Considerations Arising From the First Annual Global Mobile Learning Congress 2012, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

Background

In September 2012, three Federal higher education institutions in the U.A.E began educating Foundation Programme students by increasing the amount of mobile learning they engage in. Hence, all participants are given iPads which are now the main vehicle for delivering and interacting with course content and fellow learners and teachers. This m-learning revolution springs from the vision of empowering students with the learning capabilities and skills to be successful in global and commercial environments, and from research such as that outlined in the NWC Horizon Report, 2012, showing that e-learning and m-learning lead to deeper, broader learning as students are more engaged in the acquisition of knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Present Considerations

H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the U.A.E, spoke of the connectivity, accessibility, and creativity that m-learning affords anywhere, anytime. He also stressed the need for collaboration between educational providers, technology providers and leaders in order to bring about meaningful change.

John Couch, Vice President, Worldwide Apple Education, said that it was the vision of Apple to recognize the unique value that every child makes, and their mission to help each child learn and love learning through targeted mobile pedagogy. Dr James Ashby, President and Chief of Psychometrics, CORE Edutech and Mabs Khan, Regional Director of British Telecom, envision analytics and software feedback loops facilitating student tracking, thus increasing possibilities of learner specific targeted pedagogy. For example, dashboard will notify teachers and learners of an individual’s progress and how they rate against their own performance at earlier periods in their educational journey.

All speakers talked of the need to think beyond present day pedagogy and forms of assessment, so that e-learning devices actually transform and redefine education, rather than merely being a substitute for past innovations such as the blackboard or overhead projector. Dr. Reuben Puentedura, Founder and President of Hippasus, presented the SAMR model of change and innovative implementation.

 

Dr. Puentedura provided examples of how a history lesson on the Industrial Revolution, could lead to changes in the learning paradigm, giving digital mind mapping as an example of the modification stage and iBook based student generated lesson material through which future learners could be educated, as an example of the redefinition stage. I personally think this needs to be thought about more in terms of EFL, as such activities would remain at the substitution stage in many EFL classroom because these tasks have been carried out by second language learners for decades, and would be merely replacing a pen and paper version with a digital version. The collaborative, communicative nature of language learning has meant that teacher fronted classrooms have not been advocated for decades.  However, the direction of EFL iPadagogy and m-learning methodology is a key unanswered question at present.

The TPCK (Technology, Content and Pedagogy) Model devised by Koehler and Mishra, requires the additional element of language placed in central position, for second language programmes: language as content focus and language as meta-communicative classroom language.

Dr Puentedura suggested a selection framework to help ensure that tools, activities and workflow plans are based on proven educational principles, thus meeting learner needs. The five areas to consider are social, mobility, visualization, storytelling and gaming.

 

Activities and materials should comprise these qualities and help develop within the learner the 21st century skills or competencies, such as Meta Knowledge for example, creativity and innovation; Humanistic Knowledge such as critical and emotional awareness and Foundation Knowledge which includes information literacy. Therefore, the challenge of educators, technology experts and leaders is to identify the skill sets required by the future; break them down into achievable learner outcomes and harness new ways of engaging with content and interacting with fellow learners such as webinars, simultaneously co-authored documents etc. The latter is already being revolutionized by digital sharing and publishing platforms, which are leading to the creation of new finished products such as interactive iBooks which motivate students in that they are viewed by a wide, public discourse community and which have a professional, polished appearance.

The danger is that innovations in pedagogy will precede innovations in assessment and that the negative wash back of this will be the curtailing and slowing down of developments in education. The fear is that the need for gate keeping exams, international benchmarking and exam security will keep assessment at the substitution, rather than the redefinition level. In other words as Dr Peter Scott asked ‘How can we progress from a ‘prove it’ to a ‘ move’ it assessment mindset?’

Guiding Questions

The m-learning initiative in the U.A.E is in its infancy and there are more questions than answers at this early stage of exploration.  Questions to be considered are:

  • What are 21st century learning processes?
  • What learning outcomes and competences are most generative?
  • Which traditional concepts of teaching and learning will change?
  • To what extent can students be the co-authors of their own learning?
  • What online skills have learners already developed in their lives outside the classroom?
  • What are the new educational and technological methods and concepts that will foster learning both inside and outside the classroom?
  • How can educators increase their own efficacy so that they inspire learners and educational environments run smoothly?
  • What forms of technological innovation are necessary to break down classroom walls?
  • What forms of assessment test 21st century learner competences?
  • How will we know that m learning is transforming education?
  • How will we know that the UAE m learning initiative is achieving what it is intended to?

Using Gary Woodhill’s Categories of Mobile Learning Content to Evaluate our iPad Based Course

As we are drawing to the close of the first academic year of teaching through iPads, we are looking for ways of evaluating the course design and types of mobile content that we have based our teaching and learning on. In a poll to 21 students, 19 said they saw the course objectives as developing their English and use of technology. The other two students said the course was only developing their English skills. So what is the variety of content that we are presenting students? We chose  Gary Woodhill’s Categories of Mobile Learning Content (http://floatlearning.com/2012/06/more-thoughts-on-categories-of-mobile-learning-content/.) as a framework for analyzes.  Our attention was drawn to this taxonomy during a seminar given by Dr Narimane Hadj- Homou of Clicks. This is her original slide. The table that follows is our attempt to map the actual apps and tools we have used and the ways in which we have used them onto this framework.

types of message

 

Kind of message/media Apps or Web Tools  Employed Information or communication shared
One way messages SMS, email, Twitter. Administrative information; sharing links for materials; photos of   the board; answer keys.

 

Bi-directional text and data messages Social networking sites e.g. GroupMe, Edmodo, What’s App, Polls and   surveys e.g. Survey Monkey, Edmodo, Google Forms, Socrative quizzes, apps e.g   Lino or websites e.g. Doodle.com.

 

Phatic communication and rapport building work; student evaluation of   teaching methods and materials;  formative   feedback especially as diagnostic analysis of work done e.g. exit quizzes;   traditional comprehension questions encouraging students to analyze content   in depth; live chats enabling students to conduct communicative dialogues but   with the advantage of thinking time what written dialogues allow.
Voice based content and responses iPad Speak function: emails listened to, podcasts e.g. Audioboo,   Sound Cloud, Talking Pictures.

 

Developing listening skills; student generated audio materials that   became input for peers e.g. Talking Pictures; audio comments as feedback to   others e.g. Voicethread.
Presentation materials Screencasts e.g. Ask3, Explain Everything, iMovie and You Tube videos,   institutionally made vodcasts on iTune U, Keynote and Prezi presentations. E-books    e.g. Epub bud, Creative Book Builder,   iBook Author.

 

Key input in nugget sized chunks e.g. language patterns or functions   e.g. telling the time, lexical sets such as clothes or sports; content to   raise curiosity and provide background information for a subject. Online   reading material based on unit topics; student generated books providing models   and input for peers e.g. How to prepare for the speaking exam.
Rich media We did not see the difference between this and the Presentation   Materials, with the exception of special animations e.g. Animato  and Puppet Pals.

 

Just in time information to be searched and retrieved Google apps: Google image, maps, search, translate; online   dictionaries, Wikipedia Used when present knowledge is not enough to comprehend and further   support is needed. Often student led and individual as it is needs based.

‘The concept of just-in-time information has its primary   application in supporting the performances of individuals and groups.’ Gary   Woodhill http://floatlearning.com/2012/06/more-thoughts-on-categories-of-mobile-learning-content/

 

Interactive and immersive media Games in the form of downloadable apps, augmented reality Vocabulary games e.g. Spelling City, Quizlet’ Hangman,4 pics 1 word;   grammar games not requiring flash.  QR   codes creating multiple layers of screen and student opinion.

We have not used augmented reality or virtual classrooms.

 

Collective collaborative experiences Collaborative learning projects on a large scale, mobile content for   groups rather than individuals. Teachers have taken part in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) as   part of their own personal development, but we have not involved our students   in any.

 

In conclusion, as we are a teaching institution which has face2face lessons with each student five days per week, we have not felt the need to move towards online courses or virtual classrooms. Our online material is there to supplement learning outside the classroom and to allow for students to work at their own pace inside the classroom (differentiated learning). The mobile resources we have developed and made available to students through a number of learning management systems such as Edmodo, BlackBoard Vista and eBackpack supports individualized learning through learner choice and, as it is for the main media rich, it fosters the development of multiple intelligences and accommodates learner preferences. Just in time learning through Internet searches for specific chunks of information, scaffolds student comprehension and so blocks in knowledge no longer become blocks to learning. Learners can find information independent of the teacher, which enables them to comprehend the material well enough to continue. If they cannot enlighten themselves with the aid of the Internet, the teacher is still there, but the teacher is no longer the first or only source of information.

The great variety of presentation materials, coupled with the high degree of accessibility to presentation materials developed by other professionals worldwide, has enabled us to push more ‘homework as preparation for lessons’ (the flipped approach) as opposed to ‘homework as evidence of learning in lessons’. In this way, actual face2face lessons can be more interactive and communicative.  The sheer variety of interactive material and games helps vary the pace and keep students engaged for longer. Finally, the quality of their output has increased as they are no longer only creating ‘display’ samples of their work for the teacher, but are digitally donating their work as part of a growing bank of learner created materials open to their learning communities.

Delivering Key Input Via Screencasts: Why, How, Which Apps?

Educational Principles Behind Making Screencasts

ss and screen 1

 

 

 

 

The teaching and learning encounter involves content input; processes undertaken to engage with this content; and output in the form of learner products which both foster learning in the creation process and demonstrate emergent learning.  Jack Richards (TESOL Arabia 2013) states that these three components of learning can be approached from three different directions:

Forward Design: starting with the input or curriculum, identifying the methodology or educational processes and then determining output.

Central Design: starting with classroom processes that students are interested in and deriving input and output from these processes.

Backward Design: starting with the standards or competencies students need to acquire and work backwards to decide on the curriculum input and processes that will engender these.

Whatever the approach, the input of processes, rules and key principles are an important component of the learning process. Traditionally, in F2F classrooms, these have been presented to learners during teacher to student contact hours, often eating into the time available for learning by doing. However, technology now makes it possible to move some of the content delivery out of the classroom and into a homework ‘preparation for active learning’ slot possible. John Martin says teachers can now  Flip [their] instruction so that students watch and listen to [their]  lectures… for homework, and then use [their] precious class-time for what previously, often, was done in homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating. Classrooms become laboratories or studios, and yet content delivery is preserved. (http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/2775   retrieved 8.5.3013  )

Students can sit and listen or read at home, but it is more difficult for them to actively work together and communicate at home. Hence, the flipped classroom, reverse teaching or teaching vodcasting can really add value to foreign language classrooms.  Martin suggests teachers also use classroom time to foster 21st century skills.

We know that collaboration is a critical skill set which can’t be developed easily either on-line or at home alone– let’s have students learn it with us in our classrooms. Let every classroom be a collaborative problem solving laboratory or studio.

http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/3367    retrieved 8.5.3013 

 In the EFL world, teachers began flipping vocabulary learning due to the work of Keith Folse and Tom Cobbs etc. ( see http://sevhandenise.edublogs.org/2012/11/21/ways-of-working-with-vocabulary-on-ipads/ ) and based on evidence that sleep helps transfer material from long term to short term memory. ( http://psychcentral.com/news/2009/06/26/sleep-strengthens-long-term-memory-building/6754.html)  If we want students to take on board new information and use it actively, they are more likely to remember the details, rules, formulas and vocabulary if they view the information several times on several days before class and sleep on it. Flipping classrooms allows sleep to aid memory transfer as homework is no longer a post lesson ‘show what you have learned experience’ but a ‘preparation for active lesson participation encounter’.  Mobile learning enables learners to view short videocasts and screencasts whenever it is convenient for them, several times in order to comprehend and process the target input and the user friendly iPad interface enables teachers to prepare effective content delivery artifacts in digestible nuggets with relative ease and proficiency.

Here are our reflections on using screencasts to encourage the independent acquisition of key content. Please note that everything was done on the iPad and not on computers. Our purpose was to see what could be created by teachers or students with only mobile devices.

We used four screencasting tools: Screenchomp (free), ShowMe (free), Ask3 (free),  Explain Everything ( $2.99)

We tested making screencasts to demonstrate ‘this, that, these and those’ and possessive ‘s and possessive adjectives to low level English language students.

ScreenChomp (lite)screenchompThis proved to be very problematic.  We tried to create multiple screen panes with multilple images inserted into them. However, for the possessive ‘s work e.g. ‘This is Denise’s family. This is her family’, we wanted to have an image for each possession belonging to the family and then use a colour coding system to highlight the grammatical buildup of the sentence e.g. red for possessive ‘s, purple for the subject possessing the object, green for the possessed object. This increases the students’ ability to notice the elements of a sentence and the syntax in which they occur.  We could not do this. Each time we inserted a new image it replaced the previous one. We presumed that as there are three initial panels showing to add images to, we could add three images and write about them, but this did not work either. We visited the ScreenChomp website and watched the support video, but it did not mention how to add multiple images and this question was not address in the question and answer support section. Hence, it may not be possible to do this. We therefore tried recording in real time, drawing simple images instead of inserting real ones. We scrolled down as I was recording. This worked, but as we could not scroll down to prepare the additional screens before recording, there was a long time pause between oral explanations as the teacher needed to write and record at the same time. After a certain number of sentences, we were not allowed to write anymore. In addition, the whole app shut down without warning on several occasions resulting in the loss of work done.  

Examples of work done:

Possessive’s’ http://www.screenchomp.com/t/39lLrMU2Dky                                                                                                             

This,That,These,Those http://www.screenchomp.com/t/Hk8d7dKzAR

ShowMe (lite)

Show me

We used the same learning outcomes and same pane designs as we had done with Screen Chomp.  It was easy to incorporate the desired colour code scheme on ShowMe as changing pens only required one tap, it often required two or more taps on ScreenChomp. We could not change panes, but we had a larger screen to work on and a finer pen head and so we fitted everything onto one screen. we could also half plan my page before starting to record, which greatly reduced the long pauses that students encounter as the teacher writes. We were able to add several imported images at once to a screen and again prepare the page so that the delivery of the lesson was quicker. There was no problem in viewing the screencast on the iPad and we were able to email it straight to our classes, using the MailShot app (permitting group emails on iPads). A URL can be created by opening the screencast in Safari, and so it can be uploaded onto Edmodo. If students download this app, they can find our names under people and look at different grammar points anytime they wish to. We are also now following the ESL teachers on ShowMe and can already see several lessons that we could use. We certainly recommend ShowMe over ScreenChomp

Examples of work done:

Possessive’s’ http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=D9FlwIa

This,That,These,Those http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=WYk3FoW

Ask3 (Free ) http://ask3.me/

ask3

Ask3 is an interactive screencasting app that functions in the same way as Socrative, in that students sign into a class. However, unlike Socrative, student responses are not only shared with the teacher, but they also shared with the class. It was easy to create an instructional video, highlighting key points with arrows and borders. Pictures can be inserted and an initial screen prepared in advance before recording.  The drawback is that subsequent screens need to be produced in real time and texts unaccompanied by audio recordings are not saved. The unique selling point, however, is that the screencast is interactive and thus whilst students are listening to it, they can respond orally or in written form and it is these recordings that are available to their peers and teacher.

ask ss replies

 

 

 

 

 

For example, a paragraph can be provided and students may be asked to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the paragraph.  Incorrect sentences can be set and students asked to correct the sentence, providing the rationale behind the correction. Questions may be asked and learners’ responses recorded. Other students work becomes donated language examples enriching the learning experience.  Teachers get push notification of student responses, a key feature of 1:1 feedback.  A major drawback is that we could not find the eraser, hence when an error is spotted one has the choice of undoing back to the error or deleting the screencast entirely.  In addition, everything needs to be handwritten as there is no keyboard function. It is also difficult to share screencasts with anyone outside a class, but extremely easy to share with people belonging to a learning group.  We did not come across any digital glitches when trying out this app.

Explain Everything. http://www.explaineverything.com/

Explain everything

This app allows you to insert photos, use colour coding and prepare multiple screens in advance of recording.  A keyboard allows for typed as well as hand written slides.  There is an eraser and editing is easy, even once screencasts have been published and shared. Screencasts can be pushed to a number of platforms including Evernote, Dropbox , Google Drive and Webdav.

ee sharing  Explain everything in edmodo

 We did not come across any digital glitches when trying out this app. It is the best of the three unidirectional screencasts reviewed here. The only disadvantage is has is that it does not have the interaction features of Ask3.

