Thursday, January 20, 2011

Evernote and my iPhone - a great combination to assist in my research project

I've been thinking about Evernote for quite a while (well, almost 2 years, I just checked when I opened my account) but haven't had the time or inclination to actually use it.  Until now. 

In brief, Evernote is an application to:
  • Capture anything: Save your ideas, things you like, things you hear, and things you see.
  • Access anywhere: Evernote works with nearly every computer, phone and mobile device out there.
  • Find things fast: Search by keyword, tag or even printed and handwritten text inside images.
    [ from the Evernote website]
And it really does everything it says.  And it's free!

I'm just starting to use it now to make notes and capture ideas, images, etc. for my Masters project. This week I went to one of the local university libraries and, instead of photocopying the few pages from a book on research methods I wanted to read, I captured them straight into Evernote, using my iPhone.  I could have just taken the images and saved them somewhere later, but by capturing them directly into Evernote I was able to add the page references and will be able to add notes later.  The bits I copied were exercises to help formulate the design of a research project, so I will be able to read the exercise and make notes into Evernote from anywhere - my laptop at home, my iPhone, or any Web browser - which will then be available to me anywhere. Much better than having photocopied notes and getting some inspiration but having to match up bits of paper or dispersed electornic notes at a later time.

I'm quite looking forward to using Evernote and also pleased to have found yet another use for my absolute favourite device, my iPhone!

If you want to know more about Evernote, I first got interested in it from hearing about it from James Clay's e-Learning Stuff blog:
and he discusses it with some colleagues in this podcast:
James Clay has put Evernote on his Top Ten Web Tools of 2008, 2009 & 2010 - so he is a bit of a fan.  I'm a bit of a fan of James'podcasts which I have subscribed to through iTunes and listen to on my iPhone while walking with my dog.

If you want to know more, and to see how other fans of Evernote are using it, just search on the Web, you'll find lots more.

The free version limits me to a monthly upload limit of 60 Mb of notes.  I can't see me reaching that anytime soon, but if I need more, I don't think I'd hesitate to upgrade to the premium account which would give me a 1GB monthly upload allowance and other extras and additional support, for $5 a month.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

PLNs - Personal / Professional Learning Networks

I think I've mentioned earlier that I'm spending a lot of time this summer on expanding my personal and professional learning (so, what else is new, I can hear my friends saying!) .  I didn't know there was a name for what I do until I came across this 5-week online workshop run by volunteers from TESOL ITALY: PLEs and PLNs for Lifelong Learning Competencies.  I have quickly realised that I need to take control of my Personal/Professional Learning Environment (PLE) as I extend my Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN), so I quickly signed up. There are about 80 participants in this, so I am builiding my PLN as I learn about this!

To get started, here are a few resources I've found via the course and other sources...

#ELTchat on Teaching English through songs: activities, resources and benefits of using songs for teaching.

#ELTchat is a twice-weekly one-hour session on Twitter where English langauge teachers from all over the world share ideas, resources, opinions, and more, all up it is simply fantastic PD!  I haven't ever learnt so much in one hour in my life.  To give you some idea of the volume and intensity, here are the stats from this morning's session:
  • 13 readings and resources
  • 68 ideas for using songs
  • 50 example songs with links
  • 11 music-related web 2.0 tools
It is, quite frankly, too much for anyone to take in 'live', so fortunately the transcripts are saved and someone usually (? not too sure about this) summarises the discussion, posts it somewhere and alerts everyone on Twitter through the hashtag, #ELTchat.

For this chat on using songs, one of the participants - Vicky Saumell @vickysaumell - has summarised the chat discussion into 4 blog posts (I'll link to each from here as she finishes them):
The transcript of the discussion is on the #ELTchat website - look for other chats in the Old Topics archive.

There are two chats each week, both on Wednesdays, GMT time. The first one is at 11pm-midnight  and the second at 8-9am Thursday, Australian EDT time.  There is a call for suggestions for topics a day before, on Twitter, then a poll runs for a few hours and the top polling topic gets discussed at the first session, the second one in the second session - simple!

As it says on the website #ELTchat is a ready made PLN for ELT professionals

[ More on PLNs to come - watch this space! ]

#ELTchat - PD on speed!

I took part in my first Twitter chat this morning.  It was amazing!  It all happened so fast, I'd try to answer or ask a question or make a comment and by the time I posted there would be 10 new tweets there!  And so much of what was discussed and shared is useful to me in my teaching, but I'll have to go back to read the transcript or wait for the summary to follow it all. I'll do a new post about the content of the chat, watch this space.

If you get into Twitter, or find a chat session you want to join, then I recommend you get something like TweetDeck, which allows you to have immediate updates - it would be impossible to follow on the regular Twitter app as it doesn't update automatically (or I haven't found how to do it).  TweetDeck also allows me to have a column (channel?) just for the chat but also watch what is coming in on other channels, including any mentions of me - this helped me know when someone in the chat session asked me a question or retweeted something I said.  TweetDeck can also be linked to a service which shortens URLs for tweeting.

I've got Twitter on my iPhone too, and TweetDeck, and have linked it to the Dragon Dictation app in case I want to tweet from there.  Gee, I love this stuff :-)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Africa to Australia - video stories of African migrants to Australia

Africa to Australia is an SBS interactive documentary that tells the stories of African migrants to Australia; it uses video, photography and text to share views about immigration, racism, family and the struggle to belong in a new place.

See particularly No Migrants, No Me about two young Somalian women who are learning to swim to become lifesavers!

Available in 4 African languages, French, English and English with closed caption video 

Learning to Tweet

Twitter Icon
by Twitter Badges
Amongst other things, I'm spending summer break trying to get a handle on Twitter.  I'm now following 58 people and have 5 following me!!  Not sure I have anything to offer my 'followers' yet, but perhaps once I get used to how it all works?!
If you're interested, then...

Nik's 5 tasks to teach yourself to teach with technology

Five great tasks for developing e-learning skills including easy to follow instructions and ideas for 'extension activities'

Find these on two sites:

Brought to you by Nik Peachey, check out more of his work here:

Monday, January 03, 2011

Electronic Village Online (EVO) 2011 - free online CALL workshops

These FREE online workshops look good:

Electronic Village Online (EVO) 2011
Call for Participation
The CALL Interest Section of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) offers language teachers world-wide the opportunity to participate in the Electronic Village Online (EVO), a professional development project and virtual extension of the TESOL 2011 Convention in New Orleans. The free 5-week sessions allow participants to engage in online discussion and/or short hands-on workshops on topics of professional interest in the field of ESL/EFL.
To join an EVO session in Jan-February please visit our page at:
Feel free to forward this Call for Participation to other e-lists. Thank you for helping us spread the word.
The EVO Coordination Team

I've been trying to find time to fit one of these in for a couple of years so am trying to do two this summer:
  • Becoming a Webhead  - we will explore Web 2.0 tools and share the best ways of using them in our teaching practices. We are part of the Webheads in Action virtual Community of Practice.
  • Creating Vocabulary Activities - introduce instructors to simple tools and techniques used by their educational-technology-savvy peers to produce professional, functional and recyclable resources for teaching vocabulary.
I'm quite excited as there are teachers from all over the world registered for these so I'll not only learn lots of new things, but get to meet teachers with similar interests.