Monthly Archives: August 2009

ETCon 2 – Chat Review and my Answers

There was a great discussion going on in the chat of this ETCon. Below this post you will find the complete transcript for you to download.

As I could not answer all your questions during the conference or get deeper into the conversations that were going on, I would like to do it now.

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The Mimic Barrier :-) ^.^

Or why Asians misunderstand Europeans and vice versa. I came across an interesting article in “Der Spiegel” a once renowned German magazine. Well, from time to time they still publish good articles it seems. As it is in German I would like to share the ideas of this one with you here on my blog.

Anger, fear, suprise, disgust, joy and sorrow are known as the six emotions on the face that are accepted as a global language. But more and more doubts are arising if it is really a fact. A new study shows that Asians have huge problems to read the mimic of Europeans, so do Europeans with interpretating Asian mimic.

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Personal Review of the second E-Teachers Conference

Before starting to give you my personal review I have to thank a couple of people. Let me start with Vikrama Dhiman of WiZiQ who supported me all the way from the planning to the ETCon today. I think he did an amazing job, so Kudos to you! You made the second ETCon a really smooth event for everyone involved.

Secondly I want to thank the members of the panel. Jason West of Languages Out There who did a great presentation about communities and shared emotion, Bernhard Niesner of busuu who gave us an inside view of his company and his thoughts on self regulating communities and the difference between in house developed content compared to crowdsourced content, Kevin Chen of italki who talked about problems of international / global platforms and the right member mix and last but not least again Vikrama Dhiman who explained how non educational companies use crowdsourcing and that crowdsourcing not always needs a community.

And of course I have to thank the great audience. You asked awesome questions that led to a resourceful discussion of the panel at the end. Thank you for attending the ETCon and spreading the word. I really appreciate your interest!

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#Edchat 08-25 Does homework raise attainment?


As I am not a classic school teacher I would like to cover this topic from a business point of view.

Being an independent language teacher homework is a very effective tool for me and for my students it definitely raises attainment. The reason for this is simple: homework is outsourcing.

Outsourcing works great for the economy so there is no reason why teachers should not use it themselves. Of course outsourcing / homeworks must offer a benefit for the student.

If you have a look on the report that is now circulating for the past couple of days on Twitter and several blogs you know that blended learning is the most effective way of learning these days. Homework is a part of it.

For me as language coach this means that I am completely outsourcing vocabulary and grammar learning to web services. Why? First of all the student is paying for my attention. To my mind learning vocabulary during a lesson is a waste of time and money. Of course I answer questions that might come up during the asynchronous learning part but web services like Livemocha are getting constantly better so most of the questions can be answered there.

So if you are delivering a good assignment  you are left with more time in your classroom. That means you can focus on things you could not have done before. More conversation, more interaction, more creativity. Simply delivering a better lesson because you as a teacher are the most important person in the room. Students want to learn from you, not from books or slides or videos. They want your knowledge, your point of view.

More time means also better preparation. I can search for new texts, new exercises and as my courses are conversation driven I can spend more time to prepare interesting and actual topics for each single student.

Like Don Tapscott is saying in his blog Grown Up Digital:

The moral of the story: Students would be better served with much of the curriculum being online. And to repeat what I said in the book, this does not mean a diminished role for teachers. Their time would be freed up to give extremely valuable one-on-one teaching.

I will write a longer post about outsourcing for teachers hopefully later this week after the ETCon.

Taking this to school teaching, I think homework must not be boring anymore as this is still the label attached to it. Students could do research via the internet, work together on wikis or blogs, make films or photo stories. To my mind they don’t even need to write their thoughts down. As a history teacher for example I would accept audio files of my student’s thoughts. I don’t need to correct grammar or vocabulary but I want to get them into thinking. And one of the best ways is just talking, spinning the story. Pen and paper (or a keyboard) are only a barrier in this case.

E-Teachers Conference 02 – Communities and the Power of Crowdsourcing


The second ETCon will be on August 27 at 3PM CEST. We scheduled it this time towards our attendees and panel members in India and Asia.

As last time the E-Teachers Conference will have a first class line up of panel members. This time our panelists are:

Shirley Yiong, Marketing Manager of Livemocha
Jason West, Founder of Languages Out There
Bernhard Niesner, Co-Founder of busuu
Kevin Chen, Co-Founder of italki
Harman Singh, Founder of WiZiQ

The panel will present their own point of view about the topic Communities and the Power of Crowdsourcing. The presentations will then be followed by a moderated discussion and a Q&A session with the audience.

You can ask your questions on the ETCon directly to the panel by using the classroom chat or using Twitter and the #ETCon hashtag. If you cannot attend on the thursday but want to ask a question you can also post them in the ETCon blog at

The ETCon is a free event and everybody interested in elearning is welcome to join. Just subscribe for a free ticket.

