From Information to Knowledge

From Information to Knowledge

Written by Nik Peachey | Learning Technology Consultant, Writer, Trainer Teacher Development: http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/ News and Tips: http://quickshout.blogspot.com/ Student Activities: http://daily-english-activities.blogspot.com/ On Social media: http://bloggingandsocialmedia.blogspot.com/ On Twitter: http://twitter.com/NikPeachey

Email: nikpeachey@mac.com

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Contents: Introduction Finding the information you want
• • Tapping into the community Listening to the Twitter stream

Capturing information
• How to create your RSS homepage

Sifting, evaluating and storing information
• • • Creating a temporary reading list Visual bookmarking Creating a knowledge sharing portal

Adding experience, reflection and reformulation
• • Creating a journal for reflection Reformulation for publication

About the author

Email: nikpeachey@mac.com

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Introduction This document has been created to supplement a presentation that I am delivering at the AVELMEC ʻSocial Networking Thriving as a Community of Practiceʼ online conference http://www.avealmec.org.ve/moodle/ The document contains a variety of follow up tasks and ʻHow toʼ sheets which should help educators to set up and try a number of tools to help them access quality information from a range of web based community sources. It will help them to access that information through RSS feeds, process and evaluate the information and streamline it for various purposes and show them how to use some tools to reflect on how they transform information into knowledge in their own classrooms and through reflection and reformulation. This document should be of use to any ELT educator with an interest in educational technology, keeping their teaching and awareness of educational developments up to date and building their own personal development network through social networking. As well as instruction n how to set up and use a range of web based tools, it also contains recommendations for social networks to join, blogs to visit and people to follow on Twitter. This document is a work in progress. If you would like to contribute to it by supplying recommendations and links for further reading etc. please drop me a line. I hope you find it useful. Best Nik Peachey

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Finding the information you want
The best way to start the journey and to get access to quality information is to become part of the many existing communities that share information through the internet. Tapping into the community By becoming part of these communities youʼll be able to listen in to the information that people are sharing, ask for advice and recommendations and share your own knowledge. Yahoo groups • • Webheads in Action - fantastic group of people with a huge knowledge base and great source of information. Learning with computers - originally started in south America but now an international group of ELT educators dedicated to using technology in teaching.

Organisations with email list based communities • IATEFL special interest groups - IATEFL has a number of special interest groups that have online communities that you can join for free. IATEFL stands for the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language and their mission is to link, develop and support English Language Teaching professionals throughout the world. British Council ELTeCS - The news lists enable ELTeCS members to share information about opportunities, events, courses, projects, good practice, debates and ideas. There are six email based lists and you can choose the one for your particular part of the world (or join them all). Mirandanet - The MirandaNet Fellowship, founded in 1992, is an e-community of practice for international ICT policy makers, teachers, teacher educators, researchers and commercial developers who are passionate about digital technology in teaching and learning and about using technologies to promote cultural understanding and democratic participation.

Ning* based social networks • • • • • • • Classroom20.com for educators in general who are interested in integrating technology into their teaching. The English Companion Ning for teachers of English language and literature but still useful for ELT. Technology Integration in Education for teachers and educationalist, but with a focus on the use of technology. EFL Classroom 2.0 - specifically for EFL teachers interested in using technology. Images4Education - mainly for EFL teachers who are interested in exploiting images in their teaching IATEFL Global Issues SIG - for EFL teachers with an interest in exploring global issues in class. Mexico English Teacher's Alliance - started in Mexico but with a very international membership of EFL teachers.

* Ning is a free web based platform that allows organisation or individuals to create their own private or public social networks.
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Further Reading • ʻBlogging as part of the communityʼ - An article about how to get readers to come to your blog and how you can make sure your blog is relevant to the community you blog for. • http://bloggingandsocialmedia.blogspot.com/2009/06/be-part-of-community.html • ʻCreate your own social network 7 stepsʼ - An article about creating your own social networking community and some of the things you should consider before doing this. • http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/2008/06/create-your-own-social-network-7-steps.html Listening to the Twitter stream Twitter is also a great source of quality information if you follow the right people. Hereʼs some information on how to set up your Twitter account and some suggestions and recommendations for people to follow. How to set up your Twitter account Go to : http://twitter.com/ and click on ʻSign Upʼ.

