An Interview with Melinda Dooly and Shannon Sauro from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I interviewed Melinda Dooly and Shannon Sauro at EUROCALL 2015 in Padova, Italy. They talk here about their experience working on international educational research projects, particularly in telecollaboration, and managing the practical, legal and ethical requirements of such projects. Potentially very problematic, but also very important.

Just to let you ‘behind the curtain’ at Lives of Teachers HQ, I approached this interview in a slightly different fashion from the others on the site. Usually I attend a conference with one or two interviews in mind, and I often contact potential interviewees in advance and read some of their work beforehand. I wasn’t aware of Shannon or Melinda before I saw their presentation, but I was so impressed I asked them if they would spare a little time to talk, and this is what you see here. I had a great experience at the conference, partly because it was in a beautiful place, and partly because it was packed with very clever people explaining interesting things well.

If you enjoy this interview, please check out more in the archives. You can subscribe to the podcast version on iTunes, and follow on email, twitter or Facebook for updates – check out the sidebar for the links.

An Interview with Robert O’ Dowd from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I met with Robert O’ Dowd at the EUROCALL2015 Conference in Padova, Italy in August and had a really interesting conversation about telecollaboration. If you know anything at all about the topic you will have heard of Dr. O’ Dowd, as he is amongst the leading figures in the field. If you don’t know anything about it, then watch this short video and learn!

Dr. O’ Dowd has been involved in the INTENT project and the development of UNI-Collaboration amongst many other projects. Although I had heard of telecollaboration (and it’s variants) I was surprised at the number of projects in progress in Europe and beyond. For example, I learnt about TILA and SOLIYA as other examples of teachers and students striving to build linguistic and intercultural understanding.

If you like this interview, please visit the interview index to find many more. I’ll be posting more in the coming weeks. You can also subscribe to the audio podcast version via iTunes. The updates are sporadic, but the archive is building!

Presented at EUROCALL 2015, University of Padua, August 27th, 2015

The Background

When the university I was working at bought a set of small video cameras, I was intrigued. I started playing around with them in class, first I had the learners record and transcribe conversations, then I guided them to make skits and instructional videos. You can see some of the projects I have worked on previously here.

Over the last few years since I first began using student video, there have been two major developments. The first is the ubiquity of smartphone technology. We have now reached the point (in my context, at least) at which almost every student has a video recording and editing suite in his or her pocket. The next development, obviously connected to the first, is the rise of online video. YouTube, Vine, Facebook, Instagram, LINE; this is what our students are watching. Instead of television? Perhaps.

I had these ideas in mind when I was presented with the opportunity to teach an advanced and an intermediate communication class at a local university. I had carte blanche, and I decided to make this a video project class. I set up a website to deliver the content, and chose a number of different video genres (some traditional, some more modern) to analyse and replicate with the learners.

I decided from the start to allow the students a lot of freedom in how they produced the videos. I suggested different methods, but gave very little technical instruction unless asked. My goal was to allow them to use the tools with which they were most comfortable, to take responsibility for their own learning, and to support each other. I wanted very much to avoid ‘technological determinism’ – the tools were secondary to the learners and their products.

To begin, it was necessary to find out what they had, what they could already do, and what they thought.
Fortunately, every single student had a smartphone.

Eurocall Extract.001

Recording is always easy. The main challenges in student produced video are editing and sharing the completed file. Unfortunately, my favoured tools were unfamiliar.

Eurocall Extract 2.001

The students were mixed in their willingness to share online. Some were quite keen.

Eurocall Extract.001

Others were more conservative, and actually quite naive.

Eurocall Extract.002

Eurocall Extract.003

There were also some differences in their familiarity with editing software.

Eurocall Extract.004

But for pretty much everyone, the smartphone would be the tool of choice.

Eurocall Extract 2.001

The learners’ first task was to create a self-introduction video and deliver it to me. This example took me a few minutes, using the apps Splice and Vimo on an iPhone 6.

An Introduction to Darren Elliott from darren elliott on Vimeo.

The students fared quite well, and were able to teach each other the techniques they had used to broaden the knowledge base of the whole class.

At this point, we started the project work. Please visit the individual pages at the website to see how each project developed.

