Friday, 4 July 2014

MM4: Exploring Facebook Groups for learning

Here goes my last reflection for Moodle Mooc 4. At last, I have managed to find time and view all the required webinars out of the incredible high number of live sessions delivered at this MM4 that ended on 30 June 2014 and so reach the end with a certain feeling of having been able to get things done.

The session I am reflecting about today is Exploring Facebook Groups For Learning, presented by Lenandlar Singh at WizIQ on 29 June 2014, where all attendees, either live or not, I am pretty sure were able to gain a wide range of tips and prompts.

Thank you to MM4 organisers and the presenters for a fine enjoyable session!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Reflections on MM4: How To Manage Your Courses With a Simply Beautiful Visual Library

Great presentation by Sylvia Guinan on 30 June 2014, the last day of Moodle MOOC 4, about How to Manage Your Courses With a Simply Beautiful Visual Library, emotionally hosted by Dr. Nellie Deutsch at WiziIQ.

I had to do with the recording this time, as the live session went on at 3pm, Spanish time, and that is working hours, but still I was able to connect with the presenter, the host and other peers through the event page itself.

Sylvia gave a great bunch of ideas, tips, resources, pieces of advice on a friendly active online course instructional design which I regarded as very valuable, as I totally agree with her opening statement: a simple, creative, visually attractive online environment is going to make students feel at ease.

The content of Sylvia's presentation fully relates to my area of online instruction, and I saw eye to eye with her approach, Feeling at ease in class, either face-to-face or online, has clear beneficial consequences when taking a course: you are more prone to enjoy learning, and so you engage in the course more quickly. Thus, you are bound to be more successful and happier. When talking about online teaching and learning, it is even more important to find yourself at ease, to enter a friendly classroom, since you don't see your teacher for real, but a virtual teacher and the more humane and close you manage to make your classroom, the better.

I especially liked the idea of having a BBQ classroom. First of all, who doesn't like barbecues? Everybody is ready to go to one; it is a synonym of relax, easy-going chat and a gathering of friends.

Secondly, all that involves having a BBQ also has online teaching/learning connotations: you need a place to cook, that is, the learning platform. You need cooking utensils, that is the tools. You need ingredients and you need to know how to mix them well so that the barbecue is a success, that is your creativity, imagination, energy and positive attitude towards teaching/learning. You need spaces so that the guests to your barbecue can mingle, that is, the forums, social networks, collaborative sites.

Then, you are ready to cook international recipes. Good luck. Teaching is a time consuming, incredibly rewarding experience!

Sylvia is a great BBQ host and an incredible cook, so her event made me feel as if I were at her place in sunny Greece and my thoughts were immediately engaged in the kitchen she was opening for us: Tackk.

Over the years I have had the chance to cook at several kitchens, such as Static Web Sites, Blogs, Moodle, Google Drive, and more recently Edu 2.0, Edmodo, or Haiku Learning, but Tackk? No, I have never come across the chance to enter that kitchen, so that is the challenge now: mixing ingredients and adding a pinch of visuals and interaction here and there to open a new teaching/learning lab, I guess, looking for ways to link other kitchens together (that is the first step to take to resolve the challenge).

How are my future students going to feel at the new venue? That's the question I have to look into now the recording is viewed and MM4 coming to an end.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

My conclusions on MM4: Moodle for CLIL EVO

Moodle for CLIL EVO is the latest live session from Moodle MOOC 4 I attended at Wiziq, on 30 June 2014, nine in the evening, Spanish time.

It was a nice presentation by Letizia Cinganotto and Daniela Cuccurullo, who took it in turns to explain about the Moodle course they held for CLIL EVO (Electronic Village Online) and how they had approached the training about Content and Language Integrated Learning for their Italian teachers.

The added value of viewing this live webinar is that you can connect with other peers that are either into CLIL teaching already or that wish to start, and using the chat of the session room as well as the session page itself is a nice means to get to know others and interact. But, if you don't have time, you can always view the recording later on, as every MM4 session is available after the event has finished.

While I was listening to Letizia and Daniela, one of the questions I was wondering about is how come that we have been releasing Science, Maths, PE, Arts or you-name-it teachers out to the classrooms to approach their subjects in a second language, mainly English or French, without the adequate training. Is this fair, both on the teachers and the students?

My thoughts, not only regarding the session, but regarding the so called CLIL methodology that has spread over a wide range of European bilingual school systems, always spin over my head to land on two ends of the scale: 

On one end: I am an ESL teacher myself and I wonder what I would do if I was forced to teach any other subject in English. Even though I am a proficient language user, how could I manage to teach Science, or Arts, or whatever other subject in English? I simply wouldn't be able to, and the basic reason is that I do not have adequate CLIL training. I know the language, but I lack the contents.

