Thursday, December 16, 2010

5 Tasks to Teach Yourself to Teach with Technology

Some months ago I had a plan to write a book of tasks to get teachers using technology. As with so many of my plans and ideas, time and circumstances over took me and I never got further than the first 15 tasks. When I went back to do some more I noticed that I was taking so long doing these that some had gone out of date, so to try to get some use from the tasks I've decided to revise them and start publishing them here so anyone can download them and use them either to do teacher training or to develop their own ability to use technology.

So here are the first five. If they are popular I'll publish the next 5 for new year, so they can be my new years resolution and yours.

Task 1: Create your learning journal
So here goes. The first task is based around Penzu and you can download the task or read it on Scribd. In this task you'll create an online journal that you can use to reflect on the other tasks you'll be doing, so you should do this one first.

Task 2: Create online storage for your teaching images
In this task you will create a Flickr photo sharing channel. You'll need to do this to enable you to best do some of the later tasks as they come up, but having your own store of images online that you can use for various teaching purposes is always really handy.
Task 3: Create an online speaking activity
In this task you'll learn how to create an online speaking activity using VoiceThread. So if you have never done that before try the task and see how your students like the activity you create.
Task 4: Create a blog with a video activity for your students
In this task you'll create a simple blog and use it to make a video based activity for your students. Many of you may already have your own blog, but it's a good idea to have a separate one that you can use to experiment with and create activities for students. Once you have created the blog you'll be using it for other tasks as you work through them.
Task 5: Create digital books with illustrations
In this task you will create a digital image book based around a short text. Once you have created the book you will embed it into the blog you created in the previous task.
If you manage to do any of the tasks please do leave a comment and tell me how they went and if the response is good I'll try to put 5 more tasks on the site early in the new year.

So, if you celebrate Xmas please take these as my gift and if you don't celebrate it, you will have more time to do the tasks.

Best wishes for 2011.

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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So Ask Me a Question

I recently spotted this very interesting site called which exploits video to create asynchronous conversations. I find it interesting because of the simple way it creates presence. As you can see below, it looks like the person (me in this case) is waiting ready for your question.

All visitors need to do is type a question into the text line below the video and the creator will get a message with the question and post a reply. You can try it if you wish by posting a question to me. I'm not sure yet how long it will take for me to answer though.

This is very quick and easy to set up. You just go to the site and register for free, then once your registration is validated you record two short video clips. One is the one you can see above and another for unanswered questions. As questions are answered they appear below the 'waiting' video.

It's also a bit like Twitter in that you can 'follow' people and build up a group of followers. These people all receive notification of any video responses posted.

I'm trying this out because I think it's a great way of getting students to speak to each other and ask you or each other questions. All you need is a webcam and a microphone.

How to use this with students

  • You could set up your own grammar or vocabulary answers site and students could send you questions.
  • You could get students to ask each other questions about a story.
  • You could play animal, mineral or vegetable and each students has to ask question to see what you are thinking about.
  • You could just get students asking and answering questions about their likes and dislikes etc.
  • I think this would work particularly well for class exchanges with students from other classes or countries.

What I like about it
  • It's free and very quick and simple to set up.
  • There's a real feeling of presence and that someone is there waiting for your question.
  • I can generate some real spoken interaction.
  • It's a very simple idea made very effective.
  • You can embed the video chat into your blog or site.

What I'm not so sure about
  • Of course something like this is very much open to abuse, especially as it allows anonymous questions to be posted.
  • The widget which I've embedded into my post is a bit big and it would be nice to have smaller sizes.
  • A lot of the example conversations that have been created on the site are a bit adult in nature and certainly inappropriate for younger learners, so if you use it, be sure to use it with adults and embed it into a blog or site so that your students don't wander round the site.
  • WebCams aren't generally very flattering, especially in a bad light, but you can always wear a big hat or dark glasses.
If you do give this a try, please do follow me and I'll reciprocate, as I'd like to find out a bit more about how this will work in practice. You can visit my profile on the site at: . There you will be able to see a better view of the full size widget.

I hope you find this interesting.

Related links:

Nik Peachey