Wednesday, March 31, 2004

ESL + EFL friendly blogs for learning English/teaching English

ESL EFL friendly blogs for learning English/teaching English:

"Blogs for learning English teaching English or ESL EFL friendly blogs provides links to economics blogs, travel blogs, and many other types of blogs. These blogs can be used for learning English teaching English because ESL EFL students are welcome and encouraged to post comments on each blog. "

Thanks to James Trotta for this site...

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Change of Design

I have changed the design of the site again - It's been long overdue, especially as the tag box code, etc meant that the blog took a long time to load. Now the main blog should load first and the other facilities some time after...

Teacher Blog from Korea

An English as a second language blog - ESL blog

"the first time you teach something, you learn something. The second time you teach something, the students learn something. The third time you teach something, no one learns anything."

Reflective blog from a Korea-based EFL teacher

Free Bulletin Board / Document Review

Here's another tool that might be useful for educators preparing papers for publication, etc. :

QuickTopic Document Review - QuickTopic bulletin board:

"You've authored a document and you'd like your peers to review it. Quick Doc ReviewSM gives you an instant private space for gathering comments on any HTML document (Microsoft Word documents too). Your group can comment on each paragraph, directly within the document, and you can also display, sort, and print the comments separately. Comments are all in one central place. This is true collaboration, much better than mailing documents around and having people make comments in isolation. And it's private, but still easy to access."
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | The revolution should not be eulogised:

"Weblogs are just too varied, too idiosyncratic, to fit into an existing box. Industry analysts might call this disruptive technology because weblogs have changed personal publishing so profoundly that the old rules no longer apply. We are at the beginning of a new age of online publishing "

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Weblogg-ed - Using Weblogs and RSS in Education ::

"In discussions with students about why so many (at least on our campus) are so uncomfortable with blogging and resistant, we had some provocative conversations about accountability - not everyone wants their words published online where anyone can see and you are held accountable for what you say"

...from a summary of a much longer article entitled I'm Blogging This: A Closer Look at Why People Blog.

Thanks to Stephen's Web for the link
ERADC - ePortfolio research and development community:

"Many view the ePortfolio as the future of learning, a powerful aid for personal development. The ePortfolio can serve as a tool for learning, assessment, career management and knowledge supervision."

Speculative paper discussing how the use of webogs and e-portfolios could be combined
cadence90:What Bloggers want...

"The one greatest differentiator of a weblog from a paper journal is this: it can connect to ideas, documents and material created by people all over the world. Tough to do that with a spiral-bound notebook. The literature of humanity is filled with references to 'magical books' which can effortlessly transport the reader to a multitide of new worlds simply by touching a page or looking at a picture. Each weblog is just such a book -- by simply touching a link, we are whisked off to yet another new sphere of knowledge that is one of an apparently limitless number of unique linked worlds."

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

wwwtools for teachers:

"Edublogs and their associated literature now constitute some of the richest lodes of online learning resources available. This edition of WWWTools for Education can do no more than sketch a mud-map of the current territory, scratch the surface a little, and point to some tools for delving deeper. "
Furl - Your web page filing cabinet:

"Furl is a new web browsing tool that lets you save and organize thousands of useful web pages (you know, the ones you want to save for future reference but then can never find again) in a personal 'web page filing cabinet'.

Once saved, you can effortlessly find any page again later using a powerful full text search tool. With Furl you can forget trying to save and organize dozens of bookmarks, forget saving web pages to your desktop, in fact forget everything except how to find a useful web page again next time you need it. "
Web Journals in Language Education :

"General aims

To investigate the use of peer-to-peer collaborative online writing environments within the context of language education.
To create a collaborative web platform which allows language students to keep an online journal.
To investigate cross-cultural virtual communities of language learners"

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Teresa Almeiada d'Eca will also be presenting her experience of using a class blog for 7th grade students at TESOL 2004. Teresa was instrumental in encouraging me to start blogging, and it should be a great presentation.

Look here for more details: Internet Fair 2004 - Let's Blog!
Teresa Almeida dEca has a new class blog for her 5th graders (beginner EFLers) called
Fun with English.

It's an interesting project, not only because she's using the blog with beginners, but also because, as she herself said: "We've been having an exchange with three Polish kids for several weeks now and have been using voice messaging from HandyBits. It's a great user-friendly tool!"

I'd never heard of Handybits before, but it seems to add an extra dimension to Teresa's class blog, and it's freeware too.

Check out Teresa's blog to find out more.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Translating Dictionary, Thesaurus, and More:

"LookWAYup combines a multilingual dictionary, thesaurus, translation, and other handy tools. With a double-click you can look-up the meaning of a word, search it on the same site or the whole Web using your favorite search engine, and more! All that without leaving the Web page."

Thanks to Colin at http://blogalization.nu/ for this - a fabulous tool that's perfect for EFL / ESL student blogs

* Try it out : click on any word in this page for an instant definition...
Following on from James's idea, I've decided to look for Travel-related sites first, and have started looking at Blogorama, a Blog directory that's worth bookmarking.

