Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

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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September 10, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Job Scout Has Useful Introductory Computer Tutorials, Plus A Tool For Creating Resumes


Job Scout has a number of interactive computer tutorials designed for people very new to tech, plus it also offers a guided tool for creating resumes. And they’re all free.

TechCrunch says they have also just announced a Spanish version, but I haven’t been able to locate it online yet.

I’m adding it to both The Best Places For Students To Write Their Resumes and to The Best Places To Learn Computer Basics & How To Fix Tech Problems.

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August 21, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Facebook Announces Potentially Exciting Effort To Expand Internet Access — I Hope They’re Serious


Here’s a summary from TechCrunch about this morning’s announcement:

Facebook has just announced a partnership with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera and Qualcomm to launch, a project aimed at bringing affordable Internet access to the 5 billion people without it. The companies will work together on data-compression technologies and cheap, high-quality smartphones to make the web cheaper.

While it might seem like the whole world is connected, just one-third of the globe’s population has Internet access, and adoption is only growing at 9 percent. aims to speed up that rate.

This could be pretty exciting if they actually follow-through.

The New York Times also published a good story on the project, along with a very good world map showing levels of Internet access by country.

Here’s the new organization’s promotional video, which is very well done:

I’m adding this post to The Best Sites To Learn About The Internet.

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July 14, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Advice On Using Education Technology

'LSE Media Suite' photo (c) 2010, The Liverpool  School of English - license:

You might my piece at the British Council useful: “Four questions to ask before using an Ed Tech tool” Is My New British Council Post

During this past week, I’ve been lucky enough to see the two best posts I know of offering great advice on how to use educational technology.

I thought I’d bring them together in one post, along with links to some of my related “The Best” lists, and invite readers to contribute other resources, too.

You may have already seen Bill Ferriter’s image, Technology is a Tool, NOT a Learning Outcome. It’s been burning up social media for the past week.

Here’s another great graphic from Bill:


You may, however, not have seen Frank Noschese’s absolutely brilliant post on Edtech PR Tips. In it, he offers advice to ed tech businesses who are trying to push their products onto schools. They also serve as an effective criteria for teachers to use to determine if and how to use any type of ed tech with their students.

Digital Worksheets is by John Spencer.

In addition, here are a few of my previously-posted “The Best…” lists that are somewhat related to this topic:

The Best Sources For Ideas On How To Use Technology With English Language Learners

The Best Research Available On The Use Of Technology In Schools

The Best Good, Inexpensive & Simple Classroom Technology Tools

The Best Places To Find Research On Technology & Language Teaching/Learning

The Best Sites For Learning About The History Of Technology

My Best Posts For Tech Novices (Plus A Few From Other People)

Q & A Collections: Using Tech In The Classroom is my new Ed Week Teacher posts, and brings all my past posts on ed tech together in one place.

Lessons from the Downfall of Interactive Whiteboards is from EdSurge.

Tablets Or Laptops?

This piece at Education Week Teacher brings all my posts there from the past three years related to ed tech.

Additional contributions are welcome!

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the nearly 1200 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

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July 3, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

How Did I Miss This? Google Translate Adds Hmong To Its Languages

Wow, Google Translate added Hmong to its seventy languages in May, and I just found out about it!

Previously, Bing was the only major online system to support that language.

That will certainly come in handy with our school’s large Hmong population.

You might also be interested in The Best Sites For Learning About Google Translate & Other Forms Of Machine Translation.

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June 28, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Here’s What I’m Doing To Replace Google Reader

Google Reader is shutting down on July 1st. After trying out fifteen or twenty alternatives out there, including the new Digg Reader, I have yet to find a service that I think is a great replacement.

However, there’s no value in letting the “perfect be the enemy of the good.”

I’ve finally determined that Feedly is my primary alternative — with a caveat.

I really like Mr. Reader, which is only an iPad app. However, it “syncs” with Feedly. So I’ll be using Feedly on my desktop and on my iPhone, but Mr. Reader on my iPad.

If you still want to explore other options, you can find them listed at The Best Alternatives To Google Reader Now That It’s Being Shut Down.

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June 27, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Recent Studies & Reports On Ed Tech & Learning

Here are a variety of relatively new studies, posts and commentaries related to ed tech and learning:

iPads in Los Angeles and TCO is by Larry Cuban.

Rosetta Stone Is No Replacement for In-Class Learning, Study Finds is from The Chronicle Of Higher Education. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Find Research On Technology & Language Teaching/Learning.

Innovations in learning technologies for English language teaching is a great downloadable report from The British Council. I’m adding to both the previously mentioned list and to The Best Sources For Ideas On How To Use Technology With English Language Learners.

Study Gauges Value of Technology in Schools is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to The Best Research Available On The Use Of Technology In Schools.

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June 24, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

AOL Unveils RSS Reader That Isn’t Half-Bad

AOL unveiled a Google Reader today that isn’t half-bad. It uploaded my Google Reader subscription file in seconds, and it has easy sharing functions.

I’m adding it to The Best Alternatives To Google Reader Now That It’s Being Shut Down.

However, now that Feedly has created a web version of their site, I’m assuming I’ll be making that my Google Reader replacement UNLESS the Digg Reader is as good as initial reports say it is. However, that won’t be available to the public for a day or two.

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June 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Feedly Comes To The Web

As Google Reader’s closure becomes imminent, and Feedly becomes the choice of more and more people as a replacement, one “rap” on it has been the need to download it as an app.