Fill in the information to complete your account registration. Think carefully about your username. If you are using Twitter for professional reasons then I would advise using your real name as this will help to identify you and link your account to your professional reputation.

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Once you have created your account you will be able to check to see if any of your email contacts are on Twitter (I generally skip this step)

You will also probably get a few recommendations. I generally skip these too as they donʼt usually suit my interests. You will then be able to start Tweeting (sending messages) and following people (receiving their messages). Before you do this, itʼs a good idea to set up your profile so that people know a bit about you and can identify you as being a genuine education professional. To set up your profile just click on ʻSettingsʼ.

For me the most important parts of the profile are the ʻPictureʼ, the bio information and the link to a website with more information. These things are important because I like to know who I am following and who is following me. This helps me ensure the quality of the information Iʼm getting and reduce the amount of rubbish I have to look through. You can also protect your tweets, which means that people will have to apply to you for approval to be able to see the messages you are sending out. Personally I donʼt often follow people who have protected their tweets because I want to know that what they are writing has some quality and value for me before I subscribe to follow them. This helps me to avoid getting rubbish, or just information that doesnʼt interest me.

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Now that you have your account you need to start following people so that you can start getting some information. The quality of the information you get really depends on the quality of the people you follow. The best way to check that people are sharing quality information is to check their Twitter time line. Different people use Twitter in different ways for different reasons, some use it to share links to information, some use it to share brief pearls of wisdom and others use it to communicate and discuss. Personally, I use it and look for people who use it to share links to information and useful sites. You can check my time line at: http://twitter.com/NikPeachey You can also look to see who I'm following and this might help you to select people that you want to follow. Just click on the ʻfollowing link beneath each personsʼ profile information.

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Here youʼll be able to see information about who I am following and click through to their time lines to see if you want to follow them too.

Working in this way helps you to build up a quality information network and avoid having to sort through too much rubbish to find things that are useful to you. When you are ready to start sharing information just go back to your own homepage and start typing. Recommended Twitter users to check out • • • • • • • • • • Karenne Sylvester EFL + ESP:IT teacher, teacher-trainer, blogger, writer, webmaster and juggler of many frogs. http://twitter.com/kalinagoenglish/ Valentina Dodge Online moderator, EFL teacher University L'Orientale, materials developer, business English trainer and ICT consultant/community coordinator. http:// twitter.com/vale24 Carl Dowse Education - ICT & English for Business. http://twitter.com/carldowse Marisa Constantinides TEFL Teacher Educator in Athens, Greece, CELTA & DELTA. http://twitter.com/Marisa_C Sean Banville I make free online materials for studying English. http://twitter.com/ SeanBanville Steven W. Anderson Technology Educator, Blogger, Co-Creator of #edchat. http:// twitter.com/web20classroom Carol Rainbow RL - ICT Education Consultant UK. http://twitter.com/carolrainbow Ana Maria EFL teacher in Brazil interested in technology. http://twitter.com/ anamariacult Ozge Teacher/trainer, kindergarten department team leader,coordinator of an EFL DVD project, script and screenplay writer, e-moderator,addicted to technology. http:// twitter.com/ozge Jeremy Harmer ELT writer, teacher, trainer and presenter. http://twitter.com/Harmerj
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• • • •

Ken Wilson ELT writer, Smart Choice author, drama trainer, former English Teaching Theatre director, sketch and songwriter. http://twitter.com/kenwilsonlondon Gavin Dudeney ICT trainer and consultant. http://twitter.com/dudeneyge Shelly S Terrell ELT, Edublogger collaborating to make educational difference. http:// twitter.com/ShellTerrell/ Larry Ferlazzo Inner-city High School teacher - ESL & Mainstream Blogger. http:// twitter.com/Larryferlazzo/

