Sunday, February 27, 2005

vBlog Central - Videoblogging Made Easy!

vBlog Central - Videoblogging Made Easy!: "vBlog Central is a service that makes it easy to post video (and audio and pictures) to your existing blog. We host your video content and display it in whatever format your users want. It's transparent and easy.
Videos, even low quality ones, make a blog much more interesting. When you put video in your blog you get a videoblog, or vblog, for short. They are also known as vidblogs, vlogs, or vogs. "

hipteacher on blogging with students

loves blogging with students:

"In my experience, writing, revising and peer editing within the blog structure has particularly helped their writing skills...I've also had success with journaling in blogs...Teenagers are so self-conscious, I find the lack of face-to-face contact adds dramatically to the strength and effectiveness of peer editing and review."

She also speaks about the privacy issue:

"While I'd like all students blogs to be open to the public, there are some legal and protection issues Livejournal, I allow students to use their real names and post so that only their 'friends' can see. Everyone in the class is on everyone else's 'friend' list. "

She has also invented a way of getting around the Blogger privacy issue:

"...I ask each student to come up with a pen name and sign a contract stating that they are never to mention real names, location, school name, etc."

duber dot com: jd media blog

Jim Duber's media blog is an excellent example of integrating text, audio, and video into a blog.

Friday, February 25, 2005

mugshots project

Sergei Gridushko from Belarus has started a project called mugshots which looks like a great way to get students writing creatively. The idea is for the students to post a photo of their favourite mug or cup, etc, and describe it, say why it's important to them.

Bee has also joined the project and has posted her photos and comments in her live journal.

This one could take off I think...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Bloglet: "offers an email subscription service for your blog..." that boasts an easy set-up, stats, and more.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wink - free tutorial software

Thanks to Edugadget (plain-talking technology reviews for teachers) for this: Wink is a free piece of software that is used to create tutorials. Their website says:

"Wink is a Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel etc). Using Wink you can capture screenshots of your software, use images that you already have, type-in explanations for each step, create a navigation sequence complete with buttons, delays, titles etc and create a highly effective tutorial for your users."

The way it seems to work is with screenshots.You can add notes, etc and the software creates an animated presentation. there is a demo on the Wink website.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Why use audio in a blog?

The debate in the weblogging Yahoo Group about use of audio in blogs:

Lesley Graham, who decided to offer  an audio quiz on her blog states that:

"What we are doing in the ESL class (usually in the language lab or in the multimedia lab) is preparing people for real life situations in which they might not have any textual/visual input. Think of all of the times in a day when you listen without looking: when chatting on the telephone, consulting your voice mail, listening to talk radio, having a conversation as you walk beside someone without seeing their lips move or their facial expressions, listening to an oral presentation in a darkened room..... I believe that my job is to train learners for all of these situations in realisitic, or even heightened, conditions. The next question, of course, is why would you want to do all of this in a blog rather than on a plain vanilla web page?"

Aaron Campbell :

"I like Nathan's response and agree with much of what he says, especially viewing voice as  performance. Personally, I rarely listen to sound files that are posted, unless I feel like  being entertained or I know beforehand that the sound file is worth listening to. It just  takes too much time. I prefer the textual medium as a means of taking part in online conversation and gathering information. It is fast to read and easy to search. I can't skim an audio file. My advice to most bloggers would be to use sound sparingly and only when necessary.

Lesley brings up a good point though: sound has a very important role to play in language learning. The potential to bring the myriad spoken voices of the world into the classroom itself, both synchronously and asynchronously, adds an exciting dimension to the learning activities that occur there. As we have seen already, there are many ways we can use sound in ESL/EFL classes, and many more ways to explore. I certainly will be trying to experiment with sound in my classes starting in April"

Tom Walton:

"I agree with Nathan on the use of audio: "If a transcript carries the message, there is no reason for

Can't help thinking that we're getting so wow-ed by the technology that we're gonna use it whatever, even if it really makes little pedagogical sense (and however time-consuming it is to produce it).

