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Page history last edited by Teresa Almeida d'Eca 16 years, 1 month ago



Practical uses of Web 2.0 tools et al. for learning English






I'd like to share with you a simple 'exercise' I tried last Sunday. My brother and I have been playing with Audacity for a while, exploring its possibilities, and the sequence we made shows how you can add various tracks to the same recording, creating an interesting effect.

The mp3 tracks were then transferred to Evoca and posted on the blog in sequence, so that you can see how we got to the final result. We used music but you could use the same technique to create news programmes, stories etc. with your students.

There was very little editing and we only used a regular PC mic connected to his computer. Here's the link:


Monica (25Jan08)



Hi Teresa,


So far, I have been using Blist to gather in one place all the things I need for the many learners I have. So this includes normal 'Excel' type things such as attendance, marks of different types and coefficients for university students with comments etc.. I'm also adding the blogs, wikis, pages etc created collaboratively and individually and uploading documents such as assignments and corrected homework and tracking the individual learners (i.e. completed, to do, etc). Sub lists or lenses can be created and visuals such as pie charts or histograms of the input I add are just a question of a click and hey presto. The visual aspect (pictures, icons and colours) is really appealing to me rather than a dry flat Excel sheet. An individual record of each student with all information is just a matter of a click too. All of this can be shared with individuals or groups by invitation email but at the moment, they can only read and cannot contribute to it. This will be a feature in the near future. There are also features such as 'Review' and 'Discussion' coming soon too.


My university learners are using this to collect all their own research and data for reports and projects to be done within their field of study with specific objectives and deadlines. They started recently and today went on holiday for two weeks, so time will tell how they exploit this tool to the full in May/June.


I have seen that you can make widgets of some of the data and embed it in your blog or site but I haven't got that far yet :-) I'm also starting to use this right now to gather personal development information together. Let's see if I'm disciplined enough to do it for myself :-)


Moira (22Feb08)


Blogs and wikis


If I had to choose among all tools available "up there", I'd certainly pick "blogs" and "wikis". They are the framework, the hosts, the home for all other tools and apps, the "must-have" for every single teacher on earth. In short, these are the reasons why "blogs" are already popular with EFL eachers:

  • They allow instant publishing to the Internet
  • They cost little or nothing
  • They provide a comment feature that allows interaction from others
  • They are dynamic and focus on content from the participants - listening, talking, collaborating, having a dialog, sharing
  • They work for any subject
  • They are empowering - they give everyone a voice
  • They make writing THE focus - send the message that writing matters
  • They promote ownership of work
  • They allow us to learn from our students
  • They allow us to reflect on our teaching and our student's learning: think, review, rethink, an endless process
  • They allow the interchange of thoughts and ideas
  • They are exciting - seeing others comment on your thoughts/anticipating comments and replies.

    And what can a blog be seen as?

  • a way to improve our own writing
  • a just in time learning arena
  • a place to share
  • an easy way to create a website quickly
  • a way to connect with others and make connections to learning
  • a perfect spot for quick writes
  • a writing room you can make it be what you want it to be
  • a place to visit daily, which provides elements of surprise
  • a way to give students ownership of a personal web space, which encourages active engagement
  • a place to collaborate
  • a personal way to include parents in the process.

    What can we, as teachers, use a blog for?

  • to post short current events/ articles to invite students thoughts, reactions, and possible solutions
  • to create a literature circle
  • to post photos and ask students to create captions
  • to foster book discussions in the form of an online book club
  • to encourage student writing to demonstrate learning
  • to direct students to curriculum web sites and have them read and make responses
  • to communicate with another classroom
  • to react to teacher entries about what they are learning and make connections to how this learning is relevant for them
  • to post quotes and have students write their interpretation and apply it to something in their life
  • to invite one student a day to post a summary and reflections on the day's learning
  • to observe the growth of plants or animals or keep records of science experiments
  • to spot and record student kindnesses or good deeds
  • to develop new vocabulary by writing about the new word and having students create sentences or a brief paragraph using new vocabulary
  • enable students to post their ideas for the classroom or school
  • let students write short reviews of books they are enjoying reading
  • showcase their best writing pieces
  • maintain communication with absent students
  • challenge students by placing quizzes and tests online
  • get parents more involved by giving them access to their children's assignments.

