Category Archives: Designing

Effective Online Tools & Resources for Teachers and Learners

Education, distance education, internet studying, e-learning flat vector illustration. Online classes, training courses, tutorials, online education design for mobile and web graphics
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Over the past two years, I have been attending a lot of webinars, presentations, conferences, dialogues and online courses. I’ve also been reading blogs and articles as well as doing presentations and writing blogposts. I’ve gained knowledge and collected remarkable resources. Tools like the ones below can help us design tasks that will engage and motivate our learners.

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I fell off my chair during my online class!

Happy Asian woman in hijab raising arms and stretching body while working with laptop in cozy cafe
Image Source: Bigstockphoto.com

Teachers have always been associated with having a lot of movement in their workplace. The nature of teaching and checking on students always allowed teachers to be ambulant and move around the classroom. However, COVID-19 has sent most ESL teachers home and behind their laptops all day long. Besides physical issues that sedentary behaviour can bring to everyone, it can affect the creativity and eagerness of teachers despite their good intentions. Here are five tips for those at home who feel the pain in their back and knees and want a change!

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Organizing Teaching Materials in Google Classroom

E-learning graphic organizer depicting a computer screen.
Image by B_A from Pixabay

No matter how trivial it sounds, in an online class the organization of course content is absolutely essential. Let me share a few practical observations.

1. Materials and Assessments

The most basic organizational tenet of an online classroom stems from the platform itself: in my case it was Google Classroom which gives an opportunity to divide learning content into assignments, quiz assignments, questions, and materials within a section called Classwork. It is a slight deviation from the terminology usually employed in the LINC/ESL world, but one easy for learners to accept. Understanding the distinction between materials and the other options is primarily important for students.

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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.   

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Summary of the #EdTech discussion with John Allan

September 4, 2020 marked another successful and fruitful discussion on Twitter, through the #teslONchat hashtag. We discussed #EdTech with John Allan – @mrpottz

This chat explored the topic of education technology in terms of instructors and administrators rethinking their previous choices of edtech for online teaching. Continue reading

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Adapting lesson plans for online teaching

A PowerPoint slide titled, "PowerPoint Design," illustrating design ideas from PowerPoint
Image source: Jessica Freitag via PowerPoint Design

Awkward silence and staring at the screen while not knowing what happens next are what students may experience during an online session. On the other side, however, the instructor is trying hard to pull up a file for the next activity. You may think naming the activities of the day will do the job, but perhaps a bit of visual aid helps keeping the plan in mind both for the students and teachers. This is where an electronic version of a lesson plan might play a role.

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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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A Meaningful Handicraft Project: Collaboration, Learning and So Much More!

The Task at Hand

A handicraft of the alphabet described by the author in the post.
Image source: Suzanne Nicks

Quilting and knitting circles have existed for a long time for the purposes of pleasure and producing a useful final product, but how did a handicraft project for a group of Master of Education students turn into a feel-good, emotional learning journey? It was an assignment for a research methodology course, but it was so much more than that. It was also collaboration, self-discovery and an emotional roller coaster all rolled into some highly memorable academic presentations. At least that was my observation, if not quite my personal experience.

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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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