EAP Reading/Writing Lesson Plan

This lesson plan was first published in November’s ELTA Serbia newsletter https://elta.org.rs/2020/11/04/elta-serbia-newsletter-november-2020/

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Online International Conference on Visual Literacies and Visual Technologies for Teaching, Learning and Inclusion

Online International Conference on Visual Literacies and Visual Technologies for Teaching, Learning and Inclusion, 29th October 2020

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INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON VISUAL LITERACY AND DIGITAL COMMUNICATION: THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN NEW EDUCATIONAL PRACTICE

International Conference on Visual Literacy and Communication (VILDIC’20)

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Utopia Revisited. Literature, Philosophy and Politics in the Art of the Russian Avant-Garde

Last January I was invited by Angeliki Charistou to participate in the curatorial team of the upcoming show ‘Utopia Revisited. Literature, Philosophy and Politics in the Art of the Russian Avant-Garde’ (at MOMus-Museum of Modern Art-Kostakis Collection at Lazariston Monastery in Thessaloniki) translating several theoretical, scientific, political as well as literary texts (poetry included) related to the Russian Avant-Garde, from Engish into Greek. I jumped on the opportunity immediately.

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Anna Sfard’s metaphors of ‘acquisition’ and ‘participation’ in technology-enhanced learning

This article was first published in The BELTA Bulletin, Issue 4, Spring 2015 and I have permission to reprint here.

By Vasiliki Papageorgiou

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An interview with Chryssa Themelis about technology-enhanced learning and more.

My new interview, this time with Chryssa Themelis, an educational researcher, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for many years. This was for the special edition of ELTA Newsletter and it appeared first here

A day in the life of…..

Chryssa Themelis

by Vicky Papageorgiou, Metropolitan College, Athens, Greece

Chryssa ThemelisChryssa is an educational researcher focusing on research that changes practice and thinking, teaching that transforms people’s lives and engages actively with students, businesses and communities. She has a 20-year experience of teaching face to face classes, blended learning courses and vocational workshops in e-research and technology-enhanced learning. As research assessor, she evaluates UKERI proposals for the British council and European Union proposals for H2020 FET Innovation Launchpad Calls.

Vicky : First of all, thank you for accepting the invitation for this interview. We are thrilled to have you here!

Chryssa : It is my pleasure. 

Vicky : You are an expert in technology-enhanced learning. And currently a staff member of the University of Lancaster. Can you share a little of your personal/professional story so far? 

Chryssa : Before coming to Lancaster, I spent years working for EU funded projects and teaching at Hellenic American University and English language centers. I still run a foreign language center (EXThemeli.OE) in Athens as well. I coordinated the VocTEL conference aiming to promote TEL in Europe in 2015. I hold a BA in Economics from Deree College, an MSc in Networked Learning, and a Ph.D. in the field of “E-research and Technology Enhanced Learning” from Lancaster University (department of educational research). I review UKERI proposals for the British council and European Union proposals for H2020 FET Innovation Launchpad Calls. I blog regularly at  AACE review (Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education) and review papers at IRRODL, open praxis, education sciences, educational researcher, Ed-media conferences.

Vicky : Could you tell us about the various projects you have managed or you are currently managing, like the VocTel conference, ViLi project, etc.?

Chryssa : European funding  was the only opportunity I had to work more on educational research and create a vision of a more inclusive education. Therefore, I have initiated several Erasmus + projects in the field of innovation in higher education, working closely with Prof. Julie-Ann Sime. 

Currently, I have been working on Digital Wellbeing Educators that has a clear objective: increase the capacity of lecturers and teachers to integrate digital education in a way that promotes the digital wellbeing of students. Through building teacher capacity, the project will improve students’ abilities to manage their online time, make the most of digital learning, critically assess the media they consume and create, and become responsible, confident digital citizens. You can download our Digital Wellbeing Compendium which highlights 14 innovative examples and our analysis of the risks, challenges, opportunities and future directions: https://www.digital-wellbeing.eu/learning-portal/compendium-of-best-practice/.

