Tuesday 29 July 2008

Free Sounds for your Multimedia Teaching Materials

Digital sound effects can come in really handy for multimedia materials design projects and to inspire the imagination of our students.

Soundsnap is a really nice site which has a good size collection of free sound files. They are neatly catagorised and easy to search and you can preview them before you download them and most of them come in a variety of formats from wav, mp3, aiff.

You can register, but you don't need to.

Earlier this year I wrote a posting on my technology blog which looked at SoundTransit and I suggested a few teaching tips and ideas there, most of which would apply to these clips too.

See: Soundscapes from SoundTransit

Soundsnap is a really nicely designed user friendly site with a great collections of sounds.

Hope you enjoy these.



Monday 28 July 2008

Social Networks and the Web 2.0 Revolution

Social networks and what has been described as 'Web 2.0' are having a prfound influence on the way we can 'design' and deliver online learning.

As part of an ICT training course I worked on recently I delivered a short opening presentation entitled 'Social Networks and the Web 2.0 Revolution'. I was later encouraged to record this presentation by Jurgen Wagner for his 'Info Blog' and you can either view the presentation there at:
Or watch a YouTube version below.

By publishing this presentation, I'm sharing my opinion and my perception of the way things have developed and I don't presume to be an authority in this area. When i watch the pesentation I can already see that there are some flaws in the way I've expressed or portaryed my understanding of the situation.

I would welcome any comments or different perspectives on this, so please do feel free to drop me a line / comment.

Nik Peachey

Saturday 26 July 2008

The 12 Second Video Answer to Twitter

I've been having a quick look at a new alpha site which could become the video version of Twitter and Plurk. The site is called 12 Second TV and as the name would suggest allows users to creat a feed made up of 12 Second video clips. The site has only just gone to public alpha and I haven't had a chance to try it out as I'm still waiting for my invitation.

Looking at some of the clips that are there already, I don't really see anything much that i would subscribe to, though I think the idea is good and sound and this certainly has potential.

Looking forward to giving it a try.

Hope to have more to report soon. Update: Since writing this I have published a more in depth report witrh examples and teaching tips here on my learning technology blog.

Related postings

Nik Peachey

Thursday 24 July 2008

Online Interactive Whiteboard with VOIP

Well the online whiteboard market seems to be heating up with another impressive offering. I wrote about Dabbleboard last week, and now only a week later I've just spotted Scriblink which takes things a step further and includes VOIP, text chat and provides users with link to their online board.

I just created this quick labeling activity using an image from Flickr creative commons

The site has now generated me a link to this page to share my whiteboard online.

Click here to check it out live (Takes a little while to load)

All this seems like interesting stuff for anyone involved in online synchronous tutoring.

Looks like it's free too!
There's a more detailed description of the features here.

Hope you find this useful.


Nik Peachey

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Multi Player Vocabulary Revision

Hunam Brain Cloud is an online multiplayer game I spotted some time back. It's a cross between a word association game and visual thesaurus. Students see a word and type in a word they associate with this word and submit it. They can continue with this for as long as they like, or they can check out the other words that other users have associated with the word.

Human Brain Cloud: Play

As they play students help to build up the thesaurus of words too, and there is also a simple search to help them look up words.

Human Brain Cloud: View

Tis would be great for ESL / EFL students as it is an enjoyable way to learn and extend vocabulary. They can look at other words people have associated with the words they know and try to deduce the meaning of words they don't know by looking at the other associations.

That make sense?

Give it a try and you might see what I mean.

As ever be careful of those words that ESL / EFL students love and we pretend we don't understand.


Nik Peachey

Monday 21 July 2008

Improve your Vocabulary and send Aid to Children

This is a wondeful idea and looks a little like Free Rice. The idea is that students work through vocabulary tests improving their vocabulary and with every correct answer .25 of a cent is sent to help impoverished children.
Seems like a great way to help epople raise money for a good cause. The level of the vocabulary is quite high, but would be fine for CAE, IELTS or Proficiancy level students, or even native speakers.
A very good cause too, so I hope you can spread the word about this.


Nik Peachey

Related links

Great Video Commenting Tool

I've just been playing with a new tool called Bubble Comment that enables you to create video comments about websites.
The tool is free and easy and quick to use. There's no registration required, and when you're finished you simply get a link url like the one above that you send to people to show them your comment.

