MyUdutu – very Useful!

I hereby happily cross “MyUdutu” off my list of challenges and declare that it is indeed an excellent program for creating very attractive learning content and quiz type activities (in SCORM format) for Moodle (and other platforms – including Facebook!). Here’s a taste of what my grade 8s were presented with today in their Moodle lesson:

 

One of the pages from my MyUdutu activity. Students are to drag and drop the vocabulary words into the slots below the photos.

One of the pages from my MyUdutu activity. Students are to drag and drop the vocabulary words into the slots below the photos.

Another page from the MyUdutu activity. This is a cloze where students are meant to drag and drop the vocabulary words next to the sentences they belong in.

Another page from the MyUdutu activity. This is a cloze where students are meant to drag and drop the vocabulary words next to the sentences they belong in.

If you would like to see (and experience) the whole activity the way my students did, click here. Click on “launch course” once you get there. (It looks and works exactly the same way from within Moodle – sans the watermark). Hope you like it!
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So, how did I manage this miracle? Well, with a lot of help from my friends, most notably from Guido (Twitter: @europeaantje). He saved me when I was about to give up trying to make MyUdutu work in Moodle and pack up the whole #$**grr!!! challenge… Thank you Guido!
 
Here are the two steps I followed and what I learnt from the experience:
 
The first step was registering with MyUdutu, browsing through the manuals and tutorials on offer and creating a simple quiz type activity. I chose the topic I’m working on right now with my grade 8s, a short-story by Yoshiko Uchida called “The Bracelet”. The quiz is meant as a follow-up activity to practice vocabulary and demonstrate understanding of the story. This step was easy as pie. MyUdutu really is very userfriendly and intuitive – although a certain amount of “playing around” with the program is of course required.
 
Step two was uploading the activity to Moodle and testing it on my Grade 8s. I was under the impression that I first needed a “MyUdutu Plugin” to do that. So, I tried to download the plugin from www.moodle.org, and install it but failed miserably – every time…This is when Guido came to my rescue and told me to just upload the zipped MyUdutu activity to my Moodle files, consider it a SCORM and otherwise treat it as I would a HotPotatoes activity I’d just uploaded. That did the trick and my grade 8s loved the activity! It did take a little bit long to load though, but I guess that’s to be expected when 15 kids are trying to do the activity at the same time.
 
One note though, Moodle (without the MyUdutu plugin installed) considers each Udutu-slide an entity and in the grading treats them equally. Therefore, if you want your activity to be graded (and the grades listed in the gradebook), you should only include  “assessment screens” in your activity. If you include “basic screens” as well then the grading will be off. For instance, the first quiz I created had 2 basic screens (a front “welcoming” page and an end “congratulatory” page) in addition to 7 assessment screens. When I took the quiz I got a score of 86% even though I hadn’t made any mistakes! Once I deleted my basic screens the problem was solved. Perhaps this only happens when you don’t have the plugin installed?
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Overall, the whole experiment didn’t take long and it was an enjoyable one. Although there isn’t much you can do with MyUdutu that you cannot also do within Moodle (by using Moodle’s own ”Quiz” or “Lesson” modules), the end product looks much more colorful, attractive and “professional”. I really enjoyed the little “extras”, like the sound effects you can add for correct/incorrect feedback, your own logo to the template (I used my school’s logo) and also how easy it was to add multiple audio and image files yet have no problem uploading it all in one go to Moodle in no-time. Yes! I like.
:-)CoffeeAddict
PS.
After creating a couple more of the Udutu activities and uploading them to Moodle, I have met with the following problem: Mid-activity the computers sometimes ”freeze” and the kids have to re-start their browsers (and re-enter Moodle) and then try again. I have no idea why this happens (or why it doesn’t happen most of the time) but just to make sure my kids don’t “suffer” too much I’ve set all the Udutu activities to “unlimited attempts” and “highest grade”.   
 

My Moodle Challenge

I’ve been using Moodle with my Grade 8s for 3 years now.  I started from scratch – with an empty Moodle and an instruction manual. It wasn’t too difficult to work out how to create courses and fill them with some content. I just followed the instructions step by step and watched a lot of how-to videos on YouTube…

So, now I know how to create lessons and quizzes by using Moodle’s own lesson & quiz modules in addition to the free Hot Potatoes software. I’ve also got a good grip on how to add and embed all sorts of “stuff” into the courses. It’s wonderful how adding images and animations, videos and presentations, audiofiles and weblinks can spice up a course and make it colorful!  

