Thursday, 27 August 2009

ESL Video

This is a great tool that I read about in Nik Peachey's blog, Nik's Quick Shout

It allows you to embed a video and create a quiz based on it. Once you are done, you can grab the code to embed in a blog, wiki, etc. As my students love working with video clips, I find this tool of enormous pedagogical value since students are developing vocabulary and listening skills through a highly motivating activity. This has also proved a valuable resourse to entice students to visit their wiki, where, alongside their working spaces, they now have a video page.

The only weak points I have encountered so far are that ESL caters solely for multiple choice questions. Besides, if you want to embed the code on Ning, you'll find that you can only do so on the pages that have a text box (Main, Members, Groups) Apparently, "iframes" can only be added to text boxes in Ning.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Open & Networked Teaching: A Transformative Journey

Alec Couros gave a fantastic talk today on the benefits of open and networked teaching. In his one-hour passionate and inspiring presentation, he made attendees reflect on the nature of knowledge, the change of learning paradigms from individual to social, the benefits of sharing instead of hoarding.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

WordSift: Tool for visualizing text

Wordle taken a step beyond?

Apart from showing the most frequent words in a text in the form of tag clouds, this tool integrates visualization of word relationships and Google searches of images and videos. You can see images of the words, word webs, definitions, sentences where those words appear, etc.
Some of the applications suggested in the tutorial below include:
  • pre- reading activities, e.g. making predictions about a text, introducing unfamiliar vocabulary
  • post- reading activities, e.g. creating word webs to explore connections between words, writing a paragraph including some of the most frequent words

Friday, 24 April 2009

Bookmarking and annotating

Today I came across this post by Robert which I definitely want to remember. I had no idea that there were tools like the ones he mentions below, which let you bookmark, annotate and share web pages.

"...I wonder if others have experience of these:"

I have had a quick look at some of them and they look really interesting. I'd like to explore this some more to see how they compare with, Diigo and SimplyBox.



This is a tool for capturing, sharing and organising content you come across in the web. While you're surfing, you can make captures of any section of the page that interests you, put it in boxes you can organise according to topic, add comments to your boxes, share your boxes with other people who can also add comments and content.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Adding subtitles to videos

Overstream is a free tool that allows you to add subtitles to online videos. It only takes a few seconds to upload the video of your choice. Adding the subtitles is quite straightforward as well. You only need to get the hang of the timing. Anyway, the step by step tutorials on the page are very clear and easy to follow. When you are done, you can get the url or the embed code.

Since students in general like working with videos, I think this tool offers a lot of potential for the language classroom. For example:
  • giving background information about a particular artist. My experiment:

  • describing feelings
  • telling the story behind the lyrics and the images of a music video
  • preparing vocabulary quizzes based on the lyrics/images, etc.

Friday, 10 April 2009


Today, as I was following a link in a blog, I came across "Digifolios", a tool completely new to me. When I googled the word, I ended up in a slideshare created by Cristina Costa. She provides a very clear explanation of what digifolios are and how they can benefit us and our students. This is part of what she says in one of her comments below the presentation:

"I think eportfolios really have a 'saying' in the 21st century, and we as educators need to look at it from the students' perspective. And also find ways to realize how it can add value to what they are doing. It is important to guide them to establish their professional and personal identity in order to make them more marketable to their future careers. How people can be prepared / mentored to show evidence of their knowledge (what they know), of their ongoing activity (what, how and with whom they are learning) and of their predisposition to keep learning and upgrading their skills ( how flexible, how dynamic and how willing they are to constantly improve and excel)"

And this is the actual presentation:

Saturday, 14 March 2009

ISSUU: publishing tool

ISSUU is an extremely versatile publishing tool. It allows you to publish different types of documents in a very attractive way, with the look and feel of a real book.
You can share your work with other users, create networks and work collaboratively with the people in them, insert relevant documents from other users into your own creations to have all the information relevant to you in a single place, and, I guess, many other things that I haven't explored yet.

This is a very simple example of what you can do with this tool:

My colleagues'reaction

A few days ago, we had our first teachers' meeting of the year. Inspired by all I had experienced and shared during the Enhancing Lessons session, I went on and on about the benefits of integrating technology into our practice.

This is my colleagues' answer:

From Verónica Maser:

From Claudia Bondino:

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Thomas Robb's posting in ARCALL

The following is an article by Thomas Robb, posted in ARCALL blog. I was surprised by the fact that, even in highly developed countries, it is not easy to integrate technology into education. His mention of the importance of the "human element" resonates with me, since I am concerned about the difficulty to coax teachers into implementing ICTs to enhance our practice. His words made me feel that I am not alone in the struggle towards that aim.

Thomas Robb's contribution to our blog

It was my great pleasure to participate in the ARCALL online chat session in Elluminate on February 23rd with Jennifer Verschoor -ARCALL funding member- sitting next to me in my hotel room in Buenos Aires and others participating from distant locations. I'd just like to summarize what I said there and to add a few comments.

One person asked how CALL was organized in Japan and this was a very important question, because it brings to the fore a very important issue. Most teaching with technology, be it CALL or anything else, is not very organized at all. Despite the relative wealth of equipment available in Japanese universities, and recently even in secondary schools, only some teachers use technology and, for the most part, they stick to one or two tools that they are most familiar with and can use comfortably with their students.

