Thursday, November 22, 2012

Practice your English with Academy Island Game!

An unknown alien life form lands on earth and has to learn English to get by in a range of social situations. Players of Academy Island have to progress through different difficulty levels by helping the alien use English in a range of situations such as shopping in a bakery and visiting places such as an art gallery and library. Our game is designed to help learners improve their English language ability, in a fun way.

You can also play this game on Facebook:

Retrieved from Cambridge ESOL

You can embed it into your classroom wiki or Facebook group. Students can use it to apply what the have learnt. They can practice new vocabulary, grammatical rules, idioms and more. What do you think of it?

Monday, November 19, 2012

DNLE #4: Learning Classification Chart using Bloom's Taxonomy

Assignment # 4:

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy (the original or an updated version, or Bloom's Digital Taxonomy),  find and indicate 1 existing educational technology for addressing each level of learning.

ABCD Model of Writing Objectives:

If we examine this objective carefully, we will find it follows the ABCD model that helps teachers write their learning objectives more easily. This model consists of 4 elements. The objective does not have to be written in this order (ABCD), but it should contain all of these elements.
Audience ... DNLE-ers
Behavior ... Find and indicate
Condition ... Using Bloom’s Taxonomy
Degree ... (1) existing educational technology

Tool Used to Complete this Assignment:
In the previous 3 assignments, I used text and some images to convey what in my mind. Unfortunately, I'm a little bit wordy and my previous reports were so long to read and follow. That's why I decided to use a tool that helps me to use a few words and more images and links. Mindomo is the name of this great tool. It is an online mind map software where users can create, view and share mind maps in their browser. Mindomo is offering the basic services for free, while charging for advanced features. Unregistered users can view the mind maps, while registered users are permitted to create and share mind maps. The free version limits the number of private maps to three and disables some special features like spell checking (from Wikipedia). Here is a link to a video that helps you create your first mind map.

Link to Assignment #4 Mind Map:
In case you can't open my mind map by clicking the image above, kindly follow this link: Bloomin' Classrooms Digitally

How to Navigate my Mind Map:
  • Click this link.
  • You can control the map by using the buttons available on the following screenshot:

alt text
  1. To make it smaller
  2. To make it bigger
  3. To know more info, and extract it to pdf file or image
  4. To find the HTML code in case you want to embed the mind map into your website, wiki, blog ... etc.
  5. To search for specific information in the mind map.

  • You can move the mind map by dragging.
  • There are 3 main symbols to know more hidden information about the suggested tools:

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  1. Notes box to know more info about the sub-topics. Just move the mouse over it and a window will appear including this piece of info.
  2. It refers to the resource link.
  3. Click (+) sign to expand and view the verbs, tech activities and tools that match each level.

Resources Used:

  1. ToolMindomo
  2. VideoMindomo Sample
  3. About Mindomo
  4. A Bloomin Digital Classroom
  5. Bloom's Digital Taxonomy and Web 2 Tools
  6. Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally
  7. Bloom's Digital Taxonomy
  8. Bloom's Digital Taxonomy Wheel and Knowledge Dimension
  9. Bloom’s Taxonomy: Bloomin’ Peacock
  10. Bloom's Digital Taxonomy - Wikispaces
  11. Bloom's Digital Taxonomy by Andrew Churches
  12. ThinkWell - LearnWell Diagram
  13. Visual Bloom's
  14. Web 2.0 Tools Based on Bloom's Digital Taxonomy

DNLE #3: Prescription for a Learning Problem

Assignment # 3:

Take a look at each other's Educational Challenge Scenarios (Individual Assignment #2). Choose one that is compelling to you, and that you have an idea about how to help solve. Write a description of an educational solution, learning environment, application, or training program addresses the Educational Challenge Scenario you chose. Your Prescription should consider the learners, learning objectives, and environmental context, and should respond to challenges, needs, and pain points (technical, logistical, financial, motivation, perception, etc.).

Blended e-Training to be e-Teachers:

SECTION 1: Link to Educational Challenge Scenario

SECTION 2: Prescription for a Learning Problem

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One possible solution is to create a mixture of blended and e-training courses for those teachers. The first blended training course, created usingCollaborize Classroom, aims at intrinsically motivating them to develop themselves technologically. Once they accept the idea of integrating technology into their classes, an e-training course will be created using CourseSites to provide them with e-activities and tools that can help them motivate their students to attend their school and enjoy while learning.
There are 3 stages to successfully implement this proposal:

1. Pre-Training Stage (it needs a month):
  • Conducting a survey to identify the trainees' needs and their technological skills. Then, analyzing the survey responses to put the final results into consideration in the design and implementation stages.
  • Designing a blended-based discussion board.
  • Designing an e-training course.
  • Preparing the training room and checking the internet connection.
  • Interviewing some featured teachers who managed to integrate technology into their classroom and made a difference in their students' lives. Then, creating some case studies videos to showcase them to the trainees as real models to follow.
  • Informing trainees with the time and place of training.

