Category Archives: Digital technology

Zooming your Docs

Since late March, many of our courses have been moved online, and synchronous sessions through Zoom have become a new part of our teaching lives. While testing various features offered by Zoom, I have realized that I really miss my classroom whiteboard, which was used for writing the agenda, teaching notes, upcoming coursework, classroom instructions, and conducting student interactive writing, editing, and speaking activities.

Although Zoom has a Whiteboard feature, I find it limiting, so I have replaced it with Google Docs. I have found this practice quite sustainable and a user-friendly approach to an online whiteboard. Here is how and why I combine Zoom and Google Docs.

  1. Sharing: I have created a Google Doc, named it “Whiteboard” and shared it with my students by placing its link on my Learning Management System (LMS). In every class, my students can click on the same link and find their class notes there.
  2. Organizing: I have organized my notes on the Google Doc by creating a table of contents, and the table of contents is organized by date of the class, list of planned activities, and by placing the newest notes at the top.  
  3. Navigation: This way of content organization through a table of contents makes navigation absolutely efficient for both students and instructors.
  4. Agenda: My table of contents also plays the role of an agenda. As an instructor, I place my list of planned activities on the Doc right before the class starts just like when I used to step into my physical classroom welcoming early arrivers and writing my agenda. Now, my table of contents displays my agenda.
  5. Class Notes: Once the class starts on Zoom, and after I greet my students for a few minutes, I start teaching by sharing my screen and displaying my Google Doc “Whiteboard”. Since my list of activities has already been shared, I ask students to locate a certain activity. When I have my students’ attention on that activity, I can add more teaching notes to it, just as we used to utilize our whiteboards/ blackboards and share information.
  6. Interaction: Leading a more sedentary lifestyle at this time, it is now more important than ever to create an interactive learning environment for our students, who might be staring at screens for long hours every day. Therefore, for every assignment, I have a short teaching moment, and then ask my students to work on the activity.
  7. Watching: In the case of showing a video, I place the video link right in front of the planned activity, which has two benefits: It is quick for the instructor to locate the video link and play it right there, and it is already shared with my students for their own future reference.
  8. Reading: The same goes for sharing an article and having students read it. With Zoom’s Breakout Room feature, it is easy to place students in different groups to read and speak about an article. I can assign certain paragraphs to each group, or I can assign a different article to every group. Having all the links shared on one page for the whole semester makes navigating content a highly efficient practice. A little side note: I also use the Zoom’s chat box or the broadcast feature to share a quick spontaneous link or a message when conducting breakout rooms.
  9. Writing: In terms of writing, I can follow the same practice of assigning a page to a breakout room group, where students can write and edit their work. I am writing a whole blog post on writing and editing, coming up soon. 
  10.  Announcements: Finally, I share reminders, coursework due dates, and announcements right at the top of every class’s list of activities, which makes it easy for students to plan upcoming activities and assignments.

This combination of Zoom sessions with a consistent Google Doc link has been a well-received practice with my students. By placing your whole class on a Google Doc, teaching, learning, note sharing, and storing have become sustainable, organized, and efficient. I highly recommend it to all the educators out there who are trying to make their lives and their students’ lives easier, stay efficient, and make learning more accessible.

 

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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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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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Storybird

image source; www.bigstockphoto.com

Do you ever teach CLB 5 narrative paragraph writing? Do your students usually write something with pencil on paper that they later discard? Have you ever thought of using Storybird to engage and enhance writing skills or create a class anthology of stories?

Publish it

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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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Delivering a Webinar

Webinar concept. Blackboard with handwritten text "Webinar", pink notebook and earphones on wooden background, top view
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Have you ever thought about presenting a webinar? Do you have some ideas or successes you think would be interesting to others? Want to add some new tech skills to your resume? Or just would like to give it a try?

Make presenting a webinar one of your 2019 New Year’s resolutions!

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Google Drive for Busy Teachers

image source: bigstockphoto.com

It was almost 4 years ago that I began my master’s program and started teaching at an amazing English department in addition to continuing my other part time job. It was then that I realized my organizational skills needed help.

I had to work with various LMS (Learning Management Systems) such as Moodle, Blackboard, Desire to Learn at school and at work. In addition to creating lesson plans, marking, doing research, attending meetings, and collaborating with colleagues for projects, I had to make sure that I Continue reading

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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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Kahoot, not just for games anymore

image source: bigstockphoto.com

Using visuals is an integral part of our daily teaching practice; however, often, our visual aids are rather mundane. For example, one of the primary and most popular visual aid has been PowerPoint. Despite the benefits of using this tool, it can easily turn a classroom into a passive learning environment.

Having said this, there are other tools available through which knowledge and information can be transferred to students. One of the alternatives available is Kahoot. Now, many of us might have heard of or used this tool in our classrooms. Kahoot is a game-based teaching tool that teachers usually use to test student knowledge after their teaching is completed. However, Kahoot can be used for purposes other than testing. This post introduces Kahoot as a tool that can replace PowerPoint presentations 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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