Guest post by Russell Stannard - Present.Me: One tool, a hundred possibilities

It is an honour to host a distinguished professional and
excellent presenter, Russell Stannard. A huge thank you to Russell for sharing his expertise on a tool ideal for blended learning! 

Present.Me : One tool, a hundred possibilities

I spend a large amount of my time either working through technologies that have been suggested to me or trying them out in classes with groups of students or teachers. Occasionally, something really outstanding comes along and you know that it is a tool that is really going to be useful to the language teaching community. Present.Me is one of those tools. It has huge potential for autonomous learning, developing fluency, e-Portfolios, blended learning and the flipped classroom. In fact, it  has relevance in nearly every area of teaching and learning.

How does the tool work?
Present.Me allows you to upload a PowerPoint presentation into the system and then add your webcam and voice. It then bundles them all together and makes it possible to share over the internet, embed into a blog or distribute via email. The result is that a teacher ( or student) can produce a PowerPoint slide and add their webcam and voice and then share it. You can see and listen as the person presents their slides to you.Incredibly the tool is free and allows the user to produce 3 recordings a month up to one hour long. You can also pay for an educational version if you want and that is good value too and allows you to do more recordings.

My presentation is on the right and the user can watch and listen to my presenting on the left

How we can use this tool.
The flipped classroom and blended learning
The most obvious way to use the tool is for teachers to add up lectures, grammar lessons and other learning content. Not only can PowerPoint documents be added but it is also possible to use Google Docs etc. So it is quite possible to present almost anything on the screen and then talk about it. This has obvious implications for the Flipped Classroom.  The Flipped Classroom is really just blended learning but it is also related to thinking carefully about what content the students access at home and what the teacher does with the class time. So lessons about writing genres, grammar, vocabulary etccould be made into videos by using tools like Present.Me and these can be accessed at home by the students, leaving more time in the class for practicing language, focusing on coursework and doing more group and collaborative work. That is the idea anyway. Certainly using Present.Me could really open up the way to make your lessons more blended.You may be able to move some of the ‘teaching’ stuff out of the class and put it on-line for students to access outside of thelessons.Remember the recordings you produce can be shared on-line, embedded into Moodle, a blog or a wiki or evendisseminated via email.

Getting your students speaking
What I have mainly done with Present.Me is use it for getting my students speaking. In one experiment I provided the students with some questions and they had to answer them. They uploaded the questions into Present.Me and then recorded their answers to the questions.. They then shared the link with me. I was able to play back the recordings, listen to their answers and provide feedback. In the example below I was asking the students to reflect on a lesson they had done with me.
In more recent experiments I have using the tool to get students doing pair work activities. Again I provide the questions but the students work in pairs. The webcam tool is big enough to include two people comfortably on camera. So students can either discuss something together and record themselves doing it, or one student can ask the questions and the other answer. For example it could be practice for the IELTS exam where one student is pretending to be the examiner and asks the questions and the other student is answering the questions. Remember everything is recorded so the students or the teacher or both can review the recordings after. A great tool to use for oral exam preparation.
It  could be possible to use this tool for an e-Portfolio scenario.  I recently run an experiment at the University of Warwick where I work part-time.  We got students to do regular recordings of themselves speaking. That had to do 3 recordings a week for 4 weeks. Each recorded was for a minimum of 3 minutes. We then reviewed the recordings to see if there was any improvements in fluency . We looked at the number of pauses, the length of the pauses, the number of words per minute etc.  We also interviewed the students to ask how they felt.  Some of the students felt there was a marked improvement in their oral performance and fluency. Our analysis of their speech, suggested in some cases this was actually true.  The big problem with this idea is keeping up the levels of motivation and providing feedback on their performances. We are currently looking at peer feedback andself evaluation. It is a great idea to get your students regularly recording themselves but they expect some sort of feedback to help them improve.
I could go on and on about Present.Me. I have presented this tool all over the world and each time I get a really positive reaction. It has loads of potential, it is easy to use and it could change a lot of aspects of your teaching and learning.  Think about your classes and think about ways you could blend more of your teaching ie put more on-line) or make use of this tool to get your students recording their own presentations etc.
You can find help videos to show you how to usePresent.Me here
You can find present.me here

Russell Stannard
Russell Stannard is the founder ofwww.teachertrainingvideos.com . He was awarded the Times Higher ‘Outstanding Initiative in ICT’ and the British CouncilELTons award in Technology. His site receives around 350,000 visits a year. He presents and trains teachers all over the world and works part-time at the University of Warwick as well as being a NILE associate trainer.

1 comment:

  1. chryssanthe sotiriou18 July 2014 at 18:57

    Very interesting post. A useful tool!!!