    Students can create their own blog to:

  • complete class writing assignments
  • create an ongoing portfolio of samples of their writing
  • express their opinions on topics you are studying in class
  • write comments, opinions, or questions on daily news items or issues of interest
  • discuss activities they did in class and tell what they think about them
  • write about class curriculum topics, newly-learned vocabulary words and idioms.

    Blogs features:

  • Comment feature
  • Archiving entries
  • Linking (Permalink)
  • Blogrolls
  • RSS feeds
  • Photos/images
  • Audio/video
  • Moblogging
  • Ipodding.

    This is part of a ppt presentation I gave on blogging a couple of years ago in my area, and I can tell you most of the people in the audience ignored the existence of blogs. I can remember my sense of frustration at the general lack of enthusiasm for opening up one, though I must say that I met some very responsive followers, like three wonderful colleagues who are here in this group today! - Silvia, Noemi and Mary!! -, which proves Webheads seeds sprout up and flourish at the end of the day!!!

    As to "wikis", they:

  • are flexible
  • are intensively collaborative
  • focus on content
  • are open to anybody
  • are editable by anyone
  • can be organized in innumerable ways.

    What can we use wikis for?

  • instructions, manuals, glossaries
  • a class or group project with a bibliographic format
  • a letter or statement presented on behalf of the class
  • a handbook or textbook: build a guide to correct punctuation
  • any project not requiring authorship.

    I have also extracted these excerpts from another presentation I gave on the use of Wikis for language learning, and I hope they can give you a closer idea of similarities and differences between these two unmatchably useful tools the web offers us for free.





Dear Rita,

this is a very thorough explanation of blogs and wikis. I have put together also something about this in a wiki, but mine looks very basis compared to yours. Still, I would like to share it here with you all: http://blogs-and-wikis.wikispaces.com/blogsandwikis

Cris (28Jan08)




I am a big fan of blogs and I have some for different purposes. One of my main blogs is the one that always appears on the bottom of my e-mails. It is mixed and I use it with various groups with different levels. I believe this approach brings diversity to blogging and builds a large audience.


Under this umbrella blog, I have some activities such as storytelling. Students worked on a project called Beaver Dam last year. They had to retell classic fairy tales. I asked them to illustrate their stories and posted them on the blog. Check them out.


http://thomasja.wordpress.com/ (Stories told after we started learning the passive voice.)

I also use blog as a follow up to topics discussed in class. I like this kind of activity because it allows them to improve their writing skills while expressing their own ideas or talking about themselves. They love reading what others have written. Under the tag class topics, there are posts of lots of students from different levels.


I also use blogs as sort of personal diary. Some examples:

I love going to the movies and writing something about how I saw that particular movie. I used to do that a lot before blogs had been invented. Last week I decided to keep a blog on that. Check it out and leave a comment if you want.


Reflections on learning and the learning process. This is a blog I started last year when I took BaW07 and it always comes back to life in January ( I wonder why). Feel free to comment


José Antônio (29Jan08)




My favorite wiki project now is an open international group (about 10 - 14 years old) who are starting to share cultural experiences at http://classroombraids.wikispaces.com

Sharon (29Jan08)




Hi Jaya,

one of the simplest things you can do with your students is to have them edit a text on a wiki page. It's a simple activity but it's quite effective and it gives them the opportunity to have a first contact with wikis and how they work. You could focus on one aspect - grammar, putting paragraphs in order, separating the text into paragraphs, spelling, punctuation, word order, specific vocabulary, etc.

Alternatively, you could ask them to create one text together, with each one adding to their classmates' sentences.

One activity I'm preparing to try with my students focuses on mini-sagas (short stories with exactly 50 words). I tried it in the traditional 'paper and pen' fashion last year and they loved it, so I thought that wikis might be excellent for that!

Once you start, I'm sure you're going to find lots of different things you can do with your students using wikis!

Monica (30Jan08)




A story with different endings and the learners can make it as complex as they wish (Kat, 8Feb08)

A wiki, voicethread, chinswing or blog with continuing story - everyone writes or tells the next paragraph (Sharon Betts, 8Feb08)

Students could choose whether to write or tell according to their learning type (Nergiz, 8Feb08)




One of my colleagues asked me how exactly I am using blogs and wikis in my class and what is the role of my students.

