I clicked the HTML button. I stared at it for a long time. It stared back at me.
It looked a little like this:
Photo on Flickr by the Library of Congress
I had no clue what I was supposed to do.
However, after I had stared at the code for half an hour, it started to make sense. It is, after all, in English. Sort of. I wanted to change the font size, right. I managed to locate the word Font somewhere in the code. Next to it was a number so I changed it. Once I knew I was changing the right number, I just continued doing it until I was happy with the result. Then I changed the colour of my links. The original colour made the links hardly visible. I learnt that each colour had its code and that you just needed to copy the colour code and that was it. There are a lot of places where you can find the colour codes and this is just one of them. I also found this page really useful.
Then I changed the tagline. The tagline is the short phrase you put under the name of your blog - like a subtitle. Now, Karenne gave us this challenge in BELTFree - she asked us whether our tagline corresponded to what we blog about. My tagline didn't pass the test. It used to be "A teacher's journey through the world of Web 2.0". While this was true two years ago, it isn't quite true any more. I mean, you expect someone who writes only about Web 2.0 to post more links to different applications, while I write... Let's see, what do I write about? I slept on it and came up with: "TEFL, Technology and the Meaning of Life." That's it, take it of leave it.
Then I brought her back. The Voki Girl. I removed her about a year ago and wrote about it here. One of my readers, Gregory Louie, posted a lovely comment. He said:
Giving a voice to a webpage adds a dimension that is simply not possible with the written word.
That is especially true for a foreign language teacher. Students need to hear the target language being spoken as they read the text.
Quite a bit of research on language comprehension reveals that sub-vocalization improves comprehension in individual's struggling to read.
Beyond the research, I would also argue that subtle intonations and pauses in the text lead to natural speech, which is critical for students who seek to use their language abroad and be comprehended by others.
Finally, cognitive scientists are busy uncovering natural differences among learners, a fully differentiated blog will take into consideration that aural dominant learners learn best with sound.
We did Vokis both in DMPT and in BaW this week. That's why I decided to bring the Voki back, this week of all weeks, but to give her my voice. The previous version had one of those computer generated voices. But wouldn't my readers like to hear me speak? Personally, I don't like listening to my own voice and I really hate the way you have to say a simple sentence over and over again before you get the version that is decent enough to post. Still, now having a Voki in my sidebar makes sense. And now I see how it could be used in education. If you want to create listening comprehension exercises, then maybe computer generated voices would be a better idea. If you want your students to hear themselves speak, then let them record themselves and listen to their own voices. And you can bring all those funny avatars to life. You can have dogs talking, cats responding... Anything you like.