Oxford Owl website

oxford owl

This is another post I have been meaning to write for a while. Oxford Owl is a free website created by Oxford University Press. It has a range of useful resources -I’ll briefly list a few here.

The website has reading and maths sections. I haven’t done much with the maths so far.

The reading section has a range of free ebooks from the Oxford Reading Tree series. Most of the books can be read online, and feature the art, text, and audio. This is a wonderful resource for self-study at home or in the classroom.

There are also a couple of online games and a range of printable resources for students.

Finally, there is a lot of advice for teachers and parents on how to teach reading and support students with reading practice. Although much of this is aimed at native speakers, a lot of it transfers quite well to EFL.

Is anybody using Oxford Owl? Any good features I have missed? Please leave a comment below:

ER@TU website

TU logo

The ER@TU (Extensive Reading at Tohoku University) Project now has a website!

Features of possible interest to teachers include the Guide to ER (bilingual page aimed at students explaining extensive reading and this particular program) and the Word Counts page, which lists graded reader titles and word counts only (aimed at teachers and students).

The website has both PC and mobile versions, and is not quite finished yet (to put it mildly!).

The site is a WordPress installation on Bluehost, as explained very thoroughly by Michael Hyatt in this excellent blog post. I paid for three years in advance, bringing the monthly cost to around 400 yen. This works very well, as my contract is also up in three years time, so hopefully this will give me some leverage with the university 😉

Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions about the site.

Save Time and Paper with Evernote and Scansnap


This has been in my draft post folder since October 2011 and I am finally getting around to finishing it 🙂

I’ve been using Evernote for a few years now, and I am not entirely sure how I coped without it. I would go so far as to say that it is the most useful computer application after email, calendar, and office software.

Evernote is a web-, software-, and app-based online product. It keeps track of all kinds of data, sorting it and making it searchable. It also syncs across devices (computers and smartphones). You can access it via a web browser if you are away from your own computer. I use it to keep track of class notes, financial information, letters, photographs, travel ideas, recipes, and pretty much anything that comes into my life.

If you are not using Evernote yet, please go and check it out. It’s free and it will improve your life.

I’ve also been using Evernote together with a Fujitsu Scansnap scanner, as described by Michael Hyatt on his blog. Now this is incredible. With my setup, I can scan an entire class’ homework in less than a minute. The data goes straight into Evernote where I can access it on my office PC, my laptop I take to class, and even my iPhone.

This means that I can return essays and homework to the students but still have access to it if I need to check something. Finding things in Evernote is pretty easy, so I can quickly go straight to a specific students homework from a specific day.

I have the big expensive fast scanner in my office (clickable picture below):

and the smaller one at home:

The small one is fine for scanning single documents, and the big one is great for scanning large numbers of documents quickly. I use it to process completed work from my university classes, and it goes through 40 papers in less than a minute.

The nice thing about the Scansnap range from Fujitsu is that you can set it up so scanned documents go straight into Evernote, saving huge amounts of time. Of course, you can also set it up so that documents are saved as pdf files on your computer, but sending them straight to Evernote works much better for me.

Anyone else using Evernote and Scansnap out there?

Udemy online learning platform


I’ve been using Udemy, an online content delivery platform, to learn more about Excel, mac OS, and Windows 8. I think the site has a lot of potential for both teachers and learners, so I am going to do a quick review here.

Right now the site has thousands of free and premium courses, ranging from software to business to self-defence to language learning to automobile maintenance. The cost of a course ranges from free to several thousand dollars, but most are priced between 50-100 US$. There are a lot of software courses at the moment, but it is possible to find other topics.

The delivery system is basically video based, with the instructor talking learners though their topic in a series of lessons. In the courses I have seen so far, each video lesson tends to be just a few minutes long, allowing you to study whenever you like and repeat lesson easily.

The interesting thing for teachers is that it seems to be fairly painless to upload courses to the system. I am very interested in creating some courses, both as a way to diversify my income (I am worried about my future employment due to the recent changes in labour law in Japan, but that is a topic for another day) and also as a way of getting content to my students (by setting the price to zero and telling them to access content through Udemy.

So that is Udemy so far for me: useful for learning things and filling in gaps in knowledge (the basic excel course didn’t have anything groundbreaking for me, but I have learned something in most of the lessons so far), great future potential, and a very interesting player in the field of online delivery.

Has anyone else tried Udemy? What did you think?

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • %d bloggers like this: