Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Creative Commons Images

Fotonauts must be one of the most attractive photo sharing websites I've seen for a long time and it is especially good because of the focus on using creative commons licensed images.

There are some beautiful images from all over the world and each album has information about the topic and links to Google maps so you can see where the image comes from.

The site is beautifully designed with a really nice interface and slide show feature. You can also create widgets of the slide shows to embed into web pages (I couldn't actually get this to work on mine though).
If there's a problem with the site then it's the lack of a search tool, which seems a strange omission on a site aimed at organising and sharing images! Fotonauts is still in beta though, so perhaps this will soon be resolved.

This is a site that must be worth keeping an eye on if you use images regularly in your teaching.

Hope you enjoy it.

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Nik Peachey

Second Earth | Life

Just spotted this very interesting video about a mash up between Second Life and Google Earth. Best to watch and listen to the video to find out more.



This is a really nice development and is going to make those geography field trips from the classroom so much more interesting. I found the video on the Hackshaven Youtube channel, where you can find quite a few more videos if your interested in Second Life and its educational potential. Hackshaven also has a pretty interesting blog about Second Life called Hack's Haven. Some interesting articles there and also some pretty interesting Education related Delicious links too.

So if you have some spare time and want to keep up with what' happening in Second Life, it's well worth a look.

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Nik Peachey

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Create Flashcard Packs

I've been trying out Muchobeets (strange name) free flashcard creator, and apart from a few hiccups, it looks like a useful tool.

You can choose from three different types:
  • Regular - Topic related notes that should help you to remember facts and figures etc.
  • Vocabulary - These are for recording and revising vocabulary using a word with an example and definition.
  • Picture - These enable you to upload images, which user then click on to find the word / sentence associated with the image. The students then see the images and click on them to find the word / text.

I tried creating some image ones, but my images were much too large, so be sure to use small image files if you choose to create these.

They are very quick and easy to create (you do have to register first though) and once you've created a pack of flashcards you can either email them to yourself or your students.

There are actually quite a lot of packs already there including the 'Hot SAT List' which students might find pretty useful.
This looks like a pretty simple but useful free tool for vocabulary revision or revision of any sort. I particularly like that you can email the revision packs to students.

I hope you can use it.

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Nik Peachey

Merging and Filtering Information Feeds

I've just been having a look at a tool called Grazer which can help you to stream line your RSS subscriptions and filter the results. This can be really helpful if you are looking for information on a specific topic and drawing on a wide range of sources.

Here' an example I created which searches all three of my own blogs and delivers results of postings which include information or resources on video. You can then create a widget like the one below which can be imported into your blog, homepage or social network profile.





Grazer has some free options as well as paid for ones. Basically paid for will give you a lot more storage of what it refers to as reading lists (a collections of feeds) and streams. The streams can be filtered around specific topics and then used to create widgets.

It sounds much more complicated than it is, so it's worth watching some of their video tutorials to find out how easy it is. You can find them in the section called 'Tour'.

You'll have to part worth an email to register and start creating your lists and streams, but they seem to be taking care of people's privacy and information, so that's good.

On the whole this is a pretty handy tool, Shame you have to pay for the premium services, but I guess that's life.

Hope you find it useful.

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Nik Peachey

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Teachers' Stories

I've just noticed a really nice new feature on the British Council | BBC TeachingEnglish website. It's called Teachers' Stories and has a small collection of video interviews with teachers talking about how they became interested in English language and language teaching.

You can find the Teachers' stories within the 'Transform' section and at the moment there are 4 videos, two from teachers in Ethiopia, one from India and another from Czech Republic.

Nice features of these videos are that you can leave comments for the teacher, there are a couple of reflection tasks for teachers to do and best of all teachers are also invited to start their own blog on the site and share their experiences and stories. There are even some tips on how to write a good blog posting from your truly!

Hope you enjoy these.

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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Recording Skype Calls

I haven't had a chance to try this yet as there isn't a MAC version available at present, but it does look like a very useful addition for anyone who uses Skype on a PC and wants to record calls. If you're wondering why anyone might want to do this I did write a posting for teachers on why this might be handy (See: Skype Part 1 Recording Audio) for creating your own audio materials etc.

