Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From horses to motivation

According to Scharle and Szabò (Learner Autonomy, A guide to developing learner responsability, page 7, see extract on your right), "unless [the horse] is willing to do his part[...], the horse will remain thirsty". The horse might of course be thirsty and not willing to lower his head to drink, but there is a chance it is not thirsty at all.
This being said, one thing we deduce from this short passage, is that motivation is a prerequisite to learning.
One can be intrinsically or extrinsically motivated.
It is very important for students and people in general to have intrinsic motivation, the ‘motivation to engage in an activity for its own sake’ (Pintrich and Schunk: 2002: 245). Something inside you wants you to do something and pushes you to do it. There is an urge and a passion which keeps you going against all odds.
I firmly believe intrinsic motivation is the strongest of the two. This kind of motivation becomes a part of you in a way, and it makes you learn for the pleasure of learning. If a student is intrinsically motivated, his possibilities of succeeding in what he's doing will definitely increase.
As to extrinsic motivation, according to E.M.Forster, "as long as learning is connected with earning, as long as certain jobs can only be reached through exams, so long must we take this examination system seriously; if another ladder to employment was contrieved, much so called education would disappear, and no one would be a penny the stupider".
Would there be a decrease in motivation if students didn't have to learn in order to get something concrete (certificate, job, money....)? There probalby would, if the students are not engaged in what they are doing.
And here comes my next question: how can teachers engage and motivate their students?
Well, I guess a teacher should be motivated in the first place in order to motivate his/her students. There would be a lot to say about how teachers can motivate their students, and a lot has already been said.
Sugata Mitra said "if people have interest, learning happens" (see post - Sept 8th)
An engaging activity to set the grouds of a reasonably motivating lesson, could be the following game. It is called The Death of "I can't" (Raffini, J.,150 Ways to Increase Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom) and I sometimes play it in my classes. Let me guide you through these three simple steps!
1. Write "I can't" on the whiteboard. Then ask your students to take a piece of paper and write down all the things that they can't do, starting every sentence with “I can't”. Give them a couple of minutes to complete the task (e.g. I can't speak English, I can't concentrate on the lessons, I can't remember new words, etc.)
2. When they're done, ask them to put their lists in a small box on your desk. Close the box and tape it shut.
3. Move your group to a remote area of the school property where you previously dug a small hole. Place the box in the hole and then read the following:
"Ladies and Gentleman, we are gathered here this morning to bid a farewell to a dear friend, someone whom we have grown to love and trust over the years, whose companionship we will miss dearly. It is with great sadness that we bid this farewell, for our lives will never be the same again. Yet, as sure as night follows days, our lives must go on and we must learn to live without our dear friend. Goodbye, "I can't."
In the future, should a student say “I can't” again, just remind them that “he's not with us anymore”!

Thursday, October 07, 2010


A new wonderful experience has recently begun! Co-facilitating (along with Sam, Katrina, Rima and Mayssa) an ESL online course with a group of people from all around the world is just great! I am sure this will be - and is already being - a wonderful shared opportunity! Sam has been a great guide in setting up the course with all possible tools. He also created the logo you are seeing on the left-hand side of the page. The group is really nice and motivated. I just love being a part of it! Sharing our thoughts via syncronous and asyncronous tools is central to a good result. Moodle is giving us the opportunity to share content and thoughts. Skype has been really handy for our live sessions up to now, even if we intend to explore other tools with the group. And it is a handy chatbox to share our flux of thoughts, just as it comes! A protopage is helping us keep all the content together and the documents are really making the difference! It is amazing to see how a valuable learning experience can be easily built with professional enthousiastic people who care and a bunch of open source tools! Thanks Sam, Katrina, Mayssa, Rima and the whole team!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Every good thing must come to an end.

Now that my workshop Moodle for Teachers - Advanced is about to end, I feel very sad. I had the chance to meet marvellous people and follow a path that has given me a lot of personal satisfaction. I have learnt and learnt and learnt, or better learnt, unlearnt and relearnt all through the course. This has been an extremely positive experiece. Thank you Nellie, Ludmila and Glen for opening a brand new world to my eyes and thank you Carol, Katrina, Sam, Magda, Richard, Jeanine and Roger for being there with me. In 4 days we will have our last live session, we'll say goodbye to each other and all this will be over...brings back memories....
So, let's go through those memories now and make the point of what happened!

