#CdnELTchat Summary for September 15, 2020 (Welcome Back)

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#CdnELTchat summary for September 15, 2020

By Bonnie Nicholas

The #CdnELTchat community returned from our summer hiatus with a Welcome back! informal chat. 

These are the questions that guided our conversation during the hour-long chat:

Q1: What did you do in the summer to recharge?

Q2: What have you learned from the COVID pivot in March/April? How has that changed your approach to this school term/year? 

Q3: What challenges do you anticipate facing this year? What strategies can you use to manage these challenges?

Q4: What is something that you are looking forward to trying out this term/year? What is something that you want to stop doing this year?

Q5: How are you planning to develop your classroom community this school year?What professional learning are you planning to participate in this year?

We’ve collected the tweets in a collection on Wakelet (You’ll be able to read all the tweets from the evening’s conversation, even if you don’t have a Twitter account). 

Our conversation revolved around the challenges of finding work-life balance in the current situation. We talked of the challenge and importance of separating work from home life when work is at home, and of the increased workload because of the switch to online. Experienced online teachers confirmed that prepping for online teaching takes more time than for classroom teaching. We talked about how the shift to online has highlighted inequities in ELT. We also touched on the importance of teacher and social presence in online environments, and the very real phenomenon of Zoom fatigue. In these uncertain times, staying connected with our colleagues is more important than ever.     

There is a scheduled #CdnELTchat usually about every two weeks, with a posted topic and often a guest moderator with a special interest or expertise in the topic. Please let us know if you’re willing to be a guest moderator for a one-hour chat on a topic that you are especially interested in.

You can also reach out to the #CdnELTchat team: Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Jennifer Chow (@JennifermChow), Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), or Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas). Our Padlet is also always open for your questions and comments. 

Use the hashtag #CdnELTchat anytime to connect and to share information of interest to the #CdnELT community. 

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

#CdnELTchat Summary for May 12, 2020 (eLearning Essentials: Using Instructional Design Principles for Online Language Training)

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#CdnELTchat summary for May 12, 2020

By Bonnie Nicholas

The #CdnELTchat community was happy to welcome Linda Manimtim, MEd (TESL) as our guest moderator for our chat on eLearning Essentials: Using Instructional Design Principles for Online Language Training. Linda (@lindamanimtim) is based in Winnipeg and is an Instructional Designer at Red River College in Winnipeg and an EAL Specialist with the Professional English Group (PEG) Canada. She is currently working on developing eSkills, a digital literacy course for newcomers.

These are the questions that guided our conversation during the hour-long chat:

Q1: In your mind, what is (or what isn’t) instructional design? 

Q2: How is instructional design implemented in your context? How can instructional design be injected into current practice as painlessly as possible?

Q3: Especially with the immediate and necessary push to e-learning, teachers must often assume the roles of instructional designer AND instructor; what challenges does this present and how can we approach them? 

Q4: The primary purposes of any instructional designer are to analyze learning needs and to systematically improve learning experiences. What best practices are key to improving the e-learning language learning experience? 

Q5: UDL or Universal Design for Learning, is a way of teaching and learning that seeks to give all learners equal opportunity to succeed, by varying representation, engagement, and expression. How can we incorporate UDL for our online language learners?

Q6: How has your experience been with e-learning so far? What else do you want to know about e-learning? What resources do you think are essential?

The consensus was that instructional design is more important than ever, as #ELT around the world continues online for the foreseeable future. Thanks to Linda and to all the participants for being willing to share ideas and promising practices for designing online learning environments. Here are some highlights from our hour-long chat:

  • Instructional Design simply means analyzing current and future needs and improving learning experiences.
  • #ELT professionals are likely already intuitively using instructional design (ID) in their teaching, but there is value in using the ADDIE model to explicitly identify and apply Merrill’s principles, Gagne’s events, Bloom’s taxonomy, or Garrison and Anderson’s community of inquiry.
  • The shift to emergency online teaching and learning has made instructional design more important than ever. There hasn’t been a focus on ID in #ELT, but that is changing.
  • Good ID means using outcome-driven activities that will drive learning. ID is like the framing of a house: it holds everything up but you don’t see it. ID informs decisions, supports content, and builds consistency.
  • Use check-ins to help keep learners on track; focus on building community, making connections, and nurturing a positive learning environment in your online space. 
  • Build courses for those with low bandwidth and limited access, but ensure keeners have extension activities to challenge themselves. Focus on accessibility and readability. 
  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL) suggests having multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression. Having choices is important, and shifts responsibility to the learner.
  • Remember that we are still in emergency mode as we transform to online teaching and learning. We need to be patient with ourselves and our learners. Go slow and low. Stay connected with colleagues in your workplace, your #PLN, and your #CommunityofPractice.

We’ve collected the tweets from the chat using Tweetdeck; you can view the collection on Twitter (You’ll be able to read all the tweets from the evening’s conversation, even if you don’t have a Twitter account). We had many more questions than we had time to discuss, so we’ll be asking Linda back for round two in the fall. 

There is a scheduled #CdnELTchat, usually about every two weeks, with a posted topic and often a guest moderator with a special interest or expertise in the topic. During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been having weekly drop-in check-ins. We will start our summer hiatus in mid-June, but please continue to use the hashtag #CdnELTchat to connect and to share information of interest to the #CdnELT community. You can also reach out to the #CdnELTchat team: Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Jennifer Chow (@JennifermChow), Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), or Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas). Our Padlet is also always open for your questions and comments. We’ll start regular chats again in the fall; please let us know if you’re willing to be a guest moderator for a one-hour chat on a topic that you are especially interested in.

