Tag Archives: ELT conferences

#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:

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