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.