Lately however, I’ve started getting bored with the look and feel of my courses and so I’ve begun searching for other free authoring tools (similar to Hot Potatoes) with which I can create interesting and different content.  So far I’ve come up with the following list of (free) tools to try out:

  Link: Xerte

 Link: Mos Solo

 Link: MyudUtu

 Link: ContentGenerator

 Link: Courselab

I have decided to give myself the following challenge: learn how to use all of these tools, one at a time. If you know of any other tools similar to these, please write me a note and I’ll add them to my “challenges” :-) (woohoo – I guess I’m taking a chance here… but oh well) If you have your own Moodle and also want to challenge yourself please do – and let me know how it went! 

In order to cross a tool off my list and consider it “tried and tested” I will create something (probably a quiz type activity) with it, upload the activity to my Moodle, test run it with my grade 8s and report back here with my findings.

Good Luck to me (and to you – if you’re creating too!)

:-)CoffeeAddict

Btw. If you have a lot of money to spend on software, here is a link to a list of Commercial Products you could try as well: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Tools_for_creating_SCORM_content

Web 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0

Aaaargh! Just when I was getting a handle on Web2 and tools for education, I stumble accross this article on the coming Web 3 and 4! Stop world – I want to get off! According to the article (sort of), this is where it’ll all end up: (watch the clip)

 

So, I might as well jump forward a few chapters in the book of short stories (Discovering Fiction, Cambridge University Press) that I’m using and have my grade 8s read “The Fun They Had” by one of my favorite authors of all time; Isaac Asimov. Perhaps I should show them the film I Robot (watch the clip above) too? I better find myself another job as well – as ı am about to be replaced by a robot/web4….

:-)A CoffeeAddict(ed) one I hope…

Magical Moodle Moments

Although many of the teachers I have met at this conference use ready made Moodle courses with their students, very few of them seem to actually be involved in setting a course up or creating (or even adding) content to their online Moodle courses. They’ve been handed Moodle in the same way as they would a workbook. To them it’s just a (good) resource.

Unfortunately, Moodle is not as well known in Turkey as in the rest of Europe, and many schools are far from ready to even consider blended learning. I guess that’s why publishers don’t offer “moodle packages” to go with their coursebooks yet? I really wish they’d start doing that soon because that would save moodlers like myself – who has had to create every bit of their course content from scratch – a lot of work and worry.

Barbara Gardner (Study Group)

Barbara Gardner (Study Group)

By “from scratch” I don’t mean html code or anything like that of course. I’ve been using Hot Potatoes a lot in addition to the modules Moodle (9.1) offers. I’ve also (quite recently) found out about CourseLab. However, yesterday at Barbara Gardener’s amazing presentation “Creating and Delivering Online Professional Development using Moodle” several wonderful things happened. One was Barbara sharing her knowledge and experience of how to set up a course and what sorts of features make a Moodle course more successful and rewarding for the course participants, another was my chance meeting with José Louis G. Belderrain, a programmer actively involved in creating “moodle packages” (SCORM) to go with Cambridge coursebooks!

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Can you believe my luck? Both Barbara and José Louis stayed after Barbara’s presentation and discussed Moodle and moodling and content with me and seriously made my day! I am now literally bursting with new ideas for how to improve my own Moodle courses! In true “techno-freak-fashion” – we exchanged twitter handles and facebook account information and will (I hope to God) keep in touch so that I can learn more from them!

Ah! Happy day!!!

:-)CoffeeAddict

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

I really like a good story and so do my students. Stories are fun to tell and fun to listen to. However, according to my grade 8s, they’re a bit less fun to read – and a lot less fun to write. This attitude is about to change. Armed to the teeth with the tools the wonderful Janet Bianchini gave us yesterday, I intend to woo and wow them, bring them to their knees and make them see the error of their ways… (Janet’s session was on idioms – can you tell whether it’s rubbed off on me yet?)

Janet Bianchini

Janet Bianchini

Because I’m really interested in web 2 tools and technology, and not so much in teaching idioms, what I most enjoyed about Janet’s presentation were the links to, and demonstration of all the different web 2 tools she uses to tell stories.