1. While working with blogs and wikis, I always try to involve my students as much as possible. I try to post materials that would be fun and useful at the same time for them. I try to ask them what they like reading and how they study best and I design my lesson plans according to their answers. When I teach grammar, for example, I encourage students to find interesting articles from CNN or USA Today and identify specific grammar patterns and only after that I teach them the rules they need to learn. In this way, they have fun reading about Britney Spears and Facebook Scrabble (in Yahoo News) issue and I get to meet my lesson objectives. I usually teach grammar inductively and ask for my students to formulate it after I present them relevant structures in specific contexts, which should be interesting to them and useful to me as a teacher.

2. My blog is a our main working space: I post videos as warm-up activities and then articles they need to read for their homework readings. I require them to use all the tools on the right side of the blog, especially the online dictionaries and grammar links, and I usually give them extra points for each blog entry.I always save their work online on Slideshare or Teacherweb and I encourage them to check how many viewers they have each week (Slideshare gives you an actual number of how many people watched the presentations), which motivated them to do their homework on time and revize it more carefully, as it will be exposed online to a huge audience.

3. At the end of the semester the students have to work on a bigger project: this can be a blog of their own, a video or a digital essay on one of the topics covered in class. This is how I motivate them to keep updated on what is going on on the blog. They usually go back to the posts to find resources for their own projects. This is how I integrate learning in real life contexts instead of asking them to work FNPP: for no particular purpose :)

4. I have just started working with the wiki and I intend to use it as a basic working space: I post entries with links, videos and online quizes and the students are responsible for filling them up (this is an "empty" type of wiki, which is built on its users content) with their own reviews, games, videos, etc. they don't have to create everything by themselves: sometimes they can suggest a video for the rest of the class (Check on the Lord Syntax video - one of my students recommended it and now I am planning to use other episodes from the same series all the time!)


5. In the beginning of the semester I gave my students a list of topics we will cover in class - they chose a topic each and are responsible for designing a separate page on the wiki with materials they created by themselves. This is how by the end of the semester I am planning to fill up the wiki with my students' work: they will work on their page in groups and when the page is ready, they will actually role play as teachers and will present it to the rest of the class - I hope that this will encourage them to be more responsible as learners and more creative than I am! I am sure they can teach me a thing or two! Last year my students were so creative, but i did not know how to put together their work, so that is why this semester I created our wiki.


I hope that I have answered to all you questions and that you could use some of my own teaching reflections to make your classroom more interactive and fun. Let me know what you think about it!

Daniela Munca (11Feb08)




I have used chinswing and would like to contribute my 2 euro cents, too.

We experimented with Chinswing with my students (at Pre-Intermediate level) by recording their own stories. The task was to use Past simple and linkers as well as some keywords. I also asked the Chinswing participants to choose the best story. Though we did not get much feedback, the idea was new and worth trying, I think. You can find our experiment here:


Elfina (26Jan08)

I've just listened to your students' stories in Chinswing. That was a great way of using the tool and integrating in a natural way different aspects of language learning - if you think about it, they are speaking, listening to each other, practising narrative writing, reading aloud, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary...)

Monica Veado (27Jan08)




Chinswing allows you to create online threads and everybody can join in and express their opinion. Click on the red dot on the right to record your message, or click on anybody's thread to hear their comments!

Monica (28Jan08)




Chinswing is a very interesting tool. It is great for threaded discussions. Elfina for example posted a link to her chinswing page where students were telling stories.

Jose Antonio (28Jan08)




Some ideas for using chinswing:

Post a question for worldwide input - like:

  • What is your favorite local food?
  • How do you say hello in your language?
  • What is the weather like on a particular day and time (GMT)?
  • Sing a local folksong for us.

    Sharon (4Feb08)


Elluminate vRoom


Dennis Oliver wrapped up a number of features that Jonathan Finkelstein modeled during his presentation at the Leaarning Times Elluminate vRoom, or virtual classroom, on 8Feb08, which can give us ideas of how to carry things out with our students.

I felt totally engaged from the beginning to the end of this session and also eager to participate. Jonathan modeled a number of things very well, I think. These are some things that immediately come to mind:

-- varied facilitation techniques;

-- creative uses of the platform;

-- responding to chat questions and comments while conducting the session;

-- encouraging participants to take active roles;

-- giving participants the chance to use tools provided by the platform;

-- managing time wisely.

I came away from the session "buzzing with ideas"!

Dennis in Phoenix (8Feb08)




I thought I'd insert these messages between Zsofi and JA, because they are great foof for thought about applying different software, starting with GPS (Global Positioning System). (Teresa)


In 2006 our city became 40 years old as a city (before it was considered as village), and the Local municipality had required the Library to organize a competition for children between the age of 9- 14. about the city, it's history.