The challenges of flipping classrooms through  screencasts

The greatest challenge of flipped learning iss making high quality, stand alone material that was crystal clear, as the teacher is not with the students to answer questions requesting clarification.  The interactive screencast app ASK3 adds value here, as students can post comments about what they do not understand and the teacher receives notification of this. Hence, they know what to further prepare for the ensuing face2 face class. Another challenge iss materials management both in storing it carefully and in delivering it to students. We use a LMS and blogs.  We also need to think about how much the flipped classroom teaches higher order thinking skills or provide the scaffolding for higher order thinking skills in our clasess after students have viewed the lesson at home? It seemed important to actually create an information gap by either showing students different screencast at home or by providing a different task that students needed to lisen for. In this way, students felt responsible to the team and peer pressure meant that individuals did thier homework.

Student feedback

In a student survey to elicit  opinions about screencasts,there was a 100% positive response. Student comments included:

The animations help me see the important differences between grammar rules.

I see the key points we need to learn for the exams.

I do not learn by reading things. This is hard for me. I like to hear the teacher telling me things and asking me questions. I stop the video and answer these questions in my mind and then I listen to the teacher’s answer. This helps me see what I do not know.

This is like a cartoon for me. It is more fun than learning from a grammar book. I show the videos to my sons. They like them and we talk about them in Arabic.

I watch them again before homework and before exams. Sometimes when I write I am not sure and I watch them or look at the photos of the board and I see what is right. This is good because I remember what the teacher says in class and the friends’ examples when I see these class videos and photos. It is better than a book.

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The Challenges and Opportunities of Universal Instructional Design on iPads.

Universal Instructional Design aims to make education accessible to all learners regardless of ability, location, or social status by planning and implementing learning in a user friendly, flexible way that reduces barriers to education and self-development.  In this blog entry, we consider the ways in which the iPad reduces obstacles to learning, and acknowledge the areas of difficult that still exist. 

The Opportunities

Device Variability.

As an institution we provide iPads and so in principle have uniformity of devices. However, in order to be truly paperless and interactive, we often find that each learner needs more than one device. It is therefore advantageous to have apps and Web 2.0 tools that can be pushed to a variety of mobile devices. Students can be working on a document on their iPad, using their smart phone as a QR code readers or as a dictionary, or to photograph a text they have written on the iPad, but wish to refer to when carrying out a multimedia project in real time communication. Having the same apps across a variety of devices in a BYOD situation, also means that students have a backup if their iPad needs to be given to IT due to a problem, or if there are updating an app or uploading a video to YouTube and unable to use their iPad at that moment.

Flexibility

Variety of apps. So many apps carry out similar functions that if a student does not like one app, or tires of it, then they can use another one. Some students like using Adobe Reader, others prefer Neu Annotate; others want to write in Pages, whilst others prefer Note. It is great to offer flexible routes to end goals. Different vocabulary websites and apps offer different games to practice the target words and so generating exercises for a specific lexical list on two sites allows students to choose the layout and exercise type that best suits their learning styles. We mainly use Quizlet and Spelling City.

Flexibility in ways through material.

Students do not have to work on the same tasks at the same time, because once tasks are shared through a learning management system, they can engage in whichever task they feel tempted to do at a particular time. Some students like to start with vocabulary work, then look at grammar and build up the big picture incrementally, whilst others like to see the end destination first, and work backwards trying out communicative activities in a test, teach, test situation. They try out the task, identify their needs and then do the activities focusing particularly on the linguistic items that will serve their needs. Access to the material in their own time, enables each student to take their own desired, tailor made route through the learning experience.

The flexibility to work inside or outside the class in multiple locations on a task. Especially, if inputs and productive tasks are created in short learning nuggets that can be completed within a 10 -20 minute framework, students can take advantage of windows of time and learn on the go, when it suits them. The same learning goals need to be presented in different formats, so that students can truly match the device and app to their situation e.g. a podcast can cover the same content as a reading passage: one can be listening to in the car, the other read whilst waiting in a queue. The text to voice function can help convert a text to a listening exercise, or a classroom activity can be to read and record the written text for future revision in listening format, whilst on the go.

A well of multimedia resources to meet all types of multiple intelligences and different learner needs.

Some students prefer to convey their message by video, some though their own photos, some via sketches they have drawn, others with Google images they have uploaded onto an app such as Talking Pictures. Students choose what they feel comfortable with at a variety of levels and the freedom to follow their preferences is a key opportunity of mobile devices. Holistic learners take notes on mind maps and graphic organizers, spatial mathematical learners in charts and tables. All look equally well polished and all can embed a high level of different media.

Mobile devices are intuitive and user friendly in that they tolerate errors.

M-learners have acquired a new form of semiotics including arrows coming out of boxes to indicate what an app connects with, a plus sign to open up a new version of something and a capital T to add typeface. These instruction codes usually transfer across apps and can empower users to operate apps for the first time with relative efficiency. Furthermore, functions can often easily be reversed or ‘undone’ and push pop ups warn the user if there is danger if deleting work.

Challenges with iPads.

Glitches

Technology is developing quickly, but is not glitch free. Things work one minute, but not the next. Some apps work for one device, but not the other. This is especially true of lite versions. For example, a student who has been using Socrative Student for 10 weeks without glitches, suddenly found the program constantly reverting to question 1. The only thing we could do was to delete the app and download it from App Store again, resulting in a loss of time for both the student and teacher.

Accessing the Internet

Internet access speed is very important as ‘open up time’ can cause classroom management issues and short, non-iPad related tasks need to be at hand to maintain student focus. With several networks in the college, iPads often pick up the nearest one such as Apple Tv, which may not be the most effective for them and so students need to be constantly warned to check the wireless network they are connected to and alter it if necessary. Furthermore, some websites do not work well on Safari, but that is the only choice available on an iPad unless you use Rover or Puffin Browser and these can also really slow down processing time or in the case of the lite versions, stop working.

Screen Size and Typing Speed

Screens are relatively small. Especially on iPads, touch screen boxes can be very small for ‘fat fingers’ and the dropdown boxes have too many commands close together, meaning that people inadvertently open up the wrong feature. For example, the words on iFiles drop down menus are so tightly packed that iBooks are often downloaded in PDF format rather than opened in iBooks. Many men use styluses to increase their tapping accuracy.  Typing with the aid of a stylus reduces the scribe to one fingered typing, vastly slowing down the input process. It is not possible to view multiple windows at once, unless an app such as Side by Side is used. However, this greatly reduces the size of text in each open pane.

Sharing Resources

It is not easy to share rich, interactive multimedia content to any learning management system and hope to open it up in any app. There are a number of options that work, but no universal method that can be applied universally. For example, texts created on Pages or PDFs can be uploaded to Edmodo, but cannot be ‘opened in’ another app enabling interactive with the texts. Material can be stored in Google Drive and uploaded to Edmodo, but students need to sign in to their own Google Drives and download it that way, which can be a lengthy process with students needing to remember passwords, sign in, move between several platforms etc. Students can produce lengthy, rich multimedia products and then be unable to share them directly without creating a url. Learning how to perform each step can take serious amounts of time away from the subject focus of the lesson.  Too many complicated sharing steps flaunt the key principle of universal instructional design of keeping steps small, simple and manageable.

Conclusion

Despite the technical glitches and issues of pushing content across devices and learning management systems, we feel that the iPad coupled with m-learning pedagogy is leveraging both teaching and learning. Our main perception is that constant access to materials and to a learning community for support, is enabling students to learn as much as they want to. No student is being kept behind due to lack of opportunities. Furthermore, control over these resources means that students can interact with the materials on 1:1 terms hypothesis testing, getting immediate feedback, encountering the target learning objectives in multiple contexts etc.  The portable nature  of iPads  and their street credibility means that they can be employed by students and teachers alike to capture appropriate learning materials and learn by doing. We would hate to revert to teaching without a mobile device and IT support network.

Reference

Tanya Elias, 2011, Universal Instructional Design Principles for Mobile Learning. http://udlearning.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/uid-mobile-learning1.pdf

Student perceptions of mobile devices in ESL: two positive, one negative.

Here are shortened versions of transcripts of interviews we have conducted with our college students. They had used iPads in a paperless environment for 10 weeks at the time of the interviews. We have corrected their English grammar to make their interviews easy to understand. They have low level English. The interviews were recorded on my iPad using Sound Note.

Interview One:

T: Do you like studying with the iPad?

S1: I like studying with the iPad because it is easy to use and very fast. I can read a lot of information about the new grammar and vocabulary I am learning.  I store this information in all the programs as it is all good for me. I use Pages and Keynotes and iBooks.

T: Is it easy to use the iPad in class?

S1:I know how to use the iPad because before I used a laptop and I use my Blackberry and iPhone and so I can easily use the iPad.

T: On your iPad, you have not organized your documents into folders. Why not?

S 1: Because I do not know how to put information into folders, but I can learn and then I can do it to make it faster to find information.

T: So you have some information in Keynote, some in Pages, some in Neu Annotate. How do you know where to find things?

S1: I use the Spotlight Search.  I remember where I put things. I learn easy with the iPad.

T: So you do not need to have a folder for reading, one for writing, one for a topic like ‘the family?’

S1: No, I think this is for a teacher and it is not necessary for a student. I think is it a film, my book, a book you gave me and I go to the right place. And I study at home and in the office at lunch. I study too much and I know where things are.

T: What do you study?

S1: I open my iPad and first I read emails and after that I go to my programs and I read what I did in class again. I learn how to write the words, the spelling, the meaning. I do listening with the graded readers. I listen and read. I also listen to podcasts. I chat with friends in another country. I do not do essay writing in my home. The iPad and programs and the battery is good. I play the vocabulary games and the grammar games. I make the movies and presentations for class. It is good. It is fun.

T: How often do you study outside of class?

S1: May be three times, may be four times a week. I study twice. Before the class, I study in my office. After class, I study in my home. I listen to the stories and English songs in my car.

T: Do you think we waste time in class learning how to use new apps and downloading new apps?

No, I can use my iPad to learn and at work. It is good to know the apps. I can help my friends to learn the apps. Everyone wants to use them now. It is necessary for the iPhone, also.

Interview Two:

T: Do you like studying with the iPad?

S2: It is easy to write and it is easy to understand because it has pictures and music and people talking in You Tube, and it is easy to watch the teacher and the videos. I like the Spelling City games and the listening exercises. I listen to them many times. I listen and read the words together. This helps me. I learned many new words with listening and reading together. I learn the pronunciation. I write and the iPad says my words in a good English way. This is very good for the speaking exam.

T: On your iPad, you have not organized your documents into folders. Why not?

S2: No need, I think. I can find things. I can search. I can look at my friend’s iPad and say ‘which app?”

T: But what about when you are studying at home?

S2: I BBM my friends. They tell me. I ask on class Facebook. No problem.

T: What do you study outside class?

S2: I study vocabulary on Spelling City. This is my favourite because I play games and learn. I maybe read, I sometimes listen.  But I study 2000 words. I study words every day.

T: Do you study more now with the iPad than before you had an iPad?

S2: Definitely. Yes. Before I did not do homework.  At high school I did not like homework. It was boring.

T: What is your favourite app?

S2: Football games.

T: What do you not like about iPads?

S2: Sometimes it freezes or downloads slowly. Sometimes the other friends are on an app, but my iPad will not open that app. I forget my charge. The battery is too little. It is difficult to read big texts on an iPad. Too much moving up and down. I forget my questions. Sometimes, I do not know the programs. Some programs are easy, some are hard. It is easy to write because the auto-correct makes the wrong word right. I can work fast. I can understand the iPad symbols easily because I use it every day.

 Interview Three:

T: Do you like studying with the iPad?

S3: No. I hate iPads. I think they are boring and dangerous.

T: How are they dangerous?

S3: I always want to play games. I do not study because I play games. I check my telephone. Maybe, I check the Internet for a newspaper, a funny video.

T: Do you like the English language games?

S3: No, they are like baby games. They are easy and slow. The dolphin game is like the kindergarten games.  The images are too slow.

T: Do you read the online graded readers?

S3: Only because you give me homework and the badge in the chart. I do not like reading on the iPad. It is small. I get tired.

T: Do you read and listen at the same time?

S3: No, I like You Tube and some funny films and comics. I learn English from songs. I like the movies but I watch them on my television. I check Facebook. I chat with friends in BBM and Facebook.

T: Do you chat in English?

S3: No, Arabic. I like writing on paper.

T: But you do not take your paper with you. I always see you leave it on the desk.

S3: I remember it. I do not need it. When I write it with pencil, I remember it.

 

Conclusion: The last student is 18 years old. He is the youngest of the three whose interviews appear here. He found it very difficult to stay on task, either when working individually or in a group. Interestingly, he does not work part-time. The other two students work in banks part- time and have returned to education in their early twenties. They seem to appreciate the value of ubiquitous, interactive learning opportunities that come in bite-size portions and that can be fitted into lunch breaks etc.  Even though their English levels are low, no one feels that iPad specific lexis such as submit, tap, drag and drop etc. is problematic. The semiotics of iPad use seems to come easily to them all, even if student two commented on the frustration of experiencing technical glitches. Gamification and the multi-sensory affordances of the digital technology are appreciated the most by the students and this was echoed strongly in the other interviews we transcribed.

 

 

 

 

 

What challenges are we experiencing when incorporating mobile learning into our curriculum?

Employing m-learning and Web 2.0 technologies meaningfully.

For us the greatest challenge remaining after 8 months of m-learning is that fellow teachers, students and ourselves still cannot really envisage and implement quintessential Mobile /Web 2.0 Learning in our educational environment, despite ubiquitous access to materials and connectivity to a learning community via iPads and other mobile devices, which  brings with them an entourage of functionalities.  We are not alone in our fear of failing to map out and foster a new pedagogy which leads to deeper learning and more engaged learners.  Dr Craig Wishart ( Guy 2009: 283) quotes the British based Joint Information Systems Committee on saying  that the most ‘potent challenge’ facing educators today is in embracing new ways of learning by knowing ‘when and how mobile technologies are best deployed’ to meet the needs of individual learners and their learning outcomes. Mayorga-Toledano and Fernandez- Morales ( Guy 2009: 162)echoes Dr. Reuben Puentedura,( designer of the SAMR model of change and innovative implementation. http://sevhandenise.edublogs.org/2012/11/20/the-first-annual-global-mobile-learning-congress-2012-u-a-e/  )that m-learning material must not simply be the conversion of ‘traditional learning materials into electronic formats”.  In other words, the mobile device should not become and expensive course book or worksheet. So, what workflows and learning activities can/should arise from Mobile Web 2.0 Learning? How is MALL (Mobile Assisted Language Learning) (Guy, 2009: 81) different from CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning)? And how can we leverage m-Learning to equip my students with the 21st century skills exhibited in the table below?

Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:P21_Skills.jpg on 06.02.2013.

How can students make use of enhanced functionality such as the back facing camera and the synchronizing and organization capacity of Camera Roll; iMovies and video recording systems, audio recording Apps such as Sound Note or those available in platforms such as Evernote; and Augmented Reality to increase their noticing of key connections between phenomena and experience eureka moments of new insights and deep learning? How can students use the aforesaid technical functionalities to enhance their meta-learning ( Guy, 2009: 97)?  For example, language students can be sent on a scavenger hunt to photograph key areas of the college such as the students’ car park, teachers’ area, their teacher’s desk etc.  Using the Scribble Press App, they can produce a book to introduce new comers to the campus. On each page they will add a photo and a sentence such as: ‘This is my teacher’s desk’  “This is the students’ locker and cloakroom area.” They can color code their sentences so that the  first noun or possessor  is colored in green, possessive ‘s’ in red, and the possessed object is in blue. In this way, students will become aware of the syntax and grammar of possessive ‘s’ whilst providing a service to their community in that they are creating digital e-books to help newcomers orientate themselves. Developing the book involves visual and kinesthetic learning. Presenting the book to their classmates involves audio learning, visual and kinesthetic learning and well as Howard Gardener’s  visual-spatial, linguistic, and interpersonal intelligences. (http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html) What more can we do to tap into this rich learning environment? How can we engage students in a high level of connectivity through mobile social networking in order for them to really feel the need to use English, to be part of an enjoyable experience?

Coupled with teachers not being aware of what is possible and not teaching in an innovating way, is the students’ ability to adapt to a new form of learning. Even though, students nowadays grew up within the last two decades of the 20th century and are therefore termed as Digital Natives(http://oupeltglobalblog.com/2011/01/20/digital-natives-fact-or-fiction/) , they are not in fact tech savvy due to the socio economic bracket or culture they were born in. In the U.A.E religious parents do not allow internet access in the house and some students themselves shun social networking sites.  Students come to college from a very traditional teacher fronted lockstep learning environment in which questioning belief systems held by elders is considered to be highly disrespectful. They are not encourage to question or think outside the box and so they have not grown up to be educational risk takers (Guy, 2009: 95) or independent learners. Out of the 45 students Denise taught last term in the first phase of the iPad initiative, she identified only 6 as being at ease with independent work, capable of following an extended set of instructions and collaborating in groups without being told what to do next by me, the teacher. Denise gradually tried to increase the number of choices students had, such as what App to work in to meet a specific learner outcome, which App and which mode to record information acquired in: it could be in linear or list writing via Pages or Notes; it could be in a graphic organizer or mindmap using Popplet or Mindmiester; it could be  an audio recording on Sound Note or Audiboo or in the form of a video with key words etc. written  on the board. How the information was recorded and where it was curated, was left up to the student, but scaffolded through a series of choices.  Students did not seem to be able to cope with less guidance and so the idea that they could establish their own learning goals and explore Web 2.0 material to meet their desired learner outcomes, seems an anathema to them, at present. The 6 students identified as really taking advantage of 24/7 accessibility to learning materials showed a marked increase in their exam results and for the first time to my knowledge, the college administration gave some of these students the opportunity to be re-assessed and to possibly skip a learning level and progress two levels, because they had learned so much.

References:

Guy, R, 2009, The Evolution of Mobile Teaching and Learning, Information Science Press, California.

Puentedura R, Founder and President of Hippasus, Speaking at The First Annual Global Mobile Learning Congress, Al Ain, U.A.E, 25th September 2012

http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html retrieved 6.2.13

http://oupeltglobalblog.com/2011/01/20/digital-natives-fact-or-fiction/ retrieved 6.2.13

Guiding Questions When Planning M-learning Workflows and Analysing the Pedagogic Potential of Apps and Web 2.0 Tools

Planning for Student Centred Learning Versus Lecture Mode

When planning a student centred teaching and learning experience, teachers need to begin with the learning objective in mind i.e. what exactly do we want the students to gain from this lesson. What do we want students to be more capable of doing by the end of the lesson? Learning objectives may exist in isolation in a lecture scenario   or even in a screencast  explanation delivered as part of a flipped classroom, where the main aim is to transfer knowledge content to students. The students listen and watch the unfolding boardwork, and try to comprehend and remember the grammar structure, mathematical formula, engineering principle, historical event etc. They process the information in isolation and are often not required to demonstrate understanding via output, until a later stage.

However, learning objectives can not stand alone in student centred classrooms, as the students need to employ a variety of  skills  to interact with the content input. Furthermore, in student centred learning by doing scenarios, content input and  student produced output is more intertwined. Hence, teachers must think of and  plan for:

The learning objective(s) e.g. using the simple past to communicate about finished events.

Skills to be used so that students engage with the learning objectives e.g reading, writing, speaking,listening

Activity types e.g. comparing, asking and answering questions, ranking etc.

Classroom interaction patterns e.g. whole class, pairs, groups etc.

With the advent of mobile devices, teachers also need to think of which apps or Web 2.0 Tools  and sharing platform(s) facilitate this process.

Guiding Questions When Planning M-learning Workflows

What is the learning  objective for this lesson?

How does the learning objective fit in with what students already know?

What key content information or rules do students need to be given prior to the lesson  via flipping or at some point during the lesson?

How will students receive this content information? Via a reading text,a listening text such as a podcast, a screencast or video or through teacher or student fronted elicitation?

Which activities will encourage students to process the content? Making predictions, answering comprehension questions, completing a gapfilled text, highligfhting specific features of the text, taking notes etc.?

Which app or Web 2.0 tool best allows for the delivery of the text and the activities to be carried out with the text e.g. Pages, a PDF annotator, Keynote,  an e-book, a sound file  app, mind mapping app or a n app permitting several layers of text and picture to be uncovered etc.?

How will texts and instructions be shared with students e.g. through a LMS, email, Dropbox, Google Drive etc.?

How will students have access to the answer key for example through automated digital feedback built into the app or Web tool,  orally from the teacher,  in a written document  shared via email. a LMS, a QR code etc?

What student output engages students with the learning objective, enabling them to hypothesize test and demonstrate their emergent understanding and acquisition of the learning outcome e.g. creating an ebook personalising the information, planning and recording a dialogue or monologue, creating a keynote presentation or iMovie etc?

What apps or Web 2.0 tools are involved in student output generation?

Why should students interact with the work of peers? What task will they be required to do that gives them a reason to interact e.g. listening for a discrepancy, listening for new information they have not encountered in their own work, voting on an opinion etc?

Which platform is needed to share student output in a particular app e.g. do students need to upload their output onto a LMS, email it to the teacher, add it to a class blog or do they simply need to share it by Apple TV?

Will feedback be given to individual students or to the class as a whole?

Will feedback be given about the students’ understanding of the learning objective only or will feedback also be given about their skill in using a particular app?

It goes without saying that the educational processes apps and Web 2.0 tools enable learners to participate in, during active learning, is the key reason for their selection. Therefore, it is important to spend time analysing the features of an app and brainstorming the interactive processes and activities which they can be used for, separate to lesson planning. When this is done, lesson planning becomes quicker. Once the teacher identifies the lesson  learning objective and  skills to be  fostered,  or  broadly decides on the activity types to provide practice, then the appropriate apps and tools start popping into mind.

Guiding Questions When Analysing the Pedagogic Potential of Apps and Web 2.0 Tools

Which  of the four main language skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) does the app or tool require students to use?

Can students create with it?

What mode of text is created for other students to engage with e.g. video, audio, written, pictorial?

Are student responses non verbal, word level verbal, sentence level verbal, paragraph level verbal?

Can students create something alone or are two or more people required?

What type of multimedia can be added?

Are their multi levels of text and images i.e. can some information remain hidden?

Are other apps such as Camera Roll, audio recorder etc. necessary to be able to produce something on this app?

What are the sharing options?

Can the app be used on different mobile devices?

How user friendly is it?

Are there instructional materials available on You Tube , Lynda.com, in PDFs etc?

How interesting and motivating is the app for students?

What classroom activities have I used, or heard about, this app being used for before?

Is the learner output and ensuing student to student interaction patterns worth the time spent using the app and sharing the student generate artefact?

A Two Pronged Approach to Lesson PLanning

A clear understanding of how an app or Web 2.0 tool can facilitate teaching and learning, prevents the use of technology for the sake of technology. Using a PDF annotator to write down answers from a listening passage is a clear case in which technology is not the most efficient tool. On the contrary, the technology detracts from the listening sub skill of being able to keep up with the speaker’s voice and be able to jot down information in real time listening. In lesson planning for learning by doing, the technology should not be the starting point, the learning objectives need to take priority. However, in our experience, the two pronged  approach of analysing apps separately is highly beneficial, as it allows the teacher to see the fit between the pedagogy and the mobile technology more rapidly.

Have we moved on to M-Learning? If so, in what ways?

Mobile Learning means 24/7 access to learning, despite one’s location (Woodill:15), through wireless and 3G/4G technology, which enables portable devices such as smartphones and iPads to reach content stored on virtual servers and Cloud Computing.  Learning tools and material can migrate across multiple devices (Jacquez 1) through responsive design and synchronization (Gayle Haugen comment in Jacquez 2) and so documents stored in Google Drive or Yahoo Groups can be accessed from one’s own mobile device or by logging on to the Cloud from someone else’s computer. Tools such as Quizlet and Learning Manangement Systems such as Edmodo can be used on both Apple and Microsoft software, affording anytime, anywhere, any device learning.

However, Woodill (Woodill: 15) warns that not all computer-based learning involving the Internet qualifies as M-Learning.  The computer labs of the 1980s in which all students worked on the same Storyboard at the same time, but completed gap fills or story builds in isolation is E-learning and not M-Learning. M-learning embraces connectivity with others either as collaborative learning endeavors using Wikis, Google Hangouts to co-author digital products and share ideas or for example,  as User Created Content to help tutor others (Tolisana) e.g. Blogs, Podcasts, Screencasts. Here lessons produced by the learner can become learning material for other learners. So, for example, a student can research information about a country, present it by Keynote, record the presentation and make it available for other learners. This user generated content becomes the substance of a listening lesson for future learners.  Communication can also move across an ‘ecosystem of screens’ (Jacquez 1) e.g. Aurasma App, QR codes, hyperlinks allowing learners to decide how deeply they want to interact with the material. They can choose a surface approach, or work in depth following the extra layers the author has been able to construct. Learner choice and the tailoring of materials to suit the needs of individual learners is pivotal to M-Learning. Technology enables learners to go at their own pace, get instantaneous feedback and decide if they wish to repeat a learning encounter or progress. M-Learning fosters flexibility. It enables students in a learning community to work on different learning activities at the same time, entering them from different points in accordance with their needs or preferences. However, the connectivity afforded by Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing means learners are supported by interdependence and collaboration. They have access to each other’s work as reference; they can message each other and ask for clarification, share their learner outcomes and solicit feedback etc.

In conclusion, digital technology enables the ubiquitous, collaborative, flexible, mobile consumption, creation and curating necessary for learning. So, our question to ourselves is

“Are we fostering M-Learning in our classrooms or are we continuing the e-learning that we have been doing in one shape or another since 1985?”

To help answer this question, we compiled a list of the activities we did in class over the first semester of teaching.

 

Features of

M-Learning

How this feature is utilized on our courses Benefit to the learner
MOBILITY

Moving around within the institution utilizing wifi, and the technological functions e.g. camera, microphone, chat rooms or Skype to contact other group members

Scavenger Hunts (gamification). Students look for information to be found within QR codes (embedded texts) and Aurasma images(embedded videos). They use scanning technology within their mobile devices to unlock this information.

Students find images to photograph, and people to interview and record or video.

They can legitimately move about and release kinesthetic energy.

Hunts/races can be collaboratively competitive suiting both male and female learning styles.

Different students can be given different information to gather, increasing group accountability and creating an information gap which means learners need to share what they have learned. Gamification may engage reluctant learners.

MOBILITY &

ACCESSIBILITY

Study within the classroom and outside the classroom using Web 2.0 tools and Apps

Whether at home, work, or in an outdoor wifi hotspot, students can use EFL material accessed through websites such as Tense Buster, Quizlet, Spelling City, and ESL Grammar Lab and those produced by publishers or institutions such as the British Council e.g. My WordBook and O.U.P’s Graded Reading Resources to access either generic material or material created by their teachers in line with units of study.

 

 

Previewing. reviewing and working with material following an extended rehearsal process( reviewing work periodically : 1 day later, 3 days later, 1 week later etc) leads to better retention of information. This is possible when students can dip into material frequently for short periods of time. Learning is more engaging when it can be done when learners feel in the mood to study.

This fosters independent learning, a prerequisite for lifelong learning.

 

 

CONNECTIVITY

Seamless connections exist between home and class

Work can be started in class, so that everyone knows what is expected of them and continued at home, then uploaded to a platform such as E-Backpack or Dropbox to be accessed by teachers and returned to students in the interval between lessons.

Students can post questions in chat rooms or on discussion boards, or email someone and received rapid feedback on an area of work they misunderstand.

The shorter the time lapse between assignment completion and feedback, the more meaningful it becomes. It helps correct errors in interlanguage (emergent learning) and informs the teacher of any remedial work required when connecting a sequence of learning activities spread over several days. The relevance and clarity of feedback seems less effective when the for example, Day One feedback has to be given on Day Three, and Day Two is a stand-alone lesson because homework can on be submitted in a f2f classroom.
CONNECTIVITY & COLLABORATION

Teachers and fellow students produce digital tutorials and instructional material accessible across devices and across time and place

 

Each person involved in a learning context is an educator. Everyone can produce instructional material using Apps and Web 2.0 tools such as Explain Everything, Keynote, Prezi and iMovies. When stored on a shared platform such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, or You Tube, this material can act as a stimulus to other learners. The belief is that we are all responsible and capable of contributing to the body of knowledge on the Internet and Cloud Computing. In order to teach someone something, a learner needs to understand it themself and the effort they put into clearly articulating that knowledge and representing it with multimedia, leads to high level engagement and deep learning. Feeling they can contribute, increases self-esteem. (Tolisano)

The spin off are the 21st century skills and digital literacies acquired at the same time.

INTERACTIVE, COLLABORATIVE

LEARNING

Students co-author texts using multi-device co- authoring tools such as wikis, or shared boards such Linoit and Wallwisher. The co-construction of texts can be a synchronistic or synchronistic. The constructivist approach to learning states that learners create understanding during their interaction with the material and fellow learners. Understanding is constructed by each individual and simply not transmitted. Being forced to articulate one’s understanding for the consumption of another helps a learner firm up emergent knowledge. Asking questions drives forward the learning processes in others when they attempt to answer these questions. Hence, the synergy of co- construction fosters learning.

In addition, students may find it less face threatening to hand in a joint product for which several learners are responsible, than to submit a piece of work for which they are solely responsible .

PERSONALISED LEARNING

Learning is personalized, and customized to their needs because students can choose what suits them best

Many Apps perform the same functions. Students can select the ones they like best. One size does not have to fit all. Examples of student choices are:

*Students can choose from an array of annotating apps such as iAnnotate, Neu Annotate and Adobe Reader.

*They can choose whether to read in silence or have the Speak Selection read the text out loud as they read function (iPad, Setting, General, Accessibility, Speak Selection).

*They have ownership of their device and can decide on how they want to arrange Apps, where they want to store material etc.

*Learners decide how they want to capture learning in action and the meaning they are constructing- in note form, by photographing work done on the board, by recording notes to themselves or recording a group discussion etc.

If learners feel comfortable with something, they are more likely to use it and benefit from it. Cognitive capacities will not be taken up operating a system, but will be available for focused learning.
PERSONALISED FEEDBACK LEADS TO 1:1 TARGETED PEDAGOGY Many Apps such as Socrative and Nearpod include a software feedback loop, and so they record students’ responses to an instructional item and transmit this data to the teacher who can make more informed responses about when and how to intervene in an individual students learning process. Other Apps such as Spelling Free present a student with items they have made errors with, a substantially greater number of times than items they are performing well on.

 

Students are more motivated to complete tasks when they know that they will receive immediate feedback on their performance, enabling them to take corrective action and quicken the pace of learning. Feeling in control of your learning increases self-esteem.

 

Realistically we are doing a combination of E-Learning and M-Learning in our classes. Learners themselves are not ready to transfer from a traditional way of teaching, where the teacher directs lock step classes, into a totally learner centered approach. The transition to different ways of learning in and outside of class needs to be scaffolded, so that learners feel secure and capable of using M-Learning opportunities to best effect. Learners need to be aware of what Apps or Web 2.0 tools they can use to reach specific learner outcomes, and develop specific skills. For example, they need to know where to go to study vocabulary independently, how to get feedback from peers or the teacher at a distance, the digital options available to them when the need to produce an output product to demonstrate their learning etc. They need to understand the resources available to them and the learning management tools that will keep them on track. The college website supports this approach. (http://elearning.hct.ac.ae/mlearn/52-mlearning-basics-2 )

The important thing is that we explore what M-Learning can be, and that we start to move all stakeholders involved in the M-learning initiative out of the comfort zone of E-Learning and into M-Learning, so that we can all reap the benefits of the ubiquitous, collaborative, flexible, mobile consumption, creation and curating necessary for learning.

References:

G. Woodill, 2011, The Mobile Learning Edge, The McGraw-Hill Companies

Jacquez(1):http://rjacquez.com/think-multiscreen-vs-ipad-only-when-developing-an-mlearning-strategy/

Jacquez(2):http://rjacquez.com/10-mlearning-lessons-i-learned-from-reading-mobile-first-by-luke-wroblewski-book-review/

Tolisano:http://langwitches.org/blog/2012/11/14/quality-tutorial-designers-checklist/

Ed Technology Innovation Center http://elearning.hct.ac.ae/mlearn/52-mlearning-basics-2

How the U.A.E Prepared Itself to Educate Students Through iPads

In the United Arab Emirates, three large federal institutions are now ending their first semester of learning and teaching through iPads in Foundations Courses. Everyone involved in this initiative was issued an iPad, participants could not bring their own devices. This uniformity aided collaboration and a shared learning path.  In this blog entry, we would like to summarize the journey we took from May 2012, when the iPad initiative was announced, until the final assessment week towards the end of January.