Here, however, is an interesting article on a scenario in which it just might make sense, "telling tales with technology":

John Hibbs:

"The first reason is of course for students to listen to themselves, from the archives; and to have them listen to others including native language learners.

The second reason is that if you are giving a keynote, to a live audience, it is great to record and listen to yourself. Like singing in the shower, you might not sound as great as you think you do.

The third reason concerns "radio" - to include internet radio, conventional radio and all things related to "pod casting". All of these lead to a wider reach - either for purposes of pedagogy or for purposes of "merchandising yourself or your institution" to a wider audience.

The fourth reason is that very often one can emphasize that portion of the commentary where there is real passion."

Sunday, February 13, 2005


From Marco's blog come a link to Momentshowing: Adventures in video blogging which has lots of interesting posts and links for anyone interested in video blogging or vlogging.

After listening to Michael Coghlan's presentation last Friday, I'd really like to try this out as I think it has a lot of potential. Here's a few ideas that ran through my mind during Michael's session, which I'd like to develop on at a later date:

* Set up an audio / video / photo blog diary : something for students to look at for extra listening practice,etc and to help bridge gap between teacher and students. Encourage students to do the same? I think the best idea would be to make it a rolling blog, and instead of archiving posts, simply change them. The idea of doing this would be to save on space and to encourage students to logon frequently to catch posts before they are taken off.

The question is, would students actually bother going to the site? One way of introducing them to the habit of visiting would be to set homework assignments based on this. Later on, the best way would be to make the content so interesting they really want to keep coming back. That is a challenge, however. But worth an experiment I think.

* Take advantage of my students' fascination for mobile phones with cameras and use the video facility to create blog posts?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

My Image Students' Blogs

I am using blogs again with my students of Image. This is a group of Polytechnic students studying English as a subsidiary subject (once a week for a 2 hour class).

I started using weblogs with the group last year and it was successful. This year I asked the 2nd years if they wanted to continue and they all said yes. It was a lot easier introducing the 1st years to the idea of blogging too as they were able to ask their classmates (the 2nd years) if they had any doubts.

So far we have managed to set up the blogs and start posting on subjects related to cinema and photography. I need to sort out a few problems with links / invitations from individual Student blogs to the Tutor blog, but otherwise it's going well.

I have to give this group assignments and use what they produce in their blogs as part of their evaluation.

The Tutor blog can be found here:

Pete's slingshot at blogging discussions and a response

Pete at Slings and Arrows has been doing a lot of reflecting about blogs, and in particular, the interactivity and possibility for dialogue and discussion.

Here's an excerpt from what he's written:

"More problematic in my view the the arrangement of comments in chronological sequence, and the lack of any threading. Interaction is extremely limited - basically commenting, rather than dialogue is taking place. It is all very linear and fragmentary. A comments, then B comments followed by C. Even if A comments again, it is not immediately clear to see how the comments relate to each other. For interaction to take place I think we need to be able to comment on comments. It is not that this is impossible, it is just that the way blogs are designed / set up discourages this. When I look at the comments on a blog, I don't feel much like commenting because it seems so one-dimensional, when compared with other tools. "

It's interesting for me to read Pete's point of view, as it is completely different to mine. I really don't like the kind of threading you find in online forums. Having to click through all of those threads really puts me off contributing, and I found this kind of online discussion quite stale at the best of times. What attracts me to blogs is the individual blogs and the wide spread of information. Take your blog post, for example, Pete (of course I'm going to have to leave a comment on your blog about this to let you know that I'm picking up on your discussion) - I'm replying to your comments on my own blog. And you in turn (if you so wish) can post again on your own blog. Why have I done this? Well, perhaps it's not so much discussion as reflection to other people's reflection. But this is something that attracts me to the blog format.

