Language Learning and Technology (EDER 669.79)

January 24, 2015

U of C logo - 2015This winter I am so excited to be teaching Language Learning and Technology for the Master’s of Education program at the University of Calgary.

Here’s the course description:

This course has been designed for students who want to learn how to combine a face-to-face language teaching approach with the use of technology in their present and future careers as language teachers. The course will cover both theoretical and practical issues in teaching second language and the use of new technology to support and enhance the learning process.

A special emphasis will be on combining both face-to-face and the use of technologies in and beyond the classroom walls to enhance the second language learning process. Although the course will address the different technologies (Web 2.0 technologies (e.g., blog and wiki; audio and video podcasting; online video; mobile tools), mobile technology (e.g., mobile phones; MP3 players; digital cameras; camcorders), and other type of interactive technologies), the focus of the course is on the pedagogical and practical aspects of integrating new technology to face-to-face language teaching. The course is open to present and future second language teachers at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary level. The course also invites language teachers with limited knowledge of the target language to learn how to enhance their language teaching by integrating blended teaching into their practice.

We are two weeks into the new semester and I’ve been working with an excellent group of students who are actively sharing their ideas and experiences about teaching languages with technology. I am so excited to see what the rest of the semester brings!

Here’s a copy of the course outline.

Here’s the reading list for the course.

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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5 Signs your child is a cyberbully

April 1, 2013

Sarah Eaton's education blogParents, educators and even children are aware that bullying is moving out of the playground and into virtual spaces. According to the American Humane Association, 15% to 20% of children bully others online.

In a previous post I talked about signs to help you figure out if your child is being cyberbullied. But what if your child is the cyberbully?

Here are 5 key indicators that your child is harassing others online:
  1. Is secretive about online activities. The cyberbully does not want to be discovered by parents, grandparents, teachers or others who may hold them accountable.
  2. Quickly switches computer screens or closes the screen when you enter the room or walk by. This is a tactic often used by people who do not want others to discover what they have been doing online. Watch for indicators that your child works to quickly minimize an online browser, close a web page or change screens within a second or two of you approaching the computer they are using. This is a sign that your child does not want you to know what they have been doing online.
  3. Uses the computer or mobile devices late at night or when he or she is unsupervised. Inappropriate online behavior is more likely to occur when the bully feels that no one is watching or supervising their actions. They feel less accountable for their online activity when left alone to misbehave.
  4. Gets extremely upset if computer privileges are revoked. While almost any child in today’s world may get upset if their technology privileges are taken away, the cyberbully may become particularly sulky, defensive or angry. The virtual space is where they feel all-powerful and free of consequences, so when that privilege is revoked, they may feel completely disempowered or oppressed.
  5. Uses multiple online accounts or accounts with a fake name. The cyberbully is likely to take the time to create multiple online accounts using public e-mail systems such as Hotmail, Google or Yahoo, since they feel these are less easily traceable. The cyberbully will often lack the courage to represent themselves online in an authentic and transparent manner.

Cyberbullies often feel like victims themselves. In my next post I’ll talk about characteristics of cyberbullies and how harassing others online may be just one sign of deeper mental or emotional illness.

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Related post: How to tell if your child is being cyber-bullied http://wp.me/pNAh3-1w4

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References

Amercian Humane Association. (n.d.). Cyber Bullying Prevention and Intervention.   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/cyber-bullying-prevention-and-intervention.html

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (n.d.). Cyberbulling: Indentification, prevention and response. Retrieved from http://www.cyberbullying.us/Cyberbullying_Identification_Prevention_Response_Fact_Sheet.pdf

PureSight Online Child Saftey (Author). (n.d.). What should I do if my child is a cyberbully?   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.puresight.com/Cyberbullying/what-should-i-do-if-my-child-is-a-cyber-bully.html

StopBullying.gov. (n.d.). Warning signs.   Retrieved 2012, 2012, from http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/index.html#bullying

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: 5 Signs your child is a cyberbully http://wp.me/pNAh3-1AM