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

 

 

#CdnELTchat Summary for April 7, 2020 (The Digital Divide: Equity and Access in Emergency Online Learning)

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The Digital Divide: Equity and Access in Emergency Online Learning
#CdnELTchat Summary for April 7, 2020
By Bonnie Nicholas

Teachers across Canada and around the world have been asked to pivot at short notice to online classes as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed teaching and learning for the foreseeable future. John Allan (mrpottz) recently hosted a couple of well-received Tutela webinars on on Coping with COVID-19 using online instruction and generously offered to follow up by guest moderating a #CdnELTchat on The Digital Divide: Equity and access in emergency online learning

All of us who have moved to emergency online teaching and learning know that not all students have the tools and resources to continue their learning online now that schools and other service-providing organizations have closed their physical spaces. This chat was an opportunity to begin the conversation around these important issues of equity and access. We’ve collected the tweets from the chat using Wakelet.

There were some common themes that emerged from the evening’s conversation:

  • We know that not all students have devices or reliable internet, and may be working in small shared spaces.
  • We need to be aware that students did not ask to be in an online class, and that there may be children in the room while parents are trying to learn.
  • Many students are accessing online course materials on the small screens of their smartphones; teachers need to be aware of this and check what course materials look like on a phone.
  • There is a need to advocate for equitable access to learning tools and resources, and to find alternate learning paths for students who are unable to participate in synchronous online classes.
  • Transitions classes could help students make the leap from face-to-face to online classes.
  • At this point, self-care and meeting the emotional needs of students are more important considerations than curriculum. 
  • We all need to lower our expectations as we work through this crisis. 

And some positive outcomes:

  • Teachers are working hard to improve their digital skills to be able to meet students’ needs in this new fully-online environment. 
  • Service-providing organisations have stepped up to support learners and teachers. 

These are the questions that guided our discussion. 

Q1: What percentage of your learners do not have access to appropriate internet and hardware? Is it affecting your instruction? 

Q2: What ways are you and your institution remedying this disparity? 

Q3: How can we ensure that our courses materials are accessible to all students? 

Q4: What distance learning strategies, activities, resources are you using to include and engage students with limited access to the internet? 

Q5: Are you altering your assessments to accommodate students without WiFi or devices?  How are you doing this?  

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us. Questions are collected in advance of each chat on Padlet, and then 5 or 6 are chosen for the hour-long chat. The Padlet, Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat, is always open for comments. If you have any ideas for topics or have comments about #CdnELTchat, please send @StanzaSL, @BonnieJNicholas, @Jennifermchow, or @ELTAugusta a tweet. Please connect with the team if you are are interested in guest moderating a future #CdnELTchat. 

And in these challenging times, take care of yourself and your loved ones. Let’s stay connected with each other and support one another. Feel free to reach out and check in anytime with your colleagues in #CdnELTchat.

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

 

 

#CdnELTchat Summary for March 17, 2020 (Emergency Preparedness: Moving a F2F Class Online)

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Emergency Preparedness: Moving a F2F Class Online
#CdnELTchat Summary for March 17, 2020
By Bonnie Nicholas

In mid-March, with concern deepening about the coronavirus pandemic, the #CdnELTchat team decided to offer a special chat for instructors who were looking at being forced by these emerging circumstances to pivot to online teaching and learning. Most of us had very little time to prepare for this unexpected change. Almost overnight, new phrases like social distance and flattening the curve have entered our lexicon. Teachers and learners were suddenly looking at their Learning Management Systems (LMS) not as a useful addition to their classroom, but as their virtual (and only) classroom and meeting place for students. Thanks to Nancy Van Dorp (@NancyVanDorp) for stepping up and agreeing to bring her expertise in online and distance learning as our guest moderator. 

Thanks as well to all the participants for their openness in sharing their worries and their hopes. Many ELT professionals with experience in online and blended learning shared advice, resources, and tips for instructors who were new to remote learning. We’ve collected the tweets using Wakelet, so they’re easier to read if you’re not on Twitter: Emergency Preparedness: Moving a F2F Class Online. (There are over 350 tweets!) We’ve also created a resources list; this is an open, editable Google Doc, so please continue adding links to useful websites and resources: Resources for Emergency Preparedness: Moving a F2F Class Online

If there was an overarching theme to the discussion, it was this: 

  • Lower your expectations. We are all just trying to make the best of an emergent situation. We are not trying to create the perfect online class. We will make mistakes. Technology will fail. This adjustment will take time.

Other suggestions from experienced online instructors that emerged during the chat:

  • Start by making sure to maintain connections with your students.
  • Think of the learning curve for students as they prepare for online learning.
  • Use the tools and resources you have and that your students know how to use.
  • Think about access and accessibility; some ISPs may be offering free or increased data capabilities during this challenging time.
  • Keep it simple; now is not the time to try everything. 
  • Reconsider mandatory synchronous sessions; explore asynchronous options instead. 
  • Plan but be flexible; circumstances will change and plans will need to be adjusted.
  • Maintain a strong online teacher presence but set clear boundaries.
  • Practice good self-care: exercise, eat well, spend (virtual) time with family and friends.

These are the questions that guided our discussion: 

Q1: What are the primary things we have to think about in relation to our ELLs and moving a F2F class online?

Q2: How can I prepare myself and my students to teach/learn remotely on short notice?

Q3: What are some good ways to make remote learning accessible for our ELLs?

Q4: If I can do only one thing well in online teaching, what should it be?

Q5: I’m going to be using online teaching/learning tools for the first time. What do you recommend?

Q6: There is a massive amount of information here on Twitter and elsewhere about moving from F2F to online / remote / distance learning. What is the best advice for teachers who are new to this kind of teaching and learning?

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort on Twitter, with a goal of leading to more connected, reflective practice for everyone involved in English language teaching in Canada. Are you passionate about a topic in ELT? Interested in being a guest moderator? Contact one of the team members: Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas), or Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL).

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.