Sunday, June 19, 2011

another experiment - learning to teach

... but related to the CLW purpose (see sidebar). StudyCom (David Winet) is offering a Teacher Training Course. The focus is teaching ESL but, not unexpectedly, with the primary emphasis on real time applications using technology requiring a high speed connection: conferencing, Second Life, etc.  Here's the course description:
If you are an ESL teacher or planning to become an ESL teacher, join our new teacher training course Saturdays at 3 pm GMT in Classroom One.
Enrollment is limited to bona fide ESL teachers, TEFL/TESL graduate students or students enrolled in TEFL/TESL certificate programs. The course will deal with all aspects of ESL teaching, with an emphasis on online teaching, including mobile.
The course will be free but enrolees must attend regularly and do assigned homework and tests.
I'm in the process of trying to tease a syllabus out of the above plus a few notes. Basically, the course focuses on the famous (or would that be notorious?) four skills: understanding, speaking, reading, writing. The structure suggests that writing and perhaps reading could get shorted.

Bridging the Digital Divide

I couldn't resist replying, questioning the total absence of accommodating those of us on the other side of the Digital Divide. Then (presumably) a StudyCom group member) wrote me asking about training for teachers who did not have high speed connections. So (cutting further DD discussion and thus to the chase) here I am. I rejected the "offer" to teach a "low bandwidth" version (after having asked for audio files and transcripts of live sessions such as those provided at recent MOOCs) but allowed I would moderate a group if one were set up; curate, organize, archive materials; answer questions (and maybe post a few).

As for the Digital Divide (or Digital Inclusion), the subject is too important to dismiss with a brief mention, so I'll come back to it. Low tech, obviously, would be a chalk or white board (or even a vinyl shower curtain on a school room wall). I'm aiming for a middle ground: let's call it mid-tech (in between high and low tech. Free and easy to access on lower bandwidths.

What would that include? Quite a lot really: email, email groups, bulletin boards, blogs, wikis, web pages, interactive exercises with minimal flash, social media. Non internet technology might include radio; audio tape or CD player; projector; TV; VCR or DVD player.

What do teachers learning to teach need to think about? Everyone should make his or her own list. Here are some points I've come up with. What would you add?

Age and level of students, their learning styles, your own teaching style, class size, previous learning experience, strong and weak areas, what students are expected to learn, what tests or specialized training they are preparing for, any conditions that would interfere with learning, setting (classroom, computer, mixed online and face to face), facilities, connectivity and computer access, teaching materials, workarounds. This last is when you have to make do, work around not having optimum teaching conditions or resources: make do with what you have.

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