4 December 2019

Managing Notes and Meetings


If meetings make your heart flutter with the desire of freedom or make your mind switch off, knowing full well what pointlessness will chew up your time, I completely understand. It always amazes me how many meetings in educational settings could be more constructive with a clear email sent to participants, rather than the counting of heads in a room. 

Instead of dwelling on the uselessness of many meetings, the fact is that people do need to get together at times to exchange ideas, update projects, and ensure that any possible problem is being looked into and taken care of. One of the purposes of meetings is to agree on a plan of action and not for mindless rambling of what could be easily shared in an email. A meeting should also be collaboratively constructive.  But I digress. 

As increasingly more teachers work online, Hugo may be a possible tool to use for online meetings. 

Hugo has a free version for 40 users,
with whom you can share agendas and notes. It integrates with other web tools and apps, including Zoom. 




For anyone who may be interested in checking this tool for meetings, there are also these considerations to look into   - Evernote vs. OneNote vs. Google Docs vs. Hugo vs. Notion


One feature, however, that I don't particularly like, is how the user has to use their email address to sign in for an account. 

Nevertheless, it probably will be a new tool to add to my digital bag-pack for further exploration in the coming new year. 

With web-conferencing and digital meet-ups happening so regularly, how do you keep track of documentations and notes, sharing agendas and follow-ups?

Further Suggestions:

Do You Have a Digital Office?

Is this Your Fortune Cookie for Connecting?

Connect. Ask. Learn.

Adding Interaction into Presentations

Learning How to Learn with Notes & Maps

Young Juvenile Youth 'Animation' from Kosai Sekine on Vimeo.

2 December 2019

A Grammar App for those Lazy Days


Sometimes it's the simplest of mistakes that give it all away.

Or perhaps not.

Perhaps it's just a question of distraction, lack of attention, multi-tasking.

However, despite all the business that fill up our days, I am sometimes left wondering whether what I read is a typo, a distraction or quite honestly, a mistake.

Grammar Fix  is free and has decided to end those hesitations and possible misunderstandings in written English. 

Once you have downloaded the app, you can go ahead and begin checking your hesitations. There is a short explanation for each of these most common writing mistakes, as well as some practice. 

Do your students ever need a nudge with spelling?


Further Suggestions:








Rubrics, Assessment, Evaluation - A Re-Visit

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

I never liked exams much. Yet, as an educator, yes, I have administered and written many tests, quizzes and exams. Just something that comes with the job. 

Just?

No. Not really. 

Not only is evaluation/assessment an integral part of formal education, giving feedback to learners is important. Whether that feedback is continuous, formal/informal, formative or summative, peer feedback or self-reflecting feedback, providing learners with feedback and strategies on how to be better achieve their learning goals, is a cornerstone of education. 

Any assessment/evaluation approach will obviously depend on context and purpose. In many instances I tend to favour awarding badges and having students submit a portfolio with their work. However, this may not always be possible in different educational contexts. 

Teach Thought sums up 20 different suggestions on giving feedback to learners:



Although individuals may have their own rubrics and evaluation criteria to follow, when it comes to digital learning tasks, Teach Thought also offers a Bloom's Digital Taxonomy which is of interest, especially when selecting digital tasks for students:



Whether it be feedback, evaluation or assessment, these elements are embedded in learning processes. And just like the range of tasks one may choose, there are also different perspectives and considerations to bear in mind according to each teaching/learning context. 

Perhaps the most important is that rubrics are kept simple, clear and transparently shared with learners - no one appreciates unexpected tasks for assessment or evaluation of tasks not practiced in lessons. 

How do you carry out assessments, evaluations, student feedback?


Further Suggestions:

















Do You Have a Digital Office?


Over the years that I have maintained this blog, I have watched as web tools and apps slip slide into fashion and then quietly, glide to a silent retreat. With web culture, in general, changing so quickly, it is no wonder that digital tools and platforms also go through trends and waves of change, whether in terms of popularity or merely because of the features they offer. 

One interesting trend is how there have been efforts to create visual connecting spaces. The other day I attended a webinar with GoBrunch (mentioned here) and really enjoyed the novelty of its visual layout and features for webinars and online classes. My Digital Office offers similar features in regard to visual support when connecting online. 

