18 June 2017

Storytelling - from Finland


In our digital world, there is, increasingly, much that I disagree with. In so many ways I watch (with horror at times) as humanity sleep walks itself into a world which is less human, less equal, less democratic. 

Nevertheless, as an educator, I continue striving to help others understand the need for teaching Digital Literacies and Digital Safety - among the many other issues which arise from our digital world of which we are all participants and residents. As an educator too, I indulge and delight in all the positive potential that the WWW offers - for the web is not something that is done to us. All of us participate in its creation and development, at different levels and different degrees. 

As an educator, I am interested in having my learners understand the empowerment that the web may give them.  I indulge in the beauty and creative power of storytelling. Narratives. For what are we without narratives? What are we without registering and reflecting on our changing identities?

From Finland, a number of digital tools come to mind. Today I'd like to point out Edvisto

Edvisto is a tool for storytelling - but with a twist. 


Storytelling can be a personal narrative but it can also be social and collaborative. 

video
There is also a blog where you can read up on recent news of how Edvisto is being used in different schools with different age groups and different projects.  The narratives may differ - the central point is the same: Student learning. Student involvement. Student engagement. Active learning. Learning for life. 

Perhaps it is time to meet learners in their world. Perhaps it is time to accept that education and learning approaches have changed and that younger generations do expect, do want to be involved in their learning processes. Engaged and empowered by their learning.






Speaking of videos - have you already dipped into Nik Peachey's book on Digital Video?
(you can purchase a copy directly on iTunes or simply click on the sidebar of this blog where it will direct you to Nik's eBooks)

Digital Video - By Nik Peachey from Nik Peachey on Vimeo.


Stories engage.

Stories transport.

Stories strive to make sense.

Stories define one's identity.

Stories are embedded in one's identity.

What's your summer story?

What's your recent video tool to narrate your story?





Further Suggestions:

There are a range of digital tools from Finland; here are some that you may wish to have a look at:

ClanEd 













ChemCaper

Skyler

Interactive Scientific









Lupo - Space Adventure







Educational change is here. 

Alive and well. 

28 May 2017

Reflecting on Feedback and Assessment


I have never been much of number person in terms of assessment and educational feedback. Obviously, when working in educational institutions and systems, one must abide by the established norms. However, it has always been the more qualitative dimension of feedback which helped me as a learner and perhaps because of that, how I perceive the powerful role of feedback and assessment - not a tool to pigeon hole students into a tier that they are stuck in, but as a path to further development in whatever field a person is learning in. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I like digital badges - within all that a badge contains, it also  reflects a learning process, a skill acquired, an achievement,  and not merely a number on a scale within a competitive framework of assessment. 

This is not to say that feedback and assessment are not important - by no means. They are an integral part to learning. It would be naive to claim that evaluation is not relevant; one is evaluated every day at every moment by a host of audiences and social groups. And, for educational systems to somehow work, there needs be an assessment system to aid the structure of education. Learners too have the right to feedback, to know how they are progressing in the content matter, how they are developing as learners and how they can better achieve both their learning goals and the overall goals set by the curriculum they are learning in. 

Educational feedback though, has two main areas: assessing students and teacher evaluation. These may be complimentary (or not), but very much a feature of many educators' days. In this sense, I'd like to share the following infographic on the types of feedback which is possible to give learners and further on, a couple of suggestions on feedback and professional development for educators. 



In regard to feedback for educators, how do the issues (raised in these posts below) relate to your professional context?














For many teachers, the academic year is ending and the light now shines towards summer days.

If you are about to have your summer break - may it be a happy one!






Images : Pixabay


27 May 2017

Call the Presenter! Call the Presenter!


Just as there are all kinds of performances, there are different kinds of presentations, each with their end purpose and style. Let's consider these as an example:



6 Presentation Styles of Famous Presenters from 24Slides

Preparing learners for giving a presentation is a widespread activity among language teachers and other educators. Each year there will be favourite tools to use, with Powerpoint  (PPT) and Google Slides still being two of the most popular tools. (Some tools develop and begin offering more features - a case in point is  Prezi which now offers Prezi Next. )

Today I'd like to share two other presentation tools - one, not so new and one just about to become accessible to all.

Knovio  has different pricing plans for different sectors, including businesses, educators and students, so it's worth having a look and considering how it may suit one's needs and interest.

Knovio also offers Basic Tutorials - always helpful when learning how to use a new tool. 



What I am quite looking forward to, is
Ludus.

Ludus offers a rich range of features for creative presentations and storytelling. Here you can learn more about Ludus and how it differs from PPT and Google Slides.




Learning about new ways of presenting and different tools to use in education requires a certain sense of playfulness and ability to take risks. It also may demand time - time to become an active participant in learning circles, in learning communities. These learning communities may also change with time - change is inherent in all learning. As Harold Jarche well pointed out in a recent tweet:


Ignoring the digital world for educational purposes is no longer acceptable. It has not been acceptable for some time now. However, as in many aspects in life, there also needs to be a certain degree of critical learning within this world of digital tools and platforms. If as educators we require that learners think critically, educators too need to be critical learners. And that includes our uses and practices with digital technology for learning. 

Where is the presenter?

How will the presenter engage me throughout their talk?

How does your community of practice change your practices?





Further Suggestions:











Types of Presentations - Online Learning Tutorials for College Skills

25 May 2017

Editing Images and Image Sourcing


In a world of filtered perceptions, filtered realities, there is always a need to have image editors to play around with and experiment.

Here are a couple which I had previously on my side bar and still are free to use:

SumoPaint












Befunky










Ribbet










LunaPic








In Digital Delights - Images & Design, you can easily browse many more suggestions for image editors, as well as images and design related topics.

A couple of  recent posts which I have included are quite useful for bloggers and educators who may need images to use in their lessons:

Free images:

Free Images for Blogs and Marketing (38 sites)

Our top 5 sites for sourcing great images and photos on your iPad


Photo Collage Maker:

The 21 best Photo Collage Maker Tools 



What favourite tool/s do you currently use for image editing?

(Image from Pixabay)






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

Note

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


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