My favorite project though is the CiELL project. The CiELL is a KA2 project, innovation in higher education. It focuses on inclusiveness in English language learning. An app is designed to offer informal, flexible, and alternative ways of English language writing using comics as a mnemonic device.  The comic, mnemonic devices or the so-called stories have the potential to assist students to remember writing structures of essays, articles, and reviews with close reference to Cambridge English examinations (IELTS & PCE). Comics could be a very effective pedagogical tool to teach children and adults any subject in any level of education (Bessette, 2020)

The stories address the 17 UN sustainable goals that set targets and indicators to make the world a better place for all, by 2030. Issues such as poverty, homelessness, well-being, and climate change are turned into graphic narratives to inform students of the UN initiatives, picture the global challenges and raise awareness of social justice.  

This first version of app will be ready to download on the 11th of May 2020.The innovative and experiential approach of the pilot design needs to be further investigated to better accommodate English language learners and storytellers of the world. More information about the project and the app is available on the CiELL project website: https://ciell.eu/ and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CIELL-386234128802711/.

All resources created by EU funding agencies are open access; so educators can learn about new pedagogies, approaches and tools at their own pace. For example, another research, the vili-project, could inform educators about visual literacies and  the MOOC will be open for all for the next 5 years (https://mooc.viliproject.eu/ )

Vicky : Can immersive technologies guarantee more active engagement in e-learning environments?

Chryssa : Immersiveness (bringing learning to life) is regarded as today’s and future’s essential knowledge and skills.  It is widely used in medical fields, science labs, manufacturing, law courses (mock trials) and even language learning. Indeed, by 2021, 60% of U.S.-based higher education institutions will use immersive technologies to create an enhanced simulation and learning environment (Gartner,2017). The market for educational VR was worth $269 million in 2017, and is forecast to reach $1.7 billion by 2021, a 55% compound annual growth rate. North America is expected to be the fastest growing market due to heavier investment and a swifter rate of technology adoption, according to VR Education Holdings (Chawla,2018)

Given this backdrop, education providers should begin now to create strategies for immersive learning experiences. The world of immersive technologies is still unexplored territory for educators and their students especially in EU Universities, despite their immense potential.

Vicky : As technology becomes more and more integral to everything we do, it can sometimes distract us from the things that matter most to us. Isn’t it true though that technology should improve life, not distract us from it? Are we in control of technology or is technology in control of us? What are the tools we need to develop a good sense of digital wellbeing?

Chryssa :  Good point.   Educating people about the side-effects of technologies in all levels of education starting from kindergarten is crucial. Raising awareness about digital wellbeing is very important for all of us and especially for the so-called ‘generation z’, that is, ‘digital natives’.

Smart devices have undeniable benefits for productivity, social connections, entertainment and technology-enhanced learning.  The concept of digital wellbeing (mental and physical health-related to the use of digital tools) assumes that private and professional life is saturated by technologies that do not always serve their purpose but may, at times, function as an obstacle, distracting students and educators from their daily tasks, damaging interpersonal relations and encouraging undemocratic values.

New words have been born, for example cyberloafing (Selwyn, 2008), which describes the practice of pretending to work on a screen but surfing the internet instead. Julie Aranda, a researcher from Google, stated:  ‘’Across the board, mobile devices loaded with social media, email and news apps, were creating a constant sense of obligation, generating unintended personal stress’’. It is part of the so-called smartphone addiction, or Nomophobia (No mobile phobia), that embraces many adverse psychological effects such as stress, depression and anxiety (Gökçearslan, Uluyol, & Şahin, 2018). Relationships with colleagues and students, or personal relations, may become less meaningful due to lack of face-to-face communication and dialogue even though sharing (photos, tweets and documents) is a prominent cultural norm. Educators have become more and more aware of the collateral repercussions of digital overload and uncontrollable use of digital media.

Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report (2018, p.8) found out that:In 2017, 88% of adults aged 16 and over go online, unchanged since 2016 (86%) and 2015 (87%). Facebook is still the most common site on which to have a profile, with 91% of social media/ messaging site users having a profile/ account.  Adults are more likely than in 2016 to use a smartphone to go online (70% vs. 66% in 2016). This has been driven by those aged 35-44 (90% vs 82%) and 45-54 (83% vs.73%), those in the AB socio-economic group (77% vs. 70%) and women (72% vs. 66%).The 12th Annual Digital Learning Tools survey (2018) categorized the most used tools in 2018 as YouTube, Google, PowerPoint, Word, LinkedIn and Twitter among others.

On the other side of the argument, professor Benjamin Curtis from Nottingham Trent University, UK, among others, regards technologies such as Google as an extension of the mind. ‘’This is not science fiction, but an implication of what’s known as the extended mind thesis, a widely accepted view in philosophy, psychology and neuroscience’’ (Curtis, 2018, para. 1). Since 1998, Andy Clark and David Chalmers, philosophers and cognitive scientists, claimed that: ‘’when we integrate things from the external environment into our thinking processes, those external things play the same cognitive role as our brains do. As a result, they are just as much a part of our minds as neurons and synapses’’ (Curtis 2018, para. 5). In the same frame of mind, Ludwig (2015) states that tools such as Google and Wikipedia are forms of extended cognitive processes and lead to an explosion of knowledge.

The Economist’s front page of the 4th January 2018 claims that the next frontier is “Using thought to control machines: Brain-computer interfaces may change what it means to be human”. Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are helping people to make use of their artificial hands through thoughts, and this provides some evidence that mind-control can be done. Further, it is also possible that ‘’Researchers can tell what words and images people have heard and seen from neural activity alone. Information can also be encoded and used to stimulate the brain’’ (Economist, para. 2). For example, over 300,000 people now have cochlear implants which convert sounds into brain signals.  New tools integrated in Google such as Google Assistants, or Apple’s Siri, provide intelligent assistants that could rapidly become an essential extension of the mind. This means that a clear definition of digital well-being is needed to safeguard, or reclaim, our mind and psyche.  

All in all, there is an increasing need to be able to promote digital well-being by adopting healthy and productive habits when using digital technologies in all levels of education.

Vicky: While online learning seems to be gaining ground, it is not treated with the same ‘seriousness’ as face-to-face learning, the latter being considered still the most effective way of learning. In your opinion, will online learning eventually overtake face-to-face learning altogether? What is stopping it now?

Chryssa:  Learning is a never-ending process. Certificates and degrees capture, as photographs do, the moment.  Knowledge flows rapidly and technologies advance at a crazy speed. To catch up, most professionals need to learn for a living. Therefore, ‘anytime anywhere’ (e-learning) education gives the opportunity to bring people together from different continents and build communities of practice.  

Human to human interaction is a key element for learning but we have the technologies to support it with video conferencing, immersive technologies and even holoportation (Themeli & Sime 2020). 

One barrier is, of course, the cost (cost of tools and training) but it is decreasing steadily. The second barrier is that people are afraid of changes and they are not aware of the fact that unlearning is equally important to learning. Unfortunately, some educators and policy makerσ are ‘resistant to change’.

Vicky: How do you envision the future of e-learning?

Chryssa: One word describes my vision for education in general: Inclusion. Inclusion is defined in the UN framework as:

a process of systemic reform embodying changes and modifications in content, teaching methods, approaches, structures and strategies in education to overcome barriers with a vision serving to provide all students of the relevant age range with an equitable and participatory learning experience and environment that best corresponds to their requirements and preferences.  (United Nations, 2016, para 11) RPD (United Nations).

E-learning is a choice and it is important to give students choices. 

Vicky : Thank you very much for your time!

Chryssa: Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work. 

