Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Virtual Reality & Education


Facebook’s recent purchase of a virtual reality company has been in the news this week. I have to admit I hadn’t been paying much attention to it until I heard this segment on the PBS News Hour, Facebook invests in a virtual reality future with $2 billion Oculus Rift acquisition.

I’ve embedded the video below, and you can read the transcript at the link, but the line I highlighted at the top of this post really struck me.

Might this be the real future of technology in education, as opposed to MOOC’s and all their shortcomings?

What do you think?

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March 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

My New BAM! Podcast: What Are The Benefits & Challenges Of A One-To-One Program?


My latest nine-minute BAM! Radio Podcast is on What Are the Real Benefits of a 1:1 Program? What Are the Biggest Challenges?

Educators Alice Barr and Troy Hicks share their thoughts, and they are also among contributors to one of my future Education Week columns on the topic.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On “One-To-One” Laptop/Tablet Programs.

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March 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Four questions to ask before using an Ed Tech tool” Is My New British Council Post


Four questions to ask before using an Ed Tech tool is my latest post over at Teaching English-British Council.

Here’s how I start:


You can see all my British Council posts here.

I’m adding this most recent post to The Best Advice On Using Education Technology.

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February 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Helpful Resources For Google+

'How to Connect Your Youtube and Google Plus!' photo (c) 2012, Brian Hawkins - license:

Here are some new helpful resources that I’m adding to The Best Resources For Learning What Google+ Is All About:

12 Reasons Google+ Isn’t As Bad As You Think is from The Huffington Post.

The Plus in Google Plus? It’s Mostly for Google is from The New York Times.

10 Growing Google+ Communities In Education is from Teach Thought.

28 Google+ Ed-Tech Communities for Educators, Instructional Designers and Technologists is from Ed Tech Magazine.

ESL Teachers is one Google+ Community.

English Language Teaching is another Google+ Community.

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February 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Resources On “One-To-One” Laptop/Tablet Programs — Please Suggest More!

'one to one' photo (c) 2008, David Sedlmayer - license:

Here’s a link to my two-part Ed Week series on successfully implementing one-to-one programs

I’ll soon be covering a question in my Education Week Teacher column about one-to-one laptop/tablet programs, and thought it would be useful to readers (and to me!) to create a “Best” lists on the topic (Check out my nine-minute BAM! Radio Podcast on What Are the Real Benefits of a 1:1 Program? What Are the Biggest Challenges? Educators Alice Barr and Troy Hicks share their thoughts, and they are also among contributors to one of my future Education Week columns on the topic).

This list will be fairly limited at the beginning, but I’m confident readers, particularly teachers who are actually doing a one-to-one program, will contribute great stuff in the comments. I’ll be regularly adding those contributions to the post itself, but be sure to check the comments, anyway.

Here’s a start:

Big Educational Laptop and Tablet Projects: Looking at Ten Countries is from Larry Cuban’s blog and provides an excellent overview.

I have a number of useful resources at previously published “The Best….” lists and other posts in this blog, including at:

The Best Research Available On The Use Of Technology In Schools

Tablets Or Laptops?

The Best Advice On Using Education Technology

The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users

Another Study On Schools Providing Students Home Computers Finds The Obvious Results

A Very Beginning List Of The Best Articles On The iPad Debacle In Los Angeles Schools

Here are more resources from other places:

Maine’s Decade-Old School Laptop Program Wins Qualified Praise is from The Huffington Post.

Unfazed, Houston Pushes Ahead on 1-to-1 Computing is from Education Week.

Why Schools Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing is from November Learning.

Power Up! / Your 1:1 Program: Can You Answer These 10 Questions? is by Doug Johnson.

Why Some Schools Are Selling All Their iPads is from The Atlantic.

Why a New Jersey school district decided giving laptops to students is a terrible idea is from The Hechinger Report.

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February 5, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Show Me The Money — Are Schools Really Getting An Extra Billion For Technology?

'Highlighting Broadband Access at Kent Island High School' photo (c) 2013, Maryland GovPics - license:

You have seen articles over the past couple of days about President Obama getting the Federal Communications Commission to add an extra billion dollars towards providing high-speed Internet to schools and libraries.

Here are some of the better articles on it:

Here’s Obama’s plan to give teachers and libraries $1 billion a year in extra funding is from The Washington Post.

F.C.C. to Change Program That Connects Schools to High-Speed Internet Service is from The New York Times.

Personally, I’ll believe it when I see it…

What are your thoughts? Is it really going to make much of a difference? Will money really get to schools?

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December 30, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Ways To Receive Questions Electronically While Leading A Workshop

I put this question out on Twitter and Google Plus, and here are the responses I received….

Please continue to leave comments and I’ll add them in….

