Last post

Well, this is probably going to be my final blog for this technology in TESOL assignment. I think it’s been relatively enjoyable and certainly helped me to overcome some of my fears about technology, the thing is, I’ve been using technology for over 30 years in some form or another, but just felt I was always under pressure to be good at it and even, ahem…like and enjoy it.  But I’ve recently created a webquest and uploaded it into Moodle and attached links to YouTube, and various websites and I found I was getting really absorbed in the process and could almost say I enjoyed doing it!

I’ve realised that much of my reluctance in the past to embrace new technology is the amount of time it takes to plan and draft and upload the materials and this was causing some anxiety. If I’m honest, that’s the reason for sometimes dragging behind with learning about new software and using it to any great extent. My rule it to keep it simple and sometimes technology is not always user friendly at best and a complete hindrance at worst. However, being able to use technology such as IWB, VLEs and marking software are unavoidable in education, so no teacher should be avoiding it if they want to be giving their students the most up to date learning experience.

I came across this article the other day written initially in 2009 but then rewritten in April 2017 by Terry Freedman who writes for ICT and Digital Education   The author believes that IT literacy is as important as reading literacy and any teacher who claims they are not able to use technology should be embarrassed to admit it in the same way they would be if they couldn’t read. What are your thoughts on this? he also goes on to say that ‘digital immigrant’ and ‘digital native’ are outdated terms.

‘The phrase may have been useful to start with, but it’s been over-used for a long time now. In any case, after immigrants have been in a country for a while, they become natives. We’ve had personal computers for 30 years, and I was using computers in my teaching back in 1975. How long does it take for someone to wake up to the fact that technology is part of life, not an add-on?’ (Freedman, T)

I agree with him, no matter how afraid of technology we are, as teachers, we need to embrace it and we have a duty to cascade it to our learners.  Unless they are going to work in the middle of a wilderness with no wifi connection or phone signal, they will be using technology in everything they do. Whilst I’m definitely not always jumping for joy over some new bit of technology or software, I’ve finally to got a grip and am ready to go out and confidently use IT in any way I can to organise or develop learners skills.  Am I now a digital native? Well, that’s apparently an outdated term, so I will hereby be known as a person who engages and encourages the use of technology in the classroom. It’s not very catchy but I’m happy to be able to throw it out there.

For anyone who would be interested, my Moodle version of the webquest will be available from 25th May in the student area of technology in TESOL.

Good luck everyone!

Freedman, Terry, 2009/2017 accessed in April 2017



Virtual learning environments? How many are out there? How do we know which one to use?

Recently, one  of the institutions I was working for, changed from using the standard blackboard type VLE to using google plus and google drive. I found myself feeling a bit peeved as I’d got quite used to publishing things on the VLE and attaching documents and making announcements.  Google drive was confusing to many of us that were less techno savvy and we all grumbled…a bit. Then we started to like it, the drive meant we could attach documents and release them to students, put them into folders and it was all very neat and organised. Until we forgot to delete things and then it all got a bit messy, trying to make sure we took people’s email addresses off if they didn’t want to receive the latest creation or brilliant first attempt at an essay from all the psychology pre sessional students could cause a bit of a problem at times. Posts would sometimes also go flying around on google plus and we would have to go and remove ourselves from the mailing lists. Once we got used to this though, all seemed to run smoothly.

Over the years,  I’ve used Skoodle, which then became Moodle, the university VLE called Blackboard, google plus and google drive, and more recently one of the latest offerings for educational virtual learning in FE a VLE called Canvas. This platform is advocated as being more student centred and intuitive.  A centralised hub that students can access materials and be more involved in the process. What it also means is that teachers have to spend a considerable amount of time putting materials onto it and management can then keep a check on this by awarding badges to teachers who carry out the process and follow various steps and procedures to earn their reward. Now I’m not completely on board with this process but am slowly succumbing as I compete with other tutors to gain the next badge (😆 Yeah right). I did get a slight thrill though when I was awarded badge one after much anguish and anxiety about it.  I will continue to try and gain the next badge but still feel slightly like I’m back in the netball team at school trying to score the next goal!

Students use the weekly materials during digizone sessions and can submit written work and quizzes in pretty much the same way as Moodle. However, I have to say, it’s aestheticly more pleasing and more ‘intuitive’ as stated by the company sales blurb.  I’ve been pleased with the students attitude towards it and they seem to find navigating the activities much easier that they did with Moodle. It looks nicely organised too and there are no random emails flying around to other tutors and their very full inboxes. I’m actually beginning to warm to it. I’ve learned this pattern about myself, I always try to embrace change but the reality is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If I find something I like and can use, why should I change it? Well, because technology it ever changing and it’s something we all need to get used to and I believe some people actually embrace it!

Now where is my chalk and blackboard?

Ok, I’m feeling out of my depth a little. I need to learn to swim with the other ‘fishes’.

My third blog and I’m looking at my previous blogs wondering why it says ‘site tile’ on the top of the page. I’m then looking at the fact that I don’t really know how this whole blog thing works. Yes, I get a general idea that people write something and publish it so others can read my outpourings but then I see other students who I don’t really know as their work is only visible by their blog name. I think maybe it’s written somewhere on Moodle  but I haven’t memorised it yet!

Basically, this is how far I get with a lot of technology, where I’m using something and quite enjoying it but never completely proficient at it until something else comes around. Hopefully this will be something I have time to master.  At work I have to use technology such as IWBs, now I’ve done courses on the use of these but really only remember how to switch them on and use board pens and show documents, ppps and use the Internet. I know there are many more wizzy things that can be done on them but I sure as hell cant remember them!