Anyway, the Skype Call Recorder is free and at least according to their website blurb seems pretty good. It can record more than one stream at a time into separate files, which might be handy and then saves them as mp3.

There are some good installation instructions on the site too. You can download the whole thing as a zip file and at only 1.4 Mb, it seems like it may well be worth checking out.

Let's hope there's soon something like this for MAC users too.

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Nik Peachey

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Plagiarism Checker

Ever suspect that your students work might not be all their own work? Ever feel that someone is copying your work and then publishing it online?


Well now you have a way of checking. The Plagiarism Checker is a handy online tool that you can use to check out who is copying who. Just cut and paste some of the suspect text into the text field and click on the 'Check the paper' button.

Very simple, free and quick. I hope it's useful.

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Nik Peachey

Resources for Continuing Professional Development

It's great to see that Teachers TV has released a series of video and support materials for for CPD leaders | Teacher Trainers. There's a good collection of quite varied material for the development of both primary and secondary teachers.

Some of the clips look quite long (up to 30 mins) for web delivery, but you can download them if you register and log in. There are also a range of support materials to go with each of the topics explored in the videos.

There are some interesting ones there now on assessment and next month they will be uploading videos and presentations on ICT and modern foreign languages, all of which sound pretty interesting.

There is also a group for CPD leaders which you might think of joining if you'd like to get advice or do some networking with other training professionals.

You can find more information at: http://www.teachers.tv/cpdleaders

This is a useful resource. It's a shame they don't offer an embed code so these could be embedded in other materials, but I guess you can't have everything for free.

Hope you find these useful

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Nik Peachey

Thursday, 11 December 2008

US Culture Blog from VOA

I've just been having a look an interesting blog from Voice of America journalist Ted Landphair.

The blog has a good collection of well written articles with some really nice images, that go behind the stereotyped view of the USA.

The postings are quite long and the English is quite challenging so they are probably best used with higher level EFL ESL students, though they are nicely chunked into sections with good clear paragraph headings, and the way the images are used with good captions, supports the overall understanding of the text.

You could divide the text up for split reading and get different students to read each chunk and then share what they have learned in groups.

Ted also includes a 'wild words' section which gives definitions of some of the more challenging words in the text, so they have made some provision for people whose first language isn't English.
I have to say that I found the blog pretty interesting (but I am in my 40s) and really liked the images. I created this activity, Where in America?, based around it for my Daily English Activities Blog.

Hope you like and enjoy reading Ted Landphair's America.

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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Coffee With Kim Anubis

This Sunday 14th December (GMT 18.00 = 10.00 PST) will see the third in our series of 'Coffee With ..' educational chat shows on Edunation III in Second Life, so please do come along, join our audience and meet other people interested in developing education and learning within Second Life.


In this show I'll be interviewing Kim Anubis (aka: Kimberly Rufer-Bach) is owner, designer & producer of The Magicians (www.TheMagicians.us), a 3D interactive software development company that specializes in creating innovative Second Life content.

Kim is also co-author of 'Creating Your World: The Official Guide to Advanced Content Creation for Second Life'. Some of her company's clients include:
In the show Kim will be talking about the potential of Second Life for educational development and will be helping us to understand what's involved in working with a development company and managing projects within Second Life.

This is a unique opportunity to come along an interact with one of the leading developers within Second Life.

If you would like to come along and watch the show and join in the discussion, then go along to Edunation III and click the sign-up terminals or email Gavin at: dudeney@theconsultants-e.com. The event is free, but we are limited to 100 places. The show starts at GMT = 18.00 (GMT is 8 hours ahead of Second Life time, so that's 10.00 PST and 19.00 CET)


If you don't have a Second Life avatar but would like to know how to set one up then you can download instructions from here. Setting up a Second Life avatar

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Nik Peachey

Friday, 5 December 2008

Edublog Awards 2008 Nomination

Well wonder of wonders, my Learning Technology Blog has been nominated for an Edublog Award.
It's been nominated within the Best Resource Sharing category, which means there is some VERY stiff competition. To be honest, my money ( and actually my nomination) is on Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day/ but it's still nice that someone has seen fit to nominate one of my blogs.