2. During-Training Stage (It needs 3 months):

  • For a month, trainees will attend a blended-based training where they can meet face-to-face in a computer lab discussing some topics about integrating technology into their classrooms and how to motivate their students using tablets in particular. Discussing these topics will continue in the online discussion board that are created using Collaborize Classroom. Trainees will attend two face-to-face meetings and complete the discussion online.
  • Once trainees get involved, an e-training course will be created and conducted for 2 months using CourseSites. In this platform, trainees will meet each other online experimenting and trying out e-activities, assignments and team projects. They will use a lot of tools at the same place, e.g., discussion board, wikis, blogs, journals, live chatting ... etc. They will discuss, collaborate and reflect on their experiences. Their progress will be based not only on scores and attendance, but also on their work with others and sharing experiences. When each trainee completes a module, he or she will get a badge besides the score. It's desirable to include some of the gamification features to motivate these trainees.
  • During this stage, some case studies will be shown to provide some real examples to follow. There are a lot of featured teachers on Microsoft website.
  • After the completion of the blended and e-training courses, trainees will get certificates, badges and some rewards (as extrinsic motivation sources).

3. Post-Training Stage (It needs a month):
  • Conducting a survey to collect the trainees' responses after the completion of these two courses.
  • Conducting a follow-up course for 2 weeks to see how far they apply what they have learnt and identify additional training needs that can be put into consideration when running other courses.
  • Introducing the Microsoft Partners in Learning competition that is held every year to encourage teachers' integration of technology. Trainees can create projects with their students and submit them in this competition.

Learning Topics and Objectives:
  • The author's objective is motivating teachers to use tablets in their classrooms and getting some confidence using them. This training series helps teachers to use the technological element from blended to entirely online course. It enables them to break the ice between the use of these tablets and their resistance to use digital content. Once they feel motivated and get involved, they attend an online course. It provides them with a great opportunity to learn more about methodologies and activities using tablets. I think that involving persons in doing something is better than just encouraging them by words. This is the ultimate goal of the proposed solution.
  • The process of assessing and evaluating will be done through the use of rubrics for every course, quizzes, peer evaluation and feedback. The best indicator for progress will be creating a project with their students and participating in the Microsoft Partners in Learning competition. This will show how they apply what they have learnt.

  • The initial tasks that the trainees will do are just to respond to some topics in the discussion board after talking about some topics in the face-to-face meeting. Those who are a little bit clever at using technology, they can initiate their discussions or co-moderate the website. In the second e-training course, trainees will find a lot of alternatives that match most of their needs, skills and learning styles. They can discuss in the discussion forum, they can collaborate in projects using wikis, you can create groups and conduct a live chatting with them .... etc. I guess it will address all their multiple qualities and intelligences.

Environmental Context/Learning Conditions:
  • This school will receive a financial support to get a room with computers connected to a high speed internet connection. This is what is needed to implement the training. Trainees will discuss some topics related to integrating technology into their classrooms and then be trained on how to use the discussion board using Collaborize Classroom and the e-training course using CourseSites. They can complete their tasks online either in this room or using their PCs or tablets at home.

DNLE #2: Educational Challenge Scenario

Assignment # 2:

Write a description that tells a story of a real or hypothetical educational challenge or problem scenario. You can research and describe a real learning/training challenge facing a school or organization, or you can make one up of your own. Describe the learners, the learning needs, the ecosystem, infrastructure and resource factors that influence implementation, and any existing learning program (if applicable).

alt text

With the fast-paced changes brought about by using technology in the field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), the Professional Academy for Teachers (PAT) in Egypt is seriously thinking about training teachers of English language to be ready for this digital revolution in their classrooms. Most schools are now technologically equipped, however teachers are not trained to use them effectively. That's why the PAT searches for a way to train EFL teachers of all educational stages (Elementary, Preparatory, and Secondary) in all cities of Egypt (28 cities) to keep up with the latest digital integration into English curricula. The challenge here is that in spite of having a good broadband internet connection, the PAT in each city has no enough training rooms, computer labs, and trainers to achieve the objective mentioned above in a year. Another challenge is that the target teachers have different levels of using technology, in addition to their demotivation to develop their technological skills. The question here is ... How to train all the country's English language teachers on integrating technology into their teaching in a year?

alt text
Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012 from here

A proposed solution is to Digitize TEFL Training through creating a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) using CourseSites**. A needs analysis survey will be conducted to identify teachers levels of using technology and according to their skills, they will involve in one of 3 online courses (Basic, Expert and Master). Once the target teachers finish their courses, there will be a follow-up course for all teachers to see how far they apply what they have learnt and identify additional training needs for the target audience.

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1. Training Topics:

Using technology in the following areas:

  • Learning Theories and Approaches.

  • Motivation.

  • Lesson Planning.

  • Teaching English Language Skills.

  • Presentation skills

  • Assessment.

  • 21st Century skills, e.g., creativity, communication, critical thinking, collaboration ... etc.

2. Training Objectives:

By the end of this series of courses, EFL teachers will:

  • Cognitive: learn more about integrating technology into many areas of teaching English as a Foreign Language field, e.g., planning, presentation, assessment, ... etc.

  • Psycho-motor: use technologies effectively in their classrooms.