On the other end, just the opposite: I am a PE teacher, just to name but one, and I am forced to teach PE in English, but my level of the language is poor. How would I manage? I simply wouldn't be able to; I know the contents, but I lack language skills.

From the beginning of the session, I could sense that in Italy, as in Spain, CLIL seems to have become a current key issue for teachers whose field of education is not Languages but other subjects taught in a second language, a methodology that has already been well adopted long ago in other countries with a rooted tradition of bilingual education, but which still needs consolidating in our country or in Italy, according to the speakers, both of them native Italians.

And this feeling transmitted by the presenters' words, examples, explanations, resources and best practices, brought me once again to the ends of the scale, and to come with a further matter for reflection: after all these many years of bilingualism, hasn't any educational stakeholder or decision maker realized that good CLIL training should have come first, before bilingual schools or classrooms were even considered?, Isn't this putting the cart before the horse?

Well, it seems that some Educational Institutions, such as the Italian Ministry of Education, where Letizia works, or the Spanish @educaINTEF are walking in the right direction now, as they are launching online training courses for CLIL teachers, or those to be, with the aim of actually using the methodology in the bilingual classrooms in an active way.

Better late than never, I guess!

The challenge is still big: combining high level language skills with good knowledge of the subject to be taught in the figure of one teacher is not an easy task to tackle, and it is only fair on students to be guided by an educator that knows his subject perfectly and speaks the language perfectly, too.

It is our responsibility, from whatever end of the scale we are, no matter which educational staircase and landing we have our flooring on, to shape up well-trained CLIL teachers, who are also proficient language users, in order to guarantee that our CLIL students will become truly bilingual citizenships with truly integrated content learning.

The key to success lies in engaging balanced online teacher training courses! CLIL EVO is one of them, and so is The Use of Open Educationl Resources for AICLE.


Monday, 30 June 2014

MM4: Moodle Blocks

Here I go again, back to Moodle MOOC 4, for the fourth and last week, with the tasks within this learning experience. Today it is the turn to practise adding blocks to a Moodle 2.6 classroom, and to achieve that goal, every active participant has been upgraded to Manager, a serious responsibility one has to take with care. Anyway, the Moodle Mooc 4 organisers have been clever enough as to enable a Practice Area so nothing in the actual course can be spoiled.

And, here you are the result of my playing around with several blocks of my choice, which either because I had not used them before or because I think they are especially useful, have called my attention. Thus, I have decided to share them with you.

I hope the brief tips can be of some help for any Moodle beginner.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Accomplishing The Goal 'Learn with Passion'

This is our latest goal at The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators projects, thanks to María Bossa, from Argentina: Learn with Passion.

I think it is a very wise goal to accomplish, and so not to lose sight of learning during the summer break besides looking for further communities and networks to link to and getting ready for new connections for the coming school year.

In order to keep on learning with passion and accomplishing the goal all in one go, I would like to share with you some of those communities and networks I feel part of, both across Spain, where I come from, and across the world, since thanks to technologies, as María clearly says in her post, learning and personal links go beyond frontiers.

I feel thankful for being able to collaborate in a wide range of projects with loads of passionate peer teachers who generously share their passion for learning everyday throughout loads of virtual communities and microblogging platforms. Click on the link below and find out some of them. I will of course be happy if you care to join. You are all welcome!

But we must not forget The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators: maybe the most awesome professional community if you are thinking of how to accomplish this goal, as you are definitely bound to find passion for learning there. Pay a visit and join the tour!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

MM4: How to build a mindmap on Moodle 2.6

Nice surprise was awaiting along week 3 at Moodle MOOC 4 For Teachers: how to set up a mindmap within an elearning classroom.

It was a revealing discovery, I must confess, the fact that an online instructor can add such an activity in just a few clicks, and quickly set up a collaborative mindmap that any course participant may edit and enrich along an elearning course.

On top of that, when accomplishing the MOOC assignment and practising with the available activities on Moodle 2.6, I also found out that one can record activities instructions instead of writing them for participants, as the text editor at the Moodle Practice Area on Moodle For Teachers includes a voice recorder that automatically inserts an embedded .mp3 file, which I thought very useful for accessibility purposes.

Here is a summary of the whole procedure in simple steps:

MM4: Teachers Teaching Online: Building a MOOC in WizIQ - 30 second reflection

Just after attending the invigorating 'Teachers Teaching Online: Building a MOOC in WizIQ' live session delivered by Jason R. Lavine for Moodle MOOC for Teachers 4, hosted by Dr. Nellie Deutsch on 20 June 2014, all I could think of was how to put Jason's tips in a nutshell without losing the rap rhythm he had set there, and however, all that came to my mind was the ocean, To The Ocean.

