Saturday, 26 December 2009

How to learn or teach online using a free platform

It is not easy to find the right time for training teachers in technology. Teachers are usually very busy teaching, marking tests, filling reports, correcting homework or preparing classes. So, Saturday mornings or some evenings are the only possible meeting time, but these are not the most popular times. Teachers – usually women – also have a family, dinners to prepare or children to look after, so virtual meetings may be an interesting possibility to solve this problem.

WIZIQ is a web based education platform powered by teachers who continually improve it in response to its users’ feedback. This collaborative web conferencing environment is amongst the best online teaching solutions in the world, and it integrates the following set of online tools: synchronous (happening at the same time) and asynchronous teaching through virtual classrooms, online tests and a content sharing and messaging system.

Pros: Wiziq is absolutely free of cost for teachers and students; it enables participants to communicate synchronously using audio/video or only audio broadcast or through text chat; all classes are automatically recorded and you can download the recordings; pdf, doc, xls, ppt or flash files can be uploaded easily; teachers are in full control of the environment: they can share the online interactive whiteboard (IWB) with multiple tabs, simple click start and stop functions and full-screen sharing; teachers can allow students to speak or activate their webcam,

and they can also disable the chat to make students concentrate on the class.

Wiziq members can participate in community discussion forums where they get connected with members from around the world, participate in discussions, learn from the experiences shared by other members and/or ask questions and get answers in community discussions. The platform also has an official blog where users can read about its latest updates.

Another interesting resource is the fact that teachers can create tests and students can attempt and get their score. One new feature is that images can be uploaded and included in tests now. Here is the link to an example for testing basic English level: http://www.wiziq.com/online-tests/460-basic-english-test

Seeing that this platform has so many advantages, I decided to try it myself with a group of co-workers (four). I would play the teacher’s role and they, the students. I invited my students via mail a week in advance the virtual class in order to give them time to get registered. This is very simple from Wiziq website http://www.wiziq.com/.  Once the user has completed some enrolling steps, one is ready either to give or take a course.



I set a date and then sent an invitation to my “students” with the link to the corresponding virtual classroom. I prepared a class with slides to make it more interesting, but when the date came and I wanted to upload the slides in advance, I realized I made a mistake: I did not book the classroom 10 minutes before the starting time, so I did not have access to it till the exact moment. This fact is important to have in mind to avoid losing time: reserve the classroom some minutes before your class in accordance to the material you are going to use, slides or weblinks, or for other reasons such as socializing or checking audio/video. 


Another thing to make it clear in advance is how long the class will be and which netiquette rules you will follow to make the class more organized. Remember you will give a virtual class and in spite you can see your students if they have a webcam, you cannot solve some situations as you do in a face to face class. For example, you can see students are not following or understanding you very well from some face gestures. Working as an online teacher is quite different from working face to face. You are not just doing the same thing using a digital tool. Online classes have their own characteristics (Perhaps this is a topic for another article).

The final thing I would like to recommend is to have a set of headphones – not speakers- and a microphone to get the best kind of communication. The incorporated microphones of a laptops or netbooks seem not to have the best quality for this particular purpose although they may be exceptions, of course.

Summing up, I can say the results of my first experience as a teacher* were very good. My colleagues did not find much difficulty even though they are not digital experts. We used our webcams and microphones and the platform did not collapse during one hour class, but I must point out that it takes some seconds to change the mic or web permission to students. It is advisable to use mics in turns so as to avoid sound interference. I could uploaded slides and display them very easily and played on the IWB. The platform saved a copy of the class automatically. Wiziq may be considered an inspiring resource for creative teachers and curious students with little time for face to face classes.

* I have used this tool as a moderator in the Social Networking Congress (visit this link http://englishvirtualcommunity.blogspot.com/search/label/socialnetworking ) as well as participant in many online events.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Isn´t this website cute?

I am taking an online workshop leaded by Nik Peachey and this morning, while I was checking mails coming from my workshopmates, I came across this Web 2.0 tool which looks  a really interesting storymaker called StoryBird

StoryBird  is really simple and speedy. You must get registered (it takes a couple of minutes), and after exploring it in a few seconds, you can start writing. The artwork available is great. Have a look and tell me your opinion in comments :-)




Storybird Quick Tour from Storybird on Vimeo.

