All posts by Amin Neghavati

Feedback and the Digital World | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC

This is the link to my latest (August 2016) TeachingEnglish blog post:

Tools to give feedback

feedback copy
taken from P. 79 of ‘An A-Z of ELT’

Check the Magazine to read more interesting posts by TeachingEnglish bloggers and associates:

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/magazine

 

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#DigELT2015 ‘Deep Learning Skills in a Teacher Training Programme’

I attended the IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG event ‘Digital ELT Ireland 2015’ in Dublin on the 31st October and 1st November this year. A two-day series of talks, presentations and workshops organised by the IATEFL LT SIG.

Digital ELT Ireland was born in 2012 and became an international ELT Tech event very quickly! This year’s conference was an interesting combination of thought-provoking plenaries by Russell Stannard and Huw Jarvis, international speakers, Halloween and the beautiful Irish autumn!

This post is an explanation on and a summary of my talk on ‘Digital Deep Learning Skills in Teacher Training Programmes’ with the links to my talk Prezi and the conference photos:

poster


Last year I worked with four groups of Malaysian teachers on a project with the British Council. The project’s main priorities were to improve Malaysian primary and secondary school teachers’ language proficiency and to give them enough tools (methodology-wise) to use in the classroom. I was responsible for the face-to-face part of the training in my cluster (140 km off Kuala Lumpur with lovely people). They also had an e-moderator, training and supporting them on Moodle with one of TeachingEnglish English for Teaching courses.

Now that the project has finished, it’s high time I reflected on a couple of tools I have managed to successfully trial and implement in my training sessions.

As a trainer who cares about the environment, I decided not to print off tens of worksheets everyday to save a couple of trees on this planet. The first thing which comes to mind, in such instances, is to e-mail worksheets to everyone in the room! So this was what I did for a couple of days:

  • Ask everyone’s e-mail address.
  • Create mailing lists in my gmail contacts for each group.
  • Attach PDFs. (to avoid other formats and their problems)
  • Send them to the intended people.
  • Wait for them to log-in, open my e-mail, download the file and work on it.
  • Wait for them to save their answers in another document and send it back to me.

These steps might look quite straight-forward but catastrophes can happen and things can even get out of control! Here is a list of things which happened:

  • The learners didn’t remember their passwords so couldn’t reach their mailbox on school computers.
  • They were using school computers so couldn’t save the file on them (admin settings didn’t allow them to do so).
  • Reading a PDF file and copying answers to a Word document can be really difficult.
  • Some learners didn’t know how to do all these things and the activities took much longer than planned.
  • Many people had chosen fancy names for their mailboxes and I had to work out who the incoming files belong to.
  • Pairwork and groupwork activities were hard to arrange as they couldn’t take their notes somewhere else!
  • Activity files were lost in their mailboxes and they couldn’t keep a a list of files they had worked on.

And a lot more! To the list, add the fact that training was delivered in an area where it was hard to find a stable internet connection and I myself had a wifi dongle, my mobile phone 3G internet access and my iPad’s LTE connection and still had to worry!

A quick search on the internet about digital classrooms, deep learning skills and competencies and higher-order thinking skills give you a lot of food for thought if you are into going digital and paper-free.

Fullan and Langworthy (2013) identified eight Deep Learning skills: Global Citizenship, Collaboration, Character, Communication, Creativity and Imagination, Real-World Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, and Use of ICT for Learning. Focusing on ICT for Learning can cover some of the other skills as well and a more systematic use of technology can replace the e-mailing process and can give you more features to make your training fun and productive.

The following options are the most popular platforms ELT people seem to be using around the globe:

Edmodo is the most popular option and provides you with a lot of tools and training and I have used it for many different purposes but this time, I needed something simpler and lighter which was suitable for my specific purpose in that specific part of the world!

I spent almost 2 months working on these platforms and I came to this conclusion that Chalkup is both simple and productive and gives me the tools I am in serious need of! Its integration with Google Apps and Google Drive, their rubric feature, the mobile and iPad app, the annotation feature and the chat box were all what I needed to go entirely digital! (My favourite feature is the way it integrates your task rubric to writing tasks so that the learners can check their marked assignments against the rubric. Watch this video to learn how it performs this.)

Chalkup

During the first couple of weeks, I was getting demotivated as not everyone seemed interested in what I had added to their life! But things changed gradually and after 6 months, not only did they respond to my posts but shared and posted useful things on the platform and I managed to be completely green during the second half of the project.

Chalkup might still not be the online platform which provides you with all available features in this ever-changing world of online collaborative service providers but it is definitely one of the best and it was obviously the best choice for my case. Moreover, the team’s commitment to develop the platform makes me certain that they are going to gain more popularity in near future.

The following links will take you to my talk in which I have tried to show what we went through and what level of online participation I experienced with Chalkup and a collection of other online platforms.

