Category Archives: E-Moderation

Present.me

The first tool of the year that I wanted to discuss is Present.me which I heard of but didn’t use until this year’s EVO session. This tool was used for introduction by one of the moderators of Moodle for Teachers sessions and was embedded into the course Moodle. It looked really good and, most importantly, it built the online presence of the moderator so nicely. I find this crucial for an online course.

All you need to do to get started is either to create a new account or log in with your Facebook or Google account. Then you can choose the account type you like. See the screenshot below:

What I like about this tool is that it offers a few options for a presentation. See the screenshot below:
In order to be able to upload a video or audio file, you need to have a paid account. However, with the free account you can record your own audio or video using Present.me’s services which is even better, I think. To start preparing your presentation you need to click on ‘Make a new recording button” as shown in the screenshot below:
Then you need to upload your ready-made presentation either in PPT, PPTX, PDF or Google Docs format and then either make a video recording of your explanation or talk or audio recording. While recording your talk, all you need to do is to click the arrow at the bottom of the screen to move from a slide to a slide which does not interrupt the recording itself. 
I think the tools is really helpful not only for online classes but also for flipped classrooms or blended classes. Teachers of different subjects can use the tool to make their PowerPoint lessons or Word (converted into PDF) lessons into a more personal teaching session.

Top 10 Digital Tools of 2012

In this post I would like to list all the tools that I have used frequently this year. All the tools have been essential for me in teaching and my professional development. I have used some other tools, but a couple of times, so I will give those a miss in this post.

 1. Blogger – the best blogosphere for me. I am sure WordPress is also good but Blogger feels closer to me and I don’t feel like switching to WordPress. I have used this tool for reflections and school projects.

2. PBworks – a wiki platform for online collaboration which I have used a lot this year providing my students with a chance to practise writing Tasks 1 and 2 in preparation for their IELTS exam outside the classroom in their free time.

3. Moodle – a Course Management System (CMS) which I have used to run online and blended classes. Moodle is relatively easy to use and offers a lot of possibilities for teachers and their students. A great tool that has made my life a lot easier.

4. Prezi – an online presentation tool that I use a lot to introduce exam sections to my students, to teachers and to give presentations. Works fine online and offline. The best presentation tool for me so far.

5. Voxopop – a voice-based e-learning tool which has proven to be very useful for extra speaking practise for my learners, especially those preparing for exams.

6. Screenr – a web-based screen recorder which is very useful in any blended or online course that I run. Very often students enrolled in online/blended courses don’t understand how to use the platform or what is what there, so I just record a screencast/tutorial for them and embed it in their learning environment to make it easier for them to use the VLE and it helps. When they understand what everything in the platform is, they seem to get more involved in the course.

7. MentorMob – a great tool which allows creation of web-based playlists. I use this tool to aggregate videos and articles around subjects frequently encountered in IELTS. Before I asked my students to listen to video presentations and read articles about environment, ecology, technology, etc but they wouldn’t do it, so MentorMob offered the solution I needed. Now as soon as I see anything related to the topics in IELTS, I add it to a relevant MentorMob playlist. As I have embedded the playlists into the wiki of my IELTS students, all they have to do is to log into their wiki space and watch the videos or read the articles that they can see in the playlist.

8. Podomatic – a free podcasting tool. Sometimes it happens that some of my learners have problems with the listening tasks because they are fast or with unclear pronunciation, so I just record myself reading the script and letting them listen to the podcast first to boost their confidence, and then when they listen to the original recording, they understand it better and feel better about their skills.

9. Google Forms – a tool that helps me a lot in collecting feedback from my learners to improve on online, blended and face-to-face courses I teach. As the feedback is anonymous, they feel more confident about sharing their opinions, which helps me a lot in adding what they feel the course lacks or getting rid of something they feel is unnecessary for them.