You get about 90seconds to give your comment and you need a microphone and a webcam of course. You just open up the web page you want to comment on and select the appropriate microphone and camera driver.

This would be a nice tool for students to use to talk about and share their favourite websites. Or it could be a good way for you to share websites with your students, rather than having and text annotated list of resources.

Really handy stuff. I might start using it with each of my posting here.

Hope you enjoy it.


Nik Peachey

Related links:

Sunday 20 July 2008

Create EFL / ESL Lesson Plans in Mins

I've often seen sites making this boast, but this really does seem to be the case with Lesson Writer. The website takes you through the various stages of preparing text based lesson plans for EFL / ESL students.

You just copy and paste in a text, the site analyses the vocabulary and produces a glossary of the voacaulary which you can customise, example sentences using the vocabulary, as well as grammar and pronunciation tasks and activities. You then just add your own comprehension questions and print the whole thing up along with a suggested plan!

There a Lesson Writer Demo here that shows how it's done.

I'm not so sure about copying and pasting in copyright materials, but as long as you have permission then this is a great way to produce relevant lesson materials from authentic sources and it won't take you all day to prepare them.

If you register on the site you can save the lesson plans and materials, and it doesn't seem to cost anything! I keep wondering where the catch is, but I can't see one.

Happy EFL / ESL lesson planning!


Nik Peachey

Friday 18 July 2008

Free IWB Software

Dabbleboard is a fantastic whiteboard application which runs in your browser. It has all the usual whiteboard features plus some nice extras.

It's really easy to use and draw shapes even using a mouse. You can embed images from anywhere on the web into multiple pages. When you've finished creating your whiteboard pages you can download them, share them publicly online or email them to students (great way to send your students notes or their lesson).

You can use the software without registering, but if you want to save and share whiteboard flipcharts them you'll need to create a simple account (which doesn't seem to require any personal information beyond your email address).
The fact that it runs in your browser (seems to work fine in Firefox 3 and IE7) means that it will run on MAC or PC without any software to download.

At present the public library of flipcharts isn't too impressive and just looks like people testing out the software, but if this takes off there could be a pretty impressive collection of teaching resources there.

If you can use this with a data projector and Camspace controller software, then you've got yourself a pretty cheap interactive whitebaord to use in class.

Great stuff.

Nik Peachey

Related postings:

Preparing EAP Students

I've just spotted this wonderful new resource for helping to prepare foreign students for study in the UK. It's called Prepare for Success and has lots of interactive features including video and some online tasks.

The site covers a really wide range of issues that overseas students are likely to encounter when studying abroad including study skills, tips for critical thinking as well as things like dealing with different cultures and working with other students.

Here's a video from 'language challenge' section.

You do not appear to have a suitable video player installed. Please download Apple Quicktime and install it to view the video.

This is a fantastic resource and has some really nicely designed materials which should be useful to any EFL / ESL students, even if they don't intend to study abroad.

The materials were developed by the University of Southampton

Definitely worth recommending to and using with your students.


Niki Peachey

Thursday 17 July 2008

A Virtual Language Learning World for Kids

Well what kid wouldn't want to be a language learning panda? Panfu has used this premise as the basis for a new virtual world for kids in which they can play games and learn languages at the same time.

They create their own panda avatar, dress the panda and have their own panda tree house to decorate and invite friends round to.

On the whole this looks pretty good and I'm sure my 9 year old daughter will be keen to try this out (she's already a Webkinz fanatic). Panfu are offering two levels of membership; Free and Gold. Gold entitles your kids to get extra customisation for their panda avatar and his lodgings.

Getting your kids involved in virtual worlds or any kind of social networking is always slightly risky, but it does look as though Panfu are taking this seriously.

The service is available in a range of languages. If your kids register as being English, then they get to learn some Spanish, if they register as other nationalities it looks like they get to learn English.

I haven't tried this one out yet myself, but it does look like a serious and well thought out educational effort. Definitely a step in the right direction.

Hope your kids enjoy it.


Nik Peachey

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Student Made English Advertisements

I spotted this blog earlier this week on the webheads discussion list and decided that I had to share it. The blog is called English Advertising Class and is managed by Aiden Yeh .

The blog hosts a remarkable collection of advertisements made by students of English as a foriegn language. The topics of the advertisements vary greatly and many of them are like public service broadcasts, but they are great examples of student creativity using various digital mediums.

I also really like that many of them include the 'storyboards' that the students used to plan and design the advertisements.

