Upcoming MOOCs for ELT Educators | Jun – Jul 2017

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The monsoon has just broken on the west coast of India and in the digital world, it’s raining MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). I can’t think of a better time to indulge in a MOOC binge. A hot cup of filter coffee. Rain pattering away at your window. And a MOOC or two or a dozen to keep you company ūüôā

All of these courses are free and start between June and July and last for between four to six weeks.

English for Specific Purposes 

English for teaching 

Phonology 

Literacy

Teaching with art 

21st century skills

Technology

Managing behaviours & special needs 

Teaching: ELT

Teaching: General topics

Learning: General topics 

Exams

Other

Open Badges for CPD

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I’ve been a bit disingenuous in recommending digital badges for informal learning without properly investigating them. So I was truly surprised to discover that I’d already earned a badge for attending a webinar on speaking assessments.

What are badges? 

Think of them as alternatives to certificates. They’re proof that you’ve completed a learning activity or achieved some kind of outcome (such as a language level). Unlike a certificate which you download and which only sees the light of day when your supervisor demands evidence of CPD, the badge can be displayed in a gallery accessible by others.

I found my badge on speaking assessments at Open Badges passport which Cambridge uses.

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However, Mozilla Backpack appears to be a lot more popular.

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It’s also possible to display the badges in your LinkedIn profile.

How does it work? 

An organisation or institution designs and issues badges. They then allow participants who have completed an activity to add a particular badge. In practice, anyone can design badges using a site like Openbadges.me¬†or Open Badge Factory. There is ostensibly some kind of quality control in place because the badge links back to the organisation or person who issued it. ¬†Here’s a worksheet with some interesting questions for badge issuers to think through.

Badges for CPD 

Is there value in displaying the CPD activities you’ve completed or achieved? I think there might be. Beyond the obvious ‘feeling proud of yourself’, they can be useful in work contexts where performance appraisal systems require evidence of having completed a certain number of hours of professional development. I also think they provide an opportunity to members of a community of practice to check in on what other practitioners are doing and perhaps think about doing similar activities .

Badges in teacher training 

I was thinking about how badges might work for pre-service teacher training courses. Would we give badges (scout-like) for discrete skills like giving instructions or for achieving a certain number of hours of training practice or accomplishing criteria related to assignment? Or would that dilute the goals of a criterion-referenced course? It would be interesting to introduce new teachers to badges in a session like ICT where they could receive a badge on ‘Starting a class Wiki’ and encourage them to get more badges when they kick start their CPD plans. ¬†Here’s a useful presentation on creating badges for your own course.

Badges & informal learning 

We know that a lot of learning happens informally through classroom practice, peer interactions among others. Digital badges perhaps imply that these informal learning activities don’t hold as much value because you can only earn badges for activities endorsed by someone else. I do see a link for ‘Apply for a badge’ in Open Badges Passport but I’m not sure why Cambridge or any other provider would let you have one of their badges if didn’t attend their event. And there’s always that danger of a learning provider subverting the system to serve its own interest which one major publisher has allegedly attempted.

Do you issue badges for your teachers or students? What has been your experience with using badges to promote CPD and learner autonomy?

Upcoming MOOCs for educators | Nov 2016 to Jan 2017

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Here are some upcoming MOOCs that educators might find interesting. Although the courses have a fixed start and end date, you can join at any time before it formally concludes. All the courses are free. ¬†I’ve got my eye on the course on filmmaking and animation in the classroom as well as¬†Art of the MOOC: Public Art and Pedagogy which sounds intriguing.

Happy MOOCing.

Teaching (General) 

Teaching (ELT)

Materials writing & instructional design 

Teacher training 

Pedagogy 

Planning & time management 

Edtech 

Languages 

Education policy 

Literature

Learning

Writing

Miscellaneous 

Post-CELTA Development (PCD) | A primer for Indian ELT professionals

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When I do demo lessons at my local CELTA in Bombay, I frequently get questions from the trainee teachers about what they should be doing next. I usually tell them to wait for the last session on CPD where they might be given a handout with the deliciously cruel subtitle ‘glutton for punishment’ like I was. Nevertheless, some reach out to me later with more questions about what they ought¬†be doing next. I suspect some of the confusion and anxiety is down to what’s perceived to be a lack of options for formal professional development in India beyond more traditional modes such as doing a Masters in Education or English.