The second ETCon is hosted by WiZiQ.

Follow the ETCon on Twitter @ETConference or join out twub at

#Edchat – the new Teacher Movement on Twitter


There is a quite rapidly growing new movement amongst educators on Twitter these days. #Edchat is the chatty brother of #TeacherTuesday and although he is fairly young, #Edchat is constantly attracting more  educators to join in a weekly discussion on Twitter.

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Royal Rumble – The Champion enters the Ring

As a kid back in the nineties I loved to watch Wrestling on TV. Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Bret Michaels, The Heartbreak Kid, you name them. One of the events I loved the most was the Royal Rumble where every two minutes another Wrestler entered the ring. The rule was simple: the last one in the ring won the match and you had to get all the others out of the ring above the top row. But their two feet had to touch the ground to be out of the match.

At some moments of the fight there were up to 20 Top Wrestlers in the match, building alliances that broke the next minute and so on. You see, the WWF taught me a lot about business ;).

Now what has this to do with online education? Well, you can say that in the Royal Rumble of language learning communities we are now at the point where the World Champion entered the Ring. In this case Rosetta Stone with their new product TOTALe.

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italki opens new Doors for Students

You know, it took me a while to understand italki as I pointed out in my last post about them. There are two important news I did not talk about yet and both have to do with usability and customer care.

italki embeded two new payment methods to their platform. Not a big deal you might say, but hold on. This is huge.

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Let me Entertain You

Ok, today I want to talk a bit about celebrities, politics and education. And yes, they seem to have common ground these days. Us, the consumers and our, can I say need, for entertainment.

I admit, I am slightly addicted to gossip so I learned quite a while ago that there are “rumors”, which basically means evidence in the “gossip world”, Lance Armstrong might be running for Governor of Texas. You know after Conan became Governator nothing seems to be impossible. Some days ago, Brad Pitt joined the “once celebrity – now politician” club by being nominated through a grassroots movement which wants to see him to become mayor of New Orleans and of course he’s denying any interest at the moment.

Even if we take a closer look on world leaders these days, they all have set a strong focus on entertainment. No one is as good as Obama, using the Web and pictures to make his points. Then we have Putin, half naked in Siberia showing the world what a man he is. Sarkozy, public divorce after turning president, then marrying Carla Bruni and flirting all day long. Hugo Chavez even has his own TV show “Hola Presidente”. And the list goes on and on.

Basically, it seems to come down to one thing. People want to be entertained these days. I guess like in the Roman Empire. We want to see change, power or gossip. It’s a social trend.

But I don’t want to say that those politicians don’t know what they are doing. I just think the major factor for their success today is: entertainment. If you are not in the spot light, people don’t see you.

Now back to us teachers. Koichi wrote an interesting article on eduPirate: Why teaching needs to be a form of entertainment.

What do you think?

Rent a Textbook

Yesterday Jon Bischke offered a new business model for content publishers on his personal blog. It’s about creating new services like better filtering, personalisation etc. The last sentences were:

Humor us content producers. Start the revolution this time rather than being a victim of it.

This is a good read, as always so you should check it out.

Today the NYT published and article about Cengage Learning, one of the America’s largest textbook publishers. They came up with a quite revolutionary idea.

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Face the Change

Funny, eh? Well, not really but here are some facts about this video.

It was uploaded 2 days ago. Today it has over 1.000.000 views.
The Mean Kitty channel has over 155.000 subscribers.

What would you have said to me 2 or 3 years ago if I told you: “I am taking my video camera, film my cat when he is doing things that cats do and then post it on the internet. And I will make money with it.”

Correct, you would have broken down laughing or called the doctor.

If you are yet not facing the change that is happening every day around you this video should proof it to you. Everything is possible today. So go out and do it. Do a teaching show, a cooking show, a gardening show, whatever you like. But do it.

How the Internet changed our daily Routine

What is the first thing you do in the morning? I open my notebook, feed the cats until it connects to the internet, teach some lessons online, check Twitter, Facebook, Emails, News Feeds and then finally make a coffee and breakfast. And even then I am connected and read the news online.

3 or 4 years ago I made a coffee first, had a long breakfast, read the newspaper, the wordstress is on paper, and then went out the house to teach. It feels like it must have been in another life.

The NY Times published an article about that yesterday and it is really strange to reflect on how the internet and the cloud have changed the way we go through the day. And there is even more.

In a second article Verlyn Klinkenborg asks herself what she did 25 years ago. Today we are constantly waiting for a tweet, an email, a blog post etc. Being “updated” all the time is another aspect that changed the way we live today. 25 years ago when we left the house we were disconnected. No cellphone. What did we do back then?

