edtech

3 Suggestions for Essential Apps for ESL Students in Higher Education

This is my 3rd post for EdTech Review India. You can find it here :

http://edtechreview.in/trends-insights/insights/2134-english-as-a-second-language-esl-app

english-as-a-second-language-esl-app

Apps are useful and practical a lot of times and young people know all about them and use them.

But students are interested mainly in using apps for their own pleasure and entertainment and not so much for educational purposes.  It is not always easy to include them in everyday classroom practice but I think that it is worth the trouble to try to make a few of them part of your College students’ everyday classroom practice.

If the target group is College students, as mentioned above, you need to choose the right apps to introduce them to. They have to be easy to use, practical and exciting. You don’t want to overwhelm them after all! My 3 main choices would be:

Remind

https://www.remind.com/apps

This is a very popular communications platform which I was introduced to this year and I have found immensely practical for many reasons. It can be used in various ways, initially to communicate information to your students, e.g. homework tasks, useful links, photos, giving feedback using voice messages. But it can also be used in other ways, such as hosting a chat, which is a great idea since using twitter for a chat is too public and intimidating for a lot of students, but being on a more ‘private’ platform, like Remind, can minimize the feeling of ‘exposure’ that weaker students perhaps feel. It is safe, simple and secure both for educators and students to use.

Padlet

https://padlet.com/

This is another ‘must’ for encouraging ESL students to share boards where they can post language tips, exam strategies, useful videos they find. Teacher and students can also post text, graphs and even photos and videos related to a specific topic. Another idea is encouraging students to post questions, either as part of an activity or anonymously, post-lesson, which the teacher can then read off and answer them every day.

Prezi

https://prezi.com/ipad/

If Powerpoint is dead, then Prezi is its worthy successor! Prezi is indeed a very exciting tool to create presentations because it allows you to present your work in a non-linear way, creating maps of texts, videos, images, graphics, etc. It is very easy to master and some of its features, like the zoom, can easily make an impression on these young adult students and tempt them to use it in their presentations!

One way or another, these are not new tools (Prezi, for example, was designed in 2009) but it is useful to remind ourselves of a good combination of practical, easy to use digital tools that our ESL students would feel motivated to use on a daily or weekly basis. Good luck everyone!

My video activity for Nik Peachey’s new book ‘Digital video’

unnamedToday I am sharing the activity I wrote some time ago for Nik Peachey’s new e-book ‘Digital Video – A manual for language teachers’

You can buy the book online. Here is the link to it on iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/digital-video/id1025275485

And this link is for people who don’t use Apple devices:  https://www.scribd.com/doc/276137280/Digital-Video-A-manual-for-language-teachers

The activity I wrote involves U-tube videos and hosting short debates on a controversial topic. You can check it out here :

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I hope you enjoy it!

Summer learning opportunities

Summer is ahead and soon most of us will find some time to relax and spend time with the family. It is also a great opportunity for professional development, with all this free time in our hands, if we want to learn something new or to deepen our knowledge in a subject, acquire some new skills.

MOOCs and webinars are available in abundance and they are generally free or for a small amount of money if you are asking for a certificate. I have compiled a list for June, July and August that I think you might find helpful. I am sure there are a few more out there, so feel free to let me know and I will update the list.

In the end of the list, I am also including some self-paced MOOCs which, in other words, do not start at a fixed date but you can jump in at any time.

June 2015

 Coursera download

 downloadFutureLearn

 

download (1) Class Central

 

download (2) Cambridge English webinars 

itdi iTDi

July 2015

 edx-logo-headerEdEx

  • Big Data in Education (Starts July, 1)

https://www.edx.org/course/big-data-education-columbiax-bde1x

downloadCoursera

 

download

FutureLearn

download (1)Class Central

 download (2)Cambridge English webinars 

    August 2015

 

   downloadFutureLearn

 

 download (2)Cambridge English webinars 

itdiiTDi

Self-paced

downloadCoursera

download (1)Class Central

 

Review and discussion of Ferreday & Hodgson – The tyranny of participation

This is my 3rd post for my PGCE in Technology Enhanced Learning. For this post, we were asked to review several papers. This is the first one of these : Ferreday & Hodgson – The tyranny of participation