10. Dropbox – a free tool that makes sharing easy. If there are tests or some reading tasks that I want my learners to see as soon as they turn their computers on, I add them into the folder in Dropbox. Sometimes it happens that I would like my learners to have a look at something before the class and if I upload the document to their learning environment, there is no guarantee that they will log into it before the lesson, but if it is in dropbox, then as soon as they turn on their computers, the file will upload and indicate that a file has been added to the folder which they can look at without logging into any site. When they have completed the task, I can see that the file has been updated and can check it.

These are the tools that I have been using a lot this year and I am sure will be using next year.

Prezi in 3D

As a Prezi lover, I keep an eye on what is going on with the tool. And just today I have discovered that a 3D Prezi option was added to the templates. 
When you just start your new Prezi and are given a list of templates to choose from, you can easily see the 3D options as they are all labeled ‘3D’ in the bottom right hand-side corner.
There is also a more advanced 3D option available where you can upload a background image from your computer which will then be turned into 3D. You can also add up to three background layers with a 3D option to your Prezi via the Theme Wizard.
I created this short presentation with a 3D template available on Prezi just to see how it looks. I have to say, I really liked what I saw. I hope you like it too. 
.prezi-player { width: 550px; } .prezi-player-links { text-align: center; }

World Statistics – Infographic

This was my first attempt at creating an infographic. The topic I picked may seem a bit sad, but that’s the reality which could create discussion and maybe change attitudes. 
I am not really sure whether I am right or not, but I think teaching English nowadays is not only about grammar and vocabulary, but also about ideas and general knowledge. Very often our learners do not really know what is happening in the world and learn a lot from the course books that they are using in the classroom.
In a way I think infographics could be used in EFL/ESL for discussion as well as as drilling subject-related vocabulary, for example. 

Some_world_statistics title=
easel.ly

Our Wallwisher

As a parting gift Elvina created a Wallwisher, where we all posted our virtual presents.

After a while the wall started looking really nice and full of presents.

End-of-course Questions

These are Elvina’s answers to our questions.
“These are some of the questions shared so far. They would make a famtastic FAQ section! 😉
What am I going to do with the experience I ‘ve gained from doing this course? Where and when can I get an opportunity to practise moderating a course?
I agree with Anna. In the meantime, being online and becoming familiar with different web 2.0 tools may help a lot. Setting up a blog or a wiki for class purposes will keep you involved with interacting online with your students and will give you the chance to tune in, connect, share, weave, summarize. All key elements in e-moderation!
What do you think CPs ( those who are assessed as Successful) should do to get an opportunity to do a moderating job ?
It is very useful that you start from the fact that only participants who successfully complete the course, are asked to e-moderate TeachingEnglish courses. Then, you just have to be patient. Successful participants´ names are entered in a database and then, when courses are programmed for each country/region, names are chosen from that database. And this is linked to Anna´s query, during first courses, new moderators are assigned with a  mentor, whose job is basically to support them.
What can I do to motivate the CPs, especially till the end of the course?
I would ask back. What would keep you motivated till the end of an online course? My answers would be: engaging tasks and good communication throughout the course. What would be your answer?
I quite doubt the quality of online learning. Not all the CPs are really interested in online learning for some reasons, which may affect the motivation. What do you think about the quality of online learning? 
That is very valid. If we consider that people have different learning styles, for some online learning might not be a first choice to keep motivation high. I strongly believe that online learning can have high quality, provided there is enough interest, engagement and commitment to the course, shown by all the parties involved. Would love to hear the group´s opinions on this.
‘How can I adapt and apply what I have learned in reality?’ In case a blended approach (between online and face-to-face learning) is used, how can I act out the roles of a moderator?
Good question! Localising online learning/moderating is a must. We need to consider how the standarised course matches the reality that we are dealing with. B-learning will just give you the chance to combine the beauties of F2F learning and the e-moderator roles. Keep in mind, though, the need to keep open all the communication channels, so that you can detect where/what you need to adapt.
How can moderators manage time to perform their roles efficiently? (In my country situation, it could be usually the case that most of recruited moderators would be those with other offline professional duties)
Most moderators have other offline professional duties. This course should have made you aware of the need of having good time management skills. I guess the wiki in this unit will help the group share some tips for this. Mine would be: “Find your magical time… and make it happen at least 5 days a week, if not the 7!”
Is it necessary for the local BC to recruit a mentor who can understand the working context of moderators in that country in order to sort out their problems efficiently?
Usually, mentors are assigned by the central office. Bear in mind that the mentor is not a co-moderator, so it´s not a “full-time” commitment with the course you´ll be moderating. Mentors can only spend 1 hour per week in supporting you, so you´ll need to have a clear idea of your doubts/weakness, so that you can use this time efficiently. This reminds me of a quality that Dave mentioned in a forum in Unit 5: “self-awareness”.”

