Video in ELT: Moving from Passive to Active Part 4 – Annotating (Social Asynchronous Webinar)

Welcome to part 4 of the Social Asynchronous Webinar (SAW) “Video in ELT: Moving from Passive to Active”. You can find all of the posts on this webinar here (from newest to oldest).

In this section, we are discussing the use of videoANT to annotate videos. Watch the video and feel free to add your comments to the video as well.

SAW part 4

Here are links to some of the things I talked about in the video:

I look forward to hearing from each of you as we wind down this first SAW.

Thank you!

 

Video in ELT: Moving from Passive to Active Part 3 – Screencasting (Social Asynchronous Webinar)

Welcome to part three of the first Social Asynchronous Webinar (SAW). Here is where you can find part one and part two along with my initial idea regarding SAWs.

For this section, the focus was on screencasts in the classroom. Below is the link to the videoANT for part three along with links to some of the things mentioned in the video.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 8.24.46 PM

Mentioned in the video:

My post on screencasting using Quicktime Player on a Mac

My post on giving oral feedback for writing assignments

My post on portable apps including CamStudio

Comment from Laura Adele Soracco on using screencasting

Hello everyone!

This SAW idea is incredible. Really like what’s happening here, Nathan :) At the risk of getting a bit off topic, I just wanted to say, since you’ve mention screencast-o-matic, that I find this program really useful to make screencasts of my feedback to students’ first drafts. I do this as an alternative to written feedback when I know the errors are complicated to explain in writing and I want to make sure students can understand me more easily. The nature of your webinar here is making me realize that I could also ask students to use the program to post replies and go over changes with me.

Also, here is a comment this week from Janet McQueen on two teachers who use video and ICT to enhance learning

Hi Nathan

[H]ere are two video clips I think are relevant. They both come from CORE Education EDTALKS series where New Zealand teachers talk about what they are doing especially in ICT.

The first is Amy Park,Engaging parents in transparent classrooms http://edtalks.org/video/engaging-parents-transparent-classrooms.

Amy is actually from Canada and she discusses engaging parents with their children’s learning through the use of technologies. Amy has found that technologies such as blogging and videoing children’s work provides parents with a window to the classroom and helps them feel more connected and better able to be a partner in the learning process. It can be downloaded from http://vimeo.com/50111283.

The second clip follows on from my comments about knowing why you are using a particular tool that you talked about in this weeks video. It is of Claire Amos who is director of eLearning at Epsom Girls’ Grammar. Claire talks about how the school is using a ‘teaching as inquiry’ cycle to inform the eLearning action plans that will be implemented by professional learning groups in each of the school’s curriculum areas. Claire describes the process the teachers are going through in this initiative. Using teaching as inquiry to guide an eLearning action plan you can view it here http://www.edtalks.org/video/using-teaching-inquiry-guide-elearning-action-plan, or download it from http://vimeo.com/50175025.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how you use screencasting and also how you have your students use videos in your classroom.

Video in ELT: Moving from Passive to Active Part 2 – Creation (Social Asynchronous Webinar)

Welcome to part two of the first Social Asynchronous Webinar (SAW). In this section, we look over some of the comments that were given after part one and also recording and sharing videos. Some of the comments were not shared in this section as they are applicable to other upcoming portions of this webinar. For those that commented, thank you so much for your input. I look forward to hearing from all of you on how you have students record and share their videos.

Once again, I am using videoANT for commenting, so feel free to watch and comment. I make a small challenge towards the end of the video and I look forward to seeing (and hearing!) how you do with that. At the bottom of this page, I have included links to all of the things that were mentioned in the video including copies of the comments I referred to.

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 2.22.02 PM

Laura Adele Soracco: “Excited to give a try to some of the tools you’ve mentioned. I can imagine students in an online course using VideoANT to give presentations and get feedback/questions from other classmates. This side bar here is great because it connects to a specific part of the talk.”

“As speaking practice homework, I’ve used YouTube for Ss to record a 2 minute response after watching a video (I’ve given a list of options). Ss then share the link with me. The downside is that it’s a T-S activity as I did it in the past, but I think in the future if I did this, I’d ask students to upload the link to a shared place, like a Wiki or something similar.”

