Showing posts from 2006

Playing with my Wii

I have to be careful who I say that to, or it might be misinterpreted, but we have just got hold of Nintendo's Wii , and after reading about how wonderful the revolutionary control is, and not really understanding, I finally appreciate just how great it is. We only have the basic game that came with the console (Wii Sports), but it's a hundred times better than the way the Playstation 2 Eye Toy system works as far as recognition goes. It's great fun, and I'm sure it will be a huge success. But, what about educational uses? Well, there's nothing out there yet that might tempt me to bring it to the classroom (unlike the PS2), but I like the fact that it's nice and light. Can't understand what makes Stephen Downes say that "Stuff like Wii and mobile computing are much more important" (than Second Life). Mobile computing I can understand, but what has he seen in the Wii to make that statement? Or maybe he's just being controversial? He's not r

One reason why I'm not blogging as much as I used to


Blogs, wikis & podcasts (& Second Life)

I've just finished a video presentation that I was asked to make for a publisher's in-house conference in Mexico next week. It's not great, but I found making it a lot of fun. I must do more of this! Here is a better quality version (requires Quicktime 7.0): Web 2.0 & Language Learning

The Geordie who woke up speaking with a Jamaican accent

Reading the ELT Gazette last week, I came across an article about a case of foreign accent syndrome . It was about a woman in the north-east of England who suffered a change of accent after a stroke . The woman's original Geordie ( NE England ) accent was replaced by a Jamaican one literally overnight. Of course, this seems quite comical at first, but the woman actually finds it quite unnerving. This is because our accent is so much part of who we are, (our personality, our being) that it must be disturbing to lose it. And not only is her own state of being unsettled, but the people around her (neighbours, family, friends) treat her differently now because of the way she talks. All this is food for thought surely for language teachers. I have always thought it difficult (if not impossible for some) to adopt the accent of a foreign language, and whenever asked by students about this, tend to tell them that it doesn't matter if they speak with their own accent so long as their p

Web 2.0 is a rainforest, Web 1.0 a desert

Recently, I've been enthralled by Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You , especially the chapter on gaming. It's something that I've been reading in preparation for next year's TESOL Electronic Village Online (EVO2007) , as I'm putting together a proposal and hoping to co-moderate a session on language learning and computer gaming (I've already set up a Yahoo group , edublog and a wiki in anticipation!) While working on the wiki today, I decided to see if I could find an email address so as to invite Steven Johnson to particpate as a guest speaker (nothing ventured, nothing gained) and came across his blog, and an interesting post related to an article he wrote about the state of the Web .Both make very interesting reading. Update: Since I first drafted this post, I've heard back from Steven's representative - he asked if there was any money involved for taking part in the webcast. Of course, there is no budget, as it's all voluntary.

Waiting for something to blog...

Cartoon by Dave Walker . Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons .

E-Society Classification have devised an e-society classification system for the UK, which caught my eye recently, based on a report of the E-Society (PDF) . Now, UK residents can check to see which of the 23 classifications they are in. The classifications are based on "based on levels of awareness of different ICTs; levels of use of ICTs; and their perceived impacts upon human capital formation and the quality of life." The report makes highly interesting reading and some of the classification defy belief, but are based on real types. The actual classification terms (below, with notes) are as follows: GROUP A: THE E-UNENGAGED The E – unengaged are people who "do not have access to electronic communications or technologies". Included here are people who are "too old, too poor or too poorly educated to be able to access them." This group is broken down by the report into: Low technologists are people who mainly view the Internet as "an electronic vers

Student fined for anonymous comment on his blog

On Saturday there was an article published in el Pais (in Spanish of course) about a student who has been find 400 Euros (200 acording to the electronic edition of the newspaper) because of a comment published on his blog . Ivan Fresneda wrote about his college, saying that it was incoherent and absurd, complaining about the lack of newspapers in his school, and was extremely critical of the methodology of his Philosophy teacher. Now Ivan has been taken to court and fined because of threats to the Philosophy teacher that were published in the comments section of this blog post. Although the comments were published anonymously, Ivan has been held responsible because it is his blog, and he should have let the comment be published. Obviously, this has repercussions for bloggers everywhere, who could potentially be held responsible for comments published anonymously on their blogs, and is also related to the cyber-bullying incident I wrote about recently. At the very least, we need to ens

