Reflections on EVO (2009 and later)

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Archive for the ‘evo2009mlit’ Category

Recording the Ning Fiasco (II)

Posted by Mariel Amez on July 10, 2010

Message sent to all members of Literature at TTC (2009) on June 7th
Dear all,
In July, this space will be discontinued when Ning begins to claim payment. Please save any work you are interested in keeping. I would also appreciate it if you could send me any videos you have created yourselves and which you still have in your computers, or links to alternative spaces you choose to migrate your work to. You could start a blog and include your work there. My record of the whole “Ning fiasco” can be found at and Some suggestions for backing up content are included.
The network I created for 2010 is After long deliberation, and against my principles, I have decided to make a one-time-only payment to Ning to keep it going for one year so as not to upset the work in progress (it’s not the amount that bothers me, it’s the procedure Ning has followed) You are welcome to sign up for it if you are interested in checking out what we are doing, but the start of the year has been clouded by the uncertainty of the future. Things are only beginning to take off now, that’s why I didn’t write to you before.

Message sent to all members of Literature at TTC (2009) on June 29th
Let me recommend the following article, which discusses developments and issues:
I have not yet had a go at the “export tool” that Ning has recently advertised. That will have to wait for the hols.
I have been trying to export posts to Posterous, which is something you can do yourselves following this link So far I haven’t been able to make the “export all” work, but I’ll keep you posted. In any event, videos will not be ported, so please make a point of preserving the videos you have created yourselves (You Tube links or embeds are not an issue). If you could also let me know whether I could have access to them, I would be most grateful.
Do keep me posted about your progress.

 Message sent to all members of Literature at TTC (2009) on July 7th
I have managed (after a couple of unsuccessful attempts) to migrate all Ning blogposts to Posterous Unfortunately, they all appear under my name (ie the name of the original poster is lost). You can do that by yourself very easily. Create a Posterous account (or use one you already have) and go to It’s dead simple.

Yesterday I opened a Grouply account:

The good news is that in a few minutes it migrated all Ning members and their info (55 people), subgroups (and their content, though not which members were members of the subgroup)and photos and albums(including original dates, who had uploaded them and the comments made on them).
On the Home page you will find a box called “Old posts” which links directly to the Posterous blog mentioned above.
Something to bear in mind is that even though all of you have been imported as members, you should create a Grouply identity before accessing the network (instead of asking for a password reset, which I foolishly did at first, to no avail). Another feature to handle with care is the “unified identity”, which means you are taken “out” of your network without warning, and all your “groups” and other “suggested” groups become available. In fact on signing up I already had friendship requests from strangers.

Video embeds are allowed, but not uploads, unless you handle them as documents (under 10 Mb). In order to comment, you have to refer to the “original message” rather than the video itself. Perhaps some of you could try to add some videos here? The “films” you made yourself, which I hope are still in your hard drive, could alternatively be uploaded to Slideshare/ Authorstream/ Scribd/ You Tube depending on the kind of file. Could you do that?
You can read a more detailed account


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Recording the Ning Fiasco (I)

Posted by Mariel Amez on July 10, 2010

Recovering from the initial shock of Ning closing free networks in mid April, I was gladly surprised to see how many communities set down to work to suggest and analyse alternatives.

I started bookmarking my readings on the topic as and

I also posted a comment at, signed the petition at\
and inserted the link to the petition in the Nings I have created
and the ones I belong to as a member.

I also posted a few messages to the Webheads Yahoo Group.

Then I started  experimenting with mixxt, socialgo & Of course they are all different from Ning, so we should each assess which of the Ning features we valued the most.

Socialgo is the one I liked the least. Too many of the features are only available through a Premium account, and requires separate login for user and admin interface.

I started using with a new class. I had created a Ning site for them shortly before the announcement, so I had no users and little content. So far, I’m not pleased. Even though blogposts can be tagged, the tags are not visible when one reads the post, there is no cloud (which there is for videos & photos), and, most importantly, the search function involves titles, but not tags. Videos can only be embedded from YouTube, MetaCafe & DailyMotion (apparently no Teacher Tube or Vimeo, and no uploading).

I created a mixxt network, but it’s still experimental (no users). I think blogging is a little complicated (users are not issued their own blog upon joining, but need to create it manually before writing the first post – I haven’t fully figured this out yet). The search function does seem first rate, and with a tag cloud on the main page which brings in images, videos, posts, it should be dead easy to track content.

In the meantime, I sent warnings via Ning to last year’s students. And this took us to the end of June.

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Working with sound

Posted by Mariel Amez on February 9, 2010

 Week 5 for Digital Material Preparation for TESOL is about Producing audio for ESL materials, and  we were introduced to Aviary as a sound editor. This site purports to be also and Image, Vector and Effects editor, but I have not tried those functions. The goals of the week are

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  • locate and use an online tool-Myna to create a single track recording
  • use Myna to add additional tracks then “mixdown” tracks for publishing
  • use Myna to create alternate modes of audio distribution
  • post an audio poem to a Moodle forum

I chose the sonnet  “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) and made a recording on Aviary. The first attempt was not loud enough, so I re-recorded it.

