Shelfari & Livebinders

Cool Visual

It is fairly basic to add a hyperlink, and kind of boring.  I’ve been trying to come up with a better way to show and share resources, both with learners and colleagues.  As I mentioned here before, I was trying to add Shelfari to this blog, but it appears as though it cannot be done on a free WordPress site.  WordPress does have a version of this, called “Goodreads”, which you can see on the right hand side of this blog.  My only problem with this is that it looks too commercial and some may automatically dismiss it.

Shelfari: Looks like this:  mybookshelf

As you can see – it looks much nicer.  You can put the html code in here as well, but you only get the list that you see to the left of the image.

If you want to see what I’ve said about the book, you hover your mouse over the book, and my review will appear.  If you click it, you will be taken to Amazon’s web page, where they will be waiting with open arms to show you how to buy it.

Live Binders

Keeping track of webpages can be tiresome but it is necessary.  I know this because I have recently been wracking my brains trying to figure out where I saw that “sign generator” website that I promised my colleague for our next conference.  Hmm… it’s coming back.  If you see a link to the right that says “sign generator” then you’ll know I’ve been successful.  (And there was great rejoicing…”

Anyhow – Delicious has been around as a social bookmarking site, introduced to me a few years back.  I go back and forth with it.

There is a better site called “livebinders”, brought to my attention in a Tutela discussion.  I use it now instead of an unseemly string of hyperlinks.  Here’s what one looks like:my livebinders

Forgive my unsightly cut and paste of the above screen shot.  Am using an older version of windows so the paint program doesn’t let you crop the screenshot as nicely as the newer versions.  You can’t read the tabs, but each is a different website or pdf link that is kept all in once place as a kind of virtual binder.  The livebinder icon is just below.  Give it a click to see what it looks like.  This one is on Tutela:

 

Having a Vision

I think that as Web 2.0 develops, more resources will be freely available to help you with expressing your web vision. I like text that’s broken up and interspersed with images.  Solid blocks of text put me to sleep.

That said, I know that as you learn to explore what’s out there, you can get carried away with moving text, embedded videos, and bedazzling the bejezzus out of your site.  Resist the urge to do this:

homers-website

Although you can’t see it here, everything on his page moves, clangs, pops or does a little dance.

LearnIT2Teach

WE PROMISE not to teach you computer code or try to turn you into a techie.”

I stumbled upon some LearnIT2Teach information from settlement-at-work, and I just had to put the quote in here.  I agree that the LIT2T crew helps you to create your LMS in the simplest way possible, but folks, there is no getting around the computer coding that is done in Stage 4.  But it’s not impossible.  In fact, I’ve had some fun playing around with html.

I coded my website at TVDSB to have a flashing script.  I used code to embed a Youtube video in a Hot Potatoes task.  I also cut and paste code fairly regularly – even in here (WordPress).  Tried unsuccessfully to put in a virtual bookshelf from Shelfari, but found out it can’t be done on the unpaid WordPress sites.

I think the quote above is very telling.  It speaks to the dread that many instructors have of tech in the classroom.

But if you take the actual definition of the word “techie” – it means “a person who is expert in or enthusiastic about technology, esp. computing.”  What’s wrong with that?  Enthusiasm is a good thing.

That said, I get the trepidation that instructors feel when contemplating using tech in the classroom.  I’m not a techie – there are way too many things I don’t know.  But at least now I know that “html” is not short for hotmail…

“Exploring the Feasibility of E-Learning…”

eLearningpic

Contact magazine just released its spring edition, and one article caught my attention right away: Exploring the Feasibility of E-Learning in Ontario ESL Programs by Geoff Lawrence et al.

Because I have been doing my own feasibility exploration, Lawrence’s report resonated with me.  One thing that I did notice, that I now seem to notice whenever I do any research on e-learning and LMS’s – is the use of the term “robust”.  It appears to be the adjective of the day to describe how engaging and attractive a computer program is.  The term always reminds me of coffee.

Robosity

Yes.  I can see the red squiggly line under the above title.  The word, however, has been adapted into the Urban Dictionary to mean “the power to perform with great vigor, if not overkill.”

Why the anthropomorphism of a Learning Management System?  Well, it makes perfect sense to inject some element of life into it.  Computers and programs often do take on their own personalities.  An LMS that inspires conversation and engages the participants is considered robust and lively.  One that lacks this je ne sais quois eventually dies out due to disinterest.

computer is alive

So, how about the FEASIBILITY?

Incorporating e-learning into mainstream adult ESL programs is going to take some time.  Also, stop signs are red.

Unsurprisingly, there is sometimes a disconnect between what administrators want and what instructors envision.  As I have noted here, there is not going to be widespread buy-in of e-learning from the teachers, especially if e-learning initiatives are dumped on them en masse, with little training and outdated computer labs.

Admin has got to put their money where their collective mouths are.  Do you really want to make your site e-learning friendly?  Then you have got to invest in the infrastructure firstly.  Next, you have to hunt down a dedicated posse of instructors who have the requisite KSA*s  to use e-learning.  Then you have to ensure that this group can develop these skills (read: paid and continuous professional development).    This tech-savvy group needs to:

  1. develop their own skills – get caught up on what is available
  2. explore different e-learning opportunities and decide which one would best suit both the learners at that particular site and the instructors who would be using
  3. present findings to colleagues in a PD-sharing moment
  4. address concerns by colleagues in said moment
  5. begin to roll out the e-learning themselves
  6. continue to develop and learn about e-learning by attending conferences and reading stuff
  7. have dedicated time (outside of teaching time) to the maintenance and honing of their e-learning skills (use it or lose it applies here big time – I have not logged onto my teacher website in two months and have now forgotten how to get onto the site…I need to dig out my notes because I  have not kept this skill active)
  8. act as peer support for colleagues who will be expected to develop some e-learning platforms

Once all of these factors are nailed down, then you start rolling out your e-learning initiatives.

One thing that needs to be figured out fairly early on is how the e-learning platform is going to work?  Is it:

  • a tool that is to be used in a CALL environment with no at-home expectations?
  • part of a blended learning curriculum that has a significant amount of face-to-face (say 80% f2f and 20% at home)?
  • part of a flipped classroom with the significant e-learning to be done independently with some dedicated check-in with an instructor (20% F2F and 80% at home)?
  • completely done online, with maybe only the final outcomes done in the presence of an instructor?
  • both a CALL tool and a homework tool?

Lawrence et al encourage the e-learning to have a significant amount of face-to-face time to assuage the isolation that learners can feel when they are not a part of a classroom.  Also, from the “Flipping the MOOC” article I referred to in an earlier blog, the instructor noted that flipping the classroom resulted in far more learner alienation, and a loss of some of the joys of teaching that instructors often feel when delivering a well prepared and engaging lecture.  As a learner in Lawrence’s report said:

“We need to keep the human feel in the class… the teacher is very important in motivating me and helping me to learn.”  (Lawrence, 2014)

E-learning is coming… no doubt about that.    Now, excuse me.  I’ve got to get back to my LMS – she’s been very fussy lately…

*Knowledge, Skills, Abilities