Further Reading • ʻBuilding your Twitter networkʼ - An article on how to build and develop your Twitter network so that you follow useful sources and so that people follow you. • http://bloggingandsocialmedia.blogspot.com/2009/05/building-your-twitternetwork.html • ʻ25 Twitter apps for exploiting your networkʼ - An article about different apps that you can use along side Twitter to make it more effective as a tool for educators. • http://bloggingandsocialmedia.blogspot.com/2009/06/25-twitter-apps-for-exploitingyour.html • ʻHow to use Twitter listsʼ - An article with video tutorial showing how to set up Twitter lists and use them to control and access the flow of information through your Twitter page. http://demogirl.com/2009/10/30/how-to-use-twitter-lists/

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Capturing information
RSS has become an essential part of information and knowledge management. Having your own RSS homepage can help to bring information to you, so that you donʼt have to go out searching through lots of sites to find it. Once you have located some quality sources of information you can simply subscribe to their feed and add them to your home page. How to create your RSS homepage Go to http://www.netvibes.com. The page should look something like this.

Click on the green button that says ʻSign upʼ.

You should then see the screen below. Fill in your information and make up a password. Be sure to make a note of your password. Then click ʻSign upʼ.

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Well done! You now have your own personal homepage and feedreader. You can now start personalising the page and adding the content you want. To do this you should click on the icon in the top left-hand side of the screen that says; ʻ+ Add contentʼ. This will open a new part of the interface. See below.

To start adding feeds to your homepage clcik on the ʻAdd a feedʼ icon. You should then see this (See below)

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You can now paste a URL into the field where it says ʻAdd feedʼ then click on the grey button. Try adding this URL: http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/ You will then see a sign saying that the feed is loading. Followed by the screen below.

Click on the first of the four boxes that appear. The ʻwidgetʼ should then appear in your page looking like this (See below): Well done! Youʼve added you first feed.

You can customize the way the feed looks, by clicking on Edit in the top right corner of the widget. There are a number of different styles you can try which might make the entries easier to read. Try a selecting one and then clicking okay to see how it looks.

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Hereʼs a ʻslideshowʼ type design which is very visual, but unlike the simple one it doesnʼt give you any hint text to tell you what the article is about

Here are some other sites that I recommend you add now as this will give you some practice and also supply some really valuable resources: • Larry Ferlazzoʼs Websites of the Day… http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/ • Learning with Computers http://learning-with-computers.blogspot.com/ • Free Technology for Teachers http://freetech4teachers.blogspot.com/ • Janeʼs E-Learning pick of the day http://janeknight.typepad.com/ • Absolutely Intercultural http://www.absolutely-intercultural.com/ • Life is a feast http://lifefeast.blogspot.com/ Be sure to explore the blog role of each of these sites too. Further Reading • ʻCreating a Personal Homepageʼ - An article about how to create your own homepage and how you can use it with students. http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/ 2008/07/creating-personal-homepage.html
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Sifting, evaluating and storing information
Having your own homepage is great for bring information to you, but it doesnʼt store the information for you or help you to evaluate it or use it, so you need different tools to help you streamline the information and decide what elements are useful and how you will use the information. Here are some tools that you can use in different ways to help with this process. Creating a temporary reading list I spend a lot of time multi-tasking at the computer, browsing articles and webs sites and scanning content whilst doing or between doing other tasks. Often I see things that are potentially interesting but which I just don't have time to read in detail. I don't want to share them or Tweet them as many of these 'potentially' interesting sites often turn out to be not so interesting, I also don't want to end up with 10 or 20 tabs open on my browser, so the answer for me is a temporary reading list which a create using Instapaper. How to Use Instapaper Go to: http://www.instapaper.com/ and click on register.