It’s the same when it comes to doing spreadsheets on Excel, I’ve been on intermediate courses for this and can now only remember how to type information into the cells and copy and paste.  I’ve created web pages on what used to be called front page and dreamweaver, I’ve produced glossaries on old fashioned steam run IBM computers. I’ve been using computers since the eighties (showing my age now). However, I’m still only able to understand a little bit about what I’m doing, just enough to make it look as though I know what I’m doing!(Maybe)  I’ve used google plus, Moodle, google drive, VLE’s, Canvas (no idea!), all name of wonderful and weird IT software, social media, YouTube, now this and I still don’t really understand quite what I’m doing!! Phew, I’ll stop now.  It’s all good though 🤓I’m happy to keep trying and if it helps to make things more interesting for my students and it looks as though I know what I’m doing then I’m happy to keep trying.

i think this technology in TESOL course is good for me as although I’m not exactly a Luddite, I’m certainly not completely comfortable with something I can’t quite ever work out completely and is a constant challenge.  (Alliteration works here😂). Anyway, I’ve learned that the best way is to jump right into the water and splash around a bit, what’s the worst that can happen? Drowning isn’t an option. Anyone else out there have a similar issues or ideas about how to combat reluctance? comments welcome.

NB. Update on my student Suzanne for anyone who read my first ramblings, she has now used MsWord to type and save a short document, I told her how well she was doing and could see her bursting with pride. Lovely and rewarding, this is why I teach.😊

Update…..I’m adding a section to this blog as I’ve been inspired today by something that allows for a level of teacher creativity and hopefully an end product of enjoyable engaging activities for students. I’ve decided to design a webquest.  (Gasps😱) This entails both reading about how to design one and the technology involved and also deciding on a topic that students will find interesting and stimulating. I am really quite looking forward to doing this which is a step into the unknown for me. I have designed and used my own materials in the past but not structured them into a project in E-form to be be scaffolded and supported by instructions and useful language/grammar/macro skills.  When I first started teaching, online resources were not so readily available and now there’s so much out there I don’t think designing E-resources ever crossed my mind as something I would need to do or even enjoy. My first port of call after today’s lesson was to the library to get the recommended book ‘How to teach English with Technology (Dudeney,G & Hockly,N) 2001.  Watch this space for more updates on my experiences and hopefully any useful tips along with links to help anyone else out there who is thinking of doing the same.

My technology blog/diary part two, climbing the EFL technology mountain dragging my fears for humanity!

I’ve been reading A few of the blogs published by our group and noted one of the posts mentioned teachers and schools being way behind the technical/digital levels of the kids. Whilst I agree totally with this, as kids are becoming tech savvy earlier and earlier. Children as young as 3 or 4 are using iPhones and iPads with reasonable proficiency.  According to the Telegraph  “By the time they start school, 70 per cent of children are already confident in using a laptop, tablet or smart phone.”   (peppa pig is on my iPhone for my 19 month old granddaughter as I blog…bad granny).

‘Digital literacies are not solely about technical proficiency but about the issues, norms, and habits of mind surrounding technologies used for a particular purpose.’
—Doug Belshaw, educational researcher

The articles I’ve been reading however, detail the lack of digital literacy of students rather than the ability to use apps, twitter and being able to download prezzis and insert links into PowerPoint. Digital literacy is understanding what they are actually reading and publishing.  How critical are students about what they read or write in tweets and when publishing anything on social media? Do they recognise fake from real?
Trump recently decried and condemned the press for publishing fake news. Are we in danger of dismissing these claims because we may only want to read something bad about him? (I think it’s a tough one as I personally believe all the bad reports!) How do we as knowledgable critically thinking adults differentiate and filter the truth from the lies?  This task appears to be becoming more and more difficult for adults so how do we teach this skill to children? The skills of digital proficiency is clearly demonstrated by young people but its not enough, children have the world at their fingertips but what they are reading can often be spin at best.

According to a recent study by Stanford university; “Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there,” the researchers state; “Our work shows the opposite.”

This is clearly worrying for society as we move further into an age where it is vital to have a clear idea of what school children are being exposed to out in the digital world.

What do you think?



Online sources/accessed on 27/01/17

Teaching technology to reluctant learners (Being a reluctant teacher of technology!)

I have recently had to teach a group of elementary ESOL students how to use a VLE. A tall order when you realise that apart from the obvious language barrier, there are a few students who infrequently or never use a computer!

Take Suzanne…hmmm I was wishing for someone to take me away during our first session. Sorry, but that’s how it was and being honest, I really thought I’d reached the limit of what I am capable of doing as a teacher. Suzanne is from an African country and is in her 60’s, to say she looked pained and panicked is an understatement and so we probably had the same faraway look in our eyes at that juncture 👀. Anyway, using a mouse was the first thing we had to achieve in the first weeks and mouse came in useful for this. She was frustratingly chasing the squirrel and looking at me as though to say, why are you making me do this? However, it helped her gain control and that lead onto explaining what a browser was, although it wasn’t a long explanation…it went along the lines of, double click on this this small coloured picture of a (?).

Anyway, technology is the way forward and we have finally got onto using the VLE, although slowly and I’m not sure how much she has benefitted from the lessons contained therein but she has certainly moved mountains with her ability to use IT. And although a lot of patience and perserverence was needed, she doesn’t look so frightened. The next step is using MS word. Any suggestions would be gladly received!

Sandra x