If you are fond of children's literacy and literature, you cannot miss this blog:




The Book Chook

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Do you like this PC?

While I was twittering this morning, I came across a video about a very interesting computer. I am planning to include it in my letter to Santa :) 


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

An example of Augmented reality: "Sixth Sense"

If you are reading this post, you must be fond of technology. If you are fond of technology, I guess you must be interested in science fiction. Aren´t you? I am. I loved reading Bradbury or Issac Assimov or watching Star Wars and Matrix saga as well as AI (Artificial Intelligence), not only for their special effects but because I like having a look at a possible future.

Years ago, the gap between science fiction and real technological achievements was quite big, but this gap seems to get smaller and smaller. The speed at which technological advances are taking place is really amazing: in 2004, we were talking about Web 2 as something incredible and today we are talking about Web 4: augmented reality, mirror worlds, virtual worlds and lifelogging.

The issue of this post is a mixture of movies and TIC. Do you remember the movie "Minority Report" starred by Tom Cruise? Do you remember Tom Cruise using a computer by clicking on the air? Well, at TEDIndia, Pranav Mistry demostrated several tools that help the physical world interact with the world of data - including a deep look at his SixthSense device and a new, paradigm-shifting paper "laptop."



Pranav Mistry is the inventor of SixthSense, a wearable device that enables new interactions between the real world and the world of data. Doesn´t it remind you of "Minority Report" movie?

Enjoy it! Oh, by the way, please don´t keep your mouth open in astonishmet for a long time, a fly can get into  it and flies don´t taste nice :D

Friday, 4 December 2009

Virtual Educa 2009 in Buenos Aires (better late than never)

VIRTUAL EDUCA 2009 : What are teachers doing with technology in Latin America?

At the XIV Iberoamerican Summit of Heads of State and Government (San Jose, Costa Rica, November 18th-20th, 2004) approved the assignment of PROGRAM FOR VIRTUAL EDUCA Iberoamerican Summit. San Jose Declaration, signed by the Heads of State and Government of the twenty Latin American countries, states in clause 36: "We warmly welcome the inclusion as a project officer from Ibero-American Summit Virtual Education Program, an initiative that exemplifies the relevance strengthen the distance education and the use of new communication and information technologies in our region".

Virtual Educa is a converging space for the exchange of experiences and the implementation of projects linked to the Society of Knowledge. It organizes international annual forums, and in November 2009 it took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The hosting university, UCA, which is situated in a very beautiful and fashionable place, organized the event very well.


I attended it with great expectation because educational institutions and specialists from all Latin America were gathering there and some online friends (Pablo Bongiovani, Dolors Reig) . Most participants were well equipped with their laptops, netbooks or smart phones which they used for blogging, taking notes or communicating with colleagues via Twitter.
(Pablo Bongiovani and me)


As Information and Communication Technology (ICT) manager of the a school of languages, I was anxious to share my experience in the forums and learn about the latest ed tech trends in a workshop I was enrolled.

The congress started with workshops on different topics. I attended the workshop about “Metaverse” - a complete new word for me- given by Ruth Martínez . Although metaverse was coined by Neal Stephenson (1992), it is used to refer to the four dimensions of virtuality: Augmented reality (AR), Lifelogging, Mirror Worlds and Virtual Worlds. 


Augmented reality refers to all the gadgets used in the classroom to expand the real world, i.e. an interactive whiteboard. The goal of lifelogging is to share with your contacts what you consider important: photos, websites, music (Flicker, Twitter). A mirror world is a virtual replica of the real world along multiple dimensions (Google maps). A virtual world consists of a virtual environment where people can interact and socialize via avatars. The most popular one is Second Life. 

On the following three days, different universities (UNED, UOC, Monterrey University) showed how they organized their online graduate and postgraduate courses. All of them pointed out the importance of articulating and managing the three basic areas involved in online projects: technological area, educational area and material designing area. They also noted the fundamental role of tutors in online courses. Collaborative work is also significant. Learning will be possible if there is 50% of dedication on the part of the students and 50% of the tutor’s work.