News Report

YouTube Movie Review

Directors Commentary

Subtitling

Vlogging

TED Talk

Soap Opera

For each of the projects, we analysed quintessential examples and tried to replicate them. For example, the YouTube movie review is delivered straight to camera with jump cuts and onscreen text and pictures. Soap operas tend to cut between the actors and dwell on reaction shots in close up. TED Talks begin with a personal story and lead in to the message.

What I found was that, although learners had technical trouble with hardware and software, they were generally very adept at replicating style accurately. For example, the background music may have been too loud, but the actual song fit perfectly with the style of video the learner was making.

To conclude the semester, the students interviewed one another (on video, of course) using this list of suggested questions.

broadcasting-final-questions

I’d like to highlight a few common responses.

Firstly, the students almost all referred to technical skills when asked what they had learnt. Editing skills, adding audio commentary and subtitling, these were the things they took home from the course. Some of them had used their new skills in other classes, others in their personal lives.

The most popular project across both classes was the subtitling project. This was quite challenging technically, but it allowed the students to express their creativity and also to talk about issues which affected them directly. This also came out in the TED talks and the news reports – students tended to choose local issues and topics important to them as university students.

Finally, there was a shift in attitudes towards their smartphones. Most of the learners had initially seen their phones as communication tools. Actually, I believe that if they had assessed their use more carefully they may have found they were using their devices to consume, create and share media too. However, the general perception of the smartphone was that its main function was text messaging. By the end of the course, many of the students reported a broader view of their phones and of their own relationship with their devices.

If you attended my presentation in Padova, thank you! If you didn’t, thank you for reading. Either way, I’d be happy to hear your questions or comments below.

Bibliography
Goodwyn, A. (2003). English teaching and the moving image. Routledge.

Marshall, J., & Werndly, A. (2002). The language of television. Routledge.

Potter, J. (2012). Digital media and learner identity: The new curatorship. Palgrave Macmillan.

An Interview with Regine Hampel from darren elliott on Vimeo.

This interview took place in June 2014 at the JALTCALL conference in Nagoya, Japan. I was joined by Professor Regine Hampel of the Open University, and we discussed CALL, distance learning and blend learning.

There are more interviews to follow, and if you like this please visit the archive for more. You can subscribe via iTunes, and I would appreciate reviews there if you have time. You can also find us on Facebook and twitter.

An Interview with Glenn Stockwell from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I talked to Dr. Glenn Stockwell from Waseda University, Tokyo, at the 2014 JALT CALL conference, held in Nagoya, Japan. In fact, this interview takes place in my own personal office!

Dr. Stockwell had just given an excellent plenary talk, and we discuss his ideas about teaching and technology here.

There are more interviews to follow, and if you like this please visit the archive for more. You can subscribe via iTunes, and I would appreciate reviews there if you have time. You can also find us on Facebook and twitter.

New technologies provide wonderful opportunities for language learning, yet teachers and learners alike should be aware of the potential pitfalls. When implementing educational technology, the fundamental question is whether the tool is an efficient way of achieving the pedagogical aims. In this workshop the presenter will outline some considerations for good practice, illustrated with examples from his own classroom. Amongst other things we will discuss mobile learning, the relationship between autonomy and technology, inclusivity, ethics and security.

What do we mean by ‘technology’?

“A process by which humans modify nature to meet their needs and wants” (Selwyn, 2011, p.6)

Technology is not tools alone, but the knowledge and skills necessary to utilise them. Technology is also associated with ‘improvement’ – doing things cheaper, better and faster. It’s important to remember that devices themselves have no intrinsic values. Technology is situated in culture and society.

Do you and your students perceive technology in the same ways?

Digital Natives (see Prensky, 2001), in contrast with digital immigrants, have grown up in a multimedia, web-enabled world. Prensky’s original metaphor was compelling enough to take hold and has had an impact on educational policy. More recent research (see Bennett et al., 2008,  Hargittai, 2010, Jones, 2011) has uncovered a far more nuanced picture. Nonetheless, there may be some generational differences in how digital technology is viewed by students and teachers.

 

traditional modern
professional(spreadsheets, word processing) leisure(YouTube, Social Networking)
archival and searchable(email) transitory and ephemeral(snapchat, line)
situated(desktop, CD’s) mobile(smartphone, streaming)

Why use technology?