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December 26, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Collection Of Recommendation Lists From Around The Web For iPhone & iPad Apps

'iPad and iPhone' photo (c) 2012, Sean MacEntee - license:

Over the past few days, the Web has been awash with recommendation lists of apps for people who received a new iPhone or iPad as a holiday gift.

Here are a few of the best ones. I’ll be adding this list to both The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users and The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me.

90 best free iPhone apps 2013 is from TechRadar.

Start here: the best apps for all your new devices is from The Verge.

11 Best iPad Apps of 2013 is from Mashable.

Essential Apps For Your New iPad or iPhone is from Gizmodo.

The very best (new) apps of 2013 is from USA Today.

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December 21, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Tablets Or Laptops?

The question of whether tablets or laptops are the way to go in classrooms is heating up in school districts around the country, and is probably being informed by the iPad fiasco in Los Angeles.

I lean in the laptop direction, though I’d certainly like to hear what readers think.

Scholastic has a useful discussion of the question, and I thought readers would also find this infographic useful (it might not come through on an RSS Reader.

I’m adding this post to The Best Advice On Using Education Technology.

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November 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best “Mind-Blowing” Videos About Technology That I’ve Seen — Help Me Find More

'Blow Your Mind' photo (c) 2010, kozumel - license:

I post a lot of videos on this blog, and you can see links to all my annual “Best Videos For Educators” lists here.

Occasionally, I post videos that are, in some ways, just “mind-blowing” — at least to me — in showing the potential of technology.

I’m posting three to start off this list, and hope readers will contribute more:

Here’s an excerpt from The Boston Globe about this first video:

In a paper published last month and an accompanying video (below), a team of five engineers introduced inFORM, an interactive computer system that allows a person on one side of a screen to physically interact with the world on the other side.

ColAR is an app that TechCrunch has written about (see ColAR Uses Augmented Reality To Bring Your Kid’s Drawing To Life). It’s free, and lets you print out coloring pages from their site, color them in, look at them through the tablet app, and they come alive.

Watch this video and prepare to be mesmerized:

In an experiment, researchers were able to take the brain waves of people seeing what’s on the left and reconstruct the images on the right — only from brain waves. You can read about the potential implications of this process, ranging from identifying what patients in a coma are experiencing to seeing our own dreams, at Scientific American:

Okay, your turn. What videos have you seen lately about tech that have “blown your mind”?

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October 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

More On Schools Providing Home Computers & Internet Access To Students

October 13, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Here’s What I’m Using As An External Microphone For My iPhone5


As most teachers know, the internal microphone in any iPhone just doesn’t cut it for student presentations – the audio is too weak.

I had found a great external mike that worked perfectly with my iPhone 4, but, no matter what the manufacturer might claim, it doesn’t work with my iPhone 5.

After a lengthy search, I concluded that Rode Smartlav Lavalier Microphone for iPhone and Smartphones would work best, and it seems to have been a good choice. It’s a “lapel mike,” so it’s not ideal, but I just either leave it on a table in front of students presenting or, when I’m videotaping one student, just have them hold it. It works fine, and it’s simple to use. Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive (at least compared to other options).

Has anyone found anything better?

I’m adding this info to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me.

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October 12, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Google To Start Using Our Words & Faces In Ads — Here’s How To Opt Out

'google' photo (c) 2012, SEO - license:

Google has announced it will be starting to use the faces and words of users in advertisements. Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times article about it:

When the new ad policy goes live on Nov. 11, Google will be able to show what the company calls shared endorsements on Google sites and across the Web, on the more than two million sites in Google’s display advertising network, which are viewed by an estimated one billion people. If a user follows a bakery on Google Plus or gives an album four stars on the Google Play music service, for instance, that person’s name, photo and endorsement could show up in ads for that bakery or album.

TechCrunch has just posted instructions on how to simply “opt-out” of that program:

  1. Click this link. (And, if necessary, log in to the Googles. I promise that’s a link to actual Google, not fake Google that steals your password and uses it to order handbags.)
  2. Uncheck the check box. Unless it’s already unchecked — in which case, leave it unchecked. Oddly, some people are saying they’re opted out by default; others say they find it checked: check = bad.
  3. Hit save!
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October 2, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

More On LA’s iPad Fiasco

Here are some new additions to A Very Beginning List Of The Best Articles On The iPad Debacle In Los Angeles Schools:

The L.A. schools’ excellent iPad adventure is a very good piece from The Los Angeles Times.

Students Are ‘Hacking’ Their School-Issued iPads: Good for Them may be the best piece written on so far on what’s going on. It’s written by Audrey Watters, and appears in The Atlantic.

