Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking at objects in Second Life

Nice little instructional video on how to use the viewing options in SL, from sttaylor.

Second Life Tutorial: How to Look at Things

This YouTube page also has a list of other video tutorials for beginners.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Interview on Absolutely Intercultural

I was very pleased to be interviewed by Anne Fox for Absolutely intercultural. It's a great podcast for learners, carefully planned and executed, and Anne has a terrific speaking voice.

Our interview topic was language learning websites, and I spoke about my experiences with using Babbel (see my earlier blog on that). Unfortunately, I have been unable to find the time to keep up with it, but I notice I am getting a lot better at following conversations on TV programs in Spanish, so I guess it was of some use.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Learning Spanish Online

Since I am trying to brush up on my Spanish, I was lucky to find the Webheads are also interested in the subject. Turns out there are a number of places to get at learning a language online. Here is a compendium of places to learn Spanish online from the Webheads e-list:

Spanish proficiency exercises on video:
and again from Twitter, here's a student of Spanish who blogs/twitters abou his learning:
--Graham Stanley
--Gavin Dudeney

What started out as a fundraiser for a good cause through a series of podcasts back in 2006, has developed into an online Spanish language school for Ben and Maria, the British/Spanish couple that started it: Notes in Spanish
--Jane Petring

Have you looked at the BBC Spanish courses and resources? Some great stuff here:
--Johanna Stirling

I am really enjoying

There are sets of typical exercises, but done in a more imaginative
way than the usual drill-and-grill. Also, when you enter the site
there are short movies with a brief writing assignment. You write in
Spanish and send it to "Community" or "Friends" (once you get some).
They correct your Spanish, and you correct their English version in
tandem learning. I have since starting acquired about a half dozen
friends who correspond with me at the level I am capable of. It's
really Community Language Learning. So after studying the
Introductions exercises, I wrote a letter of introduction to send to
my Spanish-speaking Friends list.

Also Babbel has just added a chat function to have live meetings with
Friends--I haven't set one up yet, as I've been traveling. And one of
the people on my Friends list has requested a Skype conference. So
it's fun and very encouraging. You can start with beginning lessons or
select intermediate or advanced. I think it is already helping my
facility in the language. It is motivating to see what Friends are doing.

[And they don't seem to care that I am a 66-yr old grandma.]
--Elizabeth HS

I'd recommend Live Mocha.
Haven't been there in a while, but all this conversation has gotten me excited again to practice Spanish!
--Carla Arena

If you are looking to learn with a real online tutor you could

Most of the tutors are based in South America and the project is set
up under a kind of 'fair trade ' model. The site acts as an agency
that trains and helps to equip teachers in poorer countries so that
they can earn money online internationally. You can find out a bit
more about the project here:

And the tutors here:

--Nik Peachey

Join group/idioma-espagnol/. There are some interesting LINKS to practise the language.

Nelba is also organizing free Spanish sessions in Second Life. [address to follow]

I'll come back and re-edit this if more spots appear on the list, or I run across any further. I have been very negligent of my Babbel Friends, as the site was not very responsive when I was traveling--kept getting stuck in the exercises. This shouldn't happen.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Jonathan Zittrain, the Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It (video)

Zittrain's video came at a most timely moment, as my friend in France, Mike Marzio of the Real English School had just had his wonderful videos ripped off by a Brazilian "entrepreneur," who was cutting CDs of the recordings. Painful!

After many messages from outraged Webheads, the offending works were removed. You can see the comparison of the works and the outcome at Mike's site.

The tie-in to Zittrain is a little thin. He describes how spam is ruining the Internet and how that problem may affect future development of and user choices on the Web. He suggests that a top-down solutions can be oppressive to creativity and the "generative Internet," while community cooperation and resources may be able to stop the looming danger and keep the "creative Internet" safe. However, I see the connection to Mike's case in that user-generated content has to have protections without being oppressively legalistic. In this case, the community responded to protect its member from being ripped off--and it worked!

BTW, the Real English videos are now accessible for free, and Mike continues to add new content frequently at Real English.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Overstream is an interesting way to put subtitles over a video online, e.g., from YouTube. (And I am curious about why it is a dot net...)

