Friday, August 21, 2015

Foreign Language Education and Technology Conference at Harvard University

From August 11 to 15 I attended the Foreign Language Education and Technology Conference (FLEAT) at Harvard University. To the left is a picture of me speaking. However, the highlight of the conference for me was not my sparsely attended presentation about using ePortfolios in teacher education but rather the abundance of presentations about the latest and greatest technological tools for enhancing student learning.

A lot of these tools are pretty exciting so I have decided to make a record of the ones I can remember on my blog. I am doing this so I do not completely forget every thing I learned last week. I also hope this might be useful to anyone who might be interested.

Online multimedia creation tools
These all come from Keah Cunningham's presentation. If you click on her link, you can get directions on how to use the below programs:

Keep vid: You can download youtube videos on this website.
VLC Media Player: This application can be downloaded and used to extract media from a film on DVD. It's free.
Pic Monkey: You can edit images for free online
TwistedWave: Online audio editing.
JumpShare: An easy way to share files if you do not want to deal with Dropbox
Zamzar: Enables you to convert video, audio, document files to a variety of formats. Very good.

Online courses
Duolingo: According to the dean of eLearning at Harvard this site is the future of online language learning. You can study foreign languages for free.
Shaping the way we teach English:  A free online course for teaching English as a foreign language. It is run by professors at the University of Oregon but funded by the US government. Anyone can join.
American English: Tons of online resources for learning US English as well as culture.

Really cool online tools which probably require a little time to learn and might cost a little money
Thinglink: It allows you to make interactive images. For example, you can show a map of your neighborhood and mark your favourite restaurants. When the users click on one of the restaurants, they can see a description, a picture you took of the food, a video of you eating there etc. I definitely want to use this someday. It would be good for project work.

Voicethread: This allows you to make voiced over slide shows using multiple narrators.  It looks cool but it also seems like it would take a while to learn.

Padlet: This allows you to create an online bulletin board, interactive image, or wall. When I saw the demonstration at FLEAT it seemed really cool but I cannot quite remember it now.

I got some good ideas for other programs I can use for ePortfolios such as Wordpress or Weebly. I currently use Mahara but the new version runs incredibly slowly on my university server and I am considering switching to a more reliable and simpler program. Anyway, I will save that for another post.