Preparing Teachers to Teach

Developing Expertise From Within

As soon as it was announced that teaching and learning in Foundations Year classes was to take place through iPads, there was a call for volunteers to be trained up as iChampions (digital leaders). Each institution needed to elect iChampions from every language level to be involved in the innovation. iChampions were given initial training from Apple Distinguished Educators and incorporated iPads into their lessons so that they could identify strengths, needs, possible pitfalls etc. These digital pioneers met regularly to discuss progress and to:

  • Identify core Apps that would be purchased for all three institutions and pushed to student and teacher iPads.
  • Design a training program for staff to be delivered within their institutions by the iChampions and at professional development days
  •  Support the training program with an iPad Orientation Checklist. The staff checklist included the sub skills needed to be able to use systems preferences, Safari, email set up, App store & Itunes. etc. A separate Orientation Checklist was also devised for students to be used in the first week of the course.

 

  • Produce ‘How to’ instructional PDFs and screen-casts as a resource for teachers. For example, how to use Apps such as Nearpod, how to add email accounts to a device, and how to set up Webdav connections (Webdav is an open-standard protocol which supports most iPad Apps).


This training/reference material was made available through the iFiles App, on a shared Y drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flipped Training

Teachers were issued with iPads in June and asked to prepare themselves for professional development sessions by getting acquainted with the iPad device itself and the iOS system through a set of online resources. These included:

Scotutor http://www.screencastsonline.com/appstore/scotutor_for_ipad

17 Tips n Tricks by SimplyZesty http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKRN-W-ro4M

Lynda.com http://www.youtube.com/user/lyndapodcast ,

    http://www.lynda.com/

Preparing for iChampion and Apple Distinguished Educator led f2f (face to face) presentations, by getting to know the basics, meant that ‘learning by doing’ training sessions were efficient and beneficial. The pre-summer iCelebrate Conference plenary sessions were designed to deal with overriding themes including m-learning workflow paradigms such as Flipped Classrooms, Learning on the Go as a result of Cloud Computing and Challenged Based Learning, and what it means for mobile learners to be able to consume, create and curate digitally.  Hands on workshops focused on the specifics of teaching such as a typical workflow (lesson plan) and the Apps used to bring it together. One session presenter covered Apps for delivering material and explaining language, Apps for form focused work in terms of vocabulary and language structures and Apps for encouraging student output in a production stage. In addition, there were App specific sessions on for example Explain Everything, and iAnnotate.  These sessions were conducted by iChampions based on their iPad trial period and related specifically to the materials taught in the U.A.E and the local context that participants work in. This gave validity and credence to the presentations.

Pre-summer institution based training centred on creating educational materials on iBook Author and Creative Book builder. Mac computer labs were set up and educators were encouraged to convert existing materials into iBooks and create new material that take advantage of new digital interfaces such as interactive exercises and embedding multimedia.

 Pedagogy and Personalization

Teachers were encouraged to experiment with their iPads over their summer holidays and some institutions added a competitive verve to this by running competitions for the best vacation iMovie etc. Faculty were also encouraged to share their experiences on U.A.E created websites such as http://ipadsuae.blogspot.com/ and  http://ipads.hct.ac.ae/ . The latter hosts The Teachers’ Lounge ‘where staff can share best practices, strategies (Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment), peer support, classroom ideas, tips for classroom organisation and more in their use of iPads in Education’.

It was made clear that apart from the core Apps pushed to everyone’s iPads from a shared Apple Store ID, educators would be free to choose the platform and Apps of their choice. Each campus was also allocated a budget to spend on Apps their teachers wanted to use. Subject leaders (English and Math) collated a list of Apps the subject teachers wanted to purchase and these Apps were purchased by a faculty Apple account.

Teachers worked in teaching groups to brainstorm action lists  and to experiment with platforms e.g.  Google Docs, Evernote, Edmodo, E-Backpack and Dropbox.

A Shared Y Drive and portal accessed via a WebDav connection from the iFiles App was also set up. These are organised on a hierarchical folder system, moving from faculty course, to language course level, to skill, to unit of study. (See photo above).  Each teacher was provided with their own Teacher’s Folder, within the course level they were teaching. The Y Drive has ultimately proved to be the best way of sharing materials and ‘how to’ rubrics among teaching staff.

Each campus was also given a budget to buy Apps requested by specific teams of teachers. As this is a learning process for everyone, there is an atmosphere of experimentation and on going research into what meets our context specific needs best.

Further Training

Before classes began, teachers had two weeks of training and materials preparation. This was carried out by the teachers themselves. They were divided into teams, with each team being assigned a set of skills that they needed to familiarise themselves with, and then present to other teachers in workshops. Each team was responsible for creating a workflow with specific Apps targeting curriculum related learning outcomes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning outcomes included:

  • Working with iWorks (Pages, Numbers and Keynote)
  • Setting up the device e.g. choosing systems preferences appropriate to the classroom situation, altering font size through accessibility etc.
  • Setting up communication systems e.g. adding email accounts to a device, synchronizing calendars etc.
  • Consuming material e.g. Neu Annotate, iTunes University iBooks, You Tube etc.
  • Creating material e.g. Creative Book Builder, Scribble Press, iMovie, Puppet Pals, A+ Pro Flashcard etc.
  • Curating material e.g. Flipboard, Scoop It etc.

The training covered in the teacher led workshop week was directly related to the week of iPad orientation training that teachers would give to their own students in the first week of term.  Hence, training also doubled as lesson planning and a dry run for the week ahead.

As each classroom is equipped with Apple technologies, it was essential that all staff knew how to set up and operate the system. Training of this very technical nature such as how to connect to Apple TV and Airprint were provided by IT Departments.

 Continuous Professional Development

Once courses started, extra support was provided via synchronous  virtual iPad training seminars which took place on Elluminate. Institutional f2f training took place on a need to know basis. All staff needed to be trained on how to produce and administer exams using the AC Tests App and Website in conjunction with the Guided Access function made available with iOS 6.1.

In addition, some colleges started up a genius bar system peopled by volunteers who were available for at certain times of the day to provide 1:1 micro training at a practitioner’s request.

Preparing Systems to Support The Teaching and Learning

IT Support

Any educational institution needs a strong IT department in order to have a seamless connection between individual devices and wireless systems that is secure. Throughout the semester there were many glitches which could not be resolved without IT expertise and it was extremely useful that both students and staff could call on a team of experts whenever necessary. The IT Department were also responsible for pushing core Apps onto all iPads, and providing each student with an individual Apple ID and password at the beginning of the year. They were available to help out with technical glitches when students carried out iPad based assessment.

Digital Resources

All resourcing is digital and so e-course books and graded readers were bought from major EFL publishers. Online material produced by staff from the institutions involved in the initiative, are used to supplement published material at present. Transitions such as a move to Blackboard 9 and Blackboard Mobile were made to make them digitally compatible with iPads.

E- Assessment

In line with the paperless approach,  ways to deliver secure exams on iPads were sought. The Guided Access feature in iOS6 and the AC Tests App were found to be suitable.

The Way Ahead

The second phase of iPad integration will involve Bachelor’s degree teachers who were not part of the initial training scheme. Their training will be provided by educational technology specialists, and supplemented with help from an iPad buddy who has spent the last semester teaching through iPads.

 

What Cloud Computing Affords Education

What Cloud Computing Affords Education.  (Based on Grey’s Model in Grey, 1999, The Internet in School, Cassell.)

The ideas that appear in this blog entry are taken from several workshops given by Isil Boy and Martin Curtis at the Pearson Education Amazing Minds Weekend in Dubai, December 2012.

Definitions

Cloud Computing :

Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. These services are broadly divided into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).  (http://searchcloudcomputing.techtarget.com/definition/cloud-computing)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud computing

 

In lay terms Cloud Computing in education means the integration of The Internet, platforms, apps and mobile devices into the learning process .

Mobile Technologies in Language learning

M learning  

M learning   learning on the go

E learning  

Mobile, more personalized constant connectivity

E learning beyond classroom]

M learning beyond the computer screen

Learning anywhere anytime = Connectivism 

 

Premise

With the help of m learning, made more possible by Cloud Computing we can improve the learning process , making learning more sustainable  and deeper.

Benefit One: Search and Receive

Cloud computing is a virtual library which provides learners with things to watch, read, listen to and look at. The iPad, as curator ( Christine Ozden, Pearson), helps learners develop Knowledge information literacy(Dr Puentedura).

TOOLS/APPS INVOLVED:

Textgrabber:  scan a text and the App converts it into a digital format. SeeYouTube: http://bit.ly/textgrabber. It also is capable of translating texts into other languages.

News Reader Zite : saves articles appertaining to areas of interest that the App user has tagged in a magazine format. Like Scoop It, it has a very powerful discovery engine that finds texts from a wide variety of sources, the user would not have time to scan through.

Diigo Offline Reader: allows users to save texts from websites and read them offline.

The Poetry App: more than a hundred poems read out by famous names and downloadable so that they can be used offline.

Stitcher: the radio equivalent of Scoop it and News Reader Zite. Stitcher streams content to the users mobile device, eliminating the need to synchronize listening material as is the case with podcasts. Listening material is organized according to Stations such as CNN and The BBC. A favoriting system allows the user to curate material around themes they are interested in.

Benefit Two: Share and Publish

Cloud computing as a publishing and disseminating facility.

Use screencast software such as Jing, Explain Everything or Educreations to create explanations and examples of the key grammar points that are in the students learning outcomes for the course. Upload them to screencast.com and add get the HMLT code to embed it into a class blog. Students can look at these in their own time to cement the learning they did in class and as revision before exams.

Metaknowledge, knowing how to organize knowledge includes planning, tagging, modeling etc. which requires creativity and innovation(Dr Puentedura ). Metaknowledge can be developed by digital story telling.

In her wiki ‘digitalstorycake.pbworks.com’, Isil uses the Dual Coding Theory to explain how digital stories encourage deeper learning.

In her session, Isil discussed Mayer’s ( 2005) principles of how people process material presented in a multimedia format. The basic premise is to avoid cognitive overload by adding to many bells and flashing lights which distract rather than enhance learning, and also to avoid presenting learners with the same information in multiple forms, simultaneously. Mayer recommends that instead of delivering your message by pictures, and text which is also orally narrated, it is better to supplement the audio rendition of the story with key words that help the listener grasp what is pivotal to the message.

Session participants brainstormed their digital story telling features wish list:

A user friendly interface,   an editable recording function, a voice customizer which would deepen or thin a voice so that a single narrator could speak for more than one character, templates to scaffold learning, the ability to insert photos and/or draw pictures interwoven with the text, an animation feature, and the ability to embed the story into blogs or wikis and to share it by email even if it is over a minute in length.

Isil added to this list the questions:

Is the digital story telling toolkit: free, stable in that it is not new and is not likely to disappear in the near future and is it appropriate for the learning outcome it should help achieve?

TOOLS/APPS INVOLVED:

Recommended digital story telling apps or websites:

StoryKit, Animoto, Little Bird Tales, Zoobust 

Recommended ways of sharing student or teacher authored stories:

Box, PB works, Posterous ,Audioboo

Protecting materials generated in the classroom or by the teacher.

Courseware Licensing: http://creativecommons.org

Benefit Three: Talk/ Write to and Reply

Cloud computing as a place for interpersonal communication via email, chat rooms, discussion boards and voice over internet protocols.

TOOLS/APPS INVOLVED:

Epals. http://www.epals.com/

Benefit Four: Collaborate and Learn

Cloud computing as a place for global communication and joint projects which can be incredibly immersive and active learning environments.

Todaysmeet:  http://ebookbrowse.com/todaysmeet-teachers-pdf-d95056326  and http://www.todaysmeet.com/ . Students comment on lessons or enter their own examples for everyone to see, in real time as the progresses. Students who do not understand a concept, benefit from seeing examples produce by classmates. They can also ask for clarification in L1.

Wallwisher  App: http://prezi.com/q0oq0kus0ahu/wallwisher-in-education/ and http://blog.simplek12.com/education/5-fantastic-ways-to-use-wallwisher-in-the-classroom/

 Linoit : http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2011/05/linoit-free-awesome-stickies-maker.html   and http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2010/05/lino-it-online-collaborative-multimedia.html#.UPUlxR2cdyw

Google docs: collaboration up to 10 users can co-author a document at the same time. http://edudemic.com/2012/04/50-little-known-ways-google-docs-can-help-in-education/

 

 

 

Emirati National Day

December 2nd is National Day in the United Arab Emirates.  This year will be the 41st anniversary of the unification of the Emirates. Today we celebrated at college with a car parade of cars adorned with national flags and photos. There were also stalls displaying local products and artifacts such as henna painting and reed weaving. I took lots of photos and videos with the belief that they will be useful for future iPad projects.

 

I initially used the photos in class to help students students prepare for a paired question and answer speaking exam. As a teacher the beauty of doing this on the iPad was that it literally took 15 mins maximum to put together as a lesson, once I had taken the photos. The Audioboo was unrehearsed and I thank Robert Dobie  for agreeing to make a spontaneous recording. Robert produces http://esltopics.com.

Here is the steps we followed:

Provide an example of the speaking task : http://audioboo.fm/boos/1083191-national-day-2012

Task Prompt: Look at the three photos and decide which stall you would visit if you were at the National Day Celebrations, but only had time to visit one stall.  ( The car is part of a decorated car parade. There is a prize for the winner.)

Play Audio boo to demonstrate the task and elicit key language.

Use Skitch and photos to name items in photo, brainstorm words onto the photos that students can use during the speaking task.

Practice would you like to… Do you like verb ing  Questions ( optional)

Students carry out the same speaking task  from the Audioboo. This scaffolds them into the task.

Students swop partners and  repeat process with new pictures

Students record themselves conducting the speaking tasks using Audioboo, then  listen  and evaluate their performance .

The whole class listen to a number of class generated recordings and discuss strengths and things to work on .

 

The 6 photos were collated  using the Pic Collage App.

 

 Here are two videos from the celebrations. One of the car parade by students, and another one of the Emirati National Dance performed by a group of students.

car parade

dance video

 

 

I am sharing some of these here as one of the great things about e-learning is that students have access to many cultures and traditions previously unavailable to them. Please feel free to use them.

For really professional photos of the U.A,E taken by a colleague Peter Waters, please visit his blog:

http://abudhabidailyphotograph.blogspot.com

I will post more photos of the celebrations taking place on National Day itself- December 2nd.

 

Principles of Blended Learning. Feedback from the Blended Learning Amazing Minds Event in Dubai.

This is the first of two entries posted to share the information and ideas discussed at this two day event.

 

Five Guiding Principles of Blended Learning by Christine Ozden President of Pearson for the Middle East, Africa and Caribbean.

  • Focus on the core needs of teachers and learners and not on technology trends.
  • Use technology to liberate the classroom.
  • Understand that teacher enthusiasm usually accompanies their level of competence, thus there is an onus to train, train and train
  • Complement the teacher rather than try to make the teacher add an extra touch to the technology.
  • Enrich student learning by informing teaching

How these guiding principles featured on the two day course.

Principle One: Focus on the core needs of teachers and learners and not on technology trends.

1.One core need of all end digital learners is being aware of internet safety issues.  Presenter Isil Boy  (http://isilboy.edublogs.org/)  emphasized the need to educate students  about the dangers of the Internet. She recommended that schools participate in Safer Internet Day on February 5th each year. See http://www.saferinternetday.org for information.  She suggested:

Young people using an avatar to protect their privacy.  See http://clayyourself.com and the many avatar creator apps.

Emphasizing the fact that once something is in cyber space, it is difficult or impossible to delete.

Checking the validity of a website using http://www.alexa.com

Tracking what is published on the Internet about you through http://www.google.com/goodtoknow/manage-data/me-on-the-web  .

2. Another core need of learners and teachers is that materials are produced following the principles of Instructional Design Theory, rather than having bells and whistles and whirling 3D objects just because it is now possible to have them with modern technology.  This comment should ring true with those readers who suffered death by PowerPoint and its entourage of animations in the early 90’s. Cognitive overload reduces learning opportunities as too much information is placed in the learners’ short term memory at once.  The same overload can occur in digital story telling etc. when a dense on-screen text is accompanied by audio narration and visuals. More information is available both on Isil’s blog: http://isilboy.edublogs.org and on her wiki: digitalstorycake.pbworks.com

3.Lessons or a series of lessons need to focus on learning goals and specific learner outcomes. There needs to be an end product.  This could be an iBook, a wiki, a blog, or collaborative pin board such as  http://en.linoit.com . The starting point needs to be the learning aim and possible learner outcomes. Looking for the e or m learning tools to actualize these, is the second step.  Language is pivotal to a successful language lesson. The process of communication and the use of critical thinking skills is equally as important, if not more important than a technologically generated finished product.

I myself worry that the glowing end products now produced in EFL and ESL classrooms may distract from the language learning. I fear that sometimes students are satisfied with a lower level of language expertise because of a sophisticated learner outcome, the likes of which they may not ever have produced before.

Principle Two: Complement the teacher with technology. The teacher can never be replaced by technology.

Technology and Learning Management Systems that are based on sound principles of instructional design, together with an effective teacher and willing students, leads to deeper learning. Technology on its own, will not educate future learners. Christine Ozden quoted Arthur C Clarke who said that any teacher who can be replaced by a machine, should be. I believe a teacher’s role is the make students think more deeply than they normally do, to question more and evaluate more.  Good teachers build rapport with students, who in turn work hard to please the teacher and to contribute to social learning networks. These groups are often fostered by teachers who set up collaborative competition in classrooms. The gaming element of a lot of digital software is often used to pit a student against their own performance and to encourage them to out-perform themselves, but if communication is a central target of an educational situation, this gaming element can be used even more effectively at the group to group interface.

 Principle Three: Use technology to liberate the classroom.

Pre and post lesson consolidation work can reinforce learning and automate knowledge and skills outside the classroom walls to such a degree that high surrender value activities can be done inside the classroom.  In other words, students can prepare for discussions, jigsaw readings, peer teaching and project work in their own time. They can learn vocabulary, complete automization exercises, research and prioritize content information in order to be able to use it productively in real time communicative in class.

The reverse is also true in that collaborative platforms such as wiki, Google Docs, Linoit , Wall Wisher, and Edmodo allow students to continue working towards shared outcomes beyond the classroom walls. For example, Skype homework conferences allow students to collaborate and share expertise, whilst physically miles apart.  Some teachers expressed concerns that such extensive sharing can lead to shallow learning on the part of some students, who allow others to do the work which they then copy paste in order to gain a mark. Isil Boy saw the dashboard/ moderation facilities of wikis as a key element in dissuading such surface learning as tracking systems record who does what, when and for how long, thus informing the teacher of each individuals contribution to the finished product.

Principle Four: Understand that teacher enthusiasm usually accompanies their level of competence, thus there is an onus to train, train and train.

Teacher resistance to using new technology was a repeated strand of the conference. The solution, it was suggested was to give teachers plenty of technology training sessions both before starting to teach with the innovation and after doing so for several weeks. It was also emphasized that it was advisable to start with the learning outcome and learning goal a technological innovation could help address. ( See Principle One above)

Sometimes resistance to change comes from the fact that moving out of our comfort zones and having to do things in new ways is time consuming. One major thing I am having to learn with m-learning is to be comfortable with knowing there are mounds of material, blogs, Apps and resources that I simply do not have enough time to look at.  Publishers, trainers and school administrators as curators of blended learning curriculums and pedagogy need to provide teachers with evaluative tools to help them decide what among the plethora of Apps and software is best for their specific teaching and learning situations.  Useful tools suggested during the conference are:

https://www.quixey.com   The search engine for Apps

http://www.schrockguide.net/bloomin-apps.html   A website that categorizes Apps according to Bloom’s taxonomy of critical thinking skills, assembled by Kathy Schrock

http://www.appitic.com A collection of Apps for education chosen by Apple Distinguished Educators

Principle Five: Enrich student learning by informing teaching

This can be done through personal learning networks, data from classrooms, and examples of good learning outcomes. There are now so many teachers who blog about their classroom experiences and share materials or information to facilitate the teaching of others. Likewise there are many websites from which teachers can download ready-made teaching material and lesson plans.

Enrich student learning.

Presenter Ibrahim Kawaja said that student learning could be aided by the flexible solutions that blended learning permits. He identified the three pillars of this flexible solution as:

The extension of learning time outside the classroom

Informed teaching

Rich learning

 Pillar One: The extension of learning time outside the classroom

M-learning is personalized and enables constant connectivity both to materials and learning communities. It is easier to keep to an extended rehearsal program of recycling language structures and  vocabulary one day after encountering it, three days later, one week later etc. when that material is accessible 24/7.

Pillar Two:  Informed teaching through a 1:1 tracking system.  

For example, Pearson’s English Grammar Lab Software provides users and their teachers with specific feedback on reoccurring errors, performance improvement over a series of instructional encounters etc. An error report informs teachers of the areas that need to be reviewed in class, meaning that time is not wasted in revisiting items students demonstrated proficiency in.

Pillar Three: Richer learning

Kawaja and Boy said that the multi-modal features of blended learning means that students have more choices. Choices of how many times to re-do an exercise until they get to the level of competence they are happy with, and choices between the skills and language they wish to focus on.

Students also learn digital literacies as well as a language. The semiotic decoding skills they acquire such as knowing that a + sign means open up a new file/page and that a box with an arrow protruding from it leads to another function, are very valuable 21st century skills in a readiness for work environment.

 

 

Ways of Working with Vocabulary on iPads.

Part One: Connecting Theory and Practice

Hirsh and Nation(1992) “In order to comprehend a text and guess unknown words from context- learners need to know 95% of text : 1 unknown word every 2 lines.”

“Lexical knowledge is the strongest predictor of readability/ inability” Tom Cobb 2007

Nation, Schmitt, Folse, Laufer, and others recommend the explicit teaching, practicing and testing of the most frequently occurring vocabulary at the early stages of language learning, because a lack of basic lexis prevents learners comprehending reading texts and using learning and communicative strategies successfully. This is often called the “learner’s paradox” as language learners need to understand texts in order to work out  the meaning of words and notice patterns of use, but they cannot do these things because they do not know what the meaning of the words in the text. Research strongly indicates that the acquisition of vocabulary based on extensive reading and listening is not as efficient as focused instructed vocabulary learning which includes activities that encourage the conscious studying and reviewing of target vocabulary items.

Vocabulary learning is facilitated by periodic recycling activities which form part of an “expanded rehearsal” process in which words are reviewed on the same day, next day, 7 days later, 28 days later etc. because students need multiple exposures to a word to be able to use it productively in real time communciation. Atkins and Baddeley suggest 11 encounters are necessary whilst Nation says that 5-16 encounters are required. Regardless of the number, lexicographers all agree upon the need for the regular lexical item recall which firms up the neurological link between the form of the word and its corresponding meaning. E-learning helps educators provided these multiple encounters with words in a fun, gaming manner which helps students ” cope with prodigious amounts of information within an artificially short time” Folse 2007. And also, as repeated exposure to and the use of target vocabulary are necessary for learning to take place, a certain amount of timetabling work is necessary.  Since vocabulary is reviewed at specific intervals, students (and teachers) need to keep records of the dates when lists of vocabulary were first taught and the dates one week and one month later when they will be practised again. I hope that computerised calendar systems will make this easier in the future.

The first stage in learning L2 vocabulary is understanding meaning. Traditionally this has been done using L2 definitions or through both a definition in L2 and a translation of the word in L1.  Research shows that initial L2-L1 translation work and the meaning mapping of the new word against the mother tongue is an extremely effective first step in the process of learning vocabulary. There has been resistance to L2-L1 meaning mapping since the 1960s possibly for two reasons:

so many native speaker English teachers did not speak the L1 of their students

students in international classes in the USA, UK or other English-speaking countries were from a variety of L1 backgrounds and so a common language did not exist.

However, it can be and effective, efficient initial vocabulary learning strategy with online programmes since well-developed bilingual dictionaries and materials can be more easily found. Research suggests that initial L1 translation work is more effective and faster than L2 definitions and pictures, films, graphics, gestures, movement, examples, and guessing meaning from context. However, after the initial encounter with a word, trying to learn the L2 vocabulary meanings from context, definitions or examples in isolated sentences are really important methods to help learn the appropriate use and word grammar of L2 vocabulary lexical items. In an iPad class, students can work in pairs and have one screen with the target word lists and the other showing a bilingual dictionary. Flashcards and word books often have a translation facility or section added to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corpus linguistics has really changed the way we decide which lexis to forefront. Computer compiled word frequency lists of the most common 2000, 3000 words in English have been created using data from the analyses of large collections of texts such as the British National Corpus, which comprises 100 million words of text. Teaching and studying high-frequency vocabulary has a higher, faster surrender value for learners. University prep programs and the course books and graded readers that cater to them, often focus on the most frequent 2,000 words. Our institution has compiled unit lists drawn from the most frequent words. These lists can easily be uploaded to a variety of Apps and/or websites.

When these course book unit target vocabulary lists are introduced several days prior to students reading or listening to the texts which incorporate them text comprehension increases because the brain has had time to transfer the new vocabulary from short term to long term memory. Realising how much the memorised words make reading or listening easier provides contextualised repeat exposures and can improve motivation to learn and encourages further vocabulary study.  This preparation for learning, so that knowledge studied in isolation can be utilised communicatively in class, is one of the main pillars of flipped classes.

The forgetting that begins immediately after encountering a new word, can be reduced by in-class activities at the end of the vocabulary lesson. The traditional activities done with the words on the lists such as: L2-L1 definition matching exercises, spelling test dictations, multiple choice sentence completion activities, L2 word-definition matching, word-picture matching or gap fill are now frequently found in gaming formats in lexical Apps.

A major advantage of computerised activities over static paper-based word lists is that digital formats can vary the order of the words as students learn them. This is important as words in lists tend to prime students for the next word. For example word A is always followed by word B. so word A will always prepare students for the word B. The digital randomization of words means students have to recall meanings without such unconscious prompting.

Part Two: A Review of Several Apps

 Teacher created unit specific/ week specific lexical lists created in Numbers

Advantage:

  • Easy to create a table on which students can write definitions and sample sentences, sentence grammar- noun, era, adjective etc.
  • Easy for students to find words within a spreadsheet using the search function
  • Very visual when students colour words belonging to lexical sets and words connected with ways of describing places, talking about the past etc. one colour.
  • Easy to resort data according to alphabetical order, countable/ uncountable, word grammar, known words unknown words etc.

Tip.  Add a date column to the spreadsheet and give each month a significance e.g. One: January = countable nouns, February = uncountable nouns, March = non- nouns.

E.g. Two: January = well known words, February = partially known words, March = unknown words. Tap on the screen just above the date column, select “sort” and the vocabulary will be arranged into the designated groups of words for the students to work with.

  • Easy to send to students via email or have students retrieve spreadsheets from a platform such as iFiles, Dropbox or Ebackpack. and have them open it in Numbers

Disadvantage:

  • Difficult to add images without making the spreadsheets so long that you can only see a few words per page.
  • Not possible to add voice recordings for pronunciation.
  • Is not included in the general iPad spotlight search.

 

Teacher created unit specific/ week specific lexical lists created in Spelling City( Free Version)

Advantage:

  • Lists are easy to construct. Teachers can embed their own definitions and sentences or use those provided by the App.
  • Target vocabulary can be introduced, practiced and tested through 8 different activities covering meaning, spelling and pronunciation.
  • Gaming element keeps students engaged.
  • Students get instant feedback on their performance.
  • Recycling vocabulary is possible due to variety of activities and the ease with which teachers can modify definitions or sample sentences, so that students are working with slightly new material.
  • If the login name and password are shared between a group of teachers, everyone has access to the website and can create lists to be utilized by all members of the group and their students.
  • Accessed through the App. Students login using a common user name and password. Students login each time they access the App.

Disadvantage:

  • Images cannot be added to the definitions
  • The new update has removed the word definition match and so this App cannot be used as a presentation tool. Only as a follow up tool.
  • Only a limited number of lists created by other teachers are available.

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher created unit specific/ week specific lexical lists created in Quizlet ( Free Version)

Advantage:

  • Lists are easy to construct. Teachers can add their own definitions and images from Flickr.
  • Target vocabulary can be introduced and practiced through a flashcards and a scattered matching game.
  • ‘Learn it’ mode prompts students with either images or definitions. Students can control the type of prompt they require.
  • Answers can be typed in or entered orally using the built in dictation microphone.
  • Gaming element keeps students engaged.
  • Students get instant feedback on their performance.
  • Vocabulary lists are easily edited.
  • There is access to many more lists created by other teachers worldwide, than in Spelling City. For example, 25 lists cover different units of Headway Beginner.
  • Accessed through the App. Students login using a common user name and password. Students only need to log in once, afterwards they type in the specific list name.

 

Disadvantage:

  • Definitions and sample sentences are not automatically added by the system and so more preparation time is needed when creating lists than in Spelling City.

 

Teacher created vocabulary companion (similar to those provided as a separate vocabulary booklet at the back published course books.) developed in Creative Book Builder and stored as an iBook on each students bookshelf.

A good reference tool for lower level students who do not have access to a low level commercially produced dictionary and whose English is not extensive enough to cope with the free dictionaries provided on the Web.

  • A good way of developing basic dictionary skills, such as scanning the A-Z organization pattern, and distinguishing definitions from example sentences.
  • When creating the vocabulary companion, teachers will be aware of lexis already covered in class and add relevant unit references, synonyms, antonyms etc.

The same images, example sentences etc. can be used in the iBook, on flashcards and    other worksheets aiding student recall of target vocabulary.

Once created they are permanent and infinitely reusable across classes, and semesters.

  • They are a good resource for class based vocabulary games, student to student dictation activities and simple cover the word, recall the word, check the word activities.

Disadvantage:

  • Creating the book and editing it later in the light of new insights into how vocabulary is recycled throughout the syllabus can be time consuming.
  • Creative Book Builder Books can be difficult to share. They need to be opened in an iPad email account or both sent from and received by the same type of institutional email.

 

Student generated lists and vocabulary logs.

 

Spelling lists created in Spelling Free

Advantage

  • Students add words they personally frequently misspell or want to learn to spell

E.g. Teachers can highlight words to be added to Spelling Free Notebook when correcting a student’s written work. Students look up the correct word in a dictionary and type it or copy paste it into a list. Similarly, they can use the App in conjunction with reading exercises.

  • Spoken renditions of most words are available. Users can add their own recordings of the word.
  • Definitions and or sentences can be recorded in place of the pronunciation of a word.
  • During spelling tests, students control how many times they hear a word.
  • Immediate feedback is given and a tracking system presents misspelt words more than those correctly spelt.
  • Correctly spelt words are immediately starred.
  • A history function provides evidence of student work.
  • Results can be emailed.

Disadvantage

  • Images or written definitions cannot be added.
  • Lists cannot be shared or downloaded and used within the App.

In conclusion, Apps which facilitate the learning of lexis help teachers and learners put the theory behind vocabulary learning into practice. In addition, digital tracking systems make lexical learning tailor made, consequently alleviating the prohibitive task of recycling so many new items per day. The gaming element and accompanying reward systems are motivating and the anytime, anywhere facility, allows students to keep to an “expanded rehearsal” process in which words are reviewed on the same day, next day, 7 days later, 28 days later etc. However, one caveat is that we need to put word lists onto a number of Apps, and still use varied approaches to prevent App burnout.

The First Annual Global Mobile Learning Congress 2012, U.A.E

Considerations Arising From the First Annual Global Mobile Learning Congress 2012, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

Background

In September 2012, three Federal higher education institutions in the U.A.E began educating Foundation Programme students by increasing the amount of mobile learning they engage in. Hence, all participants are given iPads which are now the main vehicle for delivering and interacting with course content and fellow learners and teachers. This m-learning revolution springs from the vision of empowering students with the learning capabilities and skills to be successful in global and commercial environments, and from research such as that outlined in the NWC Horizon Report, 2012, showing that e-learning and m-learning lead to deeper, broader learning as students are more engaged in the acquisition of knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Present Considerations

H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the U.A.E, spoke of the connectivity, accessibility, and creativity that m-learning affords anywhere, anytime. He also stressed the need for collaboration between educational providers, technology providers and leaders in order to bring about meaningful change.

