June 19, 2009

Augmented Reality Language Learning

Today I've attended a very interesting presentation and discussion about augmented reality and language learning. Dennis Newson kindly invited all members of Osnagroup in VWLL and Webheads to his villa at EduNation in Second Life. The presentation was given by Howard Vickers/Howie Yoshikawa, who already blogged about his ideas: http://www.avatarlanguages.com/blog/arll/, which I found very interesting.
There was a group of very interesting people at Dennis's villa, Howie's presentation was thought-provoking, I was glad I decided to attend and I am going to write about it tomorrow. It's too late now.

June 8, 2009

Time Machine Lesson

I've just read about a beautiful idea for a lesson plan. It's a lesson in writing and it could be done with students on different levels of English, excellent for teenagers, but also for adults.

Seth Dickens had this idea for the last class ever with his students. He asked them to send him a "Time Machine" email that they will be able to read only in five years' time. He'd set a blog for them for that purpose.

He asked them to reflect on the past years in high school, to write about what they thought they would be doing in five years' time, what they thought their classmates would be doing and to leave a message for the whole class to read in five years time.
He added his students' emails to the blog's Email Notifications service and posted the students' emails. He scheduled their post to appear in exactly five years.

I think the idea is brilliant and only have to check how to make posts appear at a certain point in the future,not immediately.

Seth also mentioned http://www.futureme.org/ , which does the same but for individual users. You can write a letter to your future self and schedule it to get to your email on a date in the future. It looks like fun. I've decided to try a version of Time Machine lesson with my students. This last week of the school year looks like the right time for this kind of activity. Thanks Seth!

May 24, 2009

Joining Facebook

The Pope is on Facebook, HUPE, Croatian Association of Teachers of English, is on Facebook. I should be,too. I've joined and can't wait to see the advantages and disadvantages of Facebook when compared to what I get from Ning, Twiter, Second Life.

Professional development: online conferences vs. f2f conferences

May 9, 2009

SLanguages 2009

Carol's session about building audio posters

Gavin's closing session

Nergiz, Graham and Nick had a presentation about VWLL2009

May 4, 2009

Visiting Zagreb in SL

I have been thinking a lot about starting to teach in SL.
Last week I talked to Gerhilde from talkademy about a possibility of starting a course of Croatian language in SL. Although I have never tried teaching Croatian, I must admit that it sounds tempting. While talking about it, Gerhilde and I visited Zagreb in SL, walked through the center and talked about how it could be used to add attractive content to the course.
Today I've visited Zagreb in SL again. What a funny feeling it is to think of how to create lessons in the streets that I walk every day on the way to my RL school.

May 1, 2009

More on holodecks

Dennis shared some new big scenes in the box with the members of Osnagroup. All scenes were built by Carol, who came to the meeting too and explained again about changing the script.
I was impressed from the very beginning and the first scene, because these scenes were so much bigger and more complex than the rug and cushions from the last session.

Teaching in SL has big potential in this. If I could only drag a box in RL, build a scene and walk into it with my students, and simply take it back in a second after the lesson.

April 26, 2009

Worldbridges webcasting and plans for WiAOC09

Vance Stevens, the webhead who created the webheads' social network on Ning for WiAOC, toghether with webcasters Jose Rodriguez and Doug Symington, organized a meeting at http://webheadsinaction.org/chat. (Worldbridges chat room). Some people joined in Skype. A lot of people participated and there were some good ideas, too.

I liked Gwen's idea to include a Pecha Kucha event. That's a kind of event in which a number of people give power point presentations one after another. Their presentations are special because they can have only 20 slides and can last only 6 min 40 sec. That way presentations cannot be too long or monotonous, sometimes they can even be funny, because presenters need to be very well prepared in order to manage to say all they want in their 6 min 40 sec.

I managed to listen to most of the session. I had to leave from time to time and I couldn't participate in voice because my home was full of very loud 10-year olds - celebrating my son's birthday.


Ronaldo, a webhead from Brasil, had a very interesting idea for his students' blog. He asked his students what makes Brasil a unique country. They had to answer with one word or phrase and two - three photos. He used the text and the photos to make an animoto video. It looks really great.
Other webheads loved it, too, and a few would like to do the same activity with their student about their countries.
I'd loved to make a similar short animoto about Croatia. I immediately searched in my pictures and found a few very nice photos of Croatia,I uploaded them in Flickr, and signed in animoto.

My photos will be my contribution. I'll ask my students to send me some more and their answers. We'll have to choose some Croatian music, too.
I'm looking forward to seeing Croatia and other webheads' countries in a collaborative space. That will be special.

April 25, 2009

Second Life

Every Friday the members of SLexperiments group in SL meet to share new ideas, lesson plans, show some new tools they have discovered or just to chat with friends and have a good time.

