Time it right: Give times for online events in GMT

It’s quite important to give times for events you are holding online in GMT.  GMT is the lingua franca of times, or the common denominator currency that lets people all over the world relate their local times to everyone else’s.

If I hold an event and tell you that it will be at 4 pm in the UAE, everyone who gets that message is going to have to work out the time in their zone.  Even if I tell you that UAE is GMT +4, that’s enough mental barrier to create doubt about when an event is.  Much better to simply give the time in GMT in the first place.

This means that everyone should know their time in GMT, but that’s not much harder than knowing the value of your currency in Euros or dollars.  If you tell someone that a price is 350 dirhams, that’s not going to mean much to many, leaving everyone else to have to do their individual conversions. Saying something will cost $95 makes it more immediately meaningful.

The moment that someone sees the message is often the moment they decide to buy or attend. The next moment they are off to the next message.  Giving out times in GMT makes it much more likely the person can make that decision on the spot, yes I’m free at that time, or no, I’ll be asleep. If they can decide right away, there is a much greater chance they will attend if they can.

One place to work out times is http://www.timeanddate.com/


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When you select Event Time Announcer you can fill in the details as shown


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And this generates a page with a URL showing the time of your event in dozens of locations around the world, like this:

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?msg=Skype+chat+with+stud…

For further convenience I usually make a TinyURL that will be more email friendly than the link from timeanddate.com


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to produce: http://tinyurl.com/2013feb24gmt1700

One more thing, don’t confuse GMT with London time.  London time leaps forward and falls back at certain times of the year.  GMT time is not always time in UK.  Confusing that has caused many to miss their online appointments.  However, GMT and UTC are equivalent, as far as synchronizing watches is concerned.

Final tip: This tutorial was produced by making screenshots in Jing <http://jingproject.com> and sending them into the cloud at screencast.com.  Then the URLs for the images were used in this Posterous blog post, and Posterous converted them to the imagery you see here.  No saving to disk or uploading files from there, just launch Jing, crop, post to the cloud, and paste the URL in your tutorial.  Quick, easy, and effective!

[evonline2002_webheads] Your advice requested

using this to see if I can generate a logo from URLs

 

Media_httpr31cooltext_cegmg

Media_httpr34cooltext_ogqoy

Media_httpr25cooltext_jkizg

 

 

Vance’s message is, as usual, of enormous help; and (I suppose) we should thank him mightily for it.

On the other hand, maybe he should be harshly scolded, flamed to bits, told to get his head on straight!

For Gosh Sakes, Vance — Enjoy every single second at the Black Sea. Tbilisi is, I know, Old World fascinating, almost like going back to Lisbon circa 1920’s. The beer’s good, so is the cheese, everything is a fraction of that in the West….people to see, places to go, things to do…..and there you sit, writing messages to your herd!!! Like a world class race horse made to plough a muddy field in a hard rain. Shame. Shame. Shame,.

Why not just go out and RUN!!!

But, we love you Vance, in spite of your faults. Don’t ever forget that!!!!

John Hibbs

[evonline2002_webheads] Your advice requested

Greetings from the Black Sea, Georgia, where I’m sipping coffee with wifi in an all-day wait for a night train to Tbilisi.  I must say Batumi is a charming place to have to wait, old world European charm and Gaudi ambiance by the sea.

Since I’m posting this to post@vancestevens.posterous.com I will explain that it is written in reply a question on the Webheads list, about how one can: “set up a website where volunteer teachers and tutors can post questions about grammar (like a YahooGroup or a forum), but I’d also like to be able to post resources (including videos) in a way that they will be easy to locate (like a wiki). In my experience, files uploaded to a Yahoo Group tend to be forgotten unless there are constant reminders in the Messages. There are 300 teachers and tutors; not all will be technologically savvy, so the site(s) should be easy to learn and use. What do you recommend?”

My reply:

I have grown increasingly fond of Posterous to do what you are suggesting.  You mention uploading videos and these are often displayed by Posterous when only the link is mentioned.  They have automatic plugins for YouTube and Slideshare, and all my Jing image captures and screencasts are displayed on supply of only the link.  This makes it incredibly easy to create tutorials such as the one’s you can find in this blog; e.g.

