Cutting edge tools in the ESL classroom

About three weeks ago (an eternity in blogging world …which brings to my mind a flash movie prepared by Penn University on the info cycle), Michael Coghlan, a fellow webhead in Australia, invited Dafne Gonzales (in Venezuela) and me (in Brazil) to contribute to his presentation” Cutting edge tools in the ESL classroom” to be held last Thursday January 20th at 22:30 GMT..
Dafne Gonzalez is an Associate Professor at the University Simon Bolivar in Caracas, Venezuela , which has recently signed an agreement with the World Bank. Daf, who together with Teresa almeida d’ Eça is leading the Evo 2005 BAW session, was invited to design a course for them – on how to design online courses, including instructional design.

Daf and I also received a voice mail giving us further information about the public and the context in which the presentation was going to take place. Michael then wrote a mail to the webhead list enticing members to (literally) voice their thoughts on what constitutes cutting edge tools in the ESL/EFL classroom as a lead up to the presentation via a Wimba voice-board

Michael is very active in promoting the use of voice enabled tools online and has recently opened his own blog where he reports on his latest experiments.

I logged into the Elluminate Virtual Room at Learning Times about 15 minutes before the actual presentation was to start in Australia to find Daf and other webheads already waiting for it to start. Teresa Almeida d’ Eça (in Portugal), Christine Bauer Ramazani (Vermont, USA), Sheryl Dunn (Hawaii) and Buthaina Al Othman (Kuwait) were already chatting to Jonathan Finkelstein who was showing them the Learning Times latest gadget: a video cam.

Michael had problems with the IT support in Adelaide and logged in 15 minutes later than expected so he was rushed for time and the presentation had to be clipped. Daf talked about how she is using a virtual classroom to bring guest lecturers to her classroom while I explained why I started using blogs with my high school students but did not manage to illustrate it with examples.

Dafne took some screen shots and blogged the event right after and so did Buthaina, so I very lazily am not going to go over their tracks but will direct you to their reports, which summarize and illustrate very nicely what the event was like. You will also read Michael’s mail reporting on what happened and his reaction when he listened to his voice from the recording later “ a little irritable and bossy at the beginning! By then, I was annoyed and trying desperately not to be but you can hear it in my voice”

It is incredible how your voice reveals what you are feeling at a particular moment. I was struck by the difference when I recorded my thoughts on Wimba. The first time it was late at night and I sounded sleepy and tired. My husband said: “you are not going to leave that there, are you? “. I erased it immediately and started again in the morning. It was a completely different person speaking 🙂

I am going to post here a recording of the full presentation I had prepared so that the participants from the Evonline 2005 can have an insight to the way I view blogs, why and how I have used them in my classrooms and you can also give me your comments on what feelings my voice carries. It is an mp3 file which lasts about 8 minutes.

It complements and reinforces many of the points Anne Davis made at Tappedin on Friday. Here is the cartoon, the quote and the links to which I refer.

Blogging is an exploration.
You start from nothing and learn as you go.”
(adapted from E L Doctorow)

5 thoughts on “Cutting edge tools in the ESL classroom”

  1. I know what you mean about the voice changing Bee. Some of my entries late at night sound exhausted, but I usually leave them there because I’m too tired to remove them! I don’t think it’s bad either to reveal imperfection and frailty in this blogger world.

    Thanks for the extra evaluation of my session. I’m now going to try and see if I can embed an mp3 file in my blog! Where is the audio file stored? I don’t remember seeing how to upload audio files directly into Blogger. I’ll check out the Wimba board and then see if I can sort it out. I may come back to you calling ‘HELP! 🙂

  2. I used Audacity…then exported it as an mp3 file using a lame_enc.dll which I found on my disk. Then I uploaded the file to my server and linked it to the blog text using html files (see code source). It was not difficult at all. What I would like to do now is to transform this file into a podcast and RSS it. This is my second challenge for this week 🙂

  3. Bee, the tone of your voice is very reassuring, a bit like Alastair Cooke on Letter from America. The content is also very reassuring and makes me want to rush into class tomorrow and try it all out. But I think I’ll wait a little while yet until I have mastered the tool otherwise my own tone might convey suppressed panic more than reassurance 🙂

  4. Lesley…You are plain exaggerating! As to the personal narrative style, well, I must have developed and perfected it when reading books or inventing stories for my kids before they went to sleep. For years I had to repeat the same stories, with the same intonation, the same suspense, humour or pauses or else they would protest it was not the same and make me go all over again signalling the “errors” 🙂


  5. Bee,
    Thanks for adding that link to the Cutting Edge tools in Education presentation. I logged in to Learning Times following your link and waited patiently, as you had suggested, for the conference to download. It was great to be able to “be” there. Congratulations to you and all those fantastic lecturers. Thanks, and keep sharing ideas.


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