sábado, 16 de agosto de 2014


Well, what to say to these wonderful crowd of people who have been my company during the hard times of my convalescence from a broken ankle.  I had the chance to listen to many teachers who had something to share.  My sincere gratitude goes to all of those who presented and those organising these sessions.  What you can see here is a badge but what you can´t see here is what I feel: A glowing warmth in my heart!

lunes, 11 de agosto de 2014

On the joy of using Twitter for connecting and learning together

Every now and then I participate in tweetchats, a meeting of likeminded people around a particular topic.  I started getting involved in this great opportinity for networking as one friend, Michael Graffin asked me to help him moderate the Global Classroom Chats, not really knowing what I was up to at the time, I got help from teachers whom I had never seen in my life and started interacting right away.  Being a global educator, I just couldn't say no, but at the same time I did not quite know how it worked.  I learned by doing and soon I had bookmarked a few weekly chats that matched my interests. 
 The one I attended last week was particularly special due to the amount of people attending and the many interacions that the conversation encouraged.  It was great to meet some friends and to make new ones.  Having met so many educators interested in global learning renewed my enthusiasm and reminded me that 'This is the best time ever to be a teacher!'

#whatisschool Tweetchat questions

When? Every Thursday 11 pm GMT

Storify Slides of the chat

Tweetchat favourite quotes - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Coursera Course: Learning to Teach Online

My Goal
I have been intrigued by online teaching and learning ever since I began interacting over the internet, and find the possibilities of teaching online fascinating, however I feel that I need a background against which to base my practice, that´s basically why I am here: to collect ideas, and to check what I am already doing with more experienced people.

Stated intent

I want to use my knowledge to develop a personal online teaching strategy
Module 1: Why is online teaching important?


Activity 1.1
Where are you in the current educational landscape?
My current educational landscape is quite varied right now.  When I decided to quit my job at a local Town Hall Languages and Arts school, I decided to start doing something else.  After a couple of years some friends in need of practicing their English made me go back to teaching.  This is how I began teaching again to a bunch of friends.  They are not many, adults most of them, and each one has a different agenda.  I have the ones who travel,  the ones who love the language, and I have others who just want a break from their routine or an advance and challenge in their careers, which involves knowing how to speak English.  Lately I had an English teacher friend who sent me her own son and nephew, both of whom have gone through all the possible exams, but want to continue practicing.  I teach from home and our classes are very flexible, I must admit that I am so used to forgetting about what I have planned that I hardly ever end up doing what I had imagined for the class.  I have internet access in the classroom as well as coursebooks, which I still use especially with lower level students or with students who feel they need to regularly practice at home.  Since I interact a lot in online courses and groups, I often come across interesting material and I add that in a google document that is a kind of resource page where I drop all the links that I consider that might be of interest to each of my students.  I believe that knowing our students interests is key if we want them to be engaged in their process, especially  when they have already reached an intermediate level of proficiency that might allow them to express themselves as individuals.  
Activity 1.2
What technologies are you already familiar with?
I am familiar with the use of conference tools such as Skype and Google Hangouts as well as the many platforms used by online conference organisers such as Blackboard Collaborate, Wiziq, Adobe Connect.  I am a frequent online student and I try to take advantage of every online Professional Development opportunity available.  
As regards my own practice I keep separate google docs for each of my students and I aggregate content with tasks there. (videos, podcasts, tutorials, pictures, stories, web sites)
I have produced some content myself, audio, video and presentations. I am always hunting the web for free tools that I might use to do this. Luckily there are a lot of generous teachers willing to share their experiences with me, which makes my own journey more interesting and easier at the same time.
Activity 1.3
Define your own personal learning goal to guide your learning within the course.
Since I have been exploring everything connected with online learning on my own without anyone else imposing a schedule or a curriculum on me, I feel I need a systematic approach to sort of putting everything in order.  The same objective inspired me to join a MOOC on Digital Citizenship.  I believe that learning is a social activity and I personally like the connectivist element in MOOCs, those interactions that spice up and enrich our own vision.
Ok first misunderstanding in this course:  I thought I had to submit a reflection, which I had prepared above.  Just as I was about to copy and paste it into the Submit Activity section I came across a multiple choice questionnaire which I was meant to complete by just selecting the correct answer.  Adding to my disappointment was the fact that I later on checked that the system had made a mistake in one of my answers: No. 9 regarding digital citizenship (forgive me Alec Couros!) I was sure that I had submitted the right answer!
My favourite quotes:
...seeking to provide learners with a more customized, personalised learning experience
...in the current world of ubiquitous  social media it is web tools that provide an excellent vehicle for global connections...
...today´s learners need to survive in a digital participatory global economy...
...open source movement; expressions of efforts of people worldwide to connect and create...
...learning; collaborative and social
…. Tapscott (2009), puts it: “the global economy and the digital age require new abilities  –  it‟s not what you know that counts anymore, it‟s what you can learn ...
(p. 127)”.
….sharing, collaborating, networking, customising, personalization Digital citizenship" is now being dubbed as "citizen 2.0" and in the simplest terms it refers to the ability to participate in society online and to use technology appropriately. Digital citizenship represents capacity, belonging, and the potential for political and economic engagement in society in the information age (O‟Brien, 2008). Digital citizens practice conscientious use of technology, demonstrate responsible use of information, and maintain a positive attitude to learning with technology (ISTE 2007 cited in Richards, 2010)
The network effects or benefits of bringing people together online exceed the satisfaction gained by individual participants - creating what economists call "positive externalities" or spill over benefits.