Just before the beginning of the workshop (workshop preparation), we have been invited to set up our own blogs and start sharing our thoughts there. I had set up my own blog some time before but never had the chance to use it, so I immediatly loved the idea! The first thing we had to do was to put down our own SoP (Statement of Purpose). It was great reflecting and looking for information and finally seeing a personal post appear in the blog!

Week 1 was about reflecting and writing about 21st Century Education and VLE (Virtual Language Environments) and creating our Team Business Card with our partner! Carol, my partner, is a marvellous person, full of ideas and creativity! She has a lot of experience and is very nice and outgoing! We had good laughs together and I have learnt a lot from her!!
I have to say that all my mates have been very helpful throughout the course. I had skipped the Intermediate Course and I got a lot of suggestions on what I should have had a look at on my own while taking the course!

Week 2 was rather intensive, me, Carol and Magda having to prepare to facilitate that Sunday's live session! Magda, Carol and I enjoyed collaborating syncronously and asyncronously using a thread in Google Doc, live conversations with skype and WiZiQ and loads of Web 2.0 tools. And thank you Ludmila for all your help! During the second week, we also had to set up a WebQuest in our personal sandboxes.

“Beyond Moodle” we went, as Week 3 arrived: connecting Moodle to mobile or virtual learning environments! And we discovered some of the great potentials Second Life has. Glen was guiding us throughout the week, and it was thanks to him that I discovered some of its tools! One of the assignments of the week, was to write a book review. Carol and I reviewed Using Moodle, 2nd edition, by Jason Cole and Helen Foster, and we thought it would have been a great idea to present it in SL! With Telmea Story (Glen)'s help, Couky Clary (Carol) and me (Sunflower Lionheart), built two prims, made 2 whiteboards out of them, and embedded the google doc presentation in one and an xtranormal video in the other one. Then we prepared 3 notecards to distribute and got ready to present on that Sunday's live session. Great fun! On that Sunday, Sam showed us how he was able to connect his Moodle course with SL by Sloodle. It was extraordinary, Sam is really talented and he was invited to share his experience at the IT4ALL talk the following week. Well done Sam!

We're in week 4 now, and we have to finish our Professional Development Project course design. My PDP is about Moodle and Web 2.0 Tools for Foreign Language Teachers. I made an example with an hypothetical lesson 5 (content: modal verbs) of an Intermediate English Course. I am looking forward to seeing my mates' projects as I am sure I will have a lot to learn from them, again!

M4T-Advanced has been rather intensive and it has given me unique learning opportunities. I could develop skills on Web 2.0 tools, instructional design, SL and I could broaden my views on a lot of subjects!

Here's a thank you to all my facilitators and mates. Enjoy the video!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

TED talks celebrated the gift of the human imagination. You will love this talk by Sir Ken Robinson!

If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.

Intelligence is diverse, dynamic and distinct.

Creativity is about original ideas that have value

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education

I just had the chance to watch this very interesting video by Sugata Mitra on truly child driven education.

Education is a self-organizing system, where learning is an emerging phenomenon.

Every teacher that could be replaced by a computer, should be.

If people have interest, learning happens.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

"Using Moodle" Book Review - pictures and a video from SL

Just got back from Conviviality Corner's Sandbox, where I enjoyed taking a couple of pictures of the two whiteboards Carol and I used to present our book review!

I made the following video using Flixtime.

"Using Moodle" Book Review - Google doc + Xtranormal + Authorstream

I am happy to share with you this review my friend Carol and I made of the book " Using Moodle" by Jason Cole and Helen Foster.
Hope you enjoy it!

And here you can watch the video from slide 6:

Last Sunday Carol and I had the chance and honor to present our book review on SL. We built two prims that we transformed into whiteboards and we embedded the google doc with the slides into the first whiteboard and the xtranormal video into the second one. When Telmea Story (Glen) gave us the chance to present, it was great to experiment how effective a lesson in SL could be. We zoomed into the tools and advanced the slides and everyone could follow. A real life situations was being recreated as we were talking and it was a phantastic experience! We could also distribute 3 notecards to each participants with some info on our work. Just lovely! I'll have to check if someone has recorded the session, I'd love to post it here! More news to come :)!!!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Wallwisher with Jing and Screentoaster

This is a tutorial I made using Jing and Screentoaster on how to use Wallwisher. Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, August 30, 2010

First steps in SL

Last night I met some of my mates from M4T-Advanced and our facilitator Glen at Conviviality Corner in SL!

