Student reactions to Google Presentations

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I recently introduced Google Slides (formerly known as Presentation) to a group of students at Aoyama Gakuin University. For most of the students it was their first time to use collaborative software of any kind. I decided to conduct a little study to investigate their reactions to the software and using it to work together collaboratively on a single presentation.

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Can’t afford Adobe? Try Gimp!

Gimp-3For photo/graphic manipulation, Adobe Photoshop or Fireworks is great. However, as teachers, our use of these applications may not justify their expensive price tags. Gimp is an alternative for those of us who cannot afford the Adobe suite.


Gimp was developed under the GNU Project, a mass collaboration project started in the 80’s by Richard Stallman of MIT.

Gimp is entirely free to use.

Gimp has a learning curve, like any software; however, once you get used to its idiosyncrasies I believe you will find Gimp to be a powerful alternative to expensive image editing software.


2014-06-07 15.47.25 I was fortunate to attend this years JALT CALL conference. There were many exciting presentations involving all levels of technology, but surprisingly it was one of the less tech heavy talks which ended up catching my eye. In a show-and-tell style presentation led by James Henry III, we were introduced to a method of student generated storytelling which mixed the pragmatic benefits of vocabulary building with the delight of visual story telling. James calls this activity, “Storycycling.” This multistage activity reinforces target vocabulary and/or grammar while also offering a mix of reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

Here is the breakdown of James’ Storycycling. Continue reading

Google Docs: Multilingual, but…

Have you ever used Google Docs with your EFL students? If so, have you ever wondered why students never seem to spell check their documents? Or, why you are unable to properly use the spell check feature with documents they have shared with you? Well, this has been eating at me for the last week, and today I finally made a point of finding the solution to the problem.

In the image above you can see how Google Docs claims to have “No spelling suggestions” for the error-filled sample sentence. Of course, this particular error was staged for effect, but not on purpose. After spending an afternoon going over student essays in Google Docs, and being continually frustrated by the numerous spelling errors and Google’s reticence to help me with the issue, I finally broke down and started digging for answers. In a moment of frustration, I typed the above-pictured sentence into a new document and was amazed to see that Google finally had some suggestions for me.

What made my documents different than my students’ documents? That was the question that led me to the rather simple solution…

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Wiglets: Applied to language learning?

Lots of bright shiny toys appear on my screen. One of the first questions I ask, “Can it be applied to language learning?” Case in point: Wiglets. A kickstarter campaign (ends June 3) that uses augmented reality, or information digitally projected onto a camera feed of “reality”.

In this case it is for a children’s book. The book, when used with a camera-ready internet-connected device (smart phone or tablet), places cute little animated animals that follow physics and screen gestures by the reader to extend the story in the book, which is a collection of different backgrounds like a hillside or forest floor.

Here are some apps already available at wiggleplanet. They show the care that went into the design of the creatures, but also how they are applied as entertainment and learning tools for kids.


This one has me stumped. I know the technology could be adapted for language learning, and not only with kids. I just can’t get to any specific application ideas. Maybe someone out there who is more creative can leave a comment.

Don’t Miss JALTCALL 2014

The JALTCALL 2014 conference on June 6~8 represents the largest gathering in Japan ofScreenshot 2014-05-20 09.43.41 educators from around the world who are committed to using digital technology in the language classroom. This year’s conference has attracted a massive wave of applications to present, and the pre-conference registration figures indicate that the turnout will be stellar.

Amongst the mix of fantastic presentations you can find talks by most of the DMLL contributors:

Those of you who are interested in mobile learning should also make time to check out the plenary by JALTCALL Journal editor and mobile language learning guru Professor Glenn Stockwell.

A full list of presentations and workshops can be found here.

See you in Nagoya!

Google Classroom a Moodle Replacement?

Not enough information to have a verdict on this yet; Google’s new attempt at an LMS is called Classroom. Currently it is an invite-only beta for Google Apps for Education. Thanks to Alan MacKenzie for pointing it out.


I have tried to dust off my Apps for Education in two domains I had it set up in, but it seems that restrictions have blocked access for these. I signed up as an individual, before institutional access became the norm. My Apps for Education has become a free Apps for Business account.  Continue reading