Of course, you have to be able to understand what they are saying/singing to begin with. But I like the idea as a way to further develop video materials for use with students learning/studying a language: They could do the subtitling.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Free Digital Photos

This looks like it might be a useful site to find imagess for a vocabulary exercise or for student projects. Photos are free and copyright free. Of course, there is always the option to add the extra $$ for a print version. Also, student photographers can upload their work and ask for money. Good potential.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Daily English Activities

Nik Peachey's new blog, Daily English Activities, for students and teachers (with teacher lesson plans and support) is developing beautifully. I especially like the way he finds interesting sites, like Yolango (which has video trailers with scripts and subtitles), and creates ready-to-use lesson plans making use of them; or points students to ways to enhance or make regular use of the resource.

Hope he keeps on with this development. It's also an interesting use for a blog.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Webheads Tenth Anniversary

We Webheads are whooping it up, celebrating (virtually) our 10 years of association as a thriving Community of Practice. Nice to have a history.

Here are some commemorations:

Michael Coughlan started a Webheads Tenth Anniversary VoiceThread which many have contributed to.
Vance in San Antonio demonstrates the intellectual level of our CoP.
Buthaina wrote this tribute some years ago about what she had learned from the Webheads.

It's great to be a part of this virtual/real community.


Saturday, September 06, 2008


The WikiEducator site purports to be a clearinghouse for free and open source learning. Some of the projects seem very promising, but it is difficult to find one that is already complete. The content-based learning, including computer/IT look like they have potential. Let's hope the bandwagon takes off (is that a mixed metaphor?)

These are the goals:

The WikiEducator is an evolving community intended for the collaborative:

* planning of education projects linked with the development of free content;
* development of free content on Wikieducator for e-learning;
* work on building open education resources (OERs) on how to create OERs.
* networking on funding proposals developed as free content.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SLExperiments - Negiz (Daffodil Fargis)

Negiz has been experimenting with Second Life and has set up a wiki, SLExperiments, to carry on the dialogue. The wiki begins with a rather nice instructional video about how to use a wiki to create a lesson plan, so it's a two-fer.

I hope to be able to follow some of the live lessons and report back further on how SL is being used.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

VUE - Visual Understanding Environment

I have explored VUE, a project of Tufts University, while looking at a variety of mind-mapping or concept-mapping sites and software. VUE is free and has an excellent, visually attractive video explaining its features. It seems to combine the best of mind maps, presentation software, and the flexibility to link across several different concept tracks. It is well worth exploring for advanced student projects, for example, involving research and media, and is a free download and cross-platform (but not for Mac X.3). It looks to be an excellent presentation platform because, unlike PowerPoint, it can combine linear and non-linear approaches to presenting.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nik Peachey's Technology Blogs

Today I had a chance to explore Nik's blogs in more depth. These are very rich because he indicates ways to use the technology with students and/or for teacher training. Following through with each of his blog entries is like a full course in IT for teachers.

His two blogs are

Quick Shout

and the more cumbersomely named

Learning technology teacher development blog for ELT


Friday, May 30, 2008

Embedded Chat Widgets

Although I have found it inconvenient for users (and me) to have interactive widgets on this blog, one of these might be useful for a wiki page as it could be more self-contained.

Suggestions from the Webhead elist include (from Robert Squires):

Yackpack - the Walkie Talkie Widget formerly available directly on PBWiki, and which has Voicegroups.

Meebo - you create your own chatroom and paste the code into the sidebar of your wiki or blog.

Gabbly - the PBWiki default, was mentioned several times as having horrible advertisements that you can't get rid of. However, any person who visits the wiki can chat with other visitors who are there at the same time while with Gtalk or Meebo, the visitors can only chat with the owner of that widget (ie.e, the creator of the wiki) but not with each other (per Negiz in a responding email).

Robert also offered an interesting blog site with a list of ten more chat widgets: ReadWriteWeb.

I followed this breadcrumb trail and found an interesting site, built by Kiernan, that strings together YouTube videos so that you get continuous play, one after another, on a particular subject (in this case rock groups). Anyone can add a video without a password, though this feature might present problems in a school setting. Nice code, though a little removed from the original subject, chat widgets:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Websites for Teaching the Blind

These links are from Dottuta (Kuwait Univ) of the Webheads, based on work with a blind student. The voice potential of the Web (and for Deaf students, the visual/closed captioning potential) should really make a difference. I have added some annotation to the list of sites, which are mainly British and American. The most promising of these is first on the list. I'd love to hear from anyone with information about sites in other languages, or additional English language sites.

Camera Obscura has lists of links to a wide variety of text-to-audio friendly sites, including hypertext archives, museums, query-submission forms for search engines, news readers, government resources, etc. Relatively conveniently organized by type of resource.