Note: Laura also interviewed me in regards to SAWs. You can read it here.

David Harbinson: “First off, I like the idea of SAW and it looks like you’re off to a good start. I very rarely have my Ss create videos in class, this is mainly because we don’t have access to computers for them to do so (and it’s not possible to set for homework because of the context that I teach in). However, a few times in the past, I have had students use their smartphones to create a video. The one problem I have encountered is that they take many short clips but then don’t know how to stitch them together. I wonder if anyone knows of a good app, preferably free, that Ss can download in class and quickly use to stitch video clips together?”

Janet McQueen: “Thanks for sharing and trialing this new medium for learning. I don’t currently teach so I haven’t used these tools with students but I am interested in the topic. I do write about second language teaching and incorporating the use of technology for school teachers in New Zealand. I think the key to any tool is that we know why we are using it. Is it the best tool to meet our teaching objectives? Also to embed it in our planning to ensure that our teaching is authentic, has academic rigor, uses applied learning, allows for student active exploration and for them to have connections with adults. Of course to do that we first need to know the technological possibilities and be a learner ourselves so we can use the technology as well.”

Mentioned in the video:

Vid.me

VideoShow: Video Editor and Maker (Android)

iMovie (paid) and YouTube Capture (free) (iOS)

YouTube webcam recorder

Edmodo

Blogger

WordPress

Google Drive 

Thank you all for participating. I look forward to hearing what you all have to say!

Portable Apps: A tech toolkit in your pocket


Image courtesy of AmsterdamPrinting

Image courtesy of AmsterdamPrinting


Note: This is for people who want or need to use shared Windows-based computers at work like I do. I personally use a Mac, but I am forced in some situations to work on Windows in my classroom. I will do a post some time on tips for Mac users.

If any of you work in various rooms and offices like I do, you find it frustrating when you move from computer to computer only to find that certain things are not available on one machine or blocked on another. Also, adding programs to computers that are locked-down is a pain. In many of the places I have worked at, it takes days, possibly weeks, to get anything installed on your computer only to have to do it again on a different machine once you move rooms.

My solution has been to make use of online tools, but that isn’t always ideal and if the network is slow or goes down, you are stuck. Many years ago, I came across the website PortableApps.com where legal, open-source / free software has been adapted to run off of a portable drive such as a USB thumb drive. I have made good use of this site over the years and I thought it might be helpful to some of you if I was to give you a rundown of what portable apps are, why they are helpful, and what apps I have found to be especially useful.

How to install an app from PortableApps.com

  1. Go to PortableApps.com and click on ‘Apps’ at the top of the page.
  2. Look through the apps list to find something that you think would be helpful to you. Click on the link on the name.
  3. Read through the description and/or view the screenshot to see if this might be something you would like to install. If you are happy with it, click on the big, green ‘Download Now’ button near the top of the page.
  4. You will be taken to a Sourceforge page and your download should start in about 5 seconds. If it doesn’t start after five seconds, click on the small ‘direct link’ near the top of the page. If you are using a browser that prompts you about a place to download, select a place to download and start the download.
  5. The file you have downloaded is an installer you need to run. Find where the installer was downloaded to and then double-click on the file.
  6. Once the installer starts up, follow these steps:
    1. Click on ‘Next >’
    2. Choose your destination folder (best to select your USB drive or any other external drive) and click on ‘Install
    3. Once it has finished the installation process, click on ‘Finish’
  7. If you have installed it to your portable drive, find the drive on your computer and you will see a new folder labelled by the name of the app. Inside that folder will be the program you can run. Just double-click on it to start it up!

Tips:

  • You can also install to a shared network folder if you have one at your workplace. This makes it easy to access without having to take a portable drive around with you.
  • Save any files you make to the drive as well so you have them with you.
  • Browser plugins such as Adobe Flash can also be installed as per usual.
  • Make sure you eject your drive before removing it.

