All posts by John Allan @mrpottz

Add fun to your vocabulary lessons with Quizlet Live

image source: John Allan

Quizlet Live is the latest feature on the Quizlet suite.  This is in addition to current learning activities which include: flashcards, test, learn, spell, as well as two games: gravity and match. In May of 2015 I posted about the attributes of Quizlet from a teacher-developer’s perspective. More recently, Continue reading

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Focusing on Bring Your Own Device – or B.Y.O.D. – Resources

image source: John Allan

At my current institution, I’ve been working with teachers, administrators and students trying to integrate technology into classroom learning.  This blended learning approach expectation has led to some frustration. There have been so many promising tools,
ideas, and toys that have not met our requirements. On the positive side, we have been lucky enough to experiment with ample resources to try out a variety of edtech tools and techniques. Continue reading

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Need PD, no budget? Consider a MOOC.

What is a MOOC?

image source: www.flikr.com
Image source: www.flikr.com

A MOOC or massive open online course is a course that is open to the public and is typically free of charge.  MOOCs are available on the internet.  They are offered by a wide spectrum of institutions including universities, colleges, for profit concerns, and diverse interest groups.   There are thousands of courses available.

Why use a MOOC?

MOOCs are usually free with the option of a purchased certified credential delivered on the completion of course requirements.  The cost of certification commonly ranges from $15 to $50.  Many of us are experiencing limited budgets in the education sector. MOOCs offer the potential for career advancement or skills improvement without the need for requesting funds from your institution. Continue reading

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TESL and QR codes

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A colourized QR Code leading to the TESL Ontario Blog site

While working on ESP books for a technical program, I found that QR codes were a great solution to add quick links to additional resources.  These resources included interactive activities, worksheets, images, videos, animations, graphs and further readings. I am not the first person to think of using QR codes for educational purposes. Links to fantastic resources providing a myriad of uses of QR codes for educators can be found in the additional resources section below. I am offering a few simple practices that you might consider to improve access to resources in your classroom, on your class website, or in your instructional documents.

What is a QR code?

QRs, or Quick Response Codes, were developed for Continue reading

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Six Tools to Enhance Video Learning

video logosObserving my students struggle with worksheets based on videos was quite frustrating.  As all teachers do, I was thinking there must be a better way.  After trying pair-work and modifying learning activities, I decided to look further into technology.  I used Hot Potatoes and Adobe Captivate to place prompts and questions on the screen as the video played.   The results were satisfactory but Continue reading

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Supply Teaching – A Positive Experience

Some of my students working in a computer lab

I was recently assigned the role of a full-time supply instructor in an English as a Foreign Language department of approximately 70 instructors. “Take this on as a new challenge” was my first thought, and I haven’t looked back.  Our EFL department has two divisions. These are the academic and the technical preparatory programs. I had not yet taught in the technical program and was interested in these students with different needs. I had always been curious about the technical program and was anxious to jump right in and teach.

We have just completed midterms and I have had a generous sampling of most of the courses that our department offers. I have benefited from this experience in more ways than I had anticipated. I have continued to learn about my peers, technology integration, institutional facilities, and most of all the students. Here is a brief overview of the things I learned:

Technology integration

Our college supports education technical technology through an environment of well stocked and supported digital learning options. It is interesting to see the varying degrees to which technology is being used by the staff and students. Student behaviour often reflects their instructor’s education technology routines. When I direct the students to use some technology, their efficiency indicates whether or not they use technology on a regular basis.  I have been very impressed by those teachers who have integrated technology seamlessly into their instructional practice.  Continue reading

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Organizing Your Personal/Professional Learning Network – Part 2

In John’s previous post, Organizing Your Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN),  he discussed three types of tools for organizing your PLN start page. This post presents three more useful tools:

Curated Content
PLN_JohnAllan_blog_image
image source: http://www.classroom20.com/

For the purposes of this post, curation is defined as aggregated content that has been identified and vetted by a human curator.  You might choose to leave the searching, sorting, repackaging, organizing and publishing to curators.  Serious curators are area specialists who spend a great deal of time and effort to provide their networks with relevant content.  The majority of curated content is located, and shared on a casual basis by common social media participants on an ad hoc basis.  This can be seen daily on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.  Part-time curation is something that we do when we have a few spare minutes but the dedicated few that are professional curators are tremendous sources for up-to-date content.

Discovering a curator and trusting that they will curate relevant content that meet your professional requirements may necessitate determination and patience, but the results will be worth it.  Just imagine, someone else combing through dozens of sources and hundreds of items to repackage and present the most relevant to your on a daily basis. Continue reading

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Organizing your Personal / Professional Learning Network (PLN)

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Symbaloo starting page courtesy of www.symbaloo.com

As presented in my last post, Personal Learning Network Sources, a Personal Learning Network (PLN) can include numerous  resources           that assist communication, resource sharing and professional growth.  I have found that one of the most challenging aspects of PLNs is organizing the content for efficient retrieval.  As PLN resources are added or removed it becomes clear that arranging them is necessary to enable efficient access.   A single starting page, or PLN home page, is a solution that I have found provides effective access to my PLN.

A starting page is the first page of your PLN based on the chosen tool.   One example is using your Twitter account page, Twitter being the tool,  as Anna Bartosik details in her post, How to Connect the Right Way: Using your PLN on Twitter.  I use the tool Symbaloo as my starting page for my PLN. The Symbaloo organizer uses tabs, thumbnail icons and text to provide quick access to my PLN resources.

Below, I offer some PLN starting page options.  Each of these possibilities embody their own strengths and weaknesses.   As a language instructor, you may want to choose one of these options based on your experience with digital organizers, your personal technology skills and the quantity of resources in your PLN. Continue reading

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Personal Learning Network Sources

a_002A Personal Learning Network or Professional Learning Network means different things to different people.  In simple terms, your network includes the people or sources that you learn from in your profession. Generally, the PLN is used by teaching professionals to access resources and ideas, develop their skills and lessons, and connect with others in the profession. In your PLN, you can include subject specific experts, websites, social media resources, online or face-to-face groups, conferences or learning communities.

After reading Anna Bartosik’s post, How to Connect the Right Way: Using your PLN on Twitter, I thought about my own PLN.  In 2013, I facilitated a workshop on potential PLN resources. (see the link below) My PLN has changed in two ways since that time: I have updated some of the resources, and I have refined the organization of my PLN for more efficient access.

Personal Learning Networks are quite a complex topic. In this post, I provide a listing of potential PLN sources with a corresponding exemplar.  In my next blog post, I will provide six possible options for pulling together these resources into a one-stop resources bank such as Anna Bartosik’s Twitter PLN.  Continue reading

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