I'm having problems putting my finger on this (help me out someone?), but I find the sense of 'ownership and publication' that a blog gives you is far more compelling than writing a post on a discussion forum or email list. Maybe it's just me, but I also feel that becasue of this, it's a tool that has far greater potential to engage our learners. When I first started becoming involved in encouraging students online, I tried forums and email exchanges. There was a novelty factor at first, but suggesting we 'post to the forum' in particular was soon greeted with collective sighs and moans.In contrast, I have had success with students chatting and blogging.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

EV2005 Bloggers on blogging and RSS - some excerpts

Bettina seems to be enjoying herself:

"I must say last weeks' learning has been much more productive and promising than I ever imagined... enrolling in this course has shown me how much is still there.... to be discovered about new technologies and its possible uses for teaching and learning."

And it looks like it was the discovery of RSs and aggregators that has been the most important revelation:

"Creating your own web? This question came as an affirmation for the first time in my cyberlife... 'aggregators help you make your own internet' WOW!!! "

Adelaide, Education and Life

I love Michael's blog (Adelaide, Education and Life) and can't wait to find the time to start experimenting with some of the audio and video features he has managed to integrate here.

Fascinating stuff, and lots of potential for students and language learning.

apophenia: a culture of feeds: syndication and youth culture

Thanks to Sergei for this :
apophenia: a culture of feeds: syndication and youth culture:

"i quit using RSS/syndication readers... i was intrigued by the ongoing hype of RSS - how everything is going to be syndicated and how everyone is going to access data that way...i'm wondering if that's really true beyond the info-nerds."

An interesting read and a different point of view. It's particularly interesting to me as I'm one week away from a trip to Lisbon and a course with a group of ICT coordinators / teachers. As we all have to give a short presentation, I've decided to present bloglines and RSS feeds,etc as something that I have come across recently that I think is very useful / interesting. But I'm not convinced how well it will go down with the group.

The article continues: "Syndication is based on an email model, relatively close to a mailing list model...Like email, updates come in the form of a new item. If you leave your syndication tool alone for too long, those new items build up and you're faced with an INBOX-esque situation, an eternal queue waiting to be checked off."

There are also some very interesting comments on the association that "youth" has been making with email and authority, and why other tools like 'Instant Messenger' and Live Journal are more popular : it's the place where they communicate with their friends, and "There are no checkboxes, no little red numbers that tell you you didn't read everything".

Of the comments posted here, one in particular caught my eye: "I've tried using aggregators before...but the email-ness of it made it into work, and I already have enough work in my life."

I'm sure I'll carry on using an aggregator as I think they are fabulous tools, but I can see why they might not be of interest to some people, and I'm not sure I'd want to introduce them to my students (an exception being if they are university students involved in research, etc.)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

RSS webevent with Will Richardson

I have finally found time to listen to the recording of RSS: The New Killer App for Educators" with Will Richardson at Learning Times and am going to blog notes of the session here.

Will, a self-confessed "blogvangelist" maintains Weblogg-ed, a weblog "dedicated to discussions and reflections on the use of Weblogs, wikis, RSS, and other Internet-related technologies in the K-12 classroom" , and is also a founding contributor of ed-tech insider at eSchool news.

RSS: Rich Site Summary / Real Simple Syndication

1. RSS brings content to the reader

RSS could be the solution to email spam. With RSS you have full control over the things you subscribe to, with email you don't

2. Two parts to RSS
a) The feed b) the aggregator

RSS is useful for web content that changes regularly

3. Feed = URL

xml file

4. Use of RSS/Aggregator

Most weblogs have built in RSS feeds. Many traditional media have RSS feeds

Will uses the web-based Bloglines as an aggregator.

158 feeds in one space means : less time / more content / more control /

5. How to find feeds:

look for the orange xml button / site subscription /
use Search Engine /

6. RSS = Tool for lifelong learning

Will doesn't know what will happen to blogs, and other Read/Write thechnologies in the future, but is convinced that RSS has a long future

7. RSS news searches

Yahoo News / Google News /

Every time there is new information, it is brought directly to the aggregator

Feedster /

Note: Will had pledged to himself not to go over 150 feeds - can get overwhelming

8. RSS = classroom communication tool

Will's classrooms have gone paperless due to RSS. His students use weblogs, and Will subscribes to them.