There are a number of things which digital technologies may help you do better, faster or more efficiently (although probably not cheaper)

Out of class collaboration, learner autonomy, learning management, portfolio building, reflection, learner ownership, engagement with authentic materials, ‘real world’ language use, curation and collation of learning resources, testing and assessment etc.

Case Study One – Digital video for reflection and creativity.

More details available at my previous post ‘Creating and Using Digital Video with Learners’

Case Study Two – Google Forms and QR codes for classroom management. 

I use Kaywa to create QR codes, and QRafter to read them. Google forms are a very simple and paperless way for teachers to assess and track students.

Case Study Three – Prezi, Diigo and Google Drive for out-of-class collaboration 

Prezi is an online presentation tool. Instead of a series of slides, the presentation is one big slide which the user navigates. The final product is not to everyone’s taste, but it has a couple of pedagogical strengths. Firstly, I like that it encourages non-linear thinking in a brainstorming style. (unlike PowerPoint, which is a very linear process). Secondly, it is easy for several students to work on one slide at the same time, even if they are in different places.

Google Drive is a suite of tools in the cloud, including word and excel – like software, which can be edited, shared and accessed amongst users. Collaboration can be between students, or students and teachers.

Diigo is a social bookmarking tool, in which online research can be easily tagged and shared amongst a group.

Further Reading

Hargittai, E. (2010). Digital na (t) ives? Variation in internet skills and uses among members of the “net generation”*. Sociological Inquiry, 80(1), 92-113.

Jones, C. (2011). Students, the net generation, and digital natives. In Thomas, M. (Ed.). (2011). Deconstructing Digital Natives: Young people, technology, and the new literacies. Oxford: Taylor & Francis.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the horizon, 9 (5), 1-6.

Selwyn, N. (2011). Education and technology: Key issues and debates. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

JALT CALL has an excellent and regularly updated blog at DMLL with practical advice and ideas.

This post is a development of ideas first presented in this post five years ago. No doubt there is plenty more to do!

Some Questions – A Technology Checklist

Accessibility Do you need a password to access the site? Do you need to log in every time you access the site? What kind of internet access does your institution allow?What are the opening hours of your institutional computer rooms? Are students able to access institutional servers off “campus”? Is the equipment powerful enough to do what you want to do?
Mobility Is the material accessible from a mobile telephone? How much of it? Can students add or edit material by mobile phone?
Hardware BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or teacher supplied? Who will maintain and store the hardware? How long will it last?
Security Are the students going to upload or create their own work? Is the site searchable on search engines, or can it be hidden? Can anonymity be protected? How much information does a student need to give in order to register with or use the site? Are students comfortable with their work being published? Are the students aware of net security issues? Do the students have good security software at home? Is there a danger that your project could be damaged by viruses?
Navigation Is it easy to get from one place to another? Do hyperlinks pop up in new windows? Is the colour scheme readable? Is it well designed, for both aesthetics and utility? Does the interface change depending on the user (e.g. does it automatically set language based on the userʼs ISP?)
Usability Will the students require a demonstration? Is it simple to use, even for those who generally lack confidence or experience with computers? Is it easy to back up and save work, and are previous versions retained?
Management Will you be managing alone, or with others? How will you delegate management tasks? Who will have access to which parts of the tool? Will students be able to edit? Where will your site be hosted (if necessary)?
Cost Can you find a free version? Can you get an educators discount?If you pay a subscription, is your school willing to commit long-term? Will there be any other expenses? (equipment etc)
Stability Is the site still at a beta testing stage? Does it crash or freeze often?Does it work in the same way on different browsers, computers or networks? Does the look of the site change frequently? Are features and functions often added or removed?
Support Does your school have technical support staff? Are they aware of your project, and willing to help? Does the site have support? How does it operate?Is there a lot of other unofficial support available from the web, colleagues, etc?

An Interview with Nicky Hockly from darren elliott on Vimeo.

