Graham Stanley’s Six Web 2.0 resolutions for teachers

Periodically I will be inviting different teachers, trainers and authors to contribute their own six things as a guests on this blog. My first guest is someone who knows all about blogging – actually he knows about all things Web 2.0 for language teachers. It’s Graham Stanley from the British Council in Barcelona, a teacher and trainer. I’d recommend looking out for him on the conference circuit. In the spirit of the New Year, Graham has agreed to suggest six new year’s resolutions connected to Web 2.0. I’ve seen at least two I’m going to do!

Graham Stanley

So, 2008 might have been when you heard all the hype surrounding the new Web, the so-called Web 2.0, and perhaps you thought it was all a flash in the pan. Well, think again – much of it is here to stay, and can help you if you spend a little time learning how. Why not make looking into these your New Year’s resolutions? Go on! You deserve it!

 

1) Social Networking. 2008 was the year everyone and his dog joined Facebook – don’t worry if you didn’t, there’s still time. If you don’t, then you’ll surely miss out in 2009 – more and more people have started using this and other social networking sites to organise events (both online and offline) and keep in touch. There’s more to life than Facebook though. Whatever you (and your students) are interested in, there’s a social network for it. Like reading books? Try Shelfari. Travel a lot? Tell people where you’re going with DopplrTop Tip: Be liberal about who you call your ‘friends’ on the social networking sites you join. After all, they make more sense and are more fun when you’re connected to more people. Something else worth trying… Build your own social network for students (over 14) using Ning – you can make it public or keep it totally private, and it’s a great way of organising a class exchange project.

 

 2) Second Life. 2008 was also the year that this 3D virtual world was discovered by the mainstream media, hyped,  hyped again, and then criticised for not being all they built it up to be. If you created an account in 2008, walked around with a box on your arm and then gave up because you couldn’t find anyone, think about giving it another shot. The people looking for cheap thrills or in search of the fast virtual buck have come and gone, but the educators never went away. With more than 250 universities and educational organisations running projects in-world, there must be something to it. Top Tip: More than anything, Second Life is a social network, so make friends (you can start by adding me!) and attend events.   But there’s more… The third annual SLanguages conference for language educators promises to be very special in 2009. See the Consultants-E edunation link here for more   Something else worth trying… TESOL’s Electronic Village Online session on Virtual Worlds and Language Learning, starts in January 2009. For both beginners and more experienced avatars looking to learn how to teach and learn in SL. Find out more here.

 

3) Micro-blogging. Can’t find the time to blog? Can’t think of anything to say? Don’t fear, Try Twitter or Plurk which lets you blog but limits what you say to 140 characters.Try using one of these with students and get them to subscribe to twitter.com/awordaday or other language services, Subscribe to Twitter using your mobile, and you’ll get the messages (tweets) sent directly as SMS for free. Top Tip… As soon as you join, make sure you add lots of people as friends or you won’t see the point. But there’s more… To really make the most of Twitter, use a desktop client such as  www.twhirl.org/ to make sure you don’t miss out on what your friends in the Twitosphere are up to. Something else worth trying… Blip works in a similar way but allows you to share music. Stephen Fry is now a BlipFM DJ:

 

4) Social Bookmarking. Try using Diigo or Delicious to store your favourite website links. They’ll be accessible to you from any computer, and you can also add multiple tags (keywords) to help you find what you’re looking for later. But there’s more… Using a social bookmarking site to search for resources can often be more effective than searching on Google because it’s updated in real time and URLs have been added by real people. Use the built-in social networking facilities of these sites to connect with other teachers from around the world and you’ll soon find you have access to a wealth of new resources. Something else worth trying… With Diigo you can also add your own sticky notes to websites which your contacts can also see when they visit.

