60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom | Online Universities


Twitter is a great educational tool. It can be used as a professional development tool for teachers and as a classroom collaborative tool as well. Here is a great list of potential uses. The article was published in Online Universities and here is the link: 60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom | Online Universities.


You Have to Check ‘Check This’

I have recently came across to a wonderful Web 2.0 Tool that can motivate your students to write wider texts in English. This tool is Check This and what is really great about this tool is that you can make a simple website without even registering. Moreover, you can make your page more interesting by adding images (from your computer but also by catching them onyoutube line), video from youtube and vimeo, contact form and others. The user can also choose the theme of the website or add his/her own picture as a background to the website.

Great Features:

  • Excellent for use with all ages of students (registration is not required in order to start creating your website)
  • User can choose if the website will be public and visible to all or accessible just to the people
  • The user does not create a simple – plain page but can add pictures, videos, audio etc.
  • The user (in our case students) can share their work by email to the teacher or  share it with a co-student (peer-review)

It is a great tool that can be used for practicing:

Writing – Ask students to create their own websites (essays, letters, applications, reviews, express their feelings about sth etc)

Reading – Create your own website and share the link with your students to read it (you can add some reading comprehension questions)

Listening – Add a video of your choice from youtube and create an activity on this listening.

I would love to hear your opinion and possible lesson ideas.


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Websites for Educators

Here you can find a great collection of links which is created and maintained by  Gutman Library Research Services staff from Harvard University, provides links to freely available sites of interest to educators. It contains lots of useful links for educators and it can be a really great resource page.

The categories of the links are numerous and cover all the fields of educations. Some of the categories are:

Adult Education and Literacy
The Arts
Bilingual Education / ESL
Boston Area Libraries (selected)
Charter Schools
Children’s Literature
Colleges and Universities
Comparative/International Education
Counseling and Guidance
Curriculum Resources (K-12)
Distance Education
Early Childhood
Education Administration and Policy
Education Associations, Organizations, and Conferences
Education Libraries
Education Reform
Educational Technology
Employment Opportunities
Foreign Languages
Higher Education
History of Education
Home Schooling


and many other interesting topics. Click here to redirect at Harvard’s page.


Technology in education: Is it just a waste of time?

Photo attributed to Jim Wilson, New York Times. Students using an interactive whiteboard, part of an ambitious technology plan in the Kyrene School District in Arizona.

The last  8 months I have been blogging about the use of technology in education and especially as a way to assist English Language Learning. I have not only been blogging but using it actively with my students. I mainly teach one to one lessons and my students are young. I had also the honor to present various workshops about the use of technology with students in my university (University of Athens), Paris (Tesol France) and online.

During this time period, I have heard my many objections about  the use of the internet in and outside the classroom for educational use that made me think again and again. Are we wasting precious lesson time using a Web 2.0 application in classroom? Is it just a waste of time asking students to keep a class blog, watch a youtube video, create a slideshow?

Here are some of the objections I have heard:

  • I have used once technology. I showed to my students ”Mrs Doubtfire”. It was such a waste of time. While we were watching the film I was thinking that the students were not learning anything. I preferred to use this time to practice grammar with my students.
  • Technology is very difficult for me to handle.In a school were I was teaching the classrooms were equipped with interactive white boards and projectors. I was loosing precious lesson time.

Today, I have heard a view that really made me think a lot and resulted in my blogging about this:

I have announced to one of my friends and colleague that I will be presenting at Tesol Greece Conference a workshop named ‘Web 2.0 World in the English Language Classroom”. He said to me without the intention to insult me that he is not attending my workshop because he finds the use of tech useless for the Greek reality. He pointed out that in Greek public schools the most classrooms do not  have heat and many of them even a blackboard. He could not imagine to put in action all these thinks I was talking about.

While he was expressing his opinions which are totally understandable, I was thinking how economic factors can discourage teachers from getting inspired and try to do the best for their students. My colleague and many other educators are not at all open to new ideas because their school lacks of proper facilities. But is this the answer to the problem?  Should we give up? A teacher should be the one who inspires the students and help them learn and get motivated to learn.

What is my point of view? We live in a society where the internet is a major part of it. Facebook, for example, has more than 800 million active users and more that 350 million user carry facebook wherever they go through their mobile devices. All my students, colleagues and friends have added me as a friend to facebook. I do not think that I know anyone without an account at any social network. What does this mean? Our students spend a lot of time online. They go home and they do not stop typing (and producing language online). Why not as teachers keep up with the times and adjust some technology in our teaching? If our classroom is not equipped with computers or internet access, our houses are. We can ask  our students to do something meaningful at the internet at home and send it to us via mail. We can practice writing through blogs, wikis, digital storytelling applications –  reading through reading breaking news online, interesting articles – listening through online videos, talks. You can motivate learning and keep students engaged to the lesson. I have seen so many students get motivated just because their teacher asked them to find some extra info online for a project.

