I’m just getting into it, but here’s a link to a MOOC (Massive Open Online CONFERENCE) on TESOL currently in progress. There are many sessions on using technology in the classroom and facilitating language learning online. Live sessions are held during our Hawaii night time, but many sessions have been posted as video on demand.
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During this week’s live chat session, someone brought up the idea of using synchronous chat in a face-to-face class. I’ve used synchronous chat in my ESOL classes. These classes focus on language development and integrate all language components (reading, writing, speaking, listening, grammar, vocabulary, pragmatics). I’ve had great success with this and have found that my students love the activity.
Of course, everyone had a laptop and are in a chat room that I’ve set up. I begin the activity by posing a question related to the content of the course and the specific module topic, and then tell students to discuss. Free for all. The common online characteristics begin to play out within a few minutes: the consistently active participants, the somewhat active participants, the timid participants, and the lurkers. But it’s clear to me that everyone is participating in some way and gaining from their participation. Even the lurkers, who tend to be the students with the weakest language skills, practice their reading skills and see how peers use the technology for communication.
With the right settings, I also begin to see the private chats sent between individual students who don’t wish to follow the main thread. (I let students know that I can see ALL of their chats, including private chats.)
When we’re done, after 10-15 minutes, I copy all of the chat messages and send the entire set to all of the students. I tell them to analyze the chat for their own participation. I also tell them to analyze the chat for ideas related to the content (the question). And I tell them to analyze the chat for language, including interesting language patterns that other students know that they don’t know how to use, and language errors that they or their classmates have made. They bring their data to the next class session, and we talk about it as a class. In this way, the synchronous chat activity becomes a simplistic discourse/conversation analysis activity.
Two of the course outcomes are increasing language skills and increasing language awareness. As for language skills, synchronous chat increases fluency in writing (typing) and reading. The public nature of the activity also forces the student to attend to accuracy in spelling and grammar, which is also reinforced through the analysis of the chat. Language awareness is increased as students participate in the activity by comparing their communicative abilities in this domain with their peers, as they analyze the chat for specific language usage, and then as the students discuss their findings and specific language features are discussed and reviewed.
Seth Godin on the tribes we lead:
Last week I met a friend visiting Hawaii who I hadn’t seen in many years. He works in education and in the non-profit sector. We were talking about the need to provide ongoing teacher training to the 1000s of in-service teachers, and he feels that the only way this is even possible is through online instruction. According to this friend, who I’ll call Owen because that’s his name, the first group to capitalize on the Internet was the porn industry. The second group to capitalize on the Internet was business, such as ebay, amazon, yahoo, etc. The next group who will take advantage of the Internet is the public: community groups, non-profit, education. Owen believes that the technology is finally at a point to where the average person will be able to use it to truly change society and the world through the Internet; not for profit, but for change. I had never thought about this before speaking with Owen about it. And now I have watched the Ted Talk by Seth Godin about tribes, in which he tells people to go out and do something. There is certainly a connection there.
One of the content links for GO MOBILE caught my attention because it was about English instruction using cell phones in Bangladesh. However, the link didn’t work. Here’s the correct link:
I don’t have a smart phone. Mine’s dumb, probably like these cheap cell phones they’re using in Bangladesh. Yet English is still delivered to learners using this dumb phone technology. Incredible potential.
Is this also an example of a MOOC? Or something different?
i had a great conversation with tony s about ifacilitate, online learning, and community building. i told him about the conflicts i have between 1) CREATING and ESTABLISHING community, and 2) ALLOWING community to autonomously and spontaneously form. i’ve always been really conflicted about these opposing concepts. tony commented that his main takeaway from week 1 is the notion of teacher modeling. perhaps this is the middle path that i haven’t considered before. modeling will be explored.
hi greg or other facilitators, i must have missed this in the introduction, but why do some posts here allow readers to reply whereas others do not?
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waiting for my facebook/ifacilitate approval…