The thing is: when you want to be edgy these days, you have to do something crazy like shutting down your laptop and reading a book. Revolution, baby.

Turn back The Times (of London)

Let’s start with a KRON report from 1981.

They are programming today’s paper, love it.

Quoting the guy from the SF Examiner: “This is an experiment, we are not in it to make money, we are probably not going to lose a lot but we ain’t gonna make much either.” Wise words from the past.

Don’t you love this young cyberkid, or Home Computer Owner as KRON refers to him. He is already planing to copy the newspaper. I think he wants to sell it to his neighbors. The first ever cyber pirate caught on tape!

And 28 years later “the fellow” IS worried to be out of his job, well not him probably but his successor.

But one man came to proove the SF Examiner guy wrong and to save the fellow’s job. A couple of days ago Rupert Murdoch Media Mogul and friend of all mankind announced that he plans to charge for all online versions of the newspapers in his portfolio including The Times of London, The Sun (well, who reads the Sun anyway) and the New York Post.

As you can imagine this brought up some mixed reactions which Eric Etheridge of the NY Times posted in his “The Opinionator” blog.

On the one hand I can understand that newspapers have to make money but I agree with Jeff Jarvis that they had more than enough time to adapt to the internet. When it’s too late, it’s too late. C’est la vie.

If I had to choose between a paid online and a paid printed version, I’d choose the printed newspaper. If I am looking on the internet for information I expect it to be free of charge.

What’s your opinion?

Have a nice day!

Kirsten Winkler
Owns Home Computer

Myngle speaks Russian and announces Partnership with

Some weeks ago announced a new partnership. They teamed up with the Latvia based social network A press release should have followed. As time goes by and I am sure there will be other topics to talk about, soon I decided publish this draft today. So, let’s have a quick look on the facts as I know them.

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Will Digital Nomads soon become Digital Refugees?

In Berlin they are called “Digital Bohème”. Their day starts at 2:30pm in the morning and they have their first coffee, sorry I mean Latte Macchiato, in their favourite coffee shop. And there they will work the whole day through.

Infact MacBook and Starbucks was THE pair of the last years, right? But now this love story seems to come to an end. And of course it’s all about bad behaviour and, you guessed it, money.

According to an article in the WSJ New York city coffee shops start to pull the plug on laptop users. Because they don’t consume enough while they’re surfing on the internet. They even take the places in high traffic hours so the more lucrative crowd is turned away.

Why now? All those years it was an endless romance, a hot love affair between steamed milk, carrot cake and chai latte. Well, blame  the economy, like everything these days.

The shop owners struggle with their rent of course. Most of them don’t have old contracts made before the last boom in New York, that’s why there are already over 200 empty shops on 5th Avenue as I learned a couple of days ago.

And then of course what is true for the seller is true for the customer. Instead of a couple of Lattes in the good days he stays with one drink these days.

But I am not sure that it is wisely thought to turn against your old, loyal laptop customers just to make the money today. What will happen if the economy recovers? Saying: “Hey, you know, it wasn’t meant like this. You know, you are my favourite client!” might not work.

What do you think? Did you experience something like this yourself already? Will the streets will soon be filled with homeless laptop users looking for a shelter?

Twitter Spammers getting smarter?

Ok, this is a new category on my blog where I want to share some non educational posts with you all. I hope on a daily basis as I want to keep them short.

Today I want to share some new Twitter followers of mine: @burrisd72 @blackwellg57 @tysonz75 @whitleyt83
@wilkinsons88 and @princet97

The first “coincidence” was that they joined my followers list all together in the same minute. Must be close buddies those six guys. Doing all the stuff together. They all started tweeting some hours ago plus they are all tweeting from API.

My guess: to cloak their spam accounts for Twitter they are subscribing to “real” accounts via Twitterfeed and then retweet those tweets on their accounts to pretend to be “real” people. Anyone else who got new followers?

Ah, my favourite of the bunch is burrisd72.

I think I will click that link and date him…NOT ;).


Just found out that they are not getting smarter. The last tweet of burris came from:

There goes my theory… And I guess my chances for a date are gone, too :(

Come and join me on the EDUKWEST

I was a bit quiet the last days and as some of you might know by now, this is the sign I am working on something new ;).

Today I finally launched a project that has been in the back of my head for quite a while: EDUKWEST on the search for better education.

It is a series of interviews with people involved in the education revolution. Founders, CEOs, teachers, content writers and all the other great people involved.

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The Royal Family of Education

Based on the vivid discussion that came up after the ETCon and which is still going on a new metaphor came to my mind today and I want to share it with you, of course.

As “real” life often reflects into the online sphere and vice versa: What if we see Skype, Webmeetings and Virtual Worlds as the Royal Family of Education? I think there are interesting parallels.

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