They can subscribe to each other.

There are different ways to connect

9. Read what I write AND read what I read

Information management : Furl 7 del.icious

Will doesn't blog about everything he reads. But uses Furl,

Furl - (Saves pages)
can start creating your own little corner of the Internet just for you.
can save pages into your archive (saves just links)

If you are interested in keeping track of what someone reads, can subscribe to someone's Furl archive

Could subscribe to just 'library wikis' on Will's Furl

10. Key to RSS

Information management

Subscribe once, and you don't have to

Quickstart guide to RSS on Will's site:


- What about information overload? How can you signal what is useful?

A lot of bloggers out there are writing about this. Will's blog is where he writes about what is most important to him at the time. The blog becomes the 'card catalogue' for things he wants to write about, retain. Furl he uses to flag things he things are relevant. He might not go back to more than 10% of these, but it's nice to know that he can go and find an article 2 years later, even when this page is not available on the Internet.

Will learns a lot from other people that he couldn't do if it weren't for RSS

- Correcting blogs

He doesn't really correct blogs. He tries to teach his kids to synthesise and bring info from other sources - a great skill to teach kids

- ESL blogs

used at his school for online book reviews, etc

- Furls /

Will wants to start a quick strat guide to these tools in the near future

- Time consuming

Yes, absolutely, but it's such an important tool, and a lot of fun.

Summing up

Will's presentation was very well received and full of useful and interesting ideas for content and information management. It's extremely useful to see how he manages so much information from so many different sources.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Russell Beattie Notebook - Home

I haven't got time to take a look at this now, but I like the way the Russell Beattie Notebook - Home is set up - very clear and lots of interesting sections.

Note to self: take a longer look at this one.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

BESIG: Where are the Business English blogs (part 2)

Since my last post on BESIG and the discussion that has recently started on blogging, there has been a lot more activity. In fact, I haven't had time to blog because I've been writing replies to the emails on the list, and the BESIG discussion group list itself seems to have ignited, with more activity recently than I can remember in a long while.

Cleve has been blogging about this too, and we've agreed to produce some sort of joint summary on the wiki relating to what has been said so far.

Meanwhile, here's another taster:

In one of my emails, I'd finished with this:

Finally one last question:
Where are the BE and BESIG wikis?

which received the following reply from David Hogg:

Okay, everyone, simmer down: I'll ask it.

Graham: I haven't got the blindest idea what you're tawkin' about.
What's a "wiki"?

If you tell us *what* they are, Graham, we just might tell you
*where* to find them.

An explanation of a wiki was posted by another member of the group (Ann Seppänen), which included a very good definition / comparison with a discussion forum:

"Wikis...offer new possibilities for collaborative writing tasks, as compared with the familiar discussion forum. With a discussion forum, person 1 posts a message to the forum and has...30 mins to edit out any blunders, add clarification, and otherwise enhance the first version of the message. Then along comes person 2, teacher or other student, who can then respond to person 1's message in a reply box. And so the thread builds up box by box.

With a Wiki, any number of participants can be given writing and editing rights to the Wiki activity. All participants can contribute text, and edit their own text and that of any other contributor ...So a single text can be built up and edited repeatedly without any time limit."

Ann continued by describing her experiments with the wiki environment:

I thought this would be a wonderful format for developing business writing skills. Up till now, I have required students to write individual assignments, on which I have provided copious feedback. But it never actually FEEDS BACK, does it? So I've recently been experimenting with collaborative student writing in the Moodle Wiki according to the following procedure:

Writing task set and explained in class. Fixed groups of Wiki writers discuss face-to-face the content of the text to be produced, and agree on the division of labour. The group members can then disperse, and log in to the Moodle Wiki at a later date from remote locations and type what they have to say directly into the Wiki. I can they say my say on the text-in-progress, and send the students back to their computers to incorporate my feedback on various different aspects of the text: content, style, accuracy, whatever.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Unfortunately, the students hate it. Has anybody been working on similar lines with greater success - at least in terms of student motivation?