If you haven't already, it's well worth checking out the list of blogs that have been nominated as there's some really excellent ones there, which makes it that much more of an honour to get one of mine in there. You can see all the categories here: Edublog Awards 2008

And you can see my nominations here: My nominations

Hope you find some interesting stuff there.

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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

ESL Information Digests

I've just been browsing through the website of the Centre for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA) and although it couldn't possibly be described as fun and sexy, there is a lot of potentially really useful information there especially for anyone involved in teacher training and development.


There are 72 quick Q & A digests that deal with a broad range of subjects from methodology to program design and technology.

There's also a handy Tools section that has guidance for Instructors and Program developers.

You can email in a question and get it answered at Ask CAELA and even sign up for a free newsletter.

Hope you find something useful there.

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Nik Peachey

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Are You a Celebrity Lookalike?

This is a nice site that you can use to have some fun with your students and of course to generate some language and learning activities. It's called Celebrity Matchup. All you do is choose the gender and then upload a picture of yourself or one of your students. The site then scans their image and selects a set of celebrities that they look like. Here are some of my matches!
Can't really say I'm flattered! I also tried matching myself to female celebrities (just curiosity) and got these results. Could I really be the Carmen Electra of ELT? Um! Doubt it!


Well I'm not really sure that Celebrity Matchup works, but I think you could have a lot of fun and discussion with your students deciding which is the closest match and what the differences and similarities of the facial features are. I'm sure there's a really good facial characteristics lesson in there somewhere with lots of vocabulary.

Anyway, if you or your students really like the matches you get you can even get a widget to add your results to your blog or website.
Just by clicking on the image you see above once you've matched up and pasting the code into your blog.

Well I hope you enjoy that and match up to some flattering celebrities, but do watch out for the advertising.

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Nik Peachey

Monday, 1 December 2008

Monty Python on YouTube

This is great news. Monty Python team at last have their own Monty Python channel on YouTube. For as long as video has been used in the ELT classroom, I'm sure that Monty Python videos have been part of that and they can now be found at legitimate and stable locations on YouTube.

Here's the team telling you a little bit more about the reasons for this development.


So far there are 24 clips on the channel. Each one is about 3 mins long and of good quality. They are also allowing access to the embed code for anyone who wants to embed them into blogs and websites. I have to admit, that not all of these are suitable for use with students, but the Job Interview is there and also Ministry of Silly Walks

For those of you with a real appatite for all things Python, you can also see lots of news and other information at Pythonline

Hope you enjoy this from the originators of SPAM.

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Nik Peachey

Rod Bolitho on TeachingEnglish

Over the last few months the BBC | British Council's TeachingEnglish website has been featuring a number of the ELT greats from the UK. These have included both Jane Willis and Dave Willis, as well as Barry Tomalin and most recently Mario Rinvolucri.

This month the guest blogger will be Rod Bolitho. Each feature includes video interviews, biography and almost daily blog postings.

Here Rod talks about the future of English language teaching and the growing relevance of CLIL

This is a great opportunity for teachers all around the world to learn from and interact with some really first rate UK ELT experts. You can see the rest of Rod's interview here: Rod Bolitho Interview

Hope you manage to get along.

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Nik Peachey

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Create a YouTube Carousel

YouEmbedTube is another great little tool from the makers of Flickrin and it does a similar thing, but it uses videos from YouTube instead of images from Flickr.

I created the one above using the tag words 'teaching English' and if you click on any of the videos you can see that they will play here in my blog page.

This was simple to create, I just entered my tag words, selected the number of videos I wanted and then clicked to preview it.

After that you just click on 'Get the code right now' and the embed code appears for you to copy and paste into your blog page.

YouEmbedTube is a great tool if you want to limit access to YouTube and make sure your students only watch selected videos. You can set up tasks which get them to choose correct video recordings or select, process and reformulate information from a number of sources on a theme.

It would be interesting what conclusions you could draw about English teaching around the world from the example above!!

YouEmbedTube is a really handy little tool that's free, quick and easy to use and looks professional. The down sides are that the ones it selects are likely to change as it refreshes each time the page loads, and of course you can't select and reject the videos that appear, you can only control how many appear. I still think it has a lot of potential for educational exploitation though.

