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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Webquest... A well-planned project

I have to make a confession here. I regret so much that I didn't have discovered earlier.

What's this

Dudeney and Hockly(2007: 54) define webquests as 'mini-projects in which a large percentage of the input and material is supplied through the web'. From the same book and the classes we had in the ICT in ELT module I learnt that Bernie Dodge, a Professor of educational Technology at San Diego State University is the pioneer for this educational tool.

How it works?

There are specific guidelines, in order to design your own customised webquest. The under-pinning langugae learning theory is, in my opinion, Task-based learning. In Webquest design there are stages as exactly there are stages in a language learning task. However, Webquests are classified more as projects than tasks (Dudeney and Hockly 2007:57). In order to design a webquest you will need an authoring tool. QuestGarden is the one.
For extra help on how to do it check this out:

A tip: Bear in mind all the steps and the level of the students in order to create a successful WebQuest.

  • Learner develops  research skills.The learner is looking up information on the web in order to complete the task.
  • Learner develops analytical skills. Questions are designed to stimulate analytical thinking.
  • Learner develops word processing skills. Students need to write down the answers and edit  texts.
  • It is virtually motivating as each webquest is tailored to students' interests.
  • It is not free (well it's pretty cheap-a two years subscription to QuestGarden is $20)
  • The design of the quest is a bit poor and might be a bit blunt.
Dudeney, G. and N. Hockly 2007 How to Teach English with Technology Harlow: Pearson Longman


    “Sometimes questions are more important than answers.”
    Nancy Willard
    Socrates use to make his students getting interested on a topic by answering questions. Asking questions is the only way to find the truth. I strongly endorse this view as the majority of the teachers does. On the web there are thousand sites for quizzes. I have tried many of them but here there are two quite useful in language learning:

    BBC is one of my favourite site for authentic material. The learning English pages are extremely useful. There are many games that you can use in the classroom such a crosswords and beat the keeper(It's fun!). BBC's quizzes could be extremely useful in teaching idioms or colloquial expressions. Try it!

    One of the largest quiz databases in the Web. You can find some really good quizzes of general knowledge and some of them , belive me, are really challenging! Quizzes come both in HTML and Flash form.
    I really enjoyed a quiz about what is sarcasm!(For those of you that find it difficult to teach abstract concepts).  One drawback of this site is the advertisements(sometimes there are pop-up windows as well).

    Sunday, 27 March 2011

    Alternatives to YouTube and how to use them.

    You can find million and millions of videos to consume in YouTube for consumtion either in or out of the classroom. The sites featured here contain videos intended for more educational use than the funny videos in YouTube. However, there are educational channels aor universities channels quite interesting and I will try to cover them in the future.

    Why to use Videos?
     The answer is simple: To stimulate your students' brains. If you have the appropriate equipment for showing videos can be a part of a warm up activity or an excellent source of information or even the prompt to start a conversation.


    Good site specially designed for teachers. Contains loads of educational videos and also some interesting resources such as lesson plans. Here is an example of a video and how to use it in the classroom:


    Last year I had to teach a unit about fashion in B1 level. In the course book there were activities for all skills and the last activity of the unit is always the writing and speaking activities. The text about fashion at the beginning of the unit was a bit blunt. The classroom had an IWB so what I did was to show students a video like this in order to stimulate them and motivate them to take part in the speaking activity first and then come up with some ideas for the brainstorming pre-writing part of the writing task.

    BBC learning zone

    BBC's educational portal is extremely good and full of ideas. Although it is mainly attended to native speakers it is ideal for a CLIL(Content and Language Integrated Learning) context. One of the benefits of using BBCs videos in language teaching is that it is an authentic material specially designed for learning. Well, I won't write more, go and check it out yourselves.Here is a video about the climate change:

    Hot potatoes: Creating exersices is easier than baking spuds!

    What's this?
    It's an authoring tool to create your own exercises. Basically it is a programme you can download here and install it to your computer.

    Why to use it?
    To create on-line quizzes for the classroom of course. Quizzes are fun and capture learners' interest.

    How to use it?

    Hmmm... This might take some time just to get used to the interface. To get an idea start watching tutorial videos like this one below or go to website's tutorial list here


    • The same old good six typical exercises you will find in books.
    • It is time consuming to create an exercise(10 items took me half an hour-but then maybe it's because that's just me)
    Enjoy your spuds!

    Sunday, 20 March 2011

    Learning chocolate- A ''tasty'' picture dictionary.
    This Website presents words in groups using some interesting pictures as a visual aid in order to memorise vocabulary.
    Special features:
    • You can listen the word(good for racticing pronounciation)
    • There is a bunch of exercises useful for further consolidation.

    Why is this useful?
    As most of us did we learn by seeing. And the fact that they are grouped makes the site interestingly useful.

    In the language classroom?

     I would use it in presenting a group of vocabulary with an interactive white board.

    The vocabulary list is a bit limited and the exercises are unimaginative and a bit blunt.

    Monday, 7 March 2011

    Audioboo!! Recording-Sharing-learning!!

    What's this?

    Website for recording and sharing your sounds. Create you podcast and share them instantly!! Watch this video tutorial for more details.

    Why is it useful?

    Podcasts  can be used both by learners and teachers.

    Teachers can:
    • Record feedback and share it with the learners.
    • Record a conversation among teachers(native and non-native speakers), another lesson, record learners.
    • Create ''improve your pronunciation'' podcasts.
    Learners can:
    • Record themselves reading a text (improving intonation and pronunciation)
    • Create their own podcasts.
    • Record themselves discussing a topic and then sharing it with the classroom. 
    • Sing...
    Audioboo's most significant feature is easy sharing. You can publish your podcasts anywhere! a

      Monday, 28 February 2011

      Second life and language learning presentation.

      1. It maximizes experiential learning through the interaction with virtual word. Learners have the opportunity to see, hear and touch objects and learn their names or read floating text etc.
      2. Inter-cultural communication takes place more often than in traditional classrooms.
      3. Interaction with native speakers who use second life.
      Of course the list of the benefits could be expanded and we could discuss further the above statements. But when I was working on this presentation I thought that SL is to good to be true.

      1. It is for adults not for children. When you enter SL you might experience cyberbullying or sexting. \Linden Labs ,which is the company that launched SL, has set the age limit at 18.
      2. It is a virtual not a real world. Yes, simulation can be really good for practice but I am not sure how "prepared" the learner would be when faces a real-life situation.
      3. It can become addictive for some learners. Being whoever you want to be and do whatever you like in a virtual world might be extremely appealing and therefore addictive.  A dystopian possibility could be that people spend more time in their virtual lives rather than in real life. 

      SL could become the future in education. The graphics will improve and the environment will become more real. However, it is not only used for educational purposes. Users(or residents in SL context) should be responsible on how they are using it.