BC TEAL 2018 Island Conference presentation – “Mobile Phones”

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Click on the image above for a copy of the slides from my session at the BC TEAL Island Conference.

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What would you say? – Creating dialogues for short films using free online tools

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I just completed a three-week MOOC Short Film in Language Teaching from FutureLearn and there were a few things I picked up that I thought were worth exploring a bit more. There wasn’t anything that was really that new for me, but hearing about how some of these techniques or activities are being used in the language classroom was helpful.

One of the things that was mentioned was the use of a short film without a dialogue and having students work on writing and recording their own dialogue based on the scene. The example given was a short animation of three dripping taps that had appeared to have a ‘conversation’ through the use of dripping sounds and squeaking pipes. In the original video, you can almost imagine what they would be saying if the drips and squeaks were actual words.

The students in this example made their own dialogue in Welsh (the language they were studying) and then recorded it, overlaying the dialogue onto the video. I thought the idea was quite fun and the results were quite good. Some of the teachers later on in the course reflected on what the students did in order to create their dialogue which involved writing, feedback, revising, and asking lots of questions on the language needed for that context.

In this example, the students downloaded the video, edited the video using iMovie, and then shared the movie online. I can see this being a bit of problem in some situations, so I began to explore some other options that may be easier and shouldn’t be as problematic regarding copyright.

Over the years, I’ve explored a number of online tools and there is the occasional tool that I find that I feel has merit, but I can’t see a use for it at the moment. I tend to file those away until I have need for it. One such tool I have come across is Crossfade.io.

Screenshot from the website Crossfade.io

This site allows users to mix video and audio from different sources and combines them into a new video you can share. Crossfade.io doesn’t require an account, but the sources are limited to YouTube, Vimeo, GIFs, and SoundCloud. This means that someone needs an account to SoundCloud in order to upload the new audio file. Here is how this could work:

Find a video that doesn’t already have a real dialogue. ESMA (Ecole Supérieure des Métiers Artistiques) is a school that specializes in animation and students share their animated shorts on their YouTube channel. Here is an example:

Have students watch the video and then work in small groups to create a dialogue for the film. Since crossfade.io allows you to set a start and end point in the video, you can limit the dialogue to one section of the video. You could even have each group work on a different section and then you could watch each of them in order together as a class to see what the end result would look like. I suspect it would create quite a bit of discussion after the fact!

Have students write out their dialogue and then have them reviewed by their peers and the instructor. Students would then revise their dialogue before recording it together. There could be additional feedback given on things such as pronunciation, enunciation, and delivery and students could have the chance to re-record their audio. This should be done while watching the video in order to get the audio to synchronise with the video.

Screen shot of the website SoundCloud

In order to get the audio on SoundCloud, you could create accounts for each group (these could used later on for additional audio recordings and future classes). You could also have students create their own accounts, but please make sure to check with your institution regarding privacy rules and student accounts. Lastly, the teacher could create an account and the groups could share their audio files with the teacher who would then upload them to SoundCloud.

Once you have a URL for each audio file, the teacher or the students could then go to crossfade.io and paste in the video and audio addresses in the appropriate spots. You can also adjust the volume for both the audio and the video file. This allows the background sounds in the video to remain, but the new dialogue would remain dominant.

I would be curious if any of you have tried something similar in your own classroom. I would also like to hear from anyone who tries this out in their class or own your own. Feel free to leave a comment below or send me a tweet!

Mobile ready without the app: 10 web apps that work with all devices

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This semester in my TESL course, I am introducing my students to ways in which they can incorporate mobile devices into their teaching. All of the things I am showing them I have already used in my English language courses at one time or another. My hope is to get them thinking about how they can have students use these devices to help their language learners instead of fighting against their use in class. As many of you know, I don’t have a problem with phones, tablets, and other types of computing devices in my classroom since I see the real problem as being much deeper. The problems with distractions and potential cheating has very little to do with the devices themselves and more to do with things such as motivation.

You may have seen studies on both sides of this debate, but most of them have to do with surface issues and don’t deal with things such as teacher training on the use of technology in the classroom and approaches to teaching. Yes, the student has to accept their responsibility in this as well, but that will happen when we are able to provide them with a good model on how to use the devices to take control of their learning.

One of the issues I do have with all devices in the classroom is having to install programs or apps. There is a place and time for that, but in some cases it is completely unnecessary. In the case of my TESL class, I am attempting to use tools where students don’t need to install anything. This means I can use it immediately in class without the step of having to help them add it to their device. I thought it might be good to share some of those ideas with you and have you add more in the comments. These are in no particular order.

