Tag Archives: edtech

Registering

9990024683_955f8f043b_h

Image courtesy of r2hox

I am not a conspiracy theorist. I do not think there is some global coverup or that the sky is falling and no one knows it, but there is one area in which I do think we need to be more careful; that is the area of personal data. This is a contentious issue and one that needs to be addressed in the classroom. Before I begin giving my reasons why, let me set the scene first.

I am an avid user of cloud-based services. I have used so many different platforms and tools that store my data on online servers that I can’t even keep track of them all. Even this post was written using OneNote and synced with my other devices using OneDrive and then was uploaded to WordPress.com and shared via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. If you search for me online, you will certainly find me in all sorts of places. You could probably get a good deal of information about me without even trying very hard.

Some may find that scary, but I have weighed the benefits and the potential losses and have decided for myself that this is the price I am willing to pay for the use of these services. I have been using online tools even before the advent of the internet as we know it now. I used to be a part of a BBS (bulletin board system) using my dial-up service on my 2400 baud modem. Even then, I was aware that some of my personal data was being shared with complete strangers and that was okay with me.

If that is the case, why am I such a staunch advocate for registration-free online tools? That’s simple; it’s not my data that is being shared. Continue reading Registering

Advertisements

Banning

2918388644_ac651bd30c_b

Image courtesy of David Romani

For my last two years of high school, I attended a boarding school in central Canada, about 7 hours drive from my parents. This school had some pretty strict rules, especially when it came to the dormitory. We weren’t allowed to have any televisions in our rooms; we had to be in the dorm on weekday evenings by 8pm and in our room with lights out by 10pm. We could only come out to use the washroom, otherwise we were in there until 6 at the earliest the next morning.

For the most part, we followed the rules, but there were times we needed to get some homework done or we just wanted to let loose for a while. That would be when we would pull out the black garbage bags for the windows or we would sneak out the windows dressed from head to toe in black and then drive out of the parking lot with the headlights off until we got to the highway. It was all pretty benign stuff: going to movies (which was also against the rules), heading out for a late-night pizza, or just a drive in the city. We never broke any laws and, at least to me, we kept it clean and fun.

I understand the reason why the school had those rules, even if I still disagree them, but the problem was in how they were implemented. They were responsible for our well being as minors and this was a way they could make sure they kept us out of trouble with a limited staff. They didn’t want us watching shows or movies that the parents wouldn’t approve of, so they cut out the option of watching any at all. They wanted to make sure we would do our homework, so they made us stay in our rooms from 8-9:30 each night. There were reasons for their rules, but the rules themselves didn’t actually work that well.

Instead of keeping us from those distractions, we became fixated on them, or more accurately, how to get around them. When they figured out how we were circumventing the rules, they made new ones, which led us to find new, more inventive ways to break them. We didn’t want to follow them, because we weren’t part of the solution; we had no reason to follow them other than “we were told to.”

I just finished reading an article about banning laptops in the university classroom. I’m still shaking my head. I can’t stop shaking my head. The logic is baffling. Here is how I understand her reasoning: Continue reading Banning

Spinning

woodcut_woman_spinning

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

I’m sitting here staring at my screen, a blank screen, hoping that inspiration will come. It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say, I have lots of things floating around in my head, it is that I am literally at a loss for words. Somehow, my creative juices have dried up. I want to write, but I am stuck. I have topics, ideas, thoughts, but no words. They are all jumbled up in my head and refuse to come out. I’m not sure why, but I felt I just needed to start writing, even if it doesn’t make sense. If you are reading this now, somehow I have managed to transform myself into Rumpelstiltskin and have spun gold out of the hayloft in my head.

Thankfully, this hasn’t been the case in my classroom as I transition once again into a different course with new objectives. Continue reading Spinning

Falling

migracija

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

Ozymandias – Percy Bysshe Shelley

Here I was staring at Room 209 once again, wishing for something, anything, to happen. I can’t imagine the hours, perhaps days, my wife and I had sat on this narrow wooden bench in the second-floor hallway of the Klaipeda Migration Office, hoping that our application for our one-year visa was going to be approved. We had been told that our forms were incorrect despite the fact we had received it from this very office. We had been told of ‘new’ fees that needed to be paid immediately, only to be told the next day that we no longer need to pay this fee, so we could fill out a new form and bring it to Vilnius, a five-hour drive from Klaipeda, to get our money back, even though it would cost twice that to get there and back. Begrudgingly, we sign the money over to some mysterious recipient, likely in that office. Slowly, but surely, we had ‘played the game’ enough without giving into what we felt was unethical behaviour to the point where we were now the ones who had their names called out of the vast crowd, even though others had been waiting there much longer than us. We had finally ‘made it’! Continue reading Falling