Means of transport:

The first one isn't a weblog and doesn't allow comments to be posted on actual entries, but it does have a guestboook, and is a fabulous travel site: The Man in Seat 61 is a site all about travelling by train.

Traveller's Blogs

Anne and Stephen's Big Adventure has now finished, but the blog of what happened to these two world travellers is still online and has a comments feature.

North America by bike is also over, but still online. No comments feature, however.

By Country:

One way of approaching travel blogs could be by country. If the students choose a country and try to discover something about it's culture, geography, etc, as part of a wider project, it might be a good idea for them to check out some blogs about that country to get a more personal feel. They can always start by searching Google by entering the country they have chosen and 'blog' to get a selection.

Here are some I've just found that could be used, that also have commenting facilities:
- Japan
- China

Inside Views:


Rolling Rains Report : "Precipitating Dialogue on Travel, Disability, and Universal Design"

Well, this is just a selection of sites. To be continued...
James Trotta at the Weblog in ELT group British Council Search English site is doing some research on using blogs with students for reading. He is compiling a list of blogs by category, that allow for comments to be posted by students. This not only gives students extra reading practice, but enables them to get involved in a L1 community that appeals to their own interests. Great idea James!

Hopefully we can publish the list shortly on the Search English site if anyone's interested in this. Just register for a password and go to the forum / file section.

Meanwhile, I'll start posting here sites that meet the criteria. Please let us know if you know of any sites too.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Blogalization | Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it.:

"Double-click any word on this site to view its definition, or enter it above"

I'm not sure how this works, but it does work, and is a wonderful tool to have on a blog / web-page aimed at students of English...
Designing for Civil Society: Online communities 'are old-skool' says Amy Jo:

"Amy Jo Kim, one of the gurus of creating and managing large-scale communities on the Net, now says that these forums, chats rooms and email groups are 'old-skool.'
Blogging about emergent purpose, she writes: 'Online communities are old-skool. The heat these days is around social networks, buddy lists &blogs "
Designing for Civil Society: Top 10 Open Source Tools: "Drupal (Blogs) http://drupal.org/
Interaction: Lots of user interaction & interaction between related Drupal sites. Extensive use of RSS feed publishing & aggregating.
Strengths: Informal, newsy, often personal. There are a lot of folks who are bloggers or participate in blog culture.
Weaknesses: Like other news focused sites, if it isn't updated regularly, it becomes stale very quickly.
Tips: ...the blog format can be a great way to humanize messages on an ongoing topic ...blogs have a 'note from a friend' feel to them -- much more personal than the same information presented in a web news or magazine framework. When using blogs, consider having a single 'voice' or a small group of voices do all posts, to reinforce the personal flavour of the blog."

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Wired News: Warning: Blogs Can Be Infectious:

"The most-read webloggers aren't necessarily the ones with the most original ideas"
Bloki:

"Bloki is a Web site on which you can create Web pages, publish a blog, and host online discussions"

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

BlogTalk 2.0 : Call for Proposals: "BlogTalk 2.0 The European Weblog Conference
The conference will be held in Vienna, Austria, Europe, in July 2004. "

Thanks to the Educational Webloggers Network for this.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

EduBlog Insights : EduBlog Insights:

"Here are a few of the weblogs that have emerged out of the 'Creating and using weblogs in ESL/EFL' online session:"

On Anne Davis' blog you'll find a comprehensive list of new blogs
jill/txt:

"These are posts from Jill Walker's weblog jill/txt that have to do with blogs and teaching."
misbehaving.net:

"misbehaving.net is a weblog about women and technology. It's a celebration of women's contributions to computing; a place to spotlight women's contributions as well point out new opportunities and challenges for women in the computing field."
Structure 3:

"The purpose of this weblog is to show links to exercises that will be useful to ESL students in Structure 3 at Arizona Western College. Each link corresponds to a chapter from the textbook used in class"

An example of a weblog used to supplement a course book
Xavi's Blog is one of the best examples of the Image student blogs (see post below)
The Imatge English Weblog is a tutor blog that has links to individual student blogs.

I have been using weblogs with this group since October, and have made writing to them a compulsory part of the course. With this course, I have to set assignments every couple of weeks (it's a requirement of the curriculum), and so I decided to ask the students to use the weblog for this.

The other reason why I decided to use weblogs with this class in particular is that the lack of classrooms in the polytechnic where I teach the class means that one of the three English teachers have to take the class in a CALL lab once every three weeks (we rotate).

This was obviously a good opportunity to use blogs. You can access the individual learner blogs from the images at the top of the page on the Tutor blog.

One task I asked them to do was to post one of their photos, or to select a photo from the Web and write about it.

Pete's CALL Test Weblog: a weblog to discuss and evaluate CALL activities.

