25 May 2017

Collaboration, Cooperation, Integration

Collaboration, cooperation, integration. Valuable concepts in education and in social organisations where people need to work together to achieve goals. Neither new nor original, though today, with wider approaches of how to actually achieve these processes. 

In the classroom, ClanEd (which I already have mentioned here ) is a valuable tool for both teachers and learners, regardless of subject matter or level. Not only can it be used as an ePortfolio, but also as a teaching/learning space, with features which allow collaboration and cooperation among its users. 

From Finland, another offer for educators and learners - Seppo - A Spark for Learning.

Seppo is an authoring tool for creating educational games - definitely an engaging approach to get learners excited about learning. 

Below I leave a quick glance why educators should try Seppo:

Tools and platforms may help collaboration and cooperation at different levels and contexts. Nevertheless, it is the will of educators themselves to collaborate transparently and constructively that is the driving force for effective collaboration.

It is simplistic to think that one can achieve  or learn everything by oneself. Yes, there is much a single individual can achieve and learn - but it is through transparent collaboration that a richer learning and understanding emerges. 

Among the many, many educators from different fields who I respect, learn with and am connected to, in the field of ELT and EdTech, there is one name that needs no introduction. 

Nik Peachey has been sharing ideas, inspiration, expertise and pedagogical guidance for many years; more recently Nik has been publishing ebooks such as
 Digital Video - A Manual for Language Teachers  ( awarded the 2016 ELTons Award for Innovations in Teachers resources)  and
Thinking Critically through Digital Media 

Being a prolific writer, Nik has so more to offer educators - through his eBooks
which are most affordable (links on the left side of this blog for those who wish to easily access them), his blogs, presentations, webinars (an upcoming webinar on How to publish your own materials − from writing to publishing to marketing is scheduled for this coming Saturday, 3rd June, 2017), and his overall, open, collaborative sharing. Though the eBooks require a modest price (and are easily paid online with PayPal or bank card), these are a rich source of learning for educators and very much worth a teacher's time and investment. 

Collaboration is a practised skill which refines and transforms with time and experience. 

If educators wish that their learners learn collaboratively, then they too need to practice what they ask their learners to do. Modelling good practices goes a long way with both learners and peers. Modelling good practices is a form of integrating values such as collaboration and cooperation in one's daily professional practices. 

Add to the mix patience and empathy. For an educator cannot really be closed to learning, regardless of what field,  nor by selectively rejecting other fields or topics which are not of his/her own particular academic or personal interest. Being open to learning, to curiosity and engaging positively in this learning process is essential for all educators. By the same token, being able to admit not knowing something, to be modest, humble and open to learning is a welcomed attitude among educators. Openly dismissing other educators' knowledge, practical expertise, skills and understandings has little place in collaborative learning. 

Educational mentors today come from everywhere, of all ages and many different educational backgrounds and fields. Unlike the past where individuals were sometimes assigned an older colleague with who to learn with (e.g. in companies and educational institutions), today, it is important to by pass the age factor and turn tables - all generations have so much to teach, share and learn from each other. 

Focusing on empathy. Remembering to look beyond the surface.

If teachers are constantly reminded to be empathetic with their students,
empathy with other educators and peers is a step forward in positive modelling and integrating good practices in community building and cooperation. 

How will you nourish your garden of collaborative learning?

Further Suggestions:

Sunrise, Sunset

N is for Nik

Nik's Learning Technology Blog

How to Structure and Write s Self-Published e-Book - Nik Peachey

Worskhop on Masss Collaboration - Day One - Stephen Downes

Cooperation Versus Collaboration

Apples and EdTech

Northern Lights, Northern Change

T is for Topi 

Achieving Change through Collaboration and Cooperation

The Discontent of our Connectivity

Designing an Online Community for Language Teachers


I would like to thank permission granted to take and share the images of posters created by students at a school in Tampere, Finland.

15 December 2016

Listening for ELT and Learner Autonomy

One of the challenges that many ELT students face, is listening. When it comes to international exams such as the IELTS, they struggle in keeping up with the listening passage and end up in a sea of useless frustration. Learning to listening to English and becoming an autonomous learner are important skills. Among other sites where learners can improve their listening skills, these 2 come to mind at the moment. 

Lit2Go  offers readings of poetry and novels, is easily accessible with indication of authors, genres and readability scale and every audio comes with a PDF. 

LingoRank is a collection of TED talks, which students can  set their level then go ahead and select the talk they are interested in listening/watching. Each talk comes with target vocabulary for each specific level. 

With a wide selection of topics, there is no reason why learners shouldn't be accessing these resources to improve their listening skills.

What other listening activities/sites do you suggest?

Further Suggestions:

21 November 2016

Blending Spaces

What could really help educators?

Among so many educational issues and items, a space to help teachers keep lessons, share lesson ideas and to create a digital portfolio would be welcomed. 

And that is what TES Teach with blendspace offers. A space to have lessons, share lessons while combining digital resources all in one space. 

Lessons and materials can be shared also on different social media platforms, as well as on Edmodo and Google Classroom.  (for those who use these with students). Besides tips for using TES there is also a library for teachers, where they can find shared resources for their subject.

TES Teach is really simple to use for creating lessons. You can also assign classes and share with learners so that they too contribute to creating lessons. 

For educators who teach online, this is a great space to keep teaching materials and lessons to share with students.

