Monthly Archives: October 2009

Interview with Duane Sider, Director of Learning at Rosetta Stone about TOTALe

Yesterday I had the delight to talk to Duane Sider, Director of Learning at Rosetta Stone for my first interview of this blog. I want to offer a series of interviews with the “grown up” companies in the online education sector in the coming months to share their point of view and ideas of the industry with you.
Hence the new Educational Grown Ups interview series is complementing my interview series on EDUKWEST where I only cover educational start ups.

In this interview we focused on the new Rosetta Stone TOTALe product that combines the classic Rosetta Stone course with two new environments, the Rosetta Studio and the Rosetta World.

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#Edchat 10-20 How do we make Parents aware of Benefits / Risks of Web 2.0?

edchat

Seems like a big question but I think the answer is rather simple: show them the benefits and risks of web 2.0.

In Germany we have a big discussion about so called “Killer Spiele – Killer Games” as our conservative political parties see the reason for the killing sprees we had at a couple of schools in the last years in these. They basically blame ego shooters like Counter Strike and others to motivate kids to kill other kids.

And as we all know, this does not stop if politicians get once started. So other games with similar options get on the radar, too. Basically games like World of Warcraft get on the list for their possible addiction risks and so on and so forth. Problem is: the people who are discussing and deciding about these issues never ever saw a game like this, not talking of playing one.

But then some young politicians of the bavarian CSU (Christ Socialist Party) had a brilliant idea. Their party “fights” on the front to ban “killer games” in Germany. As they knew that basically all of their party friends of a certain age never had contact to no matter what kind of modern computer game they organized the first “Parlamentarischer Spieleabend” – parlamentary gamer evening.

They invited their colleagues to play a wide range of games covering “harmless” ones on the Nintendo Wii but also those famous killer games. They also invited professional esport players, so young guys who earn money playing in world wide leagues. Basically like football but on the PC and including Counterstrike and other tactical shooters. They explained to the politicians why they play killer games and so on.

Of course, this did not change the minds by 180° but it was the first time a real dialogue took place and also the first time politicians tried out what they were talking about for months.

Back to Social Media. I think schools should do the same with parents. Instead of letting them alone with their imagination and assumptions teachers should invite parents in the school and give some little seminars about what their kids are doing and why it is all so fascinating.

This would set free various synergy effects, I think. First of all the whole Social Media world would be demystified as I don’t think the kids will sit down with their parents and explain them Facebook and Twitter.

Parents will listen to the risks and if they get an objective overview from the teachers and they finally know what is going on behind “closed doors” parents can guide their children more effectively.

And in the end it will also help the teachers to implement the use of Social Media in the classroom. If everyone knows what is happening there is no need to ban it anymore, right?

If it is done right this could be the beginning of something big. All you need is to print out some invites to the parents and get the ball rolling.

The Learn Now – I am Online Feature

Let me give you some thoughts on this feature that comes up once in a while. Sometimes it is called “Learn Now” or “I am Online” or “Instant Question”.

The idea behind it is that a student enters an educational webpage and there he / she will find teachers who are instantly available to teach a lesson or to answer a question. In some recent talks I had with educational start ups this feature was mentioned a lot.

In some cases it can actually make sense but generally I think its effect on the core service of those sites is overrated.

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eduFire Videos

I think this is going to be another great resource for edupreneurs to add to their list. eduFire launched a new subdomain blog http://videos.edufire.com where you can find a selection of recording from eduFire classes.

eduFire Videos

eduFire Videos

What makes this so interesting that I write a blog post about it? Easy: the new eduFire business channel. You find recordings of classes from top entrepreneurs on this blog. And as most of those classes are scheduled to US times this is a great way to view those classes later on.

There are classes about Business, Entrepreneurship, Marketing and so on.

Hence, subscribe to the post feed to keep you updated on great eduFire class videos.

Weebly for Education

One of my favourite providers for free drag and drop building websites Weebly.com has now an extra offer for teachers!

I already recommended Weebly on the E-Teachers Academy because of its simplicity and the great choice of features.

The educational features include

  • Easily create a classroom website & blog
  • Manage your students’ accounts
  • Accept homework assignments online
  • Keep your parents up to date

There is also the possibility for schools or entire districts to subscribe to Weebly.

Therefore, if you are a teacher and don’t have your own homepage yet, check out Weebly today.

Pearson and Livemocha receive Royal Honours

Pearson and Livemocha have been awarded the ESU (English Speaking Union) President’s Award 2009 for their recently launched Active English Course.

And for all of you who don’t know who the English Speaking Union’s President is: he is no other than Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The ESU President’s Award was inaugurated in 2003 at the request of the President of the ESU, HRH Duke of Edinburgh KG KT and is given annually. The judging panel includes experts from the fields of design, technology and English language teaching. The ESU President’s Award builds on the success of the widely respected Duke of Edinburgh English Language Book Award which recognises the book published in the previous year that has contributed most to the understanding of the English language.