Blogs, kids, parents & teachers & cyber-bullying

According to a recent article on the BBC website , almost a third of kids in the UK now use blogs and social networking websites, "but two thirds of parents do not even know what they are". We've all heard of the digital divide between technologically rich countries and technologically poor ones, but there are strong indications that there is another digital divide and it's generational. The article goes on to call this gap in technological knowledge between generations "alarming", and indeed it is. Of course, this is "alarming" because unless adults have a clear picture of what the children are doing online, and take an interest, then they cannot guide them in matters of Internet safety, etc. Here's anotgher quote from the article: "A tenth of the 11-year-olds who took part in the survey said their parents did not know about the people with whom they communicated online." Why is this? Is it that they don't take an interest? Or ar

Using recorded Skype conversations as assessment tools

I was asked today by Barbara Sawhill to briefly take part in a presentation she's giving with Barbara Ganley on ' Using Skype, Podcasting and Blogging in Foreign Language Teaching ' Sitting here waiting for their Skype call, I decided to prepare myself a little bit and refresh my memory about their work. As soon as I start looking I'm struck by what I've been missing out on by not blogging much, or taking much notice of the 'edublogosphere' recently. I can't let this happen again, no matter how busy I get. First, I found a description of the workshop they are giving today: "Recently, new technologies have distinguished themselves as credible tools that increase students' production and competence in a target language. With this change, a new conversation has begun about the structure of a language class, thinking about moving from a traditional teacher-and-text-centered classroom to a student-centered and possibly even a totally un-centered, t

Networking on the Net with Braz-Tesol

Bee has invited me and other webheads to participate in her presentation ' Networking on the Net ', which she is giving at the Braz-Tesol 10th National Convention today,Sunday, July 9th 2006 From 13: 45 -15:15 GMT She is using a wiki for the organisation of materials, guests, and online places , and people have been encouraged to join in the Skypecast , which is to be hosted and webcast by World Bridges via the Webheads in Action community site. If this seems like a lot of URLs already, then you ain't seen nothing yet, as the plan is to take participants to Tapped In , Alado & Learning Times too, introducing some of the best tools around for online synchronous participation. It's ambitious, but will be a lot of fun, and a very interesting learning experience for anyone interested in the cutting edge of e-learning (if you pardon the cliche) Feeling lost? You needn't be. Just start off at Bee's wiki and in the Skypecast and let Bee , the host, guide you

The Webcast Academy

I've not been blogging much lately as I've been too occupied with work and with EFL Bridges and the Webcast Academy that World Bridges have organised to help all of us learn how to use webcasting tools well enough to handle our own live streams, etc. It's been a lot of fun, but I want to get back to blogging too as I miss it, and I now have more time on my hands. If anyone is still out there reading this and would like to try their hand at webcasting, then now is your opportunity as the Webcast Academy is looking for its second intake of interns: Here's what Jeff Lebow, our webcasting guru has to say about it: We are now accepting applications for the 'Class of 1.2'. Applicaitons are due by July 16 and the session will begin July 23. More information is available at: If you have any additional questions, please post them in The Academy Forums Try it, it's a lot of

The Daily English Show

I've been looking at various English videos and videoblogs on sites such as Youtube recently, and have been really impressed by one in particular. This is the Daily English Show , a video podcast, which is professionally made and put together by Sarah, a teacher in Tokyo, Japan. Available to view online here at Youtube and at Grouper , you can also put the RSS feed into your podcatcher to download the videos. It's amazing that she can write, film, edit and upload all of this (almost) every day. Hats off to you, Sarah. How do you manage to do it?

EFL Bridges World Conversation Club

I've been using Skypecast to hold a conversation club and recording it to upload as a podcast, as part of the EFLBridges site. Jeff at Worldbridges has also set up another EFLBridges site , which should become the centre of operations soon (the other one will be a community site for any students who want a space to write in a blog, and even upload their own podcast). Hopefully, this should develop into something more substantial in the next few weeks. The first two were last weekend, and were a lot of fun. I'm also using this as a way of learning how to become a webcaster, and I'm enrolled in the Webcast Academy to learn how to do this. I'm currently editing the audio from last Sunday's show - the recording wasn't great, but it should be passable. I've decided to add a bit of music, and cut out the dead air to make it more interesting to listen to. This, of course, takes time. The next EFLBridges World Conversation Club Skypecast will be on Sunday morning

Happy Birthday Worldbridges!

