20 Minutes of Passion and Panache!

aac4ac4a-558a-474e-b9cd-b66f903f6b9fFrom the moment I caught my first personal videocast oration, I have been a big fan of TED—Technology Entertainment Design. It takes a lot of panache and passion to put your beliefs on the line for 20 minutes in hopes of moving a captive audience.  These lecture type informational talks share the speakers’ deep interests, drives personal and professional perspectives of  their “ideas that are worth spreading”.   TED has now enhanced this experience both cognitively and digitally with TED’s version 2.0 iOS application which allows you to connect that stream of information to your “i” device and all the connective learning conveniences that go with them.

“With this release, TED is the largest content provider to use iOS6′s new subtitle featureon its streaming video service” (TED, 2013) which offers 90 subtitled TED Talks at last count. This is a huge step for learners’ with hearing impairments. Similarly, the app for android devices has the same extensive range of informative videos from some of the most inspiring thinkers of our time. This makes it an excellent channel for augmenting educational applications.  “TED’s mobile app helps users get information for themselves and makes learning an easy, every day, on-the-go activity… In this way, mobile devices and apps open us up to learning when we otherwise couldn’t, in the spaces between daily tasks” tasks”  (Hornshaw, 2013).

For educators, connecting your mobile device to a projector or large screen television and you have easily transformed your training facility or classroom new-ted-iosinto an educational theatre that could effectively simulate being part of the actual audience. Engagement levels are bound to increase! The convenience of having a source of 1400 talks at your fingertips is globally smart–the point being, 1400 talks represent 1400 personal perspectives! In a globalized environment, staying informed and connecting diverse learners and thinkers from all different parts of the world provides a window into the many ways that we are culturally distinct and culturally compatible. It pens up new visual, acoustic, cognitive and create dimensions that are essential to the domains of enriched intercultural communication and global leadership.                      Tedstaff (2013). [Screenshot]. 

twohundredTake this one step farther by incorporating Mac’s iTranslate Voice and you have a hassle free and simple way to connect to speakers of other languages! Their voice input–output and voice recognition features do all the work for you. With over 40+ language working for you, language anxiety just met its match. Add the convenience of the dictionary and the tap response pasting, speaking or sharing features and you have  just connected your learning into one easy platform.   With the added AirTranslate feature, it gives you the additional ability to connect two devices running iTranslate Voice for synchronous conversation in different languages (iTranslate Voice, 2013).

best_trans_itranslate_voice_screens_iphone                          Figure 1: Kasmucha, A., (2013)www.imore.com [Screenshot].

Does this accelerate or stagnate learning?  In my opinion, language learning is about imitation and the easier we can make it for the learner, the faster the acquisition.  If you consider the pronunciation and vocabulary verifications, both learners and teachers  have opened up the classroom to a plethora of study and learning possibilities. After all, it is about using media to interact with content differently and not just as new vehicles for delivery (Low, 2009).  “Outside of a decent interface that’s just as easy to use as it is to look at, you can also tap on words to see their meanings and different forms” (Kazmucha, 2013).  Check out the videostream of instant translation in action: http://www.itranslateapp.com/



Hornshaw P., (2013). TED and other pioneers in mobile app education. http://www.appolicious.com/tech/articles/13211-ted-and-other-pioneers-in-mobile-app-education

iTranslate (2013). http://itranslatevoice.com/

Kasmucha, A., (2013). Best translation apps for iPhone: Languages, iTranslate Voice, Google Translate, and more!http://www.imore.com/best-translation-apps-iphone-languages-itranslate-voice-google-translate-and-more

Low, L (2009). The genie in the bottle: unleashing the hidden power of personal mobile devices for learning. University of Canberra.

Tedstaff, (2013). TED’s updated iOS app offers faster speed and streaming subtitles



A White Paper on Whiteboards

8287168078_918d957878_o                                                 Photo 1: Playing with electronic whiteboard


What’s all the hype about interactive whiteboards?

Also known as electronic or smart boards, they are one of those things that you want to check out to see if they are as functional as they claim.  In fact, they have all the interactive capabilities of traditional whiteboards except the interactive component allows learners and educators in face to face (F2F) environments to increase their informative and collaborative reach.

How is it different?

