About sevhandenise

We, Sevhan Acar Hammudeh and Denise Mcqueen Ozdeniz, are EFL teachers at a college of further education in the U.A.E. We are embarking on the exciting educational innovation of teaching and learning through iPads. The aim of this blog is to help us reflect and share our experiences of courses, curriculum, materials, training and iPadagogy take shape. Follow us on Twitter: @teachuae @Denozden

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


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?

Free Apps for Vocabulary Learning

A Rattlebag of Vocabulary Ideas

Both Spelling City and Quizlet are device agnostic websites and apps which allow teachers to create tailor made vocabulary exercises. Quizlet is better suited for the initial vocabulary presentation stage as exercises help students match definitions to target lexis. Spelling City, as its name suggests, concentrates more on the sound-spelling properties of a word. However, the sentence unscramble game in Spelling City helps students practice the word in context and provides word order grammar practice. Please look at the table below for a comparison of the two products.

Activity Types Offered by Spelling City and Quizlet.

Spelling City Only


Quizlet Only

Sentence Unscramble(Focuses on sentence syntax) Spelling teaching and testing( Matching the pronunciation of a word to its written form)


N.B. Quizlet spelling tests are available only on laptops

Word and definition flashcards. The definition can be read and listened to.(Focuses on meaning)
Alphabetize(Familiarizes students with the order of the alphabet) Recall the word from the gap filled definition.(Focuses on meaning)
Audio-word matching pelminism( Matching the pronunciation of a word to its written form) Match the word to the definition.(Focuses on meaning)
Spelling Games e.g. hangman, add the missing letters.(Focuses on spelling) Space Race ( Laptop only)(Practices speed reading and focuses on meaning)

Free Apps To Aid Vocabulary Learning


Doodle Hangman (Free)


Students select a lexical set e.g. clothes, sports, fruit, and guess the letters that might be in the word before they get hung. Great animations and students love collecting points. Sadly, teachers cannot add their own vocabulary lists to Apps that do not have an interactive website version.



The opposites


The Opposites https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-opposites/id480194638?mt=8

Students need to pair up antonyms appearing on their screens. Presented with the written and spoken forms of a word, they need to scan the screen looking for its opposite.




4 pics 1 word


4 Pics 1 Word https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.lotum.whatsinthefoto.us

Students use four picture clues and a set of letters to help guess the key word. Words are random, so this is more of a ‘downtime’ activity to change the pace of the class, rather than a vocabulary focus activity.  If done in groups, students spend a lot of time debating whether or not to spend points on hints.


Hidden Objects


Hidden Objects https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hidden-objects/id517669417?mt=8

Students need to locate a list of items in a crowded picture. This works well if a theme such as Home Sweet Home or Summer Escape matches unit or writing themes. Students can produce their own picture dictionaries by taking a screen shot of a scene and annotating the pictures in Skitch.



Working on Multiple Windows on iPads through Side by Side

One of the challenges of iPads users experience is the inability to work on multiple windows. However, there is an App which overcomes this challenge. Side by Side (with Dropbox Support) is a multiple window reader / browser App available on the App Store for free.

We have recently attended Maria Brewster’s session at iCelebrate Finale where she successfully demonstrated how she uses Side by Side App with her students for timed-reading practice. Having been inspired by her work, we have looked into other ways we can use this App with our students for practising other skills, as well. Thus, in this entry, we would like to provide some examples for teachers teaching with iPads on how they can set tasks for their students using Side by Side App and hope that we can also inspire our colleagues to explore further uses of the App.

Side by Side for Writing Practice

Edmodo and Google Drive

Edmodo and Google Drive



For writing tasks with picture prompts, Side by Side enables users to look at the pictures and type at the same time on iPads. As you can see in the picture on the left, the students open Google Drive or Google Docs in one window and Edmodo on the other. They open access the shared Pdf file with picture prompts in one window and create a new google docs document for writing in the other window.




The prompts and the writing window

The prompts and the writing window




Once the students tap on the Pdf file, they can view the picture prompts for ‘John’s Daily Routine’ on the right hand side and type on the left hand side of the screen.





Add Timer for Timed Writing Practice

Add Timer for Timed Writing Practice




It is also possible to add a third window with an online count-down timer for timed-writing practice.





Side by Side for Listening Practice

Side by Side App can also be used for listening practice and typing practice through dictation activities.

Audioboo and Socrative

Audioboo and Socrative


Describing friends‘ is one theme that is covered in our level 1 course. We have recorded a description of a person on the Audiboo App and shared it with our students on Edmodo. Thus, the students can access the audio file ‘My Good Friend Claire‘ in one window of the Side by Side app. In the other window, they can access teacher-created questions about this podcast on Socrative Student on the web by typing the room number their teacher gives them. Once they access the quiz, students can start playing the Audio file and answering the multiple-choice questions on Socrative. It is also possible for students to pause and replay the audio file while answering the questions. For those who would like to use this activity in their classes, you can import the Socrative questions from SOC-456975.




Another theme we cover in our course is ‘Describing Countries, Cities and Towns‘ . It is possible to set a dictation task to students in Side by Side App by asking them to open the audio file shared on Edmodo, a google docs document and provide a QR code as Answer Key for Independent Learning. As you can see in the picture, the students can listen to the teacher-created podcast  ‘Dictation about Other Countries‘  and type what they hear in a new Google document that they have created. Once they finish the activity, they can scan the QR code using their mobile phones to access the Answer Key. Providing an Answer Key is especially useful for students completing this task as independent study.


Side by Side for Reading

In her presentation, Maria Brewster demonstrated that she uses Side by Side with her students for timed reading practice, where she asks students to have 3 windows: reading text from Google Docs, questions on Socrative and an online countdown timer.

Edmodo, Google Docs, Dictionary

Edmodo, Google Docs, Dictionary



Another possibility is asking students to complete questions on Edmodo and open an online dictionary in the other window.






We also looked into Speaking practice with Side by Side, where students could record their voice online while reading a description they had written. However, the various websites we have tried, such as Audioboo, Podomatic, Vocaroo, Podbean, Soundcloud, Chribit, have not worked in Side by Side App due to lack of Flash plugin. We have checked the settings to see whether it was possible to open the App through Puffin Browser but could not see this as a possibility. We would love to hear from those who have been able to create a podcast on a website on the iPad through Side by Side App.

Two features the App lacks are the inability to open Apps and the lack of Flash support. We hope that the next updates of the App will present solutions to these two particular challenges. Being able to use websites with Flash plug-in and being able to open Apps within Side by Side would make this App a must-have for all iPad users.



Creating eBooks

This academic year, both our teachers and students have experimented with creating  eBooks on their iPads. In this entry, we would like to give a brief description of the main Apps and websites we and our students have used to create eBooks.



Creative Book Builder (CBB): https://itunes.apple.com/ae/app/creative-book-builder/id451041428?mt=8 (14.99 AED)

With CBB, it is possible to create professional looking eBooks with text, photo, audio, video , external and internal links.CBB enables users to embed PDF files and import from Dropbox, Google Drive and FTP Server as well as add files from URL. Users can add tables, multiple-choice questions, generate and embed QR codes, create unlimited number of chapters and sections, customize their book information and edit content offline. Books created in CBB can be shared via e-mail, Dropbox, Google Drive, WebDav Server, QR codes or iTunes File Sharing. Like the other eBooks, they can be published in iBooks Shelf.

This academic year, teachers have used CBB to create reading books that included text, video, audio and multiple choice questions.  We have also used CBB to create books for teachers. By embedding all the PDF files that included course information into a single book, we have made sure teachers could access all course-related administrative documents in one place.

photo 2Students have created CBB books as e-portfolios for their writing course. By embedding PDFs of the writing texts they had written throughout the semester, the students had a chance to easily create an e-portfolio and share with their teachers.

Once published in iBook Shelf, the eBooks enable the reader to highlight words, add notes and define words by using the integrated dictionary function. Especially at lower levels, the ‘speak’ function and the vocabulary cards that can be created within the book have proven to be very useful.



CBB Tutorial:



iBooks Author (iBA): https://itunes.apple.com/ae/app/ibooks-author/id490152466?mt=12

Free on Mac App Store.

iBA is another eBook authoring application by Apple which is used on a Mac. Thus, unlike the other options, the users are not able to create an eBook on the iPad and would need to work on a Mac. However, it is the most professional option of all and allows users to create beautiful multi-touch books ‘for’ the iPad. iBA has templates allowing new-users to have an easy start, enables users to drag and drop pictures, videos and text files from their Mac and add widgets, such as 3D objects, diagrams and interactive images that turn the book into a highly interactive multi-touch eBook.

Last semester, the teachers in our team created thematic reading books for each level by using iBA. These books included text, audio, video, links and multiple-choice questions. The books were shared with the students through the Y drive connection in iFiles. Once downloaded, the students opened the books in iBooks, like all the other eBooks and could access them offline, anywhere in the world. Our students have truly enjoyed these interactive eBooks and had a chance to create vocabulary cards and add notes, which they could refer to outside class.

 iBooks Author Tutorial:


Scribble Press

Scribble Press

Scribble Press: https://itunes.apple.com/ae/app/scribble-press/id487300076?mt=8

(14.99 AED)

Scribble Press is an e-book creation platform that was originally designed for children. However, due to its user-friendly nature and simple language, it has been a favorite with our lower level ESL students at college level.

With its 50 ready templates (eg. All about me, My Vacation, My Best Friend, First Day at School), lower level ESL students can easily create a story book with text and pictures. It is also possible to start a blank book and add one’s own text and images. The App has built-in stickers and over 100 markers that help users create fun, colourful eBooks. It is currently not possible to add audio, video and links or import ready documents in Scribble Press.

photo 1Our students have created thematic eBooks in which they described their holidays and families. Also, they created grammar-based eBooks which included their own sentences and photos. When we studied possessive ‘s, for instance, they went around the campus, took photos and embedded them in their eBooks with captions, such as ‘My teacher’s desk, My college’s car park, My supervisor’s office’. These books can be shared with others via e-mailing a website link on Scribbepress.com, facebook or twitter. They can also be published in one’s own iPad using the iBooks App.

 Scribble Press Tutorial:


ePubBudePubBud: http://www.epubbud.com/ Free Website

Similar to Scribble Press, ePubbud is a user-friendly website that allows users to create eBooks. Unlike Scribble Press; however, ePubBud does not have an App. One advantage of ePubBud over Scribble Press is the fact that audio and video files can be embedded in the eBooks. The website also allows users to sell their books through ePubBud website, Apple, Barnes & Nobles and Amazon for free.

Our students have created books on ePubBud website through Safari on their iPads to describe their college and their favorite hobbies. They included text, audio and videos in their eBooks and shared them with their peers.

ePubBud Tutorial:



Mooklet: https://itunes.apple.com/ae/app/mooklet-create-dynamic-photo/id498505920?mt=8     Free

For those looking for an App that can create eBooks with text and photos only in a few taps, Mooklet is the answer. We have come across this iPhone App lately and haven’t used it in class yet, but with its user-friendly interface, Mooklet would be a great App choice for students to easily create photo story eBooks. It can be used both on iPhones and iPads. The books can be published as HTML 5 based web application and shared via URL, which makes them easy to be shared.

 Mooklet Tutorial:


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.

Describing Places with Audioboo and QR Codes

Learning Objectives

To provide students with the vocabulary and language structures necessary to be able to describe a place they know and to recognize places described by peers in written descriptions.

21st Century Skills 

  • To foster the students ability to work through a set of exercises independently and to collaborate with fellow learners when they encounter difficulties.
  • To encourage research skills and develop the students’ ability to know where to look for background information when necessary e.g. Students can use Google Maps and Wikipedia information to help them guess places their friends had written about.
  • To provide an opportunity for students to self-evaluate and decide when they have learned something well enough to be able to complete a task.
  • To encourage student organizational skills. Students need to get into pairs and groups and follow sets of written and spoken instructions. Students need to remember these instructions over a number of steps.
  • Mobile Learning Skills
  • To recognize the name of several WEB 2.0 tools and apps and be able to navigate between them, using appropriate passwords and reading iPad semiotics correctly.
  • To use a QR reader efficiently in order to gain access to an answer key and the digital donations of fellow students. 

Lesson plan

  1. Teacher gives an overview of the one hour lesson, setting learning targets in terms of communicative skills and how they add value to the students. This overview (boarded prior to the lesson) provides students with a choice of routes through the vocabulary stage of the lesson. It is advantageous to keep the workflow on a semi-permanent surface and not on the projected screen, so that everyone can refer to the overview throughout the lesson.
  2. Student choices are provided via Quizlet ( working at the word level) and Spelling City( working with words at the sentence level) this allows fast finishers to challenge themselves, and allows students to work on what they think is important for them. Links are provided via LMS such as Edmodo or emailed to students. Students can also sign into the app.(see the link below)
  3. Teacher to foster independence by asking students  to look at the title on the board and  find the appropriate app or exercise on their iPad, rather than opening up apps for students.
  4. Students have 20 minutes to work on vocabulary acquisition and sentence syntax. The Big Sign app facilitates time management.

20 minute vocab

5. The class is divided into 2 groups for the Dubai/ Abu Dhabi listening and language input stage. Podcasts were made using Audioboo.(see the link below

for the links and worksheets) Print out the worksheets so that students do not need to alternate between iPad panes which really hinders control of the audio recording.

6. Teacher breaks up the instructions for the listening phase of the lesson into steps. For example, she explains a step and gets students to locate the correct listening. An Explain Everything Screencast is used to illustrate the instructions.

checking answers with qr codes

7. Students listen to an audio description of a city and fill in the gaps. Podcasts are shared via an LMS or email.  Students are able to listen to the podcast as many times as necessary. The gap filled words are from the vocabulary exercises. Answer keys are provided by QR Codes. Students need  a QR code reader to be able to access the information.  Students need to understand the information and be able to retell it in a pair work jigsaw listening and speaking exercise.

ab dubai speaking pairs

8. After getting new information from a jigsaw partner, students return to their original group and share the information they have gained. This provides them with a second chance to describe a place.

9. Teacher monitors and records recurring errors.  Errors are to be boarded using different coloured pens to aid noticing and self-correction. Error correction work can be captured on Explain Everything or another screencasting tool and made available to students for future reinforcement.

10. In a previous lesson, students write descriptions of a secret place and email it to their teacher. They do not share the location of the place with anyone, creating a genuine information gap. The teacher saves the secret description into a URL generating site such as a public Google Drive folder or Files Everywhere.  One URL is needed per description.  The URL is used to create a QR Code for each location using a QR code generator such as QR stuff (http://www.qrstuff.com/ ) or Zxing ( http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/ ).  QR codes are saved to Pictures on a laptop and printed out. Each QR code is named e.g. Place 1, Place 2 etc.  It is important that the teacher writes down which student described which place for the place confirmation feedback slot. The labeled QRcodes are stuck around the classroom. Students armed with their iPads or mobile phones use a QR Code Reader to unlock the text and write the name of each place against its number on a list. Students are encouraged to use other mobile resources such as Google Maps to help them identify individual locations.

great qr reading ipad

11. Teacher projects a list of which student wrote which description e.g. Ahmed =Place 1. The whole class share their location guesses and the author of the description confirms or corrects the guesses.

qr collaboration

Overall Lesson Evaluation

  The learning aims of the lesson were met as students were able to use the vocabulary from the review phase to complete the listening gap fill and in many cases they spelt the words correctly or were able to self-correct.

There was evidence of self and peer correction during the monologue phase.  In reality, there was not a genuine information gap as students already know about the two cities described, and so the pair-work retelling and the group work recap were actually only at the classroom display level of communication. However, students were prepared to engage in this classroom specific behaviour in order to learn, and speaking about familiar places, for which they had substantial background knowledge, seemed to increase their confidence. The 21st century skills of collaborative learning and independent learning were definitely fostered in this lesson, and have been developed in previous lessons as most students were able to navigate between apps and between screens. Students moved between Google Maps, and some checked up which islands were next to Spain. The signs of students working independently at their own pace were that when some learners were reading the answer key, others were still working on Audioboo podcast. One fast finishers returned to the descriptions of the teacher’s secret place for the previous day to revise language structures, whilst another reviewed vocabulary on Quizlet. Students are learning to judge how much time they have during the hiatus between their finishing their work and beginning a whole class activity, and using the time slot to challenge themselves accordingly. This is major way on which m-learning adds value to the classroom. However, even though  learners have been using Quizlet for 11 weeks, some students still cannot get into Spelling City without assistance because they do not type in the class name correctly. Two students opened up the first thing they saw in Edmodo. They did not read key words such as vocabulary or listening. I need to focus on these students at the beginning of activities and ask them guiding questions to help them be successful and internalize the digital sequences.


The QR Code Secret Place activity obviously got students interested and engaged. Students did not know who had written a description of which place and so did not try to short cut the reading by asking each other for names. Instead they read an average of 8 out of 12 texts each, with faster students reading all 12 texts. The weakest student read 6 texts. Two students were not present that day and we were not able to ascertain the correct location of their descriptions. The next day in class, as soon as these two students entered the room, others asked about their secret places. I saw this as proof that the students were genuinely motivated by the activity which challenged more than their language knowledge.

 A key 21st century skill is to know who is an expert in what area and to know where to find information. I try to develop student interdependence by making them aware that others in the group are a source of knowledge and support by asking questions such as  “Can anyone help him spell ……?”. I also help students to feel a valued, contributing member of a team by giving them responsibility for giving out handout worksheets, pencils etc. During the lesson, I made an error handing out worksheets and students immediately picked this up and informed me. This shows they are aware of what is happening and feel responsible for making things work efficiently, and I believe it is good to model a positive attitude to errors. Acknowledging the two mistakes I made, gives students the freedom to make mistakes themselves and to experiment and hypothesis test, an essential ingredient in collaborative group work and learning by doing. This is especially true in m-Learning where things are constantly changing, and during this lesson there were many examples of students helping each other with technology.



Vocabulary links:

Spelling City App, teacher ADMC Level1, Writing about cities. Sentence Unscramble (app only).

Quizlet http://quizlet.com/22602101/describing-cities-towns-and-villages-flash-cards/

Quizlet http://quizlet.com/22642928/describing-dubai-and-abu-dhabi-flash-cards/


Audioboo links for the podcasts.




Student 1: Describing Abu Dhabi

TASK ONE:  Go to Edmodo- Describing Abu Dhabi Audioboo. Listen and fill in the gaps on this paper.

The capital of the United Arab Emirates is Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi means the 1. _____________ of the deer or gazelle. Abu Dhabi is 2. ____________________ in the center of the Emirati coast. Abu Dhabi is 3. __________________­­­­­­­­­­___________ the sea and the desert. Abu Dhabi is an 4. _________________________and the city is situated on the island and on the 5. ______________________.   It is a very big city with a 6. ____________________________ of one million people. Abu Dhabi is famous because it was the 7. ________________ of Sheikh Zayed, the father of the U.A.E. It has a big 8._______________and a long beach called the Corniche.  Abu Dhabi is a 9. __________. Lots  of 10. _____________ stop in Abu Dhabi. In the past, Abu Dhabi was 11.________________ for pearls. Now, it is famous for shopping. There are lots of 12._______________________ malls such as Marina Mall and Al Wadha Mall. Abu Dhabi is a very 13.____________________ city with lots of wonderful buildings. The Emirates Palace is one of the best hotels in the 14._________________________.

TASK TWO:  Read the description again. Underline Key words. You will tell a friend about Abu Dhabi.


Student 2: Describing Dubai

TASK ONE:  Go to Edmodo- Describing Dubai Audioboo. Listen and fill in the gaps on this paper.

The second city of the United Arab Emirates is 1.____________. Dubai is situated on the Emirati 2._________________. Dubai is between the sea and the 3.__________________. It is not an island. It is on the 4.____________________. It is a big city with a population of a 5.________________ people. Dubai is famous because it is a 6.__________________ resort. It has many hotels and a long 7._______________ called Jumeriah Beach. Dubai is a 8.__________________. Lots and 9.________________ stop in Dubai.  Now it’s famous for 10._________________. There are 11.__________________ shopping malls such as Mall of the Emirates. Dubai is a 12.__________________ city with many beautiful buildings. Khalifa Tower is the 13.____________________ building in the world.

Answer Key


TASK TWO:  Read the description again. Underline Key words. You will tell a friend about Dubai.




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 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.

ss and screen 2





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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Lessons Learned from the iPad Initiative in the UAE

Here are our session slides and resources from Oman International ELT Conference at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat in April, 2013.



ScoTutor for iPads

Professional Development

iPad Teachers Orientation Checklist for 3 universities

iPad Email Configuration Manual


iPads in Education: Website by 3 universities

E-learning vs. M-learning



Challenge-Based Learning:



Flipped Classrooms:





UAE Student Apps







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.

Talking Pictures: A Free App That Engage Students in Speaking and Listening Activities


Tap on the link to download the app.
The Pedagogic Principles behind the Speaking Activities.
In EFL speaking activities students need a message to communicate and a reason to listen to each other. Especially when producing a monologue, a clear purpose, helps them structure their speech. Basing a monologue on a picture provides content and scaffolds its organisation. Viewing a picture which another language learner is talking about, increases listener comprehension and facilitates the listener in asking for clarification and making follow up comments. This in turn shows the speaker that they have been listened to and understood, which increases feelings of success and consequently learner motivation.
Language learners need to gain confidence in speaking spontaneously. However, it is difficult to think of both the content message and language needed to communicate that message in real time communication. Repeating what someone else has said, especially when supported by a visual aid, is a powerful stepping stone towards impromptu explanations.
In order to deliver a monologue fluidly and speak fluently, students need time to prepare and rehearse. Rehearsal is most beneficial when students can listen to and assess their own output, making decisions about what to improve, asking advice about areas they are unsure of etc. Audio recording apps really facilitate this process, encouraging extended rehearsal and a focus on accuracy as well as fluency, especially when learners know that their finished product will be shared publicly.

Lesson Idea One: I have a picture to talk about.

A model is given to students, providing them with a clear idea of their goal. The model can be teacher produced or can be an example of student work from a previous round of this activity.
Students choose a picture to describe. They can use the Skitch App to create a picture dictionary of the vocabulary in the photo.
Students listen to the model again and note down the language structures that they may like to use e.g. In this photograph you can see, in the background there is, in the foreground there are, the building in the middle of the picture is… etc.
Students write out their description, showing it to the teacher and/or peer reviewers for feedback.
Students record their description using the Talking Pictures App. They listen to it in preview mode. They can re-record their description as many times as they wish until they are satisfied with it. Headphones are recommended for this part of the activity.
A filler activity is necessary at this point, as some students will complete the task earlier than others. Students can listen to previously recorded models of Talking Pictures sent to them by email.
Classroom meta-communicative language such as ‘Can I tell you about this picture?’ ‘Yes, go ahead.’, ‘Sorry, someone already showed me that picture.’ ‘Thanks, that was great.’ can be drilled so that as much communication as possible is carried out in English during the ensuing mingle activity.
Students need to have their own iPads clearly identifiable and their auto lock switched off for the mingle part of this activity. Students find a partner and exchange iPads. The partners listen to each other’s recordings whilst standing close to each other. Headphones are recommended for this part of the activity. After listening, students ask each other clarification and follow up questions. They need to prepare themselves to describe their partner’s picture to another student. They can listen to the recording several times and even shadow repeat the message (repeat the message a few seconds after the speaker has spoken.)
Using the meta-communicative language drilled at stage 7, students approach others and describe their friend’s picture. They are not allowed to play their friend’s recording. The purpose of this stage of the lesson is to give them practice in real time communication.
Students exchange iPads once again. So now, Student A’s iPad is with Student C. There is a pause in movement during which students can listen to the original description on Talking Pictures using headphones. Then students find a new partner and describe their third picture to their third partner.
A possible follow up activity as a whole class is for students to comment in which pictures they liked and why.

Lesson Idea Two: Which picture am I talking about?

A model is given to students, giving them a clear idea of their goal. The model can be teacher produced or can be an example of student work from a previous round of this activity. Elicit that descriptions start off with what is common to all four photos, and eventually moves to what differentiates the target photo, so that the listener has to listen carefully and follow a process of elimination.
Students use the Pic Collage App to make a compilation of four pictures on a page. They need to choose pictures that look similar, so that their peers have to listen carefully to distinguish between the images. The collage is saved to Camera roll so that it can be uploaded to the Talking Pictures App.
Students listen to the model again and note down the language structures that they may like to use e.g. There is/ are, in my picture you can see…., adjectives and nouns etc.
Students write out their descriptions, and the teacher provides feedback. Descriptions should be kept secret so that every student in the class is part of the guessing process. If the task is challenging, pairs can co-author one description.
Students record their description using the Talking Pictures App. They listen to it in preview mode. They can re-record their description as many times as they wish until they are satisfied with it. Headphones are recommended for this part of the activity.
A filler activity is necessary at this point as some students will complete the task earlier than others. Students can listen to previously made models of Talking Pictures sent to them by email.
Depending on the class size and time available, individuals can either mirror their iPads on Apple TV and have the whole class guess which picture they are describing, or they can work in groups, using their iPads as a screen. Alternatively, students can upload links to their Talking Picture on a learning management system and learners can listen individually and write down which image each student has described.
NB. We are unable to provide you with an example of the audio recordings at present as there is a glitch in the system when sharing the link via Dropbox, Box or Google Drive. The email link created by these three sharing systems when processed by Safari, fails to open up in the appliance, but rather links with Web Dav or iFiles. Each recording can easily be shared by email, but that has its obvious limitations.

Video Edit For Free App Empowers Speaking and Listening




Click here to access the video link https://www.dropbox.com/s/x9ki9o59i9wvm5m/Spot%20the%20Lie.mov

Video Edit For Free is a video editing tool which enables users to combine videos from different sources so the they can be played in smooth succession. Videos can be uploaded from the Camera Roll or filmed directly on the app. Up to ten minutes of video can be combined. Unlike iMovies, we were able to email 5 minutes of video footage without a problem from Video Edit For Free.
Speaking Lesson Pan Idea: Spot the Lie
1. Students prepare a monologue about themselves, for example their daily routines. They incorporate an obvious lie in their story. The purpose of fellow students listening to them will be to spot the lie. For example, when students talked about their daily routines, one slipped in that he travelled to work by camel everyday, and another one said he went to the park with his 50 children each evening.
2. Students use an audio recorder such as Sound Note or Audioboo to rehearse telling their story. They can listen to themselves and decide when they are ready to be recorded by the teacher. For time management purposes it is essential to have self study activities available to students so that they are occupied whilst other students are being individually recorder by the teacher or a student designated to be that cameraman for the day.
3. Students are issued with a three columned table: col 1. Student name., col 2. The Lie , col 3. Feedback to the student. As the video is aired, learners write down each student’s lie and a feedback comment. Our feedback comments included: look at the camera more, try not to read from the paper etc.
Comment: The first time students do such an activity, they may feel nervous and prefer to read from their written text, rather than recount the information they have planned. On later occasions, they can be guided to freer speaking, by only allowing them to write down key words on a piece of paper and using these as prompts.

iTeach: Planning, teaching and monitoring with iPads

Here are the Prezi slides and handouts from the iTeach: Planning, teaching and monitoring with iPads   session that was presented at the TESOL Arabia Conference in Dubai on 14.03.2013. The session included a presentation of Apps teachers can use to plan their lessons, create workflows, present content and share resources. Please visit join the Edmodo group by using the group code  8tp2rh to leave feedback and share which other Apps you use for these purposes.

Click to download: Session handout. TESOL Arabia 2013. Sevhan Acar Hammudeh


Edmodo is our App choice for communicating with students. Having explored multiple free Apps which could help us have an ‘online classroom’ where we could post information about classes and exams, share resources, links, audio and video files, hold discussions, have real-time assessment, give and get feedback, we decided to use the Edmodo App. With its clean, attractive interface on iPad and iPhone, Edmodo is a great choice for tablet and android users.

Sharing resources and contributing to discussions

Students can easily join an Edmodo class through a group code generated by Edmodo, and the teacher does not need to send an email invite. Edmodo allows teachers to manage multiple classes under one account. Resources/polls/quizzes posted on our class can easily be shared on different classes, which is a great time saver for teachers.There is also an option to collaborate with other teachers and this is wonderful for teachers sharing classes.

Awarding digital badges to students

The gamification element is another feature that we love about Edmodo. It allows teachers to create and award digital badges to students. We have found this to be incredibly motivating for our students.

Question breakdown

Real-time assessment feature of Edmodo is its another strength. Students have the chance to get instantaneous feedback on their multiple-choice quizzes. The teacher then has the opportunity to view students’ results and a question breakdown which helps her decide which questions to revise, which subjects to revisit or which students to give additional support to. The smiley feature also helps both parties receive instantaneous feedback.  Both teachers and students are asked to choose a smiley to express their feeling about assessments  on Edmodo and add comments where necessary.

Please also check our sample workflows on Edmodo here.

Edmodo: a versatile learning management system on which students can be active agents in their learning

Edmodo is a free LMS with a very user friendly interface which allows both students and teachers to upload a myriad of resources including links, pictures, files and comments. Links can be opened up via hyperlinks. Edmodo uploads material directly from Google Drive, a collaborative co-authoring platform. Each message can be responded to directly in a variety of ways including smiley icons, and written messages. Permission to add a feature does not have to be given by the teacher. Ownership of the LMS is more egalitarian.

Workflow One

Lesson Objective: To get students to explore the way they support their own learning and that of others by encouraging them to experiment with the ‘learning objects’ they upload onto Edmodo.

Steps to be taken:

  1. Students use Popplet or Note to brainstorm the things that help them learn. Examples might include You Tube videos of mini lessons, Keynote or Prezi presentations of mini lessons, online exercises, photographs of board work, good student models of an activity they have done, and videos of Total Physical Response activities done by classmates.
  2. Teachers add a meta cognitive slot after key periods of learning and ask students what would help them remember these ideas or these learner outcomes. Learners record/save any learning aides still available and share them via Edmodo.
  3.  Once students get into the habit of articulating what can make them recall and understand material, teachers move these discussions to a prediction/ pre-activity stage i.e. before the learning takes place. This primes students to be ready to use digital resources to save moments of learning and learning objects that stimulate learning. For example, one student may decide to record a discussion of why answers are correct using Audioboo. The recording could then be added to Edmodo as a link. It would not matter if this discussion was in L2 or L1, as it is not the target language, but meta cognitive work which can rarely be done in L2 at an early stage of development. Another student may get positive feedback on a draft writing assignment, improve it according to feedback and add it to Edmodo as a good example of x genre. This would be available to all students when studying for writing exams. Another student may simply photograph the board work and upload it. Yet another may ask a teacher to be recorded explaining a language point on a screencasting App such as Explain Everything, ShowMe or Screen Chomp and share the link on Edmodo. The main thing is that students decide what adds value to their store of reference materials, they capture them and they add them to a shared learning management system.
  4. Students look back at a period of learning and identify what their peers have added to Edmodo. A teacher created poll will list the types of student curated material added and students will vote for the one they find most useful. This does not mean to say that any material is not useful. The voting will only be a way of showing student perceptions. The same poll could be taken on Socrative to show what has been used, as in the Socrative App multiple answers can be given.
  5. Motivational badges can be awarded to students who have contributed a lot to the whole group learning.