It's been a year since Worldbridges first kicked off their network of live interactive webcasts, and they are celebrating with a webcastathon . I first heard about Worldbridges from Elderbob and the Webheads . It's a credit to this fabulous community of practice that they discovered the first day Jeff Lebow started webcasting from the site (there's not much that happens on the Web that isn't picked up early on by the Webheads). Since then, I've been informed, educated, thrilled, entertained, driven, and encouraged by Worldbridges, and we've seen the site transform into a community of webcasters and committed listeners. On one of the EdTechTalk shows, I was persuaded to join in the fun with a webcast for EFL learners. The first of these was in February 2006, after the ELT podcasting TESOL evo2006 session that Worldbridges kindly helped make a success. EFLBridges hasn't progressed much since then, but I've been inspired recently to dive in and make

Baldric gets his own blog

I've been spending a lot of time in Second Life, and I know I'll want to write a lot more about my discoveries there. Rather than let this blog turn into a Second Life blog, I've set up another blog, Baldric's Trousers , and have also been capturing Baldric's explorations and observations on a separate Flickr account . This way, I can continue to document my experience in SL without it taking over this blog.

Esperanto Centre in Second Life

I must admit that I'd not been doing anything serious in Second Life over the last couple of days. I'd been enjoying the fun that has been centred around Curry Castle, as Adam Curry is talking about SL every day on his podcast, the Daily Source code. This means that every day there's a gathering of podcasters and podcast listeners around this area, with spontaneous parties breaking out on rooftops in the area. It's been a lot of fun, and I'll soon be posting some photos on Flickr of Monday night's party at the Curry Castle (a virtual Madge Weinstein turned up) when I get a chance. It's also interesting to note how a scramble has begun to build in the area that is completely crazy - within a couple of days, what was a sparsely populated area has seen huge property development as podcasters and others hoping to make it rich living next to a famous neighbour, move in. But enough of frivolity, as I was hanging out at the Curry Castle again yesterday, just peo

Second Life Progress Report

I've been spending more time than I'd like to admit exploring Second Life (SL) recently. I've started joining groups, and even tried to take a class on particle building on Saturday at the Second Life Academy(SLA). IT's not that I am particularly interested in particle building in this virtual world (but, hey! I'll give it a go), but I am interested in observing people teaching within the environment, and this seemed like a good opportunity to do so. All members of the SLA were sent an IM to tell us the time for the class was approaching. A meeting point was established, and as people arrived, introductions took place. This involved not only chit chat, but also checking out other people's profiles, which is one of the best ways to get to know what's going on in SL - especially as people share their 'SL Picks', the places they recommend. It started getting funny when a real newbie arrived and started crashing into us all - I realised that I've co

One blog a second...blogs are more important than sex

I can't remember who told me this first, or where I read this, but it's true. I've just checked it. A search on Google for 'blog' yields 1.590.000.000 entries. If you search on 'sex', you'll get 699.000.000. From eflgeek comes links to the Economist and two recent articles on blogging: ' It's the links, stupid ' and ' Among the audience '. The first article mentions that "the “blogosphere” is doubling in size every five months" and that one blog is made every second. It was interesting to see the comment too that "many adolescents consider e-mail passé, and instead are using either instant messaging (IM) or blogging for their communications". That is what I've seen with my students. I recently conducted a survey, and the younger ones (12-16) never use e-mail. Just about all of them use IM, and quite a lot of them have their own blog or photoblog. Perhaps it's that e-mail is associated with the adult world,

Second Life: Better Life

There are lots of promos and films that people have made from within SL - this is one of the better ones that I've come across.

