When developing online courses, there are a number of potential design principles to consider, particularly if you have adult students. Some potential design principles might be:
(1) An effective, cohesive electronic community of learners with a strong sense of presence, perhaps involving personal introductions, email contact, forums and chat rooms.
(2) Provision of authentic, meaningful activities and feedback through real-world assessment, keeping a journal, or posting to a blog or wiki.
(3) Critical reflective practice, as evidenced by observations of/by colleagues, and follow-up feedback conferences.
(4) Learning that is interactive, collaborative, social and learner-centred, perhaps employing electronic white board activities, various technologies, group work and projects based on student interests.
(5) Dynamic, lifelong learning opportunities involving ongoing opportunities for communication between members and for further studies, possibly through an alumni association.
There are many possibilities for using word clouds in language courses. I've listed around 35 of them here with a few hints on what to do.- preview a presentation or a text
- preview the current day’s lesson plan
- predict the content of a text e.g. topics, style, purpose, intended audience
- predict the content of a novel e.g. plot lines, characters, genre or themes as group work
- complete reading comprehension questions just from a word cloud, then comparing answers after reading the actual text
- summarise a presentation
- turn a text into a picture (essay, report, paragraph, article, etc.)
- identify the key words in a text based on their size in the word cloud
- expanding vocabulary (definitions, synonyms, antonyms, or brainstorm words associated with a new one, match parts of collocations)
- student-created flashcards of essential words (review, circle unknown, learn)
- discussion starter (student chooses one word from cloud to speak about)
- add to printed or online course materials
- use as a background for slides or online materials
- compare student responses (make one cloud, or separate ones to compare)
- explore a topic (students add own ideas to a question stimulus & build a cloud)
- take a quick class poll or track a poll over time (multiple clouds side-by-side)
- introduce new course, syllabus or module (provides an overview of content)
- introduce course objectives
- student ice-breaker e.g. all input hobbies, interests, future aspirations, family, pets, favourite films or books, country of origin, etc.
- highlight the main areas to focus on from rubrics to gain the best grades
- highlight examples of misspelled or overused words in student writing by inputting their own work
- illustrate contrasting ideas (show two clouds side-by-side), such as opposing arguments in essays or articles
- research texts from multiple sources then combine them into a cloud
- ‘find the words’ game (e.g. mix academic & non-academic in a cloud & identify)
- ‘guess the topic’ game, or combine two topics in one cloud and students separate them out
- ‘grammar game’ e.g. students classify words from a cloud into different parts of speech or different tenses
- ‘sentence structure’ game e.g. input a complex sentence or short series of sentences into a word cloud, and have students reconstruct them in the correct word order
- ‘memory game’ e.g. show a word cloud, take it off the screen, students write as many words as they can recall
- identify parts of speech (students highlight or underline in different colours)
- visual analysis of qualitative data (e.g. convert a table to a picture)
- curriculum mapping across multiple subjects
- checking the balance between course content and course objectives
Here is a multiple-lesson design thanks to http://tborash.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/designing-lessons-using-wordle/
While not a flawless design, these six steps seemed paramount in increasing students' desire to learn:
- Students pre-assessing their own knowledge and understanding - "What does _insert topic here_ mean to me?"
- Students using Wordle to analyze the pre-assessment responses
- Students "doing stuff" to experience _insert topic here_ in real life - "What happens when I do this?" (this is the learning phase)
- Students responding to what they now know and understand - "What does _insert topic here_ mean to me today?"
- Students comparing the Wordle of their current thinking to that of their pre-assessment responses
- Students asking the question, "Given what I first thought, and what I now think, what do I think of next?"
Without the use of Wordle, we lose out on a central piece of this lesson design puzzle.
An excellent article by Simon Thomas on using word clouds in language activities can be found at: http://efl-resource.com/language-activities-with-wordle-and-word-clouds-2/
. This includes links to several other resources as well.Benefits:
- assists with motivation
- assists with thinking skills
- enlivens course content in all macro-skills
- appeals to visual learners
Places to Try: http://abcya.com/word_clouds.htm
(for young learners) http://www.literature-map.com/
(more for readers of English lit.) http://www.imagechef.com/ic/word_mosaic/
(has iOS & Android apps.) http://quintura.com/
(has iOS app.) http://tagcrowd.com/ http://taggalaxy.com/ http://tagul.com/
(each tag is linkable with a URL for navigation) http://www.tagxedo.com/ http://www.visualthesaurus.com/vocabgrabber/
(also has visual thesaurus!) http://worditout.com/ http://www.wordle.net/
(very easy to use, MOST favoured by teachers) http://wordsift.com/
(from Stanford University ELL)
The word cloud illustrated above was prepared by myself using Wordle.
I'm pleased to announce a new page on 'Teacher Greg's Education Home'.
The motivation for it came from my desire to engage the many colleagues with whom I work, in a conversation about ELICOS (English Language Intensive Course of Study) and EAP (English for Academic Purposes) programs and how they operate at my institution. Like many workplaces, the pressures of just keeping on top of the teaching have meant that opportunities for genuine discussion, sharing and reflection have become rare, formal meetings have become ineffectual, and inefficiencies have naturally arisen as a result.
'TESOL forums' will be a chance to recover lost ground, to re-ignite the discussion, and to move forward in more practical ways. It will take some effort to 'sell' the idea and overcome the hesitation of others, but I'm taking the first steps while hoping this will lead them to continue the conversation.
Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history. -Joan Wallach Scott
Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. -Maria Robinson
You know, as a teacher, I'm often bouyed most by the great moments between me and my students, by the compliments from supervisors, by the feeling of self-satisfaction at completing a lesson as planned, and by the 100% marks my students sometimes achieve.