At that time we just started to work in a European project which gave us the idea for a really new kind of activity.


Here it goes how we played:


The children had got a GPS coordinate in the library. (Previously I had chosen the places to go and took the coordinates of them)

They had had to find this so-called "waypoint" where they had to looking for an envelope hidden somewhere (under bushes, benches, on trees..). In this envelope they had found a clue ( a puzzle, sentence) which, if they solved it, disclosed them where did they have to go (Museum, statue, famous building around). When they had found it out, they went to this certain place where a historian, a museologist, or a local authority had been waiting for them.


The children had the next tasks:


1. Based on the clue found in the envelope find the place, building, statue...

2. Learn about the heritage, listen to the expert in there

3. Create multimedia content - photo, video, (interview with the expert), audio

4. Choose the best content and upload it to the site of the competition

5. Get the next envelope

6. Go to the next waypoint


Meanwhile In the library the jury had been following the children through the web page, where they could follow up where were they and what they were doing.


The intro page (logo designed by me :-) dg40.gvkik.hu (without www)


If you click on to ISKOLÁK menu (the second one), you will see the schools participated (70 children played with us, from all the 10 schools of the town)


- The first column tells you the name of the school,

- the second column shows you introduction films created by the teams (that was the first, first task to create a short film about their school)

- the third one shows you (albumok) the content- if you click on this link, a new window will open where all the content can bee seen which had been created by the participants- in two menu lines- the first ordered by schools and the second ordered by the heritages)


dg40 means: Digital Gödöllõ 40 (Gödöllõ is the name of the town)

Zsofi (4Feb08)




What a nice project and a great way to get the community involved. The sutdents probably had a lot of fun doing this. The idea of follwoing clues to monuments using GPS to track people is just amazing. I saw the pictures and they are great. Your city definetely has wonderful places, pictures are great. I have also listened to the music and seen the slide show. I found it fastastic and the music is really beautiful. That was a great project thanks for sharing it with us.

It is not a blog or wiki , but it shows use of software to create content and it shows how a whole city can be engaged in a meaningful activity. It is an intelligent engaging project. In fact, if you want, you can post all the material you have into a blog in the future and ask people to comment, to give their opinions. You have lots of material to use. You could categorize them for short snippets and go on and on.

The project and what you have produced per si is just amazing and I am sure students feel really proud of what they have accomplished.


Thank you so much for sharing. I really liked it. It was a nice way of strting my day.

José Antônio (4Feb08)




Yes, I know that the idea is wonderful, as I told you a european project gave me the idea, so is not only my invention. ( I wish it was mine!) but I have also added my own cents..

The children LOVED it, simply. The GPS was a magic tool, spite that we used a simply one, ETREX, without map application, we just used the coordiantes (UTM) and the "compass" screen to show the direction.

We had problems with the video converting, it took too much time for the children and gave some difficulties to them ( and for me :-))

But in a later project we used 3G mobile phone and PDA, and the videos had been uploaded without editing, so this way required more accurate work, but could work fine and in this way we could solve the convert problem.

Yes, the idea is to create a blog is really good, thank you! I have been thinking to present somehow this work in a different way just I could not know how. Maybe I can create a syllabus of the activity for teachers also, than they can replicate this in their own school...

However I am not a member of this library since a year, but somehow I feel this project as mine, so maybe I can do this blog!

Zsofi (4Feb08)




Your project seems to be very interesting... But I have a question. What is GPS ? I am ashamed I do not know.


Do you think this activity could be in any way be applicable to language teaching?

Natalia (4Feb08)




GPS or Global Positioning Systems is a satellite system which allows us to locate accurately a position of anything (human, building, town, whatever). The system uses different grids to get this number, called coordinates. I am sure you heard about longitude and latitude. This system can handle this grids as well. So it is capable to measure a point and you get a serious of numbers like this: N3736.988 W12223.393.


If you know a coordinate like this you can input it to a GPS equipment or receiver and it is guide you to this point wherever it is. Nowadays most cars has this tool built in, and with a map it is helps and guides the driver to get to the chosen location, street.


Good question if how it can be used for language teaching- I am not a language teacher as you know, but I think it can be applicable if the students have to create content in English language and you give the clues to them in English, and by connecting with other classes around the world they can can introduce their town, country, their culture to other children in this way.

So local game- but the result useful for further activities in the classroom and to build a community.


Makes sense?