My teenage students somehow forget that they don’t like writing when a laptop is placed before them. To boot, web 2 tools motivate them no end. What I learned from Janet’s session is therefore really going to help me in my day to day teaching. Thank you Janet!

Most of the tools she demonstrated were totally new to me; fodey, makebeliefscomix, dvolver, bitstrips, maxmydream, toondoo and photofunia. The rest were “old” favorites, such as GoAnimate, Imagechef, bookr and Voki.
Janet’s slide show presentation with the links to all the tools and the examples is available at Brighton Online. Download now!

:-) CoffeeAddict

Here’s a full list of the resources from Janet’s session: 

  • http://www.idiomdictionary.com/
  • http://idiomsite.com/
  • http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/idioms/
  • http://acliltoclimb.blogspot.com/2011/03/idioms-part-19-food-fish-interactive.html
  • http://rollsoffthetongue.tumblr.com/
  • http://civitaquana.blogspot.com/2010/05/let-sleeping-catlie.html
  • http://www.toondoo.com/
  • http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/
  • http://writecomics.com/
  • http://www.bitstrips.com/create/comic/
  • http://www.dvolver.com/live/moviemaker.html
  • http://goanimate.com/
  • http://www.maxmydream.com/
  • http://www.zimmertwins.com/
  • http://www.tagxedo.com/
  • http://www.wordle.net
  • http://www.imagechef.com/
  • http://www.tuxpi.com
  • http://www.photofunia.com/
  • http://www.fodey.com/generators/newspaper/snippet.asp
  • http://www.worldwidewords.org/index.htm
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/theteacher/
  • http://www.pimpampum.net/bookr/index.php?id=24846
  • http://civitaquana.blogspot.com
  • http://www.englishclub.com/ref/Idioms/index.htm

Mary’s Little … Multimedia Project

One of the best presentations I watched at “The Old Ship Hotel” in Brighton yesterday was Mary Henderson’s “Meaningful English through Multimedia Projects”. The projects she was talking about were research projects where her students (young adults) had been expected to use various recording devices (video-cameras, audio-recorders) and computer software (Windows Moviemaker, word processing software etc.) to produce a written report and a video-presentation on their chosen topic. The topics ranged from sports and baseball to product design, and from tea-drinking customs in Britain to the meaning of the word “gig”. We got to see clips from the video presentations and we flipped through several of the reports and I thought they were all brilliant!

Mary Henderson

Mary Henderson

From Mary’s presentation it became clear that the keys to her (and her students’) success lay in the planning and the feedback. The students had been required to follow a detailed week-to-week plan throughout the project and had had to complete the different steps in the process by given deadlines. That helped the students stay on track and also made it easier for Mary to monitor and assess her students’ work and effort continuously.

I would love to be able to do something like this with my students. However, my students are teenagers living in Turkey and not young adults living in Britain trying to improve their English. So, obviously I’ll have to lower the bar a bit as to the quality of the end product as well as probably think up ways to motivate them to actually do the work. My younger students may or may not be as techno-savvy as Mary’s students, nor have as much time as they did to devote to editing and programming, and that needs to be taken into consideration as well.

Although designing and running a project like this seems to involve rather a lot of work on the teacher’s part (the very detailed planning, the regular assessment, the feedback, designing the rubrics, and evaluating the end products), the examples Mary showed us convinced me that it will all be worth it in the end!

:-) CoffeeAddict

Web 2.0 for IELTS Speaking and Writing Success

Amanda Wilson and Susan Dempsey seriously wowed the jam-packed conference room at the Brighton Center yesterday. Their presentation “Web 2.0 for IELTS Speaking and Writing Success” was everything I could have hoped for and more. The presentation itself was entertaining and enjoyable, very well prepared and set up, and I left the room feeling like I’d just been handed a basket full of new exciting toys and tools for learning that I really can’t wait to try out on my guinea pigs erm. grade 8s at home!

Amanda Wilson & Susan Dempsey
Amanda Wilson & Susan Dempsey

One of the great things about Susan and Amanda’s presentation was that they provided us with a little booklet at the beginning of their session. It contained a list of all the tools they’d cover, along with a description of each one, the web-link and other notes. This booklet is available at Brighton Online. Go get your copy! It may also be available at the authors’ personal blogs, check out Susan’s blog here and Amanda’s blog here.