My favourite portable apps

  • VLC: If there was one program that I think should be installed on every computer, it is this one. VLC is the Swiss Army Knife of media players. It plays basically any type of audio and video files and can even create files as well. You can rip an audio CD to MP3 files to carry with you for class, you can play podcast audio and video files, you can create playlists and bookmarks for your files, you can adjust the volume much higher than most players, and so on. Once day I will do a post on how I use VLC in the classroom. For now, just know that if there is a video or audio file to play, use VLC since it is virtually guaranteed to work.
  • Audacity: This is an audio player, editor, and recorder. This is great for the language classroom. You will need to install a few plugins to make certain files such as MP3 play or record, but that is pretty simple to do.
  • CamStudio: While I tend to use Screencast-O-Matic for screencasting, some schools don’t allow access to Java and with slower internet speeds, it can be a pain. This is a simple tool to make a video of your screen as you work on your computer. It is great for creating video tutorials or mini lessons.
  • Lightscreen: While the Snipping Tool included with Windows 7 and 8 works fairly well, Lightscreen works with older versions and also is a slight step faster than the Snipping Tool. Basically, it allows you to take a screenshot of a section of your screen and automatically saves it as an image.
  • Foxit Reader: While most computers have Adobe Acrobat Reader to read PDF files, Foxit is an alternative. It looks and feels like an Office application and I like the annotation tools better than Reader.
  • PDFTK Builder: This is the PDF Toolkit and it is great for removing pages from a pdf and combine pages as well. If I have a really long PDF and I only want to have a version with a few pages, I use this to pull out the pages I want and then combine them into one document.
  • Gimp: This is a fantastic photo editor along the lines of Adobe Photoshop. I use it to edit photos instead of the standard programs in Windows.
  • Peazip: I have no idea why some computers do not have a file decompressor installed. Windows can handle some files like Zip, but if I come across something else, such as a RAR file, this works wonders.
  • NVU / KompoZer: This is WYSIWYG HTML and CSS editor. I use to to create tables and so forth for blog posts. Works fairly well, but I am not sure how many people would make use of it other than me.
  • VirtualDub: This is a video capture/processing program. It isn’t very user friendly, but if the computer I am using does not have even a basic video editor, this does the trick.
  • Open Office: This is a Microsoft Office compatible office suite to create and view documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. I am not in love with the program since it isn’t the most intuitive, but it does the job.
  • Jarte: This is tabbed word processor that works well for me as a notetaker. It is smaller to open than Open Office and I can keep it running in the background whenever I need to jot something down.
  • Artha: This is portable thesaurus. It works well and doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. I use it lots in my writing classes.
  • Mnemosyne: This is a flashcard creator and player. I have a mixed relationship with flashcards, but it is handy sometimes. I still prefer online versions such as Quizlet, but this works well for something simple.
  • Google Chrome / Firefox: I actually have both on my USB drive since some sites play differently with different browsers. They are portable versions of the popular browsers. Why? Privacy. Everything stays on my drive. I don’t need it as often with cloud-synching, but some computers don’t have anything but Internet Explorer installed (gasp!), so this is my backup plan.
  • Skype: The popular audio and video chat program in a portable app when the computer I am using is without it. Nothing more to say here. Works well.
  • Tweetdeck: Portable version of the popular Twitter client that I use at home. Much better than using the browser based options.
  • Cook Timer: The most simplistic program on this list. Nothing more than a countdown timer. Great for keeping students on task. I often use online versions, but this works well.

I know some of you have other preferences, so feel free to share them in the comment sections below. Feel free to ask questions and I will do my best to answer them for you.

Video in ELT: Moving from Passive to Active Part 1 – Introduction (Social Asynchronous Webinar)

Hello and welcome to the first Social Asynchronous Webinar (SAW)! For those who don’t know what that is, I would suggest you first watch the video below or visit my blog post on it.

This first SAW is on the use of video in the ELT classroom. This first section of the webinar introduces us to idea of knowledge creation and then talks about the tools that will be covered in the following sections. This first video is about 10 minutes long and that is about the length that I feel would be good for each subsequent section. You can find a schedule for the remainder of this SAW at the bottom of the page.

These webinars make use of videoANT to allow people to annotate and comment on videos. When you arrive at the site, it is going to ask for an email or permission to use Google+, Facebook, or Twitter to log in. Feel free to use a completely made up email address since you are not required to verify the address. The only thing is that you will need to remember the email address you used to log in at a later time.

SAW 1 Annotate

Here are the slides I used in the video. Most of the links are clickable and will take you to the tools that are going to be covered in future segments of this webinar.

