Showa ELC, or English Language and Communication, is our unofficial department website for students and community building. I’ll be posting any further tools for students over there, and tools for teachers here. I’ll be maintaining that web site too, so keep a look out for new stuff there. Set up your News Reader to get both this site and that one. You won’t be sorry.
This ends the 100 Tools in 100 Days. I’ll continue posting ideas and tools here, but add other topics like Japan, social life, economics and politics as well. I hope you have enjoyed these tools and will use some of them. I certainly will.
Some of you will end up making web pages for your students. This will liven up any message you have to send to them, such as a warning about a deadline or important information they need to see. It is called a screed. Try it, it only takes about 30 seconds to make one, then just save it to your computer and use it like any regular picture.
This is supposed to be a Japanese IQ test, given to all students in Japan. The online version is like a game. I would guess many fail it, but the best thing about it is they could discuss between themselves in small groups, how to get everyone across the river. There are many rules (reading practice) and this would create lots of discussion about hypotheticals.
I’ve recommended Twitter already, in Tool #53, but here is a long list of ideas about how to use twitter for learning and teaching.
Twitter is very, very popular these days. It is gaining in popularity in Japan. You post short messages about what you are doing thinking or discovering, and people follow you, they can read these posts. It is easy to set up a class like this and get feedback on your lectures, but there are many more ways to use this tool.
A simple mis-communication game. Remember “Telephone” or “Chinese Whispers?” This is done with a chain message like that, but online, and with pictures and writing instead of whispering in your neighbor’s ear. Broken Picture Telephone.
Teaching is no longer tethered to geography. If I want to learn German, I can get a German teacher from Germany, living IN Germany right now. If I want to teach English to someone in Argentina, I put up my rate and other details at Myngle. Students find me and I teach using Skype, with up to 4 other students. The simple interface and ease of matching students with teachers made this a recent winner at a teachers conference in Europe.
Doing interviews is an essential part of many podcasts. Podcast Academy explains in text or in audio how to make your interview interesting and successful. Then read James Fallows write in the Atlantic about how to give a good interview. He’s famous for it.
Great little site MSTAGG with short clips from recent movies used to teach grammar points. This is definitely upper intermediate though, but he has gone through the material and done a good job of presenting examples. The clips are sometimes too long, but you can further filter them if you want to spend time preparing.
This site is not for students, it is for teachers. Every teacher nowadays needs a network of resources to keep pace with the advances in teaching and technology. Here they show you how to do it. Creating a Personal Learning Network involves finding and keeping track of valuable resources that you can go back to when you need them. That is what I am doing here with the 100 Tools, in a way, building my own PLN.
Netvibes is another site where you can put together content from many other web pages without knowing how to make a web page. It is really easy, and, like PageFlakes, has a web community that discusses what is available and what works.
This is one of the most transparent web services I know. It was hard to find their logo, and when you set up a page for yourself, their content is only at the bottom of the page.
Have you ever wanted to put together lots of material from different web sites, and put it all on one page, so that students can access it easily? PageFlakes allows you to put together text, media and web pages all in one place. It is like your own content aggregator. (A content aggregator uses information from other web pages, and are more popular than the web pages themselves.) It also has a built-in community of other people making aggregated content. They often help each other out.
Digital StoryTelling is a great site created for a high school class in the US. The videos these students have made for class projects are really exceptional. This proves that the technology is cheap enough and good enough that now the only limitation is the imagination. This site helps with that, by outlining the roles of the students in the group.
These 4 roles exactly parallel the groups I developed for my Radio Production and Podcasting Courses, and then for my Video Production Course. They make sense and allow students to concentrate on different parts of the production process. I usually try to do more than one project in a semester, so as to allow the students to try different roles. It works well.
TED is an annual conference of the best thinkers of our time. It has been going for 18 years and getting more and more popular. It has a famous deadline: no speech can be over 20 minutes. Here is what they say about TED at the website:
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.
People like Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Bill Gates, Tim Burners-Lee have all talked at TED. (a few did get more than 20 minutes). Recently, videos of these presentations have all been put on line.
So you have a wonderful resource of the smartes people on the planet putting as much information as they can into a 20-minute presentation, and making it understandable to a world-wide audience. How do you teach with this?
Some teachers have pooled their ideas into a wiki (see Tool #58) to use this wonderful resource in class most effectively. Mostly to create discussion topics that are very relevant to our students today, TeachingWithTed can give you materials as well as ideas for particular presentations made at TED.
I use Google Translator for school memos, and it is good enough to get the gist of the meaning. But if you really want a good translation, you still need a human. Cucumis applies the Web 2.0 idea of people helping people. When you sign up, you can translate other people’s documents into your own language. Then you can ask them to translate your documents into their language. You get points that allow you to measure the amount of work. No money is exchanged. I will be really curious to see if this works out (a kind of economics experiment). But for language learners, this a great way to practice translation and see if they are capable of satisfying their peer’s requirements.
This is so frustrating. XLife is exactly what I am looking for. But it is not really available in Japan.
A simulation is a type of computer application that simulates real life. The first simulators were for airline pilots to learn how to fly without endangering the passengers. Will Wright’s SimCity and the offshoots are probably the best-known examples of this genre.
XLife was developed by an Iranian/US developer and paid for by the US State department. The idea is to give middle easterners a chance to experience and learn about American culture. This PR effort targets cell phones because more than twice as many people in the mideast own them than computers (53% vs. 24%). Details available in the Wall Street Journal (may be blocked behind paywall.)
XLife is a series of different lives you can act out, all of which take you to the US to live and learn. You get points for knowledge of the US and points for making the right decisions, all on your cell phone.
Unfortunately, right now, the game only works with some Nokia phones and a few Ericson phones, neither of which are very popular here. I’m going to try it out on my daughter’s phone and see how that works, but I am not optimistic. I’m a bit frustrated. I think this is the direction for the future of language learning. Simulations, games and cell-phone access.
Knowing how students and teachers are using technology in the classroom in the US is important knowledge for any advanced country. In some ways Japan is far ahead of the US. In infrastructure like fiber optic web connections, and price of Internet connections. The number of blog posts is higher here in Japan than the US.
But other areas Japan is behind. Primarily in the use of technology. It is not very intensive, and most people experience technology through their cell phones. Computer use in class is still very rudimentary, so we can learn a lot through these statistics. Note especially how the student are more tech-savvy than their teachers.
Using Adobe Flash as a software for making online activities is really hard. You have to buy the software, learn how to use it, and then think of kinds of activities. Fortunately, classtools.net helps you by offering an authoring tool. You can create flash activities for your web site, all without knowing flash. You use templates and add your own content to the activity types. The first one is the hardest, and after that they are easy. If you are a little bit of a geek, you will like this.