Workflow Two.

Lesson Objective: Students will explore different Apps to develop their English language skills from a list of suggested Apps/links on Edmodo and share their favourite Apps/links on Edmodo discussion board with an explanation.

Steps to be taken:

  1. Each week, a bank of links and Apps that can help  improve English language skills is shared with students on the class Edmodo. The skills to be looked at are reading, writing, speaking and listening, as well as grammar and vocabulary.
  2. Throughout the week, students are responsible for visiting these links/downloading these Apps and deciding which one/s is/are their favourite.
  3. At the end of the week, students write their choices on the discussion board and justify their decisions. Each student who makes a suggestion ‘in time’ on the Edmodo discussion board, with a good explanation of ‘why’ they chose the App/link and how the class can use them, gets a digital badge.
  4. The class also votes for a class favourite, using the polling function on Edmodo. If a student’s suggestion is chosen as the class favourite, that student gets a special digital badge.

QR Codes and Expressing Opinions About Images

The activity we suggested in our previous post QR Codes prior to an art exhibition, reminded us of  another paper based activity about arts called ‘The Art Gallery’ , which could also be adapted to iPads.

Expressing Opinions

Paintings, photos of places or controversial images are placed on the classroom wall.An iPad is placed under each image, open in the Pages app. The title of each Page is the name of the painting or photo. This activity does mean that for once the iPad is stationary and students have to write on each other’s iPads. Students circulate, look at the paintings and write a comment about each one on the iPad associated with it.

Creating the QR Code

The iPad owner saves the Pages document onto a class website such as fileseverywhere.com or blog such as Posterous. Each painting commentary would be uploaded onto a different blog page (otherwise students would see all of the shared information and there would be no information gap.) They use the blog page URL to create a QR code. QR codes are sent to the teacher who creates a master document in which each QR code is coupled with its painting or image. This document can be given to students as a hard or soft copy. The benefit of QR codes is that they are very ergonomic and a lot of information can be stored within the small square box. Hence, ten photos and ten long lists of opinions can be easily stored on a single sheet of paper.

Discussing Opinions

In a later lesson, working with a soft copy document, students, in pairs, look at the paintings on paper or on one student’s iPad and use the other student’s iPad QR code reader to read different students’ comments. Learners can work individually if the document is a hard copy hand out. Students note down the follow up questions they want to ask each other about their opinions of the paintings. A mingle question and answer activity follows.

Rationale for the use of QR Codes

The pedagogic question is ‘why bother with the QR codes?’ Students could omit this stage and simply read other people’s comments as they walk around the classroom. The linguistic rationale for collating comments and pictures is that the more you work with similar language in slightly different ways, they more is becomes fluid and fluent. Would there be a valid reason to do this activity in other disciplines?

Nearpod: Teacher and Student Apps

Source: http://www.nearpod.com/how-it-works/

Nearpod Teacher and Nearpod Student Apps are free Apps that enable teachers to create and share interactive presentations and control the flow of the lesson. Before using the App, the teachers should create a Nearpod account and ‘create’ interactive presentations on the Nearpod website from their desktop computers or laptops as new presentations cannot be created using the teacher App. Nearpod website allows teachers to add audio, video, pictures, text (Pdf), polls and quizzes.

Once the presentation is created, teachers can download the Nearpod Teacher App  to share content and manage the flow of the lesson by choosing the slides to be released to students. Through the Nearpod Teacher App, the teachers have the chance to control their students’ iPad screens. Students, on the other hand, log in to Nearpod Student App which will allow them to receive multimedia content shared by the teacher and engage in the activities by answering questions or drawing on their screens. The teacher App also allows the teacher to view students’ answers real-time and share students’ responses and drawings with the whole class.

The fact that students can view and interact with the content on their iPad rather than viewing it on the projector makes Nearpod App favorable. The immediate feedback feature is also great. We would recommend you to try Nearpod for interactive and engaging lessons!

Nearpod Teacher App – Screenshot on iPad


Lesson Plan: QR (Quick Response) codes prior to an art exhibition visit

Scan this QR code to ‘listen’

Before going to an art exhibition, the teacher chooses 5 painting by 5 different artists and produces QR codes for the paintings using QRStuff or ZXing Project.

As homework, each group is assigned one artist. They are responsible to search on Safari about the artist and produce a QR code with brief information about the artist using QRvoice,, which will allow others to ‘listen’ to the information scanned. These QR codes are printed prior to the following day’s lesson.

The following day, the teacher posts the QR codes she produced with the painting’s image around the classroom on the walls, turning the classroom into a QR code museum. The class is divided into 5 teams and each team is asked to go scan one QR code using a QR reader, such as Barcode Scanner, in order to see the painting. The groups are not allowed to show the painting or share any details with the other groups. The groups go back to their tables and write or record a description of the painting using ‘there is’ and ‘there are’ (eg. There is a vase on the wooden table. There are 2 pink flowers in the vase). Once all groups finish writing or recording the descriptions, they exchange of with another group. By reading or listening to the description of the painting, the groups use the crayons and paint or draw the picture. Once the time is up, the groups present their painting to the whole class. Then the students scan the QR code to see the original and compare. Through voting, the drawing/ painting that are closest to the original is chosen and that group’s members are presented with a small gift, such as a postcard/ poster of the original painting.

At the end of the lesson, the students pretend they are in a museum, go around the class scanning QR codes to see the original paintings and get information about their artists (The teacher also posts a QR codes produced by the groups next to the painting’s QR code, with information about the artist.). The students can then share their favorites with their classmates. This activity would increase students’ interest in the painting when they visit the museum. Through this integrated-skills, thematic lesson, the students would not only be familiar with the five paintings and their artists but also have a chance to practice their language skills.

Comic Life for Workflows and Story-Telling

Comic Life is a paid ($4.99) Photo Comic Creation App. As much great as it can be for students to create photo comic and use it for story-telling, it is also great for teachers to create workflows and classroom instruction guides. Below is a sample workflow we created and used for the theme ‘ best friends’. You can see the detailed lesson plan here. The visuals, embedded speech bubbles and step by step instructions help teachers to plan their lessons and create step by step guides and instructions for students. The finished product can be saved to camera roll as jpeg, e-mailed directly from within the App as a Pdf, copied on WebDav or opened in a different App, such as Edmodo or eBackpack. We would highly recommend the Comic Life App.

Workflow on ComicLife



Lesson Plan: My Best Friend

Here is an integrated skills, step by step lesson plan/workflow created using Comic Life about ‘my best friend’:

1. Practice vocabulary on describing people (appearance and personality adjectives) on Spelling City

2. Read about my friend Antonia (Headway Beginner, Unit 4) and answer the questions on Edmodo (teacher created quiz on Edmodo)

3. Follow the link on Edmodo and listen to the teacher-created podcast on ‘my good friend Claire’ on Audioboo.

4. Log on to Socrative teacher App and answer the questions about podcast on ‘my good friend Claire’.

5. Plan to write about your best friend. Brainstorm on Popplet.

6. Embed your Popplet mindmap in Pages and write about your best friend. Save your paragraph in eBackpack.

7. Read your paragraph out loud and record your voice in iFiles. Copy the recording to eBackpack for your  teacher and classmates to listen.

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


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

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.



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.




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.

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.



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 .


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.


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




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 ,


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.


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 



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).


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?


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.


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/




Students’ Presentations: Getting Ready for Speaking Exams

This semester, we have been teaching groups of level 1 students. A while ago, we shared some lesson ideas on getting ready for speaking exams and today we would like to share some short clips of our students getting ready for speaking exams by presenting to their classmates. Please note that the entry and exit CEFR levels for Level 1 students are A2 and A2+ and that they have only had 10 weeks of instruction prior to these videos being taken.  Therefore, we feel they have done an amazing job preparing for these presentations and presenting in front of their classmates and teachers.  The students prepared their presentations on Keynote App and connected to the Apple TV in our classrooms with ease. A big thanks to all our lovely students for agreeing their videos to be shared with you on our blog:)

Abdulla’s Presentation

Humaid’s Presentation

Ebrahem’s Presentation

Jassim and Mohamed’s Presentation

MailShot: Send Group E- Mails from iPads

One of the challenges we faced at the beginning of this Academic year was the inability to send group e- mails to our students on iPads.  Then, we came across the wonderful App MailShot which is the only App we know which can send group -mails directly from our iPads. The free version of the App, MailShot, allows users to create three groups of up to five contacts; whereas the paid version MailShot Pro allows up to one hundred groups!

Once the groups are created, e-mails can be sent from any App on iPad and the groups show as a part of your address book. All that is needed is to type the group name and tap on it once it appears in the address book. The groups can be added to all fields, including bcc and cc. Adding members to the group is as as easy as choosing members from your address book on iPad and group members can be edited any time users want.

Thanks to MailShot Pro, we have been able to create groups and send group e-mails very easily. We would highly recommend this App!



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:


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.



A Brief Guide to Apps for Beginners

Here is a brief guide to some Apps for beginners. I prepared this guide at the beginning of the 2012/13 Academic Year in order to help fellow colleagues that we work with at our college. Most of the Apps in the guide are the key Apps our college has purchased for our students, like Pages, Keynotes and Numbers. The guide includes the use of App with lesson ideas and some training videos. Please do suggest other Apps that we should add to the list!

Guide to Apps for Beginners

Delivering Secure Tests on iPads

Since we embarked on the iPad journey, a major consideration has been the possibility of secure tests on iPads. Recently, we have been provided with two solutions that we would like to share with you.