This would be a really nice site to include in an advertising project like the one I suggested back in one of my March 08 postings Advertisement project

Great stuff and a real credit to Aiden. Hope you find time to check it out and that you find it useful to inspire your own students.


Nik Peachey

Tuesday 15 July 2008

ELT classroom videos

Videos of teacher working in the ELT classroom is pretty difficult to come by, so this makes this series of videos from the British Council that much more valuable.

As you can see from this example the videos have footage from the real practicing teachers accompanied by expert commentary. This is useful stuff for anyone involved in teacher training.

You can find the full series of 9 videos ( about 5 mins each) within the Teaching English website's Training videos section.

Hope you find these useful.


Nik Peachey

Monday 14 July 2008

Learning through karaoke!

I was really interested to see this report from Reuters on how a school in Thailand is using karaoke to help nurses learn about cardiology! Have a look here to read the article that goes with this: Karaoke for the heart at Thai medical school

There might be a short advertisement before the report starts.

I was particularly interested because I posted a short feature on my learning technology blog about using karaoke only last week.
Now I'm wondering if karaoke learning is just and Asian phenomenon or whether this would work with other students.

Has anyone else been using karaoke with their students? I'd love to hear from anyone who has or from anyone who has other karaoke type websites to share.


Nik Peachey

Thursday 10 July 2008

Google's Lively Competitor with Second Life?

Have Google joined the online 3D virtual world market? Well it looks like they have, but it looks like it's still pretty early days with the Beta release of Lively.

Lively certainly seems to have a lot of potential and a lot of good things going for it, in addition to having the might of a company like Google behind it.

  • The 3D rooms run in the browser and only require the download of a very small plugin (about half a MB) as opposed to the huge downloads that Second Life and There.com require.
  • Anyone can create their own room, pretty quickly and easily, and embed the room into a web page like the one below.
  • The rooms aren't connected so if you want to use this with students, it's less risky as they are less prone to 'wandering' into unsuitable areas.
  • The amount of customization of both avatars and rooms is limited at the moment, so this might well help to discourage the more 'adult' orientated users who tend to crop up in Second Life so much.
  • Word is that you can add and watch YouTube videos within your 3D room, which could make a nice addition to a distance course and enable your students to have film / video night together.
  • The 3D comic book type graphics look good and would surely appeal to teens or younger learners.
  • It's free at the moment at least.
Here is my 3D room embedded into my page

But this is what it should look like!

lively 3D room

Before you get too excited though:
  • I've had more than a few problems getting this to work for me either in Firefox 3 or IE 7 and you can't run it on a MAC yet.
  • Lots of the tools for editing the room and avatar that appear in the help instructions, never seem to appear on my screen, so once I've created my room, I don't seem to be able to edit it at all.
  • There's no voice chat only text chat.
  • Because it's only just been launched the actual population is still pretty small, so actually meeting someone to talk to is a bit of a challenge
Anyway, despite all this, I think this is still one to watch, not only because it has Google behind it, but because if it can be made to work well and run in the browser with lower demand on bandwidth and small downloads, this could open up the potential of virtual worlds to many more people and that can't be a bad thing.

Some of my other postings on virtual worlds.
Best Nik Peachey

Tuesday 8 July 2008

The Encyclopedia of Life

This is a wonderful new site with some fantastic images, most of which are licensed under creative commons.

The site is still in its early days, but the intention is that it will become a kind of wikipedia of life on Earth with a vast collection of text and images and possibly other media.

There's already quite a substantial number of organisms with images listed and many of the images and illustrations are really remarkable.

At the moment the site owners are looking for people to be curators of pages or species, but later this year there is a plan to open up the pages so that anyone can contribute.

This is a fantastic resource of information and images and has loads of potetial for teaching exploitation. One of the creators of this project is Edward O. Wilson and you can also find some short video clips of him talking about issues related to the environment on Big Think. All useful and interesting stuff if you are thinking of doing any lessons on the environment or if you just need some flashcards or images to use in teaching projects.

Hope you enjoy it.


Nik Peachey

Monday 7 July 2008

Create your own sms groups

With the vast increase in the number of people with phones capable of receiving sms, having your own group for your students seems like a pretty good idea.

GupShup provides you with the ability to make this happen for free. You 'simply' register for free on their site and then start creating groups. The site has quite a few groups there already and some with more than 2,000 members. The groups are split into categories and there's a couple of pages of educational ones, which include quite a few word of the day type services.