John Couch, Vice President, Worldwide Apple Education, said that it was the vision of Apple to recognize the unique value that every child makes, and their mission to help each child learn and love learning through targeted mobile pedagogy. Dr James Ashby, President and Chief of Psychometrics, CORE Edutech and Mabs Khan, Regional Director of British Telecom, envision analytics and software feedback loops facilitating student tracking, thus increasing possibilities of learner specific targeted pedagogy. For example, dashboard will notify teachers and learners of an individual’s progress and how they rate against their own performance at earlier periods in their educational journey.

All speakers talked of the need to think beyond present day pedagogy and forms of assessment, so that e-learning devices actually transform and redefine education, rather than merely being a substitute for past innovations such as the blackboard or overhead projector. Dr. Reuben Puentedura, Founder and President of Hippasus, presented the SAMR model of change and innovative implementation.

 

Dr. Puentedura provided examples of how a history lesson on the Industrial Revolution, could lead to changes in the learning paradigm, giving digital mind mapping as an example of the modification stage and iBook based student generated lesson material through which future learners could be educated, as an example of the redefinition stage. I personally think this needs to be thought about more in terms of EFL, as such activities would remain at the substitution stage in many EFL classroom because these tasks have been carried out by second language learners for decades, and would be merely replacing a pen and paper version with a digital version. The collaborative, communicative nature of language learning has meant that teacher fronted classrooms have not been advocated for decades.  However, the direction of EFL iPadagogy and m-learning methodology is a key unanswered question at present.

The TPCK (Technology, Content and Pedagogy) Model devised by Koehler and Mishra, requires the additional element of language placed in central position, for second language programmes: language as content focus and language as meta-communicative classroom language.

Dr Puentedura suggested a selection framework to help ensure that tools, activities and workflow plans are based on proven educational principles, thus meeting learner needs. The five areas to consider are social, mobility, visualization, storytelling and gaming.

 

Activities and materials should comprise these qualities and help develop within the learner the 21st century skills or competencies, such as Meta Knowledge for example, creativity and innovation; Humanistic Knowledge such as critical and emotional awareness and Foundation Knowledge which includes information literacy. Therefore, the challenge of educators, technology experts and leaders is to identify the skill sets required by the future; break them down into achievable learner outcomes and harness new ways of engaging with content and interacting with fellow learners such as webinars, simultaneously co-authored documents etc. The latter is already being revolutionized by digital sharing and publishing platforms, which are leading to the creation of new finished products such as interactive iBooks which motivate students in that they are viewed by a wide, public discourse community and which have a professional, polished appearance.

The danger is that innovations in pedagogy will precede innovations in assessment and that the negative wash back of this will be the curtailing and slowing down of developments in education. The fear is that the need for gate keeping exams, international benchmarking and exam security will keep assessment at the substitution, rather than the redefinition level. In other words as Dr Peter Scott asked ‘How can we progress from a ‘prove it’ to a ‘ move’ it assessment mindset?’

Guiding Questions

The m-learning initiative in the U.A.E is in its infancy and there are more questions than answers at this early stage of exploration.  Questions to be considered are:

  • What are 21st century learning processes?
  • What learning outcomes and competences are most generative?
  • Which traditional concepts of teaching and learning will change?
  • To what extent can students be the co-authors of their own learning?
  • What online skills have learners already developed in their lives outside the classroom?
  • What are the new educational and technological methods and concepts that will foster learning both inside and outside the classroom?
  • How can educators increase their own efficacy so that they inspire learners and educational environments run smoothly?
  • What forms of technological innovation are necessary to break down classroom walls?
  • What forms of assessment test 21st century learner competences?
  • How will we know that m learning is transforming education?
  • How will we know that the UAE m learning initiative is achieving what it is intended to?

The iPad “Can Dos” Students Have Developed Over 8 Weeks of iPad Driven Lessons

Our students have 20 hours of English per week. In weeks 7 & 8 they took a progress exam which tested the fours skills, grammar and vocabulary. As yet, there is no part of our assessment which evaluates their up take of digital literacies. Wikipedia defines digital literacy as ” the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate and create information using a range of digital technologies…. Digital information is a symbolic representation of data, and literacy refers to the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently, and think critically about the written word.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_literacy retrieved 3.11.2012). I personally do not have a clear idea in my mind of the digital literacy learning outcomes I am trying to promote. As an institution we need to work on a taxonomy of these and incorporate them into assessment criteria, as a substantial part of our classroom time is being taken up developing iPad skills. So in the interim I have compiled a list of iPad Can Do Statements that iPad based workflows require my students to perform, and that I have observed them carry out. I have not given this list to students to fill in, as the terminology would be a barrier to its completion. Hence, the list has been compiled from field notes, impressions of the classroom and an analysis of learning outcomes. Field notes were  based on an iPad Orientation Checklist created by Tony Priest, Andrew Blackmore, Sheila Andon and Peter Waters.

Students can or are developing the ability to:

Core Processes

Navigate between iPad panes including the home screen, additional panes and the search page left of the homescreen

Turn the iPad off completely and put it into sleep mode

Use iPad switches to control volume and luminosity

Set up auto-lock

Set a screen saver and background which personalizes the iPad

Use multitasking finger gestures to operate the iPad effectively

Split the keyboard and add or delete multi- language keyboards

Use the home screen dock and navigation bar to move between a number of Apps

Turn on and use Location Services and find my iPad

Use Accessibility to alter font size on built in Apps such as Notes, to make work visible to a group of people

Project onto Apple TV using mirroring

Print using air print

Email                                                                       

Set up an email account

Move between a number of email accounts

Specify which email account they wish to send a document from using the ‘from’ tab

Use the search bar to locate specific emails quickly

Create VIPs to be alerted to important sources of information

Email from a variety of Apps such as Creative Book Builder, iMovies

Delete emails

App Store/Itunes

Set up an iTunes account and use Apple ID to acquire Apps

Delete Apps

Use the spotlight search to find Apps quickly

Manage passwords by saving them in a table or by taking screen shots on which passwords are written in Skitch

iCloud/ File Share

Set up iFiles and eBackpack

Download files from  iFiles and eBackpack

Set up a WebDAV connection between eBackpack and various Apps to enable files to be uploaded to eBackpack

Navigate the hierarchical folder system on file share platforms

Apps

Understand the generic function behind frequently reoccurring iPad symbols. For example, an arrow coming out of a box means move on to another option, + means insert something, a house means home page, a book means bookmark for easy access.

Organize Apps into folders

Use the set Apps including Note, Pages, Keynote, Puppet Pals, Creative Book Builder, Numbers, iMovies, Neu Annotate, Skitch, Spelling City, Quizlet, Audioboo

Decide which App to use depending on the function required e.g. annotate a PDF, write creatively, record

Arrange files into folders within an App

Use word processing functions such as select, cut, copy, paste, change the font, highlight, define, replace etc                                                                                                                                                     

Annotate a PDF document or image using Neu Annotate

Set up and use calendar appointments

Photos and Images

Use the camera  to take photos

Download images from the Web

Use camera roll to insert them into various documents

Save photos or videos into albums

Create slideshows

iBooks

Create iBooks in Creative Book Builder

Access institutionally made iBooks via email or eBackpack and open them on the correct iBook shelf

Refer to instructional iBooks such as one providing step by step accounts of how to use specific Apps, or carry out specific functions in order to work independently

Refer to course book unit specific iBook dictionaries 

 

 

Abilities we have not developed yet

Using tags

Using Explain Everything

Using Popplet

Systematically adding  reminders in a calendar

Co authoring with wikis

On reflection, the students and I have followed a steep     learning curve and it has very much been a joint venture. I was asked if my students saw me differently, now that I am teaching with iPads. My answer was that they must see me as more of a joint learner on our iPad journey. We are very dependent on each other to solve technical glitches and to remember how to do things within certain Apps. As my students also have 6 hours of tuition from another teacher, they have become more expert in the Apps she frequently uses than I have. I believe that this puts us on a positive equal footing. I have a genuine opportunity to model a ‘growth learning mindset’. When I do not succeed I explore alternative ways of approaching the task, ask for help, or look at reference materials. Hence, I am demonstrating the resilience and resourcefulness that my students need when improving both their English and digital literacies.

 

 

Teaching and Learning Principles

Teaching and Learning Principles

A key goal of education is to enlighten ourselves in order to contribute to the evolution of mankind and our world. We can only grow through challenge, interdependence with others and reflection both whilst in action and on the responses we choose. In order that our learning is grounded in reality, decisions need to come from close observations of the situation we are operating in and be based on data offering multi-perspectives, so that we have as full an understanding of the issues as possible. In this way, we can build on principles and proceed accordingly. In teaching, we ask how we can empower ourselves, our students, our departments and our institutions. E-learning and m-learning is making this all the more possible.

Maximizing learning opportunities by ensuring relevance to student goals, needs and learning styles

Learning cannot be equated with the memorization of facts, learning takes place when students see relationships between facts and then are able to relate for example, these causal or comparative relationships to their own lives in order to meet goals and progress. Students need to see the added value of the information, skills and competencies they are being asked to acquire during their education, in order to expend effort to learn them. Our job as a teacher is to help students gain a comprehensive vision of how the discrete activities they engage in at educational institutions will help them become lifelong learners capable of adapting and growing in our postindustrial society. Together we build bridges between the skills and language they are learning in class, with that which they will need in the next step of education, for autonomous learning and in their professional lives afterwards. For example, we help students see the relationship between learning vocabulary using visual, audio and psychomotor cues and using the same technique to remember key formula, times of meetings or the names of people when networking in a business environment. We ask them to identify the situations in which efficient note taking skills, tagging and annotation techniques will prove useful in language courses, university faculties and in their everyday lives. Once students see the value in what they are doing, they are more capable of committing themselves to learning it. In addition to this, we encourage students to use internet based self-analysis questionnaires such as VARK in order to discover their learning preferences and study accordingly. In class a lot of input activities are conducted in groups with similar learning preferences so that students gain greater insights into how they can study from likeminded people. As, these learners process material in similar ways, they can really help each other comprehend texts and ideas. Alternatively, during output activities, groups comprise different learning styles enhancing creativity and giving learners insights into alternative ways of working. Tolerance and celebrating diversity is a key classroom principle of many teachers and access to a wider PLN (Public Learning Network) through blogs, You Tube and Skype pals etc. enables students to move beyond the confines of the geopolitical groups they live in, and become part of the 21st century global village.

 At all levels, we make motivation skills and stress management an integral part of our classes for once a person is able to manage their internal states and deliberately alter nonproductive learning states into positive states for learning, they can chose their responses and become in control of themselves and architects of their education.

Maximizing learning opportunities through social support networks

People think and learn more deeply when they are in a supportive environment in which they are respected as an individual and in which their personal contribution is valued. In our classes, the self-esteem of students is as important to us as their academic success. We do not have classroom rules as much as rights and responsibilities. For example, everyone has the right to ask questions, to make mistakes, to be listened to ,to have enough time to finish their work in and be informed about classroom procedures in advance so that they can prepare for them. Simultaneously, everyone has the responsibility of creating a positive learning environment in the classroom, of speaking English as much as possible and of upholding co-selected classroom rituals and routines. One routine is to regularly acknowledge what individuals have contributed to the class either orally or by reflecting their work on Apple TV.

Students often work in study groups, especially for homework projects such as making a film, preparing for inter-class debates or challenged based learning. Students are allotted roles such as time keeper, minute taker, Mother Tongue monitor, motivator etc. The work is shared out and deadlines set, and students complete the bulk of the work on shared platforms such as Google Docs, Yahoo Docs, Evernote etc. After completing tasks individually, they carry out some form of create, relate, donate activity so that the group come together create something new from their homework, such as completing a quiz on Socrative or Nearpod, together. This is to increase intra group accountability, and build up the understanding that you do not do homework just because the teacher told you to, but to fulfill your responsibility to the achievements of your group and yourself. The group then carries out a higher thinking skill activity such as prioritizing which information is the most important to their overall goals, before regrouping and sharing this information with study teams. Students “donate” new ideas, vocabulary, their best practices to each other by photographing their “new creation” and emailing it to the class or by uploading it onto a class blog,  wall poster or into a ‘Best Practices’ iBook. Hence, accountability to the group is again encouraged by requiring such create, relate, donate feedback procedures which cannot be fully completed unless all members of the group have done their share of preparation for class work.

There is a clear distinction in class between follow up steps homework to reinforce personal learning such as writing or speaking portfolio work, short answer question work and vocabulary notebooks ( necessitating discipline and responsibility to self);  and pre-lesson preparation for learning work or flipped classes, as described in the group projects above, which encourages students to equip themselves with the necessary ideas and language to be able to engage in new learning activities in school ( necessitating discipline and accountability to the teacher, class or a study group).

Fostering autonomous learning through learner choice and negotiated interaction

People commit themselves to actions more thoroughly when the outcomes of these actions are meaningful to people and when they feel they have a choice in the course of action taken. Hence, we try to offer variety and choice in class so that the learning is a shared construction. E-learning makes this possible for it is easier to organize a multitude of digital resources which lead to similar learning outcomes. Students can choose those that suit their particular learning styles or the needs of their present emergent language development. For example, with vocabulary learning, students can chose to learn through games such as those found in Quizlet or Spelling City, or to work with Excel type sheets in numbers.

Sequencing and Time Choices

Teaching and Learning Programmes usually state which learning points have to be covered for gatekeeper exit exams or even progress assessments. However, as class members, teachers and learners can negotiate which language focus areas and skills they would like to do and when. Skills are often integrated, thus over several days it is possible  to incorporate a reading, listening, speaking and writing element into the lessons and often one receptive skill leads into a productive skill, which in turn leads to a finished product through which the learner can evaluate how fully they are acquiring the target language or skill. Once the workflow for the day is given, students can decide on which input/ output combination they wish to work on first. The whole class does not necessarily have to work in lockstep as laptops or iPads and online resources increase flexibility. One advantage of asymmetrical work is that a student who starts with task B, then becomes an “expert” and can explain the process or related language to other students in the class. Thus, in a class of 16 students and 1 teacher there are 17 teachers.

Choice of activities & topics

Students may choose how much time they want to spend on an activity. If they believe that they are stronger at writing than reading, they can decide to write a shorter piece of work, and then re-read a text in more detail. This flexibility encourages learners to identify their own needs and channel their energy accordingly. Likewise, a student may not believe that a writing portfolio is the most exciting way to learn to write. They are welcome to come up with alternatives such as creating short documentaries or recording interviews on key content ideas. The key is that students spend a reasonable amount of time on the task and are required to employ the target skills or language designated. Students can also be asked to complete extra tasks if we think their original idea does not develop their critical thinking skills enough. For example, we can add any of Blooms higher taxonomy question types, to their work, and they can choose the mode of expressing their answer. During this process, it is vital to keep thorough records of homework and preparation for lesson work completed, so that the teacher is able to negotiate with students if they have a deficit of practice in one area. There are many work done charting apps such as iDoceo and In class, to help track student achievements.

Students can be asked to prepare or select news items, presentations and lectures for which they prepare worksheets on topics of their choice. They become the class expert on this area which reinforces their individuality and increases confidence. The same can be done with Apps. Students can become App experts in class, or even work at institution wide

Maximizing learning opportunities through mixed ability classes

The multi levels nature of all classes is a great challenge for us, as we believe that learning is deepest when students are made to think deeply and engage with the material, whilst feeling secure that with a reasonable amount of effort they will be successful. Thus, it is our responsibility to offer students a range of levels at which they can interact with the material, so that they feel both challenged and successful. If the level of difficulty is too low, students can go on to complete a range of critical thinking skills questions which relate to the main ideas of the text to the reader’s own life or require them to select information from the text that would answer a specific question according to a certain viewpoint. Alternatively, we can make or collate extra fast finisher tasks, which further exploit the text, available to the students. Delivering such materials is so much easier with e platforms such as eBackpack or Dropbox. Students can also be encouraged to set their own time limits and/ or to identify how many questions they will answer. Being able to embed explanations and instructions into worksheets or Apps such as Explain Everything, makes this all the more possible than with a pen and paper approach.

In their future educational and professional lives, students will most likely need to work in groups and sometimes direct feedback etc. Hence in class, we get students accustomed to managing groups and chairing meetings, by asking them to lead feedback. Fast finishers can check their answers, highlight important issues and prepare to stand at the front of class as the teacher and to mirror their answers onto the projector. Students with lower language competence can be given such a task for homework so that they have sufficient time to prepare and rehearse. During student led feedback, we sit on the outside of the circle and only speak if everyone agrees on the wrong answer. This approach entails genuine communication in English and encourages learners to really listen to each other and to articulate their understanding to help others learn.