I am quite familiar about using technology in language learning, but Virtual Educa gave me a clear idea of how Spanish speaking countries are incorporating digital technology in the curricula of different educational proposals. I really enjoyed the event and now, I am looking forward to attend Virtual Educa 2010 in Santo Domingo.

Webliography:
About Mirror Worlds  http://emergic.org/2009/05/26/mirror-world/ [Nov.,2009]
About Augmented reality http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/augmented_reality_heres_our_wishlist_of_apps_whats.php

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Graham Stanley was present in VI Education Session

Graham Stanley spoke about the educational use of Twitter via Wiziq. We had some technological problems, but fortunately Miguel Mendoza (Venezuela) helped me online.
Thank you, Mike!!!


The session was a completely new experience for the audience - around 25 teachers of different languages - who were not very much familiar with the use of Web 2.0 tools.

Here is a link to Graham's presentation. Enjoy it:


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Get your own Virtual Classroom

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Material for Teaching Children provided by the British Council

In the story "Circus Escape" an elephant escapes from the circus and runs off into town. The elephant meets Billy and saves him from a fire. The story is aimed at learners who already have a basic knowledge of English, and practises narrative tenses in a story context. Circus Escape is an online flash-animated story for young learners on the British Council's site for young learners LearnEnglish Kids.

In the classroom there are many ways of exploiting activities to   help children practise their English whilst developing their creativity and imagination by writing poems, stories, reviews, etc. You can find them HERE

Thursday, 19 November 2009

5 Free Online Resources for Young English Language Learners

Learning a new language can be a fun and exciting experience, especially for younger children. The key is to keep them interested in what they are learning. Fortunately, the Internet provides many free games, flashcards, songs, books, and other resources that can entertain, engage, and educate young English language learners. Here are 15 resources worth exploring:

  • ESL-Kids.com provides worksheets, flashcards, games, and songs that children can use to learn English. The site also features an In Class section that demonstrates how to use these resources. 
  • Starfall  With this fun interactive English game site, beginning students can practice their ABCs and reading. Starfall is primarily for first grade children but works well for pre-K to second graders. 
  • BarryFunEnglish is an elementary student English learning site. Through this site, you will find worksheets, games, vocabulary builders, flashcards, listening and PowerPoint presentations. The PowerPoint presentations offer a fun, interactive way to practice vocabulary. Students should get registered to have access to the activities.
  • Wacky Web Tales website offers younger learners silly fill-in-the-blank stories that are designed to teach young learners about sentence structure and grammar. 
  • The International Children’s Digital Library features a huge online collection of books for children. and teenagers learning ESL. The library allows you to read books in English that pertain to different cultures. The books are easily searched through illustrated buttons or text. The website may be also used to understand how an online library is organized. Use your creativity to explote this site!
Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes about online degree programs for OnlineDegreePrograms.org.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Social Networking has finished or has just started?





Last Sunday, Social Networking Congress 2009  finished its first session with great success. Abotu 699 participants from all over the world met on line to listen to ICT specialists and participate in MOODLE forums.

The organizing team worked hard and as a testimony of this work you can have all the information about what happened in this event in a MOODLE platform, forums where to interchange knowledge and experience, and a blog. If you were not able to attend the sessions, do not worry. The videoconferences were recorded and and available at http://avealmec.blogspot.com/

Personally, I was very pleased working with so good professionals and warm people. I learned a lot about how to organize  and moderate an online event. I hope ARCALL and AVEALMEC will continue working together in projects like this one.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Social Networking Congress 2009



Yesterday Social Networking Congress started with enthusiasm and a very good response from the audience. Around 40 people per session attended the 4 videoconferences the very first day. The speakers were Nicky Hockly, Riza Zinstejer, Paula Ledesma, George Simens and Carla Arena.


I would like to point out the energy moderators have and excellent work they did. Evelyn Izquierdo (Venezuela) moderated all sessions!!!!

Today, Friday 6th November at 18.30 GMT , Vance Stevens' presentation  will take place. It is titled "Modeling Social Media in Groups, Communities and Networks". I will have the pleasure to introduce him. Vance is Webhead's creator and inspiration of many teachers around the world. Thanks to his dedication and support ARCALL was created. Don´t  miss it!!!

