November 20, 2012 · 9:02 pm
In the world of social media, Tumblr lies somewhere between Twitter and a full-blown blog with interactive social elements that are similar to Facebook. This combination has lead to exponential growth.
To learn more, I created a Tumblr. So far, I’ve been using it to post links to relevant stuff I’m looking at, but may not be ready to create a long form blog post here at ESL Technology.com. (As an aside, remember when blog posts were considered brief? #solongago) Some of my posts there will develop into longer posts here, but many will not. You can follow my posts to both on Twitter: @eslchill.
So far, I’m not a full-blown, hardcore Tumblrer. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t sought out a network there, which is a potent part of the allure for most users. By reposting the posts of people you follow, Tumblr creates an echo chamber that allows popular media to spread exponentially.
One feature I like is the ability to queue Tumblr posts and release them a day at a time. I can post several items at once and release them one per day — thereby always having something “in the hopper.” In this way, I am contributing to the constant stream of consumable media and helping to build my brand, neither of which I’m sure I want to do, but Tumblr sure makes it easy.
As you would expect from a popular technology like this one, setup is free and easy, the interface is relatively straightforward, and there are lots of themes available so that you can change the look of your Tumblr.
Will Tumblr revolutionize language teaching? Probably not. Just about anything you’ve been doing with WordPress and Blogger, and even Twitter, can be done with Tumblr. The difference? If your students are keeping up with the latest online trends, they likely consider traditional blogs to be passé and already have a Tumblr.
June 25, 2011 · 8:56 pm
A long, long time ago (maybe 6 or 7 years now) I taught an elective ESL class centered around a student newspaper. We tried various formats including weekly, monthly, and quarterly editions, which ranged from 2 to 32 pages. We also experimented with various online editions, but at the time that mostly consisted of cutting and pasting the documents into HTML pages.
Fast-forward to 2011 and look how online publishing has changed. Blogs are ubiquitous, if not approaching passé. Everyone but my Mom has a Facebook page. (Don’t worry, my aunts fill her in). And many people get news, sports scores, Twitter posts, friends’ Facebook updates, and other information of interest pushed directly to their smartphones.
It’s no surprise, then, that a website like paper.li has found its niche. The slogan for paper.li is Create your newspaper. Today. Essentially, paper.li is an RSS aggregator in the form of a newspaper. RSS aggregators are nothing new (see iGoogle, My Yahoo!, etc.). As the name implies, the user selects a variety of different feeds from favorite blogs, people on Twitter, Facebook friends, etc. and aggregates the updates onto one page.
The twist with with paper.li is that the aggregated page looks very much like a newspaper — at least a newspaper’s website. For people not on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, paper.li might feel much more comfortable. Also, publicizing one’s pages seems to be built right in to paper.li’s sourcecode. I say that because I first learned of paper.li when I read a tweet that said a new edition of that person’s paper was out featuring me. How flattering! Of course, I had to take a look.
Would paper.li be a good platform to relaunch a student newspaper? It might. If students have multiple blogs, paper.li could certainly aggregate the most recent posts into one convenient location. Other feeds could also be easily incorporated as well. (Think of this as akin to your local community newspaper printing stories from the Associated Press.) The most recent news stories about your city or region, updates from your institution’s website, and photos posted to Flickr tagged with your city or school name could each be a column in your paper.li paper right beside the articles crafted by the students themselves. You could even include updates from other paper.li papers.
To see examples of paper.li papers, visit the paper.li website. (And note that .li is the website suffix — no need to type .com no matter how automatically your fingers try to do so.) You can search paper.li for existing papers to see what is possible. A search for ESL, for example, brought up 5 pages of examples, some with hundreds of followers. Take a look. You might just get an idea for your own paper.li.
Filed under Resources
Tagged as aggregate, aggregator, blog, blogs, class, classroom, efl, ell, ELLs, english, esl, facebook, feed, feeds, flickr, google, igoogle, language, news, newsletter, newspaper, paper.li, program, rss, smartphone, smartphones, student, students, teach, teacher, teachers, teaching, tech, technology, twitter, yahoo
April 26, 2011 · 5:56 pm
Ever stare out into a roomful of your students’ faces as you explain the role of the comma in differentiating restrictive and non-restrictive adjective clauses? I have. After a few terms, I began to wonder whether those blank stares indicated that students were overwhelmed by the topic, or bored because they already understood this material and couldn’t wait to move on, or were just plain bored (though I was pretty confident the latter was true.)