Criteria:

  • Free for students
  • No registration for students (teachers may have to create an account)
  • Don’t need to install anything
  • Works on laptops/desktops, tablets, and phones
  • Adds to the learning process
  • Not complicated to learn

Poll Everywhere

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What is it? As the name states, Poll Everywhere is an online polling and survey web app that can be used without registering, but has some limitations without creating an account. Most of those limitations are not a problem when working with smaller groups like a class of 25 or less.

How can I learn how to use it? Poll Everywhere has an extensive user guide and videos on how it works.

Why do you like it? I like the fact that students can respond to polls without having a smartphone. They can simply use text messaging to the web app to answer. For students that are using their smartphones, the web app works really well on mobile devices. Another thing I like about it is that students can create their own online polls and surveys without having to sign up for something.

How do you use it with your students? Here are some examples:

  • Create a poll for the start of class based on material covered in the previous class or from a homework reading.
  • Have students create a short survey and then collect the data and share the results as a presentation or as a writing project.
  • Exit slips on what we had covered in class.
  • Groups share their results with the class through the open ended question option and is displayed on the screen.
  • Students can ask questions throughout the class. This is especially good for students who don’t like speaking up in front of the group.
  • Students can text me questions outside of class time using an open poll question. This means I don’t have to give students my personal phone number.

Tlk.io

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What is it? It is a simple text chat web app that is incredibly easy to use and looks nice. You can also embed it in a website or blog. There is no registration at all for the site.

How can I learn how to use it? There isn’t much to learn and it is pretty intuitive, but Tlk.io has an FAQ page for more information.

Why do you like it? I like the look of the page and it works really well on mobile devices. That combined with the lack of registration makes it an ideal backchannel discussion tool. I also like that unmoderated chats are automatically deleted after 10 minutes of being innactive. This means that old chats don’t stay around for others to stumble upon by accident. If you do want to keep a record / archive of the message, simply become the moderator and you will be able to go back over the chat later. See the FAQ on how to do that.

How do you use it with your students? Here are some examples:

  • Groups share their results with the classroom. I simply display the chat on the screen.
  • Groups can discuss things outside of class.
  • Students can have backchannel discussions about videos we are watching in class.
  • Create a questions channel and students can then share their questions.
  • Students create dialogs. I give them a situation and then two or more students create the dialog for the situation. You can then have other students role play the dialog.
  • You can paste in a short text in the chat and then have students give feedback on how it should be changed.

VideoAnt

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What is it? It is a simple video annotation online tool. It allows users to add written comments directly into a specific place on the video. Those comments also become bookmarks that allows users to jump directly to that section of the video.

How can I learn how to use it? The University of Minnesota has an excellent help section on Video Ant.

Why do you like it? There are a lot of reasons I like Video Ant, but simply put, it is the only video annotation tool that students can use without having to use their real email address (a fake email works well for commenting).

How do you use it with your students? Here are some examples:

  • I set up a video with a series of questions at particular points in the video. Students click on the questions and that section of the video begins to play. This is great with hearing idioms or vocabulary in context. I also use it for deeper questions where students have to give opinions.
  • I bookmark videos so I can jump to specific sections when we are in class.
  • Students can annotate a video based on specific criteria in class. I may ask different students to look at the video for different things.
  • Create a video slideshow of photos that students can then use to write a story using the visual prompts. Other students then read the story and add comments.
  • Post regular news clips and have students comment on how they feel about the news story.

AwwApp 

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What is it? It is an online “whiteboard” that can have drawings, images, and text.

How can I learn how to use it? I wrote a simple how-to post on using it.

Why do you like it? It is clean and simple to use. Students can collaborate and they don’t need to register. Works on almost any device (some browsers don’t like it, but that doesn’t come up very often).

How do you use it with your students? Here are some examples:

  • Have student load a photo on their page and then add words that describe it based on what you have been working on in class (ex. colours for lower levels; mood and scene for higher levels).
  • Have students brainstorm ideas and put them in sections on the page. You can even have them draw quadrants with the pen tool.
  • Have students create and draw a symbol / trademark symbol that describes them (no words, just images). They keep it secret, but share the link with you. You can then download the images and put them all on one page to project at the front of class. Students walk around and interview each other to see if they can figure out which image is whose.
  • Put a bunch of words on a blank page and students match words based on what they feel goes together. They can do this by circling the words in different coloured pens (ie. Circle matching words in the same colour). They then have to explain to the class why they thought those words go together.

