Tag Archives: google earth

169 Interesting Ways to Use Technology

A wordle of this blog post.

A wordle of this blog post.

Recently, I’ve come across two excellent presentations for using both of these technologies. Both were created by Tom Barrett, a teacher in Nottingham, England, that I follow on Twitter, another technology I recently blogged about. (You can follow Tom on Twitter, too, if you have a free Twitter account.)

I’ve blogged for a while about Interactive Whiteboards now, especially the $50 build-it-yourself version which is based on the Nintendo Wiimote.  I’ve also highlighted Wordle as an interesting way to visualize language.  I’m going to focus on the presentations on these two topics, but Tom also has presentations on Google Earth, Google Docs, Pocket Videos, and Twitter if you’re interested.

Thirty-Eight Interesting Ways to use your Interactive Whiteboard focuses on Smartboards, but includes lots of great ideas for most IWBs from basic shortcut functions to advanced techniques such as having students write on the board and then, instead of erasing, creating a presentation on Slideshare.net or a Google Presentation that can then be uploaded to the class blog for students to review.  Great idea!

Thirty Interesting Ways to use Wordle in the Classroom covers a wide range of ideas appropriate for many different subjects.  Some suggestions are pretty obvious, such as doing a simple lexical analysis of different texts: student created, children’s stories, literary works, etc.  Others are quite innovative, such as photocopying a wordle with white words on a black background onto a transparency and having students come to the overhead projector and color nouns one color, verbs another, and so on.  This presentation is sure to spark some great ideas.

All of these presentations are Google docs, so you’ll need to sign up for a free Google account to view them, if you don’t have one.  Tom has compiled these tips and ideas from the suggestions of several teachers and even offers information on contributing your tips at the end of each presentation.  His contact information is at the end of the presentations.  Get in touch with him  if you have something to contribute.

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Lively Is Dead

RIP Lively by Google.

RIP Lively by Google.

What is Lively and why should I care? Both good questions. Lively is Google’s first shot at a virtual 3D community a la Second Life.

I first read the news on TechCrunch.com. The stats there tell the whole 4.5 month story from start to finish. Having recently finished teaching a class using Second Life, this news got me thinking about the use of virtual worlds in language learning. Is this the future of language teaching? Not yet.

In addition to the high price of admission (in terms of the performance of the computer required to access and the quality of the connection necessary,) there simply aren’t enough users for students to interact yet. When first released, early adopters tried out Second Life and built lots of neat things. But since then, many seem to have left. And, guess what? It turns out that if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. My experience, and that of my students, was that there was lots of interesting things to look at, but few interesting people to meet. I suspect Google found a similar patter in usership and pulled the plug before Lively hit its lull.

So, what’s next? The good news is, there currently seems to be a lot of academic interest in virtual worlds, which may help to populate, and thereby revive, worlds like Second Life. Google seems to be on to another approach which is to integrate Google Earth with a Second-Life-like user experience. Already, users are able to add 3D representations of buildings (Ancient Rome, for example). Google’s next step maybe be taking what they learned from Lively and making it a part of Google Earth as well. Will that eventually conquer Second Life? It won’t have the same fantasy-themed vibe of much of Second Life but (perhaps as a result of this) it probably already has more users. In the end, ESL students probably won’t care if they are in Ancient Rome or Renaissance Island, as long as there are people to talk to.

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Filed under Inspiration