Video in ELT

Feel free to add your comments to the video, the slides, on Twitter, or on this post. If you would like to share a video, audio, or text file, you can email it to me using the address in the slides, or you can send me a link if you have it hosted somewhere.

Here is a schedule for this SAW:

  • July 10 – First section (Introduction)
  • July 14 – Second section (Creating, hosting, and sharing videos)
  • July 18 – Third section (Screencasting)
  • July 22 – Fourth section (Annotating and commenting on videos)
  • July 28 – Final section (Remixing videos)

Thank you for your time and I look forward to learning along with you!

 

Creating a social asynchronous webinar

2285512104_bf7b8d7480_b

Image courtesy of Mark Sebastian

By now, most people have likely at least heard of the term webinar if not taken part in one. I have had the privilege to have given one and also to have taken part in some. For those who maybe have only have heard of the term before but aren’t sure what they are about, here is a quick overview. A webinar is a short seminar hosted live on the internet where people can watch it streaming anywhere in the world if there is at least half-decent internet access. Also, participants can usually ask questions and participate in polls through the text chat functions. Some webinars even allow for live audio and video based questions, but only when there is a moderator in place that can help things run smoothly. Here is my chart comparing face-to-face seminars to webinars:

Face-to-face

 

Webinar

 

Advantage

 

Location

One location Anywhere with internet access Webinar – Saves time and money not having to travel

Time

One time zone Multiple time zones Face-to-face – Easier to schedule for one time zone.

Speaker

Local or must travel Can be anywhere Webinar – Greater access to a selection of speakers

Audience

Local or must travel Can be anywhere Webinar – Broader audience

Costs

Room and speaker costs Internet access and speaker costs Webinar – Location fees can drive up the price

Participation

Ask questions on the spot and discuss afterward Can send text and sometimes audio questions and discussion during
and after
Face-to-face – Both can make use of technology to engage the audience during and after the seminar, but talking to someone in person can be a slight advantage

Adaptability

Pretty much set as far as structure goes Somewhat more flexible on changing the structure Webinar – Even though both can make changes ‘on the fly’ to meet the needs of those participating, neither are that flexible

Reviewing

Can be recorded and posted for comments and discussion Can be recorded and posted for comments and discussion Webinar – No major difference other than the questions are usually typed up and displayed on the screen during the recording making it easier to see them in the video afterward

Planning

Needs to be planned well in advance Can be set up on a very quickly Webinar – Clear winner here.

Sound

Depends on where you sit in the room Depends on your computer setup Webinar – While technology can be finicky at times, the option of making it as loud or as quiet as you want makes this the clear winner.

For the most part, webinars win out in regards to the advantages, but upon reviewing the chart, you can see there are still some things that could be improved. For me, the biggest disadvantage to both webinars and seminars is the schedule. For both of these, if you want to be a participant in the session, you need to be there when the session is happening. That is fine if you have the time, but I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to take part in a webinar or seminar, but I had a class or meeting or something else on that made it impossible to participate. Yes, I can also watch the seminar later on, but it isn’t the same as being there. There is a reason we like to be at a seminar when it happens. While not exactly the same, it is similar to a live drama production. People attend live productions in the theatre not for the precision of the execution since that is more possible through the ability to retake a scene as in filming, but the value is in being a part of the production and the energy the comes from those in attendance and the actors on stage. This is the same for the live seminar or webinar.

Once you take all of those advantages, disadvantages, and ideas and put them into a pot, what comes out? That is what I’ve been thinking about for some time now and here is what I have come up with. It is still a work in progress and is open to suggestions and changes, so feel free to chime in.

I want to do an asynchronous webinar that adapts to the what the audience needs and possibly even includes the audience as part of the webinar. To make this happen, it will require the use of various pieces of the technology puzzle.

The first piece is something to host the video and allow for in-video comments and discussion. This would make use of short recorded pieces spread out over a period of time to allow others to watch when they can (the asynchronous part). For this, I have chosen VideoANT from the University of Minnesota. It takes hosted video and wraps it with a tool where anyone can pause the video at any section and add a comment which shows up as a list beside the video. Click on those comments and the video starts playing where the comment was added. People can even reply to those comments to add to the discussion. This is a free tool that requires minimal registration to view and comment, although even the registration has a workaround to avoid giving away personal information. More on that later.

The next piece of the puzzle is the video host. For this, I am going to use YouTube to host my video since VideoANT works best with that. It would be possible to have others share their videos through other means, but for now, simplicity rules here.

The last piece of the puzzle is a discussion board and host for all things related to the webinar. It should be a place anyone could add to without needing to register. For this, I ended up going with a WordPress blog since I can set the comments to anyone and this allows for people to share thoughts and ideas with nested comments. Also, it keep all of the material in one place. There may be better tools out there to do this, but for accessibility reasons, I think this will work.

Here is a video I recorded talking about this same thing, but showing how VideoANT could be used. Go to the link, enter in your email address, or a fake one if you like, and press play to watch the video. If you want to add a comment while watching, click on the ‘Add an Annotation’ and the video will pause and you can add a text comment.

videoant

Watch and comment

Thanks for your time. I welcome all comments, suggestions, and criticisms.

Recording oral feedback for writing assignments

This past weekend, I was able to give my presentation on recorded oral feedback on writing assignments. Over the past few months after my initial talk for REALize 2014, there has been a great response to the various sessions and a call for this to be converted into something that they can read over and share with other people. That is the purpose of this post. In short, I will take you through each slide and the main content related to that slide. You can click on most of the images to take you to the related content. Feel free to use the interactive tools or to comment on things here or on Twitter.

Whenever I give a presentation, I try to make my slides, notes, and any other material available to those attending. Lately, I have switched to using Google Presentation so those in the session can follow along and click on any links that I use during the presentation. I feel it gets people more involved in the process and people can share the presentation with others through the use of social media while the session in ongoing, or can post and share with others following the time together. In this case, I was giving this session at the BC TESL 2014 conference so that is the reason for the custom URL in this slide. I posted this slide before I started the session so others could get it on their device ahead of time.

page-1A few years ago, I was introduced to the idea of doing recorded oral feedback for my students on their writing assignments. The premise was that students found it to be more personal and saw it as a sort of mini lesson that they could return to at any time. My first attempt worked so well, that I started exploring the research into this form of feedback and found quite a few articles on the subject. Over time, my approach has evolved into what I am presenting on here.

page-2In my session, I asked three discussion questions to get things started. In order to allow those who didn’t want to speak up in the session a place to share their comments and questions, I created a Padlet wall for them to post their answers. As it turned out, it wasn’t needed, but I am leaving it active to allow those who read this post to post questions and comments on the these three questions:

  1. How do you give feedback on writing assignments?
  2. What are some common problems you have in giving feedback on writing assignments?
  3. How do you keep track of the feedback you give students?

The response was pretty typical. Most people give written feedback directly on the assignments which poses a problem for hand-written assignments when it comes to space and legibility. Some people also used track changes or commenting directly in the Word document. The biggest problem most people had was that of time. Giving good feedback can eat up a lot of time and this can be burdensome for teachers who have more than one writing class on which to give feedback. Finally, most teachers said that they either keep a copy of the Word document or they make photocopies of the hand-written work to keep track of what feedback you have given and to see if students are progressing.

page-3The format for this presentation followed a similar path that I took as I worked out the reasons for giving recorded oral feedback, the tools that I currently use, the problems I have encountered along the way, and the questions I asked myself as I reflected on what I am currently doing to see if there are ways that it can be improved.

page-4The first study I looked at was from Bitchener, Young, and Cameron (2005). The study involved a group of university ESOL students divided into three groups: one would receive written and oral feedback in the form of a short direct meeting; the second group met part time and was only given written feedback; the third group only met for a short time each week so they only received limited feedback, focusing on quality and organization as opposed to grammar, spelling, and other structural problems. They each were given four written tasks to complete and the number of type of errors was recorded. The result was interesting in that each of the groups actually created more errors in each subsequent writing assignment until the last submission. That was when the writing and oral feedback group made significant gains over the other groups. This may be in part to the need to work out the problems before mastering them.