By connecting the whiteboard to a computer via a standard USB portal or wireless support, you can save or export any content created on site or through the use of standard documents like pdfs, jpeg files, Word or Powerpoint.  Edits or annotations can be done instantaneously. Content is further expanded through a web browser connection that allows you to access and share information with your learners live.  In this way, the learners utilize the tool by learning where and how to learn and access the information they need for their own learning and professional needs.


From an educational and professional point of view the collaborative and interactive possibilities are endless. The new touch response models appeal to the kinesthetic as well as visual learners. Professionals will apparently love the large venue presentation formats and transfer tools that are great timesavers for session content (Mott, 2013). The mixing of online content with personal documentation allows you to integrate your own documentation and materials. Whiteboards are Mac, Window, Linus friendly making them one of the most versatile tools for educative and professional purposes. I would definitely utilize one in my ESL and GLT professional practice if not for the single drawback–the investment. I have seen prices listed between 1600 to 6000 US dollars taking a sizeable chunk from any education or training budget. That is the key, convincing the financial keepers of its long term investment professional benefits both in the quality of your educative program and in your learners.

What’s the alternative?

vyew-screenshot-teach                                                                Photo 2: Vyew screenshot reduction

An online whiteboard offers interactive drawing tools, extensive file support, screen capture tool, embedded commenting and videos with built in webcam and Voice-over-IP which is great for up to 6 long distance collaborators at a time. There is also a tool to generate quizzes and polls that can have a wide range of educative and professional applications. The marketing manager of Japan based Nidek believes that having his graphic designer on the viewer list allows him to make changes live as feedback is received (Wood, 2008).


In addition, the collaborative features surpass the physical ones because of extended global reach through video conferencing, sidebar forums, real time desktop and screen sharing, external publishing, tracking and logging your activity. You have the option of a closed forum by directing your private team members through the location noted in the address bar that is specific to each project. There are no automatized deletion features so your projects remain your forever, but best of all, the basic application is free with no downloading requirements. For me this versatility between private and public domain coupled with all the editing and collaborative features constitutes an ideal and affordable alternative that will enhance any academic or business teaching-learning context. It is the obvious choice for my business training and language learners.

So what’s the catch?

You have to put up with a few google ads that are selectively inserted throughout.  If you want to have them removed, then you will pay a small fee. They do have to somehow support the constant updates and changes to keep the application current.  Those upgrades are based on our user feedback which is collaboration put to its optimal effectiveness. Perhaps, this is why they merited the Web Hosting 2012 award for Recommended Web tool for Real time and Visual Collaboration.

“Communicating design revisions between nine different parties quickly becomes a constant barrage of paperwork. Rather than faxing, emailing and mailing documents, they’re uploaded once into Vyew, where invited participants can review and collaborate, all in one place” (Ostapower, 2007).



Glyndot1 (2013). Playing with electronic whiteboard [photo].http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8221/8287168078_a505cb6463_z.jpg

Lowensohn, J. (2007). Live whiteboard collaboration with Scriblink. CNEt. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-9774928-2.html

Ostapower, S. (2007). [Officer Manager, Cellworks]. Transcript of Vyew success stories.http://vyew.com/site/customers/success-stories/
Wood, F. (2008) [Marketing Manager, Nidek]. Transcript of Vyew success stories.

Mott E., (2013). Demand Media. The Use of Interactive Whiteboards in Business Conferences. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/use-interactive-whiteboards-business-conferences-70476.html

Vyew (2013). Continuous meeting rooms for real time & anytime visual collaboration [Screenshot reduction]. http://vyew.com/s/


Blended Context


If you have managed to stumble on to this blog then, I encourage you to explore a little further… and you may discover a cyber space that is within your comfort zone!  Why? As the author, I confess that:

I am technically challenged and information technology has come at the end of my learning curve!

I am confronting my fears and appealing to educators and professionals, like myself.  By simplifying and sharing the knowledge, we can make sense of this together! We can arm ourselves with the basics in IT tools and trends and may even contribute to the conversation!

This great video clip puts it in perspective: My Blackberry is Not Working! http://youtu.be/kAG39jKi0lI

A note about the photo… It was taken last summer (2013) in the Polare Bookstore, formerly a Cathedral in Maastrict, NL. It is a living functioning example of traditionalism in harmony with modernity… a reflection of the times.