Sunday, January 30, 2005

My new personal space at Live Journal

I have just written my first post at Live Journal, which I had opened some time ago but never used. It'll be my personal journal, where I can jot any ideas that come to my head. As this one focuses more on blogging and learning in general, I found it was not the place to post my musings, rants and lores. It'll also serve as a place to experiment with a new tool, what it offers and how it can be used...the tech comments will be placed here.

First impressions:
Although it offers a number of layout and personalisation options, I find it more complicated to navigate than this one. At least for newbies/basica and intermediate students. I like the list of adjectives offered with the smilies. Good practice and fun for EFL students.

I tried the spellchecker. The word blogging apparently has not yet been inserted in the dictionary, although this is what I am doing now. According to the spellchecker I should be "bogging, logging, clogging, flogging, slogging, bilging, blocking, bulging, boggling, bigging, blowgun, belonging, befogging, bagging, begging, bugging, lagging, legging, lugging, blowing, bonging, blighting", instead. The Blogger dictionary suggests the

I cannot switch freely from HTML to Rich Text as in Blogger. Once you have placed the html code on the page it refuses the other mode, which is not very practical. Here I just move from Edit HTML to Compose and it works.

So this is what there is for the time being. Going to have some coffee and do some other work ;-)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

We will rock you!

I am back from an amazing virtual tour to Monkey Mia on Michael Coghlan's blog thanks to the embedded Media Windows Video he created using Photo Story with photographs from his own trip a week before.

On February 11th at 22.30 GMT, Michael will be showing Evonline2005 webloggers some of the cutting edge tools you can use/ insert in your blogs. Stayed tuned! experiment on embedding a wmv file ...not my creation it in a mail, thought it was cute and I hope I am not infringing any copyright. *

* found out more about the referred file - it's a new ad for Evian water

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

James Farmer's Chat - Connecting the Threads

Yesterday at 22.00 GMT James Farmer 's chat at Alado was blogged live by three different participants who were attending the presentation online. Cleve Miller , Gerry Paille and Graham Stanley covered the event for us and I encourage you to read them and compare the information you get and the style of writing. (To our journalists: please do not edit them) . Aaron has also reported on it after the event.

I believe the interest of this kind of exercise in an EFL/ESL class is not only the practice you get in note-taking but also the awareness it gives you of different frames of mind, how different people record and react to the information that is coming at them and the kind of content they focus on most at the time of the presentation.

Janet Luch has posted a link to a very interesting article on our wiki : What we learn from the Convention blogging and comments:
"I was particularly interested in this article because one of the ways I would like to use blogs is from field trips and teachers conventions. This article discusses what it is like to blog from big, fast-paced events. "

Blogging helps us connect these different threads!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Cutting edge tools in the ESL classroom

About three weeks ago (an eternity in blogging world ...which brings to my mind a flash movie prepared by Penn University on the info cycle), Michael Coghlan, a fellow webhead in Australia, invited Dafne Gonzales (in Venezuela) and me (in Brazil) to contribute to his presentation” Cutting edge tools in the ESL classroom” to be held last Thursday January 20th at 22:30 GMT..
Dafne Gonzalez is an Associate Professor at the University Simon Bolivar in Caracas, Venezuela , which has recently signed an agreement with the World Bank. Daf, who together with Teresa almeida d' Eça is leading the Evo 2005 BAW session, was invited to design a course for them - on how to design online courses, including instructional design.

Daf and I also received a voice mail giving us further information about the public and the context in which the presentation was going to take place. Michael then wrote a mail to the webhead list enticing members to (literally) voice their thoughts on what constitutes cutting edge tools in the ESL/EFL classroom as a lead up to the presentation via a Wimba voice-board

Michael is very active in promoting the use of voice enabled tools online and has recently opened his own blog where he reports on his latest experiments.

I logged into the Elluminate Virtual Room at Learning Times about 15 minutes before the actual presentation was to start in Australia to find Daf and other webheads already waiting for it to start. Teresa Almeida d’ Eça (in Portugal), Christine Bauer Ramazani (Vermont, USA), Sheryl Dunn (Hawaii) and Buthaina Al Othman (Kuwait) were already chatting to Jonathan Finkelstein who was showing them the Learning Times latest gadget: a video cam.

Michael had problems with the IT support in Adelaide and logged in 15 minutes later than expected so he was rushed for time and the presentation had to be clipped. Daf talked about how she is using a virtual classroom to bring guest lecturers to her classroom while I explained why I started using blogs with my high school students but did not manage to illustrate it with examples.

Dafne took some screen shots and blogged the event right after and so did Buthaina, so I very lazily am not going to go over their tracks but will direct you to their reports, which summarize and illustrate very nicely what the event was like. You will also read Michael’s mail reporting on what happened and his reaction when he listened to his voice from the recording later “ a little irritable and bossy at the beginning! By then, I was annoyed and trying desperately not to be but you can hear it in my voice”

It is incredible how your voice reveals what you are feeling at a particular moment. I was struck by the difference when I recorded my thoughts on Wimba. The first time it was late at night and I sounded sleepy and tired. My husband said: “you are not going to leave that there, are you? “. I erased it immediately and started again in the morning. It was a completely different person speaking :-)

I am going to post here a recording of the full presentation I had prepared so that the participants from the Evonline 2005 can have an insight to the way I view blogs, why and how I have used them in my classrooms and you can also give me your comments on what feelings my voice carries. It is an mp3 file which lasts about 8 minutes.

It complements and reinforces many of the points Anne Davis made at Tappedin on Friday. Here is the cartoon, the quote and the links to which I refer.

"Blogging is an exploration.
You start from nothing and learn as you go."
(adapted from E L Doctorow)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

2005 - Collaboration Year

2005 starts under the sign of collaboration :-) After two quiet and rainy weeks in the countryside, here I am back to blogging with a revenge!

Planning and preparing the design and content of the 6-week weblogging session for Evonline 2005 has been a shot of pure collaborative adrenaline.

Since September, when I invited teachers from different continents to co-moderate it with me and whom I had only met virtually and never worked with, until now, when I 115 participants have already enrolled and are waiting for it to start, this has been an intensive learning and creative process.

The first planning and brainstorming took place in Webcollaborator , which acts like a blog and wiki. As we got to know each other better and the collaboration pages started to get heavier and more difficult to follow due to constant annotations, we used e-mailing, Tappedin, Yahoo Messenger to communicate quicker and dot the i. E-mailing was also used to invite the different guest speakers and contacting the people responsible for Alado, Learning Times and Tappedin to host the synchronous events.
In December we also mailed the announcement to the Tesol SIGs and all the lists and people we know so as to advertise the event.

Once we decided on the main structure and tools to be used, we tried to make the architecture of the course easier to visualize and understand by using Inspiration, a concept map software I happen to have(it can also be done on Powerpoint... this is where it was originally drafted). We have also decided to work on the webquest format so that each week would consist on a series of individual technical tasks (like setting up a blog, inserting RSS) coupled with collective gathering resources or reflective tasks.
It's not going to be easy to manage group dynamics with such a large group but we hope people will at least once in the course of the 6 weeks volunteer for one of the collective tasks and not only lurk and consume the content.

To this date 50 people have placed their icon on the Blogsphere Map. 6 in South America (investigate), 14 in North America, 14 in Europe,1 in the Middle East, 1 in Australia and 14 in Asia. I think Bravenet only lets people enter 50 icons on the starts deleting the earliest posts when we go over. So will probably have to open a second map. What a varied group!

This is going to be a rollercoaster ride to blogosphere! Do not miss it and tune in for more news about this experience!