Here’s how she ends it:

In the days since the story broke about the Indiana and California students’ “hacking” their iPads, the districts’ poor planning and preparation has been roundly criticized. But more important perhaps than pointing a finger at any one security or administrative issue here, we should recognize that the real failure may be more widespread and more insidious: a profound lack of vision about how students themselves could use—want to use—these new technologies to live and to learn at their fullest potential.

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October 1, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Connected Educators Month


October is Connected Educators Month. Here’s a description:

Connected Educators is an initiative of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education and is conducted by the American Institutes for Research in collaboration with several partner organizations and a technical working group. Numerous other organizations and individuals have contributed to its success as organizers and participating organizations in Connected Educator Month.

Connected Educators pursues this mission through seeking to understand and promote educators learning and collaborating through online communities of practice and social networks.

There are already 240 free activities scheduled this month.

The Edublogger has an essential guide to understand that Connected Educators website.

And you’ve got to read What ‘Connected Education’ Looks Like: 28 Examples From Teachers All Over at The New York Times Learning Network. Some great ideas are shared there, and I’m going to be trying some of them. My contribution to that post was a project I’ve done with my colleague Alice Mercer. They are also encouraging readers to contribute more ideas.

You might also be interested in The Best Guides For Helping Teachers Develop Personal Learning Networks.

Feel free to make new suggestions in the comments for more resources.

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September 29, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Great Graphic: “The Ed Tech Troubleshooter”

Here’s another great ed tech graphic from Bill Ferriter. I’m adding it to The Best Advice On Using Education Technology:

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September 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Where I Post What In Social Media

'Social Media apps' photo (c) 2013, Jason Howie - license:

I share a lot of resources and commentaries in various social media, and I thought readers might find it helpful if I share my strategies about where I post what. I had included a similar summary in Eight Ways To Build An Audience For Your Blog, and this is an update.  Apart from sharing links to most of my blog posts (from this blog and from my weekly columns in The New York Times and Education Week Teacher), I share different resources in each social media service.

I actively participate on Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and Facebook.

I have over 30,000 “followers” on Twitter, and I share links to my blog posts and other resources that I consider particularly important or useful (along with the occasional cute animal picture :) )   I also respond to inquiries and post some myself.  All told, I probably share about forty tweets daily, which includes sharing links to my posts more than once.

I’m in about 6,000 “circles” on Google Plus and only share three kinds of items there:

* My blog posts once to “public” and directly to people who have asked to be notified through Google Plus of them.

* Four or five articles that I consider interesting, but not important enough to share on Twitter.  Again, I post them “public”).

* Videos, mainly funny ones, that have little educational relevance (again, to “public.”

About 5,000 people subscribe to my three boards on Pinterest.  There, I share infographics and charts that would be too bulky to include in my blog, attractively designed and important quotations, and links to many, though not all, of my blog posts.  I probably pin ten or twelve items each day on Pinterest.

For Facebook, I have my blog posts automatically shared as part of Networked Blogs, and also manually share each post, since more and more people use the “Subscriber” feature now available that lets you subscribe to peoples updates (I’ve got about 1,700 “friends” and 500 people who subscribe to updates).  I’ll sometimes share a personal photo, as well.

Do you have particular strategies you use for different social media?  If so, please share them in the comments….


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September 12, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two Important Quotes From Massive NY Times Articles On Tablets In Classroom

Today, The New York Times published a very lengthy piece on the use of tablets in the classroom, focusing on Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify system (which I’ve written about in the past). The Times piece is headlined No Child Left Untableted.

I think it’s an impressively thoughtful piece covering the broader questions about technology use in the classroom

Here’s one excerpt that particularly resonated with me:

Sherry Turkle, an M.I.T. professor and a prominent Cassandra who writes about the unanticipated consequences of our immersion in electronic technology, described some aspects of tablets in the classroom to me as “the dystopian presented as the utopian.” She said, “We become smitten with the idea that there will be technological solutions to these knotty problems with education, but it happens over and over again that we stop talking to kids.” That’s the root of what she calls “the crisis in the ability to talk.” High-school teachers are already complaining, she said, that their students “are fixed on programs that give the right answer, and they’re losing the notion of talking and listening to each other, skills that middle school is supposed to teach.”

I told her stories from Amplify’s pilot programs about previously marginal, quiet students blossoming: the boy in Georgia whose tablet-troubleshooting skills made him popular; the tall girl in Connecticut who blew away her classmates with an essay about what it’s like to be 5-foot-11 in middle school. The tablet also includes features like discussion groups that let students engage one another directly. “There’s a reason they call them ‘discussion groups’ and not ‘conversations,’ ” Turkle said. “You learn how to broadcast, which is not the same thing as what you and I are doing now. Posting strong opinions isn’t a conversation.”

And here’s another:


I’m adding the article to The Best Places To Find Research On Technology & Language Teaching/Learning.

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