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Tuesday
Jul052011

2011 TechDayPlus: By William Hogue 2/3

The following is a summary of the presentation given by William Hogue

Course websites with Google Sites

By William Hogue

In this session I tried to assist everyone in getting started on building a class website with Google Sites. Google Sites offers privacy, ease of use, pre-made templates, and integration with YouTube, RSS feeds and Google Docs and all through a HTML-free interface (similar to blogging). I shared tips on setting up, developing and managing a Google Site.

Perhaps the most difficult and time-consuming task is setting up a Google account. Some of the participants had trouble with the email authentication loop, probably related to the use of spam filters.

We only had time to dabble with Sites in the most basic way. One interesting result is that the “choose a template” step was seen to be a lot more trouble that it is worth. This stems from the very large number of templates that are available with almost no mechanism to sort out which ones are most useful for creating a course site. In the end, the consensus was that starting with a blank template and adding content and styles would be a preferred procedure.

Once logged on and actually working with the content interface, most people agreed that Google Sites represents a big improvement over previous free website builders.

Tuesday
Jul052011

2011 TechDayPlus: By William Hogue 3/3

The following is a summary of the presentation given by William Hogue

Google Forms for homework?

By William Hogue

From the site building session I then looked at using Google Forms for homework assignments. These forms, part of the Google Docs cloud-based office suite, can be integrated into a website or they can be distributed by email. Responses are collected into a Google Docs spreadsheet and summary reports are automatically generated. I showed how I am using Google Forms for several kinds of homework, including book reports. I showed actual samples of student work that had been submitted through Google Forms.

I explained I set a homework deadline one day before the next class. I was then able to review the homework to adjust the next class to speak to any “issues” that became evident. I could also use actual (anonymous) samples of student work and the automatically generated summaries to kick off discussions that were grounded in actual student reactions.

Finally, I showed Google Analytics reports showing that students are accessing the course website from campus about half of the time and occasionally from areas outside of Kansai. Daily usage statistics show a double peak; usage is highest on Sundays and Tuesdays. I concluded that students are engaging with the Google tools and that they benefit from the faster feedback that using them permits.

Monday
Jul042011

2011 TechDayPlus: Harry Carley

The following is a summary of the presentation given by Harry Carley

Working with Wikis, Technology in Teaching

By Harry Carley
Matsuyama University, Ehime

I demonstrated what a wikis was and the applications that can be include in the construction of a wiki. I then explained the variety of courses that I was using wikis with. These courses included Travel English; a world exploration English presentation class for non-English majors, and also a composition writing class that encompasses English majors from 1st year to Graduate level. Students in the writing course possess extremely varying degrees of writing ability. Thus with an imbalanced group of learners I pointed out the strong points of how a wiki can solve this problem.

Other courses utilizing wikis center on preparation for the TOEIC and TOEIC Bridge tests. The usefulness of wikis included demonstrating how easy it is for students to download videos such as YouTube, insert Google maps, images, charts and graphs, audio files and others. Most importantly, Travel English course students are able to include a wider depth of information in their presentations than they normally would use PowerPoint slides.

Composition courses employing wikis can apply the traditional approach of students editing each others writing or as I explained, with varying levels of ability, each student can write on their own page and I, the instructor can edit and comment as needed. Wikis, also have the added benefit of keeping track when each individual page has been edited by whom and on what day and time. This accountability offers the instructor a wider vision of student’s progress and task accomplishments whether in class or out.

Lastly, I rationalized how wikis can be related to test preparation courses. I especially emphasized how I am currently using wikis in the low level classes to go beyond test preparation and test taking to ‘test making’. Low level students make their own TOEIC and TOEIC Bridge tests utilizing the tools embedded in a wiki. This way learner can practice grammar construction along with tools of technology. Although, in only the first semester of research wikis have already proven to instill enthusiasm and motivation for low level students, in particular.

I ended my presentation with emphasis on the ease of understanding how to use wikis for lecturer and learner alike. Most wiki sites are free to use and download for educators. Security features include protected and secure areas where only the class instructor and members can edit their pages. This feature restricts any unwanted comments or changes by individuals outside the course or from the World Wide Web.