Designing

planer

Image courtesy of Steve Snodgrass

In 2010, the BBC produced a documentary series called The Genius of Design. I was taken with how design has changed over the last century and the influence it has had on so many areas of our lives. The other day, I heard a technology focused radio program which had an unusual guest considering his speciality. He is a woodworker who designs and crafts incredibly beautiful bespoke wood planers. He was in town to speak at a technology conference on the design process and how this can influence both form and function, no matter what the end product. While his target audience in this case was software and web designers, his message sparked some ideas for me in the area of curriculum and course design.

When I arrived at home, I did a little digging online and I stumbled on this ‘design manifesto’ by Stephen Hay. Stephen takes readers through the process of how to be more consistent and creative with their design work. Obviously, this is written for a different audience, that of web designers, but after reading this short document, I was intrigued at how much this parallels the design process in creating courses and programs for education. Stephen sets out five steps in the ‘design funnel’: Continue reading Designing

Archiving

archive

Image courtesy of DRs Kulturarvsprojekt

Over the past few years now, I have been working on and refining my use of e-portfolios in my classroom. For those unfamiliar or only knowing a bit about what they are, e-portfolios are essentially an electronic archive of things the student does in the course of their learning. It can be made up of projects from inside or outside of the classroom and is primarily divided into two parts: the sandbox and the showcase. Continue reading Archiving

Negotiating

markers

Image courtesy of Steven Lilley

Note: This post is a copy of my submission for one of the IATEFL scholarships. Since I didn’t get the scholarship, I thought I would share it with you all. I hope you get something out of it.

From overhead projectors to interactive whiteboards, vinyl records to MP3s, the application of technology to the language classroom has been going on for decades, but not always smoothly. Most difficulties that emerge are due to a failure of both the learner and the teacher to anticipate how these changes may affect other areas as well. Take the use of mobile devices in the classroom as an example. There is a stark division between those who endorse the use of personal phones, tablets, and laptops in the classroom, and those who forbid them. Advocates point to a high level of student engagement along with the ability for students to access material beyond the classroom. This encourages students to take ownership of their learning in ways that the traditional classroom often cannot. Detractors highlight the ways devices distract from and often disrupt the learning process, with students accessing social networks, texting with friends, playing games, and ignoring others. But are these simply surface problems that mask a deeper issue? Continue reading Negotiating

Standardizing

Image

Image courtesy of C. G. P. Grey

The other day, I came across an interesting article from Andrew Littlejohn called Language Teaching Materials and the (Very) Big Picture (2012). I have had the opportunity to read through some other articles by Littlejohn in the past and I was intrigued by what he had to say about material development since that is something I am working on presently.

Evaluating

5355938993_2deb6efb3b_z

Image courtesy of Anne Hornyak

I swore I was never going to be a teacher. Really. I am not really sure why I was so adamant about it. My parents were both teachers and were quite passionate about their craft. I had them both as teachers at some point in my life and I actually thought they were two of the best teachers I had ever had. Well, thankfully, I had a moment of clarity in my second year of college as I was ‘persuaded’ (i.e. was forced) to take a TESL class of even though I had NO idea of what that entailed or meant. My intention was to drop the class about two weeks in and take something that was of more interest to me. Only thing is, that was the class that was of interest to me. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to be an English language instructor. It wasn’t for the pay (I never even asked how much they get paid. Silly me) because I didn’t care. This was where I was supposed to be.

Fast forward a number of years and here I am still working in the language classroom, but now I am also training those who, like me, see themselves working as English language teachers. There are a number of people who have had an influence on my teaching; some famous, others probably never will be. One writer who has had a good deal of influence, especially lately, has been Earl Stevick. For many ELT professionals, Dr. Stevick is known for his passion on viewing language instruction as a “total human experience”. His book Memory, Meaning, and Method was fundamental in helping understand the role that memory plays in language acquisition. Dr. Stevick has spent most of his life helping people make the connection between language instruction and language learning.

For myself, I have been spending a good deal of time lately re-examing his writings through the lens of a teacher who is passionate about the role that technology can play in helping students take ownership of their learning. I have always enjoyed technology, especially the use of computers, and I see the value in their use in the language classroom. For me, I have spent most of my time attempting to apply technology to good pedagogy. I started to see technology as playing the same role as the materials in the classroom where the goals and objectives are met through their usage.

Continue reading Evaluating