Here are my notes from the super session:

* All of the web 2 tools have been tested with 16-18 year old students.

* Susan and Amanda use blogs as their learning platform with the students but I think Moodle can be used with advantage too. I believe all of the web 2 tools they described can be linked to from Moodle or embedded even, – time will tell.

* Of all the web 2 tools they covered, my favorite so far must be the Vocaroo; a quick online voice recording application where you can record voice messages and afterwards share them with others via email. The students need a microphone only, no need to download or install anything, it’s free and impossibly easy to use! Imagine assigning reading homework to your students and picking it up in the morning from your email account – then choosing a “good one” and playing it to the class as you start the day! Or, imagine having the students use it to read in a news broadcast they created/wrote in groups, or a commercial ad or…. The possibilities are endless :-) (I’m excited – can you tell?)

*The other tools that were mentioned were: Google Wonder Wheel, Linoit, Audacity, Five Card Flickr, Storify, Typewithme and Jing. These have now officially been added to my “to do list” and I will report back with my findings after I’ve had a chance to test them out. If any of you know of blog posts that have already covered any of these please let me know! Also, if you happen to test them out before I get a chance please let me know so that I can learn from you!

Now I gotta go … I have a long day of learning – and fun – in front of me!

:-)CoffeeAddict

Beautiful Brighton

On Monday I really have to go participate in Leo Selivan’s “All about Alliteration”  workshop. Why? Well, first of all because I’m sure it will be absolutely awesome, but most of all because phrases such as fabulous fun filled Fridays, pretty pictures, sweet sunny Sundays, fantastic fun and – you guessed it – Beautiful Brighton keep popping into my mind these days.  Here’s a clip that I think will give you a clue as to why:

iatefl 025

Another reason for participating is that I’ve gotten to know Leo and think his workshop will definitely be worth a visit! Check out Leo’s personal blog here and know that he is also part of the British Council’s Online Blog Team. Check that out here.

A Sweet Sunny Sunday to all….

PS! I did end up going to Leo’s session and it was really good! Here’s a photo of Leo:

iatefl 010

Hello from Brighton!

We (Eva and I) arrived late last night and after having dinner at the hotel went straight to bed, exhausted! 7 hours and a lovely breakfast (eggs &bacon!) later, we were off to the Learning Technologies Pre-Conference event at the University of Brighton.

The topic was “Interactive Whiteboards, from Methods to Madness” and it opened with a presentation by Connie Güntelberg. I really enjoyed it, and not only because we’re practically countrymen – she’s Danish  – but because it reminded me of how much fun and how useful those boards really are! We have “promethium boards” in my school, but I haven’t really been using them much – I usually just turn one on and use the pen in the same way I would chalk… I haven’t taken the time to learn how to “dazzle” my students with it – but Connie made me see the errors of my ways so from now on I promise to read up, experiment and get better ….

Here’s a photo of Connie and ı, plus my notes from her presentation:

 

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“Get On Board Today I” by Connie Güntelberg
 

Why use whiteboards?

• No need for chalk or WB pens that can dry out, overhead projectors, maps, DVD players etc.
• Also no need for dictionaries, photocopies, books – everything can be stored on a computer/IWB
• Increases attention: the Ss respond positively to the visuals/color
• Less need 4 note-taking as you can save the lessons and re-use them for revision or re-teaching.
• Active participation – the Ss love using the board.
• Easy to save notes, print out and then share/collaborate (to work on later)
• One platform for everything: reading, listening, writing, speaking, viewing
• Develops Ss ICT skills

Examples of how the IWB can be used effectively:

EX 1 – Grammar: Write a collection of words on the board and also draw up a large box. Invite the Ss to come to the board and choose the nouns from a list & drag them into the box. Follow up with a discussion.

EX 2 – Listening: Provide a cloze text on the board and play the audio (ready at a click) and have the Ss fill in the blanks. Then reveal the correct answers by “erasing” the white paint that had been used to disguise the correct answers to begin with.

EX 3 – Poetry: Display a poem on the board & play the audio with a reading of the poem. Ss listen & read at the same time, circle important words, + identify verbs, nouns and adjectives by color coding them (nouns-red, verbs- blue, adjectives-green, other-black). Then use the erase function to reveal the correct answers.

