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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Personalized Learning

About 10 years ago, I set up the first Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) in female public schools in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  Within one year, the plan was implemented on a small scale (one school).  While it was a lot of hard work for one person, looking back at it, it was the right project at the right time.  Unfortunately, due to the lack of support from the school administrators at the time, it did not reach the level I had anticipated.  Nowadays, technology and education have evolved.  Learning where education is headed gives me butterflies in my stomach from the excitement!

In Craig Howard's article Web 2.0 sites for collaborative self-access: The learning advisor vs. Google® in the Studies in Self-Access Learning (SiSAL) Journal, Howard discusses collaborative self-access language learning.  While he mentions that it is not quite new, he lists the different names it has appeared under: internet-mediated language learning, long distance CMC, and collaborative exchanges to name a few.  Collaborative language learning seems to be one form of personalized learning.  One can personalize it according to age, level, target language, native language, etc  For instance, if I am a native English speaker and my target language is Arabic, I may need to practice not only grammar and writing, but pronunciation as well.  In Arabic, there are many "initially doubled consonants".  For example, "sh" in Arabic is one letter: ش and so one.

Before, language learning was more about joining a language learning class at a language center or buying software that cost upwards of $100, such as Berlitz and Rosetta Stone.  Now, we have open access to language learning websites, many free of charge.  Having previously visited some of English language learning websites, I have decided to list a few that may be of use to the readers:

1.          BBC Languages:
2.          Babbel:
3.          English Central:
4.          EnglishPod:
5.          iTalkie:
6.          Livemocha:

 Let's hope they may be useful to you!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Podcasting: Can You Hear Me? Loud and Clear!

A podcast is a succession of audio or video digital media files that can be downloaded and played on a player such as an iPod.  To be honest, I've only listened to a podcast for class and in truth, it bored me to tears.  The reason?  It was an hour long and the monotone voices were too much to bear.  However, not all podcasts are boring.  Although anyone with an audio file and an internet can make a podcast, it appears that there is an art to successful podcasting.  Here is what I have learned:

  • Make it short (20 minutes is good).
  • Do NOT ramble or talk about your "technical difficulties".  We all have them.  I want to hear what you have to say about the topic.
  • Check out PodCast Awards ( for the highest rated podcasts, all separated by category.
  • Keep in mind your audience.

According to Ashley Deal in Podcasting.  A Teaching with Technology White Paper. from EDUCAUSE, "Many students perceive lecture podcasts as a tool for review, rather than as a replacement for attending lectures".  I tend to disagree somewhat.  If a student is sick, why can't he or she listen/watch the podcast to help make up for it?  Maybe follow it with a summary of the podcast.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Window to Educational Blogging

Blogging: what gives?  People across the world have been blogging for years.  From personal blogs to mommy blogs to adventure blogs to political blogs, it has given many people around the world a platform to express their thoughts and ideas.  While some blogs are funny (, while others are more "business-like" ( ).  Some are a mixture of everything: news, entertainment, health, and so on ( 

Blogging can be a great educational tool.  According to Stephen Downes in EDUCAUSE Review on Educational Blogging:

"The students at St-Joseph are reflective of a trend that is sweeping the world of online learning: the use of weblogs to support learning. And even though the world of fifth grade may seem remote to educators in the college and university system, these students, when they enter postsecondary education, may have had more experience writing online for an audience than writing with a pen and paper for a teacher. Such students will bring with them a new set of skills and attitudes."

It allows students to interact and collaborate online to make their learning richer with new skills.  I, for one, am glad I began this blog for my class as it has given me not only practice, but a platform to speak my mind about technology and education.  I can share videos and links that I think are helpful to others.  I can receive comments and respond (interacting with others).  There is so much blogging can do, especially in education.  We just need to open our eyes..

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mobile Learning

In the past several weeks, we have discussed e-books, open education, participatory learning, shared online video, and many more.  This week, we will discuss mobile learning and where we are headed with it.  In Seeds Of Empowerment, an amazing project brought on by Paul Kim of Stanford University.  They find ways to bring access to an education to those who cannot afford it.  If UNESCO's reports that 400 million people will never see a book in their lives is not motivation enough, then what is.  Seeds of Empowerment's mission is:

"The Seeds of Empowerment team intends to develop and implement projects that will 'plant seeds of hope and opportunity' for the underserved around the world. Our projects use cutting-edge technology to create self-sustaining business models that empower the powerless by improving their access to an education".  Below is a video detailing their Mobile Science Project:

Mobile learning is opening the doors to learn anywhere and at anytime.  Seeds of Empowerment is only one project that is taking off and helping provide those who do not have access to it a global solution.  Where is our contribution?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Virtual Reality and Gaming: The New Direction in Learning?