Then I had the idea of adding some background music, so I started looking for some tune licensed under Creative Commons, and I found Michael David Crawford’s page, downloaded a beautiful song called Emergence, but failed to integrate it with my recording in a way that would make the result public. So I double-checked, and found that Aviary itself offers a long list of recordings, available in mini-files for better arrangement to fit a predetermined length.

I was successful, as you can see in How do I love thee, but – of course! – the embedding uses Flash and won’t embed in WP. The link takes you to the page where all the elements used are outlined.

I decided to accompany the recording with a Flickr Creative Commons photo, inserted below.

Uploaded to Flickr on November 6, 2008 by mikebaird

Before finishing, I fortunately remembered good old Posterous. I downloaded the mp3 Aviary file, attached it to an email. pasted the poem, inserted the photo and … magic! It worked.  You can play my recording with background music while you follow the words in this post.

I believe this activity can work very well in my Literature classes. In fact, I invited students to create a poetry anthology last year, including images, so they could complement this with background music in a post.

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Working with sound: Podomatic

Posted by Mariel Amez on February 9, 2010

While trying unsuccessfully to upload an audio file in another post, I remembered last year I had managed to do so in My E-Portfolio: 3- Plans and Goals, so I checked, and discovered  I had only included a link to Podomatic. Looking for an embed code for WordPress, which was not available, I created this post directly. I then added this introductory paragraph from the WP dashboard.

The recording below was made about a year ago, at the end of Multiliteracies 2009.

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Working with photos

Posted by Mariel Amez on February 6, 2010

I’ve been silent for a while because I was away on holiday. I travelled to Colombia: Cartagena de Indias and the island of San Andres.

I have owned a digital camera for about a year, and never really sat down to work out what to do with the photos. As part of EVO 2010 I decided to learn a little while reminiscing about the wonderful days spent in these dreamlike locations.

First of all, with Windows Live Photo Gallery (which I discovered was installed on my netbook) I set out to enhance the pictures: I removed shadows, added sharpness, cropped some “unwanted participants” out of the photos.  I used Corel Photo-Paint (also lying dormant on my hard disk) to blur the faces of every person appearing in crowd scenes.   Then I tagged, named and rated the hundred photos I had taken, and  found out that WLPG would directly export pictures  to my Flickr account, where I created two albums, one for each location, with a selection of the higher rated photos.

I had used Flickr before, but resented the impossibility to embed in WordPress blogs (only linking is allowed). Looking at Michael‘s  “Journey of Light” blog, I had the idea of inserting a thumbnail together with the link, which would improve the effect.


See Cartagena slideshow.




See San Andres slideshow.


After that, I turned to Slide to go on experimenting. It turns out it’s much easier to “borrow” pictures from Flickr than to upload them again, which is possible as long as they have been marked as “Public”. I created a Funpix (click to see it), using as many tools as possible (Glitter Text, Effects, Skins, Themes).

Slide seems quite similar to Picnik Flickr‘s default individual photo editor. The main difference seems to be that, unlike Slide, Picnik does not require an account and  allows you to download  your creation. I had tried other editors for DMPT, as I recorded here.  

Finally, I created this “fun” slideshow complete with music and all (skins, themes, effects) on Slide, which does provide a WordPress code – provided you are working in English, but not if your language is Spanish.

I really need to start catching up with the sessions, but I feel I have learnt quite a lot through these picture selections.

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Finishing Week One

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 17, 2010

I wrote a post on the Multiliteracies Ning yesterday, and after tweeting about it discovered that all the Ning activity is not restricted to members, which I thought it was.

I joined Technology Integration in Education , updated my page, started following them on Twitter and joined their Diigo group.  I also joined some groups on The Educator’s PLN and contributed to a discussion. I included RSS feeds for the latest activity of both Nings in my recently developed Pageflakes.

While writing this post I uninstalled the Diigo toolbar, tired of the crashing of all my IE windows. Il try Diigolet later.

As part of Digital Material Preparation for TESOL, I became acquainted with Dvolver MovieMaker, and experimented with it. (Of course, no embedding in WP!)

Week 2 on DMPT is about Text-based materials production. We were introduced, for example,  to dafont (free downloadable fonts), Compleat Lexical Tutor (concordancer), Lorem Ipsum (Dummy text generator Resource). It’s really exciting. Below is one of my assignments:

I have hurried through some of these tasks because I will be unable to post or work for a few days now, but I’m happy with the tools and articles I have discovered so far, and with the growth of my PLN.

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From Blogs to Bombs (Introduction)

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 15, 2010

What I found most interesting of the chapter “Many Lenses” from Marc Pegrum‘s book is the perspective of context – social, sociopolitical and global. With reference to txtspk, he mentions the fact that the digital divide may be widened by lack of proper education and poor economic background, which impairs our adaptation to different roles in society:   

The new markers of class are not the presence or absence of technology, but facility and subtlety in its use. 


