Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year starts off slowly

2008 is here and I have a head cold, and am slogging through essays and assignments on my holiday days off. Sigh...
Anyway, found a good website on technology at BBC Technology . They had a predictions for technology in 2008 section.
I found this thanks Twitter.. again.
The issue with not being able to add or search for new Twitter people to follow has been solved by 3rd party software called Terraminds - it lets you search for names you might know. link to Terraminds.
One of the best ways to add Twitter links though, is if you've found someone interesting check out their Twitter profile page and check all the avatars for all the people they are following. By clicking the chosen avatar image you will be taken to that profile page and can easily click "Follow", or not.
That's how I found the BBC technology site. It now sends me regular tweets about new tech articles.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

More thoughts on using Moodle for EFL classes in a Korean university

Having spoken now to various teachers about online systems for university EFL postings I am leaning towards Moodle because it is a Course Management System rather than just a bulletin board, or a Content Management System like Joomla or TikiWiki.

I think that Wikis are too technically difficult for EFL students to use at less than advanced level - considering how much difficulty most native-English speaking, computer-literate students in FET 8611 are still having with kG use, I wouldn't consider this for use in Korea.

However, it seems that Moodle is coming up as a good candidate as I have spoken to 3 English teachers who use it successfully with Korean university students. There are no sign up problems reported like the awful mess I had with phpBB, and it is secure and reasonably stable. The only problem I have heard reported about Moodle was the board content suddenly disappeared mid -semester, and was only re-instated after the adminstrator updated to the latest version of Moodle. Something to watch out for, I guess. Also I heard that there is a steep learning curve to set it up for courses, but once it's up and running it's pretty easy to maintain.

So now that I am sure Moodle is free and suitable for use with Korean university students I feel more confident to go ahead and explore its application. I will have to change my Assignment 2 proposal though...and ditch phpBB. There's no point in putting any more energy into an insecure, redundant system that I have no intention of using again for classes.

Friday, December 21, 2007

FET 8611 - Where is everyone?

Well, after the initial flurry of cyber activity in FET8611, everyone seems to have gone to ground.
My thinking is that there are so many disparate elements - personal blog, many kG pages, and multiple forums on the Moodle course environment that it is difficult to know where to post stuff to get a response. I was wanting some feedback on the talking heads animation stuff and maybe finding a partner or 2 to test out the effectiveness of email contributions (ie. starting an animated show and then emailing it to a friend for them to add more dialogue and so on) but there is just no response.
The SHOUTBOX on kG seems a dead loss mostly, and the kG pages don't seem to be updated by their facilitators often enough to get questions answered on the topics.

I am experiencing problems with Twitter and I have had no answer from the other Twitter users, despite direct questions on Twitter, kG SHOUTBOX, the kG Twitter wiki page, or even from Twitter management!
Very frustrating...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm wondering where this kind of talking head animation would fit into educational settings? I used a Comedy Central comedian animation powered by OddCast in my conversation class last year to deliver messages to my Korean EFL students, and I encouraged the students to use it themselves - although I think they found the technical instructions a bit too complicated.
Given the huge popularity of video computer games and the fact that even movies now, like Boerwolf, are being made to look like computer games, maybe this would be a good way of reaching children & teens who are resisitant to normal text-book based learning environments.
Here is a site that allows users to make their own animated Tv shows;
Jaduka TV

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A new CMS - Joomla

Just discovered a new CMS (content management system). Joomla
Thanks again to Twitter.
I wonder how it compares to Moodle? It seems a little more colorful and easy on the eye at first glance, and it purports to be extremely easy to set up and use.

here's a school website made in Joomla (Thanks to Mrs-Banjer on Twitter):

Friday, December 14, 2007

Considering Moodle for Assignment 2

After thinking a lot about the shortcomings of using a public community board like phpBB for university class use, I am now considering using Moodle, mainly because it is secure. I can give the students a one-time initial invitee password to get in and we can set up classrooms etc. This would totally circumvent all the unwanted outsiders dropping in with their pornography, and gambling links, spam etc.

One of the the new teachers at my university in korea -( who incidentally is just completing his M.Ed at USQ too, but didn't do FET8611, only the Internet-based langauge learning courses) - has just shown me his student site. I will check out what he is doing.
I actually thought that Moodle cost money _ I guess I assumed that a big university like USQ wouldn't be using a free piece of software for academic courses...
So I hadn't considered it for personal use a teacher.
But yes, it's free...
Welcome to Moodle!
"Moodle is a course management system (CMS) - a free, Open Source software package designed using sound pedagogical principles, to help educators create effective online learning communities. You can download and use it on any computer you have handy (including webhosts), yet it can scale from a single-teacher site to a University with 200,000 students".

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thoughts on Assignment 2 - using online forums for Korean EFL classes

After, thinking about Peter's comments on my legal liability of using public forums as a university peripheral course activity I have decided that phpBB is not a very good choice for student postings.
This semester we did have problems with outsiders posting pornography or gambling links, or dating messages on the class boards. As I don't have administrator priviledges this is hard to control. Also I noticed that one of the female students had listed her interests in her personal profile as " pleasing my lover". Uh, oh...

I will have to change my Assignment 2 plan to explore better options of more secure online class activities. I wonder how to create a closed discussion room for only the class members?

Also Peter commented that my use of the discussion forums did not allow for the students to have much control or sense of ownership of the space, but I think in Korean educational culture that is normal. Students don't know how to be self-directed learners, as it's not part of the culture. They have had 20 years of passive rote learning by the time I get them, and they are generally not very motivated students. They think university is meant to be a holiday after the grind of their high school years (they are not allowed to sleep more than 4 hours a night for the last 2 years of their schooling) , and so they expect the university lecturers just to spoon feed them the information. Students in my English composition class complained that I had made them actually write every lesson in a student-centered class!

I think maybe a blog might be more useful for them than a discussion board as they are familiar with making a homepage on Cyworld to post photos etc.
I will have to give it more thought.

problems with Twitter

what has happened to the search function on Twitter?
I only seem to be able to follow people now by sending them an email invitation - that's if I know their email address, which I don't.
I was really getting into Twitter, and discovering some useful Ed TEch people to follow , but now I can't add them to follow as I don't know their email address, only their User name.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Twitter is useful

I looked at the public postings on Twitter today and found a good blog about integrating technology into education by a guy called Glen Moses

He had embeded this thought provoking video:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Plodding on ...

Feeling a little overwhelmed with all the emerging technology. Even the next FET8611 online class discussion was said to be held in 'Wimba". Where or what the *#@! is Wimba? I haven't even got used to Elluminate yet. I wish people (course instructors especially) wouldn't just throw around jargon like that when most of the students probably have no idea what it means. This aspect of the course I find really alienating - many of us don't know the software or the terms and so end up feeling stupid and 'out of the loop'.
Oh yeah, we can Google everything, or open kG and search around but it's tiring having to always do that. I did go to the kG class session sign up Wiki page but under the heading of 'Familiarity with Wimba' was just a blank. It took me a long while to work out that there is a section on the FET8611 course page for the group sessions. There are just so many different cyber places in this course it is very disorientating and confusing.
It would be so easy if the instructor just said, "by the way we will use a new online conferencing system this time. It is called Wimba, and instructions and information about it is here (LINK).It's really easy to use and very similar to Elluminate. We are using Wimba because I want you to have a chance to try out some different software."
Is that too much to ask?