Zsofi (4Feb08)


Jigsaw puzzles


I use online jigsaw-puzzles for teaching in my graduate and undergraduate courses. Here are some examples:

Undergraduate (two examples):

With this jigsaw, I ask my English for architecture students, when studying construction materials, What do you see in the puzzle? What is the material used? How many types of uses are given to the material?


On another unit (different course), I ask my students to recognize the kind of bridge presented in the puzzle:

http://id3-124dg.pbwiki.com/Week2#Activities (at the bottom of the page)

Graduate course (one example)

I use jigsaws in my e-projects course to show participants that developing an e-project is like solving a jigsaw, there are many stragies but there is always a strategy which is more eficient ;-)

I give them a jigsaw with one simple cut. Ask them to solve it, and then, at the end, they have to explain what was their strategy to solve it and how long they spend in the process. Then, I ask them to use a more complex cut, and ask them to solve it, of course, which each cut they have to use different solving strategies, and this is discussed in terms of different projects. For each project you might have to use different strategies.

http://e-proyectos.wikispaces.com/Semana+1 (this course is in Spanish)

With language students at the beginner levels:

Create puzzles with questions. Students solve the puzzle and the first one to finish answers the questions. The background of the puzzle can be the answer to the questions. For example: question: What do you see? or What is this?, the background of the picture is a table or any other object/food/body part, etc. It can also be used for counting, fill in the blanks, etc.

I use http://www.jigzone.com for my jigsaw puzzles.

Daf (25Jan08)




I discovered Skype a week ago and ... I see the following possibilities (just ideas!!)

Teaching Listening and Conversation

1) one to one mode a) The conversation: The conversation follows the chat (the written text is a kind of saying out the written text( chat)

b) Teaching Responses in the Conversation

the chat offers a number of responses to the questions and the tutor asks the question and the student has to say the adequete response.

I could go on with possibilities but it looks to me now they are all transferred from the "tradtional classroom".

2) group speaking. I think that it is a challenging thing both for the teacher and the learner. This fits more into the free practice stage for teaching Conversation.

But then the question is what are the benefits for Skype apart from the fact that people can learn and teach at a distance? And what are the drawbacks/pitfalls for using Skype for teaching languages? Can anyone share the experience of using SKYPE in THE EFL classroom

Natalia (22Jan08)


I have been using skype since it was created back in November 2003. You can see here a web page where I tell about my experience:


I have also used skype for dictations in private tutoring. I say a sentence and the student write it on the text-chat and then reads it. Also, I write a sentence/paragraph and the student reads out loud.

So, Skype is good for reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Daf (22Jan08)


I haven't used Skype in my classes, but I recently read an article "Making Skype more than just another desktop icon" by Ben Redmond. The article introduces The MIXXER which is a language exchange community for teachers and students using Skype. You can find more information at http://www.language-exchanges.org/login.aspx

If any of you have used it, I would be interested in hearing your impressions.

Sally (22Jan08)


I thought that Skype was really good for speaking and listening, but hadn't realized that it is pretty good for reading and writing too. So I think it can also be good for translation and interpretation purposes.

Evelyn (22Jan08)


I use skype and msn for online tutoring and translation help. Students can record individual voice clips in msn to save for listening to later.

Using msn or skype or yahoo voice messenger for minimal pair practice in pronunciation is effective. It took one of my online learners several tries to perfect the pronunciation of a word...

I used skype today to translate a learner's resume. We spoke when needed to clarify terms. I used mS Word track changes to edit his rough draft. We exchanged the Word documents via the send file funtion.

Mary (22Jan08)


I am new to the use of Skype and I can see a lot of potential in the classroom. I was thinking on its use in testing. Assuming that we are interested in performance assessment and what students can actually do with the language, it would be nice to use skype to pair our students with other learners of the L2 around the world to solve language tasks over Skype.

Conversations could be recorded and assessed by teachers using a rubric containing not only the traditional grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and fluency aspects, but also features such as task completion, negotiation of meaning and strategies used to complete task, etc. I feel the sense of achievement and motivation of our students can increase, because we are assessing their actual communicative abilities. This sounds ideal, however it's worth noting that some challenges may be faced:

a) All students should have access to internet. A fast connection would facilitate the interactions.

b) Finding students at the same level or a little beyond (i + 1).

c) Design relevant tasks to students interest and curriculum content.

d) Design a reliable rubric.

e) Can we record such conversations over Skype or use other tools?