My Digital Office is mostly geared for professionals in the business world, but also have a free version allowing 3 team members. 

It's interesting because (besides the similarities with GoBrunch and their visual digital spaces), My Digital Office includes video conferencing and chat features for meet ups, indicates the local time participants log in from, and the ability to exchange files/documents with the team. My Digital Office also includes a practical User Guide  and the integration of Zoom

For teachers who work online/remotely, this could be an interesting option to connect for online meet-ups.

Further Suggestions:



Learning How to Learn with Notes & Maps


Learning how to learn may come easily to some students - but definitely not to all. Whether one is going to point their finger to a particular learning/academic culture or social setting, doesn't help students achieve either. 

Equally, mind-mapping is not a recent learning/study approach. However, there are different digital tools which help create mind-maps for generations now accustomed to working/learning digitally. 

Transo is one of these mind-mapping tools but with the additional feature of creating mind-maps out of outlined notes. 

With Transo, the user can work individually but also share their notes/mind maps and collaborate with others. 

Once you sign up, you can see different templates to choose from (example below):

Transo also includes clear tutorials for those getting started using it; there is a tutorial for who uses it on a mobile device, as well as a tutorial for using Transo on the web

For students of EAP and at Higher Ed in particular, this approach to note-taking and mind-mapping 
may be really useful, supporting them in their note-taking and learning skills. 




Further Suggestions:







Images for Writing Bytes


Writing doesn't always need to be a long-winded, painful and boring affair. In between the daily fractures of attention and distractions, writing helps learners focus, giving them the opportunity to actually think critically, to think clearly, to organise their thoughts and points of view.  

Caption Cat posts daily images for the public to add a caption and then vote on their favourite caption. Though this may involve some risk (e.g. how appropriate is the image for use in a classroom, language used) in classrooms, teachers could choose their own image from Caption Cat for learners to write their very own caption for the image. 


This is a short writing task; one that can be done at the end of a lesson, the end of a day or week. 

After sharing their captions, students could then vote on their favourite caption. 

After writing a couple of captions for given images (these on the left hand side are taken from Caption Cat), the students themselves would become responsible for sharing an image to caption - for instance,  the person whose caption received the most votes would be responsible for taking a photo to share for the next class where the whole class would be writing a caption for their image. 

A simple activity like this adds fun to writing, includes images and most importantly, brings into the learning space possible topics and images that students find of interest. It's their choice for their learning community. 

Playfulness when writing is also part of learning. 





Further Suggestions:









30 November 2019

Adding Interaction into Presentations



Times when sitting through another presentation  or professional training session just makes you go...


via GIPHY

But it doesn't need to be like this. One way to increase engagement when presenting, is to get the audience involved - and without hopping around the room. Adding to the interactive tools already mentioned here, one can also consider Swift.

Swift has different price ranges, and also includes a free version which teachers could try out. With the free version, Swift includes 150 responses per month as well as unlimited questions, text to vote (SMS), online polling and PPT integration. 

Students too could use Swift as they rehearse their talks and use the feedback/experience as building up their presentation skills. 

AhASlides is yet another option to integrate with presentations.


Their free version includes:
  • Up to 20 live participants
  • Unlimited presentations
  • Unlimited slides
  • All question types
  • Quiz and Leaderboard
  • All content slide types
  • Background and colour customisation
  • Customisable presentation links
  • QR code
  • Presentation sharing
For anyone with class sizes up to 20 students, AhaSlides could be a possible option to use when presenting.

Giving a presentation is nerve wracking for many students, especially those who are studying EAP or studying in another language which is not their first language. It needn't be all pain and jitters. With supportive scaffolding and practice, giving students choices to include an interactive presentation tool to their talk, and helping them understand story-telling elements in their presentation, pre-presentation fears may become yesterday's lore. 

And, if nothing of the above is helpful for developing presentation skills, well, there is always coffee.

Do you use any of these interaction tools when you or your students give talks?


Further Suggestions: 


Are Your Presentations Nifty?

Presentations and Audience Interaction

Slide Your Show

LiveSlides - Embed any website seamlessly in PowerPoint and Keynote slides


Office Cat and Fish - Time For Coffee from Monkey Tennis Animation Studio on Vimeo.