Digital ELT Ireland 2015 (IATEFL LT SIG event- Dublin)

P.S. Well done Sabak Bernam teachers for making this happen!


Digital ELT Ireland Links:

See on Tackk

 

IT & ICT Tips for an Easy Teaching Life (4)

Technology has undoubtedly brought us a lot of interesting solutions to most of our teaching needs but at the same time, it has probably made it harder to be in control of what happens to and around us.

The main aim of these weekly posts is to give three quick tips -in no particular order- (in each post) to teachers to make their tech teaching lives a bit easier to manage. I choose the topics based on what my friends and colleagues ask me each week. You will find them practical especially if you have just decided to integrate technology into your teaching life and you find everything complicated and daunting!

Quick ICT posts4

Have you ever wondered what those square code boxes are that people scan? Have you ever wanted to create one for a classroom activity? Have you ever worried about the way you use Google services and wondered if there is a way to control your Google account? Have you ever wanted to quickly edit writing tasks on your computer and send them to your students? Or have you looked for the same ‘editing’ features on your Mac?  If yes, read on:

1. How to create QR codes:

For various reasons, QR codes are of everyone’s interest! There are a lot of platforms you can use to create these small mysterious boxes with links, texts, contacts, etc. and I have found the following two easy to work with:

  • http://www.qr-code-generator.com
  • https://qrcode.kaywa.com
  • Note 1: Static QR codes are free but dynamic ones are usually not. I think static ones do what we need them to do, so make sure you tick the box for static ones on these websites.
  • Note 2: If you don’t know what QR codes are, they are Quick Response Codes which are two-dimensional barcodes initially used in Japan but found everywhere now! They contain bits of data and you need to scan them with your smart phone to see what information they carry. They are usually used to direct you to websites or to help you save contact details quickly on your mobile device. You might need to install apps to scan these codes. If you need apps, these are my recommendations:
  • Note 3: On some phones, you don’t even need an app! Just scan the code with your camera while connected to the internet and you phone does the rest of it!
  • Note 4: You can also add a QR Code to your Chrome browser and generate codes with just a single click. Click here in your Chrome Browser to add it. You can add logos to your codes there as well.
  • Note 5: If you want to know how to use these in the classroom, these are some interesting posts to read:

 

2. How to control Google services:

Google provides us with a lot of interesting services. If you are like me and sign up for all services that Google introduces and check how things work and might stop using them after a short while and forget all about them, then Google Dashboard is the right place for you to go to.

In Google Dashboard you can control all Google services and get to their setting pages quickly and manage how you use Google services. You can see the number of messages in your Gmail, conversations you have been a part of, services you have connected to each other, devices you have used to connect to Google, suspicious activities and a lot of more valuable things!

Just log in to your account, click on the services from the menu and be in control of your Google activities:

Google Dashboard

3. How to mark writing tasks easily on your computer:

I have already gone through giving feedback using different technologies in more detail here but to cover this very quickly, this is what you should do when your students send you their writing assignments:

  • On Windows devices:

    • Open the document in Microsoft Office Word.
    • Click on the ‘review’ tab in the top menu bar.
    • Find ‘track changes’ in the ‘tracking’ section.
    • (optional) Click on the drop-down menu next to ‘track changes’ and click on ‘track changes options’ to customise the colour coding and other settings and click ‘ok’.
    • Click on ‘track changes’ to activate it. (You can also do this by Ctrl + Shift + E.)
    • Now go through the document and edit it! Delete text, replace words just like you would do with any texts in Word and all changes will be colour coded and highlighted.

 

  • On Apple Macs:

    • Open the document in Pages.
    • Click on ‘Edit’ in the bar at the top of your screen where the Apple logo is (not the top of the page).
    • Click on ‘Track Changes’.
    • Edit your text and enjoy the same Microsoft Office Word features.
    • Once done, click on ‘Edit’ again and click on ‘Turn Off Tracking’.

Watch this space for the next posts if you found this one useful and comment on this post if you have any particular issues with this week’s ideas.

Link to previous posts:

IT & ICT Tips for an Easy Teaching Life (3)

Technology has undoubtedly brought us a lot of interesting solutions to most of our teaching needs but at the same time, it has probably made it harder to be in control of what happens to and around us.

The main aim of these weekly posts is to give three quick tips -in no particular order- (in each post) to teachers to make their tech teaching lives a bit easier to manage. I choose the topics based on what my friends and colleagues ask me each week. You will find them practical especially if you have just decided to integrate technology into your teaching life and you find everything complicated and daunting!