Learning doesn't have to be a solitary process for either educators or students.

Collaborate & Curate from langwitches on Vimeo.

Nor does learning need to be only directed at passing exams. (within ELT, the IELTS comes to mind)

Learning does, however, demand personal and direct participation.

Having a space to keep lessons and materials, to share with colleagues and learners, and to have students contribute as well, is a stepping stone forward in collaborative learning.

How do you encourage learning collaboration?

Further Suggestions:

Students as Contributors: The Digital Learning Farm

I'd like to thank Stephen Collings who recently shared his wit regarding the IELTS exam. 

18 November 2016

PixiClip - An Interactive Whiteboard

There are so many ways to add variety in F2F classrooms - from class discussions to pair/group work to individual assignments, the possibility of learner centred activities is endless. So how can one transport this range of variety to online students? One way is to ask learners to create short recordings - either audio or video recordings. 

Pixiclip is a free, interactive whiteboard. You can draw sketches, type messages, upload images, record video and audio messages. Sharing with learners is simple too - you can email them the clip or embed it in a class blog.

When sharing clips, you can choose from public, private, hidden and password protected - if you use password protected, you then to share the password with students (in turn, learners need to share their password as well).

Further Suggestions:

8 November 2016

Learning with a Spoonful of Sugar - Games for Learning


Learning may be many things, but at the end of the day, learning is personal, something one does to one's self. Using games to engage students in their learning process makes learning more appealing and is definitely a great way to do revisions. Below are two suggestions which learners can use both in the classroom and for self-study.

Sugarcane  is a free educational game, which allows you to create different kinds of games, from matching to categorizing to 
ordering and spelling. 

Games can be shared with learners with a link or by sending them an email. Here is an example of different games focusing on Classical Music Composers.  Teachers too can share their games, see other games which have been already made and edit them according to their context. 

Playbuzz is also free, features different kinds of games to make and offers 
tips on how best to create different kinds of games.  Games can also be embedded - always a plus if you have a class blog.

Though not necessarily designed for educational purposes, Playbuzz can be used with learners provided the quizzes focus on their learning context.

Which games do you use for revisions?

Further Suggestions:

Grades, Games and Grammar

Financial Responsibility with Learning Games

Digital Games - a list of suggestions

Games - a list of suggestions

4 November 2016

Genial.ly Genius!

As 2016 slowly heads towards its end, the rich tapestry of celebrations around the world crosses my mind - from the many different ways wedding and birthday celebrations are held,  to mid-summer celebrations,  to traditional, religious celebrations which make part of  our global culture and history. 

The theme of celebrations is in itself a common topic for language learners, for instance. They can describe celebrations in their own town/country, find out about celebrations in other countries, learn and teach other new vocabulary on the types of celebrations they have chosen when they present their findings. Why not give them a tool which they can present/share  their work, which is interactive and full of surprise?

Geniall.y can be  used to create interactive presentations, infographics, posters, and even resumes (example down below at the end of this post). 

Professions/jobs is another theme which is commonly approached in language classes. With Genial.ly, you can ask students to add places where people work, qualities which are needed for each job/profession, the pros and cons of each line of work. 

These are just two suggestions for a language class; there are so many other ways to use Genial.ly, depending (as always) on the context and purpose of your learners. 

Genial.ly is free but with options; one of which allows collaborative work. You can share with a link or embed creations; there is a blog (in English and Spanish) with tips and ideas on how to use Genial.ly's features. 
Genially - Do it different, do it Genially! from Genially Web on Vimeo.

Use Genially and feel like a Genius!! from Genially Web on Vimeo.

How do you make your students feel like creative geniuses?


3 November 2016

In A Nutshell - An Activity for Business English Students

How many educators really know their students?

Perhaps when you are teaching classes of 20+ learners, are swamped with administrative duties which eat away at the time that could be spent preparing lessons, when teachers are demanded to be everything to all, it's not realistically possible to really know one's students beyond their names and perhaps, their grades.  

So let me start again, how well do your students know each other?

A regular activity when teaching Business English is to ask students to write out their CV for a possible role play (a role play focusing on interview skills, for instance, or writing application/covering letters for a job). Today, there are digital tools which enable this quite easily, adding visuals and easy sharing among social media. 

These tools not only offer a real world practice to learners but also help them to learn about each other, thus opening opportunities of better class dynamics and ways of collaboration with each other.  They also help educators to get to know their learners in a different way, beyond the grade, beyond the attendance list. 

Me in a Nutshell  brings together one's contributions in social networks. The user can design
their own page and connect the social networks they want to.

The result is a personal page with an individual's personal, social narrative.

Once students have completed their webpage, it can be shared on a Padlet, or in the class LMS.

In this way, they can learn more about each other, and as participation in social networks becomes shared among them, they may find unspoken talents among themselves, peers with similar interests, making their class space less anonymous.

They may also be provoked to reflect on what is appropriate to appear in their digital CV/resume and how best to find paths of collaboration with others.

How else do you learn about your students within an ESP/Business English context?

How else can your students tap into the hidden talents of their class/group?

#unexpected from The Others on Vimeo.

Further Suggestions:

Visualize Your Life

Future Careers

The Career Dream

Are You Known?


Wet Reflection
Skating Anyone?
Ballet Music

I am still playing around with my own Me in a Nutshell, but you can have a look and see the initial webpage. Please note, though, it is something I have in progress and will not be the final version.