A one hit wonder

June 9, 2014

Here is a statistic: 3 out of 5 people spend more time with their technology than they do with their spouse. Time to unplug?

Did you know a “device-agnostic” APP is one that will work on most platforms? That will make your life much simpler if you are expecting lots of different students to use it: you don’t have to check what devices they are using and whether they are compatible or not with what you want to use.

Ever wondered what a teacher’s brain might look like?

Have you ten quick ideas for using mobile phones in your classroom?

The answers to all these questions and more are on www.edudemic.com

Great, easy to navegitate site with tons of ideas and advice for teachers. Love it. It’s in my top ten.


Thanks for all the phishing

September 19, 2013

Hi all and welcome back to a new teaching year after the summer. For those of you who may be slightly paranoid about internet security the Economist has an in-dept survey on the issue and an interesting debate about whether or not security agencies should be allowed pervert the flow of information as it were. If you don’t want to read the complete article scroll down to the fun section on Panoramic paranoia where the newspaper gives some tips on being really safe electronically (ie keep your mobile safe from interference by switching it off, taking out the battery and storing it in the fridge when not in use).

This blog is, of course, about technology and teaching but maybe the security issues remain the same. At what point should we shut technology out and store it in the fridge just in case it corrupts our classrooms? My daughter has just started secondary school and has been told that all mobile devices have to be turned off and locked away during school hours. A recent talk by a work-mate encouraged me to get my teenagers to take our their mobile phones and use them creatively in class last night. There is always a back door when it comes to technology. The trick may not be finding it but using it productively, creatively and in a way that stimulates the teaching and learning process. Technology is not an automatic virus. It can be, but in education that probably depends on the teacher.

That has always been the intention of this blog: learning about and using technology in the best pedagogical way possible. I have just re-read the aims of this blog stated in the WHY section and I hope to some extent they have been fulfilled.

Time moves on and technologically things change ever quicker than time does. After nearly 300 posts I think this blog may have reached an end. Three years is a long time in the history of internet. Things have moved on. I may return here or on a new blog when I have found a new angle: at the moment I feel that it is time for an upgrade, and they always take time to de-bug.

Meanwhile thanks for all the phising! Let me leave you with one final clip which does what we try to do every class: put a humanistic layer on intelligence, artificial or not.

A channel tunnel

May 27, 2013

tunnelDifferent perspectives are always interesting. This Guardian article puts forward the idea that Modern Language teachers in Britain are leading the way in their use of tecnology in education. I have always argued that in terms of languages the new technologies, if used wisely, provide essential tools for communication between teachers, students and students and teachers and this is the key attraction highlighted in the text. Modern language teachers in Britain have a whole range of projects and also, more importantly, a strong social teaching network through which ideas can be exchanged. Be patient and scroll down the page to the comments at the end: some incisive comments here and again, for me at least, fascinating to see what language teachers are working on in different contexts.

Try this hashtag on Twitter #mfltwitterati to see some of the things they are up to. The following blog is also of interest.

Only words … child’s play

April 3, 2013

imagesNothing strange about a younger learners book introducing clothes vocabulary. Curiously, however, when personalising the activities and playing games withthe clothes they were actually wearing I had to introduce a whole new lexical set: tracksuit, uniform, trainers etc. Nothing wrong with that but it is interesting how irrelevant textbook material can be to real life … or vica versa.

Twenty years since Lewis proposed a more lexical approach based largely on findings from what was then recent field of computer based Corpus research. Suddenly it seemed impossible to distinguish grammar from vocabulary; everything became a chunk of language. Twenty years on, text books and possibly teachers still pay lip service to the concept but it nevery fully brought in radical changes in the way it initially urged.

It may just be that it takes that long or even longer for academic thinking to seep down to the chalk face. That is one of the ideas in this Guardian article on why the lexical approach has never been as influential as perhaps it should. The same probably applies to effective use of IT in teaching: despite all the initial enthusiasm, the reality at the chalkface or even the IWBface is that really creative use may take longer than expected.

The author of the Guardian article above has a blog http://leoxicon.blogspot.co.uk/ which is a great resource site for ideas on exploring lexis in class. The TOOLS section has an extensive list of very useful links for vocabulary and corpus information on the web. Some of them you will know and others perhaps not, but great having them all in just one place.

untitledMy message for today then? Let’s not let Lewis haunt us. The lexical approach is too important to be hidden away, another EFL skeleton in the wardrobe.

To IT or not to IT

March 18, 2013

seeI continue with the jigsaw or see saw that is the balance between effective pedagogical use of technology in language teaching and the utopian push that assumes technology must automatically be good, we only have to work out how best to use it. At the recent TESOL-SPAIN conference in Seville Hugh Dellar had a challenging, brave and provocative talk on “Technology and Principles in Language Learning”. This was a fascinating evaluation of the role technology has or is thought to play in the language teacher’s classroom. His argument essentially, was that we should focus more on language and learning and not be too distracted by the trills, frills and often time consuming demands of using technology in our classes. His key point is, as I imagine most teachers will agree, that technology is only one more tool we have and its effectiveness will depend on the teacher. It is also a tool we shouldn’t necessarily feed bad about not using!

About a day later Russell Stannard published an article in the Guardian (here) outlining the advantages of using the increasing variety of sound recording software and websites with students. Far from the days when CALL meant grammar bashing exercises he points out the strengths and potential of new multimedia software and sites that are very easy to use and, potentially, very useful for language learning.

Interestingly, Russell is stressing the potential for using these tools by the student at home more than a teacher using them in class. We return to the concept of the flipped classroom and in that sense perhaps there isn’t much difference between what appear to be two opposing views of technology: it’s role in class may actually be limited, may need to be limited, but what students can bring to the language class through technology may know no bounds.images

A little bird told me …

March 5, 2013

It’s story time today, something easy to read but hopefully useful. There are many sites out there offering tool sfor creating comics, stories and videos. Here are two I had time to look at in more detail recently (they do all require you to create an account).

http://storybird.com/ is a simple site where even quite young kids can create their own story. Even looking at the samples is fun in class! Well worth a look and adaptable for many different levels.

More ambitious is http://storify.com/ a site which allows you to build your own newspaper effectively, based on feeds you take from social media. This would have to be for higher levels, maybe adults, but could provide the background for some nice project work as students build either a class journal or individual ones which they can then share.

Finally, http://www.weebly.com/ is even more ambitious. This site allows you and/or your students to build an attractive website very quickly and effectively. Again, lots of potential for project work.