The Guided Access function in the iOS6 update on iPads has made it possible to lock students into an App by disabling the home button and gestures (such as swiping or pinching in) and limiting users to block certain areas of the screen (such as tabs in Safari Browser). The video made by Insanely Great Mac demonstrates the use of the Guided Access function in iOS6 on iPhones. As the function is exactly the same on iPads, this video would be a good introduction to the Guided Access function on iPads:

By locking students into an App (such as Spelling City, BBLearn Mobile and Quizlet) or a website (BBLearn, Sakai etc.) for a test, the teachers can make sure that students will not be able to visit other webpages or refer to other documents stored on iPads. As it can be seen in the video, the Guided Access is enabled by setting a passcode. The passcode will have to be kept private as students would be able to end the Guided Access and lock themselves out of the App/website otherwise. This means that the process can be time consuming as the teacher would have to enter passcode on each iPad one by one. However, the advantages do outweigh the disadvantages. Once the exam is over, the teacher can share the passcode with the students so that each student can end their Guided Access. It is important that the motion is set to ‘off’ so that rotating the iPad would not end the Guided Access function.

ACtest – Core Technology  

Our institution has purchased a license for AC test from Core Technologies, which also enables us to create and deliver secure exams on iPads. They are secure because once the students log in to the App by entering the password provided, the home button on iPads are disabled. Even if the student did manage to log out of the App, s/he wouldn’t be able to log back in the assessment even with the password, as the teacher would manually have to unlock the student’s exam from his/her iPad following the monitoring function on the website.

By using the website (http://ac.ebusinessdesign.com)  teachers can create items and assessments to be shared with fellow colleagues and students. A time limit and a password can be set for assessment by teachers on the website. Students take these assessments by logging into the ACtests App, which can be downloaded for free from Apple Store. The App is free; however, the students will need enter their institutional usernames and passwords which have been registered with Core Technologies when the license is purchased.

The interface is clean and user-friendly and the students have the ability to see their Answer Sheet at any point during the exam to check which questions they have answered. At the moment, we are in the piloting stage and are collating feedback. However, so far the feedback we have received from our colleagues has been mostly positive.

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


  • 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


  • 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)


  • 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.


  • 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)


  • 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.



  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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.

iFiles: Managing, creating and sharing files on an iPad

Two of the biggest challenges teachers face in using iPads is the management of multiple accounts and sharing files with other teachers and students. These challenges stem from the fact that iPad has no built in file structure or file browser like a desktop computer or laptop. iFiles is an App that presents solutions to these two challenges. It is described by Apple Store as ‘a file manager, document viewer, text editor, voice recorder, wifi drive, and many more for iPad, iPhone and iTouch’. iFiles not only allows users to manage multiple accounts under one umbrella and browse for files that are located in different accounts, but also create content within the App on the iPad. iFiles enables teachers to:

Manage multiple accounts, including WebDav connections to college portal and shared drives, BB mobile, eBackpack, Googledocs, SugarSync and many more.

Share files with other faculty members and students easily through a WebDav connection, direct e-mailing, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Move a file from one account to another (eg. from personal dropbox to shared college portal) easily within the iFiles App without having to sign in and out of different accounts.

Create new voice recording, folder, text file or photo directly from within iFiles App.

Zip/ unzip Manage multiple formats (iWorks: Pages, Numbers, Keynote, MS Office: Word, Excel, Power Point, PDF, HTML, images: jpg, audio and movies: MP3, M4A and many more).

iWorks Apps all have the built-in function of saving directly to iFiles, without having to create WebDav connections.

Manage shared and private folders.

Set a pass code for private files and folders. Customize folders and files by changing their icons, labels and names.

Sort files and folders by title, kind, date and size.

Air Print documents.

Open documents in other Apps with one tap.

iFiles is a paid App that costs £2.49 in Apple Store, but it is one App I would recommend all teachers teaching through iPads to invest in and use in order to manage, create and share files and folders on iPads.



This review first appeared in Perspectives Volume 19 No.3 produced by TESOL Arabia and was published here with their permission.

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


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?

Working With Graded Readers and iPads

There is a lot of evidence to prove that sustained silent reading is exceedingly beneficial both inside and outside the classroom and a key advantage of  mobile devices is the  ease with which students can have access to rich reading resources. Additionally, it is also possible to follow the written word on the page, whilst listening to an oral rendition of the text. This is particularly important to students whose mother tongue is written in a script that is not the Roman Alphabet and as in the case of Arabic, does follow the same spelling rules. Vowels are often not represented in written Arabic,: and thus students forget to incorporate them into their written English.

Our institution subscribes to the Oxford Bookworms Series of Graded Readers for EFL students. I would like to share some of the activities I have done with my students using this online reading resource and other digital programmes.

Conventional Pre and Post Reading Activities

I listed and used the conventional pre and post reading activities frequently employed to test comprehension, enrich vocabulary acquisition and foster prediction skills when a class set of readers is used. These included:

. Saving pictures from the book onto the Camera Roll and using the slideshow function to present them to students.  During the slide show students predicted the genre,possible plot, and the role certain characters would play. I also elicited target vocabulary.

. Playing snippets of conversation of the story to the students and asking them to predict the next few scenes. I did the by playing the audio on one iPad and recording the excerpts with another iPad using Sound Note.

. Creating vocabulary reinforcement exercises in Spelling City, Quizlet and Socrative.

. Creating follow up comprehension questions in Socrative.

. Playing You Tube videos connected to a key theme or event in the book. For example, after listening to a description of the skies darkening before a volcanic explosion in ‘Last Chance’, we stopped the audio and quickly switched to a volcanic eruption on You Tube which caught the students imagination and enhanced their understanding of the dangers the protagonist was facing.

. Saving several pictures from the online book into the Camera Roll and then inserting them into a Pages document as visual prompts  which scaffolded the students  recapping of  the story.

These were all effective activities, but I wanted to utilize the social networking possibilities of m-learning and engage students in tasks they normally do outside of the classroom in their real lives. So I turned to iFaketext.com.

This site allows you to make realistic counterfeits of documents such as SMS texts and Facebook accounts.

The Facebook Account of Police Woman Sue Parker from Police TV ( OUP) .

I created a Facebook Account which situated Sue Parker in central London. It was easy to add photos saved and cropped from Camera Roll and to enter the key events in the story as events in her calendar. I then wrote an open comment saying that she was worried about the number of thefts that had recently occurred in North Street and asking her Facebook friends for suggestions on how to catch the thief.













Students logged into Sue’s page as User Name: SueParker, Password:english because I felt this was a safe way to proceed. I did not want students to use their own authentic Facebook accounts and disclose personal information. However, several students decided to do so and others who had not previously owned an account, felt motivated to open one. The task was simply to read several pages of comments, photo albums and event recordings and to feedback to the class the information they had gathered about the police officer. Each group took it in turn to reveal more information and not to repeat the information provided by other groups. This gave students a reason to listen carefully to their peers. Afterwards, students chose the comments or pictures they wished to reply to. Whilst moving around the class, I was able to post answers to student comments, encouraging further reading and writing.

There was a strange blurring of fiction and reality. Although I had created the account using iFaketext.com and the character was obviously from the storybook, the verisimilitude of the Facebook text and the authenticity of the tasks set,  led to some students questioning whether or not  they were corresponding with a real person.

Warning: A good activity goes wrong. 

I used a fake document website, rather than the actual Facebook site so that the information posted was not in the public domain and to substantiate the point that this was a classroom based simulation type activity. I used my own email address to create the document, but had to add a fictitious gmail address for the protagonist.  I did not need to create an authentic gmail account before creating the Facebook account. However, during the activity someone must have changed the class shared password for Sue Parker and once I had exited the account, I could no longer log back in. I tried to rectify the situation by creating the make believe email address, but a genuine Sueparker@gmail.com exists and so I have not been able to get the security code to change the password and now need to create the bogus account again. It would therefore be prudent to register an email account under the book character’s name before developing their webpage. This really does blur reality and educational exercises!

SMS Texts

IFaketext.com also helps you produce text messages. I created one from the police officer to the class. I could not get this sent properly and so I took a photo shot of it and emailed it to students, who opened it in Skitch and typed in their responses. Sue Parker asked them a personal response question about how things were going in Abu Dhabi first, and then asked them questions referring to the plot of the book, asking them to infer who the thief was. This started students asking how they could contact an English speaker abroad with whom they could genuinely text.









A Puppet Pals Interview Between the Police Officer and a Suspect

As the target language at present includes simple past question forms, students worked in pairs to write, rehearse and then record a dialogue in the form of a police interview that took place between Sue Parker and a character from the book who many students believed was the thief. An advantage of Puppet Pals is that photos saved from an online book can be turned into the background and characters of the puppet show. Hats off to technology, photos can be manipulated in such a way that a character who is looking left in the original photo, can be made to look right on stage and during a three person dialogue characters can actually change the way they are facing to look at the speaker!






Students uploaded their dialogues onto eBackpack from where they were viewed via Apple TV. The whole class discussed the merits of a dialogue, awarding points for the variety of questions asked, the usefulness of questions asked to the police investigation and the accuracy of the grammar and vocabulary. eBackpack has a review function into which grades and comments are entered, and saved by the teacher(as a representative of the class) and viewed by the material’s creators.

In conclusion, students interacted with the content of the short stories in creative,mobile, social, visual, gaming and story telling ways, meeting all five educational materials criteria recommended by Dr Ruben Puentedura,Founder and President of Hippasus, and designer of the SAMR model of change and innovative implementation.


Their language use, especially in the Facebook activity was meaning focused and not simply for display purposes. In the last three  e-learning activities outlined here, students not only used language communicatively,  but also developed many digital literacies.




The Socrative Quiz Building  Programme comprises two apps: Socrative Teacher and Socrative Student. Teachers create quizzes on a laptop via m.socrative.com. On enrolling educators are given a room number which is the passkey by which students can access their quizzes. Quizzes fall into three response categories: open ended, true/false and multiple choice. Quizzes can be teacher paced: moving on to the next question when they teacher wishes to; or student paced: progressing at the pace of individual learners.

Real Time Feedback Systems

The real value of a Socrative Quiz is that it provides detailed reports of all student answers, allowing for targeted feedback and personalized student tracking, which are both keystones of m-learning (John Couch, Vice President, Worldwide Apple Education, First Annual Global Mobile Learning Congress 2012, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates).  Reports can be live: illustrating how many students chose which answer in bar chart form, and post activity, documenting the discrete decisions of each student. If instructors design tests so that the same item tests the same linguistic phenomenon over a series of quizzes, it will be easy to discern if a student is making progress in a certain area or not. For example, if every grammar test item five targets third person ‘s’ and a student always gets question five incorrect, then both the student and teacher knows that remedial work is necessary in this area. Even if quiz design is carried out in a laissez faire fashion, students benefit from an analysis of their results.


An Element of Fun

Dr. Reuben Puentedura, creator of the SAMR model of change and innovative implementation, says that the gaming element of e-learning engages students and this seems to be the case in Space Race, a quiz set up that pits teams against each other in their attempt to drive their rockets the furthest, the fastest. Rocket fuel equates with getting all members of the team to answer a set of questions correctly, developing student interdependence and promoting student to student teaching.


Many Cooks Make Light Work


Socrative Teacher is generative in that quizzes created by one teacher can also be used by others through an invited share system. Student designed quizzes can also be created on a Socrative Teacher platform, encouraging lessons from the learners. For example, groups of students can decide upon the questions that should go into a quiz and whilst classmates work on alternative tasks, group secretaries can take it in turn to enter test items. The quiz is then used with the class as a whole. Such quizzes are often deemed to test what has been taught, and students report that they learn more from reviewing the learning items covered to decide what merits entry into the evaluative task, than from taking the test itself.

A Survey Tool and a Brainstorming Tool.

As answers are collated, the Socrative quiz is an ideal information gathering tool. For example, at the beginning of a semester students can write down important information, email addresses, learner preferences etc. and this is all stored in one sheet in the quiz report. Teachers can elicit information on which aspects of the lesson learners find most useful or least useful using an Exit Quiz. Similarly repeated questions, to which students have to provide different answers can be a fertile brainstorming device. For instance, students may be required to voice different reasons for becoming a vegetarian or for switching to alternative energy sources etc. The ensuing report provides all students with a comprehensive record of all ideas put forward, ready for selection and use in a writing or speaking activity.

In conclusion, I believe that Socrative can meet a range of classroom needs, whilst varying the interactive focus, and pace of a lesson. It seals students into a here and now virtual world, which they find motivating and the immediate feedback facility makes the learning experience very personal for them.

This review first appeared in Perspectives Volume 19 No.3 produced by TESOL Arabia and was published here with their permission.


Skitch: Providing feedback, Giving Instructions and Developing Games

Skitch is free and can be accessed via its website or as an App. It allows users to annotate and share a new photo, one from their Camera Roll, or a web screen shot making it a very flexible classroom tool.

An Aid to Classroom Management

Students can be photographed either individually or according to where they usually sit, at the beginning of term, and their names or college identity numbers written over the photo.  This will help the teacher learn student names quickly or at least have a quick reference tool when in class. Students who have individual iPads can take a photo of something easily identifiable to them and use Skitch to write their name on the photo. This can be set as the Home Screen and Set Lock Screen, so that the device is easily identifiable.






The blank slate function can also act as a whiteboard which teachers can use when moving amongst students. It can be used with individual students or with the whole class via the projector.

An Aid in Providing Feedback in Written Work

Teachers can take a screen shot of student work, which then becomes saved in Camera Roll. After importing the photograph into Skitch, they can annotate the student authored text using a variety of colours and choose between handwriting and typing. Lexical items, sentences or areas of text can also be boxed and commented on.  Now in image format, the marked work is emailed to students who save it, insert it into a writing document and make the changes necessary to improve their work.

An Aid to Giving Clear Instructions

Annotated images provide students with clear directions on which icons to tap, the sequence to follow, the codes to submit etc. Individual images can be embedded into a Keynote Presentation or a Camera Roll Slideshow, and used in whole class lockstep or at the learner’s individual pace. These instructional clips enable teachers to circulate and provide individual help. Skitch annotations can also be embedded into PDF instructional sheets.








An Aid to Classroom Games

The Pixel-blur function helps create information gaps which lead to genuine classroom communication. For example, target vocabulary items can be partially blurred, adding another dimension to naming lexical items. Instead of simply asking ‘Can you name this word in English?’ the teacher challenges students to use their imagination.





The same effect can be achieved with the crop function. Blurred images can be effectively used in tandem with the flashcard App A Pro +.  Blurred images prompt the use of modal of possibility, as in the man up the ladder might be cleaning the windows or he may be locked out of his house.

In the thieves’ scenario, one witness can describe thief one to the police and, the other thief two. Before being interviewed by the police, the witnesses also share their descriptions with each other.






Ease of Use

Skitch is very easy to use and share, although there are occasional glitches during which the delete icon keeps reappearing whilst users try to write with the pen and sometimes marks slide down the page. One tip is to save the image to Camera Roll before writing too much. As Skitch is owned by Evernote, it also works more reliably and offers a save option if you have an Evernote Account to which it is synchronized.

I would certainly recommend this versatile programme as a key mainstay of your teaching toolkit.

This App review first appeared in Perspectives Volume 19 No. 3 produced by TESOL Arabia and was republished in this blog with their permission.



Something old, something new – marrying the two.

Some lesson material works again and again regardless of its age and for me, one of my golden oldies for practicing the simple past and simple past question forms is Willie the Kid from Streamline Departures by Bernard Hartley &Peter Vinney, OUP ( WWW.Vinney.uk.com/streamline/index.html).






The wild west theme works well with male students and also matches a character set and background from the Puppet Pal App.  Thus, we have language input in the form of a story and output in the form of an interview between a journalist from The Dodge City News and the sheriff delivered via a puppet show.


This is a brief summary of how we worked through the lesson.

This comic strip was projected on the board and used to elicit the setting and possible scenarios. Students then worked on vocabulary in Spelling City.









As students had newly been introduced to the simple past, their work mainly concentrated on learning the endings of regular past verbs.  Students then listened to the story and filled in a gapped text which again focused on regular past verb forms. This can be done with a pencil and paper or if a digital copy is preferred,  words can be blanked out using the white pen  in Skitch by the teacher, and the worksheet sent to the students as an image . Students then use an annotation app such as Neu Annotate to fill in the words, then listen to check their answers. An alternative is to send students the original text and get them to highlight all simple past verbs using an annotation tool.








This is an old fashioned form focused,  consciousness raising activity which students enjoy because  it helps them manipulate the target language at an early stage of learning it and it is achievable.  Whilst doing this kind of activity essentially constitutes substituting the iPad for the book, I think it still has a place in iPadagogy because it is a scaffolding step on the way to potentially public, student generated digital product centering on the use of language they are acquiring.

Students next asked and answered questions about the story orally. All prompts came from the online teacher’s book found at the  WWW.Vinney.uk.com/streamline/index.html.  


These questions help students automatize simple past question and answer forms, so that when they come to analyze the language, they have a visual and audio memory of form. Simple past question formation was then elicited onto the board using ‘Write and Slide’ sheets.




This language structure work was left on the board for peripheral learning and as a resource whilst students produced their own questions during the communicative language activity.




Students worked in groups of three to produce their interview puppet shows. so that they had three screens were available to them at once: one student had the original text, another wrote up the interview dialogue and a third prepared the characters and background for the show. Each student contributed to every production stage.









Once students had written and practiced their interviews, they found a quiet spot outside the classroom to record them. Finally, we had a class screening of different productions.

The puppet show interviews varied both in the questions they asked and in the way they began and ended their dialogues. Some groups even had the sheriff’s horse or Willie the Kid’s horse speaking. All groups used simple past question forms and answers, although they did not all use them correctly.  The results were much the same as when I first used this activity in 1985. However, I feel that students had a more personalized, sustainable experience of my Willie the Kid lesson now that it is delivered with the  iPad.  This springs from our using the Spelling City App which enables students to work on vocabulary at their own pace and to be able to repeat an activity as they see fit. Each time students open an exercise they have a clean slate. A variety of games focus on different features of the target lexis including pronunciation, spelling, meaning and the sentence grammar of the word. The competitive gaming element encourages students to concentrate and they appear to learn words more deeply, than if they were doing paper based vocabulary exercises. Secondly, students take their recorded interview away with them. It is no longer transient as it was in 1985. In the past, students took away a written version of the dialogue, but now they have both the written and spoken versions and they are accessible where ever they are. They can share them with pride, revise from them and use them to evaluate their own performance. The Puppet Pal interviews can also be stored in an e-portfolio as evidence of  progress.  Thirdly, the prefabricated characters and background scenery encouraged student creativity. I have done this activity many times, but have never had a talking horse giving his opinion before.







   ”Popplet is a platform for your ideas. Popplet’s super simple interface allows you to move at the speed of your thoughts. With Popplet you can capture your ideas and sort them visually in realtime.”  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/popplet/id374151636?mt=8

With its simple interface, Popplet allows iPad users to create visual mind maps in seconds. As teachers, we have been using Popplet to plan our lessons and create workflows. With a tap, it is possible to put differently colored popples, connect/disconnect, move and resize popples on the pinboard. Popplets can be saved as photos on  iPads or e-mailed as PDf or jpeg fies. Teachers can name the popplets with the date of the workflow, or the theme of the lesson for record keeping.




We have also been encouraging our students to use Popplet, especially for brainstorming before writing. The easiness of being able to crate a colorful visual mind map has been welcomed greatly be our students. They have been brainstorming on Popplet before writing and inserting the Popplet into Pages to refer to while writing. This, we must say, works really well and makes Popplet one of our most commonly used Apps!

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


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


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


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.


    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.





Audioboo App for iPhones and iPads

Audioboo enables you to create, store and store and share audio digital files across multiple devices.   The free app gives you 3 minutes of recording time, and there appears to be a limitless number of Boos you can make. Audioboo Plus paid App costs £60.

The sound quality is excellent, the instruction panel is not text dense and there is a pause and resume button, is a feature which many recording apps do not have.  Boos can be tagged for easy retrieval. Tags are keywords or terms which allow words to be repeatedly located through ta searches. For example, students could pull up all Boos associated with describing people, telling stories about journeys or holidays etc. Tagging is a digital literacy skill all students should acquire as tags in order to manage disparate pieces of work. Boos can also be given titles and signature photographs for easy recognition when searching archives.