Here I find the workflow of creating tutorials to be much simplified when I get a screen I want to display, annotate it as you see in Jing (could be a recording of the process a la Russell Stannard <http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/> upload it in a click to Screencast.com, and then paste the URL into the blog post I’m writing.  Previously I had to create the capture image, store it on my computer, then upload it to the document I was working on, and often i had to keep track of which order the images should appear in the blog, but here it’s all on the fly, so much easier, faster.

Posterous has interesting ways for people to subscribe to the blog and then post to it themselves if you wish (by making them writers), or at least make comments either on the blog, or in response to email.  Subscribers are emailed when posts are made and they can comment by replying to the email (they can also email posts or make them directly at the website – great for people who will write emails easily but hesitate to go online and post to a blog.

You can try the look and feel by subscribing to http://vancestevens.posterous.com. You might have to seed the process first time after that by making a comment in the blog in the normal way, but subscribers should get an email with your comment, and when I get mine, I’ll reply, and you can see how the replies to emails stack up as comments on the posts.  You’ll see that it’s different from replies to YGroups, which are as you pointed out stored online but only loosely threaded, not in a way that they can be easily seen as they can in a blog format.

I’m also using Posterous for http://learning2gether.posterous.com, where I take advantage of the fact that Posterous creates a media player for any mp3 I upload, and by using Feedburner I can make a podcast out of that.  I also found a way to add an Odiogo text to speech widget to my sidebar (not straightforward as with Blogger) as you can see at http://justcurious.posterous.com.  And I’ve described more how I’m using this with students here:

Hope this helps explain and illustrate what I’m finding to be a useful way of loosely joining many small pieces (from David Weinberger <http://www.smallpieces.com/index.php>🙂

 

Meanwhile, here is some commentary via the traditional YahooGroups list (this one from Bee)

Like Michael, I would tend to use wikispaces and Google – however, WordPress is announcing a learning management platform for this fall, which allied to Buddy press may be a winner.
http://wpmu.org/wordpress-as-a-learning-management-system-move-over-blackboard/

The link to the new WordPress coming up this fall is
http://wplms.org/

One tool, whose format looks interesting for questions, is Stack Exchange and there is an English site for English language and usage – you may want to open one for grammar🙂
http://english.stackexchange.com/

A bit of research on student attitudes towards working with Prezi

Wiziqpres19jul2012

Abstract

Vance Stevens presents and discusses a course on presentation skills which he designed. Working with EFL college students who each have laptop computers, he engaged them in communicative and constructivist task-based activities in working with Web 2.0 software tools he introduced to the students: Prezi, Jing, Blogger, Google Docs, Slideshare.net, and SurveyMonkey. This talk presents results of a poll of the students on their attitudes toward using Prezi in place of PowerPoint, and presents evidence from their blogs and from their choice of SurveyMonkey as a tool for creating their own questionnaires, of their enthusiasm for learning and using these tools for academic communications.

Introduction

I am teaching a course on Academic Communication at a military college in the UAE. Modules in the course include one on ‘mottos’ and another on ‘surveys’. In order to engage students and ensure their interest, various software tools were introduced that were new to the students; e.g. Prezi, Jing, and SurveyMonkey. 

Prezi

Prezi was used in the first module.  The students were asked to research mottos, or slogans, for the environment. They were then tasked with learning to use Prezi and then to use Prezi to create online presentations promoting those modules.  Prezi was used in part because mindmapping was a suggested strategy in the students’ textbook (Viewpoints by Steven Gershon), and this happens to be the default template for organization in Prezi.  But mainly it served as a way to get students engaged hands-on in learning a new tool, coping with the media-assisted language learning inherent in the Prezi tutorials <http://prezi.com/learn/>, and then getting them to apply their new knowledge in a way that created artifacts on the Web and empowered the students to communcate through them in the target language.  A social element was present in that the presentations were submitted as part of an annual Earth Day event, and the students were aware through this device that they were connecting to other students worldwide (Adams, Montagne, Rodriguez, and Stevens, 2012).

