Category Archives: Technology

TESL and QR codes

johna-qrcode_tesl_on_blog
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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Autobiographical Identity Texts – Building (Critical) Multi-literacies

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

Hey now, TESL Ontarians! Recently, I have been teaching online and multimodal courses and I thought I would share with you an activity I have found effective when working both with ESL students and TESL pre-service and in-service teachers.

As someone who is new to incorporating (in any substantive way) digital tools into my teaching arsenal, I have slowly come to view activities that allow for taking advantage of students’ digital literacies as invaluable. I hope you find the second part of this two-part description of how to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies in our language classrooms useful and engaging. The first part of this series described how I have used video introductions as a way to build a stronger (e-) learning community in my classrooms (See my post dated July 18th). This second part describes how to incorporate students’ digital literacies when engaging with notions of identity and investment in language learning through production of Autobiographical Identity Texts (AITs).  Continue reading

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Teaching ESL with Technology

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

Technology in Education is so hot right now! Since the technology boom of the mid- to late-nineties, high-tech gadgets have been creeping into the classroom and into our lives in general, for better or for worse. But, does educational IT really help our students learn?

Maybe, if it’s used well and for the right reasons. Below are several tips on effectively incorporating technology into your ESL class.

Prepare in Advance

One of the first traps many teachers fall into when attempting to use technology in the classroom is the lack of adequate preparation. Typical preparation for a course includes building and reviewing a lesson plan, creating or finding didactic materials and ensuring that all needed peripherals are in place. Educational IT, however, requires a little more attention. First, in heterogeneous classrooms, the students will have varying levels of ability with IT. The learning curve with new technology will be very different for the students involved. It is highly suggested Continue reading

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Introductory Videos – A Digital Tool for Building Classroom Communities

Hey now, TESL Ontarians! Recently, I have been teaching online and multimodal courses and I thought I would share with you an activity I have found effective when working both with ESL students and pre-/in-service teachers. As someone who is new to incorporating (in any substantive way) digital tools into my teaching arsenal, I have slowly come to view activities that allow for taking advantage of students’ digital literacies as invaluable. I hope you find this two-part description of how to incorporate digital technologies in our language classrooms useful and engaging. This first post describes how 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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Cool Tools – Collaborating with Padlet

http://padlet.com
https://padlet.com

Are you looking for a useful tool to facilitate collaborative work for your students? For the past year, I have been exploring the use of Padlet, a free online application that serves as a ‘multi-media friendly, free-form, real-time wiki’ (according to Padlet.com). This easy to use tool allows you to easily provide content for your students online and customize it in many creative ways.

In a nutshell, Padlet works like a digital bulletin board or canvas. Once you have created your free account at https//:padlet.com, you can create individual ‘walls’ or padlets on which you can place content. An unlimited number of users can contribute to a padlet at the same time, making collaborative work very easy. By double-clicking anywhere on the screen, you can insert text, video, documents, images, or other padlets.  Your padlet with all of its content can then be shared with your students via email, link, or on social media. 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)

image001
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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Where are the videos?

Video. Concept icon. 3D image isolated on white
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Over the past months, I have been posting and providing professional development sessions on creating engaging and interactive learning experiences with video as the focus media.  Tools have included Edpuzzle, ESLVideo, Ted Ed Lessons, TubeChop and Zaption.

Searching for and finding suitable videos or animations takes time and effort.  Depending on your learning objectives, there are many videos or section of videos that may be beneficial. As with everything in education, one size does not fit all.  It takes imagination, discipline and creativity to create engaging learning objects that meet your instructional requirements.

The majority of feedback after my webinars and workshops has been focused on where to find suitable videos or animations. The annotated list below is a starting point for teachers to explore video resources: Continue reading

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