some images for your blog, web pages, and so forth.

You might find this useful when designing buttons or other graphics for your WebQuests.

Online Video Industry Index

Interested in online video. Here is a resource provided by the Read/WriteWeb blog that can take you beyond a basic Google search.

Language learning and exercise - English360 Blog


Well I'm not sure if this qualifies, but it is certainly a neat idea. How would you like to sweat a little while learning Spanish? Check out this posting from english360.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Using Skype with your students

This is a neat video on using Skype with your students. It's mostly advice for setting up and managing Skype in class, but it's great information. The size of the video is too small to see details unfortunately, but it should be useful anyway.


Friday, February 23, 2007 - The complete Web 2.0 directory

This is not for those of you with a weak stomach :) It is a listing of all (or at least a lot) of Web 2.0 applications on the Web.

It left me with my jaw dropping. I've got a lot of tools to try out.

Geosense: an online world geography game

This game was simply addictive. You can play alone or with another player online.

I don't have a lot of ideas for this, but one obvious one would be with cities and countries.

I'd love to hear any ideas you have (if you can stop playing the game :)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chinswing - Creating Conversations (A place to share, discuss and debate)

This is a interesting application. It is basically an audio discussion forum. It is linear, with the starting comment/question played first then all of the responses played linearly afterwards.

While I don't see this being good for our class, I think that it can be good for language classes. I saw a couple interesting uses already in action. One thread was a building story, one person starts then the next continues and so forth. Another way could be to record brief student presentations or opinion pieces or introduction and so forth.

Check it out for yourself.


This is a great search engine for audio and video (save it for our search topic later). You may be saying, "how do we search through audio and video?" The answer is that technology is really cool.

The company states that they use voice recognition along with metadata (that's text information embedded in the files) to search. I'm suspecting that the metadata makes up for most of the search results, but I still liked what I found.

Try it out yourself.

Web 2.0 for Language Learning - BLOG-EFL

Graham Stanley is a really accessible thinker and do'er in the CALL community. I really like this video that he created on Web 2.0 for language learning.

Friday, February 16, 2007

skrbl: easy to share online whiteboard

You all can usually tell when I'm sifting through my blogs and listservs as I tend to post a lot more here.

This is one of the coolest tools that I've run across all year (and I don't just mean the last 2 months).

skrbl (or Scribble) is an online whiteboard application. I've used these in the past and they have always disappointed me. They were either slow to update, required the installation of software, or were simply poorly designed. skrbl is none of these. It is an easy design, easy to use (don't even need to register, but I'd recommend doing so if you like it), easy to invite others to use, and most importantly, NO SOFTWARE to install.

I used it briefly with my wife. There was a small delay (about a second or so), but we were also a very long distance from one another. Though we are next to each other in the office, I'm am technically on a server in Indianapolis, so my signal has to go to Indy and back.

I was really amazed and I would be happy to try this out with anyone if you'd like.

Thursday, February 15, 2007 - Be virtually fluent in no time..... BETA!

This is a potentially wonderful service.

I'm not sure whether all of you (or any of you) know about Second Life. This is a virtual world with graphics and interaction to rival many games. It is not a game but rather a virtual space that enables people to interact with avatars (computer representations of you) and objects.

This type of immersive environment has real potential for language learning and, not surprisingly, there are a few areas in Second Life dedicated to language learning (primarily ESL). However, these spaces lack a certain polish that I think will be necessary for wide spread usage.

Language Lab and others like it might be the future in this realm. I say "might" because they have not officially launched yet and thus I cannot check them out. I have a request in to them to check the place out, let's see if they get back to me.


P.S., if anyone is interested in getting into Second Life, let me know. I can walk you through some of the steps and I can provide some resources and advice.

How your students bypass the school's Internet filters

While I knew this was possible, I never really knew how easy it was. A poster on one of my listservs (next week's topic) suggested that we just look up the words: bypass, internet, filter on Google. I did and I was surprised at how easy they say it is (whether it is really easy or not is another story).

Every semester, I have people complain that this site and that site are blocked at their school. I usually just end up telling them about alternative sites to use. I likely will continue to do so, because I don't want them to get in trouble. However, I think that you should know how your students are doing it.

There are about 4 or so hits on the first page that link to products/sites that help people get around Internet filters.

If you ever check these out remember 1 thing, DO NOT INSTALL OR DOWNLOAD ANYTHING. The sites/services are dodgy at best and I would not trust them on your computer. I would even go as far to say that you should make sure to have your antivirus up to date and your Operating System (i.e., Windows XP) up to date before visiting. Do you get the picture? Visit these sites at your own risk.

Here are the results:

I'm really interested to see if the filters actually block these sites as well. I wonder how well it all works.

One option that students have it to install a proxy server on their own computers at home (somewhat easy to do). This way, the filter company wouldn't have a chance to block it.

Lastly, I'm really interested in these methods for freedom of information issues. I'm not really concerned about high school students in America...block away. However, I really am concerned about access to information for those living in countries that feel blocking information is in the best interests of the population (and the government).

I have seen this happen many times with friends and colleauges in China. Actually, it was through one of them that I first heard about using proxy servers to get around filters.

So, use this information at your own peril, but it is an issue is worthy of your attention.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Students use IM-lingo in essays -

There's a new one of these articles every once in a while. I keep posting them because they are great conversation starters with teachers, particularly language teachers.

I like to refer to this as "chatese", but IM-lingo is pretty good too. This dialect of English (at this point you might be able to refer to it as a pidgin at this point, I'd love to hear ideas on which it is) is widely "spoken" and could be considered a functional dialect for millions of text messaging (SMS) and instant messaging software.

This, however, frustrates some teachers to no end. They see it as a corruption of the language and yet a sign of sloth the permeates the younger generation.

I would respectfully disagree. I think that these same teachers forget their own (or at least others in their generation) use of non-standard forms of the language (primarily slang). These have always leaked into school assignments, much to the chagrin of teachers.

In all of these cases, teachers have eventually come to the conclusion that they can't convince students not to use the language, but they could teach them that there are appropriate times to use different language forms. For example, using "standard English" in a chat room will mark you as an outsider, with all the negative associations that accompany the designation. In the same vein, using chatese in academic, business, or other formal writing will mark the author as immature, naive, and even disrespectful.

I'll take your opinions if you'd like to post a comment.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Machine is Us/ing Us

Ok, this is one of those infotainment pieces, but I thought that it was just too cool not to pass on. It is a video about the way that technology is changing how we interact with information and each other.

This is a fast-paced piece that takes quite a bit of concentration to process. Follow the typing text on the screen. The score is purely for emotional effect, but I liked that too.