All posts by John Allan @mrpottz

Teaching with Wet Paint

image source: unsplash.com Amauri Mejia

As the transformation to full online teaching continues, many instructors are unwittingly becoming instructional design-developers.  Some are adding study sets to Quizlet, others are hastily making Kahoots, while still others are using more ambitious tools such as H5P, Hot Potatoes and ScreenCastify to create more complicated learning experiences that enhance their online lessons. To generate timely, interactive, engaging and diverse learning opportunities for our students, many of us are creating digital learning objects on the fly.   

Advantages of using customized crafted learning objects include: 

  • appropriate language level and content for students  
  • learning objects will be relevant to the flow of an instructional unit 
  • new learning objects will add to your instructional tool chest for next term 
  • student motivation may improve as they engage with relevant activities 
  • instructor’s education technology skill set will improve 
  • contributions to and from educational peers will strengthen your professional learning network  

While creating paper-based learning materials is routine for language instructors, creating digital learning objects is not exactly the norm.  Generating learning opportunities on a daily basis for impending lessons leaves educators open to potential awkwardness –  typo here, a logic flow gap there, and technology issues that could not have been predicted as the activity worked perfectly on the teacher’s computer on the previous evening.  Many teachers have no choice; they learn a tool such as Socrative and immediately start creating activities that can be used to encourage more engagement through learner interactions.  Without the luxury of time, digital learning objects are shared with students without proofreading, peer input or pilot testing.  

Teaching with fresh and untested learning objects is risky but necessary during these trying times. We do not want to lose our students’ respect, but we need to have them engaged while they are learning online.  Below are a few suggestions to help avoid embarrassment while teaching with wet paint.  

  1. Join an appropriate collective.  Fortunately, the CIC, now IRCC, moved forward with recommendations suggested in the Fast Forward report (Kelly, M. et. al. (2007)). This report resulted in a learning object collection, Tutela, and an open source learning management solution, the LearnIT2teach project, now Avenue.  CLB-aligned language learning courses, learning objects, instructor training and mentoring are available to those in the settlement and language teaching sector.  Learning objects sourced from these projects are professionally created, vetted and organized for Canadian instructors to download and use with their online classes.   
  2. Locate tools that generate multiple activities from a language corpus.  The corpus can be a list of words, a list of terms with definitions and images or a logical block of text.  An example of this is Quizlet, which generates a set of flashcards, an adaptive learning activity, a spelling activity, a test, and three games including Quizlet Live, which involves all of the learners in a synchronous game.  By creating online learning objects with efficiency, teachers will have more time to take care with their data entry and testing of the learning objects. 
  3. Collaborate with peers. Instructors can invite other instructors at their institution or those from other schools across Canada to create and share learning objects.  Tutela already performs this function, but teachers are developing for the next day. It might be sensible to cooperate with a web of instructors who are willing to create, share and give feedback on learning objects.  These learning objects can be contributed to Tutela in the future after they are refined.  
  4. Organization of learning objects.  It is very important to name and categorize your digital files consistently.  This is more imperative if you are sharing these with others or are intending on using them in upcoming termsOnline learning objects such as Quizlet, Kahoot or Quizizz store learning objects on their websites.  It is still important to be diligent with naming and categorizing these learning objects. I learned this with Quizlet and H5P. After a few terms, it was difficult to find learning objects without a naming system.  Have a look at my old H5P account. What a mess!
  5. Keep a Learning Objects Journal.  Keep a record of the experience with each digital learning object.  You can learn from shared live activity, reported scores, access logs and discrete item data if learning objects have issues. Also, solicit feedback from the learners and other instructors. Their feedback can pinpoint problematic issues. These can be remedied later on, if you have time during term breaks.    

If you have any additional suggestions to improve the digital experience for our language teaching community, please add your idea(s) in the comment box below this post.  

 

References

Allan, John (2020). Reconsidering Quizlet. https://www.eflmagazine.com/reconsidering-quizlet 
 
Allan, John (2017). Add Fun to Your Vocabulary Lessons with Quizlet Live http://blog.teslontario.org/add-fun-to-your-vocabulary-lessons-with-quizlet-live/ 

Allan, John (2015). Create Learning Objects Quickly with Quizlet, http://blog.teslontario.org/create-learning-objects-quickly-with-quizlet/ 

Kelly, M., Kennell, T., McBride, R., & Sturm, M. (2007). Fast Forward: An Analysis of Online and Distance Education Language Training – Settlement at Work. New Media Language Training. Retrievable from: http://wiki.settlementatwork.org/index.php?title=Fast_Forward:_An_Analysis_of_Online_and_Distance_Education_Language_Training 

 Resources 

Aveune. Online settlement language training solutions for adult newcomers and teaching professionals. https://avenue.ca 

H5P. https://h5p.org 

Hot Potatoes. https://hotpot.uvic.ca 

Kahoot. https://kahoot.com 

LearnIT2teach. An Internet portal for LINC professionals wanting to get started with online blended learning. http://learnit2teach.ca 

Screencastify. https://www.screencastify.com 

SettlementAtWork Wiki. http://wiki.settlementatwork.org/index.php?title=Main_Page 

Socrative. https://www.socrative.com 

Tutela. The online community for ESL/FSL professionals! https://tutela.ca 

Quizlet. https://quizlet.com 

Quizizz. https://quizizz.com 

POST COMMENT 2

Perfect Timing: Avenue.ca

I am currently part of the team working on Avenue, an online portal that is the right thing at the right time!  It has been a pleasure to work with an amazing team of Canadian educators, administrators and developers to create Avenue under the management of New Language Solutions charity.  This IRCC sponsored Avenue national learning repository for adult newcomers and language instructors launched in mid-August.  The majority of Avenue’s courses, learning activities, resources, and training are focused on fully online teaching and training.  Avenue is a timely solution for language and settlement instructors and students as LINC classes continue online. I consider Avenue the principle online resource for IRCC language instructors across Canada.