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tyranny

The main issues the authors are engaging with

  • The ‘darker’ sides of participation in learning are under the spotlight in this paper.
  • Participation is not necessarily a utopian ideal but it could be experienced as oppressive
  • Participative learning without reflexivity can be tyrannical
  • The possibilities offered by the disruptions of a heterotopian space posing as an alternative

What their position (arguments) are

  • Participation without reflexivity can be seen by some learners as an exercise of power and oppression
  • It is suggested that online spaces should not necessarily be seen as utopian spaces, as a lot of pedagogists believe, but as spaces characterized also by disruption which in the end can disturb the notion of the learners. They are ambiguous spaces which can offer possibilities exactly through these disturbances
  • There are different identities of individuals in the way they participate. Failing to recognize them is not given enough attention and this causes many problems in the way these learners are seen in an NL environment.
  • Feelings of guilt are manifested but heterotopic spaces allow space for such feelings to be in the open, and they could result in support and critical reflection. This is what a non-perfect community is but it is a diverse and open space.

How this relates to my experience of the TEL course

I can tell that there have been instances that I, too, experienced, these ‘dark sides’. More specifically, one of the problems was that we were provided too much information at times, and there was not always enough time to learn and practice all this new information. Since the group forum was the main way of communication and participation, there were participants (including myself) that did not respond to the reflective tasks within the time limits given but only later. As a result, there was no response to these posts by other participants, leaving these ‘late’ participants with a feeling of exclusion or with an obligation to apologise constantly for not being prompt in their replies, exactly as Ferreday discusses. From a personal point of view, once writing a post, there is the expectation of a dialogue and when this does not occur, disappointment follows. Not being bound by space and time makes online learning convenient for busy professionals like us, yet it seems that, no matter how many the obstacles, interaction remains an essential as well as a much expected part for the learning process to be fulfilled. Yet, even if these feelings were out there, they did not cause a great disturbance rather than showing that these are just some possibilities that can occur in these online spaces.

What the paper’s main strengths and weaknesses are from my experience of the TEL course

Approaching online spaces and participation as not utopian spaces that can embrace diversity and offer more opportunities for reflection. In this way, these spaces are seen in a more realistic way and not as idealistic spaces where perfection is expected and nothing less.

Perhaps a negative side to this is that for a heterotopian space to function positively in the end, even through disruptions, there has to be reflective practice and therefore engagement of the learners with each other and another prerequisite is the creation of a more informal/less academic atmosphere, both of which require time to happen.

Interview with Christina Martidou on the making of ‘Dylan & Lydia’ : a digital storybook for young learners of English.

This is my 2nd interview in which I present another creative colleague and a very dear friend, Christina Martidou. We first met here  in Thessaloniki, our hometown, and we ‘clicked’ immediately. I particularly like her inquisitive and restless spirit which led her to create, along with her sister Marina,  a little ‘gem’ : a digital storybook  for young learners of English, «Dylan & Lydia», which is actually the theme of our interview!  I have to tell you though that this is actually a ‘double’ interview. After interviewing Christina, I asked her to interview her students who took part in the making of this storybook by lending their voices. I think she did an excellent job and we have come up with a wonderful video which I hope you will enjoy watching and which will also give you a better idea of her work.

Interview with Christina Martidou 

Vicky : Christina, so nice to have you here!

Christina : It’s my great pleasure and honour, Vicky!

Vicky : Christina, I hear 2 little kids, Dylan and Lydia have stolen your heart!!! Who are they?

Christina : That’s right! Dylan and Lydia are the main characters of my first digital storybook designed for young learners of English around the world.

Vicky : Now, how did you come up with the idea that two small children like them could actually ‘choose’ their own fate?

Christina : I generally believe in the power of choice and creating one’s own destiny. Throughout our lives we face various dilemmas and the decisions we make, lead us to different paths or can even change our lives forever. For me, it’s good to let children know early on that actions have consequences and we should use our power to choose as wisely as we can.

In the case of our storybook, we also thought that offering ‘Dylan’ and ‘Lydia’ the opportunity to choose their own fate empowers the user who can pick the direction of the story in the role of the protagonists and create his own reading path.

