One of my students asked if I could do some pronunciation lessons during our “Friday ESL Workshop,” which was a four-hour block of individualized instruction for approximately 45+ ESL students. I felt that this was a great idea and went about the task of putting materials together. However, developing this first pronunciation presentation was, and continues to be, an interesting learning experience for me.
My challenge wasn’t finding the materials; there were many excellent pronunciation lessons on the web shared by talented instructors around the globe. My challenge was to put something together that I could use in class with the students that they could also then use to study independently after class. I didn’t want to make a video to use in class since the students appreciated having a live teacher there. I wanted a presentation with YouTube segments and slide narration, but I wanted to be able to omit the narration for our in-class lessons, having it available, however, for their study at home. What would be the best web tool for this kind of a pronunciation lesson?
I decided to use Google Docs Presentation not only to develop the presentation but to learn more about the web tool. I also wanted to be able to post the presentation to my wiki (Rita’s ESL 4 U!) so it could be accessed outside of class without needing Blackboard. I thought Google Docs would be what I needed.
So Google Docs it was. Unfortunately, after I had put the presentation together, I realized that while the YouTubes embedded perfectly, I could not add my own audio to the slides which was especially necessary for the students in order to be able to listen and repeat the sounds I was teaching. (Note to me: Next time check the capabilities of the tool before doing all the work.) So, I transferred my Google Presentation to Power Point where I knew I could add sound.
The transfer from Google Docs to Power Point was easy. However, I continued to dive into the water to find out how deep it was. My YouTube videos no longer loaded. I never imagined that that would be a problem on Power Point. (See video tutorial, “Embed YouTube Video into PowerPoint 2007” or Embedding YouTube Video into Power Point 2007, No Internet Connection) Nevertheless, I figured I could do without the video since the students had me in class, and I could add the YouTube link to a “For More Study…” section at the end. Onward…
When I went to add my Power Point to my wiki on PBworks, I realized that I had to upload it first into SlideShare. No problem since I already had an account and had uploaded presentations there before. So, I uploaded it only to find that the YouTube was still not available, (I guess I expected it to magically appear there) and that in order to have audio on a SlideShare presentation, I needed to add it in the form of a slidecast. (“What’s a Slidecast? A slidecast is a format for viewing presentation slides synchronized with an audio (mp3) file. It can be used for conference talks, musical slideshows, webinars, teaching lessons, etc. You can host your mp3 file on SlideShare, or use a previously uploaded mp3 URL as well.”)
A slidecast was new challenge I didn’t have time to undertake at that point in the semester. However, on a positive note, with very little tweaking, I could get my YouTubes to play through the Pp presentation on SlideShare. It’s not beautiful the way it’s added, but it’s there. So, I ended up using the Google Presentation for the class and linking the Power Point version with narration to Blackboard. My next move will be improving the Pp on Slideshare so that I can put it on my wiki.
Journeying through the world of web 2.0 certainly is an adventure, but I personally have always loved adventures! I learn so much! How about you?