The list could be long, but I think it would be interesting to try the idea to see what other challenges could arise and if the benefits are greater than the costs.

Yuly (24Jan08)


Hi, Yuli. Very good ideas in your comment. I have used Skype with my students for joint projects with teachers and students from different countries, and all students involved (and teachers!)have enjoyed the experience. You point out several tips to make it a really succesful session, which are very important, such as pairing students of the same age and language level. This would be the basic and first condition, or else the project will fail.

MOTIVATION is as important, since only if students find the topic appealing will they participate with intrinsec interest. I guess this is the most demanding part, as each group will pose different challenges, which we, teachers should pay heed to.

In general, all students at an upper-intermediate level will be interested in cultural differences, having to do with topics concerning their age.

I remember one project I carried out with Buthaina, an EFL teacher in Kuwait, which was so successful that the day my students met on Skype, after having interacted asynchronously in a blog through text, they got such a thrill that they didn't want to leave the session!! And this is what we should try to gain from experiences like this, students' zest to carry out the task through which they'll not only practise the language but learn as well while enjoying the whole process.

Our main concern should be finding the right topic and designing a good activity to arouse learners' attention and willingness to participate actively without their feeling it's a "compulsory task" they have to comply with.

Rita (24Jan08)


The idea of using Skype as a tool for performance testing (or assessment) sounds great but I think there are some factors which call for more consideration. You know, when it comes to testing we need to follow some sort of stardards or say criteria. So what are our criteria for considering the skype conversation as a sample of speaking skill?

Another issue that might concern us is how we define operationally the construct we want to test--which performance do want to test?

The other thing that worries me is the extraneous factors that might contribute to the invalidity of the test such as the interruptions in the conversations because of the technology problems. These interruptions will negatively affect the students' performance.

Despite all these challenges, I do believe Skype and YM are among the best tools that develop confidence in the students regarding their ability to converse in a second language in a stress-free environment.

Masoud (25Jan08)


I agree with your arguments, except with the one that you need to have students of the same level for the project not to fail.

I believe, due to my own experience in the classroom, f2f and in blended courses, that heterogenous groups are ideal to promote real interaction, scaffolding and negotiation of meaning, two important aspects for language learning to take place, acording to SLA theories and to our experience at the university with our English for architecture and urban planning students. Chatlogs are a wonderful source of data to study interaction, scaffolding and negotiation of meaning.

Daf (25Jan08)


I agree with both Rita and Dafne on whether students have to be at the same proficiency level if Skype conversations are to work as vehicles for language learning. In my own experience with Skype conversations (including the one we had with Jeff Lebow here in BaW08), I think a number of factors come into play, among them:

-- participants' confidence in using Skype and/or a particular language;

-- participants' willingness to take risks and speak even when they

knows that there may be mistakes;

-- participants' awareness that each should monitor how long she/he speaks;

-- the number of participants in a Skype conversation;

-- participants' abilities to make adjustments "on the fly" to theiraudio settings.


If a particular group is small and fairly homogeneous with respect to language proficiency, confidence in USING a language, willingness to discard a fear of making mistakes, and willing to "yield the floor" when two or more begin to speak at the same time, Skype conversations usually flow smoothly and exhibit a high degree of interaction. If these factors are unbalanced (and they certainly can be, even when students are roughly equal in any of these or other skills), the

conversations can STILL be highly participatory for all involved . . . with skillful facilitation by the teacher.


Ultimately, I think it depends on how the teacher has set up the conversation before it actually takes place. How much has the facilitator choreographed the session by "prepping" the participants on how to make the Skype conversation an interesting, enjoyable, engaging experience? What strategies has the facilitator devised to ensure that everyone will have the opportunity to speak? To what extent has the facilitator anticipated potential problems and devised strategies for dealing with them as they happen or even BEFORE they happen?

Dennis in Phoenix (26Jan08)


Salaam, Masoud (and Yuly and everyone).

Your point about following standards or criteria is an excellent one, in my opinion. If we have no criteria, how can we assess speaking skills? The criteria obviously have to be in place before any

assessment can be done, right?

Here are my personal responses:

-- Criteria (probably in the form of outcomes) have to be established before assessment can take place.

-- These criteria/outcomes should NOT be all of the criteria/outcomes

that have been established for a listening course since they are being used for one activity within the course, not for the course as a whole. For an individual Skype conversation, for example, the guiding criterion/outcome might be someting like "The student will be able to respond appropriately and understandably, in English (or whatever language). during live conversations with at least one other speaker on the topic of _____."