Create your own username. This can be your email address or anything that you find easy to remember. Then click on ʻRegisterʼ.

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Your account is now created. To make it easy to bookmark pages, click on the ʻRead Laterʼ bookmarklet and drag it onto the bookmarks toolbar on your web browser. Also drag the URL of the Instapaper site to your book mark tool bar.

Now whenever you see an interesting article or web site that you would like to come back to later, you just click on the ʻRead Laterʼ bookmarklet.

You see a box asking you if you want to save the link, just click ʻSaveʼ and then youʼll be able to go back later and read the article when you have more time.

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When you have time to read, access your list of links by clicking on the ʻInstapaperʼ bookmark and it will take you to your list. You can then click the title to be taken to the web page or click the ʻTʼ to read the article as plain text without the advertising.

Once you have looked at the site in more detail, you can delete the entry (if you are no longer interested in the page) or keep it (it will be automatically added to your archive). If you click on ʻEditʼ youʼll be able to annotate the link and add comments and then save them.

You can use this tool to:

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• • •

Capture links to web pages and save them temporarily until you have time to read them in more detail. Build up a bibliography for use as reference for articles , dissertations, research studies etc. Just capture links to articles as you browse, go back and read and edit the comments to record author date you accessed it etc. To share links to potentially interesting articles and website (You do this by sharing the RSS feed to your account). Hereʼs a link to the RSS for my own list of sites RSS http://www.instapaper.com/rss/11010/ pq9vL1xYK1mNWfRG1AjUcgxmob0 .Remember though that these are ʼpotentiallyʼ interesting sites and I havenʼt had time to look at them in any detail yet.

Instapaper will also run on your i-Phone and i-Touch, so you will be able to access your list and catch up on your reading wherever you are. Of course, the thing that Instapaper doesnʼt do is to read the articles and evaluate content for you, so youʼll still have to do that. Further Reading • ʻCreate a temporary bookmarks reading listʼ - An article on the why and how of creating a temporary reading list. http://bloggingandsocialmedia.blogspot.com/ 2009/10/create-quick-bookmarks-reading-list.html Visual Bookmarking There are a lot of sites that I find that I know will be useful at some point, either for training or teaching so I use SimplyBox to try to save these sites a categorise them for their purpose. How to use SimplyBox To use simply box, youʼll need to create a free account and then download a small ʻplug-inʼ that runs in your web browser. Go to: http://simplybox.com and click on ʻSign Up Nowʼ.

Youʼll need to create a user name and password and use an email address to verify this, then you can download and install the plugin for your browser tool bar.

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Once you have done this youʼll be able to log in from your browser and easily store links and information about sites whenever you see them. Hereʼs a website that has interesting news videos on http://www.newsy.com/ Once you have installed your plugin and tool bar, go to the http://www.newsy.com/ website. You might want to use this with students, so you are going to store it using SimplyBox.

First click on the ʻBox and Saveʼ button on your web browser tool bar (This is the plug-in that you should already have downloaded and installed)

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Then use your mouse to drag out a square around the part of the page that you want to save as a prompt to remind me of the content.

Once you have selected an image square, the simply box interface will open and Iʼll be able to select the box you want to drag the image bookmark into. Simply box has both ʻBoxesʼ and ʻContainersʼ. You can have a number of ʻContainersʼ which you can label to suit aspects of your work or life or hobbies and each container holds any number of boxes. Boxes are orange and containers are grey.

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Drag the image into a box where you can store links to interesting video sites for students. My video box is in my ʻWorkʼ container where I keep all the different boxes that have work related links. As you drag the image towards the box an arrow will appear and when you release the mouse button the image will go into that box. Each box can contain any number of individual bookmark images. Hereʼs what my video box looks like

Each image in the box is a link to the original source. You can also add comments to each visual link to help you remember what you liked about it or tell others what is useful. You can also share the boxes in a number of ways: • You can invite people to collaborate with you, so that you work together adding content to the boxes. Simply add their email address to the ʻInvite to Shareʼ field

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• •

You can also get a public URL for your box which you can share with anyone and everyone. Here the link to my Video box. http://simplybox.com/public/?id=27913 You share by publishing your RSS feed of the box so that people can subscribe and follow new entries.