Videogames for Academics

A recent comment from Elia von Oeyen Tupou led me to the blog, Videogames for Academics , which is full of fascinating insights from Elia's dissertation thesis. It seems that Elia has spent a lot of time playing WoW (World of Warcraft, and in particular it was very interesting to read the post 'To my WoW friends' about the effect that stopping gaming had upon online friends, etc. It was interesting to note just how much importance some players place on interactions in the game. I'm sure that this is something that will be difficult for non-gamers to understand. I related to it as I used to be serious table gamer, playing a variety of RPGs with friends, when I was a teenager. During several years, I used to get together to play with friends every Wednesday afternoon (from 15.00-23.00), on Fridays from 18.00-23.00, and every Saturday from 13.00-23.00. Thinking back to this now, that is an awful lot of time spent in imaginary worlds! It strengthened friendship between m

Second Life - different views and opinions

I've started doing some digging, looking for information about Second Life , especially in educational settings. Here's what I've found so far: Rockin'in Second Life - from Alan Levine's Cogdogblog was the most interesting find - it seems that there's already quite a buzz and an interest from certain higher educational establishments about SL, and this post shows just how far some educators have gone already towards experimenting with the alternative world offered by this intriguing game. One to definitely keep an eye on aI think. Alan also mentions a plug in that allows for real time speech, which of course is exactly what would be needed to utilisie this game for language learning purposes. I'm going to check out the plug-in and look for more examples of educational use this weekend. Second Life - Creative Commons feature : about the free cultural events that have currently taken place in SL, and how people can become involved. Second Life History wiki :

Second Life - A Booming Fantasy World

Thanks to George Siemens , I came across A Virtual World's Real Dollars in Business Week Online. Siemens calls it part of one of the most interesting trends at the moment, "the absolute blurring between online and physical spaces" and this is particularly relevant to Second Life . As the article points out, this MMORPG game has captured the attention of some 165,000 people and it continues to grow in popularity. This may seem a lot, but the most popular game, World of Warcraft has more than 6 million players! As is pointed out, the other interesting feature of Second Life (SL), unlike a lot of other similar games is that it's "a three-dimensional digital world in which players can do just about anything" where players "use create everything from avatar clothes to buildings to games that are played inside the virtual world." It's this totally user-generated world that makes Second Life such an appealing potential to many, and th

MMOG & MMRPG in Education

This article in Innovate , the journal of online education, looks at the educational possibilities of Massively Multiplayer Online Games as learning environments. Focusing in particular on Quest Atlantis and The Sims Online , two popular MMOGs (sometimes also called Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Games), the authors "identify and define nine principles of learning that allow such games to have valuable potential as tools for educators" The article points out one of the transformation that is taking place in the world of entertainment that is growing in importance: namely that "many of today's students spend more time playing video games than they do watching television, reading books, or watching films" Reading the article reminded me of Marc Prensky , whose ' Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants ' should be compulsory reading for all 21st century educators. It seems that it could be the right time to take a serious look at the potential for languag

Blog-EFL Archives

I haven't been blogging for a while - I don't know why, but I just lost the blogging bug. That and I've had so many other things on my plate, that this site just got cast aside. It's a shame, though, as there's so much great stuff going on out there - it seems that blogging in EFL/ESL has really caught on, and I'm ready to start exploring again and trying to catch up with what I've been missing out on, and also getting back into blogging with my students. As if in preparation for this, I've been tidying up my profile and doing some housekeeping. I've decided to hide the long list of archives that appear on the front page: I'm going to stick them out of site on an entry page, and this is it. Jul 2006 Jun 2006 May 2006 Apr 2006 Mar 2006 Feb 2006 Jan 2006 Dec 2005 Nov 2005 Oct 2005 Sep 2005 Aug 2005 Jul 2005 Jun 2005 May 2005 Apr 2005 Mar 2005 Feb 2005 Jan 2005 Dec 2004 Nov 2004 Oct 2004 Sep 2004 Aug 2004 Jul 2004 Jun 2004 May 2004 Apr 2004 Mar 200

Another Bubbleshare presentation

Berta, from Venezuela has shared her first Bubbleshare presentation with us - you can find it on her blog . The subject deals with the role of women in Venezuela, and it would make a great launching pad for students, who may be persuaded to produce something similar. I would love to find more examples of this kind of audio-visual presentation, as I think it has a lot of possibile uses with students.

I/O Brush for the IWB

The video that shows the I/O brush in use  is stunning. I don't think it would be much use in language teaching, but I'd love to have a play with it nonetheless. There is more information here  about this innovative tool.