 As regards the lenses themselves, I believe that most of us had at one point or another considered the technological, pedagogical and social ones. We have long been quoting Prensky’s dichotomy between “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” even though the scientific validity of such a generalisation has been challenged (see, eg Bennett, S., Maton, K., & Kervin, L. 2008) and recent studies highlight the existence of a digital divide in the so-called native generation, both in access to technology and in operational capability (Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience, 2009).  In contrast, Pegrum comments on the features of newer generations considering both similarities and differences, and calls for the guidance and warnings of parents and educators.  

Moreover, Pegrum introduces some new notions, namely, the sociopolitical and ecological lenses, and asks some very disturbing questions in connection with the use of technology in global politics, such as 

which views can’t or won’t be expressed as governments across the political spectrum isolate and gag the voices they fear – while tracking the rest, just in case?


what are energy-hungry devices and their e-waste doing to the larger ecosystem of which we’re part?

 In this vein, he higlights the need for education not only through technology but about technology, so that empowerment can become true and not just a delusion to deprive inadvertent citizens of democratic freedoms at present taken for granted in many countries.

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Digital materials preparation for TESOL (Week 1)

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 15, 2010

During this EVO 2010 I have also enrolled for another session: Digital material preparation techniques and resources for TESOL professionals.

It is taught on Moodle, with weekly chats on TappedIn. I missed the first chat because I failed to check the platform, believing I would get a notification, but apparently my registration was incomplete, or something of the sort. I must confess I have not quite adapted to Moodle yet.

The Preparation Checklist instructed us to:

Join TappedIn

Become a member of the following free Internet resources:
Ask500People, polling the world
Myna, online audio editor
Scholastic Mini-Dictionary, definition generator
ScreenToaster, online screen capture
VoiceThread, media discussion

Visit the links below to ensure you can view them

Dafont, font repository
Docstoc, professional document sharing
Google Translate, language translation
LexTutor, data-driven learning

Lorem Ipsum, place holder text generator

Microsoft Office Online, office document resources
PDPhoto, copyright free photos
Photobucket, photo sharing resource
Picnik, image-photo editor
Project Gutenburg, copyright free texts

SpellingCity, activities generator
TeacherTube, education video sharing
Vocabgrabber, word list generator
Voki, talking avatar creator
Wikipedia, encyclopedia
Writeboard, wiki
Zamzar, online file conversion

Week one has been about introductions, getting to know the environments (including the Moodle wiki)  and working with images.

I first tried Picnik, and created this:

Our tutor recommended these other Online Photo Manipulation Tools:

Fun Photo Box Specializing in gag effects.

Image Chef Includes video and text art.

PhotoShop Express  Online version of the industry standard software application.

Photo505 More digital FX for photos.

Photofunia And more of the same.

So I played with ImageChef
Beach custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more -

And with Photofunia:

This has really been a lot of fun! I even gave Voki a try, but, of course, it won’t embed in WP, and does not even give me a link!

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Week 1 2010: PLNs

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 12, 2010

I think I started reading Vance Steven’s post about four hours ago, and I had decided to go straight ahead to Pegrum’s chapter to make my first post for Multiliteracies 2010 , but, just like Vance describes in Reflections on how we learn through networks, with particular infotention to the multiliteracy of new media (which I retweeted), I have done so many other things “in between” that here I am, overwhelmed already. So the “many lenses” will have to wait a while.

I got to that Posterous post through a comment made by Elizabeth on the Ning, and that allowed me to discover that you can retweet from Posterous. Kim Cofino’s extract mentioned by Vance, where a number of strategies to start your PLN are outlined, was somehow linked to a promotional email I received in the meantime, which I believe can be useful for others:

Another email arriving more or less at the time led me to discover Spezify (which I retweeted as well), before I had finished reading the article Modeling Social Media in Groups, Communities, and Networks, started at some point before.

Looking for the source of Jennifer’s Using Text messaging in the ESL classrrom I stumbled upon a good site for teaching Romeo and Juliet (ideas and lesson plans), and somehow found myself searching for Hanna’s poll. And all along I was tagging pages on Delicious.

Conclusions?  PLNs or CoPs or whichever term we coin to call them are essential to find our way in the maze of resources available for professional growth these days. Just as it is essential to experience this quest for learning “in the flesh” and to enable students (especially those in teacher education) to do so during their in-service training. Which by the way is connected to what I mentioned in a lecture and in the final paper for the “Maestros en Tecnologias” course.

Echoes, echoes, echoes… And pipes more important than the content within them …

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Starting Multiliteracies 2010

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 11, 2010

I’m really excited about starting this new edition of the course. I have had some personal issues during the past week, so I’m already lagging behind, even though the course has officially started today.

After a little revamping of this blog (adding a  Twemes RSS feed, removing a couple of things) I wrote a new page on my e-portfolio here and added a brief blogpost to the Multiliteracies Ning. If only there were 40 hours in a day!

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