Minimizing mismatches between my teaching style and learner preferences

In order to make all aspects of teaching and learning transparent so there will not be unnecessary friction in the learning environment, we get regular formative feedback from my students on the things that positively affect their learning and the obstacles that block their learning. If we have a question about any aspect of my teaching we often write closed questions such as “ Does my using 4 different coloured board  pens   and visuals on the whiteboard help you understand target language patterns more easily? Please comment.” “Do you think we spend too much time using colour codes and pictures on the whiteboard? Please comment.” Feedback is easily given anonymously via Socrative, Survey Monkey or Eclicker. Such ongoing feedback attunes our teaching style to the students before us. Furthermore, students frequently write what they have learned and what they would like more teacher student interaction on, at the close of the day on slips of paper which are collected in a feedback box. This helps us reflect on the days lessons and see where we were unclear, or gave inadequate practice. We share this feedback with the students, explaining why some points need further attention. 

Managing disruptive behavior

Our responsibility as  teachers is to encourage people to think more deeply and work harder than they may choose to do on their own. Whilst we try to create a warm, relaxed atmosphere in the class, it is our duty to set clear boundaries and not let students evade their responsibilities, either to themselves and to other class member. Students must not be allowed to steal other people’s learning opportunities. Hence, we employ the Broken Glass Approach to classroom discipline: we set up classroom practices and enforce them from the beginning so that students feel that we will not let them slip out of responsibility. They realize that we constantly monitor the class, in order to assist where necessary and also in order to ensure that students are gainfully occupied. There are many new apps such as iDoceo, Teacher Pal and Teacher Kit that help us record details of classroom life in order to track work done, seating plans etc.

A priority is not to cause students to lose face in front of their classmates and so we give students post it with personal messages on them. These messages could be praise for effort, error correction or a warning that the student’s behavior is unacceptable at present. This allows students to reflect on their behavior in private, whilst in a class of 17 other people. Students receive 3 post it warnings before I give them a set of questions specifically asking them to think how their actions are contributing to the learning of the class as a whole.

In an attempt to make classroom expectations transparent we operate a traffic light system indicating the level of attention required by the current task. Green means that this is a routine activity such as a vocabulary revision game, and some off topic discussion and moving about in class is allowed. Red alerts students to the fact that our point of focus is either a key learning point or central to assessment. We expect a hundred percent attention from students and anyone disturbing others is asked to leave the room and reflect on their behavior.  Amber represents a half way stage, for example during a writing buddy activity when students compose a written texts in pairs and can look at the works of other duos, but they are expected to be task focused and complete the work at hand in the negotiated time.

 

Apps That Help Busy Teachers Stay Organized.

Apps That Help Busy Teachers Stay Organized.

Busy teachers need to:

  1. Get to know students as individuals, learn their names and track their progress
  2. Email people as individuals or in groups
  3. Track important meetings, events and things to do.
  4. Record the learning outcomes that have been met, and the remedial work that needs doing.
  5. Store important documents in an easily retrievable place.
  6.  

     

    App: iDoceo 2.0 Meets needs 1/2/4

    Cost:  $ 4.99

    Website : www.idoceo.net

    iDoceo is a gradebook, diary and register for the iPad.

    The Broken Window Approach to Classroom Management.

    The Broken Window Theory ( James Wilson & George Kelling ) states that people are more likely to follow rules and procedures if they feel they are being monitored. In classroom management terms, this means that if a teacher adheres to the classroom routines she establishes, and demonstrates to students that she is tracking how they are followed, students are more likely to comply. Classroom procedures may include bringing in headphones, submitting homework, completing graded reader reports etc. When implementing this approach in class, iDoceo enables me to keep a coloured tab record of who has done what and share this information with students through Apple TV or email. The results have been remarkable as many of my students are for the main extrinsically motivated. One day last week only, only 2/21 students had headphones at the beginning of the day, despite being informed the previous day that they would carry out independent listening work. On explaining that green recorded which students had headphone, and red indicted who had not, students asked if red could be changed to green if they brought their headphones from the car during the break, or if they purchased them. After the break, the student headphone count stood at 19/21.

     

    Images and audio recordings can be added to any cell in this chart and so it is possible to store student grades, images of students working during the class etc. I showed one student several photo shots of him playing games and then asked him a set of William Glasser (developer of the Reality Theory and Choice Theory) questions on how his behavior was helping or hindering him learn English. Being able to show the student several sets of photos taken over three days, meant that he had to address the issue. iDoceo enables you to filter the information students see on screen, and so you can keep notes on individual students without compromising them.

    Learning and Using Student Names

    Learning student names at the beginning of a semester can be a great challenge and I have always traditionally used paper based seating plans. iDoceo enables teachers to add a photograph to  movable  student name cards which can be re-arranged as often as necessary. I use this at the beginning of the class to register where students are sitting, and also to show students which groups I wish them to work in if I have a priori groupings based on targeted learning. The chart double functions as a register. A gaming element can be added to open class question and answer sessions by using the two dice on this board which randomly select which student will answer a question etc.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I save the seating plan during class quizzes in case I wish to check who was sitting where. If several students have very similar incorrect answers, I need to know if these students have co-operated with each other or come to the same independent error. If it is the latter case, then a greater degree of remedial classroom teaching is necessary.

     

    Record the Learning Outcomes in the Diary

     

    Each class has a build in iDoceo Diary making it is very easy to summarize what has been covered in class and what went onto the whiteboard, as images and audio recordings can be added to each diary cell. Separate class diaries avoids confusion and the need for extensive labeling of which class did what. Individual days or sets of days can be saved as PDF to be shared with either students or colleagues. This is a great time saver as things only need to be written down once.

     

     

    App Infinote Pinboard for Tasks and Notes.  Meets need 5

    Cost:  $ 3.99

    Website : www.jeybee.con/infinote

     

     

    A colourful, mindmapping type approach to ‘To Do’ lists. You can have multiple pinboards: one for every main ‘compartment’ of your working life. Notes are very flexible and mobile, and can be categorized by colour. Alarms, deadlines and to do checklists can be added to them. For a teacher, their great advantage is that they can be printed from the iPad, exported as PDF or JPG and emailed. I email weekly aims to the students who can store them in Skitch and tick off what they have accomplished.



      App: MailShot Pro.   Meets need 2

     

    Cost:  $ 4.99

    Website : www.solubleapps.com/mailshot-support

    At present it is not possible to create group emailing lists directly from your iPad. As busy teachers we often send emails to preset groups of people and it is not time effective to have to recall who is in the group or select and old email from the group to ‘reply all’ to. This app alleviates the problem and is very straight forward to use in tandem with your iPad Contacts Book.

     App Creative Book Builder & I Books.   Meets need 5

    Cost:  $3.99

    Website: Google Creative Book Builder to view the many tutorials and instructional documents available on the web.

    For me, the greatest problem I am facing as I end week five of the iPad Initiative is overload: information overload, storage possibilities overload, and question overload. I need to manage a wide range of documents about institutional procedures, staff meetings, training, student administration etc. In order to work with efficacy, I need to establish an overriding organizational framework that I adhere to and access easily and a combination of Creative Book Builder and iBooks is one of the best solutions I have found. Firstly, I wrote an inventory of the hard copy files I would have kept, pre iPad days: Level 1 General Administration, Level 1 Assessment Information etc and created a template for each book in Creative Book Builder. The template includes chapter titles and a cover page. Henceforth, when I receive a document as an attachment via email, I save it as a PDF in Dropbox and if the information to be saved comes in the body of the email, I save it as a screen shot. Both types of saved documents are easily embedded into a CBB chapter. CBB automatically generates a page of contents for fast access to specific pages. Books are published opened in iBooks. New material is added to the iBook via Creative Book Builder, which stores them as work in progress. New editions are re-generated, and published so that they will appear on your iBook shelves. I immediately delete the outdated book, relying on the latest edition to keep me informed.

     

     

     

A Review of Week Three – The difficulty of setting up material exchange avenues.

A Review of Teaching EFL Through iPads at the end of the Third Week of Teaching

In order to review our progress so far, we have taken our list of main areas of concern, developed in June 2012, as our organizational framework.

Delivering content material to students in an organized, easily retrievable system.

Three systems of delivery have been used in the first three weeks of teaching:

eBackpack (provided and paid for by Sevhan. See her account of eBackpack in App of the Week)

A shared Yahoo email address (Free, set up by Denise)

IFiles/webdav/Ydrive (provided and paid for by the institution and used by both Denise and Sevhan)


 

Reflections on Administrative Issues

A Transient Classroom Community

The nature of our institution is that there is an initial ‘add/drop’ period of course enrollment during which class members may be in flux. Whilst this is unsettling at first, it ensures that students continue their studies at the right level and in harmony with their other timetabling needs. This has been a real challenge now that all students need to have the platforms and App organization patterns in line with the classes they enter, in order to engage fully in that particular classrooms learning environment. When a newcomer arrives the teacher has the option of:

  • Setting up an activity and then aligning the newcomer’s iPad, leaving the bulk of the class to continue working on their own.
  • Asking the newcomer to shadow the work of other students until their iPad is aligned during the next break.
  • Asking a competent Student iPad Champion to set up the newcomer’s iPad, thus preventing the iPad Champion from taking part in the educational task.

Whilst Denise tried all three approaches with the class shared Yahoo email address and iFiles/Webdav/Ydrive platforms, Sevhan found that the speed, with which she was able to add new students to eBackpack, enabled her to use mainly the first option. However, students did need to download the free App first and establish a Webdav connection.

The need to photograph key documents containing email passwords and Apple IDs

If an IT or student services department provide students with their institutional email addresses and passwords, plus their institutional Apple iD and Password, then these need to be photographed and stored on the camera roll as soon as students enter class, for if they forget this information on subsequent days, they cannot participate in the purchasing of new Apps etc.

The advantage of a shared Yahoo account is that a student can be included into the learning community without institutionally set passwords. 

Efficacy of the Approach

The number of steps to setting up the system

Setting up eBackpack requires the teacher to enter a student’s first name, surname, password e.g. student 1, student 2, and class into a class list provided by eBackpack on their website, using a laptop or desktop computer. Students then download the App and …

Setting up an ifiles connection requires a server address, which is not easily memorable and is thus better placed in a PDF or Keynote set of instructions. When initially instructing the whole class to do this in lockstep, instructions can be projected onto the board, however, if the process needs to be repeated for individuals who join the class, it is better to provide a printed version, so that your iPad can still provide guidance for the majority of the class via Apple TV, whilst you work with individuals.

Setting up a class email account is easy to remember and can be done by other students in class. Go to Settings, Mail, contacts, calendars, Add an account, select a Provider, and fill in the information provided by the teacher. Denise had already set up a yahoo account e.g.  SectionD@yahoo.com, password English, which was easy for everyone to recall. The only issue experienced was that some students were asked for a CALDAV password. The solution was for the teacher to go to WWW. Yahoo. Com and unlink the calendar from the email address, under settings.

The number of steps to a file destination

eBackpack has an easy folder hierarchy interface, specific to the English class only and this allows students to access documents efficiently, without many steps e.g. Vocabulary, file unit 5 vocabulary list .

 

Ifiles / ydrive has the same folder hierarchy, but because the system is institution wide and so students have much greater number of folders to select before reaching their destination e.g. Foundations Programme, General English, Level One, Teachers’ Folders, Denise, Vocabulary, Unit 5, file unit five vocabulary list. The class email address places all incoming mail in a single column and students take time to scan through email subject titles and find the correct one, or count up five mails from the bottom. Having students type in the email subject title into the email search bar and pressing All, can be faster. However, this did not work if lower level students misspelt what they were copying.  Incorrect emails are often opened up, losing classroom time as the teacher constantly has to check that everyone has the correct document open. If students get lost, it is easy to re-track steps with a folder hierarchy approach, but not with emails. Email subject titles were made as simple as possible such as ‘1 Wednesday Daily Routine OPEN IN PAGES’ but the linear text column still proved to be too text dense for most students to cope with.

Open in options

Students need to be informed of the programme in which they should open up a document. This needs to be stated either on the board or on the document title itself e.g. Unit 5 Vocabulary List, OPEN IN NUMBERS; Describing Your Best Friend Writing Assignment, OPEN IN PAGES OR NOTES.

Time spent waiting for documents to download and open up

The shared class email address loses marks here. After approximately 20 students try to access the same email simultaneously, the system slows down markedly. Hence, students with early access are able to start their work up to 10 minutes before student 20 and above. Trouble shooting at such times requires the teacher’s attention, meaning they are unable to answer language enquiries etc. We feel that in the first three weeks, we have given more attention to developing digital literacy and technical glitches, than to language teaching. In addition, new classroom management issues are arising including what short preparatory task to give to students waiting for downloads to become functional. One solution has been to encourage students to bring small notebooks with them in which they can jot down rogue words that have come up in class, or brainstorm what language or ideas they will use when they are able to commence the target activity. Fast finisher activities such as language work in a vocabulary App, or students preparing to be the teacher and lead the feedback stage or set up the next activity, also needs to be at hand to further engage those students who did start early.

Students filing content material and their own work in an organized easily retrievable system.

Automatic saving, but a title is still needed

Luckily, student work is automatically saved and so there is not the danger of students losing it, however, in order for them to identify their work, they need to give it a meaningful title, otherwise they end up with ten pages documents called blank one, blank two etc. Student work is also dispersed amongst the various Apps or programmes it was created in: written documents in Pages, vocabulary worksheets in Numbers etc. If all material connected to a unit of the course book or a specific skill or learning point is prefaced with key terms, students can easily call it up using the Search Spotlight. E.g. Describing People, Simple Present, Reading; Describing People, Simple Present, Writing.

Folders can be organized in many Apps such as Pages, Key Note, Camera Roll and Numbers e.g. Unit One, Unit Two, Writing about Places and new documents added to these once created. Some Apps call documents up according to tags, so in Neu Annotate PDF documents are given a route finding title and are tagged e.g. Listening Worksheet, KET. All work to which a tag has been attached can be pulled up simultaneously. 

Students sharing material with their teachers and peers.

Emailing in order to give and receive feedback

In our institution, students cannot save on to iFiles as yet and Black Board Learn is not fully in operation. Denise has had students email work to her, but processing this work is time consuming as it takes too many steps. Documents need to be opened in an email, opened in Pages, and then saved to a folder. Denise has written comments on the work in Pages and returned it via email to a student, who has then opened it up in email, opened it in Pages and saved it to the correct folder again, before being able to make appropriate changes. Another colleague has also written comments on the work in Neu Annotate and saved it as a photo. She has collected all of the photos into one album in Camera Roll and dropped them into DropBox. Students access the DropBox and select their photographed feedback which they embed in a Pages document, before starting to make the changes. Sevhan has avoided multi steps to sharing work by using eBackpack which has an assignment submission folder.

 

 

 

 

Substitution not redefinition

In the SAMR approach to educational change, Dr. Reuben Puentedura, Founder and President of Hippasus, suggests that e-learning devices actually transform and redefine education, rather than merely being a substitute for a traditional way of doing something.  At present, our way of providing students with feedback on written work, remains at the substitution phase. We need to employ digital alternatives such as Camtasia to respond to student work. Sadly, it does not appear possible to add a voice over to a Pages document. We need to experiment with Sound Note or Ever Note. The Screen Chomp App looked hopeful, but it seems to stop working after more than 5 recordings are made.

Using Apps and files students can interact with i.e. write answers down on, record answers orally on etc.

Another form of straight substitution ( SAMR) rather than redefinition, has been the practice of students filling in PDF worksheets using Neu Annotate or Explain Everything. This is time consuming, even though students are getting more versed with the Apps. Many teachers in the institution feel that we are progressing through the syllabus at a slower rate than when using pen on paper course books. One positive aspect of this is that students really are developing their digital literacies in tandem with their English. However, the downside is that we will have to adjust language based learning outcomes for the present. Thus, new ways of offering form focused and controlled communicative focused activities need to be found. Interactive Apps such as Spelling City, Tense Buster and Headway Online Tools are already achieving this. They provide narrow focused repetitive learning opportunities in which users have to make decisions as to what constitutes correct language use, within a gaming framework. More such Apps and websites need to replace static PDF worksheets.