-- A rubric should be used to assess the extent to which students perform the task(s) associated with a given criterion / given

criteria. This will probably involve establishing a rating scale from "non-existent' or "poor" or "completely off target" (etc.) to "highly developed" or "completely understandable / appropriate / on target" (etc.)

-- A truly objective, statistically valid assessment will actually be impossible in a live group conversation unless before the online session, the participants are made aware of the objectives of the conversation and the means of assessing the degree/extent to which those objectives are met.

-- A truly objective, statistically valid assessment will also be impossible unless all the participants are physically present in the same place at the same time and using the same type of equipment.

-- When there are no objectives in place before a live online session and when there are no means (such as a rubric) available for objectively measuring whether/to what extent an objective is achieved, there are too many confounding variables for the assessment to be statistically meaningful.

I see the confidence factor as being one of the most critical elements affecting students' ability to demonstrate the ability to participate in live conversations, and I also believe that almost anything we can do to "lower the affective filter" among our students will almost have salutary results.

Dennis in Phoenix (26Jan08)


Tapped In and Skype


I've thought of an activity. Here it goes:

a- I'd send a group of students to Tapped-in. Let's say 16 sts.

b- I'd receive them in a certain room, but i'd reserve two.

c- They'll take part in a quizz show.

d- Given the instructions, they'll divide in two groups, 2 rooms. They'll be given 30 minutes.

e- Each group will have to think of 10 questions. Here we'll think about the topic. It might be about historical events, celebrities, etc.

f- The facilitator will be present in case sts need help.

g- After that, they'll connect to skype. It could also be the following class

h- here, they'll connect in pairs. Ask each other questions . . . And the winner is . . .

Marina Alfonso (23Jan08)




What I like about Voicethread though is that you or your students can for example upload a picture and tell a story or describe the picture. You could even give a presentation with it and ask students to do the same. A lot of potential there.

Nergiz (31Jan08)




I have just finished playing with Voicethread - I tried to put together a model I am using with my class blog to show how to work collaboratively with the students in and outside class. Check it out and leave your comments - I would be more than glad to see what others think about it!


Daniela Munca (6Feb08)




Today I created 3 VoiceThreads for my FCE (Cambridge First Certificate Examination)

students to practice with once I get back in the classroom. These VoiceThreads are to encourage them to record some answers to the second part of the FCE speaking exam where they must talk alone and compare and contrast 2 pictures and give an opinion in 60 seconds. The questions all follow the same format, so sorry if I sound like I'm stuck in a loop. ;-)

3 is the maximum of free threads I could get otherwise I would have added more since I was having fun making them.

I'd like to have some kind of stop clock on the page so the students know when their 60 seconds are up. Any ideas?


Kat (6Feb08)




Hi Kat,

A really practical and interesting way of using voice thread. Your students will certainly love practicing their oral skills for FCE using the pictures you have chosen and voice thread. They will love ot listen to themselves and check for possible mistakes and will be able to improve their performance.

About a stop clock, I don´t know of any. I googled it, but couldn´t find one that would be suitable for what you want. Let's see if someone else comes up with such a tool.

José Antônio (6Feb08)





I have used webquests for a while, and I like most of them, but sometimes they are time consuming and not all students are comfortable with them. Webquests are usually good for larger projects: like mid term or final projects, when they have to work on something big, requiring them to spend more time on the web, searching, summarising and deveopping the information. I have created a webquest myself. It was a quide for my stdents to become used to blogs and blogging, to check on some really nice blogs and create their own blog with at least three entries. You can check on the webquest here http://zunal.com/webquest.php?user=4636 and on what my students created as a result here http://dvmunca.blogspot.com/2007/12/this-semester-is-over-and-i-am-


Good luck with exploring webquests!

Daniela (11Feb08)




hi everybody

I wanted to ask all of you a couple of specific questions:

1- how do you choose from the different tool? I mean if pbwiki, wetpaint and wikispaces are all tools to create wikis, how do you choose, what characteristics do you look for??

2 - i have a big querie with wikis: if a wiki is a typical collaborative tool, how do you handle the changes? I mean, do all the students

have access to the changes? does everybody have access and he/she can change the contents?

thanks for the info and the incredible help

stella (11Feb08)




Personally, this is what I look for in wikis:


1. Easy navigation, that is students don´t get lost looking for a page. So, a clear navigation bar is important (wikispaces and pbwiki have that)


2. Posibility to embed all kinds of widgets easily. (pbwiki and wikispaces provide that). Wetpaing is more restrictive due to number 3...