Once you register you can either send out messages to the group through the website or by using your phone.

I guess the downside of this is that your students are going to be paying every time they send a message, and I've no idea what the rates are likely to be. I tried to register using my own phone here in Morocco, but never get the confirmation message with my registration code, so that's about as far as I got.
  • Anyone else tried this?
  • Do you know of other similar services that are free?
Would be very interested in hearing comments from anyone else doing anything like this.

To try GupShup go to: http://www.smsgupshup.com


Nik Peachey

Friday 4 July 2008

Send Free Video Messages

SnapYap.com looks like a nice free tool for sending video messages. It doesn't involve downloading any software as it uses the Adobe Flash plugin. You just have to allow access to your webcam and microphone.

You can either exchange messages with other registered users, email links to your messages to people or send them a link to your messages page.

This video from Snapyap.com explains it all.

I haven't tried this yet, but I think it could be quite an interesting communication tool and a nice way of developing materials for students and it's free!

Let me know if you have any luck using it.


Nik Peachey

Thursday 3 July 2008

More Second Life Tutorials

Following on from my posting last month on building in Second Life, here are 4 more video tutorials showing the basics of Inventory management and how to create folders and notecards within the inventory.

The first tutorial looks at how to open the inventory and create a new folder within it.

The second tutorial looks at how to create new notecards for sharing text and activties. This for me is one of the prime sources of deliveing materials to students as the text on Notecards is much clearer easier to read and manipulate than text on textures, so I find this a key function to enable effective teaching within Second Life.

The third tutorial looks at how to find things within the inventory by using the search. This can help to overcome what can be quite a frustrating problem.

The forth and final tutorial in this set looks at how to clear up the inventory and delete some of the multiple instances. Keewping your inventory under control can help make it easier to find things and also speed up your avatar when you log in to Second Life, as there will be less inventory items to download.

If you are new to or haven't tried Second Life yet, then I hope you find these videos useful and they encourage you to try it out. The videos were originally commissioned by The Consultants-E and are part of an introductory course for teachers they deliver on Edunation Island II and are used with their kind consent. You can access all the tutorials on my YouTube channel here:
My other postings on Second Life and virtual worlds
By all means leave a comment, but all comments aare moderated so it might take a while to show.


Nik Peachey

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Up and Coming blogs

I'm rather pleased that my Learning technology blog (number 41) has been recognised as one of the 50 up and coming must read blogs, by Teaching Tips.com.

Their top 50 have been sorted and catagorised with some brief description about why each one makes the grade and why you should read it.
There's some interesting stuff there and it's well worth a look. So have a search through and add the best feeds to your reader or personal homepage . If you don't have a feed reader or homepage, then have a look at my article on how to create one using Netvibes, as it does save you a lot of time.

Teaching tips.com have also put together a list of 100+ resources for teaching without course books and that's well worth checking out too.

Hope you find something useful there.


Nik Peachey

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Becoming a citizen journalist

Ever thought of becoming a journalist in your free time, well now you can with Instablogs!

Instablogs was brought to my notice by an email that arrived in my inbox asking me if I wanted to become a 'citizen journalist'. I have to say that the thought is quite attractive and this might be something to get students involved in on some level too.

I had a quick look at the site and it is interesting and looks like a credible news site. It splits the articles geographically by continent (good to find so many countries represented rather than just the US or Europe as is the case with so many sites) and also splits the news by topic, with the usual things like, entertainment, technology, sport, politics etc.

You have to register to actually write an article and in the email I recieved it did mention payment for articles, though the amount was very small, so I don't think this would be a motivating factor.

As I said, this could be quite a useful resource for students or for materials for your students, partly because it does cover such a broad geographical area, and it might well be interesting to compare some of the 'citzen' news with articles from more mainstream news sources like BBC or CNN.

It might also provide your students with some great motivation for writing too as they could possibly get their work published and people have been known to launch careers from such sites!

As for me, the main thing that puts me off writing for the site is that it doesn't have an education section. If it did well... I don't know.
  • What do you think?
  • Would you write for a site like this?
  • Is this site an attempt to empower people or just a cynical attempt to get cheap content?
  • Should citizens be journalists or should that be left to the 'professionals'?
I'd be very interested to hear your views, so please do post a comment if you have one.


Nik Peachey