Simply box also provides the code for a widget which you can add to a webpage or blog. This allows people to scroll through your bookmarks as though they were a slide show. Hereʼs what that looks like. You can see it live at the bottom of this page.

SimplyBox also allows you pair your box with other services, so each time you add something to a box it is also automatically added to the other services such as Twitter.

I hope you enjoy using simply box and find it a useful way to store and exchange links to useful sites. Further Reading • ʻCreating your broadcast networkʼ - An article on creating a sharing network. This includes information on the role of SimplyBox within this network. http:// bloggingandsocialmedia.blogspot.com/2009/09/creating-your-broadcast-network.html
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Creating a Knowledge sharing Portal SimplyBox is a great visual tool for capturing and storing useful websites, when I want to capture and store links to articles I prefer to use a different tool. Slinkset is a tool that I have use to create a knowledge sharing portal of links to interesting articles and videos around the web that I want to read. You can use it with a group of people or work alone to create your own portal. You can also set it up so that any visitor can contribute a link, comment on links and vote the interesting ones up or down. How to create your portal To create your own portal site just go to http://slinkset.com/ and click on the 'Try it Now' button. You'll have to register, but that's pretty simple and information minimal (you really just need an email address).

Once that is done you can start creating your portal. You give it a name, decide on the URL and a subtitle that tells people a bit about the aim of the portal. You'll also need to decide on the level of collaboration you want and whether you want to have a team work on it or let anyone contribute. You can always change this later, so don't worry to much about this. Once you have clicked on 'Create site' your portal is live and you'll be directed to the dashboard where you can customise it.

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If you click on the design tab you'll see that you can select a colour scheme for the portal. You can even edit the more advanced features like CSS if you feel more confident.

Within 'Settings' you can also set up the portal so that it automatically takes content from RSS feeds. So you can use this to read the feeds from your own blog or blogs that you like to follow. Another useful feature under 'Settings' is the 'Categories' and here you can set up various subgroups for you content.

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If you look under the advanced setting you'll also see that you can host your portal on your own custom domain and add thins like analytics tracking code etc, so that's worth checking out if you are really going to take this seriously. It's also worth checking out the sidebar feature. The default site that you create will have Google ads on, but once you edit your sidebar these will disappear and you can use it to add links to your own sites, as I do, or to link to any fixed features you want such as an audio, video or image file.

If you want to see what your site looks like as you fork just click on the 'Go to site' link and you can check it out, then come back and make more changes if you wish.

One thing that I would strongly recommend is that when your site is ready, you go to submit your first entry and when you submit one you will see a 'bookmarklet', drag this up to the toolbar of your web browser.

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Then when you see and article or web page that you want to link to, you just click on the bookmarklet and the submission form will open with most of the details already in. I hope you find this tool useful and can soon create your own portal to share information. Further Reading • ʻHow to create your own news portalʼ - an article on how you can use Slinkset to create your own portal site. http://bloggingandsocialmedia.blogspot.com/2009/10/ how-to-create-your-on-news-portal.html

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Adding experience, reflection and reformulation
The best place to transform the information you are getting into knowledge is in your classroom so that your students benefit from the skills, practices and resources your are developing. Continuing the information knowledge cycle though is very important and that can be done through reflection and reformulation. Creating a journal for reflection A great tool to use to reflect on how you are putting information to good use is a developmental journal. Here is a tool that you can use to create your reflective developmental journal. How to create an online journal Go to: https://penzu.com/p and click on ʻSign upʼ.

You will need to create a password and enter a username, email address and agree to the terms of use. Then you just click on ʻSubmitʼ.

