Divii: A searchable video dictionary

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A really useful tool for students to see vocabulary in context is the corpus. One of the difficulties of corpus results as well as dictionaries is explaining something that is very visual in nature such as movement. Also, since it is text based, you are unable to hear the pronunciation as well as any nuances to the language such as stress. An interesting online tool that searches transcripts from videos in a semi-corpus way is Divii. It is free and doesn’t require registration to use. One caveat is that it uses a number of video sources, so it may not always be appropriate for younger students. It should be fine for older students who probably will appreciate the various contexts instead of everything being so academic. Here is how it is works:

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  • Go to divii.org and type a search term in the ‘Search words here for video examples’ box. You can type in a single word or a phrase. Click on the search button or hit the ‘Enter’ key.

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  • You will be taken to your search results with a thumbnail of the video on the left and the text from a section of that video with the word or phrase in it. Click on the video you would like to watch and it will start to play, showing the transcript with the counter time.

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  • It will continue to move through the transcript in sections as it plays. Click on a section of the transcript to play that section or click on the video to pause it. Click anywhere outside of the video to get back to the search results.

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As you can see, it is fairly easy to use. Once again, it is something I would only use with adult learners based on some of the content I encountered along the way. There isn’t anything there that would persuade me away from using it altogether, but it is something to consider before using in class.

TogetherTube: Watch videos or listen to audio together with others online

togethertube1One of the amazing things that webtools can do is to bring students together no matter where they are. TogetherTube is another great free tool that doesn’t require registration. It allows groups of people to watch videos or listen to audio files together in realtime, even if they are in other parts of the world. The files are synchronized so they all see it as if they were in the same room together.

This could be a really great tool for the language classroom where students could be assigned a video or audio file to watch or listen to with their classmates or in a group. Instead of doing it as a class, they could use their own devices or even be in different places and watch or listen to together and comment in the chat box.

Here how to use it:

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  • You now will be taken to the viewing room.

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  • Now to add your audio or video files. You can either search for a YouTube, Vimeo, or Dailymotion video or SoundCloud audio file, or you can paste in a web address (URL) from any of those sites. Click on ‘Search Videos’, type in your search description, and choose the site you would like to search.

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  • You will now see the video or audio files found using your search criteria, or the file using the URL.

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  • Once you have located the audio or video file you would like to watch or listen to with others, click on the green ‘thumbs-up’ button. The video will now appear in the player window area.

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  • The video will start playing immediately. You can pause it if you are planning on watching or listening with others. You can also adjust the video quality by clicking on the arrow in the bottom-right corner.

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  • To invite others to watch or listen with you, click on the ‘Invite Friends’ button along the top bar.

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  • A dialogue box will appear with a link you can copy and share with others. Be careful, this is a room anyone can enter without a password, so don’t share it on a public site such as Twitter or Facebook.

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  • To avoid others from finding your room on TogetherTube, click on the ‘Room Settings’ button along the top and a new page will open.

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  •  Uncheck the ‘Public Room’ option and click on ‘Save’. You can also change the room name if you would like and even add a description. There are a number of other options on the left side menu, but most of those are for registered users. Close this window to return to your room.
  • In you room, you also have a text chat option on the right-hand side. Just type your message and hit enter to send it to all users in the room.

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  • Any user that enters the room will see the video or hear the audio being played at the same time as all other participants in the room. Anyone can pause the file and even add other videos or audio files to the playlist  by searching or pasting in a URL and clicking on the ‘thumbs up’ button. Files with the most votes get bumped up the playlist.

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 Here is a printable guide for teachers and students

Create an online resource library with students using Send Ape

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One of the workshop sessions I have given over the past few years in on the creation of a resource library with students, a place for them to find reading or listening material that they can use outside of the classroom. Getting students engaged in extensive reading and listening is critical in their language learning process. The more they are exposed to the language in use, the more they are able to comprehend and make important connections.

I am also an advocate of students taking control of their own learning. They are only with me for a short time each week in comparison to time outside of the classroom. They need to learn how to learn on their own, a skill that many students have not yet been exposed to in a more traditional learning environment. Allowing students to choose their own reading and listening material is important since they will become more engaged in the process and also will learn the vocabulary necessary within the environment they plan on using English (ex. their major in university, their work environment, travel).

A large part of them taking control of their learning is in finding and creating content that appeals to them and then sharing that with others who may also find it helpful. This is simplified through the use of social sharing online, a cloud-based approach to the traditional library. This allows students to create audio or video content for listening, and also the creation of text-based material for reading. Even photos can used to share signs, newspaper articles, and anything else students find throughout their day that can be useful in learning language in context.

There are a number of ways of doing this, but there are certain obstacles that need to be overcome. One such hurdle is the use of online sites that require registration. If it at all possible, I try to use online tools that don’t require that students give up their personal information. Also, the site needs to be accessible from multiple devices, not just laptops or desktops.

One such site that works very well for this purpose is Send Ape. Send Ape is a file sharing site that allows for video and audio playback, document and image viewing, and multiple users without having to sign up or deal with advertisements. Here is how it works and how it may be used as a resource library:

  • Go to Send Ape and click on ‘Create new page’.

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  • Send Ape will give you a page with a unique name. From what I can see, there is no way to change this. In the middle of the page, you will see a dotted box that says, “Drop your files here”. You can either drag and drop your files into the box, or you can click on the box and you will be prompted with a file manager where you can choose your file.

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  • Once your file is loaded, depending on the file type, you will see it appear in a box on the righthand side.
  • Video files can be played in a window or fullscreen by clicking on the ‘Preview’ button. You can also click on the ‘Share’ button to get a direct link to the video in a new window. This is a great way for students to upload video they have taken on their mobile devices without having to sign up for YouTube. Lastly, students can also archive the video by clicking on the ‘Download’ button and adding it to their own device for offline viewing.

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Video pop-up window

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Direct link shared video file window

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  • You can listen to the audio files by clicking on the ‘Play’ button. You can also click on the ‘Share’ button to get a direct link to the audio file in a new window. This is a great way for students to upload audio they have recorded on their mobile devices without having to sign up for any site. Lastly, students can also archive the audio file by clicking on the ‘Download’ button and adding it to their own device for offline listening.

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  • Most documents, including PDFs and Microsoft Office documents, can be viewed directly in File Ape. Click on the ‘Preview’ button and a pop-up window will appear with the document.
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Document pop-up viewer

  • Click on the box icon with an arrow in it in the pop-up window and File Ape will open the document in a Google Document viewer that you can share with others.
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Google document viewer

  • All items are shared in a “page” that can be shared with others. You can create as many pages as you would like, although there is a 4GB limit if you use the unregistered option. Sign up and you will be given 10GB of storage and a login ID. Unfortunately, you will need to use a Google or Facebook account to register. There is not email option available.
  • To create a new page, click on the ‘+Add page’ button on the left side of the screen.

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  • There are a number of options available for each page.

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  • The far left button pops out the share options. The best choice is the link available at the bottom of the box. You can share this page with anyone using this link. It is also useful for when users switch computers without an account. More on that in a minute.

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  • The second button changes the view from ‘Blog’ view to ‘Thumb’ or ‘List’.
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Thumb view

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List view

  • The third button along the top is the sort button. Click to change it from most recent to alphabetical.

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  • The fourth button is the security button. Students can choose to add a password to the page before sharing.

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  • The fifth button along the top is the availability option. Users can set a date when to make it available and when to stop making it available.

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  • The last button is an important one. You can choose if visitors can add files to the page (great for students to have others give their input), can allow others to view their page (ie. make it private), or if visitors can delete items from the page (probably best kept off). Students can also delete pages here.

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So how would this work as a resource library with students? Have students create their own pages and then share them with the rest of the class with the option available for others to add content. Maybe one student is interested in computers. That student could make a list of reading and listening material that they have found or created and then share it with their classmates. Other students can then add files they find related to that topic to the page. This can be collected on a class website or a shared document. This becomes the reading and listening resource library for the class.

There are a lot of other great uses for Send Ape such as sharing videos with students, having students share their presentations on a page so the teacher can get them all lined up and ready when students are ready to present to the class. Teachers can share listening files with the class for those who missed class. Teachers and students could give feedback on writing assignments.

Here is a printable guide to creating a page as a resource library.

Here is a sample page you can add to. Please keep it clean! :)

Let me know what you think about Send Ape!

Notepad: A collaborative text editor with text and audio chat

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 4.11.08 PMOne tool I use in my language classroom quite a bit is a collaborative text editor / word processor. For years, I have even using TitanPad as my main text editor since students don’t have to register and yet I can password protect it. One thing that is missing from TitanPad and other collaborative writing platforms is the ability to audio chat as well as text chat. Also, with the advent of mobile devices, Adobe Flash sites have become an issue for me, so I am always on the lookout for sites that use HTML5 so mobile users can us it.

One such site is Notepad. It doesn’t require any registration and doesn’t have any ads. Users can invite others to join in and collaborate on a document using a unique URL. Users on a browser such as FireFox, Chrome, or Opera can also give permission to use the microphone to audio chat. It is super simple to use and could be an effective tool in the language classroom. Here is how it works:

  • Go to Notepad and a new note will appear on the screen.

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  • At this point, users can start typing a message on the notepad. It doesn’t allow for any formatting, but that can also be an advantage as students won’t be tempted to fiddle with the settings.
  • On the right hand side is a set of blue buttons:

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  • Clicking on the top button allows users to change their name (‘Update your name’), add a profile picture (‘Change avatar’), and pick a colour to use so others viewing will know who is where on the screen (‘Pick a profile color’). You can also get help, give feedback to the website owner, or end the notepad (creator only).

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  • Clicking on the second button will give you a unique URL that you can share with others. Remember, anyone with the link can see and edit the document. Be careful where you share it.

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  • Clicking on the third button from the top will prompt the browser to ask you for access to your microphone. This starts the audio chat. Make sure to click on the appropriate button on your browser to give it access.

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  • Clicking on the bottom button will open the text chat window.

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  • When others are online, you will see where their mouse cursor is with a small hand and their profile name and colour. If you click anywhere, a circle will appear in your profile colour that everyone can see.

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I have added it to my ‘Webtools: No Registration Needed for Students‘ page under the ‘Documents‘ section.

 

Record and host audio online with SpeakPipe Voice Recorder

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 7.09.30 PMOne tool I use quote often in my English language classroom is a voice recorder. For years, I used Vocaroo as my online recorder, but I have stopped that completely due to the awful ads that are shared with the listener of the shared audio file. Instead, I am using SpeakPipe Voice Recorder. It is a simple, online voice recorder that doesn’t need registration. Files are downloaded or shared online using a unique URL. Listeners can also download the file or listen online. Best of all, there are no ads anywhere on the site. It evens works with mobile devices. Here is how it works:

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  • For laptop and desktop users, you will be asked to give permission to Adobe Flash to have access to the microphone. Click on ‘Allow’.

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  • SpeakPipe will immediately start recording. If you would like to restart, simply click on ‘Reset’. When you are done, click on ‘Stop’.

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  • If you audio is quiet, you may get this message. You can click on ‘Replay’ to listen to the audio. If you are then happy with it, click on ‘Save on server’, otherwise click on ‘Reset’ to start again.

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  • You may give your recording a title or simply leave it blank. Click on ‘Save’ to upload to the server. Notice, the file will be saved there for three months from the last playback.

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  • You will then be given a playback window with an embed code shown along the bottom. You can embed this file in your website using the code. Click on ‘Link to this recording’ to get the unique URL that you can share with others.

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  • This is the final step. Simply copy the URL from the top of the page and share it with the person or people you would like. You can also click on the ‘download’ text to download the file to your computer.

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Co-create an animated dictionary for language learners

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The idea of having a video-based dictionary for action vocabulary isn’t anything new, but I thought I would do a short guide on how to co-create an animated dictionary with your students using animated GIFs and Padlet.

Creating animated GIFs

  • You have two choices here: create your own videos or find royalty-free / public domain videos that you can use freely.
    • You could have your students create videos using cameras or phones and then upload them to a computer to play back. This can be a bit tricky since each device will have it’s own system of uploading videos, but if you have your own set at school or students know how to use their own devices, this can be a very effective way of having students negotiate the language or to discover new words on their own.
    • Public domain and royalty-free videos can be found online, but some sites are not as safe as others. Here are a few I recommend:
  • Once you have the video on your computer, you can start creating an animated GIF using the instructions I created here.

Creating your animated dictionary using Padlet

  • You will need to have a Padlet account. For more information on using Padlet, I have written a guide here.
  • Create a new pad using the instructions from the guide and give the link to the students.
  • Students visit the page and upload their GIFs.
    • They can either double-click anywhere on the Pad and then click on the up arrow button to choose the file from the computer.
    • They can also just drag-and-drop the file onto the Pad.

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  • Once uploaded, students move their mouse of the GIF to bring up the pencil icon at the top of the GIF. Click on the pencil to add the action name in the title box and a sample sentence showing its use in the description area. They then can click anywhere outside the GIF to get out of edit mode
  • Students can move the GIF by simply clicking-and-dragging it anywhere on the Pad. You could organize this any way you like.
  • Students can resize the GIF by dragging the corners of the image.
  • People can see the full-size image by clicking on the GIF.

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I have created a sample page that you can use to play around and try this out on your own. Please keep it clean. :)

Sample Padlet

Annotate and share a document online with Crocodoc Personal

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 9.06.24 PMHaving a place to share and annotate documents online with students can be very handy. Instead of swapping documents, such as Word documents and PDFs, anyone can upload these files to Crocodoc Personal for free without registering and without having to deal with ads. Once uploaded, people can highlight, comment, add texts, and draw on the document and others can add their thoughts as well. Here is how it works:

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  • Once uploaded, you can add three different types of comments: point, area, or text.

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  • Point comments add a red mark on the document where you would like to add your comment and links to a comment area on the side where you can add text.

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  • Area comments allow users to drag a box around an area which links to a comment area on the side where you can add text.

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  • Text comments allow users to highlight text which links to a comment area on the side where you can add text.

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  • Users can also draw on the text in four different colours.

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  • Users can also add text comments directly onto the document using the ‘Text’ tool.

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  • Choose the highlight tool to highlight sections of the text without adding comments.

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  • Use the ‘Strikeout’ tool to draw a line through whatever you select and it also gives you a box to add text comments directly above the deleted text.

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  • To share the document with others, click on the ‘Share’ button and copy the ‘Link’ URL. If you want others to comment, make sure the ‘Allow others to add comments to this document’ button is checked, otherwise, uncheck to allow for reading only. Click on the ‘Embed’ tab to copy the embed code to add to your website.

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  • You can also download the original document or the marked-up PDF by clicking on the ‘Download’ button.

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  • An easy way of getting through all of the comments and highlights is to open up the comments pane. Click on the double-arrow button right beside the ‘Download’ button. You can then click on a comment to go directly to that section. You can also use this as a bookmark functions to make it easier to manage a larger document.

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I’ve also created a printable guide on commenting that can be given to students or teachers. Feel free to print, distribute, or edit as long as you keep the credit along the bottom.