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Global Trends in 21st Century Education: Thinking about Technology, Teaching and Learning in the New Millennium – Speaking in Quesnel, BC

October 23, 2012

Last Friday, I was in Quesnel, British Columbia to present at the professional development day for K-12 teachers in School District 28. I was honored to be their keynote speaker, as well as do two workshops afterwards. Here is what I presented:

Keynote address – Global Trends in 21st Century Education: Thinking about Technology, Teaching and Learning in the New Millennium

This talk is based on research I have been doing since 2010 on emerging trends in education across most developed nations and what we might expect over the next 15 to 20 years. I am not a futurist by training, but there are elements of looking down the road and being able to say, “This is where we are today, and it is not impossible that this is where we are heading.”

Workshop #1 – Appreciating Innovation and Incorporating Wisdom Across the Educational Spectrum

This workshop had an educational leadership focus. We looked at how teachers with different approaches to technology can learn to work together for the benefit of students. It was a strength-based approach to working together in the digital age.

Workshop #2 – Learning the Twenty-First Century Way: Making Sense of How to Use Social Media for Classroom Learning and Student Engagement

In this workshop, I shared how I incorporated Twitter into one of my university level classes. Then we had some hands-on time in the lab and teachers got set up with their first Twitter account.

I really enjoyed my time in Quesnel, a small city of 10,000 people where the pulp mill is a major employer and residents are concerned about the land slippage into the Fraser River that is affecting homes and roadways.

I always find that I learn a lot from taxi drivers when I go somewhere to speak and Quesnel was no exception. The cab driver who picked me up at 7:15 a.m. to take me over to the high school told me that his fares so far that morning had included a round-trip drug run and that poverty was a major issue in the community.

Stories like that were countered by the one told to me by Mike Adams, the principal at Correlieu Secondary School, where our PD day was held. He told me that the young man who got the sound system set up for the day had essentially been abandoned by his parents as a teenager. Instead of turning to drugs, he was surrounded by friends, teachers and administrators who wanted to help. As a result, he was on the football team, in the band and part of the school musical. He turned his life around thanks to the strong sense of community and support he found.

Thank you gift from Quesnel, BC - keynote speaker, Sarah Elaine EatonThanks to Lisa Kishkan, who organized the whole PD day for the teachers, including the other workshops that included sessions on intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation; the art of Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter Eggs); and the aboriginal medicine wheel. I really enjoyed my time in Quesnel and as always, I think I learned as much as I shared.

I am excited to try the “birch syrup” that the teachers gave to me as a thank you gift at the end of the day. And I love coffee and I’ll enjoy the new coffee mug that will always remind me of the trip. Thank you to the educators of Quesnel for the great work you do.

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


12 Tips to incorporate blogging into your classes

August 2, 2012

In a recent Master’s of Education course I taught at the University of Calgary, blogging was a required assignment for the students. The program coordinator (my boss) urged me to have the students blog as part of their course. She let me know that the students were enrolled in a graduate certificate program and that the course I was teaching was the first course of their certificate. She said that the certificate had been set up so that students would blog throughout their entire learning experience, as part of every course in their certificate.

The course I taught was on incorporating technology into educational practice. As an avid blogger myself, I was excited by the prospect of incorporating blogging into my teaching practice.

Most of the students were teachers themselves and some of them were technology leaders in their schools, but only one had her own blog.

After having incorporated “blogging for learning” into my teaching practice, here is what I learned:

1. Recommend a blogging service.

We (meaning the course coordinator and I) did not restrict what blogging service the students chose, but we recommended a few (including WordPress and Blogger). We recommended free sites and suggested that students not pay to register their own domain (at least, not to start).

 2. Show students the nuts and bolts of how to set up a blog.

I spent approximately 30 minutes in one class, showing students the “behind the scenes” of my own WordPress blog. Using an LCD projector, hooked up to a computer with an Internet connection, I took my students on a virtual tour of my own WordPress dashboard. I showed them how to choose a theme, write a post and then publish that post. They appreciated the demo and it gave them confidence to get started.