I am not suggesting that  technology is the panacea in education. It should be used with intention and considering the students’ e-safety. However, we can not overlook its invaluable benefits.  Teachers should get informed about its advantages and how can be used in education. What is your opinion? Is it just a waste of lesson time or do you think that helps our students? I am really interested in listening  your views.

My top 11 blog posts from ’11

Magic in Education! is a blog that was created for the needs of a presentation on technology in the classsroom. Me and my collegue Makis Aggatheris were assigned to create a 3 hour workshop on New Technologies in Teaching. While we were preparing the workshop I came with an idea of having a blog where the participants can visit and see the links that I suggest them to visit. When the workshop was over, I decided to maintain the blog and keep publishing my ideas on technology in classroom. It is now 8 months amd it has been already visited from visitors from all over the world.

Here you can see my top 11 blog posts (according to the blog’s statistics) from ’11:

11. Make your own comics, Witty Comics

10. Penzu, your own personal journal and online diary

9Using Blogs in Education

8Wallwisher, Words that Stick!

7. Social Networks in Education

6How we created an interactive whiteboard with low cost!!

5. Web 2.0 apps

4. Prezi.com – Creating ashtonishing presentations

3.  How to create your own superhero comic

 2. 30+1  Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom


1. Glogster.com: Poster your self! (Text, Images, Music and Video)

QR Codes and the Classroom!

 QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) are  barcodes that contain information. What kind of information do they contain?

  • links from websites
  • text
  • contact information

In other words, you can link anything with a QR Code from the physical world to the online world. All you need is a QR Code generator (you can just google it, there plenty of them) and a smartphone with a QR reader to scan the barcode (you can find the application in every app market for free).

Use of QR Codes in Classroom

Why these codes are useful in my classroom and what can I do with them?

They are useful because:

  • they are motivating for students (and teachers)
  •  they save valuable time and paper
  • they provide a kind of bookmarks that both student and teacher can go back and forth
  • they provide a link to mobile devices that help students do their homework and follow along

I have found an interesting lesson plan in the Cool Cat Teacher Blog.This amazing blog helped me a lot to understand the use of these codes in the classroom and Vicki Davis has done amazing work. So,  I am sharing it with you:

Step 1: Homework Assignment
I ask students to download a FREE QR Code reader onto their device as homework at least 3-4 days ahead of time and pair students who don’t have an ipod, ipad, or smart phone with those who do. Let them find and pick the code. (You could ask them to go through their magazines and find a qr code to test.)

Step 2: Lesson Preparation
Go to Kaywa’s Free QR Code generator (above) and encode the four types of things into at least 4 QR Codes. For a larger classroom, you’ll need more. Print them and tape them on the wall.

Include some funny videos, the phone number for the school, a text message that says something like “You Rock Because You Can Read This” and an SMS pretending to be from someone like Justin Beiber.

Step 3: The Lesson
Start the lesson with a simple statement.

“QR Codes are barcodes for information. Using your free QR code reader I want you to figure out what kind. You have 7 minutes to figure out what is encoded in these secret messages taped up on the wall. Go!”
Step 4: Learning to Use QR Codes
I then have the students go back to their computers and pull up their last blog post. I teach them to take a screenshot of the post and paste it into Microsoft Word. (We include their four best blog posts in their printed portfolio.)

Then, we use Kaywa’s Free Free QR Code generator to create the code and insert it in their document. We test it. Because it links to our private Ning, it will take them to a username and password screen which they enter. Then, they can see their post.

I find the use of QR Codes really exciting, motivating and useful! Would you considering using them with your students? I sure do!

Not Digital ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’

I am sharing a very interesting research about how the students use the new technologies and more specifically the internet and the social media. The division between ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’ seems to be very useful in understanding the students’ behaviour in these social media. This research is adopted by the English Language Teaching Global Blog and published by Oxford University Press. It is written by David White who is a Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning (TALL), an award-winning e-learning research and development group in the University of Oxford.

So here you may have a look at the main points of the research below:

We found that our students could not be usefully categorised as Digital Natives or Digital Immigrants – i.e. this distinction does not help guide the implementation of technologies, it simply provides the excuse that “some people ‘just don’t get it’ which is why your new approach has failed so badly…”

The ‘Resident’ 

The resident is an individual who lives a percentage of their life online. The web supports the projection of their identity and facilitates relationships. These are people who have a persona online which they regularly maintain. This persona is normally primarily in a social networking sites but it is also likely to be in evidence in blogs or comments, via image sharing services etc. The Resident will, of course, interact with all the practical services such as banking, information retrieval and shopping etc but they will also use the web to socialise and to express themselves. They are likely to see the web as a worthwhile place to put forward an opinion. They often use the web in all aspects of the of their lives; professionally, for study, and for recreation. In fact, the resident considers that a certain portion of their social life is lived out online. The web has become a crucial aspect of how they present themselves and how they remain part of networks of friends or colleagues.