page-5The one thing that struck me from this study was the separation into what the authors referred to as ‘treatable’ and ‘less treatable’ features. Oral feedback was able to provide better guidance in the treatable items (ex. past simple tense; the definite article) than the ‘less treatable’ items (ex. prepositions). I have found that the recorded feedback can provide even more guidance on each of these items since you can give short lessons on each item that the student can then review on their own as opposed to a one-time sit down with the student.

page-6The second research study I looked at did not involve language students, but it did use screencasting, the recording of your screen as a video along with audio. It compared 18 essays in total written by two groups. One group got written feedback while the other received a short screencast. The interesting thing was the amount of time it took the instructors to give their feedback. While the the initial reading and annotating of the essays took the same amount of time (about 1.5 hours), the written feedback took an additional 35 minutes to complete while the screencasting only took 5 minutes. That means over the entire process of giving feedback on the 18 essays, the instructor could have saved nine hours.

page-7

The results were that the students felt that the quality of the feedback was equal if not better in most cases while saving the instructor a great deal of time.

page-8The last study I examined was at a Norwegian University that used screencasting across the subject areas. A large number of individuals and groups took part in the study, giving a nice cross spectrum of results. The interesting difference was that they didn’t just use screencasts for feedback, but they also used it to give instructions and messages. This gives students a level of continuity instead of using different tools or methods for different tasks.

page-9The results of the study showed that recorded oral feedback using screencasts provided a number of benefits for both the teacher and the students. It provided clear instruction and allowed students to review the information if need be. Group were able to review the comments together and it allowed for more discussion time. For the teacher, it saved time and also encouraged them to be clearer in their feedback. While short projects made noticeable improvements, larger projects made the biggest gains. Finally, both teachers and students commented that they felt that this type of feedback gave them both the opportunity to get to know one another better and gain personalized instruction.

page-10One of the problems that instructors faced was an ever increasing level of expectation from the students in regards to feedback and assessment. A large part of the problem in meeting those expectations is due to the time needed to provide a higher level of feedback.

page-11One of the ways of meeting the high expectations from students was through the use of screencasting. Students commented that they felt the quality of the feedback increased through the use of video comments. Also, students mentioned that they felt inspired and motived to complete future work which is unusual considering that students often comment that they feel stressed upon received feedback on their work. This suggests to me that the ability to articulate a ‘softer’ approach to commenting is more easily obtained through spoken rather than written comments.

page-12Once again, students felt that video comments allowed for students to gain greater access to the instructor, allowing them to feel more connected to them.

page-13Finally, teachers mentioned that they felt that they were able to reduce their workload while providing even a higher level of feedback that was more precise.

page-14This is now the practice part of my presentation where I look at some of the tools that can be used to give oral and written feedback on writing assignments. The first thing that you need to do is to get the student’s writing work on your screen. If it is in a Word document, you can simply open it up in Word and start adding your annotations. The bigger problem is when the work is hand-written. For myself, I use a scanner at work to keep a copy of my students’ work electronically. This saves me keeping piles of paper around and is much easy to review with the student when I meet with them one-on-one. I keep a file folder on my computer for each student where I store all of their work. The problem with scanned work is that you can add comments to it in Word. That is where a tool like Crocodoc Personal is so handy. I can upload almost any document or image and can then add my annotations or comments directly on the image or document. Crocodoc hosts the file with the comments online and provides you with a unique link that isn’t searchable so you can share it with the student and you can also bookmark for review later on.

page-15This is just a short screencast (without audio) I use as a demonstration in my session while I talk about the features of Crocodoc.

page-16Screencasting can be done with an online tool such as Screencast-O-Matic, or can with an installed software such as Jing or even Quicktime Pro which comes with all current Macs. Screencast-O-Matic allows for up to 15 minutes or recording and the video that is created can be stored on the Screencast-O-Matic site, on YouTube, or can be downloaded and then shared on your online classroom. As with Crocodoc Personal, you do not need to register to use this free online tool making it something that you can have students use for various projects as well. I have had students play their PowerPoint slides on the screen while recording themselves talking through the presentation. This allows them to archive the presentation as part of their e-portfolio. There are numerous uses for screencasting, but the focus here is on the feedback for writing assignments. In this case, I pull up the document on my screen using Crocodoc Personal and then I start recording using Screencast-O-Matic as I annotate, comment, and talk the student through their writing assignment. Once I am done, I can either store it online, or I can download it and share it on our course website.

page-17Here is another silent demo in which I go through the steps I use while recording my feedback. While you don’t get my commentary that I give during my session, it gives you a picture of what it looks like as I give my feedback.

page-18An important component in any classroom is the ‘online space’. This is the place where students and the teacher can interact, share, discuss, and develop things that start within the physical classroom. For a few years now, I have been using Edmodo, a free cloud-based classroom that is closed, but doesn’t require students to give their email address to join. A teacher simply registers for free, creates a new group (class) and then gives the class code to each student.

The reason I like Edmodo over other learning management systems (LMS) is that it is social in design and removes a lot of the hierarchical structures inherent in most systems. Instead of being highly product-based in its approach, Edmodo turns things over to the students to collaborate and share, making it far more process-based.

Edmodo looks and acts much like Facebook or other social networks. This makes it fairly user-friendly for students and teachers to add and disseminate a wide variety of media without any other components needing to be added. In this case, I share my videos, documents, and other forms of feedback directly with each student and they can reply and post things as well. This could be done in a number of ways, I am only sharing one method that I have found to be quite effective.

page-19This is another one of my ‘silent demos’ that I use during my presentation to walk people through some of the key features in Edmodo. There is a lot in Edmodo, so I only focused on a few everyday things. You can learn a lot more from the main Edmodo site.

page-20CLEAR RIA is a set of online tools from Michigan State University that is free for language instructors. All you have to do is to send them some information about yourself and they will get you set up. A number of the tools are for audio and video recording and can be used for giving feedback on assignments. I put in my presentation as an option since this can also be used for various activities in the classroom without a lot of setup. My only complaint is that is reliant on Adobe Flash, although they say they are working on providing HTML5 versions of their tools soon.

page-21This is the section of my presentation where I spend time sharing some of the problem with using online tools for recording and sharing your oral feedback. The biggest issue for me is that the rules in my area of the world, British Columbia in Canada, has strict rules about hosting students information on cloud-based servers. I basically discuss some of the ways that this can be done without circumventing the rules or putting students at risk.

page-22Another issue with using online tool is advertisements. I am not against ads per se, but since I have very little control on what my students end up seeing, I tend to pick and choose my online tools fairly carefully. My example above is from Vocaroo, an online audio recording tool that at first glance appears to not have any ads. The problem is when you share your recording with your students. That is where the ads pop up and can be confusing to some students who are still learning to navigate the internet in English. The bottom line? Do a thorough run through the whole procedure to make sure any tools you use are not malicious or can include information you don’t want your students to see.

page-23An important thing to consider when choosing the tools for your feedback is to make sure it is compatible with what you are using at school and that students are able to access the feedback on whatever device they want. I try to make all of my components mobile friendly, meaning I avoid things such as Adobe Flash or text that is really small. That is why I choose the MP4 option for video for my students when I download it from Screencast-O-Matic. Also, Edmodo has a wonderful mobile app available for most devices.

page-24What happens when you student or yourself have limited access to the internet? One thing you need to be prepared to do is to have an option for students who don’t have internet at home. Provide time within the schedule for students to review your feedback at school on the network or give them something they can play the video on. If this is an ongoing problem, you may need to reconsider using recorded feedback at all. After all, if one student can’t access it, it creates a two-tiered system if others get more feedback than others due to network restrictions.

page-25Time can be an enemy or a blessing. In this situation, we have seen how it can save you a good deal of time. The problem is that some situations can actually take more time in the short while, but provide long term gain.

page-26Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve. Don’t expect that this will all happen overnight. You need to leave yourself some time to experiment with things to see what works for you. Don’t give up too soon. It will get easier and easier each time to do it. Pretty soon, you will find that you are so used to doing it, you don’t even think about what you need to do.

page-27Normally, this would be the time for questions. Feel free to pass along your questions to me using the information on the last slide. I am almost always on Twitter and checking my email. Also, I do reply to comments posted on this site as well.

page-28Here are the three articles I referenced in this presentation:

page-29If you go to the link mentioned in the slide, you can find the various places I reside online and the different ways you can get in touch with me. I love to hear from people so don’t be shy!

info.nathanhall.ca