27 May 2011

Three Audio Tools

This is not a social media megaphonephoto © 2006 mikael altemark | more info (via: Wylio)

Odiogo is a free tool which creates text-to-speech. These files can then be downloaded and played on Ipods, MP3 players and even mobiles. It seems to have been especially designed to transform blog postings into mini podcasts which you can listen to when away from your screen. As with many other tools, you need to sign up and then begin your exploration of Odiogo.  It's a fun way for learners to share their blog entries with their class and other students.

Vocaroo is another audio tool worth trying out. Vocaroo claims to be an audio toy, which allows you to share audio messages in blogs and websites, but you need to be aware that messages aren't saved forever nor are downloadable. Nevertheless, it can create learning activities which are fun to integrate in and out of the classroom.

Wetoku is a cool video interview tool which you can then embed in your blog or website in 3 simple steps - meet, record, share.

26 May 2011

Do You Webdoc?

Webdoc is a cool tool which allows you to create content by mixing media simply by drag and drop.

Features include:

* background - which you can upload or use the   options provided
* text
* draw
* images -  Google or Flickr, upload your own or take a picture with your webcam at the moment
* video - YouTube or Vimeo
* sound - SoundCloud (blogged here)
* apps - a selection is available to choose from

After you create a Webdoc, others are also able to immediately post a reply with another Webdoc. You can also post it to Facebook, Twitter, email, or simply embed in your blog. 

It's a great tool to add to projects or themes which are being dealt with in class. Students can create and comment on each other's Webdocs, thus creating a stream of Webdocs on a topic.

23 May 2011

Social Networking for Educators

Social networks have become another feature that educators introduce in their daily practices. One of my current favourite social platforms is Edmodo which is not represented here below. 

Do you have any other favourite which you would include or recommend?

Another question I have is whether you think this infographic only reflects what may be true in the U.S.A. or whether the trend is similar in other parts of the world.  What social networks are you using in your daily practices as an educator?

Reading professors like an open facebook, or how teachers use social media
Courtesy of: Schools.com

22 May 2011

Create a Cartoon

Writing is never easy, particularly in a foreign language. But if you are creating a cartoon and adding text to it, isn't that writing as well?

 Pixton and toonlet are two free cartoon makers which are fun and simple to use. For both you need to sign up, and confirm through your email. Each one of these cartoon makers is accompanied by a short video explaining how to use the cartoon maker. Both let you print and share your cartoons in your blog and social network, so it really is a question of personal choice between which one to use. 

Pixton has the additional choice of a teacher's edition, which will allow a whole range of further options and activities.

Witty Comics, ToonDoo and Futurama Comics are some other options you may want to look into for creating digital stories with cartoons.

Here you can find further tips and tools on how to use cartoons in the classroom by Kelsey Allen.

21 May 2011

Adding Effects to Images

 Photosynth captures your images in 3D, is free and you can embed them in your website or Facebook account. You need to sign up for an account, upload your images and then just let yourself be amazed at the results. 

ZoomIt does exactly what it says - it zooms out images. Paste the URL link you wish to zoom and within seconds you'll have the results. You can link, embed or send to your favourite social network.

The third image maker is Imagoid - easy to use and with the promise of more effects soon to be added.

Myths, Motivation and Digital Learners

Digital Nativephoto © 2009 Gideon Burton | more info (via: Wylio)
Like Nicky Hockly, in her excellent post on Digital natives & immigrants, I think that it is time to move away from the debate of whether one is a digital native or digital immigrant. Instead, perhaps one should reflect on the different kind of learning environment that being digital brings to education.

The introduction of digital tools in the classroom, teaching learners to become responsible digital citizens, giving learners the opportunity to engage in social media for learning purposes does change the traditional classroom eco-system. 

Some may argue that it is only tools. Digital toys that provide activities which could easily be accomplished with pen and paper. My view is that it is not only about digital "toys" but a different way to regard learning, a different approach to empowering students to take control of their learning and creativity. As educators today, it is our responsibility to enable, engage and empower learners growing up in our digital world by offering them a digital eco-system where they can apply their digital literacies while learning. 

