Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pranav Mistry's Sixth Sense Technology

These wearable technologies were seen about 10 yrs ago at the MIT Media Lab, but this goes even farther (and smaller). Clever, and Mistry wants them to be open source. (About 13 min., but a must-see.)

Thanks to Webhead Andy Picon for the tip!

Friday, December 11, 2009

iSpeech Voice and Podcaster

I've been trying to get a newer, better look for my blog, but wound up back with the old style, but the new interface. Alas, my old blog is gone.

But this looks a little newer and crisper, I've got a new photo up, and I finally found a new text-to-speech reader in iSpeech. Et voilá! it is also a podcaster, so I'm feeling up to date. You click on the little icon to hear the text read, or go to the Podcast in the sidebar to start the feed.

The interface at the iSpeech site was simplicity itself to use:

I didn't even have to get a registration key. Interestingly, it is a dot org.

Let's hope it is as good as it looks--it does try to read a little too fast, but that may just be my processor speed or the server speed today.

The Christmas Challenge VoiceThread

A nice holiday student project where cultural concepts of Christmas and personal greetings and wishes are recorded. A nice use for VoiceThread, which can also be downloaded to a desktop as an archive for listening practice.

The Christmas Challenge
by Alex G. Francisco

A collaborative project developed by Esayan Armenian High School in Turkey and Escola Básica e Secundária Gonçalves Zarco in Portugal, Dec 7, 2009.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


WallWisher is not as useful pedagogically as other social networking tools I can think of.

You can add a picture (from a URL), or video, or audio file, but it doesn't have a way to put a URL into the text (without using up the tiny letter count), so that users can easily go visit the site. If you want to illustrate your sticky, you need another place/server/or knowledge of how to get an image location to stick it in. You can post to Facebook, et al., and link to pictures in Flickr.

The limited number of words/letters on a sticky means you can't say much--this is probably an advantage for young learners, but not necessarily for their education. A blog or wiki would give them the opportunity to be more expansive.

You could have a main sticky and then ask students to respond to it. But there is no way to organize the stickies besides moving them around physically. So this means the teacher/owner of the wall must do the work of organization, or let things happen at random. (See Nik Peachey's wall of teacher tools for social networking.)

So on the whole, I like the idea of a communal blog or wiki better: more opportunity to write expansively, ways to comment, RSS feed, easy ways to include URLs and lots of pictures, and esp. with a wiki, ways to organize pages.

But I can see Wallwisher as a way to make comments on an event or single Web page. You might have students visit a page or view a video (or put one into a head sticky), and then make a short comment on a Wallwisher page. If you have only 15-30 students, they could all read each other's comments (but if they then make more comments, you've quickly got a huge, disorganized mess...) If you use WallWisher the way it was intended, perhaps to wish a class member happy birthday, or to congratulate someone on getting citizenship, or to make a wish list, or to put up reminders for a project, then it's a nifty application.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Archival Video Sites

Both OurMedia and the Internet Archive are unbelievably slow and have made their interfaces much more difficult to use. OurMedia just transferred my video to a new address without telling me, and I can't find it at all on the Internet Archive. In OurMedia, a search for tags and for titles and for owner--none of them--didn't come up with the video, but it was still there. Go figure!

I also tried to edit the description in OurMedia to include the Web address of the wiki that also contains the presentation, but with no luck. I was asked to join a group before I could edit my own work--couldn't find any with "education" through the search engine, though I could see a few with that word in the title from a list. I then was told I hadn't completed the CSID (the test of human user), but that box wasn't available at the page where I was doing the editing. No win!

I hope to get the video from the 2008 TESOL presentation embedded here in the blog below. We'll see how long it lasts as a real link!

The address is now http://www.ourmedia.org/node/88432

Another video archive site, AuthorStream is also very slow. My presentation there (no audio) is at
http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/ElizabethHS-224813-effect-tech-sla-entertainment-ppt-powerpoint/. The sound version apparently has just vanished or was never accepted as an unload because it was too large or the wrong format.

Blip.tv still has the presentation, and seemed to load about the fastest. Unfortunately, it's not a place to take the children...

These sites are very frustrating, and I'm glad I uploaded the presentation to multiple venues. With the economic downturn in 2009, there has been a lot of moving and shaking, and I think there will be more changes in store in early 2010.