I thought it would be great if we teachers could adopt the same technology that the network news teams use when they take a roomful of average citizens and make them watch debates with a dial in their hand. By turning the dial left when they are happy and right when they are not, an average response is displayed in a graph that scrolls across the bottom of the screen. Wouldn’t it be great if students could dial between “I don’t understand. Slow down.” and “I get it. Move on.”? For now, we must make do with the analog, “Any questions?”
Getting live feedback can be very useful in the classroom. Poll Everywhere is a website that makes creating live polls extremely easy. With a free account, you can create a poll that allows up to 30 responses by web, text message, smartphone or Twitter. You can even download your poll on a PowerPoint slide, which you can use to observe the results as they roll in. More features are available for paid accounts.
Polls are very easy to set up, but there are lots of good online tutorials out there, including this one by Sue Frantz. These kinds of polls can do a great job of gathering instant feedback from your students using technology they likely already have with them (instead of requiring them to purchase Clickers, devices with only one function.) Whether asking students if they the pace of the class is appropriate or checking comprehension of content, Poll Everywhere is an extremely flexible tool that can be used in a wide variety of situations.
To respond to this poll, text the code for your response to 37607, tweet the code to @poll, submit the code to http://poll4.com, or use the web form to make your selection. View results.
Filed under Resources
Tagged as cellphone, class, classroom, everywhere, feedback, instant, interaction, live, online, phone, poll, polls, powerpoint, result, results, smartphone, student, students, survey, surveys, text, twitter, url, web
November 30, 2010 · 8:30 pm
Tags are metadata attached to a piece of information that makes that information easier to find. With the rise of Web 2.0 collaboration, people are now tagging their images, friends, and blog posts. You’ll notice that most of my blog posts have tags which I have assigned and my blog has a cloud of tags at the top of the rightmost column in which the size of a given tag is correlated to how frequently it appears in my posts.
These tag clouds are not new and, in fact, many of us probably take them for granted. But the power of these tags can be harnessed by searching specifically for them. For example, https://en.wordpress.com/tag/esl/ links to a page that lists every blog post on WordPress that is tagged ESL. An RSS feed of this page is also provided so you can subscribe to this list via an RSS reader. Blogger, another popular blog-hosting service, which is owned by Google, does not seem to have a similar setup, but can be searched via Google’s blog search, which does not search exclusively within Blogger.
Twitter, the popular microblogging site, also allows searches for messages that are tagged with ESL on Twitter at https://twitter.com/search/%23ESL. Note that %23 is the way a # sign is encoded in a URL. Tags on Twitter are preceded by a #. If you just want to view messages that include ESL but are not tagged ESL, go to https://twitter.com/search/esl. The latter search is more inclusive, which may be a good thing or a bad thing.
Other online media also provide easy ways to search by tag, but these are among the most useful for building a personal learning network. Of course, you can always replace ESL in any of these URLs with any other search term you are interested in. Happy searching!
Filed under Resources
Tagged as blog, blogger, blogs, cloud, efl, ell, ELLs, esl, google, information, learn, learner, learning, metadata, network, personal, post, posts, tag, tagged, tagging, tags, twitter, wordpress
February 23, 2010 · 2:46 pm
You don't miss these, do you?
I realize that in the world of technology there are early and late adopters. I’m not the earliest of bleeding-edge early adopters, but I do like to try out new technology and incorporate it into my teaching. This list is a handful of tried and true technologies that are established enough to not be too buggy and problematic, user-friendly enough that just about anyone can start using them quickly, and useful enough that you’ll soon wonder how you got along without them. In short, this is a list of tech that just about everyone can (and maybe even should) be using in 2010.
1. Social Bookmarking – Don’t let the “social” part fool you. Delicious, Diigo and others offer a way to move your bookmarks to the cloud, meaning they are no longer saved only on one computer. You can also: tag bookmarks with keywords to make them more searchable, get a URL to all the bookmarks tagged with the same term (for example, all of the sites I bookmarked for my presentation at the recent DMSW conference: http://delicious.com/eslchill/dmsw10), and search other people’s bookmarks to find out what people think is worth bookmarking on a given topic (for example search for “ESL” on Delicious and you can see how many people have bookmarked each ESL site). But wait, there’s more! Diigo allows you to highlight and comment on webpages and then share them. For example, take a look at my About Me page with some highlighting and sticky notes. This can be a great tool for collaborating and compiling research.