WWW Resources and Homepages [for the Blind] - a list of useful links, unfortunately in no particular order, but with helpful descriptions.

The Braille Institute's page of links (alpha-sorted) to various non-profit organizations that assist the blind, with a brief description of the mission of each. It would take some initiative to further explore and sort through the links on each of these pages.

Action for Blind People, according to this site, "is an expert national (UK) organisation, ensuring blind and partially sighted people receive practical support in all aspects of their lives." News and information relevant to issues affecting people with this disability, all with audio recordings. (Wouldn't a podcast feature to be nice?)

Tom Lorimer's Home Page, "has been set up to assist the Visually Impaired computer user locate information and services relating to blindness." The site is mainly focused on computer, software, and Internet issues and resources, but also has links to other useful sites. Useful links, though not well organized.

VIP Games Zone offers "accessible sound games for blinds [sics] and visually impaired people," and includes some free games and an e-list to converse with other players. Appears to be home-made software, but I haven't had a chance to try it out.

And this from Nergiz, also of the Webheads:

Odiogo claims to create text-to-speech podcasts for your blogs with a "Listen Button feature deployed in next to no time for WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, BlogEngine.NET and Terapad platforms."

And see the previous entry also [yeah, here's where I need a wiki instead!]

By the way, this blog also has an audio text-to-speech feature, though it usually takes a few days for the audio to be compiled and linked to my posts.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Oddcast TTS

Text-to-speech (TTS) might be a great way for students to hear what they are trying to say. SitePal now has a version of TTS that sounds pretty authentic. Try it out at

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Dipity has an easy Google-type interface that allows you to create a timeline. This is an example from Michael Coughlan's Life.

Other Webheads have suggested using the interface in a jig-saw activity, where groups of students can add the info they collect as they read or research. You can add info/pix from other sites, such as Twitter and Flickr.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Authorstream is an interesting way to quickly get your PowerPoint presentation online--without going through the fuss of saving it as html, and then mounting all the pages and files to a Web page.

I created a wiki for my presentation at TESOL on CALL and SLA research, copied it to PowerPoint slides, and then uploaded the resulting ppt to my Authorstream page. If there were video or audio attached, AuthorStream would convert the file to a YouTube format. Mine is just a slideshow.

UPDATE: Thanks to all who visited the slideshow. I now have the audio uploaded to both AuthorStream and

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Jottit is a quick Web page with some nice little features that let you add designs, fonts, pictures, embedded video, etc. Would be great for a learner's first ever Web page. You can also set privacy levels to allow password-only access, a great advantage for school settings. Make and claim a page in just a few minutes.

A good little instructional screencast by is most helpful in getting started:
Jottit Screencast.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Teacher Training Videos by Russell Stannard

I haven't had a chance to review all of these Teacher Training Videos (see the leftside menu), but Nik Peachey of EduNation has made those describing uses of Second Life, so I think they are a good bet. I may get around to reporting on them at some time when there isn't such a crunch. See Nik's reviews at his blog.

Thanks to Nik for the tip on the Webheads list.

50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story

50 Ways is a treat--lots of examples to give students ideas on storytelling through all the new Internet interactive tools.

Thanks to Bee Dieu of the Webheads for this tip.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Review of SlideShows

This blog entry by Webhead Ronaldo Lima, Jr., has a nice comparative review of three slideshow tools--Voicethread, Splashcast and Qlipboard--with short examples of each. Comments by fellow Webheads are also very useful.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Definitely for advanced learners, WritingFix is targeted toward U.S. high school students and teachers. However, it has a lot of good advice about writing, and is billed as "the home of interactive writing prompts." Various parts of the site will generate random prompts to start writing on a variety of topics and content subjects. It also has general advice about writing essays, e.g., developing voice, organizing, sentence fluency, conventions, etc. In Spring of 2008, the site will have an extensive section of the various parts of the writing process. A good place for EFL/ESL teachers to grab ideas.

Moving Forward

Moving Forward is a wiki whose intended audience is educational administrators, but it has lots of info of value to researchers, IT staff, and instructors. Nicely organized and categorized, and you can join the site and add your own stuff.

The wiki is administered by Dr. Scott McLeod, Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE). You can contact him from the Moving Forward site if you have any questions or suggestions.

BTW, I found this site by subscribing to the Technology & Learning magazine online (free). It's got a nice e-book interface, called Nxtbook, that allows you to page quickly through an issue, and the links are live.

Sunday, February 17, 2008