I did try pulling in video from my own YouTube channel by typing in my channel name, so if you create your own channel and then add videos, this would be a good option.


Hope you find it useful.

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Nik Peachey

Edublog Awards 2008

I'm always really nervous about submitting blogs for awards, because I look at and learn from so many and it's so easy to over look something great and to offend someone who is left out. Anyway, I've done my best to suggest a few here that I think are really fantastic and which I've personally benefited from, so by some way of thanks here are my nominations for the Edublogs Awards for 2008.

Best individual blog
It was really hard to decide on this category as almost any blog could go here, but I think EFL | 2.0 deserves to be included here for both its really well written and well considered content and for the great visual design of the blog
http://maberui.webs.upv.es/


Best new blog
I really like Life is a Feast because of the great name and what in conveys about the writer's attitude towards education, but also because it is so clearly a documentation of real classroom use of technology with students. There's also some great humour and examples there.
http://www.lifefeast.blogspot.com/

Best resource sharing blog
Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL
This blog has to be here for the sheer volume of material covered alone. The postings are extremely regular, everything is well categorised and stored so as to be easily accessible and what is there is great quality. I can't think of any blog that comes close to competing in this category (Apologies to other blog writers)
http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/larry-ferlazzos-english-website/


Best teacher blog
I think Box of Tricks is another great site that so clearly draws on real classroom experience of using technology with students. The content has real depth and insight as well as being informatively written. Also really well designed.
http://www.boxoftricks.net

Best educational tech support blog
Okay, so MakeUseOf isn't designed to be an 'educational' tech support blog, but I have to sat that when I need support finding out about the different tech resources available and how to use them it's the first place I go and usually the last, so ...
http://www.makeuseof.com/


Best educational use of video / visual
TEFL Clips is a site that I wrote about recently on Quick Shout. I've chosen this one because it has complete, well written lesson plans that use authentic materials from YouTube. Great resource and some very creative plans.
http://www.teflclips.com/

Best educational use of a virtual world
My choice for best use of a virtual world goes to The Consultants-E and their Edunation islands. There is such a great variety of activity there and loads of free space and especially for the free teach tools.
Edunation Island

Best class blog
I found it really hard to decide on this last one but finally chose Aiden's English Advertising Class. I particularly like Aiden's English Advertising blog because she gets her students to share the storyboards which give an insight into how they created the materials.
http://english-ad.blogspot.com/

Hope you enjoy these blogs and many thanks once again to the creators for their hard work and to the literally hundreds of other bloggers who work hard everyday promote a world where people can have a better education.

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Nik Peachey

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Create a Flickr Montage

I just spotted Flickrin which is a really nice site that exploits flickr images and helps you to create a photo montage, like the ones below, that can be embedded into a blog or web page.

It's very easy to use, just type in a username or tag keyword, decide how many rows of images you would like and then click on 'generate'.
It's then just a simple matter of copying the code and pasting it into your blog or website html.

All the images that appear in the montage are hyperlinked to the original image on flickr, and you can select anything from 1 to 10 rows of images.

This is a really handy tool for teaching and you could use it in a number of ways, like getting students to create their own picture dictionaries (The strong visual images should help them to remember words)

You could also create a montage and get the students to guess the word used. There's an activity here designed around a similar idea: Guess the Word

It might also be a useful tool for exploring the lexical fields or particular words and see how they can be used to describe different things. For example I created this montage by typing in the word 'fire'. This demonstrates some the various ways the word can be used.

Range of lexical use. The tag word here was 'fire'.

What I haven't discovered yet, is whether the montage is regenerated each time the page is opened. It's likely that it is, and this could mean that the montage changes as other flickr users add images with the same tag word. You can also get some interesting images by using more than one tag word. This seems to pull in images that carry both words as tags.

I spotted this tool along with some other interesting stuff on the Life is a Feast blog which belongs to Ana Maria, a teacher from Brazil.

Hope you enjoy Flickrin and find some good uses for it.

