Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Oct 12~15 | JALT National Conference | Presenting English Firsthand and Moodle

This past weekend I was invited by Pearson/Longman and Marc Helgesen/John Wiltshire of the English Firsthand textbook series to attend the JALT National Conference and present on Moodling the English Firsthand Textbook.  I was part of a 4-person presentation team where Marc and John covered the use of EFH Active Teach and I showed what things I had done with English Firsthand Success and Moodle.  A fourth presenter, Simon Wilkins, also presented his work with EFH.
During my segment of the presentation, I showed a complete online course module for the first six units of English Firsthand Success.  The book itself I made into a multimedia Moodle Book which allows the users to have an online copy of their textbook handy for in-class use or out of class reference.  The activities and pages from EFH have been turned into Moodle resources and quiz activities which allow for the blended-classroom use of EFH.  Teachers can use the resource pages projected and also have access to the audio and video associated with each page.  From time to time, the teacher can then ask students to complete various parts of the textbook in Moodle quiz activities.  Finally, the course comes complete with a full set of unit and semester tests made specifically for the purpose of giving users both mid-term and final examinations in the EFH course.

The surprise at the end of the presentation session was the chance to meet the editor of the series, Michael Rost, who had been part of the audience.

(I hope to add a link to a demo site for this course at some point.)

Other presentations I attended during the conference (Note, I arrived on Day 2):

Day 2 Sessions:
  • Plenary Session: Technology as an enabler - John Eyles - some interesting anecdotes and some observations on technology derived from common sense
  • Making a difference through self-access: Thornton and others - watched three presentations and a poster session on self-directed access learning.
  • Using a mobile system to monitor extensive reading: Pellowe and others - a presentation showing Mr. Pellowe's MOARS system which is a mobile online assessment tool.
Day 3 Sessions:
  • Private English lesson: a student's perspective: Fujii - a presentation on the perceptions of a student studying English in conversation class
  • Strategies to Moodle your academic institution: Crooks - a presentation giving advice for how to convince your institution to install Moodle
  • Plenary Session: Periphery to the center - Making a difference: Canagarajah - an excellent session discussing the views of a L2 English speaker from Sri Lanka and his experiences working with L1 academics and his moving from the edges of the system to it's center.  He is the editor of TESOL Quarterly.
  • Cognitive linguistics in L2 learning and teaching: Littlemore - an informative session on how L2 learners perceive and learn English - made me think quite a bit.
  • Dramatizing, transcribing, and Moodling Firsthand - (the session I participated in presenting)
  • Storyland: making a difference with picture books: Masatsugu, Karen - the president of Nagasaki JALT chapter and an overview of her ongoing project on child development through English story time.
  • Evening time: Petcha-Kutcha session at a JALT dinner - my first experience with this rapid-style form of presentation.  The presenter has a slideshow with 20 slides.  Each slide shows for only 20 seconds and the slideshow is automatically advancing.  The speaker must present the subject within 6 minutes.  Some of the presentations were quite interesting and humorous.
Day 4 Sessions:
  • The (almost) paperles classroom: iPads for all: Swenson - a presentation on the transition from a paper-based university to a paperless one.  Students in this university were given iPads upon entry which were made required use for all teachers and students from the present fiscal year.  The presenter talked about the difficulties of such a practice as well as the development of an iBook for the courses she teaches.  Very informative.
  • Fluency through video forums and peer feedback: Collins - a presentation showing storytelling and peer assessments.  Slightly disorganized.
  • Designing a collaborative classroom in Moodle: deBoer - a presentation showing the use of Moodle and other tools to encourage English learning through activities centered not on English itself but on using the English for getting various task-based activities and group activities completed.  Interesting although somewhat overloaded on philosophy at first.
  • Teaching English humour: Attitudes and experiences - Hodson - caught just the tail end of this presentation on using humour.  Perhaps I have seen some of this in Nagasaki chapter meetings.
  • Linking game design with learning objectives: Pfeifer - an interesting presentation showing how games for English learning are lacking in current design for enabling learning.  The author presented a system for measuring the quality of various games based on different learning aspects and rubrics.
  • Motivate English learner by digital storytelling: Zhang and others - a presentation by two Chinese university colleagues who use video slideshows to promote storytelling by their students.  The technology used was Windows Movie maker.

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