Assessment

Thinking about the course you are most likely to moderate on, how important is assessment likely to be?


I have no idea what courses I am going to moderate on if any. There was no discussion of the kind. 

However, I can say that if participants know that they are assessed, they take part more actively. And it doesn’t really matter what nationality they are. From the EVO courses that I take I can see that there are teachers who do the courses because they want to learn and there are the ones who, as soon as they find out that there is no certificate at the end of the course, withdraw. So you may start a course with 150 participants and finish it off with just 10-15 at most.

For a certificate to be issued some kind of assessment is needed (if it is not just a certificate of attendance/participation). 

I think that assessment is important for a CP to work on the course but what is actually assessed may vary from course to course. And apart from this the person would actually like to know how s/he has done on the course. Isn’t it the same in f2f classes? We do not assess all our learners similarly, do we? If a person is doing a course in academic writing, we don’t assess the learner’s speaking skills. But if a person is doing a course in General or Business English then we also assess the person’s speaking. 

I think the same is true for online classes. A participant doing a course in Learning Technologies should be assessed on how s/he can use and incorporate Web 2.0 tools in his/her lessons or what the person can actually do with the tools. Whereas for a person taking the TKT course would be more important to focus on general teaching skills, such as how to teach grammar, vocabulary, etc. and also on how to write a lesson plan.

Overall, I think that assessment is important but different skills should be assessed on each course.

Privacy Online

Data protection and online privacy are actually quite serious issues here in Armenia. In many cases the problem is that people do not really think that whatever they post online even in a private conversation stays online for a very long time if not forever and can be retrieved if need be.

As some of my e-moderator peers have suggested in the forum, it would be good to start the course with a discussion about online privacy to see what CPs know about it or about its protection and then ask them to collaborate on a wiki to compile a list of rules f do’s and dont’s of online activity.

During their forum discussion as a moderator could guide them and add some points if the group cannot come up with ideas or post some links to articles about online data protection to give them some more ideas for discussion so that later while working on the wiki the CPs don’t have trouble adding points for do’s and dont’s. 

This activity can be done in groups as well, where some participants have to write the rules for good practice and the other group will have to write points for bad practice. 

But actually now that I think about it the main problem could be the antivirus that CPs have on their computers. I have noticed a lot that people buy an antivirus program for one year only and then continue using it forever because they think that even if the antivirus doesn’t update anymore, it can still find and neutralize viruses. Their computers crash and they lose a lot of documents and then blame the antivirus software for that but not the fact that it was out of date as a result of their decision. 

In this case participants could also be advised to at least download a free version of antivirus software which will at least be up-to-date although not as functional as its non-free edition. 

Missing in Action

I have learnt a very important lesson today about how to encourage a participant, who hasn’t logged onto the course, which has already been going on for a while.

