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Friday
Jul012011

2011 TechDayPlus: Andrew Philpott

The following is a summary of the presentation given by Andrew Philpott.

Motivating Students Using CALL and Blended Learning

By Andrew Philpott

As motivation is such a crucial factor in determining how quickly a student can acquire a new language, it is important to know what motivates students and how to channel this motivation into a learning environment. The purpose of this workshop was to teach university instructors how to make motivating lessons using the popular websites YouTube, Wikipedia, EBay, and Blogger. Each lesson will focus on improving either the student’s reading, writing, listening, or speaking skills.

I started this presentation with a discussion about what things students are interested in and what motivates them or de-motivates them. In the next part of the presentation I discussed blended learning and how we should use it to structure an effective lesson. After that I gave the audience a skeleton worksheet which they can use to create an unlimited amount of motivating, blended learning lessons. Each lesson has a different focus such as developing listening skills using YouTube, developing reading skills using Wikipedia, developing speaking skills using eBay, and developing writing skills using Blogger.

The motivating factor is that the content found on each website will be things chosen by the students which they are interested in. Blended Learning in CALL is important because it gives students multiple ways to learn content. Having a blend is more effective than pure CALL as the blend provides various contexts which invoke the students’ interest on different levels, if not all.

Wednesday
Jun292011

2011 TechDayPlus: Kelly Butler and Michael Wilkins

The following is a summary of the presentation given by Kelly Butler and Michael Wilkins

Teaching Paperless

By Kelly Butler and Michael Wilkins
Kansai University of International Studies

Teaching paperless lessens the need for teachers and students to carry heavy loads of books and papers and streamline the process of teaching and studying at university. Our presentation focused on the tools we use to teach paperless.

First we talked about the need for a "home base". One place where all relevant information can be collected and found anytime. With Google Calendar students can look at the calendar in the month view, find their course, click and all the relevant information for that particular class will pop up. Another "home base" tool is Google Documents. Teachers create an online document with all the class information on it for easy access by the students. Students in turn create their own online e-portfolio with Google Documents and share it with the teacher. A third tool is Facebook. Teachers create a private Facebook group and invite all the class members to join. All class information and assignments are put in the Facebook group. Our final tool that we have been using extensively is Dropbox. With Dropbox teachers and students can easily share files including audio and video that are too big to easily share otherwise. Teachers can create a class folder to share files or teachers can create a folder for each student, effectively using an e-portfolio system.

These same tools can also be used for in class work. Google Documents can be used to give in class feedback. Students are writing in their own sections of one document. The teacher can see what each student is writing as they write it and has the opportunity to give feedback immediately by writing a note right in the document. Google Documents can also be used by students in groups to collaborate on projects outside of class time. Dropbox as well allows the teacher or groups of students to create shared folders for specific projects that can be worked on in or out of class.

Saving paper and not having to carry so many materials are obvious advantages to using these tools. We also talked about how they can be used for collaborative learning. Students as well as teachers are busy and often live far apart so meeting is not as easy as teachers sometimes assume, using these tools allows students to collaborate whenever and from wherever they are. This also eliminates many student excuses: "I didn't know what to do", "I forgot my xxx", "I lost my xxx" etc, everything is always there. A final advantage is students get to practice using tools and processes that are more and more an essential part of our working life.

We talked about some obvious disadvantages. Students need reliable access to internet-connected computers. We work in a situation where each student has a laptop at all times and there is a campus Wi-Fi network. As well there can be a steep learning curve at first so teachers need to be prepared.

Tuesday
Jun282011

2011 TechDayPlus: Chris Brizzard

The following is a summary of the presentation by Chris Brizzard

Creating Podcasts with Audacity

Audacity is a free audio program that I have been using to create student podcasts in my Media English classes. In doing these projects, students learn multiple tech skills including voice recording, track importing and audio editing. 

I first introduced the goal of the presentation: for participants to recreate a multi-layered* podcast that I had created in order to introduce basic skills needed to use Audacity. This is the same procedure that I take students through in my classes.

  1. I showed participants a video I had made using Windows Movie Maker, the audio component of which I made using Audacity. This is the first project that I do in my classes and the topic is “Your Favorite Musician.” You can see the example at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jPDyl90Kc4
  2. Participants then downloaded the files necessary to re-create my podcast. I posted the files on sharesend.com, a free site that allows you to upload and download files of up to 100MB in size. There were four files to download: two songs and two voiceovers.
  3. I then introduced Audacity by showing participants how to do basic tasks such as importing audio, deleting, fading out, sound amplification and exporting audio. Through guided instruction, all participants were successfully able to recreate my podcast.
  4. I then introduced an extension of this podcasting idea, creating a short movie in Windows Movie Maker, and showed a student example from one of my classes. Participants also had additional ideas, such as posting student videos on a class blog and having students choose the best videos through using a poll widget.
  5. Some participants asked how much time is needed to do a project like this. In my experience, you will need at least four 90-minute classes to successfully complete this project.

* By multi-layered, I mean that the podcast consists of several tracks that are mixed and edited to produce a final product. It is not just students recording their own voices in a single track.

Chris Brizzard is an Assistant Professor at Kansai Gaidai University. He has taught English in Japan, Taiwan and the U.S. and is in his tenth year of teaching EFL.