In an EFL environment teacher or student created Boos can be used as models for others to emulate or for level appropriate listening practice. Students were able to write in Pages, keep it open, press the record button in Audioboo and scroll back a screen to their Pages text, to read it out, or use the key words highlighted there as to scaffold their speaking. Knowing that their end products would be available for others to listen to, encouraged our EFL learners to raise the bar.  Many students recorded and re-recorded their descriptions before sharing them with the class via a direct email option. Peers listened to each other’s Boos and wrote comments. After feedback from students, they improved their recordings, before they are entered into their digital speaking portfolio on iBooks.

As the Audioboos produced by others can be searched for and listened to either under the Chanel Tab or on the website, Audioboo is also a great source of authentic listening materials. Channels Boos include recordings by the BBC, The Redbull’s Formula 1 Team, Manchester United Fan Club etc. Although many of these recordings are of CEFRL C1 or C2 level, they can be used with lower level learners if the task to be achieved is within their reach. For example, commentary by the BBC may require students to simply list the countries mentioned, that from the Manchester United Boos could require students to write down the number of goals scored and who scored them.

Finally, it is obvious that Boo Head Quarters are spending a lot of time developing this App and its support website. There are some interesting mini articles on how Audioboo is being used in education. It is certainly an App and a website that it work checking out.

Please also see the Lesson Plan Section of this blog, where you can find a lesson plan focusing on teacher made Boos.

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.

Listening Lesson Using Audioboo. Describing People, Elementary Level. STUDENT COPY

Listening activities: Describing People One        OPEN IN PAGES.       Level One                                    


Write down the opposite adjective. Use the underlined words  There are three extra words:

Straight           short    short               beautiful          unfriendly        dark     blonde             small   noisy    ugly            talkative          nice     funny              single

e.g.      tall      short











TASK TWO: Go to Spelling City and practice these words

Route 1: http://www.spellingcity.com/view-spelling-list.html?listId=10089443

Route 2: Spelling City App, Level1, ADMC Level 1, Describing a Person: Appearance and Personality. password is ‘English’






TASK THREE: Read one of the descriptions below. (Your teacher might tell you which one to read)

John, a college student:


Okay, I am short and athletic. I play a lot of sports such as baseball, football, and tennis. I have black hair and dark brown eyes. My friends say I am friendly and nice. I am very quiet. I do not like talking a lot. I love reading about interesting ideas and meeting new friends.



James, a doctor http://audioboo.fm/boos/987589-james-the-doctor


I am short, but I am fat! I am sometimes quiet around people I do not know. With my

friends and family, I am very friendly and funny. My mum says I have a handsome face. I like my beard and moustache. I also like my short, brown hair. My favorite colour is red and I like listening to music and going to concerts.


TASK THREE: Listen to James or John talking about themselves.  Listen and find the differences between what they say and what you read.

  1. 1.       Listen and highlight the word

John, a college student: http://audioboo.fm/boos/987570-john-a-college-student


Okay, I am short and athletic. I play a lot of sports such as baseball, football, and tennis. I have black hair and dark brown eyes. My friends say I am friendly and nice. I am very quiet. I do not like talking a lot. I love reading about interesting ideas and meeting new friends.

  1. 2.       Listen again and  change the word

Okay, I am tall and athletic. I play a lot of sports such as baseball, football, and tennis. I have black hair and dark brown eyes. My friends say I am friendly and nice. I am very quiet. I do not like talking a lot. I love reading about interesting ideas and meeting new friends.

TASK THREE: Listen to James or John talking about themselves.  Listen and find the differences between what they say and what you read.

  1. 1.      Listen and highlight the word

James, a doctor


I am short, but I am fat! I am sometimes quiet around people I do not know. With my

friends and family, I am very friendly and funny. My mum says I have a handsome face. I like my beard and moustache. I also like my short, brown hair. My favorite colour is red and I like listening to music and going to concerts.

  1. 2.       Listen again and  change the word


I am small, but I am fat! I am sometimes quiet around people I do not know. With my friends and family, I am very friendly and funny. My mum says I have a handsome face. I like my beard and moustache. I also like my short, brown hair. My favorite colour is red and I like listening to music and going to concerts.

TASK FOUR: Find a partner who listened to the other person. E.g. You listened to John, find someone who listened to James.

Tell your partner about your person. Use he/his e.g. His name is J…… He is a ……… He has……… He is…….

TASK FIVE:  You will record yourself describing a friend.

 Plan what you will say. Talk about his appearance and personality.

TASK SIX: Download the App Audioboo. (free version) 

Record yourself speaking about your friend.

Send the recording to sectionCANAD@yahoo.com or to sectionCAD@yahoo.com



Listening Lesson Using Audioboo. Describing People, Elementary Level. TEACHER COPY

Listening activities about describing people One ( Their physical appearance and their personality)  TEACHER COPY


Listening activities: Describing people One  OPEN IN PAGES                                Level One


Write down the opposite adjective. Use the underlined words  There are three extra words:

Straight           short    short               beautiful          unfriendly        dark     blonde             small   noisy    ugly            talkative          nice     funny              single

e.g.      tall      short











TASK TWO: Go to Spelling City and practice these words

Route 1: http://www.spellingcity.com/view-spelling-list.html?listId=10089443

Route 2: Spelling City App, Level1, ADMC Level 1, Describing a Person: Appearance and Personality. password is ‘English’


TASK THREE: Read one of the descriptions below. (Your teacher might tell you which one to read)

John, a college student:


Okay, I am short and athletic. I play a lot of sports such as baseball, football, and tennis. I have black hair and dark brown eyes. My friends say I am friendly and nice. I am very quiet. I do not like talking a lot. I love reading about interesting ideas and meeting new friends.



James, a doctor http://audioboo.fm/boos/987589-james-the-doctor


I am short, but I am fat! I am sometimes quiet around people I do not know. With my

friends and family, I am very friendly and funny. My mum says I have a handsome face. I like my beard and moustache. I also like my short, brown hair. My favorite colour is red and I like listening to music and going to concerts.

(Descriptions adapted from -Lesson Plans for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Teachers, created by Catherine Schell )

TASK THREE: Listen to James or John talking about themselves.  Listen and find the differences between what they say and what you read.

  1. 1.       Listen and highlight the word

John, a college student: http://audioboo.fm/boos/987570-john-a-college-student


Okay, I am short and athletic. I play a lot of sports such as baseball, football, and tennis. I have black hair and dark brown eyes. My friends say I am friendly and nice. I am very quiet. I do not like talking a lot. I love reading about interesting ideas and meeting new friends.

Answer Key, actual version

John, a college student:

Okay, I am tall and athletic. I play a lot of sports such as basketball, football, and tennis. I have brown hair and dark brown eyes. My friends say I am friendly and nice. I am very talkative. I talk a lot. I love discussing interesting ideas and meeting new friends.


  1. 2.       Listen again and  change the word

Okay, I am tall and athletic. I play a lot of sports such as baseball, football, and tennis. I have black hair and dark brown eyes. My friends say I am friendly and nice. I am very quiet. I do not like talking a lot. I love reading about interesting ideas and meeting new friends.

TASK THREE: Listen to James or John talking about themselves.  Listen and find the differences between what they say and what you read.

  1. 1.      Listen and highlight the word

James, a doctor


I am short, but I am fat! I am sometimes quiet around people I do not know. With my

friends and family, I am very friendly and funny. My mum says I have a handsome face. I like my beard and moustache. I also like my short, brown hair. My favorite colour is red and I like listening to music and going to concerts.

2.       Listen again and  change the word


I am small, but I am fat! I am sometimes quiet around people I do not know. With my friends and family, I am very friendly and funny. My mum says I have a handsome face. I like my beard and moustache. I also like my short, brown hair. My favorite colour is red and I like listening to music and going to concerts.

 Answer Key, actual version

James, a doctor

I am small, but I am strong! I am sometimes shy around people I do not know. With my

friends and family, I am very friendly and talkative. My mum says I have a handsome face. I like my beard and moustache. I also like my curly, blonde hair. My favorite colour is blue and I like reading books and going to the cinema.


TASK FOUR: Find a partner who listened to the other person. E.g. You listened to John, find someone who listened to James.

Tell your partner about your person. Use he/his e.g. His name is J…… He is a ……… He has……… He is…….

TASK FIVE:  You will record yourself describing a friend.

 Plan what you will say. Talk about his appearance and personality.

TASK SIX: Download the App Audioboo. (free version) 

Record yourself speaking about your friend.

Send the recording to sectionCANAD@yahoo.com


My good friend Podcast Audioboo Answer Key TEACHER COPY

Listening questions on Socrative  SOC-454733

Claire Rose
Oxford, England
49 years old
One son : Alex
Aston Martin, car company
Marketing manager
Tall and slim
Short, blonde hair
Big, blue eyes
A very small nose and small ears
Likes wearing sports clothes at the weekend
She has to wear business suits during the week
She likes diving and playing squash
We met at university in 1981


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.


  • 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.











Capturing Student Sentences After An Oral Pair Work Activity With Explain Everything

Workflow Plan: Using the Explain Everything App to Capture Samples of Student Language in a Semi-free Oral Activity

Description: Students challenge each other to make sentences using language randomly selected from a grid. Sentences are then recorded in spoken and written form. App:Explain Everythinghttp://www.explaineverything.com/1/post/2012/1/explain-a-website.html

Class email address




Materials Needed:Battleships grid (downloaded from busyteacher.com)





Lettered squares contain the names of people & subject pronouns, numbered squares contain adjectives.




Plan APP Outcome/Rationale
Students retrieve their allotted worksheet from the class email inbox e.g. ClassD@hotmail.com and open it up in Explain Everything. Class email addressExplain Everything 
Oral Pair Work Stage:Students work in pairs.  They sit back to back so they need to listen to each other carefully.Each partner has a grid with different words on it.

St. A says ‘Choose a letter and a number’

St B says ‘ I’ll have ….. and …..

St A reads the words in the chosen squares

St B incorporates the words into a sentence adding because and supplying a reason e.g. Policemen are happy because they help people.


Explain Everything

Students produce language at the sentence level.Students revise subject and verb agreement.They work on simple cause/effect relationships.
Language Capture Stage:Students minimize the Battleship Grid providing room to write down some of the sentences they have just produced orally.The teacher circulates, giving feedback and using the highlight and writing function to draw student attention to learner errors.