SurveyMonkey

Knowing that the module following the one on mottos was on surveys I modeled what I was about to ask the students to do by creating a survey in Surveymonkey and asking them about their attitudes toward working with Prezi.  One feature of SurveyMonkey is that it creates visualizations of the results.  Paid versions of SurveyMonkey allow users to download their charts, but the free version prints SAMPLE on the download; however, it displays the charts, where screen captures can be made. The students will use screen-captured visualizations of their data as objects in PowerPoint presentations and upload these to http://slideshare.net further down the road on their learning journey.  Their task at the end of that journey is to use the PowerPoint to mount an effective presentation on what they have learned from their own surveys, and add their Slideshare links to their burgeoning e-portfolios.

For their projects, students drafted their questionnaires in Google Docs to get teacher feedback on them. This was useful because many students needed help in visualizing how their questionnaires would appear to respondents. Some students polled themselves in writing their questions, asking for example, what country would you like to visit and why (the answer choices were countries the student wanted to visit and reasons he wanted to visit those countries). Other students asked questions such as, how many players on a football team (10, 11, 12), or which team won the world cup in 2008, and Google docs was a means of guiding them to direct their questionnaires at opinions, not facts. 

When it came time to create the actual questionnaires, all but one of the 85 students chose to do it in SurveyMonkey.  They were given the option to use the more familiar Word, which the one student did, but the fact that the remaining students all managed without significant difficulties to open SurveyMonkey accounts, add questions and choose appropriate answer formats, go back and edit their questions when necessary, “send” their surveys for data collection, and notify the teacher of the URL, speaks volumes to the ease of use of the program. To assist the process, I created a tutorial and placed it online 
<http://vancestevens.posterous.com/creating-and-publishing-surveys-in-survey-mon>.

Jing

In order to place objects in PowerPoint the object must be uploaded from a file on your computer. The students can screen-capture the charts generated by SurveyMonkey in Jing <http://jingproject.com> and save them as files on their computers.  

Alternatively Jing allows saving screen captures in the cloud in which case it returns the URL for where that screen shot resides.  Happily, the Posterous blog platform I in which this article appears accepts URLs for images and displays the images themselves in the post, as you see here. This enables us to easily utilize screenshots in tutorials, such as the one explaining how students can create accounts in SurveyMonkey and create their surveys there, at the URL above. At a later stage, I had only to right-click on the images here, save them on my computer, and upload them to my PowerPoint presentation.

Purpose of this posting (different from the purpose of the study)

I’m getting a little ahead of myself.  The purpose of this post is to model how to conduct a survey in SurveyMonkey, how to use capture the results in screen shots from SurveyMonkey, and finally, using language similar to that modeled in this post, report on the data.

Here is where we start in SurveyMonkey


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Model report on the study

This survey was conducted to see how students responded to working with Prezi, an Internet presentation site that was completely unknown to them when they were asked to make presentations on mottos or slogans for the environment.  The survey was offered to approximately 85 second-year male UAE-national college students taking an Academic Communication course via its URL linked from the class wiki portal <http://acommunications.pbworks.com>. Approximately a third of the students, 34 in all, responded to the survey.

Responses were highly favorable toward working with Prezi, 85.3% of the students said they liked working with it, and over a third said it was easy (not difficult) to learn.


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I asked if there was any preference for Prezi or Powerpoint.  When told they would be using Prezi, many students complained that they wanted to use PowerPoint because they were already familiar with it. They didn’t see why they needed to learn a new presentation tool.  Perhaps those who didn’t want to change were in the 2/3 that didn’t respond to the survey, but of those who responded, three quarters said they prefered Prezi to PowerPoint


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I was curious how the students accepted the mindmapping approach to presentation as opposed to the linear approach inherent in PowerPoint. Over three quarters of the respondents said they preferred the mindmap approach.


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I asked if the mindmapping approach used in both the students’ textbooks and echoed in Prezi helped them with organization of their presentation. 88% of the respondents thought it did.


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Finally I asked if they thought we should teach Prezi to future students at the college, and again three quarters of those who responded thought we should.