I know how cost conscious my peers are in India. Those prices sure are scary when you convert them into rupees. I have a legend (‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ) next to each category to give you a really rough¬†idea of how much your aspirations might set you back by.

1. Trinity Cert IBET¬† ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ

Let’s face it, you basically have two choices in India: join a school, or work at a corporate. If you are interested in teaching Business English or ESP and have zero corporate experience, you might want to explore the¬†Certificate in International Business English training. The good news is that it’s offered online and so you can complete it from the comfort of your cozy Indian home. The Consultants-E offer a bonifide online version. International House offer their own version of the Certificate in Teaching Business English (also online) which is cheaper but not endorsed by Trinity (but is moderated by Cambridge Language Assessment- ahh the lovely simple world of ELT qualifications). Pearson have a First Certificate for Teachers of¬†Business English but there isn’t much information available on their site. Oxford TEFL also have a more reasonably priced online version but it isn’t accredited to any institutional body.

2. Certificate in eModerating¬†‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ

Perhaps you love that cozy home of yours so much so that you never want to leave, even for teaching lessons. If that’s the case, you might want to acquire skills that help you teach online through asynchronous platforms like Moodle and synchronous virtual ones like Adobe Connect. The Consultants-E offer a four week course and International House has a five week version. The Consultants-E also offer a course which focuses solely on virtual synchronous training called Teaching Live Online.¬†The British Council offer a version as well which I’ve incidentally completed (you’ll find my reflections here).

3. Certificate in teaching young learners (YLs)¬†‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ

International House offer an online version. Cambridge used to offer a two week long YL extension to the CELTA but I believe it’s no longer available. NILE also offer¬†an online version. Trinity offer their own f2f version at a range of accredited centres¬†in the following locations:¬†China, Czech Republic, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Uruguay, United Kingdom, Vietnam. Oxford TEFL offer an online version.

4. Certificate in ICT¬†‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ

Don’t know what ICT is?! Well, you’d better enroll for this nine week long online course offered by the Consultants-E, endorsed by Trinity.

5. Certificate in¬†Advanced Methodology¬†‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ

You sought¬†Friereian pedagogy at the CELTA but instead got ‘find someone who’. Perhaps these ostensibly ‘advanced’ courses (Advanced Methodology & Advanced Methodology for Teachers of Modern Language) are¬†up your alley. Both are online and uniformly expensive.

6. Certificate in teaching one to one¬†‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ

You gotta hand it to International house Рthey have a course for everything including what in India is sometimes unfortunately called personal tuitions. 

7. Certificate in Teacher Training¬†‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ

This might be something you’d want to park until you get some more experience but it’s worth noting that there are online qualifications you can explore such as¬†International House’s Teacher Training certificate. NILE also offer a course in trainer development.

8. Cambridge DELTA¬† ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ

The DELTA isn’t offered in India yet (at least not all of it) although there are¬†unconfirmed rumours that this might change in the near future. The DELTA is modular (module 1 is an exam, 2 involves teaching practice and 3 is an extended assignment). You can take them in any order, full time or part-time. Here are your options if you’re in India:

  1. You can do Module 1 through the British Council India. It’s not listed on the site but you can write them a message here. Bear in mind that the fee you’ll pay will only get you a proctored exam and nothing else. You’ll have to do the prep yourself. Alternatively you could purchase support online with the¬†Module 1 prep course from International House.
  2. The Distance Delta¬†(between 9 and 15 months in duration)¬†is offered by International House London and the British Council. You can do module 1, 3 and apparently a part of 2 remotely but the actual teaching practice will need to take place at International House London or one of their other centres. I recall seeing Kuala Lumpur at one stage but I don’t see any other locations listed now.
  3. Travel abroad to do the intensive Delta (roughly two months). You could go to one of the International House centres in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, Hungary, or Turkey  (all places Indian ELT professionals have trekked to in quest of PCD). You could also explore CELT Athens which is managed by Marisa Constantinides (a real live energizer bunny) Рa colleague recently did a 6 month distance version with module 2 in Athens and found it a fruitful experience (see comments for more details).