Quick ICT posts

Have you ever wanted to quickly add an image or a screenshot from an object on your desktop to a presentation or a Word document? Have you ever wanted to connect your Dropbox to your Google Drive, add your Instagram class photos to a Google Drive folder to share with colleagues and friends or save your favourite Tweets in an Evernote notebook ‘automatically’? Have you ever received two versions of the same document and didn’t know how to find the changes quickly? If yes, read on:

1. How to take screenshots:

For various reasons teachers might need to take screenshots of certain parts of their screen as this is usually the quickest way to copy something and add it to a presentation or a lesson plan. There are different ways to do so but the easiest are:

    • On a Windows system:

      • In the ‘search’ menu of your version of Windows look for ‘Snipping Tool’.
      • Once opened, click on ‘new’ and select the part of the screen you want a shot from by dragging your cursor around it to form a rectangular.
      • Click on ‘save’ on the screenshot page and save it on your machine.
      • Drag and drop it to your task bar to create a shortcut to access it if you use it a lot.
      • Need to know more about ‘Snipping Tool’ on Windows? Click here.
    • On a Mac

      • If you need a shot from the whole page (your entire screen): Command+Shift+3
      • If you need a shot from a certain part of the screen: Command+Shift+4 and move the cursor round the object on the screen. You can do this by moving three fingers on the track pad and lifting your fingers all together for the screenshot to be taken. (You need to have activated your trackpad features for this.)
      • The screenshots will appear on your desktop.

2. How to connect different services and apps to Google Drive:

This, in fact, is not just about connecting services to Google Drive but is about connecting all services to each other. If you want to add your Dropbox files to your Google Drive automatically or add the names of the new students to a Google Sheet automatically, or save your favourite Tweets on Twitter to an Evernote notebook or a Google Sheet or even save your Instagram photos to a Google Drive folder without even having to worry about anything, then IFTTT is the right tool for you!

if recipe

    • Go to https://ifttt.com
    • There are 231 (as of today) already thought about routes betweens apps and services and most of them are useful for teachers. Just click on the app you want to connect your other apps to and ‘connect’ to the channel. I’d rather not explain the details here because you just need to follow the on-screen steps to get things done and they are easy to follow!
    • Note: The IF THIS THEN THAT website is an online productivity tool which helps you design your own online commands so that certain online tasks between your favourite apps and services will be done without you wasting any extra minutes switching between your apps and devices. If the route you want is not among the 231 items already there, you can create your own route and share it with everyone using IFTTT.

3. How to compare two versions of a document in Microsoft Word

If you have two versions of a document or if you have sent a document to a colleague and they have made changes to it and have sent it back to you and now it’s hard to see which parts of the document they have changed, then Microsoft Word gives you an option to easily and quickly find those differences between your version and that of your colleague’s.

    • Open one of the files (any versions of Microsoft Word).
    • Click on ‘review’ in the ribbon on the top.
    • Click on ‘compare’.
    • Choose the two documents you want word to compare as the ‘original document’ and the ‘revised document’.
    • Click ‘OK’.
    • You can also click on ‘more’ and decide which particular items you want Word to compare in the two files and then click ‘OK’.
    • Done! Enjoy the comparison!

Watch this space for the next posts if you found this one useful and comment on this post if you have any particular issues with this week’s post.

Link to previous posts:

IT & ICT Tips for an Easy Teaching Life (2)

Technology has undoubtedly brought us a lot of interesting solutions to most of our teaching needs but at the same time, it has probably made it harder to be in control of what happens to and around us.

The main aim of these weekly posts is to give three quick tips (in each post) to teachers to make their tech teaching lives a bit easier to manage. You will find them practical especially if you have just decided to integrate technology into your teaching life.

Tech Tips for Teachers 02

Have you ever forgotten to take your activity dice to the classroom and had an internet connection? Have you ever wanted to show a full-screen timer to the participants without worrying about finding a good clock app? Do you need to insert an image into a document and the file type fails to load in the application? Do you want to send an audio file to someone and they can’t open the type you are sending them? Are you on a Mac and use Pages to create worksheets but need to send them to your office PC which runs Windows to print them or do you just want to share them with a colleague who uses Microsoft Word? If yes, read on:

  1. How to replace the plastic dice with a digital one:

Don’t worry if you have forgotten to take your dice to the classroom for a board game. All you need is an active internet connection or an app which you have already installed on your mobile device:

  • Need it on the browser? Click here.
  • Want it on your iPhone or iPad? Click here.
  • Want it on an Android device? Click here.
  1. How to show an activity timer to everyone in the room:

There are many ways to broadcast an activity timer from any device to an overhead projector but if you are connected to the internet and need something quick and handy, Google has it for you.