Of interest:

5 Myths About Digital Natives

Defining "Generation Y": towards a new typology of digital learners

Digital Learners in Higher Education - Implications for Teaching, Learning & Technology

Digital natives: where is the evidence?

Kubbu, Five Card and a Learning Newspaper

 A common request that educators often hear, is " we want games!", "we want to play games!".  Games are a great way to integrate revisions and consolidation.

Kubbu offers more than just creating games; it also keeps track of learners results and progress.

You begin by opening a free account which you may share with up to 30 students and include 15 activities at a time. If this account is not used after 60 days, beware, because it will be deleted. Any teacher can have 1 free account at a time. Kubbu also give you the option to print a game or to have learners play online.  

Below I include an example of a matching activity which is played like domino; the opposites are in the box below (not seen here) and students have to drag the tile with the correct answer to match the opposite. In this case, it was opposites, but could be any other language focus. 
It's simple for teachers to create matching games,  and you can even upload images  and sound to your games (in the case of composer). 

After signing up, Kubbu offers short tutorials on how to manage students' accounts as well as how to create activities and make them available to students. 

I'd like to thank Nik Peachey from whom I first learnt about Kubbu. In Nik Peachey's Daily English Activities,  you will find a wealth of games and activities which are suited for a wide range of levels and contexts. 

Five Card Flickr Story is a slightly different game and as the name suggests, a digital story teller tool. Five random Flickr images are generated and learners then tell a short story from those images. You can either print the stories or share them in your website or social network. Because images are random, learners can stretch their imaginations and come up with wild tales. 

Writing is surely the most challenging task for learners, but by adding images, creating digital narratives where events can go forward or backward, where narratives are enhanced with images and sound, this writing process which used to be so awkward and challenging, becomes fun and engaging. And best of all, learners can share and comment on each other's productions. 

Alan Levine has created a wiki page where you can find more about digital narratives and story telling. 50 + Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story offers a wealth of resources for everyone who is interested in digital narratives. 

And from digital narratives to online newspapers. The Learning Edge is a Canadian production of an  interactive newspaper. It was designed for adult literacy and includes stories, games and audio. It is very user-friendly and a great source for learner autonomy and self-study.

20 May 2011

Digital Narratives

Using timelines is an engaging way to create digital narratives. I have already mentioned Dipity and today I'd like to suggest Tiki-Toki

You can include videos from YouTube and Vimeo, as well as upload images from Flickr and text. Tips are given as you go along and it is really easy for students to use. Now that the end of the academic year is approaching, a fun activity is for students to create a time-line of their past academic year and perhaps even include some goals and dreams for the future.  As with any digital narrative, the possibilities are endless. 

[128/365] Study in Pinkphoto © 2011 Pascal | more info (via: Wylio)
Do you have learners who would like to be detectives?

  RubySkye P.I is a comedy web series created by Jill Golick of Story 2.OH. RubySkye P.I. has won awards, is upbeat and definitely contemporary. Learners can watch a video clip and then read Ruby's blog, contributing to threads. RubySkye P.I. is not only entertaining, but also contains educational tips for E-safety, as you can see in the Scam File.

Although not necessarily for language teaching, there are different activities which teachers can create to accompany each episode. Better still, ask learners to choose an episode and develop mini-lessons around it.

Lastly, I'd like to thank Jill Golick for getting in touch with me and telling me about this great resource for education. I'm already looking forward to her next project!

What's your Flavor?

Flavors.me is a site where you can create cool websites and keep all your social networking sites together by including all your favourite feeds. It's  easy to use and offers a wide range of personalization. 

Here you can find example of what people are doing with Flavors.me. It's very visual, but doesn't really take the place of your blog or social networks; rather, it works almost as a virtual calling card, so keeping it simple with powerful images is best. 

Jux  is a collaboration platform which is also interesting to use. It offers free websites, widgets to add photos and of course, you can also embed videos and RSS feeds.  You don't need to have any experience of creating a website with Jux as most of it is simply drag and drop.

What's your flavour?

16 May 2011

Collecting Pearls

Nebula.photo © 2008 Ashley Good | more info (via: Wylio)
Have you ever collected pearls? Shiny pearls with a particular glow?