The ‘Visitor’

The Visitor is an individual who uses the web as a tool in an organised manner whenever the need arises. They may book a holiday or research a specific subject. They may choose to use a voice chat tool, such as Skype, if they have friends or family abroad. Often the Visitor puts aside a specific time to go online rather than sitting down at a screen to maintain their presence at any point during the day. They always have an appropriate and focused need to use the web but don’t ‘reside’ there. They are sceptical of services that offer them the ability to put their identity online and don’t feel the need to express themselves by participating in online culture in the same manner as a Resident.

In effect, the Resident has a presence online which they are constantly developing while the Visitor logs on, performs a specific task and then logs off.


How is this different from Digital ‘Natives’ and ‘Immigrants’?

This is, of course, not a polar distinction. There is a spectrum of which the Resident and the Visitor represent two extremes. It is a useful distinction because it is not based on gender or age. While our data would indicate that the portion of the population over 55 is predominantly made up of Visitors, there are examples of Residents in this section of the demographic. Similarly, it is the case that not everyone younger than 25 is a Resident.

It is not always easy to spot who is in each category, as the level of sophistication with which a Visitor might use any single service might well be greater than that of a Resident. Again, this is not a skill-based distinction. In fact, I know of at least one ed-tech researcher who considers himself to be a Visitor out of choice.

The Resident is likely to have arranged some sort of system to manage the relationship between services and the flow of information through their browser but this does not mean that they will be any more effective at researching a specific topic than a Visitor. This is why data from a survey that simply asks what online services a group of students use is next to useless.

How does this distinction affect learners?

This Visitor-Resident distinction is useful when considering which technologies to provide for online learners.

For example, if your learners are mainly Visitors, they are unlikely to take advantage of any feed-based system (such as RSS feeds) for aggregated information you may put in place. They are also unlikely to blog or comment as part of a course. The Resident will expect to have the opportunity to offer opinions on topics and to socialise around a programme of study. In fact, they are likely to find ways of doing this even if they are not ‘officially’ provided. We offered membership of a Facebook group to our students as they left their online courses. The majority signed up without question, as they wanted to stay in touch with fellow students and continue discussions. The remainder saw the group as pointless and a possible invasion of privacy.

Both sides of this argument are correct… It’s a question of approach and motivation, hence Visitors and Residents.

This article was originally posted on the TALL blog and has only undergone minor changes for this blog. More information about Digital Visitors and Residents can be found in Visitors and Residents: The Video by David White.




New Technologies in Teaching Presentation Files

In the following link you may find the whole presentation (ppt file) of the workshop conducted  on Monday 30th May 2011: New Technologies in Teaching Presentation

You may also find the handout here: Handout

and the information leaflet on how we made our interactive whiteboard here: Interactive Whiteboard Leaflet

How we created an interactive whiteboard with low cost!!

 What we used:

1.      A wii-mote (wii console controller)

                2. A bluetooth Dongle


3.      The appropriate software


4.      IR Led Pen

5. A PC

          6. A Projector

   Since the Wiimote can track sources of infrared (IR) light, you can track pens that have an IR led in the tip. By pointing a wiimote at a projection screen or LCD display, you can create very low-cost interactive whiteboards or tablet displays. Since the Wiimote can track upto 4 points, up to 4 pens can be used. It also works great with rear-projected displays.


 The calibration and mouse cursor emulation software is available for you to download and try yourself. (http://johnnylee.net/projects/wii/ )

1.      Connect your wiimote to your PC via Bluetooth. There are a number of tutorials online on how to do this, possibly even for you specific software/hardware configuration. The Wiimote works with many (but not all) Bluetooth drivers. You can report/read about compatibility issues at WiimoteProject.com

2.      Download the Wiimote Whiteboard software to the right. Please read the “READ ME.txt” file first! Make sure your wiimote is connected via Bluetooth, and then run the “.exe” in the main folder. NOTE: Good placement of the wiimote is key to good tracking. View the README for more info.

Building pens:

Here is a simple schematic of the light pen. Lots of IR LEDs will work . You also might be able to jump start your experimentation by retro-fitting a mini keychain light with an IR LED. Here are some helpful pictures:

Here is a useful tutorial on Youtube on how to build your own infired pen:

     Build an Infrared Pen for the Wiimote Interactive Whiteboard


            You may also have a look how this interactive whiteboard works:

   Low-Cost Multi-touch Whiteboard using the Wiimote

    Διαδραστικός πίνακας με κόστος μικρότερο των 50€