Sunday, January 28, 2007


Skypecasts are a product from the friendly folks at Skype. In my limited experience with them so far, I think that these (or services like this) will be HUGE in the future.

Skypecasts is still a Beta product. Beta means that it is not finished and is just being publicly tested. This means that the product isn't without a significant number of bugs. However, after joining 3 of these Skypecasts now, I can tell you that the bugs don't impede use of the product.

While there are many languages represented here on many topics, tne of the most interesting use of this product is with the numerous Skypecasts focusing on English language practice (there are some other languages represented as well). These are run both by "teachers" (I don't really know their qualifications) and language learners themselves. The latter is the most interesting use.

There's a neat little "widget" (see the right side) that displays all of my upcoming Skypecasts. You can click on the right one (the times are a little off--just choose the one closest to the meeting time below) to get to the Skypecast (Skype must be turned on first). This will load a Web page that contains a link to "join this Skypecast" (only at the time it is scheduled--not earlier).

We'll give it a try for the first time next week

Korea: Sunday 12:00am
Sweden: Saturday 4:00pm
Greensboro: Saturday 10:00am
Indianapolis: Saturday 10:00am
Little Rock: Saturday 9:00am
Chicago: Saturday 9:00am
Clovis: Saturday 8:00am

If you notice the time span here, you can tell that it's tough to find a time when we can all meet. I think that the above time could work best. While I know that one time will never be good for everyone, this one seems pretty good.

* Please double check these times for your time zone (the Korea time is correct) try


Friday, January 26, 2007

bubbl.u is a really neat online outlining tool. You can create an account (or just log in anonymously) and save all of your outlines.

The program allows you to print (with easy menu) your outline. Unfortunately, you can't save it as an image. However, if you'd like to save a copy as an image, it's easy enough to take a screenshot.

Of course, it's free (for now). It looks as if they are searching for advertisers, though.

Re: Book written in txt msg -

This was inevitable. I'm just surprised that it took so long to come out. I don't think that it's just the Finns or people from any country per se; it's simply a new form of communication for the masses.

If you're teaching any group of students this day (young or old) you have to deal with this in your classroom. Not only do I mean the incessant texting during class, but I also mean dealing with the texting language creeping into academic discourse.

You can see it as an attack, as an art form, or simply as a teachable moment. The choice is yours.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Windows Vista Business Test Drive

Do you want to try Microsoft's new operating system before buying or being forced to use it? Try out this Vista test drive. It also includes Office 2007. Neat way to try it before you buy it.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Vaestro: The Dialogue Driven Network

I ran across this today via another site (see my previous posting). At first I thought that it was just another discussion forum, but it's a little more than that. It is an audio discussion forum. It's organized just like other threaded discussion forums you've likely used, but each entry is an audio segment.

I'm not a big fan of the design (particularly the player), but I'm not going to complain since this is a free application :)

Check out the test site that I started. Leave a message if you have the chance.


Let's learn English

This is seems like a really interesting site. It is a Moodle site for free English "classes". I haven't been able to find much in the way of classes but it looks like it's just getting started.

The most interesting thing about this site is a "partner" blog ( for a free, live Skypecast that learners and native speakers can participate in. I haven't been able to do this yet, but it would make for an excellent Website/software evaluation.

I really respect this approach and I'd love to know more about the folks carrying this out.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Welcome to CALL spring 2007

Hi Folks,

Welcome to the CALL Class blog. I'll use this blog solely for posting reviews and "how to's" of technologies and resources that I find useful for langauge 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.

Thursday, January 04, 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 use
Wikipedia quite a bit. 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

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. In addition to all of this, the CALL Class Wiki is a running record of CALL class activities. Not just for this semester, but for all semesters. It just so happens that this is the 2nd semester participating. Congratulations :)

Wednesday, January 03, 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.

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

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


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 in the spring 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 as well as the CALL class last semester and it worked great on both occasions.

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.