PearlTrees is a social curation community where you can collect your sites and links, and visualize them as pearls. Each link becomes a pearl or pearltree which then can have further pearls (or links). 

You can share your pearls, comment on other's pearls and invite others to help build your pearltree. Like Live Binder It, you can keep the bookmarking tool on your tool bar so that you can easily add sites/links to your pearltrees.

Overall it's simple to use and is an interesting way for learners to begin using social book-marking tools. One suggestion is for students to collect pearls (i.e. their favourite sites) over the summer  and keep connected with their classmates. The best part is when the new academic year begins, they'll have a rich source of pearltrees to share with each other.

What pearls do you have to share?

11 May 2011

Games for Revising Vocabulary

Studying....photo © 2006 Bas | more info (via: Wylio)
For many learners, final exams are coming closer by the week and revising is in full swing.  The three tools I will mention today are especially useful for revising vocabulary, but can be adapted to other subjects as well. 

Free Puzzlemaker has different puzzles you can create; from word searches to maths squares and cryptograms. The word search in particular is great to see who can find all the hidden words first. After creating your word search, you can print out the puzzle and even check the answers. 

Super Teacher Tools offers another variety of games, my favourite being the Speed Match quiz maker. You can revise vocabulary, phrases or any content with this quiz. After you create your game, you then simply upload the link to your wiki or classroom platform (for example, Edmodo) to share with others. As a group plays the game, their score is kept on the side panel. By using the projector, the whole group can see who is scoring the highest and even try to do better than their previous score. There are other games which you can create as well, such as Jeopardy and Board Games, which you adapt to suit your own teaching context.

Lastly, why not try out the Matching Game Maker
You just need to download the game maker and follow the instructions. Students can then download the game on their own laptop/computer to play again. 

My only recommendation is that if you would like to link your matching game to a class wiki, the only way I was able to do this, was by uploading to Wikispaces rather than Wetpaint

8 May 2011

Free Documentaries

For many, summer days are long days that need to be filled with activities which we don't always have time for  during the academic year. Catching up with movies and documentaries is a relaxing way to keep on practising listening skills as well as learning something new.  Among the different sites which offer free downloads of movies and documentaries, there are three which I'll point out today. 

Top Documentary Films has a broad selection of documentaries ranging from comedy to the environment, from social issues to history and technology. Documentary Heaven also offers a wide range of topics and is easy to navigate. 

Then there is Miro - a Video Player which you will need to download  and offers you free TV programs as well as free video feeds. 

Do you have any favourite documentary site you would like to share?

6 May 2011

Vocabulary with Flashcards and SnaPanda

Whether preparing for exams or doing revisions, flashcards really do help with learning vocabulary. 

In this short posting, I'd like to point out two sites where you can make flashcards and an app which is fun to have on your mobile. 

Cramberry and Braineos are two free flashcard sites where you can create, study and even challenge your friends with vocabulary. Although they are great for learning languages, you can use them to revise almost any subject you want to and share with your friends. 

And for fun, why not explore Save the Words where you can learn all kinds of new words?

SnaPanda is an app which you can download to your mobile. Easy and handy to use whenever you want to. 

2 May 2011

Have a Snack!

TubeSnack is a cool tool which makes a playlist with your favourite videos. You can also make an audio player for your favourite songs with PodSnack and while you listen to your playlist, why not use PhotoSnack to make a photo slideshow to share with your friends?

Meanwhile, you may want to share documents with others in the form of a book. Simply use FlipSnack, which will turn your PDF documents into an online book - which again, you can embed in your blog or share in your social network.

Although these tools are free to use, FlipSnack only allows you to upload documents in PDF format and limits you to publish 3 books, with 15 pages each. The example above was taken from the British Council/BBC Teaching English  , and you can find the complete IATEFL publication here

Another snack you may like to explore is QuizSnack. As with the others mentioned here, you need to sign up and then log in. One feature I particularly liked with QuizSnack is that you can create online surveys, polls or personality quizzes all with one tool.

Which snack do you find the most interesting?