EFL Student Webcast instructions

On Saturday 25th February at 14.00GMT , there will be the first EFL Student webcast show at World Bridges We are hoping for an interesting start to this venture, and already have students interested and due to participate this weekend from Argentina, Hungary, Spain, Taiwan, and (hopefully) other many places in the world. Please help us help students to connect to others interested in improving their English language skills and become more aware of other cultures by connecting and communicating with other English language learners during these webcasts. Here is a guide for those students who want to take part (the transcript of the slideshow is also included below): This album is powered by BubbleShare - Add to my blog 1. Welcome to everyone interested in participating in the webcast taking place at Worldbridges. This is a brief guide telling you how you can best participate in this event. The first thing you should do on if you want to listen to the live show is to go to

Bubbleshare - Photos with audio

This album is powered by BubbleShare - Add to my blog The photos above were uploaded to Bubbleshare and show shots of my TV playing podcasts via the XBox360, shortly after I got the wifi connection working and figured out how to share files from my PC. Bubbleshare (currently in beta) allows you to create a slide show from photos, and lets you add an audio commentary too, and upload it to your blog! Thanks to Nick Noakes for putting me onto this one.

The IWB vs the computer in the classroom

I'm at the beginning of what promises to be a highly interesting week-long seminar, 'ICT in ELT', organised by the British Council. Those of us who are only virtually attending are participating in the seminar Moodle, posting to forums, chatting together, and watching the streamed videos of the conference presentations, etc. One of the threads that has appeared in the Moodle forums has been the role of the Interactive White Board. I suppose I could be considered a fan now, and so I had to respond to one of the particpant's comments that perhaps having a 'computer in the corner' of the classroom was better than an IWB. I thought I should post it here too: "Let's not forget, however, that the IWB needs the computer in the corner in order to work, so there's no competition in my mind. You turn the data projector (DP) off, and you have that computer in the corner that the learners can use . Turn it on, and you have a very powerful way of displaying and

Helping our Students with International English

I've already posted something about this subject on my podcasting blog, Pod-EFL , but I think it's worth duplicating it here: An interesting post by Charles Kelly on an ELT Podcasting course forum set off a chain reaction in me. He wondered about the idea of using student-created podcasts could help student listeners who needed to communicate a lot with English speakers of a particular country. The example he gave was business students, but I think it would also apply to students going to a particular country on holiday. After reflecting on this, I decided to start a new project to see how this would work in practice, setting up a channel: English by German Speakers on Gigadial . I thought it would be cool to start to collect different flavours of international English to give learners of English. I'm hoping to encourage others to add podcasts (only German speakers speaking English please) to the station, and/or set up similar Gigadial stations for other nationalities. I

Group blogs don't work in education?

Last week I managed to find the time to attend James Farmer's presentation on blogging for the TESOL evo2006 Blogging session . (You'll have to create an account at Learning Times to watch this session, but it's well-worth it) It was a shame that there were some audio problems, but all-in-all the session was very thought-provoking, but I think it raised more questions than it answered. James was clear and provocative in his opinions on what a edublog should be and how you should use it , and equally so on how you shouldn't use one, and what it isn't . For me, I had a problem with his insisting that group blogs (when they are not publications, if I heard him correctly) just don't work. I disagree and think I have been involved with and seen many group blogging projects in education that do work. Now don't get me wrong here, I do believe that the true power of blogging, and the ideal, lies in giving the individual the freedom to express him or herself, and

Social Bookmarking: with

I just finished writing a post to explain to participants of the evo2006 ELT Podcasting group why we have decided to use , and realised that it was probably worth sharing with people here too: Its use is not as obvious at first, but I find to be such a useful tool. I am going to try here to attempt to write a tailor-made explanation of why we're using this site: 1) Basically, the best way to approach it at first is as an online bookmarks/favourites space. Sign up for an account and you can store all your favourite links here instead of them being tied to your own computer (this is especially useful if you work in different places, or use several different computers) 2) But, this is only part of the story of why this site is so good. It's called 'social bookmarking' software and that gives us a clue to its real strength, especially for educators: - uses tags ( key words ). Saving links with a unique tag ( podcasting_elt , for ex