Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’


Seeing as it had been up there for over a year and been overtaken by events , I thought that my Twitter for Educators guide needed a bit of a revamp – so I’ve updated it and you can see it here: Twitter for Educators. (or through the link in the top right box on this page)

Next up – the blog list

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The only way is up

This blog has been a bit sparse recently, but that’s been down to getting to grips with a new job. The upside of this is that I am having to experiment with a few new techniques, which I can then share here.  I am now teaching functional skills, building up the writing skills of students enrolled on Further Education courses. One of the skills that learners find really tricky is summarising – Copy and paste is just too easy, and too tempting. This post shows a technique that I have used to try and break the CTRL-C, CTRL-V dependency.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere the benefits of using Moodle Wikis for writing development(and given a step by step guide to setting them up); I have recently been using them together with You Tube to develop summarising skills. I ask learners to watch a video on YouTube and then set questions: it could be simply for them to summarise what they saw, or I might ask them to look out for information on certain key points.

As I have wanted to concentrate on notetaking and summarising I have been chosing videos between 3 and 5 minutes; it is pretty near impossible for learners to try and transcribe this length of video, so they have to try to summarise it (there’s also no text to cut and paste – I’ve yet to find the smart alec who tries to embed the whole video,  though I reckon it’s just a matter of time….). A shorter video could be used for a more traditional dictation type exercise.

As learners have to generate their own language there is a lot of potential for checking their word and sentence level writing skills. It is then easy to add developmental feedback and ask learners to return to their work and improve it.

Step-by-step guide (Moodle Wikis)

  1. Make sure that you have editing on – click on the button on the left hand side.
  2. Wiki: EditingSelect Wiki in the Editing Menu (where you want to place the wiki)Wiki:Editing Menu
  3. Enter a title and instructions for your learners. You should add a link to the YouTube video in this section. In theory there should be a way of embedding the video in this section, but I have yet to get this to work – your Moodle installation may be different. If you can embed it here, it will be better for your learners as it keeps everything together. Wiki:Title
  4. Select  student wiki (not group or teacher).Wiki: Type of Wiki
  5. Ensure that you save your Wiki!!Wiki: Save
  6. Students can switch between view (where they can see their page) and edit (where they can edit their page) using the tabs indicated.Wiki:Tabs
  7. After students have created their page (and saved it) you can go into their page and edit it – I usually colour code their errors and add comments (thanks to my colleague Sandra for that idea)Wiki:Feedback
  8. Students can then go back and edit the page further, having benefitted from your feedback. You can use the history tab to retrieve earlier versions should you wish to compare them.

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Workshop for the RaPAL Conference – University of Greenwich – 16/07/2010

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A lot has been written about the implications for Google Street View in terms of privacy; I don’t think that there’s much to be added to that discussion, and the implications are probably still not clear. For what it’s worth, I think I found myself in this picture:

Having said that, even I can’t really tell if that face in the crowd is me – So I won’t be losing any sleep over it yet. If you know where to look, you can find my flat – but to be fair, I’d be more worried, if you just came down the road and found it for real, so I’m probably OK.

What I’m more interested in is how this tool can be used in language classes; as you will see from this page:https://classroom201x.wordpress.com/teaching-links/authentic-materials/ , I’m really interested in using authentic materials in language teaching. What could be more authentic that looking at the real streets outside! Until recently the place where I work was completely off Google’s radar, but now they’ve found us, I thought that I ought to make the most of it:

I’m going to give a list of the ways that I’ve been using Street View in the classroom – but I’d really love it if you could add any ideas, or anything that you’ve done with it underneath… Now that’d be great!

Grammar: Present Continuous

I’ve often used images to look at this area of grammar. Google now gives you a supply of safe, relevant images to use for this. Learners can zoom in on specific scenes and describe what is happening. There are some limitations to this in  street view, due to the way both English grammar and street view  work, this area of language works best in ‘busy’ scenes, while many of the areas pictured in street view, at least in the patch of suburban East London where I work are fairly empty. I recommend giving learners a ‘busy’ local location to look at and describe:

Describing local area: (Neighbourhood nouns & adjectives; there is/there are…)

Everyone’s natural response to seeing Street View is to look for their own house, which strangely enough looks very similar to how it did when they left it this morning! Don’t stop your learners doing this, exploit it and  get learners to describe their local neighbourhood. Get learners to give their partners tours around their neighbourhood describing the things they see:


Giving and following directions is one of those perennial topics which comes up in language classes – and street view can really help with contextualisation.

What you have to make sure is that you can use it as a stimulus to get learners to produce language, rather than just looking at the pictures. The example embedded here is the result of a search for driving directions from Google but you might find it better just to ask students to explore and try to find their way between known local points. To increase the amount of language being produced, ask learners to produce a written/typed paragraph giving directions in pairs; the only big problem with this is that it can be a bit slow still (Maybe not the case if you have a Korean super-connection, but here in the UK, it’s a bit sluggish).

Contextualising Coursebook Material

You can use street view as extra contextualisation for teaching materials. Here’s an example: In the much-maligned Skills for Life ESOL materials, there is a whole unit based around community life in Clitheroe : Available here: Entry 3 Unit 7. Given that it’s the other end of the country, few of my learners are familiar with Clitheroe – Street View gives them the chance to see what it’s like:

Of course, this depends on whether the coursebook has used an authentic map, or was written hoping that they wouldn’t get found out!

This use leads neatly on to:

Finding places of interest

As well as adding context to course book materials, you can choose your own places of interest, and get learners to explore them – i.e.

Central London

Take your learners for a wander around the West End – Get them to plan a day out in Town (and write it down!)


See the Scottish Capital, how could your learners describe it?


