Tool #10: Flickr: Pictures with Tags

I convinced quite a few members of my family to subscribe to Flickr, and this is the best way to use it. This site organizes your pictures and shows them to people you know (and some you don’t know). Here’s my personal page.

flickrBy now you know about bookmarks and tags, and the best thing about Flickr is that you can tag your pictures for easy search. You can control who sees your pictures (ask me to upgrade you to Friend status to see some pictures of parties I have been to).

You can get a small “widget,” a piece of software, to insert onto your home page to put up pictures from your account. But you can also use the Flickr pictures to search for images that can help you in teaching. Try an experiment: search for the word frustrated, and see what kind of pictures come up.

Tool #9: Delicious

Originally called del.icio.us, you can find this web site at delicious.com.

Delicious web site for tokyokevin

Delicious web site for tokyokevin

Using Delicious has several advantages over regular bookmarks (or favorites). First, the sites you save are saved to the delicious computer, so you can access from any computer. Once you save a bookmark, you can give it many different tags (for example, my web site here might have 3 ro 4 tags, such as teaching, learning, language, tokyo, kevinryan, japan, computers, and women.  I can then search b any of these terms to find the web page I want.

By far the most important, though, is that you can share your bookmarks and tags with other people. You can find other people that are interested in the same kinds of things you are, and look at their bookmarks.

I often get all my students in my computer literacy class to sign up for delicious, and we make a small group to share bookmarks. When we do a research project, we can help each other find interesting sites. They are shared immediately and automatically. Very simple, very powerful.

Tool #8: Tagging

Tagging is a simple concept with great power. Tags are similar to bookmarks (or favorites, in Internet Exporer), but they are also so much more. Tags are central to the new social media and web pages in the last few years.

Tags are labels. You can put as many tags on a web page as you like. That way, when you search for information, you can get different lists of web pages depending on the key words (tags) that you use.

Email, for example, in Google (called Gmail) is not put into folders to organize. You tag the emails you are interested in, sometimes with 3 or 4 tags, and then you put all your emails into one folder. It is easy to find simply by searching for tags. Tomorrow, I will show you a specific web site that does tags.

Tool #7: Visuwords

Rikai is a great dictionary for translation, but translating dictionaries should only be used if there is not enough time or context to figure out the meaning of a word. Ideally, you should go to an English-only dictionary and use the bilingual dictionary only as a last resort.

So get your students away from bilingual dictionaries by using an online English-only dictionary. Not one with just text, but one with graphic representations of meaning. I’m talking about Visuwords.

Visuwords header

Visuwords header

Enter a word into the box, and a whole sematic web appears below. The connections are coded and you can move them around, get definitions by hovering over the words with the mouse, and use it in many different ways. People remember vocabulary by connecting a word to other words. Trying to remember words in a list is one of the worst ways to learn new words, second only to flash cards. Lists and flash cards help you to forget words. Using words in sentences and linking them to other words is the way to build a vocabulary. This tool works like your brain does.

Tools Overview online

As a kind of table of contents, I’ve published a spreadsheet of all the tools so far, and a few ideas into the future. I’ll update this as I post each day, so you can revisit any time and get the most up to date information there.

Or you could just read them here as I put them up. Get that RSS (Tool #4) so you don’t miss any.