Assignment 1
(500 words max.)
Critically analyse and reflect on the following:
Your understanding of the benefits and risks associated with the use of both open Web 2.0 technologies and institutionally supported technologies like a learning management system (LMS)
Considerations of using both types of technology, using specific examples related to your own teaching context and practice
Your institution’s policy and strategies about the use of different technologies for online learning and delivery approaches (i.e. technical support, pedagogical guidance, availability, usage restrictions, privacy, etc).

With these points in mind, write a short statement in the text box below that best describes your personal perspective on each, in the context of your own teaching practice.

Related Learning Outcomes

By completing this assignment, you will demonstrate your achievement of the following course learning outcomes:
Describe and understand the importance and use of a range of online technologies in learning, teaching, and course design in contemporary education from multiple perspectives

Demonstrate collaborative and independent enquiry and reflective practice

Things to think about

This assignment should be written from your own personal perspective – there is no right or wrong answer, but the clarity of your submission and the depth of analysis will be examined.

While you may already have an understanding of the three points above, we do expect you to be critical in your analysis of this understanding.

It is fine to identify things that you want to find out more about in your response.
In completing this assignment, we expect that you will undertake some research at your own institution, engage in course discussions, and reflect upon your learning within the Module 1 and Module 2 activities.

Below the submission text box on this page, you will see the evaluation and feedback rubric. This is how others will assess your submission. Ensure that you address each criterion before you submit your assignment.

Submission requirements

Your submission should aim to be no longer than 500 words. Please write in English.
You may upload files (such as images) to support your submission.
You can save your work as a draft if you are not ready to submit, but make sure that you remember to submit it before the due date.

Assignment 1
typewriter, by Oxygen Team, via Iconfinder.png(typewriter icon, via Oxygen Team, Iconfinder)
For teachers like me who went all through their teacher training college with the typewriter as the only tech available coming to terms with the wide range of educational technology tools and resources poses a challenging mission.
This mission has several aspects and we have to systematically train ourselves to consider at least three of them when evaluating the implementation of technology in our classes. I have always  found the SAMR model very useful to assist me when in doubt, aiming to TRANSFORM education whenever possible.
In an age when everything we do has the imperative of technology, sometimes we have to ask ourselves whether what we are going to do is really pedagogically relevant, if it is going to make our lives easier and if it is simple enough for our students. The notion of TPCK is very useful here. Ideally technology is here to assist ourselves to plan activities that are not only relevant for our learners but also conducting to independent learning as well.  When a student comes to class to proudly show me that she has successfully downloaded a podcast into her mobile phone and wants me to clarify some vocabulary from it, I would gladly answer her questions and listen to the summary of the episode that she had been listening on the bus.

My context demands for personalized learning since each of my one to one classes is unique dictated by the objective and interest of my students.  In my exploration of tools to enrich the learning process I tried Learning Management Systems such as Edmodo, without much success. My adult students did not check the posts on a regular basis.  I am now using a Google Doc, which I customize with links and activities.  However, each student is unique and will relate to the content differently. Books Adults   Google Drive.png

I have to add another element to the equation.  If we are here it's because we love communicating, hence the global dimension would provide the touchstone against which to try out the language I am teaching.  There are various ways we can explore this, and again it will strongly depend on what our student knows and how much he/she is willing to risk.  Again here my students range from the ones who tell me: 'I have no problem in doing anything!' (my favourite ones!) to the ones who would never allow me to expose them to a stranger.  Regardless of level of proficiency the student's preferences are to be taken  into account when planning to go global.  Here the tools to consider are those which will enable the (synchronous/asynchronous) conversation such as Skype or VoiceThread and also collaborative tools such as Padlet or Google Docs.
Collab tools.jpg
It takes time and practice with our students to narrow down our choices and come up with a list of 'killer apps', however, the outcomes  will differ from student to student.
The ideal scenario would be one where both teachers and students feel comfortable enough to use an array of tools and programmes integrated seamlessly into the lesson.  Today the notion of classroom time is also flexible, since students  have ubiquitous access to online material after the class has finished.  Some of my students want to watch, read again or share with  another member of the family what we have dealt with in class and the conversation transcends the classroom walls..  Having all the material together in one virtual place enables this to happen.  There are alternatives to Google Docs such as Flipboard, Pearltrees or Scoop it for the curation of classroom material.
Facebook and Whatsapp might be used to confirm classes, and provide opportunities for conversation.
If I am here today it is because I lack a systematic approach due to the flexible nature of my conversation classes and my concern is that maybe there is a way I can optimize my teaching by implementing a model which could aid me to adapt myself to the ever changing nature of the classroom reality in our fascinating field of language teaching.

Pleasant Surprise!
As I was checking the course material I discovered that our moderators had recorded videos answering the week 1 most voted questions from the discussion threads.  This videos were very reassuring in the sense that I felt accompanied not only by my moderators but also by my fellow moocers whose concerns were similar to mine as regards certain aspects of online teaching and learning.