The Friday Four | #2

I’m always reading and generally discovering things online (and sometimes offline!). I’ve set up various apps and tools so that lots of things come to me, using Feedly, Pulse (LinkedIn), Facebook, Twitter and that Google thing I can’t remember the name of which pushes stories at me on my Android tablet.

I tend to organise the interesting articles or videos I find in Pocket, which is really helpful. I also use Diigo as a bookmarking tool, to store links to sites, rather than articles. As a result, I thought that on Fridays I would share four things I have come across during the week. This is the second post in this series, the first I posted here last week.


This article reports that “The University of Colorado is starting to see some revenue from the free, massive open online courses it offers to the world through the website Coursera.” I’m generally fascinated by open education, but it seems that many publishers (and other parties) appear to fear it. The revenue they report is mostly generated by certification. It would seem to me to be a good idea to open up access to things like teacher development materials within a MOOC and then offer certification for payment. I think that more and more educational content is going to become free and open access, and ELT publishers need to figure out how to get involved.

Susan Cain’s book ‘ Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking‘ has become extremely popular and has spawned the Quiet Schools Network initiative. I think it is important for language teachers to consider the implications of the way they treat students deemed to be quiet, or ‘shy’. Introversion is not shyness, but they are too readily associated. As ELT pushes a ‘Communicative Approach’, students’ reports often contain comments such as “Pedro needs to speak up more in class”, or “Marta is very quiet, she would benefit from participating more”. But what does participation really mean? And is it right for teachers to push students to speak up? This article focuses on how teachers and schools can change to benefit the quieter students.

I’m interested in the potential of ‘Gamification‘, particularly in young learner classrooms, but when I was teaching I found it extremely challenging to give rewards fairly and deal with leaderboards or rankings; it was a constant battle that I usually ended up losing. I became acutely aware that some students didn’t care and others cared too much. I generally prefer collaboration and cooperation to competition, as a teacher anyway, I’m usually very competitive! This article focuses on a couple of different leaderboard options which offer choice (‘opt-in’ competition) and promote growth rather than direct competition. I particularly like the ‘growth mindset’ ideas about students focusing on their personal progress; measuring an improved self against a previous self rather than comparison with others.

I recently came across a fantastic video lesson creation tool called Zaption and I’ve been playing around with it a bit. I haven’t managed to create anything to share here, but this example gives a great idea of what you can do. It’s free (although you can upgrade to a ‘Pro’ version), you can find videos already created by other users, add videos of your own and break up the footage with questions of various kinds. It’s a great resource for e-learning, with many possibilities for a blended or flipped approach. The videos can be connected to an LMS, embedded in a blog or website, and the tool also records data showing the answers and performance of users. All in all, very much worth a look if you’re interested in developing digital tasks for learners.
That’s all for this week, thanks for reading!

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