1. The subject line should explain clearly what the recipient is going to read in the body of the email.
2. The tone or the style should be friendly and supportive not to be interpreted as hostile or rude.
3. The moderator should assume that the participant has not received the email with the log-on details and provide them again: URL, username, password and the course schedule.
Overall, the email that I have composed has not met the criteria. I only included a subject line and tried to make it sound as friendly as possible.
I think the email should have been something like this:
Subject: The X course has begun
Dear X,
I am AC the e-moderator of the course that you are registered for.
I have noticed that you have not logged onto the course and thought that you might not have received my previous email.
As the course participants have already started to get to know each other, I thought you might not want to miss it and am sending you the details again.
You can log onto the course at http://www.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.com
Your username is: tomblack (lower case)
Your password is: yxyxyx23 (no space and you will be prompted to change your password when you just sign in)
The course schedule is attached.
If you are having trouble logging onto the course, please let me know and I will happily guide you through the process.
The course participants and I are looking forward to ‘meeting’ you online.
Kind regards,
Anna Conway

Lurking as I see it

Yourself (draft)

This course puts you in a slightly unusual position of being a course participant who is training to be a moderator. What factors would influence your opinion about lurking in a course you were moderating? What action, if any, would you take?


We have discussed ‘lurking’ a lot and we agreed that lurking was not the right word to use, that RoP sounded a lot better. I also read a blog post by Steve Wheeler.

I have thought a lot about what reasons some of my peers brought and I assume in many cases the reasons were from their own experience.

Nil: People might lurk because they are lacking confidence especially in writing skills as they know everyone will be reading. So they are afraid of making mistakes. Slow workers are also in danger of lurking because by the time they read and get acquainted with the tasks many of the participants would have completed their tasks.

MariusPeople may ‘lurk’ because they feel that they have nothing to add to a discussion, and because they don’t see the point in simply repeating what someone has already said. Although, in fact repetition of a point might give some a sense of support for their views, and give more weight to their side of a discussion.
They might also be lurking because the have a more ‘passive’ learning style, and prefer to reflect on things more privately.

Bev: I think learning style is one of the  most important factors why people might lurk.  Just as in a class of students, face to face, there are different characters in a group of participants and different approaches to learning.  Some participants may need to listen (read) and process information before they can produce (write).
I also think it takes people  time to accustomise themselves to the medium,  if it is the first time they have experienced an online course. 
Another reason for lurking might be that a participant feels in awe of the wealth of experience of colleagues on the course and feels shy to make contributions.
Thuy Hang: I also think that “lurking” takes place when people are sometimes forgetful of their responsibility or they find their tasks not challenging enough.Each lurker has his/her own reasons for their participant inactivity once in a while
Phuong Dung:The only remaining reason for my post now is my personality as ‘it is more embarrassing to make public postings that have no value.’ (Klemm, 1998) As an adult learner, I am performing a very low level of risk-taking spirit and leaning on inactive learning style. 
Marie: Related to active participation in e-courses, I have had one idea on my mind: how is it influenced by various learning styles? I find this mode of communication mainly visual – how about auditive and kinaesthetic participants? May the specific character of the environment influence their participation? (Personally, I am mainly visual but need a lot of movement too and often leave the computer without responding when I see too many things I want to respond too – my energy gets so high, that I need to let out physically – and in the end I don’t respond at all…).
I think my opinion would be influenced by how much of the course work the lurker actually does. If the person logs in and I see that s/he does the tasks, then I would try to find out why s/he doesn’t post to forums and try to encourage the person by sending private messages and offering help and tips. I would also congratulate the person if s/he has posted anything.
I think if active participation is part of the course requirements then the person should be aware of this. This might make him start contributing to discussions. However, the person’s privacy should be taken into account too. If the person participates in the study forums but doesn’t want to say much in the social forum, then I think having found this out I wouldn’t try to make the person participate. Everyone has the right to preserve their privacy and not to share much with anybody.
Another problem could be the size of the group. As Wheeler says the bigger the group the less participants contribute. In case of a big group I don’t really think that one moderator will manage to send personal messages to everyone who doesn’t participate.
 Another thing that Wheeler says in his post is that the same inactive participation can be observed in a f2f setting but it doesn’t cause negative attitudes: everyone accepts the person’s way of learning. But for some reason the same behaviour offends participants of an online course. Why could this be? Perhaps because in an online course we do not see the lurkers and don’t know what they are doing exactly (not obviously moderators), but in real life when we see the person who just wants to learn by listening, we accept the fact readily.