Abstract of the Session: Modelling Social Media in Groups, Communities and Networks
This presentation intertwines two threads:
(1) an examination of social networking as practiced distinctly in groups, communities, and networks.

Drawing from experience coordinating a teachers' community of practice for the past decade, I will illustrate the evolution of what was initially a group into a community of practice, and how social media enables one CoP to interact with others to become part of a distributed learning network.
and
(2) the notion that teachers must be trained not only IN the use of social media, but THROUGH its use.

Recidivism is a problem in technology training for education; teachers can be shown how to use social media, but unless they use it themselves they unlikely to change their practices. There is evidence that teachers trained in programs where their instructors used social media (modelled it) are more comfortable with technology than when their instructors did not themselves use these tools. This presentation suggests how teachers can interact with numerous communities of practice and distributed learning networks where other participants are modelling to and learning from one another optimal ways of using social media in teaching.


Last modified: Friday, 6 November 2009,Taken from:
http://avealmec.org.ve/moodle/mod/resource/index.php?id=4

Sunday, 1 November 2009

ARCALL first Online Congress

After nearly two months of work , ARCALL is proud to announce the opening of its first online Congress together with AVEALMEC.

The organizing team has worked very hard: preparing the material, website, MOODLE platform content, WiziQ sessions.


Today the forums have been opened. I will be moderating the forum about Commuties of Practice together with my dearest friend and colleague Evelyn Izquierdo.




I hope you will enjoy the experience.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Very Interesting Online Material for October

My birthday is on Oct 24th. I have always considered that date important... not only because it is my birthday but also because it is the anniversary of the United Nations.

But now I have another reason to celebrate:350

What is 350?

350.org is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis--the solutions that science and justice demand. Their mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis.

The website is translated into different languages, so it may be a very interesting source of inspiration to develop a lesson plan to make our students work with the net.




Let's share: If you read this post and make a lesson plan using
350.org website, you are invited to send it to me by mail. I will upload it here.


Thursday, 1 October 2009

Social Networking 2009 Conference

I am delighted to inform you that from November 5-8, 2009, ARCALL and AVEALMEC will be running the Social Networking 2009 Conference.
This open-knowledge event will be completely online and free and it is aimed at elluminating ELT practitioners to grow in the use of social networks as learning development tools.This event is being jointly organized by ARCALL and AVEALMEC , two Latin-American associations, one based in Venezuela and the other in Argentina, interested in promoting the use of ICT in the language classroom.
For this event, we invited conference speakers from different parts of the world:
  • George Siemens -Canada
  • Etienne Wenger -US
  • Vance Stevens -UAE
  • Nik Peachey -UK
  • Charalambos Vrasidas and Maria Solomou -Cyprus
  • Nicky Hockly -Spain
  • Erika Cruvinel and Ronaldo Lima –Brazil
  • Rita Zeinstejer and Paula Ledesma -Argentina
  • Nellie Müller Deustch –Israel
  • Carla Arena –Brazil
  • Graham Stanley –Spain
  • Jennifer Verschoor, Evelyn Izquierdo and Erica Cruvinel –Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil
During four days, our guest speakers will be sharing their experiences and expertise with participants and will help us grasp a better picture of how social networks can be used in the language teaching and learning field. We will be discussing about the concepts and theories around social networks, communities of practice and the Web 2.0, as well as about the use, advantages and drawbacks of social networking tools.Join us and participate in this amazing learning experience! http://avealmec.org.ve/
Spread the word! Let´s get socially connected!
E-greetings from,
The Social Networking 2009 Team
ARCALL: Jennifer Verschoor,Nelba Quintana,Carla Raguseo

AVEALMEC: Teadira Pérez, Miguel Mendoza, Elvina Castillo, Evelyn Izquierdo, Nahir Aparicio, Maricarmen Gamero

Friday, 25 September 2009

Teaching activities provided by the British Council

I am very happy to announce a new set of

material provided by the British Council:

Teaching children

1) "Circus escape" is an online flash-animated story for young learners about an elephant which escapes from the circus and runs off into town.