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Even more creativity in the classroom

Inspiration

At the recent TESL Toronto’s T4T mini conference at York University, I was inspired to take 4C integration into my instruction to a new level.  Specifically, I was spurred on by James Papple and Tabitha Lewis’s session called Connections to Learning through Makerspaces. They provided a myriad of potential activities that extend and enhance learning beyond what is expected in a language learning class.  Tabitha and Jim highlighted resources that are available through the Brock University’s Makerspace room.

Makerspaces Technologies

In Brock’s Makerspace, learning opportunities include tools to create high quality audio, shoot and edit digital video, create and edit images, print 3D models, create moving LEGO structures, scan objects into digital 3D models, cut materials with lasers, interact with virtual reality, record video against a green screen, control a Sphere ball with a smartphone app, build robots, paint 3D objects, and more. 

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Keeping Online Language Learners Engaged

Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

Most of us are teaching our students in online mode.  As the weeks pass, learners and instructors will experience emotions associated with their isolation.  This will manifest as fatigue, boredom, depression, and apathy.  In order to combat these, we, as instructional professionals must rise to the challenge to ensure that learning endures.  Our efforts will provide our students with a sense of normalcy and purpose, and routine to make these troubled times less arduous.

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Student Infographics

image source: John Allan

What is an infographic?

Infographics are a contemporary means of transmitting information on media platforms. They appear as printed or digital infographic displays at hospitals, airports, shopping malls and more, and deliver complex information in a visually concise format. The first infographics I remember were positioned in the corners of the USA Today newspaper.  They drew my eyes towards them and informed me about trends, recent events or celebrities in many sections of the newspaper.

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Choosing an App for your Lessons with the Padagogy Wheel

https://designingoutcomes.com/assets/PadWheelV5/PW_ENG_V5.0_Apple_iOS_PRINT.pdf

“There’s an app for that” ™ is a statement that is so common that Apple trademarked it. As consumers and instructors we all know that there are so many different mobile device applications or apps available to us through online stores. If you want to measure pollution in your location, download the Plume app.  Do you want to talk to a friend?  Use FaceTime. Order takeout? Just launch the Skip the Dishes app.  Some of us have been trying out different language learning apps for the purpose of language teaching. Many of us use apps designed for purposes other than language learning with our students to foster learning. If you think about it, you may have used Whatsapp to communicate with your students or Tinkercad to create real objects or Haikudeck to make a class presentation. There are so many apps available it is difficult to determine if you are making an informed choice when choosing an app for your lessons.

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TESOL’s Electronic Village Online

Boost your instruction with Free TESOL courses

Since 2001, the Electronic Village Online (EVO) has offered free, online courses starting in mid-January and finishing in mid-February. Facilitators and organizers volunteer their time and expertise to contribute to our profession.  Participants learn through lecture, activities and peer discussions on relevant TESOL topics.   Course facilitators and participants share fresh perspectives from their diverse experience and expertise. Continue reading

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Enhance Online Video with H5P’s Interactive Video tool

image source: John Allan

In Six Tools To Enhance Video Learning,   I posted about using online video in the classroom more efficiently and possibly creatively.  Since then a new education technology development tool, H5P, has emerged.  I have been working on a variety of projects with H5P and feel that it is important for educational developers to consider adopting it as a means for enhancing online video learning events.

HTML 5 Packager, better known as H5P, is a free tool that allows you to create custom learning objects with online video.  H5P’s Interactive Video feature allows developers to overlay resources and interactive features over a video itself.  This optimizes the learners’ video viewing area.  Until now, interactivity with the video occurred under the video, on the play back bar, or as a fly out menu to the left or the right of the video.  Overlain interactivity on a video makes the end-user’s experience intuitive. Items such as comments, true/false questions or links to further information can be strategically positioned over the video and timed to focus attention to specific parts of the video screen. Continue reading

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Yes, you can! Making Virtual Tours

image source: John Allan

Last year in the post, Change the Routine Without Disrupting the Class – Take A Virtual Field Trip, I shared suggestions about taking students on virtual field trips. Since then I have been exploring different virtual spaces with students and my peers.  It has been fun and rewarding.  A few topics that we explored included: Continue reading

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#CdnELTchat, A Twitter Chat for Language Instructors

What is a Twitter chat?

Twitter is a microblogging tool that has recently been made most famous by the American President Donald Trump. Ok, it was popular before he started running for office, but my point is that everyone is familiar with Twitter.  It has approximately one hundred million active users daily.  A twitter chat is simply a collection of users that contribute to an online conversation using a common hashtag (#).   Twitter chats sometimes feature a guest that allows a community access to his/her expertise.

#CdnELTchat

This post is addressed to English language teachers across Canada.  Continue reading

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