Oh - I remember YackPack Published 2009-06-30 under , ,

yackpack Another look at a fun/interesting/useful tool - YackPack

With all the cool technology out there, how do you keep up with it all?

The answers is you don't. You only keep up with that technology that you use. The phrase "Use it or loose it" really applies here.

Back in 2007, I gave a presentation at the CUE conference and just before going into the session, I ran into a woman from YackPack. I did not have too much time to hear the YackPack story, but she was willing to give me one of their really cool t-shirts after I promised to include in in the give-aways at my session. (I think the t-shirt was more popular than my presentation). I did, however, learn more about YackPack when I got home and was really impressed. You can read my post about incorporating YackPack into PBWiki PBworks.

So... what's the point? Despite the uses of YackPack, I never incorporated them into my teaching or training. I didn't use it, so I lost it.

Jump forward to NECC 2009. Since I was not able to go to D.C. :-( I have been following the conference virtually. One participant in particular, elkanj, has bookmarked several interesting links on Delicious from NECC, and YackPack was one of them.

"Oh, YackPack. Let's have another look." [imagine a little bubble with this thought above my head]

I am so glad that I did. In general - YackPack is a web-based asynchronous conference calling application. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Let me try and answer with some scenerios

  • You are a language teacher who is looking for a way to get your students to practice conversations
    yackpack: create a group with all your students and have them converse. They send other students (you can assign pairs if you want) voice "messages" in the foreign language and the recipients respond.
  • You have always wanted to schedule individual conferences with your students to review their progress but found coordinating meeting times was very difficult.
    yackpack: create a group with all your students and record a review for each student individually. Students login and hear your review and respond. You don't have to be at school. You do it on your time. The students do it on their time. All of the conversations are saved. And it is private.
  • You have tried blogging with your students as a way to engage them in out-of-class discussions, and you have had some success. But the kids with who don't write as well as the others feel intimidated.
    yackpack: create a group with all your students and record discussion prompts aimed at the whole group. Each student responds to the group and a conversation begins. This gives the students a chance to articulate their thoughts verbally. As an alternative, you could ask each student to respond directly to you to gauge their level of understanding on a topic.
  • You have a few friends who are experts in their fields and are really interesting. You would love to have them come to your class and share their experiences with the kids, but you can't afford the class time.
    yackpack: create a group with all your students and invite your friends to join where they record a short talk on their experiences. Your students can then engage them in discussions.

YackPack has more information about using their technology in the classroom here. To get started, watch this video preview of YackPack.

If you have never heard of YackPack or are like me and have not Yacked in a while, check it out. There are lots of interesting uses for this technology.