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/try/teaching-kids/circus-escape


2) There are many activities on the British Council’s site for young learners which you can use with your learners to help them develop their writing skills. They range from writing poems, making stories, reading and sending book and film reviews and sending ecards to family and friends.

On this page you will find tips for using and exploiting the activities in the classroom: Play with Poems, Story Maker,Write a review and Send an ecard

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/try/teaching-kids/get-writing


3) Superheroes is an exciting topic for young learners. On this page you will find tips for using and exploiting the materials in the classroom including an extremely motivating interactive game called "Style a Hero"!

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/try/teaching-kids/superheroes

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

How to publish your work on line

If you are looking for an online publisher, try http://issuu.com/ where you can explore a world of publications by people and publishers alike. You can also collect, share and publish in a format designed to make your documents look their very best. Issuu is a popular destination for quality publications on the web. We can give your readers the possibility of reading your previews or entire archives.

Read more in an article written by me at Lost in Technology

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Edublogs: Join The Student Blogging Challenge


This weekEdublogs has got some goodies for you - a student blogging challenge and the chance to win one of 16 free Edublogs Supporter accounts!!!! And one for the teachers...


About the Student Blogging

Challenge Edublogs's last blogging challenge had over 1000 students, from 15 countries, aged 6 to 18 years old, writing posts, commenting and getting to know about each others cultures while improving their blogging skills and connecting to a global audience.The growth of the students’ blogging skills during each challenge is totally amazing and inspiring; check out these examples of student work.

Challenge Categories

This time the Challenge Categories have been expanded into two separate categories; both designed to improved student skills.Students (or classes) can choose to participate in either or both:


  • Better Bloggers Challenge – emphasis on better blogging, improving your blog design and connecting to a global audience


  • Better Commenter Challenge – focusing how you write comments, whether you are trying to continue conversations through comments and how to write posts that invite lots of comments.

The reason why Edublogs has added the comment challenge is an important part of blogging. It’s often where most learning happens. Unfortunately educating students on effective commenting practices is hard. They hope to change this while also providing new tasks for students who’ve participated in previous challenges.


Want to know more? click on this LINK

Friday, 4 September 2009

Free Hi-Tech Language Learning Tools

This is the second part of the post written by Karen Schweitzer who kindly offered herself to contribute to this blog.

Thank you, Karen for this contribution!!!

MIT Open CourseWare - The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers dozens of free foreign language and literature courses through their OpenCourseWare site. All of the courses are self-paced. Many include audio, video, lecture notes, assignments, reading lists, exams, and other downloadable study materials.

Cramberry - Cramberry offers many hi-tech web-based flashcards for English language learners. Users can also create their own flashcards and track online progress.

Popling - Popling is a way for language learners to learn without actively studying. This desktop app pops flashcards onto a computer screen at regular intervals so that users can learn new English vocabulary words while completing other computer tasks.


Visual ESL - VisualESL.com provides a wide range of interactive video activities for English language learners. Activities are available for learners at every level.

Scriblink - This free online whiteboard works well for learners who want to collaborate online. The board is completely private and only open to those who are invited. Features include built-in chat, VOIP conferencing, an image uploader, and a wide range of dynamic tools.

Audacity - Audacity is free software that can be used to record and edit sound. This open source product is perfect for language learners who want to create audio study materials.



Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes about online colleges for OnlineColleges.net

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Nik Peachey speaking about Web 2.0 for EFL

Nik Peachey is a freelance learning technology consultant, writer and teacher trainer. He specialises in learning technology and social media for language development and teacher training. He was here in Argentina last January as a coordinator and teacher trainer for Hornby School (More about the event in this blog? Click HERE)

We can see and listen to him in a YouTube video speaking about Web 2.0 for EFL.
The following is a recording of a presentation he prepared for teacher trainers in Morocco.
Enjoy it.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Are Social Networks Dangerous? Part II

After having uploaded "Are Social networks Dangerous? Part I, I started looking for further information about the attack to the use of social networkings such as Facebook, Hi5, Myspace, Sonico, etc. carried out by Televisa. The funniest thing is that Televisa did not mention their own social network, called Gyggs and that J.L. Dórigo has an account in Facebook!
Then I asked some collegues who are ICT specialists for their opinions. Most of them agree on the necessity of using Facebook because it is a popular tool, specially among young people:

“I have avoided FB for a long time but this has become almost impossible. If I want to stay in touch with my younger family members and relatives, FB seems to be the best way. They don't read email..."
Although they like the way Facebook keeps them in touch with friends, family and/or students, they insist on the fact that, as with every online application, caution should be used when using social media sites.
"Anytime anyone invites me to take a quiz or send a gift or plant a flower or whatever--zap! I block it."
Here is a website which tells you about 10 privacy settings you can use to use Facebookmore safely: http://www.allfacebook.com/2009/02/facebook-privacy
I will be posting more about the use Facebook soon from the Net generation point of view. And what about you? Do you have a Facebook account? What for?

Thursday, 13 August 2009

15 Free Hi-Tech Language Learning Tools by

This post was written by Karen Schweitzer who kindly offered herself to contribute to this blog. Karen Schweitzer, Business School Guide for About.com, writes about online colleges for OnlineColleges.net. Thank you, Karen for this contribution!!!

"Incorporating hi-tech learning aids and applications into a study regimen can sometimes make it easier for language learners to learn and retain new information.

You can order many of these products for a cost from catalogs or from companies who provide such services. You can also find free options online. Most of the free options work just as well as the paid options and can be used indefinitely without incurring any costs.

This list provides information about 5 free online tools that can be used for language learning. ( I will be including more online tools suggested by Karen in future posts, don´t miss them ) :

1- FreeRice - Language learners can give free rice to hungry people by playing this English vocabulary game from the UN Food Program. For every multiple choice vocabulary question that's answered correctly the UN donates ten grains of rice to hungry people.

2- RIA - The Center for Language Education And Research at Michigan State University provides many free rich Internet applications (RIA) for language learners. The applications can be used to record, upload, mix, and broadcast audio.

3- Palabea - Palabea is a social language learning network where learners can chat with native speakers and improve their writing and grammar skills with hi-tech online tools.

4- SharedTalk - SharedTalk is a language exchange network that provides free web tools for language learning. Members of this free community can find language partners, voice chat, and text chat online.

5- MyHappyPlanet - MyHappyPlanet was created for language learners who want to connect with other learners and make friends online. Users can take free lessons online and find language partners all over the world.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Are Social Networks dangerous? Part I

Some days ago I got a mail pointing out the dangers of networks. The mail quoted the attack to the use of social networks such as Facebook, Hi5, Myspace, Sonico, etc. carried out by Televisa.

Televisa said that social networks are not safe because they provide information to kidnappers. The Mexican journalist Joaquín López Dórigo criticized the security measures of social networks due to the kinapping of an important businessman’s daughter. A video about facebook came to the e-mail I mentioned before which I found really scary.



Thursday, 30 July 2009

What are Nettops?


Computers are constantly changing. We can find a wide variety of sizes, colours and utilities in the market. After the success of the ultra-portable netbooks the nettops arrive!


What are "nettops"? They are desktop PCs with small cabinets, modest performance and low costs, that seek to revitalize the segment of desk equipments. The idea is to offer it to those who are neither gamers nor video editors or people who need to do any other task which require a powerful processor.


The tiny cabinets directly integrated to the monitor are the attraction, besides they are ultra-silent spend less electricity and require less cooling.

Are you thinking in getting one? They are already available here in La Plata, Argentina. Local shops are offering MSI nettops for about u$s700.-

Monday, 6 July 2009

Online Resources Provided by Publishers


Last Saturday June 27th I attended a seminar about How to Assess Young Learners carried out by Prof. Analía Caldiz (MA Discourse Analysis, ICAB staff member) at Instituto Terrero.

On this ocassion I had the opportunity to meet the representatives of three important publishers: Ticiana Neder (Longman), Carolina Coppa (Oxford), Mabel Manzano and Fabián García ( Richmond). I asked these representatives for online interactive material.