Web-links

https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/arts-and-social-sciences/about-us/people/chryssa-themelis 

https://www.aace.org/review/author/chryssathemelis/?fbclid=IwAR3Dz8ECxBHW3jXpFYEHaF_HtwCicvyuONU2_XJ0x8WUXEDLQ9wa_uRXmjE

https://ciell.eu/

https://viliproject.eu/

http://www.digital-wellbeing.eu/

References:

Curtis, B. (2018, September, 3). Google at 20: how a search engine became a literal extension of our mind. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/google-at-20-how-a-search-engine-became-a-literal-extension-of-our-mind-102510?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=facebookbutton

Gökçearslan,S., Uluyol,C. & Şahin,S. (2018). Smartphone addiction, cyberloafing, stress and social support among university students: A path analysis. Children and Youth Services Review, 91, 47-54. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.05.036

Ludwig, D. (2015). Extended cognition and the explosion of knowledge. Philosophical Psychology, 28(3), 355-368, DOI: 10.1080/09515089.2013.867319

Selwyn, N. (2008). A safe haven for misbehaving? An investigation of online misbehavior among university students Social Science. Computer Review, 26(4) 446-465, DOI:10.1177/0894439307313515

Themelis, C., Sime, J. (2020)From video-conferencing to holoportation and haptics: How emerging technologies can enhance presence in online education.In: Emerging Technologies and Pedagogies in the Curriculum. Singapore : Springer p. 261-276. 16 p

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Vicky Papageorgiou is an ESL/EAP instructor  and an art historian with approximately 20 years of experience, mainly with adult learners. She holds an MA in Education (Open University of Cyprus) and an MA in Art (Goldsmiths College, UK) and she was also awarded a PGCE in Technology Enhanced Learning with distinction from  the University of Wales Trinity Saint David . She studied in Greece, Italy and the UK but also participated in an international project for the McLuhan program in Culture and Technology for the University of Toronto, Canada. Her fields of interest are Technology-enhanced learning, Art in ESL, critical thinking, Inquiry-Based learning and teaching adults. She is also the website editor of the Visual Arts Circle. She currently divides her time between Athens (Greece) working as an ESL/EAP instructor and teaching EAP in the UK..

Transitioning smoothly to online teaching : easy and free to use online resources

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My new article on online teaching tools for the special edition of ELTA Newsletter appeared first here

Transitioning smoothly to online teaching : easy and free to use online resources

By Vicky Papageorgiou, Metropolitan College, Athens

Keywords : online teaching, face-to-face teaching, Google classroom, Miro’, Kialo, Kahoot, Quizlet, Adobe Acrobat  Reader, Grammarly, Write and improve, ESOL apps

In response to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus, all in-person courses were suddenly suspended last March in a remarkably big number of countries worldwide and most educators have had, or have been asked, to resort to remote instruction. Teaching remotely is of a different nature from teaching in the classroom. In a lot of cases, this unexpected development has led the educators to panic because there was not enough planning or training and a lot of teachers felt the transition as a kind of an experiment rather than a well-prepared move. 

While adapting to any change generally is hard enough, having to deal with such a massive one in such a short time is a great shock to anyone. However, setting realistic expectations is a piece of wise advice, to begin with. Teaching online is quite different from teaching face to face. Different rules apply. However, on such short notice, the best thing we have to do is find practical solutions to cope with this new situation. This is the reason why this short guide has been created. It aims to give ESL teachers easy and free to use online tools that will facilitate their transition to online teaching and will allow them to organize their work easier. 

This short guide has been organized depending on the various needs we have in a class. In other words, there are suggestions about apps that can be used instead of a whiteboard or for announcements, apps for quizzes, practical ideas for homework correction, etc. 

