Saturday, 30 June 2012

Shinshu JALT and apps for the classroom

 As Programme Chair for Shinshu JALT, I had asked Cambridge
University Press to sponsor an evening
of professional development for our chapter on Saturday evening.

You can find a full description of that presentation by Asia Senior Sales
Manager Rob Habbick right here. As I have personally known Rob for
over 15 years, it was a pleasure to finally get him up to

Matsumoto again in his professional capacity and to share his wealth of knowledge & catalogue of
online tools with us (Rob & Ritsuko Nakata presented our very first Cambridge YLE certicates to
our children back in 2000 - a very good friend of Luna's!). Rob gave everyone plenty to think about, as
well as codes to access some online tools for free over the next fortnight.

The second half of our evening was given over to mini-presentations. I had intended this to be a mostly
local effort from new speakers; few answered the call despite Tonya Kneff's best efforts to rally the ALT
crowd. However, we had interest form further afield - Andy Boon came all the way from Tokyo to tell us
about he explains:
"As a global phenomenon, Facebook has established itself as the
de facto Social Networking Site. With its various utilities to connect
people via the Internet to  post messages and comments, start
discussion threads, upload photographs and videos, and chat
via IM or video, the pedagogic potential of this tool to encourage
and facilitate language learner  use of the L2 outside of the
classroom setting is being realized by educators worldwide. In this 
short presentation, we will provide an overview of how setting up a Facebook group with a 
2nd-year intermediate university class in Japan has enabled group members to interact with one 
anther by posting and responding to comments to work on course assignments or just to say hello 
to classmates in English. Data from the Facebook group will be provided to highlight activities 
that may be of use to other educators wishing to set up Facebook groups with their own classes."

Mike Honywood teaches at Shindai in Ueda, and awed us all in 
presenting an app he developed to help second language learners. 
Obviously a labour of love and a lot of fun, Mike's presentation 
explained not only how his app works but how he got into making it, and
the technological changes that are making that challenge less 
complex/more exciting and accessible to non-programmers.

Our Chapter President Mark Brierley went retro with an egg timer app
and a quick round of "Just a Minute" - audience challenged to avoid
hesitation, deviation & repitition
on the topic Spain v Italy. Yours truly won, leaving a late challenge with 3 seconds left to talk about the
football tonight!

Fred Carruth (our Membership Chair) explained what an EBM
(Executive Board Meeting) is & what happened at the last one in
Tokyo,  last weekend. Fred is retiring as Chair of the Presidents' Liaison
group after 4 years, where he has helped keep Shinshu on the map.

Dave Callaghan demonstrated an app (SayHi) that claims to
automatically translate
between about 45 different languages. Given Dave's demonstration there is very little
chance that any of the participants will be using this or any other auto-translate app any
time soon.

Me? Of course I have loads of ideas of apps & iOS solutions for classroom hiccups! I
demonstrated two which I had to use earlier in the day. Snapguide and Sock Puppets. I used Snapguide for the first time earlier this morning, when a student asked me for assistance in preparing for a video conference call she was to be involved in next week. This is what we came up with.I think you will agree it is clear and simple? It was very easy to make, with the app on my iPhone following a simple template, with photos very easy to incorporate and annotate. The voice recorder is a cool tool if you are not hands free eg hands covered in chocolate or something! I love to use Sock Puppets to enliven dialogues - there's a 30 second time limit (on the free version) which is just fine...encourages students to hurry up & allows us to have to have another go! Students also tend to let go of their books to touch (activate)/move their character around the screen.  You have a choice of characters & backgrounds, props. I think it's great, and our students love using. Check out this sample - it has lost some lustre in rendition :(