Everything is great here, a bit hectic with the finals at the college and all the work and documentation we have to finish before graduation next week.
About my class at Post University, everything is going great and I’m starting to get very excited about my project. I am a bit frustrated with the software we have been using to launch our project because it is not very user friendly. I expected it to be easier to work with like PowerPoint or even Google slides in which once you publish your work, all the editing is updated as you go. It’s not like that with this software. I have to republish it weekly so the updates take place. I can’t even narrate my slides using the software. I have to record and save it first in MP3 and then upload it. In spite of all that, it has been a great experience, I’ve learned a lot, especially what I think it’s called “coding”. The end result is nice and I’m happy. I’m sure professionals would think it looks pretty primitive, but it’s just my first time.
Something exciting I learned two weeks ago was gaming. At first, video games came to my mind and I started to think how much I did not understand anything about video games and had no patience at all for them. Then, the more I read, researched and learned from my classmates posts and examples, I realized that I do use games in the classroom when I take my students to the lab. There are lots of simple games available for ESL (English as a Second Language) to help them improve their typing, listening, reading and speaking skills. There is also a variety of games to help them internalize vocabulary. You should check this Games to Learning English website. My students really enjoyed playing those games.
Maybe of of the reasons I don't much what is in the market is because adults, but I’m sure secondary and high school teachers use them a lot. I found this game called Crunchy Time that although it is for kids to tech them about science and the environment, I would use it with my intermediate and advanced level students to practice vocabulary and empower them to talk about everyday topics. Click on the picture to go to the link.
One of my classmates wrote a lot about “simulation” and how it can be used in different contexts and situations, especially when users need to master a skill like CPR, piloting a plane, etc. I really like that idea and it opened my eyes to how the word game carries a negative meaning if we don’t actually don’t learn how it can be used. I’ll teach this summer and I’ll definitely do some research on how I can incorporate games and simulation activities in my classes. I’ve noticed instructors who teach basic and beginners here at the college use a site named Learning Chocolate that seems to be very effective not only to help students learn and practice new vocabulary but also to improve pronunciation. It is very simple and, in my opinion, a thin line between game and just practice. Many of the exercises are timed, so I consider it a game. I love to compete with myself and check how faster I can perform a task, so these kinds of games engage me.
I'll leave you with this interesting TED Talk on Gamification that might change your way of thinking about how gamification can help students. Although is too long an a bit off the topic in my area, the first 10 minutes are very informative.
I hope you are enJOYing the beauty and colors of Spring. I’m about to die in the midst of pollen and allergies, but I’m a happy camper!
Well, this week, I’ll talk to you about “Connect” type activities and assessment when planning your e-learning environment or course. Horton (2012) makes an analogy that makes perfect sense to me. He says that "Absorb type activities are nouns, Do type activities are the verb and the Connect type activities are conjunctions" that link phrases or clauses and make the sentences and ideas flow more naturally. The connect activities should prepare learners to deal with the situations they have just learned in their real lives back at work or school.
I have to confess that I had no idea what E-Learning Design actually meant, but it is fascinating to know all the work and thought designers go through behind the scenes. Next time you take a standalone course, have in mind that although it may look simple, there was a lot of work and planning involved in it.
Tests: To give or not to give....
Assessment, without a doubt, is crucial in our learning process. Unfortunately, we all seem traumatized by summative tests that most of the time don’t really reflect our learning and knowledge acquired and skills. However, formative tests are very effective, and they can be given in formats that learners not even realize they are being assessed.
I’d like to present you with a video that really reflects what goes into students minds when it comes to testing, and I think it gets worse in some continents such as the Asian that a number of teenagers have committed suicide over bad test results along the years.
The very word “test” is scary, but let’s start by defining this word. According to Horton (2012), “test is any kind of activity that indicates how the learners met their learning objectives”. He adds to that definition saying that “any activity that provides feedback on performance of an object can serve as a test”.
It is very important to have in mind when tests are necessary. Do your learners need that specific skills? Are you unsure about how much your learners already know about a specific subject? Is a test the best way to provide assessment? If you answered yes for one or all of these questions, so a “formal” test or assessment is necessary. If the answers for these questions is “no”, so you can be as creative as you feel like to assess learning acquisition such as surveys, ungraded or practice quizzes.
I liked the idea of “test and then tell” in the article The Power of “Test Then Tell” in e-Learning Design by Edwards (2016). In fact, I use this practice quite frequently to assess how much my students already know before I start teaching them. It not only saves me time and gives me perspective on which direction my classes should go but also shows my students that I value and respect their previous knowledge. In the e-learning course I’m developing on Refugees, Trauma and Its Effect on Their Ability To Learn, I start my first module with mini quizzes and drag and drop activities that will show my learners how much they already know. I even think I should give them the option to read about what they already know or skip the information and advance in the course. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
I'd like to finish my post today with the video below, because it gives us great suggestions on how to create the best creative and engaging e-learning courses. I’m very far from being at that level of creation, but I hope to get there some day.
I hope you enJOY it!
Horton, W. (2012). E-Learning by Design. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.postu.idm.oclc.org/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook?sid=be273e1c-11b2-4b7e-b610-3c467437fc52%40pdc-v-sessmgr06&ppid=pp_67&vid=0&format=EB
Eduards, E. (2016). The power of “test then tell” in e-learning design. Allen Interactions. Retrieved from http://info.alleninteractions.com/the-power-of-test-then-tell-in-e-learning-design
Hi. I'm Raquel Poteet, an ESL and Spanish teacher. My calling is definitely teaching. That's why I decided to further my education. I'm enrolled in my TESOL M. Ed. program at Post University and loving it!