Yesterday Daffodil showed some of her new ideas for her lesson on Monday and we tried them to see how they worked.
As usual, Daffodil made a good job and produced some very interesting activities for her students. I especially liked the vocabulary exercise in which she produced boxes from the inventory, the boxes had phrases the students had to match them with various cattegories.
The best part was when she made the activity fun by making the boxes physical and allowing students to kick and move them into the fields with the names of the cattegories.
I wish I could design a similar acitity in RL, not to mention what fun it would be to drag it from an inventory whenever I want and be sure it works.
Teaching in SL gives so many more opportunities for relaxed learning where students can change the place where they learn and not be in the classroom all the time, or they can move, chat and learn much more through doing.

Later, Daffodil and Carol taught Osna, Dorka and me how to create a scene that can be used for teaching. We tried a simple one consisting of a rug and two cushions.

I was very proud of myself when I managed to change the script, record the position of the objects and put my lovely scene into my lovely pink box and then the box into the inventory. I took it out of the inventory without a problem.
That means that you can build any scene you need for your lesson, add any objects you need, and you can produce it in a second from the inventory any time you need. That's wonderful.

Later at night there was a very interesting meeting at Dennis's villa - Osnagroup extra meeting. Unfortunately, Iffaf had to postpone her lecture because of some technical problems Dennis had yesterday, but we had a very interesting conversation. Dennis, Iffaf, Carol and me were present, and Nahir and Mary joined later.
I learned a lot about the differences between virtual worlds like SL, Twinity, Reaction Grid, Wonderland, Metaverse, etc. A few months ago I didn't even know any of these existed. Now I'm learning why different teachers and teacher trainers prefer one over the others.

April 22, 2009

Earth Day - part two

Earth Day has been a busy day for me. A lot of excitement. I managed to organize two events for my students.

I joined the Learntrends online conversation with a small group of students. I was excited and happy to show to my students how to communicate in Elluminate, I wanted them to meet other people from all over the world on this special day and I wanted them to meet the Webheads, too. The Webheads in Action group is the group that I am very proud to be a member of.
This joining the conversation in Elluminate did not go withouot problems. A few of the computers at school didn't work as we wanted and students kept loosing connection, had to log out and in again. Fortunately, I had my laptop and brougth an additional school laptop and we had headsets that worked on them, all other computers had speakers only.
Eager to participate, we decided to use voice right away even if it wasn't time yet for our Webheads Earthcasts. The voice worked too well, but with an echo (from other computers' speakers). I managed to say hello and who we were. We continued listening, agreeing how to mute other computers when in a quarter of an hour we start communicating in voice with other Webheads and their students.
My students were excited to see that there were people there from Australia, Taiwan, Pakistan, the USA, Portugal,...they were happy to chat in text, but I wanted them to use voice,too. Unfortunately, every time we tried to join in voice, our microphone wasn't working. People couldn't hear us. We were a bit sad, kept trying till we had to leave because it was time for other classes.
When I later talked to the students about the event, I found out that although they were unable to use voice, they were very excited to have been a part of the such a nice international event and hoped I'd organize more similar sessions for them in the future.
Two hours later another group of students, mostly those interested in American Studies, but also a few who wanted to learn more about green projects, joined me at the American Corner of the Public Library B. Ogrizović, where The Embassy of the USA organized a very interesting digital video conference with a professor in Pennsylvania, us in Zagreb and the third group - students from Zadar, Croatia. Prof. Pallant from Allegheny College, Pennsylvania, talked to students about green architecture. I had thought that was an interesting topic, but what I learned and saw in that presentation exceeded my expectations. I must admit that I had no idea many of the mentioned possibilities existed. I had never even thought about different uses for the roof of the building, different possibilities of heating, to mention only some. Fascinating. The language prof. Pallant used was easy to follow and the students enjoyed. I was very happy that I brought them. Of course, as always, I was thankful to the people from the Library and the Embassy who organized the event so well.

April 21, 2009

Earth Day 2009

Tomorrow is Earth Day. I've prepared two activities for my EFL students.
The first activity is participating in a project of a 24-hour online conversation (http://bit.ly/WPKGi ). I will join with a small group of students at about 12.30 and I hope, if everything goes well, to find Vance Stevens and some of his students in Elluminate. We can stay for half an hour and then both me and my students have other classes.

I have one class and then I can join Marina Lončar and the organizers from The Embassy of the USA in Zagreb at the American Corner for a DVC with an Earth Day topic for discussion: Green Architecture. I'll take a grop of students who regularly take my American Studies classes and a few more interested either in new technologies or in green projects. The speaker will be prof. dr Eric Palant from Allegheny College, Pennsylvania. I hope students will be active and ask questions because this seems like a very interesting topic.

We are really fortunate to have the library with American Corner where all sorts of interesting activities take place in the neighbourhood. After the conference I have two more classes at my school - with my students of Italian as a foreign language. We can learn some basic facts about Earth Day in Italian. I hope they'll remember we agreed to wear green T-shirts tomorrow.

April 1, 2009

Teaching and blogging about teaching

What role does blogging about teaching have in a teacher's professional development? Can blogging help a teacher teach better? Is it one of the activities that all teachers should start doing regularly as a part of their job? What should and EFL teacher blog about?
I'll try to find answers to these questions in this blog - learning by doing.