We had fun and tried some of the tools out! Here are a couple of pictures I took there!

Moodle Course Design. Constructivist Platform of Moodle

Co facilitating this live session on WiZiQ has been a very nice experience. I want to thank IT4ALL for giving me this opportunity and my friends Carol and Magda for preparing this with me!
Enjoy the slides!

Or you can watch the recording here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why Moodle?

Teaching cannot be done without technology anymore. Given that education should be about personal change, it is important to know where we are, where we hope to go and how we should change in order to fit the new contexts. We have to consciously take part in the process of education. The value of education depends on this.

There are many LMSs. Why Moodle, then?

All I can say for now - as I am not at all an expert on Learning Management Systems, but just a learner who is doing her best to learn - is that Moodle allows designers to create a learning environment based on constructivist views. Moodle makes learning possible as a process of learning by doing. It doesn't provide us with mere theory, but also with practice. It has a system that allows us to learn. Its lessons and exercises are made for learning, not for punishing, they can be repeated as many times as we want and at our own pace.

Learning should be based around our student's questions. The students should work together to solve problems rather than receiving direct instructions on what to do from their teachers. The teacher's job isn't only to provide knowledge, but to help students along the process of discovering knowledge themselves. This is called inquiry learning. It's a kind of learning where the teachers are not vessels of knowledge, but they should be seen as facilitators of learning. And this is the kind of learning/teaching I want to stick to!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Buddy Team's Card

As part of my advanced M4T course, I had to choose a partner and design a card to introduce ourselves.
Carol, my mate, is very skilled in graphic design!
Here's what came out! Enjoy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

21st Century Education and a VLE: random thoughts

Let's step back and look at the big picture. Now I know that there are a lot of nifty Moodle capabilities and techniques but they are only useful if they are utilized in an effective learning /teaching environment.
During this week, at IT4ALL, we are discussing and exchanging our thoughts about questions like_ "What is a Learning Environment?" What makes it different from F2F, or just a simple web site, from web-based communities like Amazon, Wikipedia, etc.?

Here are some ideas:

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows” - Sydney J. Harris (American Journalist and Author)
I have always liked this sentence. One can look at his image reflected in a mirror without noticing anything elsa but himself. Education helps us see through ourselves and into reality. Reality is right out there, if we are able to look through the window.

Educating is a very delicate process. What is, or better should be, the purpose of education? How can it be achieved? What qualities and abilities will today's learners need in order to make the difference in the world we're living in? What tools do we have and how can they be used in the process of education?
It's difficoult to answer, and there are too many aspects to be considered, but technology can surely be one of the answers.

A learning environment is a place where we can learn. It can be the classroom, but it can also be an LMS. Distance learning and Moodle allow students to learn from their own computer at home, it brings the best courses directly to their houses, without having to move away and without having to spend money for transport, accomodation and so on.

I have created courses with Dokeos, but not with Moodle, even if I have tried the tools. What I will produce within IT4ALL will be my first whole Moodle module.

My course design framework will include a general presentation module, some content modules and an assessment session with different types of tests. Then I will provide a rationale of my programme.

My next challenge: creating a podcast with my answers

Friday, August 20, 2010

Later Thoughts about my Final Project at M4T

Last night I thougt that the best way to show my future fellow teachers how to use Moodle is probably to show them a module made with Moodle. I have been trying the tools in my sandbox (I have a long way to go to learn how to use all of them properly) and I realized that I don't want to produce an explanation of how Moodle works (there are so many and so very good ones around). After discussing it with Ludmila, I decided to create a module of EFL, let's say a hypothetical lesson 5 of an intermediate course, with a part for each of the 4 abilities and a module with the Rationale of the programme.
The content would probably be very very easy, but the point is that the teachers could have a general overview of how they can use Moodle for their courses by actually looking at a real languace course...well...just module at the moment!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Statement of Purpose for Moodle for Teachers - Advanced at

Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites. It has become very popular among educators around the world as a tool for creating online dynamic web sites for their students.