Google Forms

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What is it? A part of Google Drive, Google Forms allows users to create simple forms that collect data from users and puts it in a spreadsheet.

How can I learn how to use it? There are a number of places to find out how to use Google Forms, but Google has a help page that is simple to follow.

Why do you like it? I like the versatility of it and yet it is still very simple to put a form together and then compile the information afterward. I wish there was a way for students to edit the form without an account, but that is the same for all of the Google tools.

How do you use it with your students? Here are some examples:

  • Create simple quizzes and tests. It is much easier to look over the information on the spreadsheet.
  • Use the paragraph section for longer text.
  • Have groups complete a form together and then compare data together as a class using the charts provided.
  • Gather information about a topic from each of the groups and display the results on the main screen.
  • Peer evaluation on presentations and debates. Students fill in the form during the presentation and then you compile the results and go over them with the student presenting in a one-on-one session.

Beamium

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What is it? This is a very simple tool for uploading and presenting PDF documents on multiple screens.

How can I learn how to use it? There isn’t much to learn, but Beamium does have a how to page https://www.beamium.com/content#why-beamium

Why do you like it? This is a tool I had forgotten about, but have used in the past. Thanks to Baiba for reminding me. I love the simplicity of it and the practical usages even thought it doesn’t do very much. I also like that students can use it without an account.

How do you use it with your students? Here are some examples:

  • Use it like a presentation remote. Upload a slide presentation as a PDF, use the presenter view on your phone and use the viewer mode projected on the screen. I can then click to the next slide on my phone and it changes on the screen. Simple, yet effective.
  • I have students get in groups and they each have at least one device with them. I them present something like photos or text that they have to view and discuss until I change to the next slide.
  • Students present to their group without needing a projector. Each student can have their phone and watch the presentation while the student gives it.
  • Share documents with students or them with me. The PDF stays up for 14 days. It can download before then or I can lock it so it can’t be  download (ie. Secure document; copyright issues).
  • Simple times quizzes. I put one question on each slide and they can then watch on their own device. They have a limited time to answer the question before I move on to the next slide.

Speakpipe Voice Recorder

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What is it? It is a nice, clean, ad-free online voice recorder with cloud storage.

How can I learn how to use it? I did up a simple overview on one of my posts.

Why do you like it? I hated the terrible ads that Vocaroo and others were displaying for my students and I also wanted an online recorder that would work without Flash on mobile devices. This does that.

How do you use it with your students? Here are some examples:

  • Students record themselves at different times over the period of the course. I use it to show them how they are progressing when we meet together to look over their work.
  • I have students record stories for the other students.
  • I have them do interviews and record them on their phones.
  • Students record their group work and then share the link with the rest of the class for homework.
  • I record audio feedback for students on their writing assignments.

WebQR

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What is it? It is an online QR scanner instead of installing a dedicated app.

How can I learn how to use it? It is pretty simple to use, so their aren’t any instructions with it. Simply point the camera at the QR code and the link will appear below the video box.

Why do you like it? I like that students don’t have to install another app to scan QR codes.

How do you use it with your students? Here are some examples:

  • Have a QR scavenger hunt. Students need to scan the codes to get the next clue. I use links from the audio recordings with Speakpipe to give audio clues once they scan the code. I also set up images to come up, YouTube videos, or anything else with a link. They have to solve the clues to get move on.
  • I use a bookmarklet on the browser on my projected screen in class. When I have a page I want students to go to that has a long URL, I simply click on the bookmarklet and the QR code appears. Students can then scan the code to go to the link. Simpler than having to have them type it in.
  • I add QR codes to some documents to make them more interactive (ex. have a video appear when you scan it).

Appear.in

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What is it? It is a simple video conference call web app.

How can I learn how to use it? I wrote up a simple how-to in one of my posts.

Why do you like it? I love the simplicity and quality of the conferencing. All of that and no one needs to register to use it. It can even be used for simple text chats or audio calls.

How do you use it with your students? Here are some examples:

  • Group work outside of class. Students can call each other to work from home.
  • Meeting with students as online office hours.
  • Simple webinars.

WriteURL

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What is it? A nice, simple real-time shared document creator.

How can I learn how to use it? I did an overview of it in one of my posts.

Why do you like it? I love that students can create documents on their phone, share it with others, edit each other’s work, and they don’t need to register.

How do you use it with your students? Here are some examples:

  • Group projects such as presentation preparation.
  • Chain story writing. One students starts, then next adds more, and so on.
  • Homework page. Students put all of their homework on one page that only them and myself have access to.
  • E-Portfolio. I had links and text to the page to keep a diary of work for each student. We then go over it throughout the course.

There are others that could be mentioned, but I’ll leave that for another day.

VLC for the Language Classroom

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Last week, I did a technology workshop for a group of language teachers and one of the things we covered was the free open source software, VLC. For those who are not familiar with this program, it is a multimedia player for most computers that recognizes almost every type of audio and video file you throw at it. It has saved me a number of times in the language classroom and has become my go-to application for media files. Here are some of the things it can do:

Installing:


Question: I have my computer and speakers set at the loudest setting, but it is still too quiet. How can I make it louder?

Answer: Open the file in VLC and then adjust the volume in the bottom-right corner of the window. You can only increase the volume by an additional 25% this way, but you can increase it even more by using the hotkeys.

  • Windows and Linux: Ctrl key and the up or down arrow keys
  • Mac: Command key and the up or down arrow keys

VLC Increase Audio

Question: The speaking in the video/audio file I am using is a little too fast for my lower level students. How do I slow down the audio without changing pitch?

Answer: VLC has this feature built into the player. The speed adjustment only affects the playback and will not change the original file.

  • Windows or Linux: Open the file in VLC and turn on the Status Bar (click on View -> Status Bar). Click on the ‘1.00x’ at the bottom of the screen and then move the slider back and forth to increase or decrease the speed.

VLC Status Bar

VLC Slow Down Audio

  • Mac: Open the file in VLC and click on Playback in the menu bar and then use the slider under Playback Speed.

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Question: The video is too long and I only want a section of it. How can I create a small clip from a section of my video?

Answer: This is only available for the Windows and Linux versions of VLC. There is a work around for Mac, but it isn’t very easy.

  • Windows and Linux: Open VLC and then make sure the Advanced Controls are on (click on View -> Advanced Controls). Start the video and when you get to the section you want to record, simply click on the record button once to start and again to stop recording. The new video file will appear in the Videos Library folder.

VLC Advanced Menu

VLC Recorder

Question: I want to keep repeating a section of my audio/video file so my students can hear/watch it over and over again. How can I do that?

Answer: This is only available for the Windows and Linux versions of VLC.

  • Windows and Linux: Open VLC and then make sure the Advanced Controls are on (click on View -> Advanced Controls). Start the video and when you get to the section you want to repeat, simply click on the A-B Loop button once to set the start point and when you get to the end, simply press it again. This will keep repeating this section until you press the A-B Loop button one more time. You can set this up ahead of time and simply pause the video or audio file until you are ready to play it.

VLC Loop Button

Question: I want to skip to different sections of my media file. How can I set this up?

Answer: VLC makes use of bookmarks which can be saved for later use.

  • Windows and Linux: Open VLC then make sure the Edit Bookmark window is open (click on Playback -> Custom Bookmarks -> Manage). Start your video or audio file and then click on the Create button in the Edit Bookmark window whenever you want to mark a spot to remember. You can continue to do this with your file until you are done bookmarking everything you would like. You can then double-click on any of the bookmarks in the Edit Bookmark window to skip to that section. You can then save the bookmark for later by clicking on Media -> Save Playlist to File

VLC Using bookmarks

  • Mac: Open VLC then make sure the Edit Bookmark window is open (click on Windows -> Bookmarks). Start your video or audio file and then click on the Add button in the Edit Bookmark window whenever you want to mark a spot to remember. You can continue to do this with your file until you are done bookmarking everything you would like. You can then double-click on any of the bookmarks in the Edit Bookmark window to skip to that section. You can then save the bookmark for later by clicking on File -> Save Playlist

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Let me know if there are any other tips you would like to add to this list.

Adapting texts for use in the English language classroom

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The other day, Jen Artan was asking me about finding authentic reading material for my class that wasn’t too difficult. The comment was from a blog post I had written about Frequency Level Checker and so I thought it might be a good time to go through my steps in adapting material for my classroom. I know there is a lot of debate about adapting authentic material for the language classroom, but I feel there is a balance here that needs to be maintained between giving texts that are too difficult for students and needing students to be exposed to authentic language in use. I don’t believe that adapting a text has to take away from the authenticity and will make it better for students.

Step one: Copying the text

There are a few options here. If you already have the text in a document, there’s nothing more to do than just select the text and copy it. If you are copying from a website or a paper document, there are few more steps involved.

One of the problems of copying from webpages is the extra text you often end up getting due to a number of factors. To reduce, or even eliminate this, you can use one of the following bookmarklets (each page has instructions on how to install and use the bookmarklet with your browser):

Read Now from Readability: This bookmarklet converts the page you are on into a clean, readable page from which you can easily copy the text. Also works well when you have a page that is hard to read due to too many ads, small text, and other distractions. One of my favourite bookmarklets.

Text Only from Textise: This boomarklet converts the page you are on into a text only page. Unfortunetly, it also leaves all of the image tags and other extraneous bits. The nice thing is that it is plain text, so the formatting is completely stripped away which works well for some difficult pages.

Print Friendly from PrintFriendly and PDF: This bookmarklet makes the page you are on into a printable page and leaves you some formatting options as well. One nice thing is the option to remove the images from the page. You can also click on objects and lines on the page to delete them, allowing you to remove image captions and other header and footer data. You can also make the page into a PDF for printing.

Instapaper Text from Instapaper: This bookmarklet is similar to Read Now.

If your text is on a piece of paper somewhere or on a webpage or PDF that is locked, you can always convert the text into an image and then use OCR to convert to text. Here are some options for converting text:

Office Lens from Microsoft: This is a free mobile app for iOS, Android, and Microsoft Mobile devices. This is my favourite app on my phone. I use it for “scanning” all sorts of things from documents to business cards to rewards and membership cards that take up too much space in my wallet. Once the image is taken, Office Lens automatically crops and adjusts the image for clarity. You can then have the image automatically uploaded to OneNote which will take the image and run OCR to find text which can then be searched and / or copied. This is now my go-to app for documenting things.

OnlineOCR: This is a registration-free online app that converts images into a text file. It can also convert to a formatted Word document, but that doesn’t always works as well. The text is amazingly accurate, even more so than what I’ve found with Adobe Acrobat.

Google Drive: You can upload an image to your Drive account and convert the image to text by opening the image with Google Docs. In the new file, you will find the image at the top with the text down below. It works pretty well, but I find I have to strip away a lot of formatting first.

Step two: Highlighting difficult words

Once you have your text ready, go to Frequency Level Checker and check your text there for vocabulary level. Here are some general tips on usage:

  • Set Level 1 as black and then make all of the other options as red (ie. Level 2, Level 3, Outside Levels, and Symbols). This way you can get a quick visual of how many of the words are outside of the main 1000 words we use in General English. If your text is a sea of red, then it may be a good sign that the text is quite high. Even for a higher level class, a text with a lot of words above the first level may make it too difficult to read fluently.
  • Take a screenshot of the page or keep the page open for reference later on.
  • This is only a guide. Keep in mind that a particular word or phrase may appear multiple times throughout the text making the text look denser than it is.

Step three: Adapting the text

For words or phrases that are outside of the lexical range of my students, there are four options available to me: define, delete, simplify, or leave alone:

  • Define: If I feel the word is important for the student to know (eg. an important word for the story, or a word I think would be important for them to learn at this point), I can create a glossary of sorts for the story. This glossary should not be long, maybe in the 5-7 word range for a news article. I tend to just put the glossary in the story and will highlight the word (eg. make it bold). I may do something before the student starts reading as a pre-reading exercise, but I don’t find it makes much of a difference and often takes up more time than necessary.
  • Delete: This is a bit trickier since it often means re-writing a section of the story. Often times, I will take out a sentence that has some difficult phrasing if it doesn’t really add much to the story.
  • Simplify: This is what I primarily do to the difficult sections. I find easier ways to say something in order to make the story more readable. I know that there are some who say this takes away from the authentic reading experience, but that would only happen if I end up re-writing a large part of the text. I am only advocating for modifying a small percentage of the document in order to gain some fluency for students. If a text is 85% within the reading ability of my students and I can modify 10%, that makes it much more readable for the students.
  • Leave alone: There is a lot of debate over the ability of students to define words from context. I think there is a balance here and I often look for places where I can leave difficult words in a text knowing that students can make good predictions on meaning based on context and situation. This requires me to take time to think about the word in that context and whether or not there are enough clues to make an inference. Done well, this can be a really positive thing for students.

Example:

Here is an article I found in a local free newspaper. The article happens to also be online, so I don’t have to scan it in. “Toronto scientist sharing research in real-time”

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Since there is a lot of images, ads, and other things on the page, I used the Readability bookmarklet to strip all of the extra parts away.

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I then took the text and ran it through Frequency Level Checker, highlighting only the words that weren’t part of Level 1.