I was very happy to talk to Nicky Hockly at the JALT National Conference in Nagoya, Japan in November 2010. She gave a fantastic plenary – well-paced, useful and pertinent – and if you get a chance, see her talk! If not, then this fifteen minute interview will have to do ; D

We talked about the online teacher training company Consulants-E, the obstacles teachers face in implementing technology, mobile learning and all manner of other geeky stuff.

You can follow Nicky on twitter at @TheConsultantsE , and I also recommend How to Teach English with Technology and Teaching Online

UPDATE: (6th November, 2014) This is a developing presentation / workshop which I first gave at the JALT National Conference on October 14th, 2012. I will add further information from time to time, but for a selection of useful links and readings you can check this list at diigo.

 

I very much enjoyed presenting a workshop at the JALT National conference in Hamamatsu at the weekend. Over the last couple of years I have been working more and more on video projects with students, and in this presentation I reported on what I have developed so far. We started by talking about the various options available to teachers – pocket video cameras, traditional camcorders, mobile devices, webcams and so on. You can see a short video with examples here.

A Field Guide to Digital Video from darren elliott on Vimeo.

This checklist covers some of the factors to consider when choosing a camera and planning a project, and a few questions to ask yourself.

We then looked at some samples my students have created. Unfortunately, I can’t share them publicly online. But I can outline the project cycles we have undertaken.

Transcription

This is the simplest activity. Student conversations, debates or presentations can be recorded for later analysis. This video transcription worksheet shows the kind of thing you can do. I usually change the questions each time depending on what we have been studying in class (and because familiarity breeds contempt!). One important point is to emphasise that students are not only looking for mistakes, but alternatives and improvements. Yes, I want them to use the third person -s accurately if possible, but I also want them to develop their communicative strategies.

How-To Videos

Taking the website videojug as our model, students create instructional videos. They start by watching videojug’s own video on how to make a video, and to .check the advice offered, then choose a video of their own for homework analysis.
Students then plan and shoot their own video. Some language input is obviously helpful.

Drama

As with the ‘How-to’ video’s, it is important to plan carefully. Using a Storyboard enables both you and the students to focus on your task clearly (and makes editing easier later). With drama activities, it is helpful for students to express their emotions. Method acting is interesting, but any activities about self expression, body language or emotion can be effective.

Sweded Movies

In the Michel Gondry film ‘Be Kind, Rewind‘, Jack Black and Mos Def have to remake every video in their video store after the tapes are accidentally wiped. This worked very well with my class using their iPhones and the free editing app Splice.

Screencasts

If you have a windows machine, you can use windows media software, and Macs have QuickTime. There are many other applications available. Jing works with both Macs and PCs, and is free to download and use.

One man who has done a lot of great work with screen capture software is Russell Stannard. His Teacher Training Videos website teaches teachers how to use technology for education.

Two ways in which I have used screencasts – to give feedback on student writing, and to have students teach each other how to use web based tools like prezi, google drive and so on.

Alphabet

Allow me the indulgence. You could do the same with your classes with lexical sets, of course.

fghijk from darren elliott on Vimeo.

Links

Vimeo, for uploading video to share (password protected) with students.

Lipdub for beginners

wevideo online editing application

My previous blog posts about making student video.

A is for Ankylosaurus

How-to student video making

Watch Yourself

I was fortunate to meet Dr. Stephen Bax at the JALTCALL conference in Nishinomiya, Japan recently. This is the third conference I have attended and, as usual, it was well worth the trip. Dr. Bax gave a keynote talk about ‘normalisation’ in educational technology, which was informative, engaging and relevant. We talked about his keynote as well as other work he has been involved in throughout his career. If you can, seek out his articles on ‘normalisation’ if you are at all interested in educational technology.

I was very happy to finally meet Ken Wilson, at the JALT conference in Tokyo last week. Ken gave several presentations, including a fantastic closing plenary. I’ve seen him speak before, and I can’t stress this enough – if you get a chance, get to one of his talks! His theme this time around was motivation, and I certainly left feeling refreshed and energised. That’s pretty much what I want from a plenary!

Straight afterwards, we sat down for a chat about materials writing, motivation and online community. Ken answered all my questions, even the slightly unfair ones, thoughtfully, honestly and expansively… so please enjoy.

(If you are interested in the Dick Allwright article we mention, in relation to the difference and deficiency views of textbooks, you can see it here)