I must admit that although I think educational games are a great way to learn, I have yet to sit back, relax, and play a few educational games on my iPad.  My kids use it more than I do!  But I am intrigued by virtual reality.  In class, we were presented with QR code, or Quick Response code, that is a two-dimensional matrix barcode (  Basically you scan and wallah!  You get a video or a link to a website or promotional video or whatever it may be.  It is actually quite fun!

Check out the QR code for my blog:


If you have a QR scanner on your smart phone, it will take you directly to my blog.  Aah, the wonders of technology when you finally understand it!

Second Life is another an online virtual world.  Users can create avatars to use it to interact with one another.  At work, people can hold virtual meetings with one another.  In school, it can be used with students interacting with one another.  In the military, there can be virtual "war rooms" for army personnel to practice. 

Here is a look at a YouTube video explaining Second Life for all you visual learners:

Second Life is collaborative, interactive, global, and a learning tool.  As interesting as it may seem, I do not have much interest in it.  Just my thoughts..

Monday, October 31, 2011

Collaborative Learning

One of the articles I read for this week was the Lee and Hutton article "Using Interactive Videoconferencing Technology for Global Awareness: The Case of ISIS" in the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning.  In this article, my attention was on Indiana University's International Studies In Schools (ISIS) program that was a collaboration between Indiana University's Office of International Programs and the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE).  With ISIS, learners interact with people from other cultures or with experts on topics that have global significance.  Such series, such as "European Security Issues in the 21st Century" or "Daily Life in Kenya", give perspective directly from the source.  Teachers contact ISIS to tailor programs that fit their needs.  Whether it is for a geography or a history class, it provides all those involved with a unique learning experience that was not there 15-20 years ago.

No longer is geography or money a barrier in receiving a global education.  I can learn anywhere at anytime.  That's the beauty of it.  And ISIS also offers technical support by Virtual Indiana Classroom Network Operations Support Specialists (VICNOSS).  In interviews from The Case Study at Jamestown, Lee performed an ethnographic study of two middle school classrooms that were using the ISIS program.  He found that teachers provided positive feedback regarding implementation and students were quite interested in the technology.  Of the challenges, the excitement subsided after the initial exposure and there was not sufficient planning in using volunteers for the program.  For more information, you can go to:

Some tools that can be used for collaboration are:
1.      Adobe Connect Pro:
2.      AnyMeeting:
3.      Collanos:
4.      ConceptShare:
5.      Google Groups:;
6.      Google Docs:  
7.      Diigo:
8.      Dimdim:
9.      Elluminate:
10.  Facebook:
11.  Google Hangouts:
12.  GoToMeeting:
13.  GroupTweet:
15.  OpenStudy:
16.  PBworks:
17.  SlideRocket:
18.  Skillshare:  
19.  Skype:
20.  StartWright (virtual teams):
21.  TwitterGroups:
22.  TypeWithMe:
23.  Twibes (Twitter Groups):
24.  Twiddla:
25.  Twitter:
26.  Twitter Groups:
27.  Ustream:
28.  Virtual Edge for Teams:
29.  WebEx:
30.  Wet Paint:
31.  Wikispaces:
32.  Windows Live Groups:
33.  Writeboard:
34.  Yahoo! Groups:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hello YouTubers!

Technology nowadays is allowing media creation and distribution to be cheaper and faster than ever before.  Uploading a video to YouTube is common.  According to "Video Use and Higher Education: Options for the Future" (report by Copyright Clearance Center, Intelligent Television, and New York University),
13 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube per minute.  The following table illustrates what percentage of faculty use video and what type:

People collaborate on videos allowing for more openness and free exchange.  More and more companies are getting free advertisement and influence on the marketplace through video.  What should be of utmost importance is how video is used to further education and humankind.  Now this is just my point of view.  What video does for the world is amazing.  In a previous post, I included a reference to a website called "Nautilus Live".  On it, a person can view a live underwater exploration.  Imagine what type of species one can encounter or how a child's mind can associate with science in seeing something almost right before their eyes?

There are so many websites out there with informational videos that can help direct a person's life goals.  I have found videos on TED to be inspirational, videos on YouTube to be stress-relieving, and videos on MIT's OCW to be educational.  I have found videos on websites like to be informative in world news events.  I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. 

Having tried to figure out ways to overcome the cultural barriers that one might face in certain countries regarding video use, Professor Curtis Bonk suggested using TeacherTube (directed more at teacher use).  He also suggested getting permission from the school administration for viewing a certain list of videos/websites and one can go from there.  Hey, if you've got video, you've got my attention.