Today, though, it opened itself up as a web platform, too, so you can access it as a webpage on any computer connected to the Web.

You can read more about it at TechCrunch.

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June 17, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Digg Announces Their Google Reader Replacement Is Coming Out Next Week

Digg just announced that they are unveiling their Google Reader replacement next week — they’re certainly “cutting it close” with Google Reader shutting down on July 1st.

The screenshots look promising. I’m looking forward to trying it out.

I’m adding this info to The Best Alternatives To Google Reader Now That It’s Being Shut Down.

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June 13, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Make A Cool Animation Of Your Twitter Activity

Vizify lets you make a thirty-second “greatest hits” animation of your time on Twitter (though, at the time of my posting, it appears to have gone temporarily off-line, probably because of everyone trying it out).

You can read about it at Read Write Web, and check mine out below:

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June 13, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Twitter Lets Users Now Analyze Their Tweets & Followers

Twitter appears to now let users get analytics of their tweets and their followers. Log-on to Twitter’s analytics page and you can see various statistics, including the number of tweets and retweets each day and month, the number of followers and “unfollows” you’ve had during the last month, and the gender of your followers.

You can read more about it at this Slate article, Now Twitter Lets You See Which of Your Tweets People Are Actually Clicking.

I’m adding it to The Best Third-Party Twitter Apps That Don’t Require Your Password even though it obviously isn’t a “third-party” app. Be aware I haven’t updated that list for awhile, so some of the apps on that list may not be working any longer.

You may also be interested in My Best Posts Related To Twitter.

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June 5, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two Useful NY Times Articles On Tech — Creating Websites & Saving Passwords

The New York Times published two useful tech-related articles today.

One was on creating websites, Building Your Own Web Site, Free (you might also be interested in The Best Ways For Students Or Teachers To Create A Website).

David Pogue, The Times’ tech columnist, wrote a piece headlines Remember All Those Passwords? No Need. It’s about an app called Dashline that sounds almost too good to be true — it saves all your passwords securely and automatically logs on to the sites you go to…

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May 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Big Changes At Flickr Today, Including Allowing 200,000 Photos For Free

Yahoo announced a bunch of changes at its photo site, Flickr, today, including letting you store 200,000 photos for free (compared to the previous 200).

Read all about it at this Read Write Web post.

Flickr is on my The Web 2.0/Social Media Tools I Use Everyday & How I Use Them list (which I have to update).

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May 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren is the title of a new study finding that schools providing computers to students for home use resulted in no academic gains:

Computers are an important part of modern education, yet many schoolchildren lack access to a computer at home. We test whether this impedes educational achievement by conducting the largest-ever field experiment that randomly provides free home computers to students. Although computer ownership and use increased substantially, we find no effects on any educational outcomes, including grades, test scores, credits earned, attendance and disciplinary actions. Our estimates are precise enough to rule out even modestly-sized positive or negative impacts. The estimated null effect is consistent with survey evidence showing no change in homework time or other “intermediate” inputs in education.

The researchers provided computers to over 1,000 students and compared their academic results with those of another thousand in a control group (to the researcher’s credit, the students in the control group also received free computers at the end of the year-long study). The summary of the study is available for free, but you have to pay five dollars for the entire paper (which I did).

As I have stated on numerous occasions, I’m no believer in technology as a panacea. However, as I’ve previously stated in critiques of papers like these (My “Take” On Recent Study Saying Home Computer Usage Can Lead To Lower Test Scores), I believe researchers are really missing the boat.

Here’s what I wrote in that previous post:

I’ve always had questions about programs that give home computers to households with minimal training or accountability. Our school’s family literacy project of providing computers and home internet access to immigrant families resulted in huge academic gains because it combined training for parents and students and weekly monitoring and accountability. Without training or accountability, it doesn’t seem to me that schools should put much effort into getting technology into the hands of students at home.

And there are many other ways the idea of training and accountability can be implemented. I spent time showing students plenty of potentially engaging ways they can use the Internet at home to gain extra credit (since a sizable number didn’t have it at home I really couldn’t require it as an assignment and, instead, they had other ways to get extra credit), and many do so. Though I’m not that familiar with one-to-one laptop programs, I assume the training and accountability are integral to their operation — at least, in the ones that work.

Of course, students, parents, and teachers need to receive training to make all this work.

So, of course the researchers got the results they did. It would have been more useful if they had compared a control group without computers with a group that had that kind of support and accountability, which is what we did (you can read more about it at The Best Resources For Learning About Schools Providing Home Computers & Internet Access To Students.

It’s not clear in the study if individual classes were divided into halves, with one half receiving computers and the other not. I’m assuming that was the case, which even reinforces how obvious the results were going to be — teachers then couldn’t incorporate lessons that the whole class could do at home.

I sometimes wonder how much consultation researchers do with educators to help determine how useful a study would be before it’s done….

Thanks to Morgan Polikoff for the tip on the study.

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May 15, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Google+ Features For Photo-Editing, Panoramas & GIFs

Google+ Photos Can Now Automatically Create Animated GIFs, Panoramas, HDR Images And Better Group Shots is a TechCrunch post sharing details on a ton of new Google+ photo-editing tools, including creating panoramas and GIFs.

I’m adding the info to three lists:

The Best Resources On GIFs

The Best Resources For Learning What Google+ Is All About

The Best Sites For Online Photo-Editing & Photo Effects

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