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You can then start creating your journal entries by adding a text and title. Each entry is dated automatically and you can move from one entry to another using the tabs on the right of the page.

To add pictures, you simply click on the ʻInsert Photoʼ icon at the top of the page and locate an image on your computer and upload it.

Once you have uploaded your pictures you simply click to insert the ones you want to use.

The picture will appear in the margin and you can then drag it up or down to line it up with the text. Users click on the images to enlarge them.

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To share journal entries you click on the share icon and this enables you to email your entry to someone else. You can either include your name, email address and message or this can be done anonymously.

Further Reading • ʻCreating an Online Journal for CPDʼ - An article on how and why teachers should be creating and using online reflective journals. http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/2009/10/ creating-online-journal-for-cpd.html Reformulation for publication I would describe the process of reformulation as reading and digesting information and then taking what you think is useful to your own field or discipline and writing about it so that others can benefit from what you have learned. For me this means blogging. Creating your own blog and writing about what you are learning and how that can be used within your own field or discipline can be a huge learning experience and one that has helped me to assimilate and crystalize some of the information that I find and return it to my community in a form that I hope others can benefit from. Actually sharing and publishing your writing to an international audience of professionals within your field can be very intimidating, but it also forces you to analyse the information and make choices, decisions and place commitment in your beliefs and opinions. Blogger My tool of choice for publishing and sharing information and any knowledge I feel i have developed is still Blogger, mainly because of itʼs simplicity and ease of use.
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How to set up your own blog Go to: https://www.blogger.com/start and click on ʻCreate a Blogʼ.

You will then need to create a google account if you donʼt already have one. Create an account by creating a password, display name and adding your email address.

Give you blog a title and address. Try to complete the address with a word that is relevant to your discipline. This will make it more likely that search engines will find your site when people are searching for information related to your discipline.

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Choose a template for your blog. You can scroll through different ones and then just click on the one you want. You can change the template quite easily later on if you decide you donʼt like it.

Now you are ready to start blogging. Just create a title for your first posting and start writing your blog.

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Further Reading • ʻStructuring your postingʼ - An article on how to make your blog more accessible by standardising the the form and structure of your blog posting. • http://bloggingandsocialmedia.blogspot.com/2009/06/structuring-your-posting.html • ʻHow to use Bloggerʼ - A series of video tutorials showing you how to set up and get the best out of Blogger. http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/blogger/index.html

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About the Author
Iʼm a freelance educational consultant, writer and teacher trainer specialising in web based technologies for language learning and development. Iʼm always interested in new projects and work opportunities and can be available for consultancy work, online or offline training workshops and conference presentations as well as writing and content development projects. So feel free to contact me: NikPeachey@mac.com

I have been involved in English language teaching since 1992 and have worked all over the world for companies like the British Council, International House and IATEFL. As well as working as a teacher and teacher trainer, I have also been involved in managing a number of online and software projects including websites for teacher development, CDROM projects, developing online communities and have developed online and blended learning courses for the web and for virtual worlds such as Second Life. At present Iʼm based in Morocco. As well as publishing in journals and with ELT publishers, I also publish my own work on 4 free websites. • My Learning Technology blog is aimed at supporting teachers and giving them practical ideas for using a range of new Web 2.0 type technologies with their students. http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/ • My Daily Activities blog has a range of tasks and activities that EFL and ESL students can use autonomously to develop their English and digital literacies. http://daily-english-activities.blogspot.com/ • My Quick Shout blog has a range of new views, quick teaching tips and information about new and emerging technologies and how they can be used to have an impact on education. http://quickshout.blogspot.com/ • Lastly, I publish a site ʻOn Blogging and Social Mediaʼ which aims to help teachers to manage and develop their own professional development networks, get involved in online communities and become active participants in the online ELT knowledge community. http://bloggingandsocialmedia.blogspot.com/ I hold an M.Ed in ELT and technology from Manchester University and am also a PRINCE 2 qualified Project Manager.

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