Archive for January, 2011

Wimba Classroom Session with AppSharing for online tutoring or support

Here you can view a 2.5 minutes screencast of how to initiate a Wimba Classroom session with Appsharing.



Logging in as participant




Chime indicates: loading finished




Demo:hand raising








Local screen sharing  started by remote




Local dialogue to permit




Text message: “the app sharing is now displaying  Plagwitz’desktop”




Local frame to select screen portion shared.


Now students can share a Moodle or other online assignment or all local text file with their tutor; users in need of computing support the offending application.


Login Errors

Categories: Glitches&Errors

How to batch-upload learning materials, give students access in Moodle

To upload a set of learning materials (e.g. multiple audio tracks from a CD) at once:

  1. On your computer, browse to the files (assuming that, if your source material is on an audio CD, you have already “ripped” the audio to files on your computer)
  2. Zip the folder, e.g. using the built-in Windows right-click/context menu option “send to”/ “compressed file” (for more options, install the free 7-zip is more powerful, which is required on Windows XP if your file names contain foreign language diacritics).

In your Moodle course, Step 1 is to upload the files: click at the bottom of the left menu: “File

  1. No need to create a folder since this is done automatically (advantage: keep files manageably together, e.g. applying student permissions to an entire folder set of files versus individual files – disadvantage: you may run into our Moodle file size limit (as of 2011-05 64MB for individual files, including the uploaded zip-file; you may ask for an increase or TBA:compress your audio files) .
  2. Enter the folder and upload, by browsing to the zipped file on your computer
  3. Wait for the upload to finish (remember you may have a single file size limit, so while it is not as convenient as uploading all files in one batch, you may have to split the files. When using Windows “Send to”, you have to manage this manually. 7-zip offers more assistance),
  4. Once the file appears in the folder, there will be a link “unzip” to the right of it: Click it.
  5. moodle-upload-zip-files
  6. moodle-upload-zip-files-unzip
  7. Once the initial files appear in the folder, you can and may  want to delete the zipped file. 
  8. moodle-upload-zip-files-unzipped

Step 2 is to to make these files accessible to your students, by wrapping them as a resource:

  1. Button: “Turn editing on.”
  2. Section / drop-down:“Resources” / “Display a directory”.
  3. Enter a descriptive Name (your folder name will not carry over).
  4. You can enter a description of the file if you want into the Summary field. This is optional.
  5. Under “Display a directory”,’ select the desired folder directory from the pull-down menu.
  6. Click “Save and Display” to check the results.

Automatically download all documents/files/images linked from a web page

2011/01/24 2 comments

You can easily do this in FireFox with a free extension from Braunschweig (Germany): DownThemAll:

  1. Right-click on your page with the media you want.
  2. Make your choices:
  3. sdownthemall
  4. Lean back (or do something else!):
  5. downthemall1
  6. A chime will alert you when your downloads are ready for consumption. Enjoy!
  7. downthemall2

One-on-one virtual language tutoring using Wimba Classroom

The most useful tools in Wimba Classroom for synchronous one-on-one online tutoring, apart from the basic text instant messaging, may be not the videoconferencing, but the audio tools combined with screen-sharing or application-sharing AKA desktop sharing (remote user can control the application – especially for reviewing online learning materials with automated feedback which the student may need additional help with.

A two-way audio connection is obviously useful for language learning, and incurs no phone costs. Videoconferencing is only available on the most advanced phones. And more than video even,
we thought that especially the application screen sharing in wimba would be useful, e.g. if tutor and student go through some of the online exercises together live and the tutor can answer additional questions of the student that the automated online correction has not answered).

To start application sharing, click in tab:content button:share, set the desired sharing options and click “begin sharing”

Recommended learning path:

  1. Both on their Wimba Classroom page and the CTL on their Wimba entry page have a wealth of learning resources on (notice that I Red heart loop inductions, learning by doing):
  2. First watch an archived session held using Wimba classroom: Both the vendor (TBA) and the CTL have archived sessions, including introductory sessions on the use of Wimba Classroom and components.
  3. Then take the student perspective:  You can anticipate student issues and learn from/with the teacher without full responsibility for the session, if you participate in a live session using Wimba Classroom., like the ones the CTL regularly offers (the next one: 
  4. Read the FAQ, to learn from colleagues with a similar background/context: Intricacies of the talk button (keep it pressed, or set the options so that you do not ; video/audio/text  out of sync may indicate slow internet connection, consider dropping video, the biggest bandwidth hog.
  5. Practice makes perfect: Once equipped with a computer, I plan to test out the Wimba Classroom instructor room, by using it for intra- and inter-office communications. There are competing platforms that I like, e.g. MS-Communicator with its strong presence and escalation features. But Wimba rooms which span students, teachers and staff – any staff member has one by default, any student can enter a room -, have the strongest network effect).
  6. Do one-on-one student support, like in tutoring or online office hours. This can serve you as a gentle introduction to doing more ambitious Wimba classroom projects:
  7. Meeting online with small student groups, e.g. when planning or reviewing student groups projects.
  8. Teaching large online classes.
  9. Before you do this and for your specialized features, you may want to review in–depth multimedia documentation: Wimba Classroom has in depth print manual for presenters and students. Screencast videos (Using Audio, Web Page Display, Application Sharing) are instructional, 1-page “cheat sheets” (Web Page Display, Application Sharing)  are perfect for putting up at your computer during your first session.
  10. Once you are experts, don’t forget that your studentsmay not have used Wimba classroom.

We can support such online tutoring

    1. in the LRC when open (not on weekends unfortunately);
  • Or in your office, with spare parts from the LRC hardware resources (headsets and webcams) which we can set up for you;
  1. Or – to gain maximum benefit from the flexibility synchronous online affords – from home: This however hinges on teachers’ (and students!) whether you are comfortable independently supporting this and if your setup can handle the requirements – – soundcard, headset  with microphone (fewer audio problems than with a microphone/speakers built-in/connected to your webcam/laptop), (webcam is possible, but not necessarily the most useful language learning feature , and but maybe contenting with more instructional screen-sharing or  application-sharing, capability of running the Java plugin in your browser, sufficiently fast computer  and internet connection

All participants must run the Wimba wizard well ahead of session, to be able to address any technical problems before entering a classroom. You can watch the Wizard at work in this  screencast video.

Pinyin Input: An Input Method Editor (IME) for Learners of Mandarin

Maybe the two biggest challenges for beginning Western non-native learners of Mandarin are:

  1. Mandarin is a tonal language (like e.g. Vietnamese);
  2. Mandarin has a non-alphabetic script (mainland China “simplified” theirs, as opposed to Taiwan and other “traditional” Chinese communities, while e.g. Vietnam has Romanized the writing system).
    A common workaround, when starting to learn Mandarin, is first using only Pinyin, one of the Romanized phonetic transcription systems for spoken Mandarin which includes special markers for the most common 5 tones.

Typing the tone markers on a PC needs a special program. A number of tone marker input editors are available (see PinyinJoe’s list). I have used and supported PinyInput, which works similarly to Pinyin input IMEs used by native speaking PC users. Instead of offering, in a popup window, Mandarin script when typing with an alphabetic keyboard, PinyInput offers tone markers.

A 1-minute screencast hopefully says more than 1000*fps*duration words: Watch this PinyInput demo.