3. Give them time to set up their blog.

One student reported that it took her two hours to set up her blog. This included familiarizing herself with the dashboard, selecting a theme and figuring out how to post. Even for those who are into technology, setting up your first blog can seem overwhelming until you get the hang of it. The students needed dedicated time to figure out the practicalities of their blog.Sarah Elaine Eaton, speaker, presenter, keynote, technology, social media, Calgary, Canada, educator, education, professional development

 4. Link the blogs to the course content.

Emphasize that the topics that students post on need to relate to the cours content. Topics covered in class or questions raised during class were some suggestions. At times, I would encourage students to think about their blog by saying in class, “That is good fodder for a blog post.” This helped them to think about what a learning blog is and what topics make for good blog posts.

5. Assign a certain number of postings.

In our course, students had to publish a minimum of four posts throughout their course. Their instructions included “keeping up-to-date with postings throughout the course”. About half of the students were able to do this. The other half waited until the end of the course and then published three or four postings at once. Many students admitted to having their blogs in draft form, but did not feel ready to publish them.

6. Assign a minimum number of words for each post.

In our course, students’ blog posts had to be a minimum of 200 words. This meant that writing was part of the assignment. It was not enough to post a graphic or a video without a reflective response.

7. Encourage multimedia.

In addition to the 200 words, I encouraged students to post videos, graphics, Wordles and other multimedia to their blogs. Since our course was about incorporating technology into inquiry-based learning, this was appropriate. Some students were able to incorporate media quite easily, but others struggled with this.

8. Encourage students to include a blogroll.

Students were expected to read and comment on each other’s posts. To help them with this, we had each student post their blog address in our online class Blackboard site. I encouraged each student to include a blog roll on their own blogs, so they could easily access each other’s blogs. Not all the students figured out how to do this, but most of them were able to set up a blog roll. This helped them to keep track of each other’s blogs more easily.

9. Include commenting and interactivity as part of the assignment.

Part of the learning task included students commenting on their classmates’ blog posts at least twice. These comments counted as part of their grade for the assignment. Students were asked to post thoughtful and reflective comments that went beyond “Good post!” or “I liked this”. This proved to be problematic at the beginning, as some students had difficulty figuring out how to approve comments. Until they did, their peers’ comments did not show up on their blogs. Once the students figured out how to approve each other’s comments, this went much more smoothly.

10. Talk about blogging in class.

Not only did I highlight topics or questions that would make good blog posts, we also talked about the process of blogging in class. One student was excited to announce that someone from another country had read her blog post and “liked” it, using the “like” button in WordPress. Until then, she had no idea that anyone outside our class might read her blog posts. Knowing that another educator, whom she did not know, read and liked her post gave her great inspiration to keep writing. Her story also inspired the other students to think about how blogging can help them connect with others on a broader scale.

11. Differentiate between a personal and professional / educational blog.

Not only did I provide written instructions on the course outline, I also supported the written instructions with an in-class demo and ongoing discussions in class about blogging and how to use blogging for learning or professional teaching purposes. A couple of students had trouble figuring out how blogging for class differed from personal blogging. We talked about how a personal blog might include more family photos, recipes or other personal information, while a professional learning blog would include topics more focussed on work and our professional lives.

12. Help students find their blogging voice.

I made it clear that since the students were also professionals and teachers, that their blog was an extension of their professional selves. Some students initially found this a bit diffiult and said that they did not know what tone of voice to use in their blog. We had a conversation about language register and how a learning blog was one step down from a formal research paper and probably one step up from very informal conversations. By the end of the course, most of the students had found a happy medium.

Overall, the process of working with these adult learners (who are also teachers) in helping them learn how to blog was both challenging and rewarding. In the beginning, I had assumed (incorrectly) that since they had high levels of technology literacy and many of them teach tech as part of their professional practice, that they would find it easy to blog. In reality, it took time for them to learn the nuts and bolts of how to blog, to learn what topics made for a good blog post and to learn how to find their voice as a blogger.

In the end, they did extremely well with their blogs and I have subscribed to all of them. I am excited to see how they progress with blogging in thier next course.

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

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