9. Trinity DipTESOL¬†‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ

Trinity’s answer to the Cambridge DELTA isn’t very well known. It’s a four unit course that’s offered as an f2f or blended program at accredited centres. Oxford TEFL offer a blended version with the f2f component taking place in Prague, Kerala, Cadiz and Barcelona for the 2017 intake. Since they do offer an Indian location, the DipTESOL may be worth exploring. You may want to read this article¬†from Pete about perceptions of this poorly understood qualification and listen to this podcast from the TEFL Show.¬†Trinity also offer a ¬†Fellowship Diploma in TESOL Education Studies.

10. NILE online courses¬†‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ‚āĻ

The Norwich Institute of Language Education offers a whole host of 8 week long online courses on specific topics like Academic English.

11. International Teacher Development Institute¬†‚āĻ‚āĻ

These guys are brilliant and they offer month long courses almost every other month. The courses are facilitated by thought leaders in our profession.

12. Coursera free or¬†‚āĻ

Check this MOOC platform’s list of language learning and teaching courses regularly. You might find some gems. The courses are all free but you can pay a nominal fee and get a certificate from the university or institution that’s teaching the course. You could also check out FutureLearn¬†and Canvas (lots of advanced stuff for teaching¬†professionals) which work on a similar principle of paying for a certificate.

13. Teach Now program

I’m not too familiar with this nine month online course but it appears to be an international program offered through a local provider – The Teacher Foundation – as an alternative to a B.Ed to help candidate prepare to teach in the K12 environment. You’ll apparently be able to give tests in India that’ll qualify you for American teaching licenses.

14. British Council teacher training courses¬†‚āĻ‚āĻ

The British Council India offer five online moderated courses and two¬†face to face workshops. I’m not entirely sure if individuals can nominate themselves for these courses because it says your school or institution all over the registration from. You’ll find information on the Certificate in Primary English Language Teaching (CiPELT), Certificate in Secondary English Language Teaching (CiSELT), Content & Language Integrated Learning Essentials (CLIL), Learning Technologies, Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT) Essentials, and workshop on resources here. The British Council Teaching Centre in Chennai offers a three day Business English Teacher Training workshop¬†with a focus on the Cambridge BEC.

15. Post-Graduate Diploma in Teaching English¬†‚āĻ‚āĻ

This course is offered by the English & Foreign Languages University in Hyderabad. It’s a distance course and doesn’t look all that exciting, sadly like many¬†teaching qualifications offered by Indian institutions. I’m including it in my list as the token Indian rep.

If you reckon this is all child’s play, stay tuned for¬†my post on affordable distance and online Masters programs.

Do leave a comment if there any other courses which are either online or face to face but easily accessible and affordable for Indian ELT professionals that I can add to my list.

And finally, some sound advice from Amy Lightfoot.

Courses and formal qualifications are just the tip of the iceberg. Informal development activities can sometimes be even more productive and enriching than the ones listed in this post.

Reading skills for the selfie generation | Webinar summary

This OUP webinar was facilitated by Thomas Healy. He suggests that the reading skills required by the selfie generation are different than what we traditionally identify as important attributes.  He envisions this dichotomy in this way:

20th century learners  >>>> Selfie generation

Text >>>> Picture, sound, video

Single task >>>> Multi-tasking

Independent &  individual >>>> Interactive, networked

The physical world >>>> The digital world

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It’s not just millenials who are selfie-obsessed. Here are some of my enthusiastic participants from a recent teacher training program. I quite dislike selfies and am grateful this one has come out a bit blurry.

Healy asserts that this presents a double challenge for our teaching because Ss are required to read both traditional print and digital text. Some of the other challenges he identified include skimming, scanning and all the other traditional skills in a digital environment, dealing with proximity issues (scrolling to find information as opposed to having it within frames in print), dealing with ‘rabbit hole’ issues (getting distracted by hyperlinks and wandering away from the text), and dealing with cognitive load.

