Here is my follow up on initial impressions of three web-based learning tools.
Mango is a language-learning platform. The free version is limited. Mango claims that it is better than other programs because it is utility focused: “Mango teaches through examples like ‘What time are they arriving?’ instead of much less useful phrases like ‘The dog is under the table.'” I have to disagree. Learning how to say a dog is under something or a parrot is flying above something are both key concepts (under and over) just like other directional words, foundational in any language. Mango’s focus on “intuitive and contextual” language learning assumes that the contexts they provide are relevant to whomever signs on to the class. The context of Tom trying to party with Rosa wasn’t working for me. As I mentioned last time, there are some good interactive elements like being able to record your own pronunciations and compare them to the native speaker. However, I don’t find the free version of this tool robust enough to use it as part of classroom assignments.
Skitch is a creative tool that allows people to manipulate photos and screenshots. I can see it being useful for assignments like having students critique digital images, or make a collage that represents their understanding. I attached an example of how I could use it in the classroom to highlight certain aspects of sample visual aids. Skitch allows you to add arrows, commentary, pixellation and more in a variety of styles. I am not an EndNote user so I was not able to test Skitch’s integration with that particular organizational tool.
Lastly, Moodle is an alternative to content managment systems like Blackboard. You can host online course material in Moodle, an open-source platform. I thought I had found a simple download link for the free version at https://download.moodle.org/ and opened version 2.8.1. Unfortunately the first link offered is if you have your own server, which I didn’t realize. I also didn’t appreciate the extra “junk” that the program tried to install, attached to a VLC media player download I didn’t realize wasn’t the main file. I had to click “decline” on several “browser enhancers” including one that BullGuard automatically blocked for me as a potential virus/spyware.
After all that, I finally sought help from my husband John, the resident IT person in my house who found the right download link for my PC. Make sure you click on the one that’s labeled for people who don’t have their own server. Sadly, as the screenshot shows below, I still wasn’t able to get very far. John used to work for SERRC and provided support for their Moodle. He said it was a nightmare due to coding issues back in 2008, and apparently not much has changed. So, I have to give Moodle a thumbs down for newbie accessibility. If you want to see what it can do, here is a sample course page you can check out since I wan’t able to make my own. It is appropriately themed “New to Moodle” at https://samplecourses.apcapps.alphaplus.ca/course/view.php?id=48