New Media in Foreign Language Education
(E-Portfolio)

Personal experience with the new tools

At the beginning of the course „New Media in Foreign Language Education” a lot of new tools were introduced to us. I knew only a few of them already but most tools were completely new to me. I consider the majority of these tools to be very helpful if used in class by the students. Furthermore, it is generally very simple to understand how these tools work and therefore there is no need for a lot of explanations and introductions. These tools are free or at least offer free versions so there will be no costs for the students if they make use of them.

Wordle.net

The first tool that was introduced to us is “Wordle.net”. It is a tool that creates word-clouds out of an inserted text. You are able to change the colours of the background and of the words and to choose a different font etc. The words that appear most frequently in the inserted text will be emphasized by being displayed in a bigger font size or in bold letters. It is a great tool for visualizing information in an appealing way and it could be used in class e.g. to present information concerning a specific topic or to display key words of a brainstorming activity.

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Examples of "Wordle"-word clouds:

Wordle: Dreaming of a white Christmas
Wordle: New Media in School


Delicious.com

The second tool that we used in the course is called “Delicious.com” and it is a social bookmarking tool that enables you to access your bookmarks from any computer or browser. Usually you can only access your personal bookmarks via a certain computer and browser but Delicious solves this problem. You can organize your bookmarks on the platform as you like and you can add tags to them. This makes it easier for other people to find a helpful link that deals with a certain topic. Your collection of bookmarks is generally visible to others but you have still the option to change the settings and make bookmarks only visible to yourself. I think it is a very helpful tool that enables you to access your bookmarks more independently. Students in class could use this tool to collect useful links concerning certain topics and they also could share these with their classmates.
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Netvibes.com

Another very helpful tool is “Netvibes.com”. It is a platform which enables you to collect dynamic contents like e.g. blog posts, You Tube videos, the weather forecast, Delicious bookmarks, Flickr images or news on a sheet so that there is no need to visit all this websites independently. The information will always be up-to-date so that you always know if there is something new e.g. on a blog. You also have the ability to create several sheets and categorize the information e.g. according to the purpose, e.g. if the information is of private interest or important for school. Students could use it to have a well-organized platform that informs them about e.g. new blog posts, bookmarks or pictures of their classmates. Personally, I really like this tool because it made my life so much easier. Because of Netvibes I have well-organized and always up-to-date information at one glance. It is a tool that I now use regularly.
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Weebly.com

Due to the e-portfolios we have to create for this course the tool “Weebly.com” was introduced to us. It is a website creator that enables you to create and edit your own website so easily that probably everybody is able to use it. There is no need to have a specific knowledge so that students should have no problems using it without an extensive explanation. You can add pictures, videos, polls, text passages, blog posts etc. to your personal website via the drag-and-drop-function and you can also choose a design as you like. In class the students could contribute to a class or course website where information on a specific topic will be collected. The students have the opportunity to publish their own pieces of work which can be a source of motivation because e.g. the texts, photos, videos might be noticed and appreciated by other people.

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Flickr.com

The tool “Flickr.com” is an imagehost which enables you to upload and share images and photos. You also have the opportunity to comment on other people’s pictures and to attach tags to your images which enables other users to find pictures on a specific topic. Generally, all your pictures are visible to others but also here you are able to change the settings in order to keep certain pictures private. You could use this tool in class to enable the students to upload pictures of a project, e.g. freeze images of re-enacted scenes of a Shakespeare play. Personally, I rather use Flickr to find certain images than to publish images. It is a tool I was already familiar with.
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Twitter.com

Another tool I knew about but which I did not use before is “Twitter.com”. It can be described as being a miniature edition of a blog where you are able to post messages that have a restricted length. In these messages you can share information, opinions, comments etc. with the “followers” that have subscribed to your Twitter-feeds. Of course you are also able to read and to subscribe to other people’s feeds. Students could use Twitter in order to share information with their classmates, e.g. concerning a project or a certain topic.
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Bubbl.us

We also got to know some tools that enable you to present information in a visually appealing way and I consider these tools to be particularly helpful for the use in class. “Bubbl.us” is a tool with which you can create mind-maps very easily and you can edit them mainly by the drag-and-drop-function. It could be used in class e.g. to create vocabulary lists that highlight the relationships between the words or that are a collection of words concerning a specific topic.
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Cosketch.com

Cosketch.com” enables you to create drawings and sketches and to share your ideas as images. It is a multi-user whiteboard that gives you the opportunity to save your sketches as an image. This tool could be used to visualize ideas concerning a certain topic and to share it with the class.
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Listhings.com

The tool “Listhings.com” provides you with virtual post-its that are automatically saved on the Listhings-server. You can also edit the post-its via drag-and-drop-function and change their colour. It could be used in class to collect opinions or information on a specific topic.
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Typewith.me/ Titanpad.com

Now there are two tools that are very similar, namely Typewith.meand Titanpad.com. They enable you to take part in live text document collaborations which means that you can work on a document with other members simultaneously, each on a different computer. Through a definite link the piece of work can be shared with other people and it will be saved for an unspecified length of time. A time slider enables you to gradually rewind the working process. It could be used by students in order to do a different version of a group-work. The students are able to work simultaneously on a task on their computers and they are also able to communicate through these tools. What is special about this group-work is that there is no need for the students to be at the same place to be able to work on the task.
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The "Smart Board"

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The last tool that was presented to us is not a tool that is available via the internet. It is the “Smart Board” which is an interactive whiteboard and it can be described as an improved version of the blackboard. The Smart Board is connected to a computer and a projector and it can be compared to a huge computer screen. It also has a touch-screen-function and you are able to “write” on it but the data will be processed and turned into digital data. The Smart Board makes it easy to create, present and share documents and presentations and it offers all the functions and advantages of a computer. I think it will make the lives of the teachers and students more comfortable because the data on the screen can easily be saved and shared with the whole class. I think it might motivate the students to discover the advantages of the Smart Board and I was impressed of all the functions it offers and how well it works. It is likely to play an important role in the future of teaching and I think it is important to learn how to use it effectively.


Concluding, I really like these new tools because they make things a lot easier and mostly the students have the opportunity to be creative. I think these tools are a nice alternative to only using books and the blackboard in class. Furthermore, it is important to make the students competent in using a variety of tools which can be very helpful in school and for private use at home.