2. Social media – Ok, here’s where the social part kicks in because Facebook and Twitter are just for fun, right? Well, I’ve found a lot of great resources via Twitter (try a search for #iwb if you want to find resources people are posting for use with Interactive Whiteboards, for example.) And more and more people are joining Facebook making it a great resource for networking with colleagues. Don’t want to expose your students to Facebook? You can build your own social network using Ning!
3. URL Shorteners – These may not be necessary, but they are very handy. Copy your long URL (the Google Map directions to your house, for example) and paste it into Tiny URL, Tr.im or a handful of others. They give you a much shorter link that is easier to Tweet. Not on Twitter? They can still be useful. Consider the website for the Unconference I’m planning for this May. Is it easier to share tr.im/eltu2 or https://carmenwiki.osu.edu/display/eltu/? Both take you to the same place, but I can memorized the first one. This technology is so handy, it’s even built in to other sites, like the link provided by Diigo to my annotated About Me page that I shared in #1: http://www.diigo.com/09je0.
4. Wikipedia – Although it has become popular (but not necessary) to question it’s accuracy, Wikipedia has become the defacto knowledge bank on the internet. Once we are clear on what it is (a secondary source: a compilation of all referenced knowledge) many of its criticisms fall down. Access to all of this information means a reorganization of learning. Memorizing becomes virtually unnecessary while the ability to find and retrieve relevant information becomes essential. More importantly, at least with factual questions, we no longer have to sit and wonder anymore. What are the lyrics to Carmen Ohio? Just get on the internet and find out!
5. Google – No, I don’t just mean search, but all the other stuff: maps, docs, calendar, etc. It’s never been so easy to collaborate with other people. I created a Google Maps / YouTube mashup (student created videos from around Ohio State mapped to where they were recorded) a couple of years ago, back when it involved coding every individual coordinate for every pin placed on the map as well as the contents of every bubble that popped up. But now, just create your account and you can drag and drop most of the information where you need it — even invite people to work on the same map. Plus, you can get a sneak peak at what the next big thing might be by checking out Google Labs. Who wouldn’t like a pair of Google Goggles?
Filed under Resources
Tagged as 2009, 2010, audio, cassette, classroom, del.icio.us, digital, digital audio, diigo, efl, english, esl, facebook, google, google docs, google maps, interactive whiteboard, iwb, maps, online, social bookmarking, social media, teacher, teaching, tech, technology, tinyurl, tr.im, trim, twitter, url, wikipedia
September 30, 2009 · 2:20 am
A network is all about making connections.
I’ve had a presentation called Professional Development 2.0 accepted to Ohio TESOL 2009.
The goal of my presentation is going to be highlight Web 2.0 technologies that can expose teachers to new resources and other people in the field. I’ve posted before about the networked student, so why not the networked professional?
I’m going to focus on Twitter, because following the right people can set you up with a constant stream of great ideas and resources, blogs, which do the same but in long form, and RSS feed readers and other applications that can help organize all of these streams. I’d also like to include Facebook, Linked In, Nings, and other social media, but I don’t have as much experience using them in the same way.
Among my own favorites are @LarryFerlazzo (and his blog), @TeachPaperless, @McLeod (and his blog), as well as blogs such as Six Things, Abject Learning, DigitaLang, and the others I have listed in my Blog Roll at right.
The purpose of this post, however, is to solicit other suggestions from you, the reader. Is there someone you find especially useful to follow on Twitter? Do you read any blogs that always inspire you? Do you have a Facebook group that other ESL professionals should join? Leave a comment below and share it with the world.
Filed under Inspiration
Tagged as blog, blogs, education, educator, educators, efl, esl, facebook, ning, pd, professional development, rss, school, social media, social networking, twitter, web 2.0
June 17, 2009 · 2:38 pm
Recently, as part of my final project for EDU P&L 823 – The Functions of the Computer in the Classroom, I asked the question “How is technology changing learning?” using six different channels of communication: on this blog, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, via email and face-to-face. The question was deliberately very open-ended and I received some very interesting responses. But, perhaps more interestingly, were the differences between how people responded on each of these channels.
Obviously, the channels that reached people with whom I had close connections (email, face-to-face) received a lot of responses. Other, more ephemeral, forms of communication where connections are not as strong, received far fewer. In some ways, this was a bit humbling — I have a hundred followers on Twitter and even more on Facebook — but the response rate was very low. Perhaps the people with whom I communicate via these channels simply weren’t interested in this question?
