Developing Your Digital Study Skills

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Making the move from our safe and trusted traditional literacy habits to newer digital skills can be quite a challenge, but as teachers I think we are really unlikely to be able to use technology and help our students use technology really effectively unless we are prepared to face this challenge. Technology needs to be more than part of the way we teach but it also has to be part of the way we ourselves continue to learn and part of our everyday professional practice.

Scrible is one tool that has been helping me to make this step away from my paper and pencil study habits and towards a more efficient and digital way of learning.

Scrible enables me to replace my highlighter, sticky notes and coloured pens and to work with similar tools directly on the computer screen.

As an information addict, I spend quite a lot of my time scanning through blogs and journal articles about educational technology and language learning and trying to keep track of useful quotes and information from around the web. Recently I have started using Scrible to help me do this.

Scrible is a simple browser plugin that I can activate whenever I find something interesting online. The plugin opens a toolbar which enables me to annotate and mark up webpages with different colour highlighters, sticky notes and change the colour of the text.

But is can do more than this, because it also enables me to save the articles and webpages I have commented on, along with my my annotations into a library so that I can come back and find them later.

Once I have saved the annotated pages I can also share them with others by creating a simple link. These links can be either as ‘read only’ (the students can see my annotations but not change them) or as ‘editable’ pages (students  can see my annotations and also add their own) that I can work on collaboratively.

For me this is a great study aid and really ensures that I can go back, find and review all the articles I’ve studied.

How to use Scrible EFL / ESL students

We can get our students to use Scrible in the same way that we would to study an online text, though we can also use it to focus them on language development too. Here are some suggestions.

  • Get students to identify and change the colour of all collocations. They can use different colours for different types.

  • Use the sticky notes to set up reading tasks and comprehension questions and get students to highlight the part of the text where they find the answer.

  • Get students to read a text and post sticky note questions about it for you to answer.

  • Get students to colour code different parts of speech within the text.

  • get students to colour highlight different verb structures. They could also leave sticky notes saying what the structure is or what use of the structure is being demonstrated.

  • Get students to use sticky notes to define words from the text.

What I’m not so sure about

  • The toolbar can be a little bit fiddly sometimes and it’s difficult to attach sticky notes to specific areas of images.

On the whole I really like Scrible and have found it really useful to help me move away from pen and paper in a way that makes much more sense as most of my studying is done online using digital resources.

I hope you give it a try too.

Related links:


Nik Peachey

Instant Opinion Polls in the Classroom

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

For a long time now I have been looking for a tool that enables
instant polling in the classroom or in the lecture room. I specifically
wanted something that:

  •  doesn't require registration (especially from the people I'm polling)

  • updates very quickly

  • works on any platform from computers to mobile devices

It looks like I have finally found what I've been looking for and
best of all it's free. The tool that I have found is Mentimeter and it
does all of the above.

Creating the poll was really quick and easy I just went to and typed in my question, then I clicked on
'Create Question',

I then entered my selection of answer choices, chose a theme and clicked on 'Save and Start Presenting'.

The poll is then ready to use. There are a number of ways of sharing it.

can get a URL with a code to restrict entry or to make it quick and
easy to share in presentations (Here's one on the flipped classroom. The
URL is always then you have a specific code for the
poll, which in this case is 23512 ) anyone with this code can then vote. By all means give it a try.

You can click on share after you create your poll and get a
direct web link which you can share through social media, such as
Twitter or Facebook etc.

By clicking on 'Share' on your poll page you can also get an
embed code or a link to to a public results page. I've embded the poll
below to show you how it looks.

So what's so great about creating live polls?

  • Well they are
    great if you are lecturing or presenting at a conference with a
    wireless network as you can get instant feedback and responses that
    everyone can share in and so involve more people.

  • You can use them in class as a quick test to see if students have understood your material.

  • You can get students to create them and test each other.

  • You can use them for opinion polls in class, both before and after discussions to see if there is any shift in opinion.

  • The
    responses are anonymous, so it's a good tool to use to get honest
    feedback if you are doing action research in class, especially if it is
    related to a sensitive issue, such as your own teaching style or methods.

What's not to like?

  • Well there isn't much I can say that I don't like about this tool.

  • I'd like to have polls with more than one question though.

  • You have to be careful about using polls like this on mobile
    phones if your students are having to pay a connection charge, so it
    really helps to be able to get them on the wireless network if you are
    using it in class.

I hope you find useful and enjoy using it with your students.

Related links:


Nik Peachey