  • In the search bar on Google type ‘timer … minutes’ e.g. ‘timer 5 minutes’ and the timer appears right below the box and starts the ticking!
  • Click on the box in front of the timer for a full-screen view. The timer beeps at the end.
  • (An active internet connection is only necessary for the timer to show up on your screen. If you lose your connection, the timer will still work.)
  1. How to change a file extension:

  • Over the internet (when there is no sensitive information in the file, your internet is fast and stable and you don’t feel like exploring your computer’s capabilities):

    • Go to http://www.convertfiles.com/ (You can also do it here but I personally find the first link a lot easier to work with.)
    • Choose the file from your computer or give the website a link to download the file from.
    • Choose the input and output format.
    • Click on ‘convert’!
  • On a Windows computer:

    • If you can’t see the file extension at the end of the file name after a dot, e.g. blogpost3.rtf or blogpost3.pdf, you need to follow these steps first:
      • Click on ‘control panel’.
      • Click on ‘Appearance and Personalisation’.
      • Click on ‘Folder Options’.
      • When the ‘folder options’ box pops up, click on ‘view’. (In Windows 8, this can be reached from top of the folder page next to the ‘computer’ tab.)
      • Un-tick the box next to ‘hide extensions for known file types’.
      • Click on ‘apply’ and then ‘ok’.
      • The file types must be visible now.
    • If you can see the file extension at the end of the file name after a dot on your computer, follow the following steps:
      • Right click on the file and select ‘rename’.
      • Change the part after the dot (which is the file extension and shows the file type) to something you want, e.g. picno1.PNG to picno1.JPEG.
      • Hit enter!
    • Note 1: This windows function only works when changing file types to something of the same nature, for example .PNG to .JPEG or .docx to .rtf and doesn’t work for changing a .docx file to a .pdf file or vice versa and the new file will look messy and unusable. Don’t worry if this has happened! You can still restore the file to its original version easily.
    • Note 2: Sometimes changing the file type can be done in a much easier way from within the application. Just click on ‘file’ menu and choose ‘save as’. Then choose a destination and/or a new name for the new file. Then below the box for the file name click on the drop-down menu for ‘save as type’. You can see a list of file types you can easily change your original file to. Then click on ‘save’!
  • On a Mac:

    • If you can’t see the file extension at the end of the file name after a dot, e.g. blogpost3.key or blogpost3.pdf, you need to follow these steps first:
      • Click somewhere on your desktop for the ‘finder’ menu to appear on the top bar.
      • Click the ‘finder’ menu and then click on ‘preferences’.
      • Click on ‘advanced’ in the ‘preferences’ box.
      • Put a tick next to ‘show all filename extensions’.
      • Close the box.
      • The file types must be permanently visible for all files now.
    • If you can see the file extension at the end of the file name after a dot on your mac, follow the following steps:
      • Click on the file but don’t open it!
      • Hold the ‘command’ key and press ‘I’. This will open the information box for that file which can also be reached by right clicking on the file and clicking on ‘get info’.
      • You can see all the information about your file, including its name in an editable box.
      • (You can uncheck the ‘hide extension’ option here as well if you want the file extension to be seen.)
      • Click in the editable box where you see the file name and change the extension which is after the dot.
      • Close the box.
    • Note 1: This function only works when changing file types to something of the same nature, for example .PNG to .JPEG and doesn’t work for changing a .txt file to a .key file or vice versa and the new file will look messy and unusable. Don’t worry if this has happened! You can still restore the file to its original version easily.
    • Note 2: Changing the file type can be done in a much easier way from within the application on a Mac and the Preview function can change most graphic file types to each other very easily. Just click on ‘file’ menu and choose ‘export’. Then choose a destination and/or a new name for the new file. You will see a list of options there to choose from. Choose your file type and export it.
    • Note 3: This can even export the file you have created with Pages (the Mac equivalent for Office Word) to a Word document if you are sending it to someone who is on a Windows PC. You can do this file export even if you don’t have Microsoft Office Word on your Mac at all!

Watch this space for the next posts if you found this one useful and comment on this post if you have any particular  issues or questions for the next-week post.

Link to previous posts:

IT & ICT Tips for an Easy Teaching Life (1)

Tech Tips for Teachers

Technology has undoubtedly brought us a lot of interesting solutions to most of our teaching needs but at the same time, it has probably made it harder to be in control of what happens to and around us.

The main aim of these weekly posts is to give three quick tips (in each post) to teachers to make their tech teaching lives a bit easier to manage. You will find them practical especially if you have just decided to integrate technology into your teaching life.

Do you have to check a particular webpage regularly and want to reach it with just a click? Do your naughty or accidental YouTube searches appear on your YouTube homepage and you receive naughty video recommendations in your mailbox and don’t know how to get rid of them? Do you use WhatsApp to keep in touch with your students and you need it on your desktop to handle it easily and share docs from your computer? Read the following lines for some quick solutions:

  1. How to add a webpage to the task bar (or the Dock in a Mac) for easy access:

    • Internet Explorer on Windows

      • Open the tab!
      • Just drag and drop the tab to the task bar as you would do with any other softwares. it will be added to the task bar for your future easy access.
    • Chrome on Windows

      • Open the tab!
      • Click on the setting icon in the top right-hand corner of the page.
      • Click on ‘more tools’.
      • Click on ‘create application shortcuts’. [The tab can be added to the ‘desktop’, ‘start menu’ or the ‘task bar’]
      • Tick the box next to ‘Pin to task bar’.
      • Click on ‘create’.
      • Done!
    • Safari (or other explorers) on Macs

      • Open the page that you want to add to the Dock (=Mac version of the task bar).
      • Click the small icon (which is the website icon) on the left side of the URL and drag it from your browser’s address field to the Dock near the trash.
      • Remember you have to pin it near the trash as there is a Dock Separator there which doesn’t allow you to pin a tab between two apps. The Dock Separator is the line that appears near the Trash icon. The side of the Dock above or to the left of the separator is for applications. The side below or to the right is for URLs, files, and folders.
      • If these steps don’t work on your Mac OX, open your browser’s list of bookmarked URLs and drag the icon from there into the Dock.
  2. How to get rid of your YouTube watch and search history:

    • Log in to your Google Account.
    • Go to www.youtube.com
    • Click on ‘history’ in the left-side panel.
    • Click on ‘watch history’ or ‘search history’ in the main panel on top of the page.
    • Click on ‘clear all watch history’ or ‘clear all search history’.
    • Done! If you don’t want Google to keep track of watch you watch or search in the future, there is one more step to take!
    • Click on ‘stop watch history’ or ‘stop search history’.
    • Done for ever!
  3. How to get WhatsApp running on your laptop

    • Note: You can’t do this on Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge (at least at this time that I am writing this post) so use any other updated browsers you can find!
    • On your laptop go to http://web.whatsapp.com. You should be able to see a QR Code there.
    • Now open the app on your mobile device and do one of the following:
      • iOS: tap the Settings tab, then tap “WhatsApp Web”.
      • Android: tap the Menu button, then tap “WhatsApp Web”.
      • Windows Phone: tap the Menu button, then tap “WhatsApp Web”.
      • Blackberry 10: Swipe down from the top of the main screen and tap “WhatsApp Web”.
    • Your phone will open a screen with a camera window (so your phone must have a camera!)
    • Point your phone’s camera  to the QR Code on your laptop screen and centre the QR code.
    • Done! You’ll now see your contacts on your laptop.
    • Just under your profile photo you can see ‘get notified of new notifications’. Click on it and follow the instructions if you want to receive desktop notifications even when the tab is not the active one on your desktop.

Watch this space for the next posts if you found this one useful and comment on this post if you have any particular Learning Technologies/e-Learning issues or questions for the next-week post.

“synchronous e-moderation” | Reflection Notes- 2

Building on my first reflective note on ‘synchronous e-moderation’, I am going to share some tips to guarantee a better experience while doing an online session.

https://stocksnap.io/photo/U68NITW3EI
https://stocksnap.io/photo/U68NITW3EI

Top Tips in delivering online sessions:

  1. Use the right tool! Learn about internet connectivity where the participants are (if they are all in one country/region) and choose the most practical online tool.
  2. Plan your online lesson just as you would do for a F2F session. (Adapting F2F materials does not necessarily work!)
  3. Check your equipment before the session even if you had your last session the day before. Internet tools change and update regularly and one tool which worked fine yesterday might need a heavy update to work today!
  4. If your camera is off, your voice will represent who you are! Get a good USB head-set and test it before the session. Keep the mic. at a good distance from your mouth and mute it when you are not talking.
  5. Don’t be on time! Join the session before the scheduled start time to check if everything works fine on your side.
  6. If the group is large, ask someone to join as a moderator to follow the chat lines and collect questions or provide technical help in the chat box when necessary.
  7. Don’t take basic IT knowledge for granted. First time participants need a lot of support to take their part under control. If necessary, prepare worksheets and send them out before the session.
  8. Establish ground rules if you are planning to have several synchronous sessions with the same group of participants. Even some basic conventions can be very helpful, e.g.
    • Ask the participants to put * at the end of their final sentence when they have finished or put … at the end of a sentence they wish to continue.
    • Ask the participants to write the name of the person they are writing to (in the chat box) at the beginning of their sentences with an @ sign.
    • Ask them to use emoticons as they are usually much better and faster in transferring feelings than short sentences.
    • Ask the participants to use special characters for off-topic sentences. ( ), [ ], etc.
    • Ask them to use # hashtags for trendy topics if your platform provides some sort of tagging system for future reference.
  9. Start from known and move to the unknown in tech tools available in your chosen platform. Start with the most basic feature for the participants to find and try. This will boost their confidence.
  10. Relax! Things can easily go wrong online but there is always a logical reason behind them.
  11. Have back-up plans for ‘anticipated problems’ just like you would do for a F2F session.
  12. Pay attention to different learning styles. Participants have their own individual online learning styles (not necessarily any similar to their learning style in the classroom) and you need to have a variety of tasks and activities to keep everyone interested.
  13. Don’t write everything on your slides and you wouldn’t do so in a F2F presentation.
  14. Set a time limit for everything you or the participants do. Online sessions and discussions can go very fast as the environment is different so don’t forget to keep track of time.
  15. If you are recording the session, do let the participants know at the very beginning. You can do this with a single simple sentence like ‘This session is being recorded.’ or ‘The recording will now begin.’
  16. If possible, post a short summary of the ‘audio’ discussion in the ‘chat’ box for those who get disconnected and come back on board after a short while.
  17. Limit the software features for first-timers. In most online environments the participants have to read, follow and type at the same time. Managing all these can be demanding. You can ask participants to only focus on the slides or turn their videos/cameras off to keep them focused on one thing at a time until they learn the basics of online sessions.
  18. Engage your participants at least every 3 to 5 minutes if you don’t want them to start checking their Facebook pages during the session. Do your best to motivate everyone to participate, even with one single sentence.
  19. Use break-out rooms if your platform has them to encourage pair/group work. Remember to monitor and help the rooms.
  20. Remember to ask for feedback at the end of the session or soon after it.
  21. Reflect on your performance and continuously learn! 

Any ideas to add to the list?

Scheduling the session:

Scheduling an online session can be a disaster, especially when people live in different time zones and have several commitments! We can always be a bit autocratic and don’t think about anyone else but if you do really want to make everyone feel happy with the timing, take these steps:

  1. Create an online poll on a website like EasyPoll and propose some dates for the meeting.
  2. Once the date is determined, create an event on one of the following websites and ask the participants to choose the time which suits them best:
  3. Now that everything is determined, check the exact time and date again on www.timeanddate.com and with the ‘add more cities’ feature of the website add the time zones for all participants and click on ‘covert time’.

scheduling 1

scheduling 2

4.  Now click on the ‘copy & paste’ option.

Scheduling 3

5.  Copy and paste the box into an e-mail and send it to all the participants.

6.  Enjoy your perfect scheduling!

Top YouTube Videos:

  • Webinars: Technology Tips
  • Webinars: Engaging Your Audience
  • Tips for Online Trainers

I am currently (April 2015) doing a top-up online module on ‘synchronous e-moderating’ with the British Council and I am going to post my reflection notes here. This was the second one! Read the first post here.


Resources:

#IATEFL2015 | Saeede Haghi | Trinity College London Language Examinations Scholarship Winner

IATEFL is over but it has left a lot of food for thought and I don’t think we can stop talking about it at least until the next year Birmingham event!
In line with my IATEFL blogging this year, I decided to do a series of online interviews with those IATEFL presenters whose talks were not live-streamed but had important and interesting things to say to and share with the ELT community.
I was lucky to do my first interview with ‘Saeede Haghi’ who was the winner of the Trinity College London Language Examinations Scholarship this year. It hasn’t been a long time since I first got to know her on the British Council Aptis Examiners Network last year and I had no idea I would interview her in less than a year. Saeede, who is originally Iranian and was the first-rank holder of the Iranian national MA entrance exam among around 15000 candidates in 2009, is now doing her Ph.D. at the University of Warwick in the UK. She specialises in language testing and assessment.
Read her ideas below and check this space again for more interviews to come.

s200_saeede.haghiIATEFL- Saeede Haghi

Title:

The role of visual stimuli in listening tests for academic purposes

Main Point:

which one

In her research study, she tried to address the effect of three types of delivery modes (i.e. audio-only, audio-context visual and audio-content-visual) on test takers’ performance in a listening test for academic purposes and their note-taking practices, as well as their perceptions towards the inclusion of these visuals.

Summary:

  • The inclusion of visual stimuli did affect test performance with CONTEXT visuals significantly debilitating test takers performance while CONTENT visuals neither facilitating nor debilitating their performance.
  • The audio-context visual group perception towards CONTEXT visuals showed that half didn’t use them due to multi-tasking and distraction caused by these visuals.
  • The audio-only content visuals group’s perception towards CONTENT visuals was positive in general finding these visuals facilitative especially in terms of note taking.
  • Significant differences in note-taking practices were observed with CONTEXT visuals showing no effect while CONTENT visuals appeared to significantly facilitate the efficacy and organisation of the notes.
  • Most participants in the audio-content visual group perceived the use of CONTENT visuals facilitative for note-taking practices WHILE, only about ¼ of the participants in the audio-context visual group perceived context visuals as helpful for note-taking.
  • In general, positive attitudes towards the inclusion of visuals in EAP listening tests were observed, however, they mainly belonged to the audio-only and the audio-content visual groups.

Useful Links:

More about Saeede at the IATEFL:

  • On a personal note, what do you think you gained from your IATEFL 2015 presentation?

“I received very constrictive and encouraging feedback on my research. I also had the opportunity to become familiar with other aspects of ELT which I had never encountered in my career such as teaching English in circumstances that I have never experienced.”

  • What was your most unforgettable IATEFL moment in Manchester?

“When I received positive feedback on my presentation from experts in my research area!”

Need more? Contact Saeede: S.S.Haghi@warwick.ac.uk

Cambridge English Teacher Development Tracker

It is hard to be in the ELT industry and not be familiar with Cambridge English! Once called Cambridge ESOL, Cambridge English are famous for their CELTA, Delta and many other internationally recognised and globally respected ELT qualifications for teachers at different stages of their professional life. Cambridge English Teacher website has been offering membership schemes, courses, webinars, articles and many more to those interested in professional development for some years and they have recently introduced the Cambridge English Teaching Framework.

What is it?

It is a development framework which divides teaching competency into 5 categories, across 4 stages of development.

The Categories are:

  1. Learning and the learner
  2. Teaching, learning and assessment
  3. Language ability
  4. Language knowledge and awareness
  5. Professional development and values

And the four development stages are:

  1. Foundation
  2. Developing
  3. Proficient
  4. Expert

framework

What does it do?

It helps teachers think about where they are now and where they would like to go next.

Who is it for?

It has been designed, on a global perspective, for almost anyone who is in the academic side of the industry; from teachers to teacher trainers, directors of studies and academic managers.

How does it work?

There are five challenges you can sign up and work on. It is completely free and each challenge only needs 1 or 2 hours per week for you to work on. Once you sign up for one of the following challenges, the system sends you an e-mail and your professional development starts:

  • create a professional development plan that works for you
  • find new ways to motivate your learners
  • find new ways to identify and correct your learners’ mistakes
  • be more confident using digital resources
  • grow your confidence using English in class

E-mails might contain articles to read, videos to watch, new ideas to try in your classroom and tasks to complete and reflect on.

After you complete each challenge, you will be given a Record of Achievement that you can add to your portfolio. Cambridge ESOL previously had teacher portfolios but they stopped them a couple of years ago and now with the new system, it is easy to set up your professional portfolio again, link it to your Cambridge English Teachers membership, track other teachers or even ask someone to review your development. It seems that Cambridge English have decided to develop something which can perform as the teachers’ digital portfolio at work as well.

Where can I start?

Check the Development Tracker website and set up your account in the easiest way, as it only needs an e-mail address, your name, your school’s name and your location!

tracker

After creating your account you can answer the questions in the assessment categories to determine where you are now:

assessment

Once you answer the questions, you can click on print to have a hard copy of your self-assessed profile according to the Cambridge English Teaching Framework. Then you can compare your profile with the teacher development map to see which Cambridge Teaching Qualification suits you best:

map

And finally, this is where you can sign up for the 5 challenges to receive e-mails to help you move forward:

5 Teaching Challenges

Are there similar frameworks from other ELT organisations?

British Council has had their own CPD framework for teacher for some years but they are renovating the whole system and the new one is not yet available on their website but Paul Braddock, British Council TeachingEnglish Web Manager, in an interview at the IATEFL 2015 mentioned that the new CPD framework will consist of 12 development blocks which can be completed by teachers in any order. It seems that the British Council has developed a non-linear professional development programme for English teachers to help them focus on what they primarily believe they need more help with.

BC CPD

Click on the link below to watch a video on the British Council CPD Framework:

journey of an English Language Teacher

Bottom line

No one can deny the importance of reflective practice in the teaching profession and all these websites and programmes are meant to help teachers find where they are, where they want to get to, and how they can personally sign-post the route and reach their goals. These teaching frameworks always remind of this famous quotation:

By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. (Confucius)


Further resources:

“synchronous e-moderation” | Reflection Notes- 1

What is it?

It is hard to be involved in modern online teaching/training of any sort and not have heard about ‘synchronous‘ and ‘asynchronous‘ training sessions. Synchronous online sessions are those that the learners and the trainer have to be online at the same time while asynchronous online sessions use other platforms which don’t require real-time learner-trainer interaction.

Asynchronous learning which was once just called distance learning and only meant lessons sent to the learner using postal services at the end of the 19th century is now one of the most popular learning modes in the 21st century with hundreds of tools to bring people to the educational fold.

http://www.elearners.com/online-education-resources/degrees-and-programs/synchronous-vs-asynchronous-classes/
http://www.elearners.com/online-education-resources/degrees-and-programs/synchronous-vs-asynchronous-classes

What is the importance?

Asynchronous online learning is gaining more popularity because people usually find it a better and more efficient way of learning in our modern busy life. It is really hard to physically attend a course and take some development steps which might take several months when you have a lot of other never-ending personal and professional commitments.

However, to make this online distance learning experience feel more natural and make some physical and emotional relationship among the participants, the idea of mixing asynchronous online sessions with some synchronous ones sounds practical and even necessary in some cases.