The M4T-Advanced workshop, hosted by IT4ALL is intended to develop educators' skills of using Moodle in online learning at the level of mastery of instructional design of online and blended online learning (BOL) to facilitate professional development programs to train educators and staff to use Moodle in its full potential.
This workshop perfectly fits into my needs: depending on my near job interviews, one of my tasks from next autumn could be, along with teaching English, working as a teacher trainer for a private University on how to use Web 2.0 tools and Moodle in their context. What could possibly come out next, is a job as instructional designer and/or project manager. I have done this kind of job in the past for a public University, but we used another LMS, Dokeos.
By the end of these 4 weeks, we have to present a final project: a Professional Development Program or Action Research Project Prospect. that we would use in our educational community to share the knowledge we gained within this workshop.
I would love to create a course that I will probably call “Moodle and Web 2.0 tools for Language Teachers” (still thinking about the title though). My idea is to give the teachers I'll work with, a first presentation on what can be done with technology and how their courses can improve their quality.
I firmly believe that teaching cannot be done without technology anymore.
I have loved this sentence since I first read it “Education is about personal change, or should be. It is important to know where you are, where you hope to go, and how your education can fit into those larger plans. The value of one’s education depends on conscious and reflective participation in the process.”
I hope I will do a good job and educate myself while I educate others.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Moodle for Teachers - Advanced Workshop Syllabus

M4T- Advanced Workshop Syllabus (M4T)
The M4T-Advanced workshop is intended to develop educators' skills of using Moodle in online learning at the level of mastery of instructional design of online and blended online learning (BOL) to facilitate professional development programs to train educators and staff to use Moodle in its full potential.

This intensive, four-week-long workshop is designed to provide you with the environment where you will apply your skills and knowledge in theoretical and practical aspects of online learning and teaching with Moodle Learning Management System. By successfully completing the program you will be ready to facilitate professional development programs and workshops using Moodle. In the workshop, you will be using online learning pedagogies and best practices, you will explore latest research and publications about Moodle, study new developments in Moodle "industry" and collaborate with colleagues on the latest issues and current research in distant learning and teaching with LMS.
Format & Workload

This workshop includes asynchronous (via Moodle) and synchronous (via WiZiQ) components. You are expected to be active at least 10 hours a week exploring and reflecting on theoretical and practical aspects of online instruction (facilitation) and learning (individually and in teams).
You will work individually to design or redesign a course or a professional development program on your chosen topic. You will add content and resources, explore web 2.0 technologies, integrate synchronous and asynchronous learning activities into your course and develop assessments for online learning/teaching. You will also be encouraged to reflect on the process of developing your course/program and to share your learning experiences with your peers. The final learning outcome of the advanced workshop will be a "Moodle for Teachers" professional development program/course. Additionally, you will work collaboratively to design a Live* online session on one of the four weekly topics.

Expected Learning Outcomes

By the end of the workshop you will:

* Examine the latest publications on the issues of distance, BOL education and teaching with LMS/Moodle and provide critical analysis of theoretical and practical aspects of the field research about workshop topics.
* Make informed decisions about suitable educational pedagogies for online/blended learning courses
* Use Moodle and Web 2.0 tools to create an interactive learning environment and to collaborate and create team documents
* Add a variety of Moodle resources to your program/course
* Select/Create and use a diverse arsenal of Moodle activities including plugin modules (e/g.,: Lesson, workshop, Sloodle, mobile, and Webquests)
* Critically reflect on your own and others' work and provide constructive feedback for program/course improvement
* Design and develop a Moodle Professional Development Program/course in conjunction with team members/or individually based on a constructivist/connectivist pedagogy
* Schedule and lead using synchronous, live WiZiQ or other web-conferencing platforms to promote the topics of innovative learning and teaching in your PD program.

Tentative Schedule

This 5-week facilitated workshop will potentially address the following topics:

* Week 1: "Connect, Communicate & Collaborate. "Empowered with the New Learning: The New World of Learning, Teaching, and Professional Development."
* Week 2: Moodle Course Design. "Why Moodle? What Moodle is for Me? Education 2.0 and Constructivist Platform of Moodle."
* Week 3: Moodle Course Development. "Beyond Moodle: Connecting Moodle to Mobile &/or Virtual Learning Environments"
* Week 4: Moodle Course Facilitation & Assessment. "The Future of Education. Moodle 2.0, 3.0? Education N.0?"


Participants who have successfully completed the workshop will be eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Successful completion of the workshop is defined as completing 80-85% of the workshop work and the final project.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010