Additionally, it makes the storybook even more interesting and rich in content since the readers can enjoy two completely different stories with different endings and morals in one App!

Vicky : Can you tell us a bit more about the plot?

Christina : Dylan and Lydia are two amiable 9 year-old- twins who live in Oxford. On a day trip to London, they meet Madame Sonya, a famous Fortune teller, who will slyly try to trick them into her evil plans. The twins have the chance to travel to a wondrous place for children called ‘Fantasy Land’ or experience adventurous moments with notorious pirates on a real pirate ship! Dylan and Lydia end up learning important life lessons about the value of true friendship and trust.

Vicky : Who wrote the story? How did you get inspired?

Christina : My younger sister Marina and I came up with the stories on a boat trip to Corfu, a beautiful Greek island. Then, I set out to write the stories in English and design the accompanying activities, dictionaries and games.

Our sources of inspiration have definitely been all the fairytales and Disney movies we have read and watched throughout the years. Writing and publishing our very own children’s book was one of our childhood dreams. This storybook is the outcome of a greater need to be creative in a time of deep financial crisis and stagnation in Greece.

Vicky : How difficult was the realization of this dream (making this app) and how long did it take?

Christina : It was much more challenging than we had originally anticipated. It took us about 6-7 months of full-time work to complete this project. However, this has been by far the most enjoyable and creative experience of my professional life and we really look forward to the ‘Dylan and Lydia’ sequel. Needless to say that this App wouldn’t have been realized, without the invaluable help of remarkable colleagues like Hanna Kryszewska, Charles Boyle Edmund Dudley, John Hughes and Esther Martin. My students’ contributions also make this storybook stand out.

Vicky : I know that several of your students took part in the making of ‘Dylan and Lydia’. Can you tell us more about this experience? How easy or difficult was it to include them in this process?

Christina : My students participated in the whole process very actively! Firstly, we had all the materials (texts, graphic designs, games& activities) tried and tested by 9- 12 year old students (boys and girls) from different backgrounds and language levels. Their feedback was really valuable and we actually implemented many of their ideas in the storyline.

More importantly, the roles of the main characters have been narrated by students of mine who are non-native speakers of English.  Thus, when children read the storybook, they can easily relate to other fluent young learners of English. The experience at the recording studio was unique! My students were more than happy to participate and thrilled to visit a recording studio! However, some of them were initially intimidated by the microphone. The tricky part for us was to achieve a satisfying level of performance (good pronunciation and acting) without losing students’ spontaneity by having them repeat their lines again and again. Luckily, with a little encouragement, the recordings were completed successfully. 

Vicky : What kind of important life lessons can the children learn? Tell us a bit more about one of these life lessons!

Christina : Through the stories children empathize with the main characters and in this way learn useful life lessons. One of them is that true friends are important in life, they can help us through difficult situations and we must never betray them!

Vicky : What are your plans from now on?

Christina : I usually avoid making long- term plans. However, I do wish to keep developing both personally and professionally. Right now, I’m working on a handbook for all teachers who wish to read and explore our educational App with their students. It will include extra language activities, worksheets, DIY crafts and drawings for further practice and fun! This will soon be published on my personal edtech blog (http://christinamartidou.edublogs.org/) and it’ll be free to download.

Thank you for this interview Vicky mou !!!

In fact, just before we were ready to publish her interview, Christina had already prepared this handbook and was kind enough to offer it to all our readers today. Here it is!

DYLAN-LYDIA-HANDBOOK (1)

10988927_10152577872971360_8151353815085493654_nChristina’s bio

Christina Martidou has been an English teacher for the past 14 years. She holds a degree in ‘English Language and Literature’ from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and an MA in ‘Media, Culture and Communication’ from UCL.

She has worked both freelance and in private schools with students of various ages and levels. She currently works at Perrotis College, American Farm School of Thessaloniki. Christina has a genuine interest in educational technology, mobile learning and continuous professional development.

Christina is the author and creative director of ‘Dylan& Lydia at the Fortune Teller’s’, a double- path digital storybook created for young learners of English (http://bit.ly/1pzv6O8 ).

She loves blogging about edtech- related topics at: http://christinamartidou.edublogs.org/

E-mail: martidouchristina@gmail.com

Twitter: @CMartidou