He proposes interactive PDFs as a solution. Have you ever filled a PDF form before? ¬†PDF forms are a type of interactive PDF. An interactive PDF allows users to do more than just read information; there might be hyperlinks, embedded audio or video clips, and text boxes to type information. When I was with Deloitte, there was a top down imperative to reduce the number of handouts used for courses and since all the employees had laptops, we created interactive PDFs. The rationale was to save paper rather than address the needs and affordances of millenials. Although there was WiFi everywhere, my colleagues and I were a little skeptical of creating activities that would have the Ss wander away from the PDF … they certainly didn’t need encouragement to multitask.

Digital reading activities 

Here are some of the ideas Healy shared for creating an engaging interactive PDF:

  • Hyperlink pictures within the text to existing YouTube videos and ask Ss to watch the video and answer questions.
  • Hyperlink to a private Facebook group and ask Ss to do a discussion¬†activity there, for example, share some ideas about a topic. Ss are then required to report back in the interactive PDF by answering a question such as “Which of your classmates’ ideas do you agree with? Write them in the box below.”
  • Include text boxes within the PDF. Ss don’t have to write in their notebooks or in MS Word. Their responses are captured in a single PDF document which they could save and share with you.
  • Use screen capture tools like Camtasia to annotate text. Record yourself visually demonstrating to Ss the process of reading¬†a text. Use different colours to highlight the different pieces of information a reader would typically look for and find. Upload the ¬†instructional video to Youtube and create a link in the interactive handout. Ss watch the instruction video before they attempt the same process for the text in the PDF. I thought this was a particularly interesting idea – ties in with¬†the popularity of ‘how to’ and encourages learner autonomy
  • Highlight structural or lexical elements in the text which could help Ss identify information such as using conjunctive adverbs or conjunctions – in contrast – to recognize contrast. This could be done through an instructional video using a screen capture tool or more simply, using an annotated image of the text.
  • Annotate to demonstrate scanning; for example, show Ss how they can quickly look for proper nouns, dates, and italics.
  • Give Ss¬†a number of sources (URLs) on Facebook as a sort of webquest activity and ask them identify the source that would be appropriate for academic research. Ss must also explain why.
  • Share signposts such as words like ‘however’, ‘yet’, ‘on the other hand’, ‘whereas’¬†and punctuation marks like ‘?’ and ask Ss to use the search tool within the PDF to find information these signposts might be connected to. I thought this was a very relevant technique which genuinely considers the affordances of the digital medium.

Digital tools

Healy recommends Adobe Acrobat Pro for creating interactive PDFs and Camtasia Camtasia for making instructional videos. They’re both paid software but you can try out them for the first month for free.

Here are some free tools for creating interactive PDFs:

Copyright issues

As I was watching the webinar recording, I kept thinking about copyright issues which Healy addressed just before he concluded. Obviously, a lot of his suggestions for working with digital texts and media can only be executed if you own the copyright or if the text is in the public domain or you’ve got permission from the copyright holder.

Embedding video 

While Healy suggested adding YouTube links, I would recommend embedding the video within the PDF in order to limit reliance on external links. This shouldn’t be a problem if it’s an instructional video that you created – it’s quite easy to embed the video using Adobe Pro. The file size bloat a bit but then there are so many ways to share files these days so I don’t see that being a problem.

Have you used these or similar ideas for enhancing digital reading skills? Do you create interactive PDFs? What’s been the learner experience?

 

Upcoming webinars for educators | September – December 2016

Have you attended any interesting webinars lately? I’ve been missing all the good stuff¬†and turning up for the crap ones because let’s face it, it’s not all insights and epiphanies. Here are some webinars to keep you (hopefully) engaged till the end of the year. An * marks webinars that require registration.

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Language 

Assessment

TEFL Equity 

Teacher development 

Pedagogy & niche topics 

Technology

Online conferences 

Corporate topics

Upcoming MOOCs for educators | Jun to Aug 2016

I haven’t done a single MOOC since the start of the year but I can dream right?! Here are some upcoming courses that might be up your alley. All free.

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Teaching

Blended learning 

Language 

Other

Have you done any MOOCs this year? Which ones do you recommend?