"the power relationship implicit in a weblog might be unhelpful. Most weblogs are owned - they 'belong' to an individual or group. Insiders post content and outsiders comment on content...very different to an e-mail discussion list."

A very well consdiered, interesting post...

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Wired 11.11: VIEW:

"when done right...the blog is a tool for building community. The trick is to turn the audience into the speaker. A well-structured blog inspires both reading and writing. And by getting the audience to type, candidates get the audience committed. "
Integrating Blogs in Online Communities

What makes an online community work? I've become interested in this recently, especially (but not exclusively) online communities that are Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs).

The communities that seem to be successful seem to offer a personal space for the member. This certainly adds to the feeling of involvement that the member has. This is true of the online community for education professionals Tapped In, which provides each of its members with a virtual office. You can link to other offices, and you have a personal filespace (as you would have in a real-world office). All-in-all, it works well, and increases the level of involvement you have in the community.

Another successful online community that offers this personal space is Book Crossing. Each member has a personal page, which they can use to write whatever they want, apart from any standard details they want to share with people. The basis of this community tends to be local, but with the possibility of linking internationally.

Neither of these communities use weblogs, however, although I am sure that we will see more community spaces adopting weblogs as part of their site. There is one I came across (Student UK) which used blogs as the way of linking members together and offering members this personal space, which seems to be one of the keys to any successful online community. Unfortunately, this site has recently run into trouble and has shut down, although it could be reopening if they find a sponsor.

Does anyone know of any other community (VLE or other) that uses blogs as a tool?
Blogs vs Forums

What makes a blog different from a forum? I remember that the first time I used weblogs with students, the comments I got from some of them was 'Oh! It's a forum'. Since then I have heard this on other occasions from other students.

That got me thinking about the similarities and differences between these two tools (I won't repeat what is written elsewhere - if you want to join in a discussion about this, or read what others have written, then I'd encourage you to go to the forum at the Weblog in ELT group over at Search English) .

One of the things that was established during this discussion is the essential difference between the two: A forum exists for debate and discussion, while a blog's purpose seems to be better for personal opinion. What this means is that 1) while a blog only needs to have one voice to be a success, a forum only succeeds when it has lots of people contribute. 2) a blog needs to be updated regularly. This is not so critical for a discussion forum.

However, there seems to be a grey area. There are group blogs that thrive on discussion - a blog is a great place for topical discussion about one thing, although it's not recommendable to try and conduct several different discussions on the same page as this would be difficult to follow. This is solved by taking discussion of entries to a separate comments box, something which adds a forum-like feature to blogs.

Then there are the discussion forums which shows posts on a topic in chronological order - this is true of Search English, for example. The Guardian's The Talk does this too, and if the threads are too long it only shows the most recent postings (as a blog would do). This makes reading the entries to a thread much easier - there is nothing worse than finding a discussion forum which requires you to click on each separate post to open the messages. Fortunately, this type of forum seems to have disappeared.

The Journal's article Content Delivery in the Blogosphere talks about this too, and sides with blogs rather than forums : "blogs provide an environment that is more advanced than simple discussion forums"

Thursday, March 04, 2004

An Englishman in Verona:

"well, if you just teach from the book every day then of course. But, even if the books are perscribed to you then you can still adapt them and make the most of the material. Or rather, you can if you care and are interested in how people learn languages and what makes an interesting classroom"

A teacher writes about life in Verona, TEFL, etc...
First Conditional...an English teacher blogs.:

"I suppose it's natural that when you have so many classes you will encounter the odd eccentric along the way. One of my pre-intermediate classes has thrown up the strangest students I have ever encountered. ...I ask 'Does anybody have any questions before we go on?'

There's silence for a while, it looks like everyone has understood perfectly, then Carlos says 'Cheese is 'queso'?'

I reply, 'Erm....yes it is, Carlos. But do you understand the present perfect?'"

Irreverent tales from the classroom - this is definitely worth keeping an eye on...

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

MOBIlearn Project - Home:

"MOBIlearn is a worldwide European-led research and development project exploring context-sensitive approaches to informal, problem-based and workplace learning by using key advances in mobile technologies."

Know anyone with mobile devices (PDAs for example) ? Did you know that using AvantGo they can download blogs as custom channels. I have been trying this out with some of the Edu Blogs, but it's obvious that you need to adapt your content and design to provide for these devices. MOBIlearn has a blog-based community that could help with this. I'm not sure how relevant this is to ELT practioners at the moment, but it's something that I am certain will be important in the future, especially when the majority of mobile phones have PDAs incorporated and can view web-content...

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Thanks to Bee for this : :: Bloggar :: is "an interface between you and blogger which gives you more flexibility to edit your posts."

It could be the solution for bloggers who can't edit html templates, and so may be the solution for student blogs...
Follow the Baldie has an interesting sidebar section called 'Bad Language' that enables readers to correct his Catalan when there is a mistake. It's a simple but ingenous idea, and could make an interesting feature on a student blog, especially as I've often been asked how you can deal with correcting students writing on their blogs...