Get students to ‘walk around’ Stonehenge and try to work out what it is for.


Or just take them down to the beach – we do go to the beach in England, you know!

Technical Considerations

If you want to use street view together with the whole class, it is easy enough to project it on to an Interactive Whiteboard and just navigate around with your hand (this is good for using your local neighbourhood as a virtual flashcard) .

However, if you got the facilities it’s easy to use this resource with individual learners or small groups. Google provides link codes for every possible view on street view – this means that you could just email your learners a list of links for them to use, or add those links to a VLE, such as Moodle. The links take students to the standard Google Maps interface. To get the direct link, click on the link icon at the top right-hand side of the street view window:

Google Link Code

Click here to generate link or embed codes from Google Maps/Street View

Personally, I think the best way is to use the embed codes provided by Google. This should work for any content management system that allows you to input HTML – it’s what I’ve done on this page, using WordPress (See here: Instructions for embedding Google Maps into WordPress ) I assume that Edublogs works in the same way. When you click on the link button, there is an option to edit the embedded map. This allows you to edit the size of the map window. On this page I’ve kept the windows fairly small, so it doesn’t take too long to load, however with students I would want to give them a larger window to play with. Don’t worry if you know nothing about HTML – you don’t actually need to understand the code to paste it into the required location – it just works by itself.

With my learners I’ve embedded Google maps into Moodle; just cut and paste the HTML code provided into the HTML editor on Moodle pages ( look for the button that looks like this: <>).

Moodle HTML Editor

Click here to switch to HTML editor

I’ve had a few problems getting this to work exactly as I would like in Moodle. Not all the modules seem to be able to embed it – I really want to put it into a forum, but haven’t been able to yet. This may just be a problem with our installation of Moodle, I don’t know – I’m not really that techie. Anyway, I haven’t had any problems embedding Street View into a Moodle webpage so my solution is to create a webpage and then link to that from the forum – not ideal, but it works.


Before using street view with my students I did ask if anyone on Twitter had any suggestions, and I’ve taken some here from Sue Lyons-Jones (@esolcourses) and Mike Harrison (@harrisonmike). Thanks for that!

Stop press

Just found a great video on YouTube with some more suggestions:

Also a handout to use in class:


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There are many debates about the differences between EFL and ESOL/ESL (Most are detailed in this report whether you agree with it or not, it’s worth a read – maybe even a blogpost sometime…). Having taught both, I think some of these distinctions are overstated, but there are considerations which must be borne in mind.

One of the areas where I think this distinction is clearest is with Entry 1 (beginner) groups. The profile of the average student is rather different than the profile of the average beginner in the countries that resources are made for; commercially produced EFL resources tend to be largely unsuitable for beginner EFL/ESOL classes. An obvious consequence of this is that it can be very difficult to find resources to use with beginner ESOL classes without creating them all from scratch.

I’ve mentioned the site before, but one of the best places to find these resources is the TALENT website, which is maintained at ‘The London Strategic Unit‘ based at the Institute of Education (University of London). Among other useful resources, it features a repository for practitioner created materials. Crucially, it is a well-used and well-stocked repository and probably the best I’ve seen for ESOL or Skills for Life courses. You have to register to download or upload resources, but it’s well worth it (especially given that it takes about two minutes and costs nothing). As the repository is more or less unmoderated, the quality does vary, a useful feature that you can use is to search by author; Once you’ve found a resource you like, you can other things created by the same person very easily.

Here I would like to recommend the resources created by Seema Kazmi as being perfect for Entry 1 ESOL classes. Typically these resources are downloadable in .doc format, leaving them easy to edit. The files consist of a series of pages, with visual representations of the language to be presented. These can be cut out to create card matching activities, or left together as worksheets (or both). There are also exercises on spelling and word order and crosswords. The focus on the activities are vocabulary development, word recognition and spelling, I usually try to include some pronunciation practise as well.

The topics all integrate with the Skills for Life learning materials which makes things simpler if you use those resources normally. If not, they are still relevant to many ESOL students’ needs.

As the files are all Word documents, it is simple to exploit them in other ways. I have copied the images into Tarsia to create word and picture matching puzzles. I’ve also used the Barking College e-template resources (see here) to create interactive vocabulary and spelling exercises for uploading into Moodle, or using with a Smartboard as a warmer or learning check activity.

The best thing about these resources are the number of ways that you can use them; you can adapt the materials and the way you use them for each class that you teach. They are also an excellent example of how the internet can be used to share ideas and resources.

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I though I ought to write about the eCPD PDA programme that I’m taking part in. The session I went to in January was an interesting opportunity to get a good idea of what the rest of the programme would be all about and also to get some new ideas.

We used a text wall to start off the session which looked like an interesting resource… I’d need to get my college to pay the £25 annual fee and my students to pay to send me their texts… But I can see that it could be a great feedback or reflection exercise to pull out at the end of a lesson. The site used to power it is http://www.xlearn.co.uk/sms.htm

Another tool which also really caught my imagination was etherpad – it just seemed to be a fantastic resource for getting semi-anonymous feedback from students. I’m trying to think how I could use it in a class… Setting up small groups to do some collaborative writing exercises could be useful – I think it would be a bit unmanageable for a whole class set-up. I guess I could also use it for a collaborative webquest activity – If I uploaded or created a grid and then got students to find information and add their own comments, it could lead to an interesting and useful lesson.

I also think that one of the most useful resources around is the programme’s own website – there are loads of resources and information, and a very active forum. The forum seems to be a really good place for ideas to bounce around in at the moment, and while it’s contextualised for the UK FE sector, anyone interested in innovation in teaching and learning should give it a look; you have to register, but it’s worth it!

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