Longman offers a four module course called Teacher Development Interactive which provides professional development and an internationally recognised certification from Hunter College, City University of New York. Jeremy Harmer is one of the facilitators ; an internationally hosted online learning and assessment system for English courses designed to go hand in hand with Longman’s texbook series;
iTests, and dictionary widgets which you can add to your blog.

Among Richmond Publishing brochures, I got the one belonging to the “New Framework” book series. Ben Goldstein – teacher at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona- is the main author of Framework. Students as well as teachers can visit a website
http://www.webframework.net/ where there are web activities for sudents and extra support for teachers.

Finally, Oxford has a very complete website at
www.oup.com/elt with a very intersting link for Students. If websurfers click on “Go to Students Sites” (on the left column of your screen- pink link) , all Oxford text books appear with links to online self check activities classified not only according to the text book but also to the different units of each book. Oxford also offers Online Practice Tests to prepare students for their English exam with online practice tests at: http://www.oxfordenglishtesting.com/ Click on "Read More" on the paragraph titled Online exam practice tests, a new window will appear with Practice tests and Placement test
Fantastic!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Top 100 Language Blogs 2009 nominated this blog


The Top 100 Language Blogs 2009 is the largest language blog competition and is hosted annually by bab.la and Lexiophiles. It is aimed at finding the best blogs related to languages and awarding language-loving bloggers. This year there were 473 nominated blogs from 26 different countries in four categories.
I am very happy to announce that this blog has been nominated for the "Top 100 Language Blogs 2009" competition!!!

Due to the amount of blogs they have created categories. (Language Learning/Language Teaching/Language Technology/ Language Professionals) English Virtual Community blog is in category Language Technology.

Voting will start on July 8 and close on July 27 . Winners will be announced on July 30.

Thank you very much for this nomination! It means I am doing things well.

Thanks to all who have inspired me these years and who follow this blog :-)

Saturday, 20 June 2009

My experience as an ICT coordinator PART ONE

At present I am working as ICT coordinator. I am supposed to help teachers using Web 2.0 tools in their ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and it is not an easy task! I have to deal with two problems:


1- Students are already motivated to use digital technologies because they belong to the "thumb" or "digital" generation, but they think they are only going to play intereactive games at the computing lab. In Argentina, Digital natives associate Internet with having fun: chatting with friends and playing interactive games since the school has not incorporated computers and the Internet as a learning tool, so I have to make them realise that we are going to work and practise the Second Language (SL) - English in this case- using computers.

2-On the other hand, teachers are still "digital immigrants" and they are , in a way, reluctant to include computing and Internet in their classes. :-( Some of them are completely technophobes and others are a bit interested but they do not have a clear idea how to use Web 2.0 tools and are "tied" to ready made material Cd-ROM.


I am facing two different situations, let's see how I will cope with them. If you read this article, please leave a comment about the situation in your place.

P.S. Don´t miss the comments made to this post by experts from different countries!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

II Session at Profesorado ISFD 97


Yesterday the II Session about ICT organized by Prof. Patricia Guzmán took place at Profesorado ISFD 97 in La Plata (57St between 8 and 9). This time most of the participants (mostly students) have certain knowlege of the Internet and its tools, so there was more interaction between the audience and me - more questions- since they are already using some Web 2.0 tools.


This time I spoke about Collaborative Learning and gave ideas about how to use Google docs ( documents, spread sheets and presentations) and blogs in our professional life and classes.


We had the pleasure of having Ticiana Neder, Pearson Education S.A. Representative SGBA among the audience. She brought interesting educational material and fantastic presents for the audience. One of the books Ticiana gave to participants was How to Teach English with Technology by Gavin Dudeney which I do recommend for all those who want to learn about the topic. I was given a Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture! Thanks , Ticiana and Pearson for your presence and the valuable gifts you gave us.

Unfortunatelly I did not take my camera to take pictures of the event and upload them in this post. I will next time Wed June 24th : The topics will be Social Networking, Twitter, Facebook, Ning and bookmarking.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

The Thumb Generation


Teenagers are called the thumb generation. Guess why? because they are typing text messages on their mobile phones most of their time.
Multitasking is nother characteristic of digital natives. Do you want to read more about this?
Read this interesting article by clicking on :
http://ow.ly/aOuQ

Guide to Setting Up an Ergonomic Computer Station


Have a look at this link if you are planning to set up your computer station properly.
http://ergonomics.about.com/od/office/ss/computer_setup.htm

Friday, 29 May 2009

A Congress on ICT applied to Language Learning in Cordoba city

I was in Córdoba city (Argentina) on May 27th, 28th and 29th because the local university organized a 3-day-Congress on ICT applied to Language Learning. Teachers from different parts of the country attended the event.

