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Learning together

Learning together

The internet offers so many opportunities to both learners and teachers. It also is one of the most succesful marketing tools in history, with large companies collecting huge amounts of data from unsuspecting surfers. Our workshop will share some of the information needed to make wise use of the web and to make personal decisions based on your own values and objectives. 

Creating a professional presence online is increasingly necessary and there are so many tools we can use. Here are a few to check out:   LinkedIn  
These offer free accounts but they will try to "encourage" you to take a paid option, offering additional functionality for example. Of course you can also make your own website using tools such as Wordress or Google sites. Making your professional identity visible online is not difficult but will mean a time investment. It does not however need a financial investment necessarily.

Ownership of online material has posed one of the biggest challenges to our established legal frameworks and there is no doubt that it is hard for the law to keep up with the rapidly changing ways in which it is possible to communicate and publish online. In order to behave responsibly online we need to recognise that all online activity leaves a digital footprint or tatoo. It is important to stay informed about ownership of online artefacts. Finding images is often an area of confusion for teachers and students alike when creating presentations. 

Creative commons licences are built on copyright and help to maintain a balance between the large corporations who often restrict useage rights and those of us who create and share openly using the publishing power of the web. 
The internet can help us to find others to learn from, it is a rich source of open educational resources (OER) which can be re-used or inspire your own creations too. There are many resources here to help you find your way through using the affordances of the wild open spaces online whilst protecting yourself from some of the dangers. 

Workshop outputs:
We reflected on how our teaching has been affected by the availability of the internet. Our discussions led to a call for more support on copyright and use of open licences which I will follow up on this padlet board.  Questions regarding the use of licences and ownership of teaching resources uploaded to moodle need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The tasks shared provide a scaffold for a better understanding of professional activity online. Firstly increase your familiarity with the professional use of the web; secondly create your own professional space online (start small and use free tools), and then drill down into the detail of ownership online. 

Preparing for a Spanish listening challenge.

Getting together to share great teaching ideas and learn from each other is one of the most useful activities professional teachers can do in order to enhance practice. When we get together we also put ourselves in the position of learners and experience the teaching techniques of others. Here are some of the ideas shared at our recent summer session. 

Monica (pictured above) started our session with a great icebreaker which had us competing to spot lyrics from La Bamba and Despacito and contribute them in the right order using the lines we had on slips of paper or post-it notes. This presented a fun and interactive way to improve reading and listening skills. She says:
"This takes just a few minutes and gets everyone involved and having fun". 

Elisabeth and Chiyomi shared their experiences of Quizlet and got us involved in a Quizlet Live! competition so that we could experience it for ourselves. Quizlet is an online tool which allows teachers (and students) to create seven different types of quizzes in just a few clicks. Vocabulary can be uploaded from an excel spreadsheet. Students can co-create their own list on google docs which can be used to populate Quizlet. The link to created activities can be shared online. 
Chiyomi presented the use of quizlet live, a synchronous, interactive team game which can be used in classroom.  

Quizlet is particularly useful because it:
provides course-specific language
increases student engagement and collaboration
can be used everywhere, on the bus, in the train, outside etc.

Teresa shared information and resources about the Warwick International Higher Education Academy #knowhow project. The project aims to provide staff and students with support in managing their professional online identity. There is an open G+ group where you can ask questions and interact with experts in open educational practice. Here's one of the video tutorials on managing images online:

Image: CC BY

Language learning takes time and regular commitment. In order to support your learning, your tutors provide online resources for your course through the Languages@Warwick platform. Here's a quick guide to accessing your resources.

  You can explore Languages@Warwick on your tablet or mobile phone. Alerts will make sure that you know when deadlines are approaching and the messaging system will keep you in touch with your tutor. Created to support the particular demands of language learning, the platform includes both video (Kaltura) and voice (Voicethread) facilities so that your tutors can provide innovative activities to support you. Built on Moodle and hosted by Moodlerooms sector technical experts have recognised our commitment to the best service we can provide .  

In some courses, open badges recognise the progress you make. These provide digital recognition of the micro-skills you have acquired and can be exported to your own badge backpack allowing you to manage and display them as you wish on your online profile or website. 

So dive in! See what Languages@Warwick can bring to your language learning experience. We work collaboratively with our students to ensure that you get the best experience and you can access support here

This photo was taken in Wagamama, Leamington Spa in January 2015. The students are from Warwick and Clermont Ferrand, France. They met through the Clavier virtual exchange, an opportunity that was available because of a connection, now in it's 6th year, between teachers researching in the use of computer-mediated communication for language learning. 

The Clavier project is described here and has provided tools and connections which can help learners extend their networks, try out their language skills and meet new people. We use social media, telecollaboration and instant messenger systems to meet up. The network of connections that have emerged have resulted in many new opportunities, including travel and visits for staff and students. 

This sort of learning opportunity is growing in our courses, and other languages are also getting involved. In German virtual exchange has taken place using Google + to provide advanced language learning practice. In both cases the tasks provided facilitate activity which helps you develop global graduate skills

We believe that such virtual connections can offer real opportunities to:

  • enhance practical language and intercultural experiences
  • acquire useful skills for future employment contexts
  • increase your confidence and autonomy in language acquisition
We now have several staff members in the new Unicollaboration network, building capacity for international virtual exchange in Spanish and Chinese too. You can find out more by following @unicollaboration on Twitter. 

It's a crowded world out there, and the key to securing the job you would like may well be down to ensuring that you stand out from the rest. At Warwick there are many opportunities to do just that. Your language course can provide the means to achieve your goal. 

For the previous 5 years we have been working with students who prepare an e-portfolio as part of their assessed work in French, Spanish, German and Chinese. Using the open-source software Mahara to provide an electronic space to reflect and present their language learning journey. All students in Languages@Warwick can use the Mahara tool to easily create a professional web presence, we provide tutorials to support your use. 

This e-portfolio assessment project is assessed by a staff team and student feedback is very positive. The insights gained by tutors into what works (and doesn't work!) in your language learning helps inform our course development. The set of web pages produced can be shared as a link to a prospective employer, helping to demonstrate your digital skills too. 

You can get a flavour of what has been done in the past in this clip:

eportfolio showcase hd from Teresa MacKinnon on Vimeo.