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Qualitative data from Blogger

One part of the syllabus for this particular course is to keep a journal to reflect on learning.  One obvious option is for students to keep a blog.  As all the students have Google accounts, Blogger seemed a logical choice for a blog platform.  For the great majority of the students, perhaps all of them, this was their first experience with either consuming or creating blogs.

The posts made shortly after the Prezi module tended to express appreciation for having learned a new tool, especially as this tool appears to have been viewed as an easier and more versatile option to PowerPoint. For example, one student says <http://nc13striver.blogspot.com/2012/05/during-my-school-time-i-did-many.html> “I found out about Prezi but i’ve never thought i would ever use it in my life. But fortunately here in the Naval College I got the chance to learn how to use it. It’s actually much easier and more fun than PPT and i enjoy presenting using it. I have already made some pretty good Prezi’s: 

All the students’ blogs can be browsed here:
http://acommunication.pbworks.com/w/page/53399451/week8#Seewhatblogsyourfellowstudentshavecreated

 

Discussion

It appears from these results that Prezi was well received by the third of the students who chose to respond to the survey.  In their blog posts, which most of the students completed, students largely appeared satisfied with their experience with Prezi and and found it easy and enjoyable to use.  Quantitative data from SurveyMonkey appear to corroborate that impression.

References

Adams, S., Montagne, M., Rodriguez, J. and Stevens, V. (2012). Collaborative Learning for Teachers and Students: Earth Day and Earthbridges. TESL-EJ, Volume 16, Number 1, pp. 1-14: http://www.tesl-ej.org/pdf/ej61/int.pdf. Also available at http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume16/ej61/ej61in/ .

Gershon, S. (2008).  Present yourself 2Viewpoints. New York: Cambridge University Press, 87 pages.

An end-of-term update was published in TESL-EJ: 

Stevens, V. (2012). Web 2.0 Toolkit for Teaching and Learning EFL Presentation Skill. TESL-EJ, Volume 16, Number 2, pp. 1-11: http://tesl-ej.org/pdf/ej62/int.pdf. Also available at: http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume16/ej62/ej62int/

Presentation via WiZiQ to 2012 ELTAI Conference in Vellore, India

 

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/vances/engaging-students-eltai-19july2012-stevens

ELTAI Conference portal: http://www.eltaiconferences.com/Conference.html

Program: http://www.eltaiconferences.com/Pdf/conferenceprogram12.pdf

Recording: http://www.wiziq.com/online-class/906483-engaging-students-with-technology-in-web-2-0-english-classes

Podcast: http://vance_stevens.podomatic.com/entry/2012-07-23T01_03_41-07_00


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50 word abstract: 

EFL college students with laptop computers were taught survey techniques as a communicative, constructivist task-based lesson activity. Using Prezi, Jing, Blogger, and SurveyMonkey, the teacher modeled polling the students on their attitudes toward using Prezi.  Student blogs and poll results show enthusiasm for learning using these tools for academic presentations. 

 

Facebook Feedback


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Creating and publishing surveys in Survey Monkey

Here is how to create surveys in Survey Monkey, http://surveymonkey.com

Sign in

  1. First create an account
  2. Once you have an account you can either
    1. Sign in using that account name
    2. or LINK it to your Google Account and sign in from then on using Google


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Once signed in, CREATE a survey


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Title your survey, choose any category, click CONTINUE


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On the next page, you’ll most likely want to just ADD a QUESTION
but you can also pull down the arrow for the options shown.


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In the question popup box, write in one question at a time.

  1. Select a question type from the pull down menu (applies to current question only)
  2. Scroll to Answer Options and write in answers one per line
  3. Save when done.
    1. Save and ADD to add a next question in this survey
    2. Save and CLOSE when you are finished creating your survey


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Set up the answers one per line, as shown


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If you want your respondents to write in their own answer (in case you haven’t thought of all possible answers) you can include an “Other” field, like this:


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RANKING is another useful question type


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Either keep Saving and ADDING Questions, or save and CLOSE the survey
You can come back and EDIT this later if you wish. 

When done, review your questions and then SEND your survey


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This gives your survey a link


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Send this link to your teacher and to anyone who you want to answer your survey

Your teacher might ask you to edit your survey


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And when it’s ALL GOOD the link will appear at the class wiki http://acommunication.pbworks.com


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How to capture your results

Once you’ve collected some data, you visit your acct in Survey Monkey, visit your survey, click on analyze results, expose your charts, and capture them using Jing.