Whiteboard and announcements

If you are not using a platform with an integrated whiteboard (for example Zoom) but you are using Skype, then you will need a whiteboard perhaps. So, there are some alternatives :

  • Google classroom

You can use it to share announcements and assignments, presentations, create folders, communicate assignment criteria with students, let students ask questions privately and let them create their own digital portfolios of their favourite work. You can also share due dates with them. Access is tracked, which can help you look for patterns in student habits (who accesses assignments immediately, who consistently returns to work and communicate those trends (anonymously) to students to help them build best practices. It can be accessed here: https://edu.google.com/intl/en_uk/products/classroom/?modal_active=none 

  • Miro’

Miro is an online collaborative white boarding platform that enables distributed teams to work effectively together, from brainstorming with digital sticky notes to watching presentations and interact with each other. It makes remote collaboration as engaging as face-to-face. Not all of its features are free but the core ones are free forever. It can be accessed here : https://miro.com/ 

Debates

  • Kialo

Kialo is an easy to use, yet powerful tool to engage in thoughtful discussion, understand different points of view, and help with collaborative decision-making. Your students can join a pre-existing debate and contribute to the discussion, or they can create a new one and collaborate. It can be used in asynchronous teaching as well. You can find it here : https://www.kialo.com/ 

Quizzes

  • Kahoot 

Kahoot is a quiz generator which is fun, although a bit addictive. You can choose between the myriads of kahoots (but go through them before you use them in the classroom because some of them have a lot of mistakes) or just create one. Or (why not?) ask your students to create one and collaborate with their classmates! Check it out here : https://kahoot.com/ 

  • Quizlet

If you are looking for something more sophisticated , then Quizlet is definitely for you. You can, again, use one of the existing quizzes or make your own one. It can be questions and answers, or words/terminology and their definition. Once you upload your work, the app does the work for you, creates the templates and also several games based on your input. Enjoy! https://quizlet.com/latest 

Homework

Marking homework and giving feedback can work easily if you use several tools. 

  • Adobe acrobat reader for pdf  

 If students handwrite their homework, take a photo of their homework and send it to you, then worry not! You can easily transform this into a pdf but make sure you use adobe acrobat reader. When you do so, you can add your comments in sticky notes you can find on the right side. Then you just have to send it back to you with the individualized comments. https://get.adobe.com/reader/ 

You can ask your students to send you their homework typed. You can then upload it on your drive and edit it, correct it, leave comments and feedback. You can give access to your students. P.S. you can also ask them to collaborate together with other classmates to write something together, e.g. a story. They can work in a synchronous or asynchronous way and then edit each other’s pieces. It is extremely handy! Another use Google docs can have is that of a whiteboard! You can invite and give access to your class if you are using Skype, for example, and you can use a Google doc as a whiteboard where you write your comments, rules, etc.

Storyboards

You can choose from a library of professionally created templates, you can upload your own photos or use their image library and then add filters and edit text. There is a free plan which you can use.

Editing

If you are setting written homework, which you most definitely are, ask students to install Grammarly since it is a great free online writing assistant which will correct their spelling and grammar and will definitely teach them a lot and improve their writing. Particularly helpful to all struggling students!

This is for self-study but not only! You can have your students practise writing English, submit their work, get a grade for their written work in seconds. They are also given feedback and can make changes to improve! It can help them gain some kind of independence and initiative when they are using such an app. This is created by Cambridge, by the way!

Hopefully, all this information is useful to a lot of teachers currently. Not all of them are new apps/tools, of course, but they are all very easy to use and, above all, they are free. Above all, they have been listed according to their use so that educators can find easily which one to use and for which reason. Finally, it is needless to underline that this is, by no means, an exhaustive list. So, you are free to find and use the one(s) that suit you the most. Good luck and stay safe!

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Vicky Papageorgiou is an ESL/EAP instructor  and an art historian with approximately 20 years of experience, mainly with adult learners. She holds an MA in Education (Open University of Cyprus) and an MA in Art (Goldsmiths College, UK) and she was also awarded a PGCE in Technology Enhanced Learning with distinction from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David . She studied in Greece, Italy and the UK but also participated in an international project for the McLuhan program in Culture and Technology for the University of Toronto, Canada. Her fields of interest are Technology enhanced learning, Art in ESL, critical thinking, Inquiry Based learning and teaching adults. She is also the website editor of the Visual Arts Circle. She currently divides her time between Athens (Greece) working as an ESL/EAP instructor and teaching EAP in the UK..