ICT and Languages Conference 2012

Technology in the MFL classroom is the Marmite of many MFL teachers, who either love it or loathe it. Funny thing really, given how much ICT has helped not just to enhance, but to transform the MFL classroom for the better.

The ICT and Languages Conference takes place on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th February 2012 and is, as Joe Dale – one of the plenary speakers – has already pointed out, the must attend event of the year for teachers who are seeking to exploit the possibilities new technologies afford both teaching and learning.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a self confessed geek, the ICT and Languages Conference is the place to go to meet and learn from other MFL teachers in an informal and supportive atmosphere. If last year’s conference is anything to go by, this year’s promises to become the best CPD event of the year.

I too am one of the plenary speakers and will be talking about how to harness social media and social networking to help us transform the way we teach and learn… for the better!

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Triptico – an essential resource for the interactive whiteboard

Triptico is an excellent resource for teachers to use in conjunction with their interactive whiteboards that currently contains around 20 different interactive resources – all of which can be easily edited, adapted and saved for later use.

Because Triptico is an application that runs in your computer (it runs on Adobe Air, so it’s compatible with both Macs and PCs), it can be used with any make and model of interactive whiteboard. This and the fact that it is free makes Triptico an absolute must have for every teacher wishing to make better use of technology in the classroom to engage students and foster classroom participation.

Once you have installed and launched the application, you can explore the different activities available by scrolling from left to right in the main screen or simply by clicking on favourites, which returns an very handy navigation pane.

From there you can easily navigate to any of the different interactive activity makers and you can then customise your own activities to suit your subject and lesson. As you can see, the resources on offer are often game-show inspired and range from (relatively) simple timers, image spinners and student selectors to games, quizzes and text analysis tools. The screenshots below give you an idea of the plethora of classroom-based interactive activities available:

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One iPad… to start with

Many of us look at schools in which there is 1:1 iPad or Netbook implementation and drool with envy. “If only our schools were as innovative” or, let’s face it, “as rich, as these other schools” we think to ourselves.

However, the other side of the coin is that many teachers also see iPads as nothing more than overrated books that glow. Is there no middle ground?

I think there is. Our department is currently assessing the potential impact of iPads in the classroom and, in order to do that, we have bought one. Just the one. For now. See how it goes.

You see, we feel that iPads are a great idea but we think that we need to develop pedagogically sound strategies and good practice before we consider buying any  more. Our only iPad is currently used as part of teacher-centred activities (boring, I know, but there’s more: read on) and as part of a carousel of activities in which students work in groups through a number of activities, one of which includes the use of our iPad.

The comic above, for example, was created in one of these activities using Comic Life, a fantastic and very reasonably priced iPad app.

It’s still very early days and our iPad’s use is obviously limited by its uniqueness, as we only have the one tablet. However it is already showing great promise, not only being used in lessons, but also in allowing us to explore and develop different and innovative ways to provide our students with relevant content.

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Creating a blog video task with quiz

I am a real fan of WordPress, which is, in my opinion, the most flexible and reliable of all self-hosted blogging platforms (hosted WordPress is also available). One of the reasons why WordPress is so flexible is that there are thousands of plug-ins offering additional functionality.

On this occasion I will be using a video shot with our Flip Camera HD and hosted at Vimeo and  a plug in called Quizzin that allows you to create quizzes, that is to say, self-marking exercises within your blog posts.

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Voki Classroom is nearly here

Voki has featured in my teaching for several years now, having proven itself a very valuable tool to encourage speaking in the foreign languages classroom.

Many other teachers have also realised that Voki can be very valuable, not only to encourage and motivate reluctant learners, but also as an assessment tool. As a result, the people at Voki, in consultation with their users and with specially designated Voki Ambassadors, are building a tool that is specifically designed for use in the classroom: Voki Classroom.

The main features of Voki Classroom will be:

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Do you know of a teaching and learning resource you would like to share? Please do not hesitate to get in touch.