That image set a different pace, leading my imagination to produce a peaceful relaxing 30-second-reflection clip with the aim of summarizing the online session in simple frames: event description, questions, feelings and further challenges, all of which were coming to mind while watching, so here it goes:

MM4: Teachers Teaching Online: Building a MOOC in WizIQ - 30 second reflection

As I am acually doing both #moodlemooc4 and #TTOmooc at the same time, I honestly thought it was a brilliant idea to have this crossover between both. Thanks for the it, Jason and Nellie.

Teachers Teaching Online MOOC, or #TTOmooc is perfectly explained by Jason as a MOOC for busy teachers, but this learning experience is far more than that, as 19 well-known presenters willing to help educators on how to succeed as online teachers have been gathered around a single MOOC, which is not to be regarded as a simple task. As I am an online teacher myself, I perfectly understand the effort, appreciate it, I relate to the content and feel grateful for the inspiration the experts are spreading.

The questions and thoughts that came through my mind while watching the session were of different kinds:

When managing and attending some other MOOCs at some other platforms, I have observed that the main worry is social engaging generating virtual communities, learning communities, and coming up with a dynamic activity schedule; one of the main concerns seems to be the follow-up MOOC activity, what will happen after the MOOC, if participants will keep in touch, or if they will take to their lessons whatever they learned during the MOOC, itself. And, however, this TTOmooc is not as demanding as others, it's much more relaxed and easy going; TTOmooc providers here do not seem as worried as other mooc providers about figures, or how many many people actually finish the course and grab the badges.
Learning seems to be the focus here and I wonder who is on the right track. Maybe all mooc providers are, I guess; it all depends on the target audience and the goals we are pursuing.

Well, the thing is that I felt quite motivated while listening to Jason to keep it up and connect; quite encouraged to improve my online teaching. Surprised by the way the MOOC is preented and how the team has actually managed to gather such inspirational presenters together, all expert teachers and educators, and I believe this is a key issue in a course of this kind as well.

I guess the main challenge now is to find some time to catch up. Time is what I lack, but I am in love with teaching, and so with online teaching, even though you might encounter obstacles when doing online teaching, as it is IT failure sometimes: platforms that do not work well, connections that disconnect, servers that do not run smoothly, and so forth. My experience tells me, on the other hand, that one can overcome IT obstacles like those with a little bit of goodwill: practising, rehearsal, asking others for help ... those are the best steps to overcome the challenge.

It would be nice to launch a virtual course or mooc at WizIQ in the future, maybe mini-courses at the beginning with simple tips for others to learn and try themselves in their lessons. I think I'd like that in the future, too.

The question now, for further research, after viewing this session, is from my viewpoint finding out what the best MOOc model is, one that focuses on a demanding activity schedule, or an easy going one?
What should be the focus on a MOOC: the number of individuals successfully finishing the MOOC or their evidence of quality learning?

Monday, 23 June 2014

International Writing Exchange

2013/2014 school year is not even over yet, and however, we teachers are already getting ready for 2014/2015.

I guess we can't help it! As a well-known colleague of mine says, 'September will be here before we know it', and so, here I am, once again, jumping into a new collaborative project for English Language Teachers to try and help learners with writing and speaking skills, connect with other teachers worldwide and develop ideas and new activities.

These are some of the reason why I have joined The International Writing Exchange (IWE) 14-15 taking place at WiziQ and Moodle, willing to learn, collaborate and come up with connected digital artifacts, which I am sure we will be able to design together and thanks to the great support by Dr. Nellie Deutsch's Integrating Technology for Active Lifelong Learning.

Are you a teacher and would like to collaborate too? Watch the trailer below, read the course description and go for it!

All the members of the IWE are looking forward to welcoming you and your students. Don't forget: 'September will be here before we know it'

Saturday, 21 June 2014

MM4: Creating an Online Lesson Plan Pool

Here I go again, back to Moodle MOOC 4. Two days in a row, Wow, I'm starting to positively feel hooked to this MOOC!!!!

On 19 June 2014 I watched the MM4: Creating an Online Lesson Plan Pool webinar live, for a change; I do not usually have enough hours during the day to view live so I have to do with recordings, but this one was live. Good for me!!!! Or is it that my days are stretching???? Well, I honestly don't know.

The point is that now I am finally reflecting on the live webinar by Teacher Rosemery Ribera, to whom I am thankful for the tips and ideas.

And of course, thanks to Dr. Nellie and Tom for their awesome webinar hosting and MOOC organization.

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