What educators who ‘get it’ are asking one another

Every now and then I get an request like the one below. Now that I
have this Posterous blog it’s pretty easy when replying to create a
blog post and preserve nuggets of wisdom that might otherwise vanish
into my Sent messages folder.

 Also one of my Twitter friends tweeted today that she was wondering
how Pageflakes could be used for language teaching, and I can kill two
birds with this one nugget by pointing her to this post. From that
aspect, this is meant to suggest that students can work on platforms
that generate RSS feeds which can then be run through an aggregator
that creates an attractive display for the harvested content, like
Pageflakes (or Netvibes, or Protopage, or YahooPipes … or for
working on the fly, Addictomatic)

 Here’s the question (somewhat distilled)

 It’s from someone setting up an “after-school English institute for
elementary kids [and wants advice on] an online language learning
system solution for our language institute. Recently, I have come to
see that supplemental online coursework has the potential to deliver
the highly focused learning environment that our kids need … but
what I have seen so far doesn’t do what I want, tends toward adult
learning, and lacks flexibility. I have looked at Blackboard and
Moodle so far in the States. Maybe I am missing something, but I need
something more like the MaxAuthor out of the University of Arizona (I
think) but that one is only for nonprofit.

 Here’s what he wants it to do: “I think kids need even more input and
practice than adults; understanding doesn’t cut it for them … I wish
to upload text that they can read/listen to, provide cloze passages,
pronunciation practice (where students can listen and record as many
times as they want), some dialogs that they record, and so on. Pretty
basic, I guess, unless it got fancy with voice recognition – ideal,
but not required. Of course, student management would be needed. Kids
will do the work at their home computer, not in the institute. They
all have high speed Internet access. I would like to be able to have
a little fun with it. For example, after kids record dialogs, I could
play them back in class, selecting one student’s “A” responses and
another student’s “B” responses. In other words, something that can be
customized, at least in some ways, sometimes.

 Any ideas?”

 My reply:

 I’m thinking a fun thing for your kids would be something like Second
Life, but of course that’s for adults only. Then there is the ‘Teen
Grid’ which excludes adults. Graham Stanley has produced
presentations with details which you can find online (Googling for it,
I came across this article about learning through social networks,
which contextualizes Graham’s work, as noted in the article:
 If your kids are not yet teens then you might consider Quest
Atlantis, an adaptation for education of Active Worlds. Bronwyn
Stuckey is the authority on that: http://www.bronwyn.ws/research/.

 As a platform you might consider a wiki or an aggregator like
Protopage or Pageflakes (or both together mashed up with something
else; Moodle is a bit dry). How about getting them into podcasting
for oral practice. Hook them up with elementary school kids overseas.
 There are a lot of folks podcasting through http://worldbridges.net/
e.g. http://edtechtalk.com/. You would get lots of ideas tuning into
a few of those shows (or plug them into your ear via mp3 while out
jogging). The K-12 Online conference is coming up starting November
30 this year, http://k12onlineconference.org/, where there are sure to
be a number of wired and connected elementary school educators making
presentations about their passion for ed-tech, not to mention the
recorded archives of past K-12 conferences. Check out what Kim Cofino
http://mscofino.wikispaces.com/ and Jeff Utecht
http://www.thethinkingstick.com/ are doing at the International School
of Bangkok. It seems they are always working with 4th and 5th
graders. We’re talking blogs here, and Google Earth, and a spectrum
of web 2.0 tools brought into play, many of which produce RSS feeds.
These are what you’d use to populate your Pageflakes or Protopage (or

 I presume you’ve joined http://webheads.info ?

 If you tap into the communities of educators alluded to above then
we’ll probably hear more from / about you, and you’ll in effect be
connecting to a network of virtual consultants. Let me know how you
get on.

 Meanwhile I realize I probably didn’t answer all the questions
directly about kids doing cloze exercises (sounds like a job for Text
Manipulation, using student work as input perhaps) and recording their
voices, etc.

 Maybe if you have happened on this post and have suggestions you could
leave a comment.


One thought on “What educators who ‘get it’ are asking one another

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