The ceremonie will be on November 12 at Buckingham Palace. Hence, congratulations to you guys. Well done and much deserved, indeed!

First Look At… – Learnissimo.com

Though the title of the post might tell you something different, Learnissimo.com is not new on the market. They started their service around the same time as Myngle and eduFire, so about two years ago.

First it was based on a marketplace model, teachers set their own prices and times. But from the beginning on there were strict rules for the teachers about lesson cancellations, missing a class, coming too late etc. You can say it was a mix between a classic school model and a freelancer marketplace.

Now Learnissimo seems to have finally chosen which way they want to go.

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1 Billion Views per Day

1 billion views per day. Yes, per day, not per week or month. That should make YouTube the biggest broadcaster on this planet, right?

They even changed the logo to make sure, we notice it ;)

1,000,000,000 views per day!

1,000,000,000 views per day!

I don’t have exact data yet but I would say that the biggest percentage of videos are made by average people like you and me. Do you see the shift that is happening?

Good bye old world! :)

WiZiQ introduces Vanity URLs for Premium Members

If you don’t know yet what a vanity URL is:

http://www.facebook.com/kirstenwinkler is one as well as

http://www.twitter.com/kirstenwinkler

Vanity URLs allow you to chose your own name as link to your profile and are a very important factor in Social Media. It makes it much easier to share your profile with others or to find someone in the Social Media Jungle. Remember the run on the vanity URLs on facebook a couple of months ago?

Now WiZiQ is offering vanity URLs to their premium members. Hence if you want to check out my profile on WiZiQ you only have to go to http://www.wiziq.com/kirstenwinkler.

It may seem to be a simple change but it involves a lot of positive aspects. As I said, it makes your profile easy to share and it fits the general structure of your Social Media web estate. It also builds up trust on the side of your potential students, if you use your real name as vanity URL. Overall it is an important factor for your personal branding.

#Edchat 10-06 Engaging and Preparing Students through Technology

edchat

There are again two topics for tonight’s #Edchat which are very close on the votes but also very close from the topic itself.

If lessons aren’t engaging students, shouldn’t we address that, as opposed to blaming the Internet or Technology for being a distraction?

How are we as educators preparing our students for a technology rich & technology competitive society?

For all of you who visit my blog for the first time a little bit about myself and the perspective I will approach this topic from. Beside this education 2.0 blog of mine where I try to cover most of the things happening on the business sector of online education I am an independent language coach. For about 3 years I teach about 90% of my lessons online. I am specialized in conversational lessons with adults from around the globe. I used to teach children and teenagers offline for about 4 years, too.

Therefore my view on the #Edchat topic is from the edupreneurial point, the view of an independent language coach who uses the internet as teaching platform 7/7.

So with no further ado here are my thoughts on the two topics. I hope you get something out of it.

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Which Language should one learn?

So many Languages to learn...

So many Languages to learn...

This is a very popular question I get from people who know that I am a language teacher. Today I took a final decision for myself and I would also like to share my priority list of languages for the next decade with you.

The list is based on facts as well as on assumptions but I think it could be useful for language learners as well as language teachers. It should be seen as a priority list for business, I don’t say one should abandon classic languages as French, Italian or German but as we all have only a certain amount of time you have to take decisions, I guess. But basically any language you add to your skill set is a gain, no question about that.

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Second Life – The Revelation

First of all: thank you to all participants who took part in the lively discussion about my last post. This brought up another point of Second Life I haven’t had on my list before.

However before I start to give you my final point of view about SL I think I need to explain what my intention was writing the first post. Interestingly it attracted a whole new group of readers to this blog. The first post was written from the perspective of an edupreneur (me or anyone else) who hears: “There are so many students to teach on Second Life, you have to go there.” As you can see this was a totally business driven decision, no fun involved. But the post brought in SL evangelists, not other teachers.

I really appreciate the input they gave me on Second Life itself but it was basically not my intention to poke in a hornet’s nest and start a discussion about the general use of Second Life. I just wanted to show other online teachers that

1. they are not alone with their first impression of Second Life and
2. there is a problem of how most of us see Second Life.

There are obviously some issues about Second Life and Linden Lab that lead to what I experienced yesterday and maybe I will give you my thoughts on this, too.
Judging someone by the first half of a two part blog post, start a “riot”, tell the person that she is basically to dumb /ignorant to use the search, should have RTFM read the Wiki, does not know how to have fun, is not well prepared, does not know how to use Google etc is not very helpful either. I can understand their intention and I can also understand that they are fed up with douche bags who just want to bash SL users as useless people who don’t have a first life. But still I think it would help them more to inform themselves about the writer of the post or, even better, to wait until the second post before getting “berserc” ;). If everyone who has doubts / a question about SL has to experience this I can understand a part of the problem.

So without further ado, here is my corrected view on Second Life as an edupreneur.

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