E-learning enhances the presentation of new language and communicative activities

The iPad adds value to the teaching and learning experience with lower language levels EFL learners whilst new language is being presented. Presentations can take the form of videos from the web which include rap singers repeating key language patterns, cartoon presentations, 3D mini diaglogues etc.These use Dr. Reuben Puentedura”s learning criteria based on social, visual, storytelling and even gaming elements into the introduction of new language. The same is also true of the freer practice or more communicative phase of the lesson, in which students are message and outcome focused. They can use forms of multimedia and interactive opportunities to use language for real purposes and to produce polished products, they feel proud of. Having these products available for public consumption encourages students to invest more in the making of the product and sharing these products with a wider audience often allows students to participate in an additional communicative opportunity.  In both lesson phases, the iPad moves pedagogical innovation beyond the substitution phase, enabling deeper learning. E-based activities tend to take longer to carry out than more traditional pen and paper EFL activities, prompting the question as to whether students are actually learning a smaller amount of language more deeply, or whether they are learning a smaller amount of language at the same level as before, but learning about technology as well?

In conclusion, it seems that a lack of digital literacy and suitable interactive online multimedia activities which are geared to enhancing learning skills such as keeping up it the speaker’s voice, scanning texts for information and text pattern recognition are hindering work, but creative productivity is enhancing it.

Tips for file sharing and saving procedures

  1. Have a printed version of platform enrollment procedures, as well as an electronic copy.
  2. Name files: Pedagogic Name, Programme in which it is to be opened.
  3. Recommend a title for student work that facilitates easy retrieval
  4. Where possible have a class tagging system for easy retrieval.
  5. Ask students to bring a small notebook and pencil to class, so that they can brainstorm or recap ideas, structures and vocabulary whilst waiting for documents to download and open.
  6. Think of new ways of giving student feedback on their work which makes use of the multi-media available to us. Redefine feedback, rather than substituting electronically saved written feedback for pen on paper feedback.

A Review of Week Four of EFL Through iPads: Learner Independence Begins

A Review of Week Four of Teaching ESL Through iPads.  Learner Independence Begins

This week was so productive week as we succeeded in work creatively through producing both teacher and student driven material in line with learner outcomes. Students were able to see the interconnectivity of one eight hour block of work, using teacher authored materials as models or points of reference when creating texts of their own. They moved between Apps of their own volition, as they are now more familiar with where they can get the type of help they needed in written or audio form. Hence, some learner worked really independently, reaching targets and showing others that they had all of the resources they needed to do so in the one compact device in their hands.

Describing People’s Appearance and Personality.

Aim:

  • To give students the language and vocabulary to enable them to write and talk about people they know.
  • To provide students with models of people describing themselves and others.
  • To provide students with a platform through which they could share their descriptions of peers.
  • To make students aware of where they could find information they needed.
  • To provide students with both extensive and intensive listening practice.

Vocabulary Input

Key lexis lists were created in Spelling City, flashcards were made in A Pro +, and a You Tube Video link was shared. Students had access to these resources at all times and it was evident that they used them as a dictionary or, going back to them for the words they wanted. I encouraged this by sharing the following ‘where to find the resources you need ‘ Popplet mind map with students.

Initially, students were given an hour to work with these three vocabulary learning vehicles in any way they wished. Some students worked purely on line, whilst a few chose to enter words they did not know at all into paper based notebooks. No one used the British Council My Word Book App. I am not sure whether this is because they find it difficult to use, and need more training on it, or if they feel they do not need another digital resource.

Language Input

Audio input

The Audioboo IPhone App was used to create three short oral descriptions of People. (see the lesson plan section of this blog)  My best friend Claire, was followed by a Socrative Quiz which was student paced, i.e. students decided when to move to the next question) The audio was played from Apple TV and each student had the Socrative Quiz open on their iPad. Quiz results were emailed to students, informing them of which items they answered correctly and where they had gone wrong. Students individually listened to the Audioboo again, so that they could listen specifically to erroneous items. For example, one student had confused 50 with 15, one student Rose with Rosen. This type of personalized feedback is one of the key benefits of digital programmes.

In a display what you know, team recap game, students were encouraged to reiterate the information they had just heard, encouraging input to become output,

At a later stage, students listened to other spoken descriptions of two men. They were asked to spot the differences between a written tape script and each recording.

Written Input

Students were presented with a PDF worksheet downloaded from the website-Lesson Plans for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Teachers, created by Catherine Schell . This provided them with language form focused work.  Several students referred to the descriptions here, when composing their own texts. More students used the Pages document accompanying the Audioboo,  as they were able to copy paste and make changes to it. How much is this a danger of the purely softcopy issuing of materials? Fortunately, the soft copy version was in first person singular and so students needed to transform all of the verbs, giving them practice in subject verb agreement.

Converting the Written Word into the Spoken Word

Using the Speak Selection function in Pages students were able to listen to a spoken version of the text they had written about their friend. This is activated by tapping on, Settings, General, Accessibility, Speak Selection, choose a slow pace.  When iPaders select all and highlight a text, the Speaker option appears. Tapping this option initiates a spoken rendition of their written word. Some students were able to identify errors in their writing as they are more accustomed to hearing language. For example, one student asked why the auto voice read out Live ( adjective  form pronounced like alive) and not live (verb form). I asked if his verb and subject agreed and he immediately realized that it did not and corrected ‘He live’ to ‘He lives’.  Students listened to the rendition of their work several times, shadowing it, i.e. repeating the sentence in the same manner as the computer read it out. Afterwards they recorded the text on Audioboo and shared it with the class via email.I was able to leave a comment on each students work, directly on Audioboo.  Students will then add this work to their spoken portfolio in Creative Book Builder, adding their Audioboo as a link.

Providing Students with Extensive Listening Practice.

It is difficult to find extensive listening practice at the correct level for beginner students. As yet, our institution has not been able to purchase audio tracks that accompany a digital book. Hence, I used iMovies to record myself reading an elementary graded reader. I read through the video camera screen, stopping after each page do that the movie could be emailed to students easily. I gave each email a clear title, so that students were able to open up each audio attachment and save it to camera roll. They created an album in camera roll, by using the edit button. They saved the graded reader iMovies into the Album labeled with the graded reader’s name.  When they tapped in slideshow, they were able to listen to graded reader being read aloud for as long as they wanted to.  Our teaching team is planning to record several readers in this way, so that students have no shortage of audio books at their level. In addition, we are planning to allocate one page of a graded reader to each student. They will rehearse reading the page aloud and then record it via iMovies and send it to the class email. I need to experiment with putting the iMovies into iBooks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Review of the First Two Weeks of Teaching EFL Through iPad to Lower Level Students

A New Layer of Mixed Ability Learners Compounded by a New Lexical Field

Our initial premise that some students would be familiar with Apple icons, touchscreen technology and multiple gesture screen management because of their out of school use of iPads and iPhones, proved correct. However, equally correct was our concern that other students would be totally new to it all. Whilst this created an obvious opportunity for student to student interdependence and co-operative learning, it also encouraged an undesirable level of mother tongue in English classes. In addition, if teachers were to use iPad based getting to know you activities, this group rapport building needed to be intertwined with both iPad training and ‘vocabulary for iPad’ slots. Hence, classes started off with a Keynote Presentation naming multi-gestures such as pinch, drag, tap etc. This lexical set was then recycled on subsequent days via A Pro+ Flashcards. Unfortunately, different Apps use an array of instructional language such as accept, reject, submit, enter, load, next, etc. which can cause stumbling blocks during none teacher fronted, lockstep lessons.

Hence, whilst blog and Twitter accounts of iPadogogy, suggest that the iPad and its Apps are leading to more student centred classrooms and student led workflows, this does not seem to be so readily the case in classrooms where students have a very low level of English. We have found that it is now necessary to not only pre-teach the key vocabulary of the EFL task, such as introducing yourself to others, but it is also necessary to teach the instructional language that a particular App requires. For example, before students used Puppet Pals to create a dialogue with the dual function of practicing asking and answering questions to share personal information with their new classmates, the teacher needed to use A Pro+ Flashcards to familiarize students with words such as accept, reject, use and replace, which do not occur in instructional rubric outside technology driven classrooms. Our experience so far, suggests that students who are confident iPad users ignore unknown vocabulary, progressing through exercises, whilst iPad newcomers are hindered by the wide variety of commands. One solution is to sit experienced and inexperienced iPaders together, but as previously mentioned, a downside for the EFL classroom is that all aid so far has been given in the mother tongue. Hence, a syllabus aim is to identify the communicative meta-language needed for student to student iPad instruction such as:

What do I tap now?

How do I get back to my work?

Tap here.

Use the arrow in the top right hand corner.

Who will I email this to?

This will need to be given in addition to the usual classroom communicative meta-language that students are encouraged to use such as

Who is in group one?

What is the answer to number three?

Who wants to write this down?

Who wants to start?

Can you look up this word in a dictionary?

Our initial impression is that four levels of ability are emerging when teaching through iPads:

Students who are competent iPad users, have comparatively good levels of English and so finish tasks quickly.

Students who are less competent iPad users, but have comparatively good levels of English and so finish tasks in average time.

Students who are competent iPad users, but have comparatively good levels of English and so finish tasks in average time.

Students who have lower levels of proficiency in both iPad use and language and who struggle to finish tasks.

One challenge for the teacher is to provide fast finisher activities for the first group of students that does not require a lot of setting up. So far, we have used the Apps Spelling City, onto which we have uploaded unit based key vocabulary, Note and Sound Note. Students need to be encouraged to bring headphones for Spelling City as words and sentences are vocalized aloud and can be a distraction to others. Fast Finishing students have also been encouraged to summarize what they have learned in writing or orally, using Note and Sound Note, accordingly. Fast finisher activities were boarded and explained to the students, before the main learning task started. The danger is that fast finishers may start playing non-educational games, thus losing learning opportunities. Fast Finishers can also check their answers against an answer key and then be asked to mirror their answers onto the board and be prepared to talk though them, taking the role of co-teacher.

Another challenge is to provide enough scaffolding and support for the last group of students. At present we are trying to decide whether it is better to group such students together and encourage them to actually finish a task at their dual iPad/language level, so that they learn through doing, or to pair them with a competent user for immediate support. Initial observations indicate that competent iPad users tend to complete the task for their partners, reducing learning opportunities for the inexperienced student. One solution may be to divide the class into experienced and inexperienced iPad users in some lessons, providing the experienced iPaders with integrated skills workflows for self-study, whilst the teacher takes inexperienced users through a series of integrated iPad training and easy level language tasks in lockstep.

Levels of Task Focus and Time Spent on Task

Regardless of ability, students seem to be more engaged in completing tasks through iPads, especially when there is a polished, finished product that can be shared with a wider community of learners. For example, possessive ‘s was introduced to beginner students using a teacher created Scribble Press book. Students were then sent on a college wide scavenger hunt to photograph things that belonged to people and places. This served the dual function of orientating students to the campus, and providing a haptic experience of ownership and the possessive ‘s structure. To create an information gap and prevent all students swarming the college in unison, small groups of students can be given different scavenger hunt lists. Students returned to class to create their own Scribble Press books writing the owner in blue, ‘s in green and possessed noun in red in order to increase their ability to notice the grammatical form and meaning. Students then regrouped and presented their books to classmates from different scavenger hunt groups. Although this activity took 45 minutes, students remained on task and were eager to produce grammatically correct, meaningful sentences and share their books with others. They were engaged with the target language in written and spoken form again and again, and will be in the future when the books are used for recycling purposes.

Another example of student engagement took place in a co-authoring writing lesson. Students were divided into four groups, with each group being provided with details about a university student’s life. In groups they worked to understand and internalize the information. They were allowed to write down key names, dates and numbers in Note, before being re-grouped so that each member of the new jigsawed group had read a different text. Students took turns at recounting the information from their texts from memory. They then returned to their original groups and shared the information they had gained about the student, Antonia. The Socrative App was used to provide a multiple choice quiz which focused on both the content of the reading and key language structures such as like + gerund and possessive ‘s. E.g. Content Focus: What does Antonia like doing in her spare time? Language structure focus: Which sentence is correct: a) Antonia’s brother’s name is Mark b) Antonia brother name is Mark. The beauty of Socrative is that it provides instant feedback on the answers students have chosen, allowing for on the spot identification of student misconceptions and remedial explanations. Students were then asked to write an account of Antonia’s student life in threes in Note. Key information such as names, boarded by the teacher, provided scaffolding, but all texts had been collected in. Past experience shows that students are not necessarily keen to produce summaries of information covered in class, but co-authoring on the iPad seems to engage students more. Students went to Settings, General, Accessibility, Large Text, 40, so that the emerging text was easily read by all three members of the group. They also took turns and being the typist and the teller. Each group was asked to add two pieces of misinformation about Antonia, giving other groups a reason to read their work. Finished texts were then emailed directly from Note to all members of the authoring group. Students finally formed new groups and read each other’s summaries to find the miss information. Students remain engaged throughout this integrated skills lesson and showed initiative to facilitate learning. For example, one jigsawed group photographed other group members key words in Note, at the initial sharing of information stage.

Thus, on concluding the first two weeks of teaching EFL through iPads, it seems to be the general consensus that students are spending more time on tasks than they had previously, even though some tasks are taking a lot longer to carry out than they used to with a course book, pen and paper. Hopefully, this means that deeper learning is taking place.

Recap of Key Ideas

Teach iPad rubric vocabulary prior to using an App.

Introduce communicative classroom meta-language enabling students to use more English during lessons.

Identify iPad-competent and iPad-newcomers and decide on a seating strategy.

Board fast finisher activities that require little teacher supervision.

Run some lessons in tandem with competent users carrying out a series of iPad based tasks independently, whilst others are given lockstep iPad tuition.

Students are putting more effort into their work and they take the form of polished, finished products such as books, iMovies, and presentations that students are proud of and that are more readily sharable with a broader learning community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Some considerations when starting to teach through iPads.

Main areas of concern

  • Delivering content material to students in an organized, easily retrievable system.
  • Using Apps and files students can interact with i.e. Write answers down on, record answers orally on etc.
  • Students filing content material and their own work in an organized easily retrievable system.
  • Students sharing material with their teachers and peers.
  • Security of material, student work and participant rights and self-esteem.
  • Going beyond the pen and paper interface. Creating empowering new ways of teaching and learning.
  • Material selection, course design, matching Apps to learning outcomes.
  • Classroom dynamics, classroom management systems and keeping students task focused.
  • Training and supporting teachers.
  • Effective sharing of materials, best practices etc. to reduce time spent on lesson planning.

Things to do as a teacher starting to work with iPads in class.

  1. Save a table for usernames and passwords.
  2. Have an administration folder.
  3. Have a core list of Apps that both students and teachers have.  Categorize Apps according to their main functionality: for input of language and ideas, for production.
  4. Have storage and share facilities such as Drop Box, Evernote and Google Docs on both your laptop and iPad.
  5. Use an App that can access files on both your laptop and iPad and if possible your institutions Share drive.  E.g. Splash Top Remote Client, Touch Pad.
  6. Synchronize iPad and overhead projector using Air Server or Air Play
  7. Decide on and create overall folder organization.
  8. Decide on tagging system for files to be saved. This ensures easy retrieval. Display this for easy access so you can adhere to the system.
  9. Identify a list of iPad related core vocabulary and skills. Develop materials to teach these and ‘can do lists’ for students to identify their areas of proficiency and weakness.
  10. Add and iPad Training element to ESL lesson plans.
  11. Have a troubleshooting poster in the classroom e.g.’ Remember to …’. Co-produce this with students.
  12. Have an Apps Champion List per class which develops and the semester unfolds.

Things to do as students starting to work with iPads in class.

  1. Create overall folder organization.
  2. Have an administration folder separate to course work.
  3. Have an iPad and technology training folder.
  4. Save a table for usernames and passwords.
  5. Arrange Apps into their main functionality: for input of language and ideas, for production.
  6. Display tagging system for easy retrieval in a place of easy access so students can adhere to the system.

 

An Exciting Educational Challenge

From September 2012, we, will deliver all of our lessons through iPads. Our vision is to empower students with 21st century skills, whilst developing their level of English. Our college, along with many others in the U.A.E, is working towards a dynamic new interface between teachers, learners, ESL material and task types. We will push ourselves beyond the boundaries of our educational experience, so far. This will be a steep learning curve both pedagocically and technologically. This blog will track that curve.