Although these new channels (Twitter, Facebook) are changing communication, clearly they do not completely replace the others. And perhaps integrating them all is the most effective approach. Watch my final presentation below.
April 25, 2009 · 2:06 pm
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.
Filed under Resources
Tagged as classroom, google, google docs, google earth, interactive, interative whiteboard, iwb, smartboard, teaching, technology, twitter, video, whiteboard, wordle
March 19, 2009 · 6:13 pm
Everyone's on Twitter, or will be soon, it seems.
Twitter is exploding in the way that the Web did at the start of the late-90s bubble. Remember when every TV commercial had to include “www”? Twitter is becoming ubiquitous in popular culture and, by some accounts, may not survive the coming wave of new users.
So what is it? Twitter is a form of microblogging (there is a 140 character limit) which is akin to updating your Facebook status. Many people use it to update friends on what they’re eating for lunch and other vapid topics. But there are more constructive ways to use it.
One way to describe the various kinds of tweets (Twitter messages) is David Silver’s thick or thin analogy. The more layers of information a tweet contains, the thicker it is. Thick tweets can convey a remarkable amount of information in 140 characters.
For example, tags can be used to create channels of discussion. Search Twitter for #calico09 and you’ll see all of the tweets related to the 2009 CALICO Conference that include that tag. In this way, another layer of discussion can be added to the typical attend-a-session / discuss-it-in-the-hallway routine. In fact, I had the experience of discussing a question raised in a conference session during the session via Twitter. The same question was asked 20 minutes later, after the presenter had finished.
There is also power in the network. A friend who is a webmaster often posts messages about trouble he’s having with various projects. Because he has about 100 mostly like-minded followers (you can choose to follow others’ feeds and others can choose to follow yours), he often receives a useful response from this community. These feeds can also be added to blogs and other webpages, as I’ve noted before.
By retweeting messages (rebroadcasting a tweet you have read, typically inserting RT at the beginning,) information can spread very quickly. For example, after tweeting about my presentation on Interactive Whiteboards at CALICO, it was picked up by someone following the topic who retweeted it so that it could be read by the hundreds of people following his feed (but not mine). So, my message (a thick one, with links to resources,) which was only read by my two dozen followers, became available to hundreds more.
If nothing else, Twitter’s 140 character limit is an excellent exercise in self-editing. If you’ve read this far (all 434 WORDS!), you know I can use the practice. So, as the popular media continue to become enthralled with Twitter, consider some of the ways it can actually enhance communication. Or, just tell the world what you had for lunch.
February 11, 2009 · 2:05 pm
Really Simple Syndication is simple. Really!
In a word, really. Really Simple Syndication (or RSS) is a way of publishing online information that is frequently updated. Think Podcasts and BBC News. Or, more recently, Twitter and Facebook.
I’ve been experimenting with RSS on my blog recently, as you can see in the sidebar at right. (Though if you’re reading this post in archived form far in the future, I may have moved, deleted, or in some other way changed them.)
Currently, I have my Twitter feed, my Facebook status, and my Del.icio.us links. In addition to my tweets, my Twitter feed is updated every time I add a blog post. So, in some ways, my blog feeds Twitter, which feeds my blog.
This process has me thinking a lot about my personal and professional presence online. How much is too much? How much do my students expect? How narcissistic is it to post your Facebook status to your blog? In general, I only use technologies like Facebook for professional purposes, but it can be hard to draw the line.
Perhaps the biggest question is, how can we, and why should we, use these technologies for language teaching? In the business world, I think it is easy to see applications. I read about a Silicon Valley tech firm that has a flatscreen next to the elevator door that lists employees’ Twitter feeds. Seeing who’s doing what, can promote interaction in new ways.
Within the context of education, using these technologies is a way of meeting students in the digital world that they already inhabit. I interact with more students via Facebook than email. Being able to tie all of these resources together via RSS feeds can give students one place to look for everything (listening homework .mp3s, links to supplemental reading articles, information about extracurricular activities, etc.), which eliminates the excuse of having looked for an assignment in email, when it was posted to the Moodle, or vice versa.
Will these technologies change the way we teach our students? Not all at once, but the process has already begun.
Filed under Resources
Tagged as blog, blogs, efl, esl, facebook, feed, interactive, language, rss, teach, teaching, technology, twitter, web