Ten-Minute Tech Talks #1: Twiddla, Diigo, Classes*v2

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Timer courtesy of Stephen. Photo by Dave. Text by Russ. Go, chicken, go.

This past Wednesday, Russ and I hosted the first of three “Ten-Minute Tech Talk” lunchtime events at the CLS library. The idea behind the talks is to give a number of people the chance to share teaching experiences, techniques, challenges, and questions about the various tools and technologies they use in their teaching–and to introduce new technologies for others to try out. I was excited to see a great turnout of over 20 busy people take part in the event, and wanted to follow up on with a few resources that the presenters mentioned.

Russ kicked off the hour with a demonstration of Twiddla (no connection to the popular microblogging site Twitter), a self-described “no set-up, web-based meeting playground” that allows multiple people to interact in the same visual space, drawing together, note-taking together, collaborating to mark up webpages, and more. There’s not a lot of explanation about how it works online; you can just jump right in and try it out here.

After the 10-minute timer rang, I introduced the social bookmarking tool Diigo, which can be used to collect, annotate, organize, and share dozens or hundreds (or more) of your favorite websites. There are many tutorial videos showing you how to use Diigo, including one in French! One of the powerful things about this tool is the ability to create collections of links and to have discussions in groups (think about your class); we’ve created a group for the CLS, and we hope you’ll take a look and join.

After this, Lauren Pinzka of the French Department introduced her use of the Forums feature in Yale’s Course Management System, Classes*v2. One of the virtues of forums, she said, was to give a venue for students to respond to directed questions, and to read and comment on each other’s responses, all before face-to-face class meetings take place. Here at the CLS, we’re looking forward to a workshop later this fall on how to better use Classes*v2 for language teaching; and help is only an email or call away from the good folks at ITS.

Of course, this is only the briefest of summaries. We’d love to hear from you about your ideas or questions for using these and other similar tools in teaching and learning languages. Please leave a comment below!

And, if you enjoyed the first Tech Talks, please sign up to speak at the next one using this Google spreadsheet. We’re scheduled for November 20 and December 4 (Wednesdays), from 12:30-1:30 in the CLS library.

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(Click image to enlarge) Our whiteboard with new words, sites, and topics from the tech talks. Hopefully the next one will be a lot fuller!

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