Category Archives: Technology

ChatGPT Prompting the Basics 

During interactions over the past year with language instructors in various venues, I have observed a trend with educators’ generative chat usage.  Instructors are aware of generative chat technologies such as ChatGPT and Microsoft Edge Copilot through mainstream media, social media, relatives, students, or their peers. However, few have gone beyond sampling these tools a few times with basic prompts out of personal curiosity or to commence using prompts for lesson preparation.  

Attempts at generating resources with a generative chat tool do not always result in usable content because instructors often give up after a few prompts.   They do not understand that creating suitable content is an iterative process that involves structure, a defined target, skill, and imagination.  In this post, I offer guidance for language educators trying to create content for instructional purposes through prompting generative chat tools.   Continue reading


Smartphones can be a “Smart” Helper in the Classroom

Image taken from: Big Stock Photo

At first glance, smartphones may seem like the ultimate language roadblock for ESL learners. The alluring prospect of effortlessly translating any text with a simple tap can lead to a habit of overreliance, hindering genuine language absorption. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. When approached with a strategic mindset, smartphones can indeed become “smart” tools in the ESL learning arsenal, especially for those who find themselves grappling with the complexities of English at a foundational level. 

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AI in ESL: Empowering Learners and Bridging Language Gaps

By Margaret Holec


The past decade has seen a game-changing impact on English as a Second Language (ESL) education, thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Notably, AI has made students more independent in their learning, helping them secure jobs even with lower English levels. Additionally, direct translation of messages and emails has become seamless, enhancing communication.

1. Independent Learning: AI’s Role in Student Empowerment

AI in ESL education has shifted the focus to personalized learning, allowing students to learn at their own pace. This independence builds confidence and self-reliance as learners navigate language acquisition with tailored support.

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Moving beyond the shadows: Showcasing AI in the classroom

In my last blog post, I mentioned the hours I had spent examining students’ work for suspected AI use. Now, a couple of months later, I am more exhausted from the process than ever. We educators are still muddling our way through without clear policies or reliable detection tools, and are literally left “up to our own devices.” 

But what if we change tack? What if we encourage students to use AI? Until now, I have balked at exploring its use in class, worried about introducing it to students who had never heard of it. After all, what kind of teacher would show students how to cheat? But I am no longer under such delusions. Unless they have been hiding under a rock, most students know exactly how to use AI tools. 

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Coping with the AI Challenge

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

September is here! The past eight months of warnings of artificial intelligence- or AI- generative chat calamities were heeded by some and ignored by others. Hopefully, you are one of the fortunate ones who work in an institution where AI policies, guidelines, just-in-time support and plagiarism teaching-learning plan statements are ready and accessible to supervisors, instructors and learners. If this is not your situation, this post is for you. Read on to quickly pick up some tips to cope with AI generative chat technologies while your institution works towards comprehensive strategies.  

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Digital Citizenship and the Challenge of AI 

The past six months have witnessed an unprecedented technological phenomenon that has the potential to revolutionize most professions. Education is now challenged with developing innovative teaching and assessment strategies. As well, stakeholders in education will need to adjust to the deepened pressures that AI tools pose for plagiarism and misinformation. Weekly, waves of new and reinvigorated AI powered tools are being touted continuously through social media and education sources. Active curation and training will be required to sort these out. This will include revising institutional policies and codes of ethics.

As some educators are over the shock and fear stage of this disruption, they are now looking for guidance on how these technologies can be used to enhance teaching and learning.  Applying digital citizenship principles to map out practical activities is one approach that may assist educators in successfully integrating AI chat tools into their lessons. 

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ChatGPT Extensions: Make it Your Personal Assistant

Generated by DALL-E 2 with the prompting of John Allan

Whether you’re aware of it or not, the recent release of artificial intelligence-powered chatbots is transforming the way we interact with technology. OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, allows anyone to engage with it in a human-like manner to achieve a response. Over the past few months, scores of GPT-powered web apps and browser extensions have appeared due to AI-powered chatbots resulting from the release of the OpenAI’s GPT API (applications programming interface). The API allows apps to work with ChatGPT. This allows software developers to create more powerful applications. The browser extensions described below will help language instructors use ChatGPT more effectively to enhance their lessons and daily digital tasks. 

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(Re)Focusing on the Process in Online Environments  

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If we can learn anything from ChatGPT and all other AI tools, it is that their product is the result of people who immersed themselves in the process of collecting information before arriving at the final product.  The secret to success is what took place behind the scenes —the work it took to arrive at the final product. 

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AI in the Classroom: The New, New Normal?

In December of 2022, Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna brought the discussion of artificial intelligence or “AI” to the TESL Ontario community with her post, AI in the Classroom: Love It or Hate It – It’s Here. Cecilia piqued our curiosity by showing us an example of a test text generation and suggested three ways that she was considering using AI with her lessons.   

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Active Learning With Mentimeter

“Active learning engages students in the process of learning through activities and/or discussion in class, as opposed to passively listening to an expert” (Freeman et al., 2014).  

One tool that has made active learning more possible in my classes is Mentimeter. 

 Whether we teach a class in person or we teach an online synchronous course, Mentimeter can accommodate engaging large groups of audiences. If we teach a class implementing Bloom’s Taxonomy approach, Mentimeter can be a great tool in developing a successful and engaging lesson.  Continue reading