This article shows how to make screen captures with Jing of your results.  

 

Lesson Plans: Illusions from Wind Virtual University

Maybe you can work this into a class as a filler, or as a prompt for a lesson from your syllabus.

Obviously, this came to me over Facebook.  I included the FB context because that could be a part of the discussion. You could crop that out if you wanted, but the first picture is already cropped from the full one. 

I would show students the first one and get them to talk (or write) about whatever it suggests.

half photo:


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Then show them the full picture, and get them to discuss the illusion

full photo:


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For more interesting photos from Wind Virtual University, http://facebook.com/Shahram.Design 

Teaching teachers how to create simple Link Loops

Step-by-step explanation

I’m teaching teachers how to create simple link-loops.  By link-loop, I mean create two web pages and link them to one another, so a click on the first takes you to the second, the second links back to the first, and so on.  In my first try I learned quite a lot about what our average teachers know and don’t know about the concept.

I wanted to teach them using the simplest tools possible. All our teachers have Google accounts, so I decided to have them create two Google Docs, make them public on the web, and insert a link in the first to the second, and to the first from the second.  I created another Google Doc, also public on the web, and shared it with the half dozen teachers, so that they could write in the link to one of the web pages so we could all see if their links worked.

I tried to get them to visualize that their first link could become their class portal, while the second one represented any one of numerous links they would later set up to link from the portal (and include a link back to the portal of course). Since the class portal created in Google Docs has an unwieldy URL, I got them to create a mnemonic TinyURL for it.

I modeled the process with my own portal created for the session: http://tinyurl.com/ncpd2012june

To further illustrate, I created a link from there to the page where they could record their results, http://tinyurl.com/ncpd2012teachers. These two pages form a link loop (you can link from one to the other) and on the latter page you can link to all the teachers’ link loops. I later filled in the second page with details on what happened.

If you are following this so far, depending on your prior knowledge of what this is about, you might find this so-what? simple or exceedingly complicated.  This was the range of reactions I encountered when I tried to teach it (you can read more about those at the second link).  

It’s probably mostly my fault if I made it appear complex.  To resolve that problem, one of the attendees requested step by step instructions, which I decided to put in a Posterous blog, because then I could take Jing screenshot and share them online, and their URLs would display here as the underlying images.

So, if you are trying to create two Google Docs and link them to one another online, here’s what you do, step by step:

  1. Log on to your Google account and create two Google Docs like this


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  2. You’ll need to track where you are in the link-loop so give each of your pages a title, like this:


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    and this


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    Now your HOME folder in Google Docs should show the two new files


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  3. The two files you created are by default PRIVATE only to you.  To make them web pages you need to CHANGE their privacy setting to make them public on the web (they can be public to anyone who searches in Google for them, or public only to people to whom you give the link; either setting will make them web pages).

    Start with the blue SHARE button


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  4. Click on CHANGE, select a privacy setting, and click SAVE 


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  5. To make it easy for your students to reach the page, copy its URL


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  6. Paste the URL into http://tinyurl.com and give it an easy-to-remember tiny URL


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    Click Make Tiny URL! and it should look like this:


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  7. Do the same with the second page, only this time, making a TinyURL is not necessary. The purpose of the TinyURL is to give you an entry into the loop.  Once you’re n the loop you can make it work with embedded links.

  8. Now in the first page (your PORTAL) you need to place your LINK to the SECOND page. To do this, use the SHARE/privacy settings to find the link to the second page, copy it, highlight text in the document being linked FROM, and click on the LINK TOOL


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  9. When you click on the link tool, you can paste the URL in the dialog box and click OK


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  10. Almost done! Now you need to go to the second document and put in a lnk to the first (the portal in this case), and if you’ve done it correctly, you should be able to go to the entry point (http://tinyurl.com/mynew-portal in this case) and bounce from one to the other, like this:


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Finally, If you attended the PD session June 11, 2012, or if you just want to comment on these materials, then please complete the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2S96KVK