EX 4 – Reading: show connections in a longer text (the example Connie showed us was a rather long poem and we also learned that the poet was also a musician too) by placing it on the board, playing the audio reading in the background, underlining words again in diff. colors depending on function and drawing lines between different parts of the text (to show connections). She also showed us how the highlighting tool could be used to draw attention important points in the text. Finally she demonstrated how the “curtain function” can be used to gradually reveal parts of the text. To top it all off she let us listen to and watch a music video featuring the poet.

EX5 – Vocabulary building: put up a picture on the board to get the kids talking… Then write the words/vocabulary on the picture itself.

EX6 - Analyze a picture/photo by circling who/what’s in the center, background etc. as the kids or the T is talking/describing it. This could be used to predict the plot in a (related) story, for questions/answers type speaking activities or as writing prompt.

EX7 – Connie demonstrated how adding sound effects to a reading of a text/poem/drama scene can make it more exciting and appealing for the Ss and also enhance meaning

EX 8 – The last example focused on the use of video on the IWB. The board makes it very easy to pause/ff/rewind by simply touching the screen with your finger (or promethium pen). It is also easy to move back and forth between the video and the text/script and even show both at the same time (i.e. you see the text but hear the audio from the film).

Like I said to begin with, it was a very nice presentation that has inspired me to want to explore IWBs further. As a bonus, I got to meet some wonderful people in the breaks as well. Here’s a photo of us having fun in a Coffee(Addict) – break:

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Eva, Işıl, Burcu, Beyza, CoffeeAddict & Kristina

Here is a link to an AMAZING list of tools/activities for whiteboards and smartboards. Check it out!

Me – Moodle Maniac?

I was introduced to Moodle two years ago at a conference at Tarsus SEV. The IT teacher there, Mehmet Özdemir, gave the presentation. I can never thank him enough because although it was a short presentation, it changed everything! It was like getting an injection of pure caffeine! Here is a video about Moodle, much like the one I was shown two years ago:

I remember thinking “I want my own Moodle to use with my students” and I went to Mr. Özdemir afterwards and asked him if he could please get me set up with a Moodle account and perhaps lend me a Moodle Manual? He said sure – and explained to me that there are many (many!) host servers around the world where you can (for a fee) rent a space with a Moodle program already set up for you! One is http://www.dreamhost.com/ but there are many more.

Anyway, he helped me get my account (I remember paying something like $50 initially, out of my own pocket -but ever since I started using it with the students my school has been more than happy to cover the yearly cost) and I started experimenting with it. Setting up a simple course was surprisingly easy. You Tube is full of tutorial videos on how to do everything in Moodle and I watched a lot of them!  Moodle also supports its users at http://moodle.org. The Hot Potatoes software turned out to be very user-friendly and useful as well. Within a few months I had my own (very simple) virtual classroom set up for my grade 8s who were happy and excited to serve as “guinea pigs” for my Moodle experiment.

To make a long story short – now, two years later, Moodle has spread from my Grade 8 Course and “infected” Grade 6, 3, and 5 in my school. Soon it will be used on all levels – even grade 1! Students, parents and administrators (!) love it (or say they do :-)). My grade 8 students have two “Language Arts Moodle Lessons”  and one “Grammar Moodle” lesson a week (SEV is a private school and the grade 8 kids have 10 English lessons a week, many of them “split” meaning that the kids come to me in small groups of no more than 12 students which is perfect because there are 15 computers in the Computer Lab). Actually, the grade 8s loved Moodle more when it was brand new and they thought it was a “computer game”, a little less when they discovered that it was a bit more serious than that and that the exercises, lessons etc were actually graded and that they had to really pay attention and work hard to succeed at it. 

These days I am forever looking for new (preferrably free and easy) stuff to put on my Moodle to spice it up. Today I got really excited because through my wonderful new friends on Twitter I found out about  the Moodle News and the  Moodlerific blogs (both look immensely promising) as well as two programs that I think will be useful for creating content Content Generator  and Course Lab 2,4. The latter seems a bit more complicated … Does anyone out there have any experiences with either of the two? Do you know of any other free software programs that I could use to create content for Moodle?

At IATEFL I am planning to attend the session about testing in Moodle by Josefina Santana and Elena Santana. I am really looking forward to that. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot!

:-)CoffeeAddict