Category: Uncategorized

Blackboard Communicate / Elluminate

Last week:  I spent part of the day today looking at Blackboard Communicate. We will be having some sessions using this software as part of the Masters course and it is useful to be able to see what its capabilities are. As with any organisation at the present time, cost-cutting is on the agenda and we are looking at ways of delivering some of our courses by distance learning.

Today: Had our first proper session using Elluminate and it does have some exciting possibilities. A little slow at times, it was a good way to bring together the class and for us to have a brief discussion about progress. It was made interactive through the use of the ‘poll’ facility, allowing us to vote on a couple of questions. We also took turns in using the audio. I found this a little strange in that you are ‘on’ and it is difficult to gauge the feedback from the group with no facial expressions or comments. A little impersonal. Video could improve that but slows the bandwidth and given that it was a little broken even with just the audio, this is not yet feasible with home technology. I shall look forward to exploring this technology further through later sessions.



Task 5: Discuss the use of blogs

In Task 5, we have been asked to consider the way the blog can be used and how we are using ours. I am not using the blogs a great deal – I am finding time to have a quick flick through about once a week. One thing I have done today is worked out how to set up the RSS reader in Google, so that I can try to follow what other people are doing. Again, it will come down to time as to how much I read.  I am tending to respond to the task requests rather than posting anything else.


I do find the blogs more interesting to read when they contain images and links, so I am also trying to include those myself.

I have added a subscribe button to my blog, so people can subscribe by email and, imagine my excitement, when 3 people actually thought my blog worth following! (They may unsubscribe after this post!)


I do still prefer the immediacy of social networking, such as Facebook (for friends), LinkedIn (for professional networking) and Twitter – well, I’m not quite sure why I use  Twitter at the moment, but I’m working on it.

I hope that now I have the RSS feeds set up, I may start to find some benefit to using the blogs as well.


Task 4: Edit Blogroll

For our fourth task, I had to add some other blogs to my Blogroll. Not being a regular Blog reader, I had to start thinking about what to add. One obvious link is the link to the main blog for this course. Then I started thinking about who I had found inspirational in the world of ICT and Education. I have added a couple of links – Joe Dale is a linguist who has found some very inspirational ways of using ICT in language learning. He has a great Twitter feed, which I do already follow and through him I met up with some really fun and exciting people at Language World a few years ago. I used to be a ‘guru’ in the area of ICT and languages (someone else’s descrioption, not mine). As my work has led me away from languages, I have missed out a bit on the developments in ICT for language-learning and Joe’s work helps me to stay in touch. I have also added Danny Nicholson. We worked together at an organisation called MPowerNet and we have kept in touch since. He is a ‘friend’ on Facebook and constantly makes me laugh but I haven’t really read his blog before. There are some other candidates to be added, but I will have to find a bit more time to do some reading.

Task 3: My skills


We have been asked to write about our skills. I have divided these into three main areas, those related to language, those related to computing and those related to training.

I am a trained linguist, with A levels in French and English and a degree in Russian. I also have training in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and I am fascinated by language and linguistics. I have dabbled in Spanish, German and Chinese. I still see myself primarily as a linguist and try to find opportunities to learn and teach language.


My computing skills are not hugely technical but relate to how computers are used in teaching and learning.

I have built up particular expertise in the use of Interactive Whiteboards. From 2002-2004, I managed a research project, based at the
University of Hull, where we developed an observation schedule and collected data from more than 200 lessons taught using an interactive whiteboard. From this we developed a CD ROM ‘The Good Guide to Interactive Whiteboards’ which went to a print run of more than 45,000 copies – for all schools in the UK and also widely distributed in the USA. The project website closed about a year after
the research concluded, but can still be accessed through the Wayback Machine at ‘The Review Project’.  (

At the height of this project, I was acting as a consultant to several local authorities, a whiteboard manufacturer and government agencies. My interest lies primarily in the area of building classroom interaction – the board itself is not ‘interactive’ – it is the way in which teachers select and develop materials which makes for classroom interactivity.

Connected to this, I have also carried out research on the use of Expression Pupil Response Devices in English. Expression devices allow individual responses from students which can be displayed on an interactive whiteboard. I am currently working on a paper based on this research which I hope to find a publisher for in the next year.

I have some skills in the area of Using a VLE, Supporting distance learning and Evaluating software.


I have worked as a trainer for nearly 15 years now, initially training language teachers in the use of ICT, and now working cross-curricular with teachers from all subjects. I really enjoy being in the classroom and spending time supporting teachers in all aspects of their computer use. I have written materials for many training courses (paper-based, online and video-based).

One more video

Just thought that you should be aware of some of the issues that can occur when you are using a projector in your classroom or lecture theatre.

Adding a photo

Hi – enjoying reading all the blogs and so excited about meeting everyone and getting started.

I will give you a little hint of my musical tastes by way of a link – this is a group that I saw over the summer – you’ll have to click the link to see who it is! Click here. It will make you laugh – I promise!

Introducing Myself

I have started this blog as part of my Masters Degree at Huddersfield University in Multimedia and E-learning. I am really excited about starting to study again.

My background is in languages. I took a degree in Russian and Soviet Studies and after a period of teaching English overseas, I returned to the UK and took my PGCE. During the course, I became very interested in how computers were making a difference to the way that pupils learned languages. Seeing how a learner could click an unfamiliar word and hear the pronunciation or get immediate feedback on tests (e.g. ‘Click on the correct answer’) made me very keen to find out more about effective methodology in using ICT in language teaching and learning. After my PGCE, I worked at the University of Surrey, setting up an Open Learning Centre for Languages. I was very fortunate in having a manager who fully supported new technologies in language learning.

I then moved to CILT (Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research) to run their NOF (New Opportunities Fund) ICT training program for teachers of languages. I had written a bid for this program and the post was created specifically so that specialist tuition could be offered to teachers of MFL in UK secondary schools. This was a fantastic role, in which I oversaw more than 600 action research projects using ICT in modern languages.

I then moved to Hull University where I was able to pursue an interest in an ’emerging’ technology – interactive whiteboards. I led a research project funded by ‘nesta’ which aimed to find and disseminate best practice in the use of interactive whiteboards. As a team, we observed 200 lessons taught by some really inspirational teachers, who were all pioneers – early adopters – of whiteboard technology.

This led directly to a post with Promethean – 1 year in the UK as a Teaching and Learning Adviser and 1 year overseas (China, Russia, Denmark and some other European work.) Whilst very exciting, living out of a suitcase was not something I wanted to do long-term and I was delighted when I was offered a position with the United Church Schools Trust / United Learning Trust.

I now work as E-learning Training Manager based in the North of England and supporting schools throughout the group. UCST owns and manages independent schools whilst ULT is the largest single sponsor of Academies in the UK, currently managing more than 20 schools from Bournemouth to Newcastle. It is a challenging role, but we are fortunate to have access to superb resources. I now work with interactive whiteboards, handheld response devices, VLE and other aspects of interactive learning.

My focus has always been very firmly on the ‘teaching and learning’ side of the technology. I am not ‘technical’ and whilst I have a basic command of how things work, my real interest is in how technology can improve what we do in the classroom and beyond to improve educational outcomes.

I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone else on the course and sharing experiences – and hopefully a few laughs as well!