Friday, 19 September 2008

My Adventures In Second Life: Trying Out Sound And Missing Out On Appearing On Uruguayan TV

I mentioned before that I had joined the slexperiment wiki to try to gain more understanding about how Second Life can be used for teaching and learning languages.

The group is lead by Nergiz Kern, an EFL teacher based in Turkey and meets on Education Island every Friday at 6 GMT . It aims to show tools and share ideas to be used for language teaching in Second Life.

I found the couples of meetings I have attended very interesting and informative although my personal contribution to the group was minimal. Through just listening and watching what can be done, I really feel I am slowly developing a real understanding of the potential of Second Life as a platform for language teaching.

Of course, I need to do more studying to develop my own SL skills.

As ever with technology, if I know what can be done, at least it gives me an idea of what to aim for! I can choose, discard and sometimes even improve the use of a tool and that process of discovering “What can be done” is really empowering as it means I truly own my integrated ICT practice. I also make it work for my aims rather than it being an end in itself, which is always a danger.

Nergiz emailed yesterday about an experiment to be carried by a journalist from the Uruguayan TV who was planning to join the meeting, introduced by Alicia Barbitta or Wonderalica Alturas.
There was a problem and the journalist did not turn up tonight, but the event is due to be re-scheduled for Tuesday.

I also mentioned before that my first attempt at using sound in Second Life was far from successful. So when the group dwindled a bit, I thought I would try sound again. I found it a very positive experience and I can see why the use o f sound in Second Life would greatly enhance language learners’ confidence.

Learning a language is a risky business, people do not always acknowledge that fact. You put a lot at risk: yourself image, physical and social as well as your sense of cultural identity. All these things you sometimes did not know you had-particularly if you come from a mono-cultural and monolingual background…

All this definitely takes you out of your comfort zone and can feel threatening unless you see the benefits fairly quickly. If you use role-play or drama, it is not as threatening. You are still yourself and the other “you” can make mistakes-it is only a game. The drama cover is then a very real protection and it can make the learner more willing to take risks using the language.

I am now planning to have a look at the SL Teen Grid to see how this translates in a school context… Any pointers welcome!

Friday, 12 September 2008

Free Rice is Going Multi-Lingual and Cross-Curricular

I blogged about Free Rice, an online vocabulary game aiming to improve “word power” while also giving rice to the third world in November last year. Although I did use it as a starter in languages lessons to demonstrate the links between romance languages and English and encourage students to infer meaning from the few latin stems they knew, I always thought it was such a shame the game did not exist in other languages .

Thanks to Marie-France Perkins’, Sans Probleme blog , I have just found out that this oversight has been rectified and not only Free Rice has gone multilingual with games in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian,but also cross-curricular with games covering Art, Maths, Chemistry and Geography.

I could see the English grammar and vocabulary games useful for EFL as well as native students and the Art and Geography games are certainly useful resources for developing cultural awareness.

What now? Let’s test it out and see if it lives up to its promises…

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Connecting Online

Visit Connecting Online COO9

My Ning addiction is getting worse!
Despite a very busy first week complemented by a number of technological challenges, one of them being the loss of interactivity of my whiteboard-I am already behind with the IWB challenge..-, I still managed to join another Ning Group, Connecting online.

Created by Nellie Deutsch and described as “A place to connect and share your "online" personal and professional learning experiences”, this groups already includes more than 200 members.

Nellie Deutsch is from Canada and she has been working on technology integration in the ESL/EFL classrooms since the early 1990s. She has been involved in collaborative projects and WebQuests via Moodle for the past 5 years and she is currently studying for a doctorate in educational leadership specializing in curriculum,and instruction online at the University of Phoenix. Her research focus is the use of web 2.0 tools in blended learning environments in higher education by teaching staff.
She has her own website and her blog is about exchanging ideas and best practices on how to integrate technology into face-to-face and online distance learning environments.

I was particularly happy to be indirectly involved in a conversation about online Friends started by Nicola Avery , eLearning Adviser at the University of Surrey.

This really is a great group, so come on come and join us!