Very few schools have any sort of coordinated program where multiple teachers collaborate and use the same tech tools in some sort of uniform fashion. Perhaps this will come in the future, but right now what I see is rather chaotic. Yet, on the other side of the coin, we need to be aware of attempts of institutions to force technology on us because generally it is not done effectively. Stories about rooms of computers gathering dust and other major expenses that have done to waste are legion. Administrations tend to spend money (when they have it) on hardware, but ignore the software and human elements (training and support) that are needed for any new technology to succeed. Teachers need to "buy in to" the system if it is going to have this chance.

The establishment of ARCALL is an important step in the right direction because technology is not going to succeed unless there are enthusiastic users to support the other teachers in their initial attempts to use technology and to experiment with what is currently available in order to discover what works best. I hope that ARCALL can grow into a major force towards the implemtation of technology in the schools so that students can take advantage of all of the wonderful advantages that it offers for langauge practice, communication and cultural exchange.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Tool for creating animations

I have just learnt about this tool in AllSharing, a ning platform created by Mbarek Akkadar.

GoAnimate seems to have a lot of potential for story telling. One of the features I like the most is that it allows you to record your voice, thus lending itself to developing speaking and listening skills.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Interesting Article (in Spanish)

I came across this article in ARCALL (Argentine Computer Assisted Language Learning)Yahoo Group. I think it perfectly illustrates the point of why it is essential for teachers to help their students develop their ICT competence.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Saturday, 6 Feb highlights

  • Rita's presentation at Elluminate with a clear classification of different web 2.0 tools followed by a demonstration of how she's using them with her students. Superb!

The Web 2.0 Honing Social Skills
View more presentations from RitaZ. (tags: #enhancinglessons writingmatrix)

  • Then we had another wonderful session at Elluminate, during which we put together a Bubbleshare album working collaboratively and having lots of fun in the process. Here's the outcome:

BubbleShare: Share photos - Play some Online Games.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

3 Feb highlights

Today a friend sent me this wonderful video and I immediately thought of embedding it here. Watching and listening to it was definitely an aha experience. You'll see why:

Sunday, 1 February 2009

1 Feb highlights

Today we finish Week 3. Incredible!
So many interesting things this week:
  • Alicia, Analía and Rita put together a great wrap up in the YG files
  • This conversation created by Vicky Saumell using Chinswing. She invited teachers around the world to introduce themselves. I think she has managed to produce invaluable authentic material for listening practice. Bonus track: listening to some famous webheads talking about themselves. A gem!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

29 Jan highlights

We are already in Week 3: Integrating Online Speaking and Listening. This has been a most fruitful week so far, with very interesting comments in the Enhancing Lessons Yahoo Group and warm friendly chats at Tapped In.
Some highlights:
  • Alicia's idea for using Chinswing:
"How about this idea? Children love listening to stories and inventing stories. After teaching and practising the past tense, the teacher could start a story in CS. Sth like 'It was Sunday and Roberta was going to visit her grandparents who lived in the wood. She woke up at seven and .....'
Then the children would have to continue the story (we could even ask them to begin by repeating the last sentence in the previous post). The teacher could post again if necessary (e.g if they have lost track of the story).
  • The discussion Rita started in Tapped In, which allowed me to discover this wonderful tool.
  • The links to Studystack provided by Robert. Great tool for learning and practising vocabulary.
  • The Flickr toys links provided by Analía. They are great for creating stories associated with images. Here they are: Bookr Bubblr Phrasr

Thursday, 22 January 2009

18-22 Jan Highlights

Five days without posting... but not precisely because I've had nothing to say. Quite the opposite!
So much has been going on that I've had no time to report here. The highlights?
  • Participants have started creating their blogs. A pleasure to read their posts and learn from their comments and reflections!
  • Great chats at Tapped In with some participants. The night before last I got to know a bit more about Mónica from Buenos Aires and her lovely 4-year-old son, who actually typed some messages in a language of his own.
  • Thanks to Analía, I realised that I had to state my email in Settings>Comments here in order to receive notifications when someone commented here. Thanks Ana! And sorry dear visitors for not answering sooner. Now you know the reason :-)

Sunday, 18 January 2009

17 Jan highlights

Definitely, meeting some participants at Elluminate for a live session. It was wonderful to put a voice - and a face, because we uploaded our photos onto the whiteboard - to the names signing the posts in the YG and in the wiki.

We discussed some features of the Elluminate environment, generally getting familiar with it, and then we went on to share the kind of tools we have been using in our lessons.

The session was so exciting that some of us decided to continue chatting at Tapped In when the Elluminate session was over.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

14 Jan highlights

1. Watching the video here featuring Michael Wesch, a cultural anthropologist at Kansas State University, discussing Web 2.0 in terms of social impact. Some of the points he makes:
  • teaching has not changed but learning has
  • students learn what they do
  • to learn is to create meaningful connections, to create significance
  • there's no meaning without connection and no connection without meaning
  • students learn what they care about from people they care about and who, they know, care about them
Wow! And I just watched half of it (it lasts about an hour)

2. Meeting CarolinaL in Tapped In. Nice talking to you Carolina!

Co-moderating Enhancing Lessons

Here I am, starting yet another blog. But the event well deserves an exclusive venue.
Being in the moderating team of Enhancing Lessons is proving to be a wonderful experience for so many reasons.
To begin with, because of the fabulous moderators:
  • Robert, the perfect gentleman, always so patient with us inexperienced members.
  • Rita, my mentor, so generous and warm.
  • Nina, another generous webhead.
  • Maru, whom I've known for only one year but has already become a true friend.
  • And then my colleagues from Rosario, Analía and Alicia whom I knew only by name or remembered vaguely and who are already becoming wonderful road companions on this journey.