3. Posibility to use HTML to enhance the look and to be able to do as many things as you do with a webpage. Only pbwiki offers this.


Regarding your second question, pbwiki and wikispaces give you the possibility of locking some pages and having other pages for collaborative work. Another trategy I use is to use 2 wikis and have one for course content and the other one open for collaboration (That's why I created two wikis for BaW).


In my English for architecture and urban planning courses, each student has his/her own wiki which is used as an e-portfolio for all the work during the trimester. Comments about content are posted to the comments section (tab at the top of each page). I never write language corrections on the wiki, for feedback I use Moodle which is a closed environment.


My students´s wikis are all linked to the course wiki so we all have access to everybody's work.

Daf (11Feb08)




This is a very valid question and there are variables to be considered. One is the purpose for the integration of a wiki (what do you want it to do in the learning event) and who is your target audience.


I, for example, have different sets of learners coming from different institutions and corporate set ups. Basically, for adult learners I would choose Wikispaces as it is extremely user-friendly for the novice. For the more experienced and tech savvy adult learner, I would use Wiki.dot which is very professional and clean looking. For my students studying computer science, I would choose PBwiki using the html editor, so that they are learning html whilst 'doing' things for their ESP class. So, my answer would be 'it depends' :-)


As for access, again, it will depend upon what you and your learners want to do in the collaborative space. Some wikis (in fact, more and more) allow different settings for page access to group members (people you have invited to edit).


So, I would say that the first thing which has to be considered is what you and your learners want to experience in the colloaborative space and then to search for the appropriate tool to fill those needs.

Moira (11Feb08)




Yahoo Messenger & Audacity


How I've used a couple of voice tools with YLs (5th-6th graders). They've recorded voice messages with HandyBits (offline voice mail), Audacity and my PDA to make contact with the outside world and receive responses that are heard in class. The four basic skills - reading, writing, listening and speaking - are practiced, because they start by writing the message on the board (it's a collaborative task) and copying it in their notebooks. Then they read it once or twice before one student or the whole class records it. Finally, they listen to the end product, which I later insert in one of our blogs.

We've also used voice messages/podcasts to roleplay dialogues (I should say that they mainly read from their textbook rather than act it out) and to say what we've done in class in previous weeks (a sort of online diary of classwork). This is mainly done with my PDA (always with me). At home I transfer the file to my laptop, convert it to .mp3 with Audacity, upload it to my server and insert it in the blog. We've also recorded "Happy Birthday" on several occasions.

We've also had live chats at Yahoo Messenger (recorded with Audacity) with Webhead friends throughout the world: Aiden Yeh (Taiwan) and Agata Zieba-Warcholak (Poland) in June 2005, Cristina Costa (England), Hala Fawzi (Sudan) and Michael Coghlan (Australia) in June 2007. The first year with Aiden and Agata we didn't prepare anything. It was a very impromptu session. Aiden and Agata (separate chats) both asked simple questions and the students replied. If they didn't get it, they'd say: "Repeat, please!" The students also asked questions.

For the second live chat (2007) they prepared an interview in class using structures they had learned during the two years. I just asked them to think of questions they'd like to ask one of my many friends throughout the world. The following lesson I surprised them with a live chat with the three teachers. It was a grand finale!


We've also received video messages from teacher-friends and sent them "thank you" video messages for their collaboration. These were recorded with Windows voice programs and a webcam. (You may have to click the Play button more than once to get it going.) (Daf) (Dennis Oliver) (Rodrigo, a 6th grade student)

In last year's bog I embedded a My Chingo voiceboard and anyone could record messages. Several students recorded from home. We also recorded messages in class. I even used a few for listening exercises created with Quia.

http://fwe2.motime.com/ (frame on the right)

These are different activities through which students can practice language learned, communicate with the outside world, broaden their horizons, develop their e-literacy skills, while parents have a chance to follow their child's speaking skills.

Teresa (27Jan08)




Wow this is really great. You have shared so many great ideas to work with voice and video. They are all very practical. What I like most about them is that they integrate the four skills as you have said, they promote interaction between students themselves and with people outside the class. Another good think about all of them is that students do not necessarily need be connected to the web to create content for those activities.

José Antônio (27Jan08)

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