Archive for April, 2014

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Media Tips

April 26, 2014

Island Voices - Guthan nan Eilean

POOLS-3 audio and video presentation The Island Voices project originated with “Series One” in the 2005-2007 Leonardo-funded European project “POOLS”, and subsequently developed “a life of its own” after that. Technology and techniques have moved on since those early days, of course, but fundamental principles remain stable, and lessons can still be learned.

“POOLS-3” is a Transfer of Innovation project in which institutions involved in teaching Catalan, Czech, and Irish aim to replicate and develop some of the key outputs from the first POOLS project. At a recent meeting in Barcelona, Gordon Wells gave this brief presentation on approaches to media recording, based on his experiences with POOLS and Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean.

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HAPPY EVER AFTER… with best memories from Belfast

April 17, 2014

On the 7th of April “Tools for CLIL teachers” project team gathered in Belfast for their final meeting. For three busy days the team enjoyed the working atmosphere and the hospitality of the Belfast campus of The University of Ulster. As usual, Kent navigated the team directly and clearly towards the goals of the meeting, with everyone accounting for their past activities and presenting plans for the final months of the project action. Perfection has no limit – this can be easily said about Caoimhin’s (Skye) attitude towards the software of the project. We must always be alert not to miss one of his latest improvements, which can be seen as far and away from the initial obligations of the project, with the clilstore system even user-friendlier than we expected it to be. It is obvious that the project outcomes have a good future ahead, as we enjoy the growing number of units in the Clilstore, created by our end-users.

Ailbhe Ó Corráin – Director of the Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute

Ailbhe Ó Corráin – Director of the Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute

The project team was warmly welcomed by Professor Ailbhe Ó Corráin – Director of the Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute and Professor Alastair Adair – Provost of the Belfast Campus of the University. This kind attention from the part of the university authorities demonstrate overall positive attitude and support for IT tools in language teaching and the use of the software developed by the project in order to boost the learning of Irish and Scottish Gaelic languages.

Prof. Alastair Adair – Provost of the Belfast Campus of the University

Prof. Alastair Adair – Provost of the Belfast Campus of the University

There is no doubt that the project website and all social networks will be active after the end of the project lifetime. Not only because other projects of languages.dk family have been using them and there is always a new one at the end of the line. We have just announced a call for Tools on-line courses and during the first hours at least 5 participants, coming from Luxembourg, Greece, Indonesia, Japan, and France have registered. Long live Tools4CLIL!!!

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The world takes notice

April 17, 2014

The message about Clilstore is spreading around the world.

Here’s an example from the British Council Learn English Facebook page (937,000 followers).

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MORE UPDATES before the final project meeting

April 6, 2014

By Caoimhín Ó Donnaíle,Tools project software developer

kevinThis is very last-minutish, because I am about to leave at mid-day for Yorkshire and then on to Belfast on Monday, but I have now got a file upload facility working in Clilstore.
If you edit an existing unit, you’ll see that below the green link buttons there is now a new button “Files” which takes you to a page for uploading files and managing the files which are associated with the unit.
You can’t put files straight into a new unit as you create it. You have to save the unit first, then edit it to upload the files. Then if you want to link to the files using the green link buttons, you have to write them in as “file:Crossword.htm”, or “file:Worksheet.docs” or similar.
So the new facility is not yet as slick as it could be. As well as that, it is still missing all the error checks and security checks which ought to be built into it. I need to do more work on it. It will hopefully be usable already, though, despite its faults.

In the process of doing this work, I also gave multidict.net its own crash handler, instead of using the one which I use for other SMO work. So when things crash completely and you get a red screen, the error messages will now be in English instead of Gaelic 😉

Le deagh dhùrachd,
Caoimhín

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Clilstore software developments

April 4, 2014

kevin Caoimhín Ó Donnaíle,Tools project software developer never stops improving the clilstore   system, making it more user friendly each time. Here is a description of his efforts and results.

If you have a look at unit 1835 via the test server:  http://test.multidict.net/cs/1835

you’ll see that I have been making some good progress with giving Clilstore the ability to store files attached to units, rather than authors having to store them on Dropbox or elsewhere.

Unit 1835 is a test unit, which I created by cloning unit 1657 (a unit created by Jan Hardie in Switzerland, a participant in the POOLS-T project).

The first new thing which you might spot is that unit 1835 has 5 green user defined buttons. The limit used to be 3, and when Gordon and others requested an increase I raised it up to 4. Increasing it further would at the time have made the programs and database tables a lot more complicated. However, I have now completely rewritten and improved the programming behind the buttons and you can now have as many as you like by increasing their number one-by-one. If you already have 4 and edit the unit, it will let you add a 5th. If you have 5 and edit the unit, it will let you add a 6th, and so on. Of course, if you have more buttons you need to keep the text on them shorter or you will run out of screen width.

The next thing to notice is that whereas Jan’s unit 1657 had Hot Potatoes exercises stored in Dropbox, unit 1835 has them stored in Clilstore itself. And even though there are several exercises, the links between them work ok. The files attached to unit 1835 have their own URLs and therefore can be accessed independently of the Clilstore unit:

 

http://test.multidict.net/cs/1835/SMO .jpg

http://test.multidict.net/cs/1835/hp/index.htm

http://test.multidict.net/cs/1835/TestWordFile.docx

 

That means that you can use addresses like this when creating the buttons. Or else you can use shorter versions such as “file:hp/index.htm” (as used behind the scenes by the button “The same exercises”). You can also use these addresses to embed pictures within the units, as I have done with the picture of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

So the new facility could potentially provide great benefits and simplifications. There are two problems, though. One is that I have not yet provided any mechanism for authors to upload files such as this to Clilstore! So the facility is not yet available for use. The files in the test unit I uploaded by hand into the database. However, it should not be too difficult to provide some kind of upload facility for authors. Then we need facilities for authors to rename and delete the files which they upload, and to warn them that if they delete a unit they will delete the files associated with it too. I’ll see how much of this I can get done before I leave on Friday morning for Yorkshire and then Belfast. However, I thought it was worth letting the TOOLS team know about the work so far in case there are any comments or ideas.

The other big problem I can see is potential abuse. Up til now we have only stored the text of Clilstore units, with Javascript banned in them. Now we are about to allow authors to store practically anything, which gets us into a whole new territory. They could store files with JavaScript which could attempt to exploit weakness in the computer. They could store Windows .exe files which if executed would attempt to install a Trojan on the user’s computer. If people started using Clilstore to store “nasties”, it would quickly spoil our Internet reputation, reduce our Google rankings and maybe even get us blacklisted by browsers. I’ll certainly need to ban storing .exe files, but I don’t know how to ban all potential problems, or even whether much can be done. We can’t ban all JavaScript because Hot Potatoes depends entirely on JavaScript to work. We’ll need to put stronger checks on new authors – such as insisting that they confirm their email address before they are registered. And we’ll need to put a limit on the size of files which can be uploaded. We could discuss things like this in Belfast.

Le deagh dhùrachd, Caoimhín (Skye)