The Distance Learning Courses in my Teaching Practice
The DistanceLearning Coursesin my TeachingPracticeBy Vrettou Nicoleta
Today’s experience in education• Digital age students surrounded bygadgets and addicted to internettechnology: They seem tocommunicate mostly visually usingimages and symbols and are not keenon reading any more.
• Teachers become more and moreskilled at using computers and theyare enthusiastic about usingtechnology in their teachingpractice.
• Society and work environmentsrequire computer literacy andenhanced multi-tasking ability.• The internet has opened new horizonsfor professional development.• Schools must be up-to-date and cannotfall behind technologicaldevelopments.
The profile of a modern teacherTeachers today are quite skilled at usingcomputers and the internet. They havevery good knowledge of computersoftware such as Microsoft Office andthe different browsers, they aremembers of social networks and havepersonal emails.
Therefore, teachers are faced with thechallenge to use technology in theirteaching but they must also developsome criteria which will help themselect those tools which will be moreeffective in their learning context(learner characteristics, pedagogy,learning outcomes) and at the sametime in congruence with their computerliteracy level.
In my opinion just because ourgeneration of students has grown upwith the technology and theaccompanying tools of the digital agethat doesn’t mean that just throwingtechnology at them in the classroom isadequate and effective.
In this framework, finding the best waysof using new technology in theclassroom and coming to terms with thechanging needs and aspirations oflearners in today’s digital worldconstitutes the challenge of the modernteacher who can overcome theirinsecurity and fear towards thisongoing change by looking foropportunities for professionaldevelopment.
Any teacher is a prospective distantlearner since the only requirements forentering a distance learning course isusually basic knowledge of computers,registration and the required time tospend on the internet to attend thecourse and prepare the necessarymaterial to complete the course (if thisis required).
Invest in yourself,in your education.There’s nothingbetter.– Sylvia Porter
Online Education and Training• With the development of new informationand communication technologies (ICT), onlineeducation and training is being used widely.• Online education is defined as aninnovative form of distance education thatdelivers instruction to a remote audience,using computer networks as the main medium.
• Online in service teacher training is aform of online education that usescomputer network technologies toorganize, develop, manage, andadminister in-service teacher training.
• If online teacher training programs arewell designed, they can broaden therange of teacher training opportunitiesand reduce the costs by adoptinginformation technology, and sharingeducational resources.
In this context, teacher trainingnowadays has acquired new forms.Educators worldwide are offerednumerous chances to advanceprofessionally even from the comfort oftheir home. Many training courses ondifferent subjects start every day byvarious organisations and universitieswhich anyone can register and followonline in order to complete a trainingcourse.
Online teacher training has been seen to haveseveral benefits. In addition to makingteacher training more cost-effective andefficient (Harasim, Hiltz, Teles, and Turoff,1995; Hiltz, 1994; Khan, 1997), the majorgoals of online teacher training are to helpteachers:
• access training opportunities withoutleaving their classrooms/ homes.• remove barriers of time and space.• improve their computer literacy, andinteract online with their trainersand other teachers, and,• once a bank of online courses isdeveloped, to access those coursesthat meet their individual needs.
• Research and case studies show thatonline training via the Internet providesan opportunity to develop new learningexperiences by managing self-directedlearning, and sharing information andideas in a cooperative and collaborativemanner (Harasim, et al., 1995;Hillman, 1999; Moller, 1998; Thompsonand Chute, 1998; Trentin andScimeca, 1999).
Using the internet to support ourcontinuing professional developmentSteps to consider:• finding out how you can best improve yourteaching skills.• Finding out who you are as a teacher.• Asking yourself the right questions & settingyourself goals.• Identifying the people, tools and technologythat will help you reach your goals.
• Learning from your teaching experienceby sharing it with others and reflectingon it (using social networks, groups,blogs, in the staffroom)• Identifying what you want toinvestigate: focus, goals, rationale,action/ tools, estimated time required.• Taking an online training course or adistance learning course (Beingteachers of English gives us plenty ofsuch opportunities)
What a Webinar is and How it Works• A webinar is an online event hosted byan organization and broadcasted to aselected group of individuals throughtheir computers via the Internet. (Awebinar is sometimes also referred toas a “webcast”, “online event” or “webseminar”.)
• A webinar allows a speaker from thehosting organization to sharePowerPoint presentations, videos, webpages or other multimedia content withaudiences that can be locatedanywhere.
• Webinars typically have audio andvisual components. The visualcomponent of a webinar is sharedthrough a web conferencing tool orInternet browser. The audio part of awebinar is usually broadcast throughthe audience’s computers (throughspeakers and media players).
• A webinar also allows the hostingorganization to interact with anaudience. The audience can ask thespeaker or moderator (who is leadingthe webinar) questions in real-timethrough an instant messaging tool or e-mail.
