All posts by Peter.Schmitt@Open-ESL.org

“https” has arrived!

Open-ESL.org is now a “secure” site!

“SSL” (Secure Socket Layer) is a security mechanism that encrypts the data that flows between your computer’s “browser” (such as Firefox or Chrome) and a web site’s server. Normal, unsecured Internet traffic uses “http” (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol). For many years banks, online retailers, etc. used “https” (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol: Secure). This protects your financial data, credit card number, and passwords from being intercepted during the journey from your computer to the web site’s computer.

Recently, “https” has become the standard for all sites, and Open-ESL.org has now implemented this standard.

New packages available in the Sandbox

Three new items have been added to the Sandbox content area:

  1. Proverbs- How to Live: This content was adapted from VOA and includes written material, a “fill in missing words” listening exercise, and comprehension exercises.
  2. Weather words- Word Soup:  A “Word Soup” / “Find the Words” worksheet has been added to supplement the existing Weather-words vocabulary sheet/recording.
  3. Template to help teachers create their own “Flash Sheets” for vocabulary.

Web site updates and new Sandbox content!

There have been significant changes to the web site. Bit by bit a new, more consistent, user-friendly interface is being rolled out across the Open-ESL.org site.

The latest recipients to this face-lift are the home page itself, and the Kiosk documentation directories. The new pages are designed to be useful on the “full screen” of a desktop or notebook computer, as well as “mobile friendly” for tablets and SmartPhone devices. Testing has been done primarily with the Chrome and Firefox browsers, as well as (Icecream Sandwich and above) Android mobile devices. If you encounter a problem on your device, please send an email.

In addition “The Blind Men and the Elephant” has been added to the “Stories” section of the Sandbox. This version of that classic parable is a fun addition to the available content, and should spark some great class discussions! The audio file, combined with a “partial dictation” exercise are supplemented with some vocabulary materials that may be useful depending on the class level.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome!

New categories and content for the Sandbox!

There are five new categories in the Sandbox: Activities, Civics, Family, Health, and Work have joined the original  nine.

37 new content packages have been added to the Sandbox!

The Sandbox and Kiosk are separate projects. But many of the initial uploads for the Sandbox have been focused on making audio content available.

But the scope of the Sandbox project has always been broader than that! It is a place for ESL teacher sharing and collaboration across all classes of teaching materials.

The new content includes mostly “documents”- Exercise sheets, classroom activities, reference materials.

For Kiosk users, there is one new package with audio: “Work hours in the U.S.” This piece (from VOA) is an article dealing with work-life. You can access the package through either the “Articles” or “Work” categories.

A few more audio packages are on their way over the next few weeks.

Don’t forget to leverage your own creative talent and submit materials to share with others. See the “Submitting content for the Sandbox” article in this news section, or just click the “Share Content” option on the Sandbox menu bar for more information.

 

New “look and feel” for the Sandbox!

The category and content pages for the “Sandbox” have been redesigned!

  • Cleaner look
  • More consistent
  • Mobile-friendly! (try them on your cell phone or tablet)
    Note that as with most other applications and pages designed for SmartPhones, when the screen is not wide enough to display the menu bar, it collapses into an icon represented by three horizontal bars at the top right corner. Just click it for access!

Category pages now use icons to help you know at a glance whether a content package has a document file, audio, etc. (Click on an icon if you are unsure what it means!)

Content package pages have also been redesigned, moving away from several different “trial” layouts that have been around for several years. The most common objects can be either previewed or downloaded by clicking icon-buttons. But, if you “want it all”- PDFs, source documents, MP3s, WAV files, etc, you can now click a single “package” button to download a compressed zip file with all the content objects!

As always, if you have questions, suggestions, or other feedback, feel free to send an email message!

Next up?  More content! Over the next couple of weeks more content packages will be added. This will include worksheets, and reference pages, as well as packages that include audio files!

(And don’t neglect your own creative urges! Submit your own content to share with other teachers on the Sandbox! Click the “Share Content” option on the menu bar on any of the Sandbox pages to get more information!)

Submitting content for the “Sandbox”

Documentation has been added to explain the (interim) process for submitting creative content to the Sandbox. It comes down to a three step process.

Just go to “http://www.Open-ESL.org/Sandbox/SubmitContent“.

That is also one of the first pages added using a new format that will ultimately roll out to the rest of the site.

The “Submit Content” page provides some details about what kinds of content the Sandbox can “host”. It also explains a bit about copyrights etc.

There is a downloadable MS-Word “form” to capture needed information about the content.

I mentioned that this is an “interim” process. There is more work ahead as the site moves to make the process more “automated”.

In the meantime, take a look, and share your thoughts!

The submission form asks for a variety of information to categorize the content. This is to support future “searching” functionality to help users zero-in on content that will meet their needs.

Many of the field are optional. There is a trade off between maximizing search possibilities, and overwhelming the submitter with the process.

So, consider this stage an RFC (request for comments).

Thanks!

 

Note: Sharp-eyed users will note three distinct styles to pages on the site, based on when they were created. The oldest pages lack any navigation menu-bar. (Bad!! Bad!) The next generation has a menu-bar… but behind the scenes, each page has a custom menu-bar. The newest pages have a shared menu-bar that will make site maintenance MUCH easier! As time permits, all pages will be updated.