edtech

Course review: Evaluating Digital Materials (iTDi)

I recently took the iTDi course on Evaluating Digital Materials, delivered by Pete Sharma.

If you can’t be bothered with the whole review – here’s a summary in, er… wait… 17 words:

Excellent input, great delivery, very active forum, useful take-home resources, real value for money, well worth it!

Overview

The course lasts four weeks. Each week there is a weekend webinar with Pete, and then various follow-up activities such as reading and exploratory tasks related to digital tools. Most tasks involve sharing reflections in the course forum which, I have to say, was really active and thoughts were interesting to read.

In Week 1, Pete orientated us to the topic of Computer Assisted Language Learning with an informative webinar and follow-up resources. The main task after input was for us to choose the tool we were interested in evaluating. With so many participants on the course it meant that the tools selected were extremely varied, and some very topical for my context (such as Kahoot). I chose to evaluate Genially after coming across this on Owain Llewelyn’s blog (ELT Sustainable). (more…)

Review: NILE Technology-assisted Language Learning course

I took the MA module in Technology-assisted Language Learning through NILE back in 2017. Here are some thoughts on the course (views my own).

Overview

The course “covers the uses of technology in language education and includes theoretical perspectives, practical applications and opportunities for hands-on practical experience.”

Module content included the following…

  • The role of edtech in ELT
  • Evaluating edtech in your own institution
  • Working with the web: search literacy, tagging literacy, etc
  • Working with media – images, audio, video, remixing
  • Mobile learning- what is it and how can we use it? QR codes, virtual reality, augmented reality, e-readers, SMS, etc
  • Syllabus design; implementing tech
  • Teacher development online: PLNs etc

(more…)

Article for Modern English Teacher: using Quizlet in teen classes

Here’s my article for the latest Modern English Teacher, April 2018. I did a bit of action research on using Quizlet in class, which I mentioned before in this post. Sorry about the graphs, Scribd makes them look a bit funny. The research was part of a Masters module in tech-assisted language learning through NILE ELT.

This article is copyright Pavilion Publishing.

You can find some tips for writing for ELT magazines in my post here.

Integrating technology in the EFL classroom

A few weeks ago I blogged about my recent experience of using edtech in class. Claudia Andrade shared an interesting response to the post:

This got me thinking about my practice and my reliance on certain forms of evaluation. Looking back at most of my reflections on this blog, it’s clear that I judge the success of new approaches or activities on two things – either self-reflection or student feedback. At best I use both.

I’ve done enough training courses that have drummed that ‘plan-do-review’ cycle into me…

A nice diagram from Youth Work Essentials

Plus, as I’ve become a more experienced practitioner I’ve improved my ability to reflect critically and (somewhat) objectively on my approach and how it works for my students. I’ve involved students far more in this reflection/evaluation process as time has gone on. Looking back, it makes me cringe a bit when I realise how little I appreciated student feedback in my early teaching days…

However, I can see there are weakness in the way I evaluate the impact of an approach or a particular resource. I don’t think I use enough tools to help guide my reflections – I could make far more use of pedagogical frameworks as a guide when evaluating my practice.

This is particularly true of my approach to edtech at times. Although I’m looking for ways to integrate technology, more often than not it seems that I trial a piece of edtech in an unprincipled or isolated way. This normally results in me using a tech tool merely as an alternative to my established approach rather than as an enhancement. (more…)

Edtech exploration

I’ve come across loads of edtech sites/tools recently. I’ll forget them all if I don’t start writing them down. Here’s a random mix of stuff I’ve come across or have been using.

Things I tried in class last term…

Quizlet

I had to do a fairly long piece of action research into edtech for my MA. I chose to focus on Quizlet, you can read about my initial thoughts here. Overall, despite plenty of encouragement, I found that Quizlet lacked longevity. The wow factor died down after a while and the students rarely used the app for self-study towards the end of term. Verdict: Meh… (more…)

Global Digital Citizen Foundation

I came across this great site after they linked to an old blog post of mine. What a stroke of luck!

According to the site, Global Digital Citizen Foundation is a ‘non-profit organisation dedicated to cultivating responsible, ethical, global citizens for a digital world’. They work with educators around the world to help develop modern learning environments, with a focus on helping learners develop autonomy and skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking. You can read more here.

The site had loads of really good downloadable resources, most of which are free (you do need to log in though). I’ve downloaded a critical thinking workbook and ideas for project-based learning, both of which are really useful. Selected resources available include ‘Medial Tools for Teachers’ (full of tips for great free media sites), classroom motivational posters, guides to using social media in class and much more. They also have a blog and post frequently.

According to the ‘Who we are’ section of the site, one of the driving forces behind the project is Andrew Churches. He has a blog that is also worth looking at – especially for the useful downloads related to Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.

Let me know what you think of the sites!

Images copyright Global Digital Citizen Foundation

App review: ELSA Speak

Let it gooooo, let it gooooo!

Now that’s out of my system, here’s a review of ELSA Speak. It’s an app that teaches you to ‘pronounce English like an American through real-world conversations’. It’s a great use of AI in language learning – it really is amazing what some of these apps can do now!

With ELSA Speak you can work through a wide range of activities which mainly focus on the individual sounds of English. Most activities involve recording yourself saying a word or phrase. The phrases are topic related (introductions, family, business, food and drink, etc) so not only can you improve your pronunciation, you can also learn phrases that are relevant to your own context.

You can choose the skill (sounds) you’re interested in. A bulk of the activities involve recording phrases like the one above. (more…)