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Glossary words:

  • Publish
  • Research
  • Lab
  • Data
  • Online
  • Blog
  • Academic

I chose these words since I’m teaching an EAP course and we are looking at the validity of online research. I would then go and either create definitions or link to the online definitions. I tend to not just use definitions when introducing new vocabulary since it takes the word out of the environment in which it is used. Collocations, variations in form and definition, and so on are all things that affect the meaning of a word and need to be taken into consideration. In this situation, some of the words appear in various forms (eg. research, researcher, researching) and alongside other words (eg. academic research, academic science).

Deleted words / text:

  • Breaking scientific ground
  • Lay language
  • Access
  • Real time
  • Inspire
  • Take note
  • Avoid duplication
  • Huntington Protein
  • Cognitive
  • Physical decline
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Glory
  • Create collaboration
  • Speed up
  • Openness
  • The norm
  • Sustain
  • Tied
  • Incremental breakthroughs
  • Obviously
  • Scooping
  • Super competitive
  • Out-compete

Many of these words were not that important to learn at this point, so I simply took them out. Some of these words could be quite useful to learn, but maybe at a different time. The goal here is fluency and some increase in vocabulary. Having too many new words and phrases takes away from the reason for the reading in the first place.

Learned from context:

  • Biomedical
  • Risk
  • Goal
  • Community

I felt that these words were important enough to leave in, but not really necessary to define. In most situations, if the student is unable to figure out the meaning from context or from using logic to piece it together (eg. Biomedical), then it doesn’t hurt the story. In these circumstances, if these words were simply taken out, the story still makes sense. I’m also making a guess that words like goal will already be known from another situation (eg. sports) and can be easily applied to this situation. This builds on their scaffolding.

The end result:

As researcher Rachel Harding works away in her Toronto lab, she’s doing something that hasn’t normally been done before.

She’s publishing her lab notes and data online along with blogging about her work in a simple way at labscribbles.com. She’s believed to be the first biomedical researcher to blog about her work as she is working on it rather than waiting for experiments to be completed or their results published.

When other researchers see what’s she’s doing, they can choose to build on it, use it to help their own work or simply make sure they are not doing the same thing as her.

“One of the biggest problems in the way academic science is done is everyone is kind of sitting in their own corner, not really talking too much to each and not sharing with everything,”

“Everything is being duplicated, and it’s the person who gets to the one point where they can publish first who becomes famous.”

The movement toward open access to scientific data movement is meant to help scientists and researchers around the world work together to make discoveries more quickly. But, this isn’t normal in the world of academic research. That’s because the money that’s needed for the work often goes to making big discoveries instead of the smaller pieces those discoveries are built upon, Harding said.

“The biggest risk about being open from the beginning is someone can come in, see what you’ve done, leave out all the experiments that didn’t work—which is going to happen—and they can reach the end goal more quickly than you” Harding said.

“But the goal here is that it isn’t a fight and we work as a community”

Text adapted from original news article written by Jessica Smith Cross

Sentence complexity, paragraph and sentence length, and text length remain about the same. There is plenty for the student to deal with here without adding too much to their plate. This whole process took a bit of time on my part, but in the end, it was much easier than trying to locate something that was perfect. I also have the flexibility of using texts that fit my students’ needs in content and language.

4 Registration-Free Video Conferencing Sites

There are a large number of place online that you can chat with someone without needing to register. Many of these sites are not safe for use in the classroom. There are very few sites that allow for a simple, safe video chat without registering first. Here are four that don’t need registration and provide a private place to host a video conference:


Chatride

ChatRide: Video chat with one other person and use text chat as well. When the person goes to the site, you are automatically connected. You can turn off the video or audio as well. It can also be used in fullscreen mode (video and text chat).

Boostcam

BoostCam: Video chat with one other person. Text chat is available outside of fullscreen mode. You can move the inset picture to any corner by simply clicking and dragging. The quality is lower, but that could also mean lower bandwidth as well.

Ubiqq

Ubiqq: This is a very simple one-to-one video chat that has two small screens on the page. There does not appear to be any place to make it fullscreen or to use text chat. You can turn off the video or the audio simply by clicking on your screen to toggle through the options.

MeBeam: DO NOT USE THIS SITE! There are problems with this site. I apologize for any problems I may have caused. 

These sites could be used by students to do group work as homework, to consult with parents or other teachers, or to give a simple lesson online. I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons as well. Share your comments and thoughts by using the comment section below, by Tweeting me at @nathanghall, or by emailing me using the contact page on this website. Thanks!