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Nik Peachey

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Video Clips for Teaching English

I've just been looking over a really useful site called TeflClips which has a collection of lesson plans for using YouTube video clips to teach English. The creator of the site, Jamie Keddie, includes step by step procedure instructions as well as downloadable materials for use in class.


At the moment there are 28 lesson plans on the site, with a new one being added every week, and these vary from focusing on specific grammar points to dealing with different themes or skills. The lesson plans are very creative, each one taking a unique approach to the materials and many have links to additional digital materials too.


The site is nicely designed and focuses on delivering the materials rather than incorporating a lot of slow loading 'sticky' content. There's also a link to a clips resource page which has a lot of useful clips if you want to create your own lessons.

This is a really useful site for EFL teachers looking for ready made lesson plans or some inspiration or good ideas on how to create their own. Well worth checking out.

Nice one Jamie. You can also find out about other interesting things Jamie is up to at: http://www.jamiekeddie.com/

Hope you enjoy using these plans with your EFL ESL students.

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Nik Peachey

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Coffee With Kyle Mawer

This Sunday 30th November (GMT 18.00 = 10.00 PST) will see the second in our series of 'Coffee With ..' educational chat shows on Edunation III in Second Life, so please do come along, join our audience and meet other people interested in developing education and learning within Second Life.

In this show I'll be interviewing Kyle Mawer from the British Council and finding out about the work he has been doing designing materials in the Second Life Teen Grid and about the forth coming opening of the British Council's island in the main grid.



Kyle describes the work of the British Council as "both an iconic virtual representation of Great Britain, and a rich setting in which learners of English can further their learning of the language and culture of the UK as well as raising awareness of visitors to the work and opportunities provided by the British Council."

Kyle is particularly interested in using the medium of gaming as a learning tool and adapts free online computer games for use with his classes. The games, materials and lesson plans he’s found, developed and successfully used have been posted on the wikispace he runs at http://kylemawer.wikispaces.com

If you would like to come along and watch the show and join in the discussion, then go along to Edunation III and click the sign-up terminals or email Gavin at: dudeney@theconsultants-e.com. The event is free, but we are limited to 100 places. The show starts at GMT = 18.00 (GMT is 8 hours ahead of Second Life time, so that's 10.00 PST and 19.00 CET)

If you don't have a Second Life avatar but would like to know how to set one up then you can download instructions from here. Setting up a Second Life avatar

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Nik Peachey

Monday, 24 November 2008

Bubble Joy for Thanks Giving

This is a real treat for anyone who wants to send a Thanks Giving message to any Friends from the US. It's from Bubble Joy and they have a selection of humorous frames that you can add your own short video message to.


All you need is a WebCam and a microphone. It's really easy to do, just select the card you want, then give the flash program access to your video and audio and record your message.


I particularly like the dancing turkey, but I guess we'll all have our favourites!


So just go to the Bubble Joy site and start recording.
Hope you enjoy this and maybe you could get your students sending thanks giving messages too.

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Nik Peachey

Friday, 21 November 2008

Multimedia Business Simulation

I've just been playing with JA Titan which is a marvelous multimedia business simulation that is great for higher level business English students or other business students.

It's a kind of variation on the Lemonade Stand game, but with lots more bells and whistles.

You get audio reports from your staff, who you can hire and fire, with tips and advice that you can either take or ignore. You can also listen to news reports and check out report data. Your staff will also help you with some analysis of the data.

You are competing against other companies (These can be controlled by real people or in practice mode against the computer). When you are ready, you submit you business plan for the quarter and then find out how your company did against the market.


You can then go back to your staff and listen to their opinions on what you should change. You can adjust prices of your product as well as things like the amount you spend on marketing and R&D. You can play for up to 15 quarters.

The level of the language is quite high, but the audio is backed up with text bubbles and for a reasonably good intermediate class of business English students it should be vocabulary rich and challenging, but not beyond them.

Students do need to register and will need to submit an email address, but it is free, doesn't require any downloads or software, will run in most browsers and was built for educational purposes, so it should be pretty safe for teenage students too.

Hope you enjoy this.

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Nik Peachey

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Great WebCam Software

One of the things that I love about my MAC is Photo Booth and its ability to add different backgrounds and effects when you are using a WebCam. It's a great tool to use with students to create motivating and personalised materials for a whole range of things. Here's an example of some characters I created to generate a story around (I then imported them into Comic Life).

