Category Archives: Educational research

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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The Translingual Approach – Agree but…

Image source: bigstockphoto.com
Image source: bigstockphoto.com

I am trying to fully understand the translingual approach – specifically how it aligns with English for academic purposes (EAP) or the much needed skill of clear, concise written communication. The idea is great, but how do we go about it?

Horner, Lu, Royster, and Trimbur (2011) propose a translingual approach for dealing with student writing in academia.
Although I agree with most of the underpinnings behind the new approach, I am not so sure how they envision it. I agree with many of their ideas, but…

Agree

I agree that students’ right to use their language (English and otherwise) should be respected.  I also agree with the authors’ opposition to the monolingual “view that varieties of English other than those recognized as ‘standards’ are defective” (305). Varieties of English, they explain, include what monolinguals Continue reading

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Focusing on Writing Strategies: Attention, Please!

The bug is fixed in red pen in a notebook
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.ca

I have been teaching writing at the college level for over six years to both first and second language learners. Unless I am teaching EAP, where my students are second language learners, my classes have been mixed: native language students at various language levels and experiences as well as non-native language learners, including 1.5 generation (people who immigrate to a new country before or during their early teens) with different levels of language proficiency. Note that no matter who the students are, my job is to help my students achieve the learning outcomes of the course (e.g. to be able to write an academic essay), which means I must pay attention and therefore take into consideration each student’s individual needs. How do I reconcile all these differences in a writing course? Well, among many teaching strategies, I focus on selective attention.

Selective Attention

According to Richard Schmidt (2010) our ability to focus is dependent on our awareness of the existence of stimuli. It is difficult (even impossible) to pay attention to every bit of information around us, so we need to be consciously aware it exists to be able to notice it. Hence, not knowing what to focus our attention on can leave us paying attention to unimportant information, unaware of what it is we should be focusing on! 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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A tip of the hat to Hattie

Best Practice - Business Background. Golden Compass Needle on a Black Field Pointing to the Word "Best Practice". 3D Render.
image source: bigstockphoto.com

As an ESL teacher, my first priorities are the linguistic development of my students and the attainment of their language learning goals. As an educational researcher, my first priority is to study and develop extremely effective teaching and learning strategies to get students to where they want to be. Students might not like it too much, but research is really starting to show that the ball is almost entirely in their court.

As Thomas Carruthers said, “A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary”. Ignoring how this might make us feel about our paycheques (insert chuckle), it is important to mention just how accurate this is, especially in terms of in-class strategies. Our students want to improve their English language ability, so they should be doing all the talking, reading and writing The effective and simultaneously “unnecessary” teacher is one who is more of a learning experience designer, who spends most of her time designing learning moments and strategies outside of class time, reflecting on student difficulties and successes when not in class, and using these as beacons in the dark when planning the next class. And now, we finally have confirmation that we teachers are useless – well, almost. Continue reading

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