Students record several additional sentences.


Explain Everything Writing and recording sentences produced during the pair work activity helps students internalize the target language and provides a record for later recycling work.
Sharing Student Work:Students tap the save icon and name the document.Students tap the share icon and email the document as a PDF to the class email address.

The teacher either opens up emails or asks students to mirror their work onto the board.

Whole class error correction work and remedial teaching can take place and be captured on the board.

Students photograph the board, return to Explain Everything and insert the image next to their sentences and Battleship Grid.

Explain EverythingCamera Sharing work motivates students to produce good quality work and students can learn from both the errors their peers have made and the good language examples their peers produce.Sharing work exposes students to more comprehensible input of the language in focus.

An example of the student page including a photograph of a boarded remedial slot from another part of the lesson.


Workflow Plan: An Integrated Skills Lesson

Workflow Plan:  An Integrated Skills Lesson    Level: Elementary and above


Students read a short text in order to acquire information to be shared with classmates during an oral recount activity. Using information gained from each other, they answer comprehension questions and co-author a written summary.


Socrative Teacher & Socrative Student

Platform for sharing materials: IFiles/Dropbox/Email/E-Backpack/Evernote etc.

Sound note




Materials Needed:

Reading text divided into four equal parts

Pre-lesson prepared Socrative Quiz



Plan APP Outcome/Rationale
Jigsaw Reading  Step One: Information Gathering


Divide class into four groups. Each group retrieves their allotted reading text e.g. Group A gets Text A, Group B gets Text B etc. from the teacher’s platform of choice.


All members of a group read the same text and help each other identify key information and comprehend the vocabulary.


Students make notes, writing down key vocabulary and information. Full sentences are not allowed. These notes will provide scaffolding during the retelling stage.


Students can rehearse retelling their information, recording themselves for self-evaluation and feedback. They amend their oral recount after listening to the recording of themselves and other group members.

Platform for sharing materials:

IFiles/Dropbox/Email/E-Backpack/Evernote etc.








Sound note or Note





Sound note/ iPad built in video

Students acquire the language and lexis to be able to share the information specific to their group.
Jigsaw Reading  Step Two:  Sharing Information


Students are re-grouped so that each member of the new jigsawed group has read a different text ( St. A, St. B, St. C, St. D)


Students take turns at recounting the information from their texts from memory, using their scaffolding notes.


Students teach each other vocabulary from their text and note down new words below their scaffolding work. They can take a picture of other students’ notes.






Sound note or Note








Students acquire language, lexis and new information in this information gap activity.












Jigsaw Reading  Step Three:  Consolidating  and checking information


Students return to their original groups and share the information they have gained.


Testing information:

The Teacher projects this lessons Socrative Teacher Quiz’s home page onto the board. Students sign into Socrative Students and enters the Room Number, signs their name and submits.


The Teacher decides whether the quiz should progress in lockstep or at a groups own pace.

Students answer questions about the four texts. Questions can focus on content information, language structures and vocabulary.

Group answers are shared with the class. Remedial teaching can be carried out.








Socrative Teacher

Socrative Student













Learners see how much information students from other provided them with. The test increases the need for students to listen to each other well at the information stage.




Writing Stage:

In threes, students co- author a summary of all the information from the four texts. Students can take turns to write. The other two students help decide what to say, re-read notes, check for spelling etc.

Students first go to Settings, General, Accessibility, Large Text, 40, so that the emerging text is easily read by all three members of the group.

The teacher and fast finishers circulate and offer editing advice.


Each group adds two pieces of misinformation to their summary, giving other groups a reason to read their work.

Finished texts were then emailed directly from Pages or Note to all members of the authoring group and to the teacher.



Pages or Notes


Students write about content they are now familiar with. Thus, they are able to concentrate on organizing the information in a coherent, grammatically accurate manner.

Reading Student Texts Stage:

Students form new groups and read each other’s summaries to find the misinformation.


Pages or Notes

Students have a purpose to read the work of other groups in that they need to identify the misinformation.

They see how other students express the same ideas in different ways.





Our first App of the week is eBackpack ! The App has been a quick-fix solution to our file sharing challenges. By adding a WebDav connection once, our students have been able to share their work on the key Apps, like Pages, Keynote and Numbers with us in a few taps! They have also been able to upload multimedia (photo of Popplet, iMovie, PuppetPal etc.) directly from the eBackpack App as a shared file or as assignment. eBackpack allows studentsto:

*share work with all class members through the Shared Class Folder

* share work with teacher only through Assignment-Turn-In folder

* receive feedback from the teacher through Assignment Review folder.

* keep a private folder which is not shared by anyone

* share best work through Portfolio Folder

The App is free for download; however, a package has to be purchased in order to be able to share files with students. We have to say that purchasing the ‘class’ package for 39$ , which caters for 1 teacher and 30 students, has been well worth the money considering the hassle-free file sharing on day 1 of classes!

With the iPad® module, you can easily access eBackpack from your iPad, iPhone, or other iOS device. Instantly get to your My Files, E-Portfolio, or Shared class and group files. Plus directly from the iPad students can turn in work for their class assignments and teachers can retrieval of all turned in student work. eBackpack uses a WebDAV interface to provide assignment workflow for students and teachers. (Source: https://www.ebackpack.com/ipad)

Thank you eBackpack!

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.










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Platforms for organizing and sharing student and teacher generated materials

3 considerations when iPad is the key vehicle of ESL education

  1. How teachers can share materials such as documents, reading material and exercises from a variety of apps using one platform with students and colleagues?
  2. How students can send assignments, worksheets, multimedia projects etc to their teachers and share them with peers and receive feedback on it?
  3. How students can organize, store and retrieve their work for revision and proof of proficiency purposes?

In this entry, we will generate questions to be researched, although we have no concrete answers as yet.

Due to the wide array of platforms available for the sharing and storing of material, and because of personal preferences, there are many ways of answering questions one to three.  This is empowering, as the various approaches being piloted within our own institution, such as Dropbox, iFiles, Yahoo Docs, E Backpack, Edmodo and Evernote, will lead to a greater understanding of iPadology as an EFL approach.

The questions being asked of each platform are:

1.Can folders and hierarchies of folders be created by teachers and students on the iPad or is it necessary to create them on a laptop or desktop?

2.Can materials be uploaded directly into specific folders or is it necessary to email them to an email account and subsequently upload them into a folder?

3.Which Apps are configured so that users can upload text and multimedia directly from the App into this platform?

4.Can the user specify the exact folder a document will be uploaded into?

5.Is access to a folder provided through a folder share arrangement such as a public folder in Dropbox or a shared folder in Evernote?

6.Can different permissions to edit/delete in specific folders be set for teachers and students?

7.Is there an institutional platform to share materials amongst staff and with students, such as shared drives (WebDav) through iFiles and BBLearn.

8. Is there an App to manage multiple platforms, such as Dropbox, GoogleDocs and WebDav connections under one umbrella?

9. Can students be given access to a single folder or file via an emailed link?

10. Can students delete, edit or view the work of other students before a homework turn in deadline has expired?

11. Can the teacher give immediate feedback within the same App?

12. If the teachers’ account in a platform, such as Dropbox, Everbox or eBackpack expires, how can students still have access to their work they have uploaded there?

13. What is the storage capacity of the free version of this platform?

14. How much does the paid version cost and how large if the storage capacity/ the number of students it encompasses?

15. Can files be rearranged by tags, dates, Apps types etc?

16. Can student work stored within a platform be edited by the teacher or peers? Can different permissions be used for specific folders?

17. What form does this editing take?

18. Can edited/ marked student work be resaved within the same platform, without necessitating emailing back to the student and resaving on their part?

19. Should students be at liberty to organize their folders within the platforms and iPad pane Apps that are used in class according to their own preferences? Will this vary according to iPad and/or language level proficiency?

Our aim over the next several of months is to answer these questions we welcome your comments, suggestions and examples drawn from your experiences.






Decisions, decisions..


We’ve been exploring different ways which would allow us to share documents with our students in a way in which we can avoid busy e-mail exchange and enable co-editing via iPads. Here are some of our initial findings:


1. Google Docs is a great tool for sharing documents that can be co-edited. However, sharing via iPads requires sending e-mails and there doesn’t seem to be an option to create ‘folders’ via iPads. Our students will have iPads only. Gdocs can be used to create iBooks on Creative Book Builder and share via sending Gdocs link which would allow the students to open the book in iBooks (magically appearing on the shelf!). It is also possible to have the students visit the shared Dropbox folder to download the iBook. However, these books would be read only.

2. Dropbox,as mentioned above, allows us to create shared folders. However, uploading any documents rather than video and photos seem to be impossible on iPads. Why can one not drag and drop a Pages or Keynote file to Dropbox? We’ve tried creating files on Pages and Keynote. The options for sharing them were WebDav, iDisk and e-mailing. Unfortunately, there is no built-in option to share them via Dropbox.

3. WebDav: we don’t know a lot about this option yet. Pages and Keynote have a built in function to share docs on WevDav. However, these seem to be read only files only. No co-editing, again..

4. Evernote: What a fantastic tool! We’ve both been using Evernote to organize our personal and work e-mails and notes.. And yes, we love it! Using Evernote with the students is something we are excited to try for the first time in September (Watch this space!). As far as we know, our students will have the free version of Evernote installed on their iPads and co-editing is not allowed in this version.

Please do make suggestions and share comments on this. We really need some tips and suggestions at this point!

Decisions, decisions.. So many of them to make, yet so little time and information.. We are starting our summer holiday this Friday and will be back at work late August. The new semester stars early September! Quite a challenge but we are up for it! 🙂

Getting Started: The Basics

ScoTutor for Ipads is a great application that can be downloaded from Apple Store for free. The video tutorials in this application help new users of iPad get familiar with the basics, including things like creating folders, accessing the toolbar and installing and deleting apps.You can also view the ScoTutor video on Youtube


Apps? iTunes? Air Server? Air Print? IOS?  iCloud? Safari? Not sure what these terms mean?  An iPad Glossary can be helpful for beginners: Here is one by iMore and another one by iFans.

Frustrated because you can’t see the whole content on some websites as Apple does not support Flash player? Download Puffin Browser on your iPad from Apple Store and enjoy the desktop web browsing experience on your iPad! A free version is available.





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.