But now it seems that you can do some similar things on your PC with this free software from ManyCam

I haven't had time to download and install it yet (PC is still booting up!!!!) but it looks like there is an impressive range of effects (3836!) that you can download from their site, many of which have been user submitted: ManyCam Effects

The software also works with quite a good collection of existing services, so you can also use it for video conferencing.

There's a nice demo video here showing what it can do

You can also check out some user submitted ones

Well it looks like my PC has finally booted up, so now maybe I can try it out.

Hope you enjoy it.

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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Improve Typing and Punctuation and Have Fun

I've just been playing TypeRacer and for the first time in my life I have enjoyed trying to type faster and improve my spelling and punctuation (both of which are a constant struggle for me).


Typeracer is a really nicely designed activity which gives you a text to copy and measures your word speed as you type it into a field. As you type, as small image of a VW Beetle races across the top of the page and measures your WPM typing speed.

If you make any mistakes of spelling or punctuation, you have to correct them before you can continue.



What's also nice about the site, is that you can play without registering. If you do register though you can record your score and even play against opponents and challenge friends. This is great if you have quite competitive students.

This is a great way to get students improving their typing and also thinking about accurate spelling and punctuation and as I said before it's fun and free!

Hope you enjoy it.

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Nik Peachey

Monday, 17 November 2008

Language Learning through Communal Video

LangoLAB is a great new slant on language learning through social networks. It combines the power of YouTube type video sharing with social networking and adds a few great tools that enable users to create their own vocabulary flashcards, comprehension questions, transcripts and share general comments.

What's more, it's not just for English, so it's leveraging the power a much larger and more linguistically and culturally diverse community.

There's quite a variety of videos to choose from and if you register you can add your own using a webcam, upload or embedding from YouTube. The videos that have been added have transcripts that appear under the video as they play and that are broken down into sections at the side if you click to see the transcript. (There's a tutorial on their blog here showing how to upload a video)


As you watch you can also click on the words from the transcript and get definitions and create your own flashcards with definitions or translations to help you remember and revise the words.

You can also create notes and ask questions about the videos and answer other people's questions. In this way user work together to to negotiate meaning and to help each other understand the content and create learning activities for each other.
Personally I think LangoLAB is a great idea and a wonderful way to learn a language. If the site develops an enthusiastic community, then I think it could be a huge success and provide a really useful tool for people of all languages who want to learn and share.

On the down side, what I can't see is any information on privacy and what they are doing with my personal information, email address etc, so if those issues bother you, then it might be worth staying part of the passive community until this is sorted out. Either way I still think this is a useful tool.

Hope you enjoy it.

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Nik Peachey

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Great Time Line Tool

I've just seen this great time line tool called TimeRime. It enables you to create time lines of events like the one here and compare them against other time lines. (Mouse over the one below and have a play with it)
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World




You can add media such as images to the time lines too and once you've created them you can embed them into your blog, wiki or webpage.



The other nice things about this site are that you can compare time lines side by side, it is kind of community based so you can leave comments of time lines and you can also add extra information and embed media such as images and Youtube video into the pages to give extra information about each of the things on your time line.


This would be a great tool for history projects or for building up multimedia narrative for digital story telling.

Hope you enjoy it.

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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Teaching Better: Digg for Language Teachers

I've just came across this rather interesting new site for language teachers (any language , not just English) that looks like the language teachers version of the popular user generated news site Digg. It's called 'Teaching Better', though the second 't' is the other way around.

Any teacher can come and register on the site and write about interesting and relevant websites or web based news for teachers. Visitors to the site then read the stories, follow the links and can vote the story up or down depending on how useful they think it is.


I'm glad to see that one of my blogs 'Daily English Activities' has been listed and has 8 votes already (Okay one of them was from me).

This looks like a really useful resource for teachers of all languages. I hope that they are able to maintain the quality of the links and references as this is the kind of thing which can easily be taken over by spammers.

So far it looks good, has some useful links to quality sources and even has a useful RSS feed to subscribe to.

Hope you find it useful.

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Nik Peachey

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