Practical Teaching Ideas

Pilot Course Entry #1: Setting the stage

shield-229112_640The story arc of a course, especially when it involves technology, can be unpredictable. We hope it isn’t. We want events to follow plans; a smooth predictable arc, but there are always blips. Variables introduced with each new student, or different technologies and devices, lead to building a plan that can accommodate a little chaos. So when some friends asked about how the story arc of my courses go, it took me a while to respond.

After another hour of discussion, we were still debating over how teachers, classrooms, students and technology can all be accounted for in the planning process. After all, each new variable introduces new and different opportunities, challenges, and the possibility of a crash and burn. It was at this point of the debate when I was finally put on the spot. It came out as, “Why don’t you do a pilot of your new course, and show us how you integrate technology into your classroom.” It may as well have been, “Put up or shut up.”

So, there we were. The challenge was set, and my colleagues proceeded to choose the course for me. The initial decision was to work with a class of incoming Freshmen, as it was agreed that it was the closest to a ‘clean slate’ than the upperclassmen. Additionally, as this is a required course students are assigned to classes by ability, so the variable of student ability is greatly reduced. Then they changed their mind. The challenge will be the third year class.
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How Cloud Computing should be Changing our Pedagogy


One of the most amazing technological advances in recent years, in my opinion, is cloud computing. However, as teachers we have only just begun to see its implications.

For those of us in homogeneous EFL environments, like Japan, getting students to communicate with each other spontaneously using the target language is one of the biggest challenges we face. And yet, we have opportunity to circumvent this obstacle using technology.

Imagine an ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) environment where students from different countries are being matched within a project group. Target language communication would be a must in this situation. Impossible?

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