A useful YouTube video explaining whata webinar is:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWz8ppM9DzM
Free Webinars on the internethttp://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/webinars• A useful webpage run by the British Counciland the BBC providing free webinars forteachers of English on different subjects.• Recorded webinars are also available foreveryone to watch on many interesting topicsdesigned by experienced educators.• Some titles that might attract your attention:– Finding the plot - Early story writing for Yls– Making connections - classroom management withyoung learners– Computer games and language aims– What makes a lesson GREAT?
– A box of tricks: warmers, coolers and fillers– Using literature for language learning– Using social networks and media to supportour continuing professional development– The learner-centred classroom– Ten ideas for mobile learning– CLIL for secondary schools– Dealing with challenging learners– Thinking skills– Spoken grammar/lexical approach
The Distance Learning Courses and theirpractical useWhen our school advisor designed andoffered the distance learning courses lastyear, I took the opportunity andregistered for each one of them becausetheir content seemed very attractive tome. Actually, these courses were veryinteresting and helped me to develop myknowledge in useful internet tools whichcould be utilised in the classroom.
• Creating a wiki for project work (blended learningcourse)• Creating online books and photo albums• Creating online videos: A 6 hour distance learningcourse that focuses on the use of ICT in the EFL classroom.Trainees will learn how to create videos..• Creating online games : A 6 hour distance learningcourse that focuses on the use of ICT in the EFL classroom.The courses I have attended
The very detailed wiki course which hadas requirement the creation of a wiki fordeveloping a project, helped me use thisknowledge in order to create a wiki Icould use as a website for myclassrooms. This wiki can be found onthe address:http://3ymittoshighschool.wikispaces.com
I also used my knowledge on wikis todevelop and present the e- twinningproject I co-ordinated this year:http://myseaproject.wikispaces.com
• I learnt how to use certain internettools (web 2.0 tools) which are offeredfor free on the internet to create:– digital albums– scrapbooks– animations– comic strips– digital stories– glitter graphics– word clouds– digital posters
• In addition, from those courses Ilearnt how to create onlinegames, quizzes, puzzles whichcould be inserted in a blog or wikior simply played by studentsonline.• Online questionnaires and pollsalso proved useful.
The e-twinning platform andLearning Events• Another source of distance learningexperiences is the e-twinning platformitself.• Once you register yourself and yourschool and create your profile on theplatform, there are many opportunitiesavailable for learning and training esp.as regards project work, group work,classroom management, computers andinternet tools.
• Webinars and learning events are alsoregularly conducted on the e-twinningplatform.http://learninglab.etwinning.net/web/guest/home
• And as soon as you start a project,just keep an open mind and get readyto interact and learn from colleaguesfrom other European countries.www.glogster.com
Online Talks• http://www.ted.com/talks/tags/educationA website where you can watchinteresting and very popular talksabout education by differentacademics such as Ken Robinsonor teachers who have importantthings to say.
Online distance learning courseseliminate the time and spaceconstraints of more conventionalteacher training methods,removing the need for the learnerto be present at a training site at adesignated time.
If designed and used properly,information and communicationstechnology has the potential tomake teacher training moreeffective, affordable, and flexible.
On the whole the distant courses Iattended as well as my participation inthe e-Twinning community enabledme to make my wikis attractive andalso showed different possibilities topresent my work or my students’ workin digital form or online.
The only person who is educated is the onewho has learned how to learn and change.Carl Rogers(an influential American psycologist and among thefounders of the Humanistic Approach to psychology.)Formal education will make you a living;self-education will make you a fortune.Jim Rohn(an American enterpreneur, author and motivational speaker).
I am entirely certain that twenty years fromnow we will look back at education as it ispracticed in most schools today and wonderthat we could have tolerated anything soprimitive.John W. Gardner
The Distance LearningCourses in my TeachingPracticeby Vrettou NicoletaOnline distance learning courses eliminatethe time and space constraints of moreconventional teacher training methods,removing the need for the learner to bepresent at a training site at a designatedtime. If designed and used properly,information and communicationstechnology has the potential to maketeacher training more effective, affordable,and flexible.A website offering free online andrecorded webinars and courses:http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/webinarsThe only person who iseducated is the onewho has learned howto learn and change.Carl RogersFormal education willmake you a living;self-education willmake you a fortune.Jim Rohn
A useful YouTube video explainingwhat a webinar is:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWz8ppM9DzMOther useful sites:http://www.ted.com/talks/tags/educationhttp://learninglab.etwinning.net/web/guest/homewww.etwinning.netSites for useful online tools:www.wikispaces.comwww.wordle.comwww.glogster.comwww.glitterfy.comwww.voki.comwww.vimeo.comwww.tubechop.comwww.discoveryeducation.comSites with useful online toolsto make online presentationsto share or embed:www.issuu.comwww.smilebox.comwww.animoto.comwww.pixton.comwww.slideshare.comwww.picturetrail.comOnline tools to create games,quizzes, puzzles, polls:www.jigsawplanet.comwww.quizlet.comwww.proprofs.comwww.classtools.netwww.tricider.com