Stefan Hrastinski in Educause Quarterly (number 4, 2008) discusses the importance of these two different learning modes and the fact that each supports different purposes. The following two tables are from his study:

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 09.09.41

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 09.09.58

In a forum discussion with some other colleagues while we were doing an e-moderation course with the British Council in August 2014, we came to the following conclusions:

Summary written by 'Mark Uribe'
Summary written by ‘Mark Uribe’
Summary written by 'Mark Uribe'
Summary written by ‘Mark Uribe’

What are the available tools?

Synchronous online sessions at different stages of a course can be done for various reasons using various tools. These tools can be as basic as instant messaging services and real-time fast e-mails and can get as complicated as Second Life interactive sessions depending on the technical feasibilities. Out of the very long list of all these tools and services, video and web conferencing seem to be the most practical ones that all online educators are interested in.

Video conferencing is simply a video session in which all participants can see each other and has almost all features of an in-person session except that of ‘direct physical cues’, while web conferencing usually refers to more interactive sessions and platforms where the participant can take part in polls, chats and break-out sessions. They can also share files, screens and presentations and even an interactive Q&A session can be added to the end.

Video conferencing tools are easy to use. They are the ones we use everyday to talk to our family and friends on the other side of the planet! I am taking about apps like Skype, Apple’s Facetime, Oovoo, etc.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 11.52.17

The tools to conduct web conferencing sessions are numerous but the following list shows the ones I have worked with. They have provided me with the best options and features I needed for an online synchronous meeting:

Adobe Connect

  • Adobe Connect: The most popular and comprehensive platform but hard to work with in slow internet areas. It also has a smartphone app. which makes it much easier to attend online sessions on a tablet or a mobile phone but some functions won’t be easy to work with while on the go!

Blackboard

  • Blackboard: Formerly known as Elluminate Live provides similar services and is as pricey as Adobe Connect. Cambridge English Teachers use this platform for their webinars. Blackboard, too, has a smart-device app.

WebEx

  • WebEx: A professional Cisco product with all the features the above two have.

Saba

  • Saba: This seems to be the most well-known platform after Adobe Connect. Pearson Education use this platform for their webinars. I haven’t noticed any differences between this and adobe connect except that it might be able to work better in some countries with Bandwidth problems and it is a bit less expensive than the previous choices.

OnSync

  • SambaOnsync is the name of their product. Less expensive than Adobe Connect and the Whiteboard section has a lot more features than Adobe Connect. It supports more file types and the video quality is a lot better.

CUmeeting

  • CUmeeting: This is easier to use as it uses a very basic platform but you still get the same sort of similar services and is even less expensive than the above options!

BBB

  • BBB: This is a free service! It can be a good alternative to Adobe Connect but you should consider a couple of issues:
    • Their platform is flash-based and unlike the other alternatives mentioned earlier, Big Blue Button doesn’t have a mobile application so participants have to use their computers.
    • The service has to be set up on your own server (the main reason it is free because you will have to pay for a server if you haven’t got one already.)
    • They don’t provide a ‘recording’ option so you can’t watch the webinar again later. However, there are several solutions for this specific issue and the most popular one is Camtasia.

On24

  • On24: It has a free section which can be easily used if you are not worried about certain features. It doesn’t have a smart-device app but works well on tablets. Some features like polls and questionnaires might not work properly on mobile devices.

But if you are looking for something we are all familiar with, Google has one of the best choices:

Hangout

I have discussed the benefits of Google Hang-outs in a separate blog post where a PDF tutorial and some screenshots can be found on conducting live Hangout sessions where the world can see you on Youtube. Probably the interactive Q&A feature of Google Hangout is the one a lot of online educators are interested in:

Google Hang-outs for Synchronous Online Sessions

Check the tutorial PDF on Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/neghavati/google-hangout-on-air-the-howto-guide
Check the tutorial PDF on Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/neghavati/google-hangout-on-air-the-howto-guide

Any innovative new platforms?

There are new platforms which might make these online meetings simpler for smaller groups. I will be updating this list as I learn more about these new platforms:

As the image says, it is free for up to 8 people and no one needs to log in! You simply create the room and share the link with those you want to talk to! If you really need to have that room and use it in the future, you can register it on the system. It has an iOS app and works fine on Chrome, Opera and Firefox.

PearDeck

This is not an online meeting platform but it is only a shared whiteboard on which you and the participants can write. You can set questions and see the learners develop their answers. Many of the applications mentioned in this post have whiteboard features which can help participants to collaborate in the meeting. But such functions do not always work well if you don’t have a stable internet connection. Pear Deck can be a helpful tool to use instead.

Top 5 Tools for Web Seminars6


I am currently (April 2015) doing a top-up online module on ‘synchronous e-moderating’ with the British Council and I am going to post my reflection notes here. This was the first one! Check this space for more soon! 


Resources: