Designing Synchronous Online Interactions and Discussions

May 17, 2016

IDEAS 2016: Designing for InnovationA few weeks ago I co-presented a session at the University of Calgary’s IDEAS 2016 conference. This year the theme was “Designing for Innovation”. My colleagues, Barb Brown and Meadow Schroeder and I presented on how to effectively design synchronous sessions for e-learning.

The three of us are all award-winning educators, and each has her own approach to how we design and deliver real-time sessions via Adobe Connect in our classes. We offered ideas and tips on what we do and how we do it. Our paper has been included in the conference proceedings, which have just been released. Here’s a link to our paper:

Brown, B., Schroeder, M., & Eaton, S.E. (2016, May). Designing Synchronous Online Interactions and Discussions. In M. Takeuchi, A.P. Preciado Babb, & J. Lock. IDEAS 2016: Designing for Innovation Selected Proceedings. Paper presented at IDEAS 2016: Designing for Innovation, Calgary, Canada (pg 51-60). Calgary, Canada: Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1880/51209

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EDER 603.23 – Writing Educational Research

January 2, 2016

Sarah Elaine Eaton, speaker, presenter, keynote, technology, social media, Calgary, Canada, educator, education, professional developmentI am thrilled that I have the opportunity to teach one of my favourite courses again in the Winter semester. Even better, I already know many of the students who are enrolled and I welcome the opportunity to work with this academically strong group again.

Here’s a downloadable .pdf of the course outline:

EDER_603.23_L09_Eaton_W2016 (approved)

This term, all the instructors who will teach the course in the Winter semester worked to collaboratively design a common outline for all sections of the course. We will use a common approach to teaching, assignments and due dates.

The objective of the course is to engage students in thinking about publishing their work in a public format. Here is an example from a previous student of mine in this course who published her first refereed conference paper as a direct result of her work in this course:

Quinn, E. (2015). Designing a professional learning model to support creativity in teaching and learning. Paper presented at the IDEAS: Designing Responsive Pedagogy, Calgary, AB. Retrieved from: http://prism.ucalgary.ca/bitstream/1880/50852/3/IDEAS%202015%20FINAL.pdf

I hope that this example inspires students in the Winter semester to seek publication of their own research in a credible (e.g. peer reviewed) format. Now is an exciting time for graduate students who want to work towards sharing work in a published format. There are more opportunities than ever before for graduate students to learn what it takes to have their work published in conference proceedings or journals.

Here’s a quick link so you can send this post to a friend: EDER 603.23 – Writing Educational Research – http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Jy

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APA Checklist for Term Papers

December 1, 2015

My students often struggle with the finer points of APA formatting and style. While I always encourage them to read the APA manual in detail themselves, with the end of the semester looming, that doesn’t always happen. So, I put together this handy checklist for my students to help them format their paper like a pro.

Feel free to use it yourself or share it with your own students:

Here’s the checklist in .pdf format: APA Checklist for Final Papers.

Here’s a quick link so you can send this post to a friend:

APA Checklist for Term Papers: http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Jd

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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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Share or Tweet this: Language Learning and Technology (EDER 669.79)  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1IJ

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.


Let’s fix our broken education system

June 27, 2014

I’ve got some fun news to share. I’ve been invited to write a regular column for Troy Media. My job is to write provocative, edgy, thought pieces on education in Canada. They’ve just published my first column:

“Let’s fix our broken education system: How to go from B-roken to A-wesome while there’s still time”

Canada was recently ranked against 15 other countries around the world for the quality of its education. How did we do? Read more…

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: Let’s fix our broken education system http://wp.me/pNAh3-1It

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.


5 Myths about being an independent language or literacy professional (and secrets of the trade you need to know)

June 18, 2014

Sometimes when I talk with contract language teachers, sessionals, adjuncts, freelance writers, editors and others who dedicate themselves to the language and literacy profession, I’ve learned that there are some myths about the profession that we need to debunk. Here are a few of them:

Myth #1 – The work is about the language

You absolutely need to understand the mechanics of language and the foundations of effective learning to succeed as an independent language professional, the real work is about the people you work with. Helping others to learn, grow and develop as human beings is at the heart of what we do. If you think the job is about being “the spelling police” or a “grammar guru”, you’ve missed the point.

Myth #2 – Being a professional means someone else does the admin work

Language teachers love being in the classroom, but that’s only part of the job. Submitting grades, writing reports and tending to administrative duties comes with the territory. In today’s world, being a professional means paying as much attention to the quality of your administrative work as you do to your teaching. Program and institutional staff are not your personal secretaries. They are professionals in their own right and deserve to be treated as such.

Myth #3 – Being an independent professional means you have no boss

Sometimes people say to me, “You are so lucky!  You have no boss!” Nothing could be further from the truth. You get a minimum of one new boss with every contract you take one. Sometimes you have more than one person you report to. If you’re very lucky, those people will like each other and see eye to eye. If they don’t, you are the one who will get pulled in different directions. Learning to figure out, understand and navigate the reporting requirements of each job is likely to require an immense amount of energy. You invest time and effort at the beginning of every new job. But make no mistake, you will always report to someone, even if it’s not always clear who it is. The trick is to clarify who you report to and understand that your job implicitly involves making that person’s life easier in whatever way you reasonably can.

Myth #4 – The last day of the contract is the end of the job

In many contract situations, there is follow up work to be done after the contract end date. This work is often administrative. Some examples include written reports, expense claims and grade submission. Even though your contract may have officially ended on a particular date, the obligations and expectations of the job may extend past that. Be amenable to reasonable wrap-up duties and ensure you comply with deadlines set by your employer or client. This is important to preserve your positive relationships as you are wrapping up your work. Remember that the end date of a contract may signify the end of a particular job, but your relationships and reputation can outlive any contract.

Myth #5 – It is important to leave with a letter of reference

This is a partial myth. Getting letters of reference can be important, but they can also be formulaic and written according to a template. What’s more important than getting with a generic letter of reference on the last day of the job, is leaving the job with a reputation for excellence and sincere relationships that can last a lifetime. Recommendations that matter are likely to happen over the phone or during informal personal conversations that are more honest and open than a templated letter ever could be. The reality is that we’ll never know about most of the conversations that happen between our prospective employers and our previous employers who are more than likely connected in some collegial way we were never even aware of. Real recommendations don’t come from generic letter we tuck into our portfolios. They come from informal conversations that “never happened”.

There are more myths about the profession that need busting, but these are a few of the most common ones that I see over and over again, especially from folks who are new to the world of working independently either as contractors, freelancers or consultants. The most important thing to remember is that we are only as good as our last contract, our last course or our last project. Our love of language or dedication to literacy is what we do. The reputations we build along the way is how we do it. We need to pay as much attention to the how as we do to the what.

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Share or Tweet this: 5 Myths about being an independent language or literacy professional (and secrets of the trade you need to know) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Io

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.


Language Teaching and Technology – EDER 669.73 Summer 2014

June 17, 2014

I am so excited to be teaching “Language Learning and Technology” this summer in the Master’s of Education program in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. The course combines theory and practice, looking at a variety of topics around technology and language pedagogy.

One of the elements I am most excited about is that some of the course content will be decided up on and driven by the students themselves. They get to choose what articles they read, as well as facilitate and shape the online dialogue we engage in. I’ve organized some broad general topics that we’ll follow, but the students will have the opportunity to co-create the course with me throughout the summer semester. We’ll customize much of what we do to their interests and let them drive their own learning process.

Here is a copy of the course outline:

View this document on Scribd

This course combines two of my favorite topics: language learning and technology. I’m so excited to engage with the students during this learning journey.

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: Language Teaching and Technology – EDER 669.73 Summer 2014 http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Ii

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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