Sunday, February 26, 2006

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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

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):

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 the World Bridges site ( and click on the listen icon.

2. To take an active part while listening, you should join in the chat room. Click on the link to the 'chat room' from the World Bridges home page and then login with your name. You do not need to use a password.

3. You can see the names of the other people in the chat room on the right. Type your text in the yellow box , and press send. You can change the colour of your text, or send a smiley face, etc by clicking on the icon below the yellow box.

4. If you want to take part in the voice chat, then you need to have the free telephony programme called Skype. You can download this at When you have this on your computer, you will need to skype the name 'worldbridges' to participate in the webcast. Before you do this, write a message in the text chat room to say you are ready to participate.
5. Another important thing about participating in the webcast is the equipment you have. You should use headphones and a microphone to participate in the webcast.

6. Please don't use speakers as the small delay between talking and listening creates problems with an echo and makes communication very difficult. So, please use headphones.

7. The last thing you have to remember when you use skype to call in is to switch off the webcast. Again, because of the small delay, you need to stop listening to the live webcast before you use skype to call in. If you don't do this, it will make communication very difficult.

7. so, that's all there is. You can find more information on the World Bridges website. Just look for the section called 'listening guide' and you will find more useful advice. Hope to speak to you online during the webcast, and hope you enjoy it. Have fun.

Photo credits: (published on Flickr with a Creative Commons Attribution license)

baby & headphones by Ted

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bubbleshare - Photos with audio

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.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

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 presenting to a group of students. 

At the risk of starting a new thread, I've noticed the start of a wave of IWB-bashing, which I find curious, especially as I think the arguments are missing the point.

Given the option, would you rather have a board or no board in your classroom? And what would you prefer? A blackboard? A whiteboard? A DP display system? Or an IWB?

Having used all of the above, I can say unreservedly that the IWB is better than any other classroom display system, and I would dearly love to have access to one in all of my classrooms, to use with all of my learners. It will come. I'm sure of it.

At the risk of stating the obvious, but for the benefit of those who haven't come across one, the IWB is much better than the blackboard/whiteboard option for dozens of different reasons. Just a few: displaying scanned images, instant access to the Internet and CD-ROMs, a school's intranet, the ability to display large format video, etc.

OK, so what about a DP equipped classroom vs an IWB-equipped one? For the same reasons that Andy mentions above, the IWB room wins. A DP only classroom can only really be used as a presentation tool. Fine for a conference, and some other educational settings, but too teacher-centred for a language classroom.

I think the problem is that some educators have only observed the IWB being used as a presentation tool, and not been present in a truly dynamic classroom setting, with students taking control of the pen, in similar ways to how language teachers have been using a normal board for years. And then you can do fabulous activities (such as word ordering activites) that are simply impossible to do without one. 

I do agree that there are hidden costs attached to switching to the IWB. One of those is technical support. If you have a school full of IWBs, and all your teachers relying upon them for their teaching, then you need to be able to react quickly if a DP bulb goes, or a cable comes loose, etc. 

But pedagogically? There's no argument..."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

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've started this project by adding this episode of Nicole Simon's Useful Sounds. Can you suggest any more German speakers podcasting in English?

I'd also like to ask people what they think of the project?

Is it something that would appeal to students? I think that it's definitely a way of using podcasts for business English students if nothing students