However, when I pause to reflect, I realise that there's MUCH more to teaching and learning than success, regardless of how alluring and intoxicating it seems. When I'm truly honest with myself as a learner and a teacher, I have to admit that I learn far more from my mistakes and failures than from what goes right and is successful. Why?
When I succeed, I tend to be self-satisfied, to stop stretching, to stop trying new things, to stop moving forwards. ("If it ain't broke, don't fix it!") However, when I fail, or at least trip up, I have to work out why, I have to experiment with other ways of doing, I have to challenge myself, and even study, read, confer and reconstruct my knowledge in order to overcome my shortcomings. Equally, my students need to do so as well.
I understand if you say that failure hurts and mistakes are embarrassing. You are correct. But what worries me most, is when I catch myself just settling for safe ground, not ruffling any feathers (including my own), not thinking from day to day, and considering that such a state is satisfactory, even preferable to the alternatives.
So, I have made it my goal to look freshly at my patterns of behaviour, whether successful or not, and use all of them as starting points for development, rather than end-points of self-satisfaction.
Are you trying hard enough? Are you making mistakes? I hope you might at least think about it.
First posted in Amazon discussion here: http://amzn.to/GO7tZR
First, my apologies for a late posting.
I think it's useful, particularly in the EFL contexts in which I've worked (Taiwan and Korea), to make a distinction between what is practised in front of students and what one is actually capable of doing. The two often don't coincide, which is why the "educators" may seem invisible.
This is partly because the person placed at the front of the room is:
(a) forced to be dependent on and fully use a text and workbook which the school has determined is the most suitable, is what every student needs and which parents have been required to purchase,
(b) forced into an assistant's role by government legislation which does not accept their status as a registered teacher (even though their home country does),
(c) forced to worry about student outcomes because final tests are mandated and results below 80% are seen as failures,
(d) capable of using a variety of technologies but not able to, since there are not enough computers, or the software is not in English, or not all rooms have the same equipment, or
(e) capable of using a variety of approaches but in practice discouraged from doing so because those styles are considered foreign.
I think it is also valuable to think of ourselves as "learning facilitators" rather than teachers, since it is students themselves that construct their knowledge, often from each other or external sources, while we attempt to move them in directions which are meaningful and useful. We do this by being enthusiastic about our subject, by staying focused on where we want them to go, by providing opportunities to practice in a variety of ways, by building on what they already know, by giving them the tools (skills) to move forward, by encouraging experimentation, by regular informal low-stakes assessment which feeds back into the learning, and by expecting them all to improve.
To give you a simple example of what I mean, when I moved to Taiwan I needed some form of transportation, so a friend helped me buy a motor scooter. I'd never ridden one before, but I had ridden a bicycle and driven a car. Thus I came to the task with some prior knowledge. Nevertheless, being from Australia I'd never used the right-hand side of the road, nor the controls on a scooter. He showed me the basic buttons and controls (turn signals, horn, brakes, accelerator) and what to watch out for on the road. He then led me slowly home while I followed him on my scooter very cautiously. He watched me in his mirrors, and at each traffic signal checked if I was OK or offered a few more tips. He believed I could ride successfully and I eventually got home in one piece. Later I read up on the local road rules, scooter maintenance needs, etc. but at the time he gave me the confidence to try it out. To me, that is a great model of teaching. He didn't sit me down and give me a lecture about the number of traffic accidents in Taiwan and their causes, or the 192 or so possible questions on the licence examination, or how scooters are constructed, he just knew what I needed and got me there.
Thanks again for the opportunity to think about this topic and for all the discussion to date. I hope other "teachers" reading your blog will give some thought to these central concerns as well.
Posted at http://jasonrenshaw.typepad.com/jason_renshaws_web_log/2010/08/three-kinds-of-language-teacher.html by: Greg Quinlivan
| September 13, 2010 at 03:49 PM
Greg Quinlivan (11:51:10) :
For me, student motivation comes from within and not from the teacher. We can only create an environment which nourishes learning, and with patience, support and encouragement, slowly draw them out into communicating and learning. Additionally, as Jason points out, the idea of ‘push’ is teacher-centred and takes no account of the interests or needs of the students.
The term ‘push’ reminded me too much of what mother birds do to baby birds. If the push out of the nest is successful, they fly. If not, they die. I can’t afford any dead students.
As a teacher of young learners I particularly appreciate the work of James Asher on TPR. He reminds us that when learning a first language we are not forced to speak, and in fact, don’t for a long time. However, when our understanding builds, or our confidence, or our needs, then we start blurting out something vaguely understandable which becomes the basis for further refinement, etc. Often, either because of our own impatience or the dictates of our employers, we “push” our learners too soon into productive language use, only to be surprised when they don’t meet our exacting standards.
I am also a reluctant language learner and I can confirm that if a teacher tries to ‘push’ me beyond a certain point, I push myself out the door.
I think learning can occur outside of pushing, particularly in the context of curiosity. If we have something of interest to offer, students will naturally be drawn to see what it is. Finally, nudging them (thanks Leahn) on through challenges, games, friendly team work using some of the approaches you mentioned will be received more favourably, particularly by the young.
Posted today in response to an article by Scott Thornbury at http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/p-is-for-push/#comment-1511
Great set of purposes there. I'd like to see something on life-long learning also. Finally, you might consider expanding it further by offering some 'hows' to the abilities where appropriate. You might get further ideas from http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS...
though this is more focused on the teacher-end rather than the student one.
Comments posted today at http://edte.ch/blog/2010/07/10/what-is-the-purpose-of-your-schools-curriculum/ .