 

5) New Browser. Still using the same old browser you’ve always used? Why not try out another one? There are now lots to choose from, and as each offers a slightly different surfing experience, you may find one that appeals to you more than others. For example, is your browser slow, then try the super-fast Chrome – also best if you use lots of Google applications. If social networking is your thing, then Flock could be the best solution for you – it easily integrates from sites such as flickr.com and www.youtube.com and the social bookmarking software you choose. And if you haven’t tried it yet, check out Mozilla, the open-source browser that has been going since 1998. Top Tip: Whichever browser you choose, try adding toolbars and widgets to make your web surfing experience better. Something else worth trying… If you like the idea of open source software, be sure to give Open Office a whirl – it’s a free and Microsoft-Office-busting software package for word-processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.

 

6) Interactive Homepages.  With iGoogle you can easily add notes, links to blogs, podcasts, and other websites, add interactive content selecting from various widgets. You can organise your content by topics using the tabs feature. Set iGoogle as your browser homepage and you’ll soon be more informed.Top Tip: To add content from blogs you like reading, use the ‘rss widget’ (search for this on iGoogle and you’ll soon find it). But there’s more… Apart from being a great homepage, if you choose ‘share’ from the options, you can send the settings of your iGoogle page to your students – useful  when you are using blogs with them or regularly consulting the same news websites, etc. Something else worth trying… Pageflakes and Netvibes are two other simple and excellent ways of making a dynamic website for yourself or your students. Instead of sharing tabs, with these sites you can make your content publicly available to other teachers – you can also find ready-made tabs that other educators have created. For an example, check out a pageflake that I used on a teacher training course one summer here: www.pageflakes.com/default.aspx

 

 

Graham Stanley blogs here, microblogs here and here  and here. He saves his bookmarks here and here. He shares his taste in books here, his photos here and you can see where in the world he’s going to be next here. In fact,you can probably find him on just about every social network worth trying (For some strange reason his cats also have Facebook accounts). He is Baldric Commons in Second Life, where he is project manager of the British Council’s Learn English Second Life for Teens project. In Real Life, he works as a teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer in Barcelona, Spain. He also has found himself at more conferences and doing lots more ICT teacher training than before and thinks this has something to do with Web 2.

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Published in: on January 7, 2009 at 2:33 pm  Comments (10)  
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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The problem with Graham’s stuff is that it’s all so friggin’ dull and earnest – not a trace of humour anywhere! I thought education was supposed to be more like entertainment these days, but GS seems to be stuck in a grim tutorial with his not-so-engrossing supervisor. Well, what about the rest of us?!

  2. I loved your posting G, am a geek 2.0 2 – you’ve some very handy tips, especially Flock which I hadn’t heard of.

    BTW, I second that Delicious is awesome. Very worth checking out as is OpenOffice.

  3. oops,

    Also meant to add to the list: LinkedIn and Xing -great profi socialnetworking sites (Facebook without the misc).

  4. What do you think of Tumblr? I think it has a lot of potential….

  5. thanks for a great intro to all the places on the net a teacher should know about. I’m a friend and colleague of Lindsay’s and it’s great to have another 6 things to think about!

  6. Thanks for the comments,Peter, Karenne & Darren, and thanks for reminding me about Tumblr – it’s a great tool that I’d forgotten about. Oh, and sorry I didn’t edutain you, Sandy – hope I do better next time…

  7. Thanks for your posting, Graham! I find it really helpful. And I liked the tone of it, too. I hate it when people try to entertain you when that’s not what you’re looking for. That’s all about one’s cultural learning style, I guess.
    Regards,
    Olga

  8. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with us. My question is: Is there any web page or open source virtual campus where all those tools could be integrated? For some teacher it is long time consuming using this activities in their classrooms.

    Ascen

    • Hi there,
      I know that Moodle is free, but you need a server to host it (www.moodle.com). It’s a virtual learning environment. Otherwise, you could try setting things up in a wiki (e.g. pbwiki.com) and put everything there.

      • Thanks for your answer.

        I already have Moodle in a hosting, where I’m doing some b-learning and e-learning courses. How can I do it? Adding it as resource? Or withing the Moodle Blog and wiki activity? Do you know anyone who is working with it?

        I would really appreciate any help please.


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