The papers were about different topics: use of blogs and forums, webquests, Collaborative Learning, Moodle platform, distance learning, moodle platforms.
I found particularly interesting 6-hour-workshop about "How to introduce teachers to the use of ICT in their classrooms" given by Mgtr. Víctor Sajoza Juric who gave us some useful guidance about this issue.

Now let me tell you about my experience in the city. I had the fortune to be in Córdoba on "El Cordobazo" (See more info in Wikipedia) anniversary. The city seemed to vibrate at the rhytm of the drums played by the workers who marched along streets carrying Argentinian flags in the memory of their lost co-workers who died or suffered persecussion during the military dictatorship.

Some teachers and I also took a short tour to the Jesuits circuit. The Jesuits were one of the first congregations who arrived to Argetnina in colonial times. They were very organized and tried to convert natives into catholicism peacefully. They built the very first university and a national school. Cordoba University was the third one opened in South America after the Mexican and Peruvian ones. It is even older than Harvard University. Unfortunatelly, the Jesuits were considered revolutionary by the King and the Pope, and were expulsed from these lands (More info in Spanish: http://www.vallepunilla.com.ar/jesuitas/) The Jesuit block has been declared World Heritage by the UNESCO.
See photos below. If you put the cursor on a photo (don´t click), you will get its caption ;-)
Feel free to leave a comment.

BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.

Friday, 22 May 2009

II Sessions on Distance Education at UNLP




On May 20th and 21st, the Second Session on Distance Education took place at the National University of La Plata (See photo).

University teachers from different colleges gathered at the Rectorado building to interchange their experiences using ICTs.


On June 20th, the first session I attended was the one about intellectual rights on the Internet. The speaker was María Clara Lima. The topic was obviously very, very interesting.


That same afternoon my colleague from the School of Languages, Silvia Enriquez, described her experience using blogs in the course "Language III" in the English and Translation language course. Silvia Enriquez and I had the pleasure to talk and share our enthusiasm for ICT tools with Alicia Tedesco


I spoke about my experience with the Writingmatrix Project and the experience of using blogs as supporting material for the English Intermediate courses of adults and teens.


On the second day, the speaker in the pleanary session was Mg. débora Scheider ( UBA/Virtual University of Quilmes) who presented a number of topics to reflect upon such as the competencies required to be a successful online tutor, how much time a teacher is supposed to devote to an online class, what kind of the interaction is ideal for an online course, etc.


Most participants were very pleased with these sessions and all ask the organizers - Alejandra Zangara and Alejandro Gonzalez, among others- to repeat the experience next year.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Teacher Training Course at ESCUELA NORMAL SUPERIOR N°3 "ALMAFUERTE"-

Yesterday I started a three session teacher training course at Escuela Normal Superior N°3 "Almafuerte"- ISFD 97_Profesorado de Inglés organized by Prof. Patricia Guzmán - Head of the English Area of the Englsih Courses at Escuela Normal Superior N°3 .
I had the pleasure to have as participants some colleagues of mine such as : Prof. Anahí Cuestas (Escuela de Lenguas Coordinator of the English area), Prof. Silvana Barboni (teacher at Profesorado de Inglés) and Prof. Silvana Fernández (Literature specialist and teacher at ICAB)
The session started with an introduction to ICT (Information and Communication Techonologies). Then we started exploring Google tools : mail , chat and calendar.
The audience consisted of digital immigrants with different levels of computer literacy. Some of them were curious about what blogs and wikis are, and the advantages of having an account in Facebook.
Next sessions will be on June 2nd and 12th.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Teaching English Material provided by the British Council


I have the pleasure to announce that The British Council has offered me to publish their material in this blog. I hope it will be useful for your classes.