  • Affective: realize the importance of integrating technology for their professional development and their students.

3. Trainees:


  • Who: The target trainees are English as a Foreign Language Teachers of all educational stages (Elementary, Preparatory and Secondary) from all 28 cites of Egypt.

  • Age Range: They are those teachers who fall in the age group 22-50 years old. More specifically, these trainings are addressed to both novice and experienced teachers. This doesn't mean that those who are between 50-60 years old are excluded. There will be some special online courses for them that aim at integrating technology in the educational administration.

  • Technology Level: They are of different levels of using technology. The basic users are those who can just use a variety of ready-made technologies and try to involve them into their teaching. The expert users are those who can create their own products and technologies. The master users are those who can conduct similar courses to other teachers or students achieving some objectives.

  • Motivation: Those teachers are highly motivated to know more about integrating technology into their teaching and digitizing the way of communication among the country's teachers. There is also a space for those who are demotivated as a result to their lack of technological skills.

  • They should have computers with a broadband internet connection at home.

  • They will work online 5-10 hrs per week.

4. Environmental Context/Training Conditions:


  • Name: The Professional Academy for Teachers (The Central Branch in Cairo)

  • About: PAT is affiliated to the Ministry of Education in Egypt. It is responsible for planning, designing, evaluating and following-up the professional development trainings for teachers and administrators.
Challenges and Important Conditions:

  • PAT (Central Branch) is located in the 6th October city that is far a way from the capital. Teachers from other cities spend 4-10 hrs to get there.

  • PAT has a good broadband internet connection, however, it has no enough training rooms, computer labs and master trainers to achieve the objectives mentioned above.

  • There are no enough experienced trainers in creating and moderating MOOCs.

5. Implementation Factors:

Existing Training Programs:

  • The existing training program is face-to-face workshops using printed handouts. Technology appears in the use of PowerPoint program to create presentations and downloading some YouTube videos to support the material.

  • The type of technology available is using the academy's computer labs in which the trainers find some PCs, projector, scanner, photocopying machine, and a broadband internet connection.

  • If the face-to-face training is done in the academy's branches in all 28 cities, this needs a huge amount of money (costs of the internet connection, trainers, technicians, travelling of teachers ... etc).

Proposed Training Programs:
The proposed training program includes 3 stages:

  • Pre-Training Stage: In this stage, some master trainers will be trained to create and moderate MOOCs using CourseSites. A needs analysis survey will be created to identify the English teachers' levels of using technology. Three online courses will be created and prepared to address 3 levels of teachers (Basic, Expert and Master). The agenda of the online training will be distributed to all the country's directorates 2 weeks before the start.

  • Training Stage: Teachers start their courses according to their levels of using technology. Each course lasts 5 weeks. If a teacher passes the basic one, he can enroll in the expert or master courses in the next run.

  • Post-Training Stage: After training all teachers of English language, a follow-up course will be created and conducted to see how far they apply what they have learnt and identify additional training needs that can be put into consideration when running other courses.

To Sum Up:

My educational challenge lies in training all Egyptian teachers of English language to integrate technology into their teaching in the school year 2013-2014. The Professional Academy for Teachers can't achieve this objective with its limited facilities. A proposed solution is shifting to the e-training through creating a MOOC using CourseSites in which teachers can be selected according to their technology background and levels of use. It is expected that teachers will not only use this digital revolution in their teaching, but also participate in sharing and creating similar experiences among their colleagues and students.

Resources Used:

1. CourseSites by Blackboard (Dec. 16, 2010). CourseSites Tutorials. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2012 from YouTube.
2. Porter, D. (2011). Understanding the Benefits of Digitization. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2012 from this link.
3. Youssef, A. (Nov. 4, 2012). What is MOOC? Playlist. Retrieved Nov. 4, 2012 from YouTube.

DNLE #1: THREE Learning Environments or Technologies

Assignment #1:

Find 3 interesting learning environments or education technologies, and explain 3 positive aspects and 3 negative aspects for each.

1. Collaborize Classroom:

alt text
It is a free online collaborative platform that provides teachers and students with a private environment where they can participate in online discussions with various kinds of questions giving students chances to comment and vote to each other’s responses, and finally see the results together (See this video).
1. This tool adopts a Blended Learning Model with an online component that complements in-class work (read more here). Teachers, for example, extend a discussion started in the class to be completed online via Collaborize Classroom where shy students can participate and share their ideas freely without added pressure.
2. The interface of this tool is user-friendly. For teachers, it takes 5 minutes to create their classrooms and start initiating discussions. Students need basic skills of browsing topics, leaving comments and voting. This tool addresses different learning styles through using various multimedia (e.g., images, videos, PDf and office documents), questions (e.g., yes or no, multiple choice, vote or suggest and forum) and groups (e.g., talented, weak … etc.). In addition, it makes grading easier for teachers as it automatically builds and shares online portfolios of student work.
3. Students will work on their discussions at home and the teacher shows them the results of their comments and voting in classroom using a computer with an access to the internet and a projector. It is completely free with a secure environment. It is now available as an app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Students can use it anytime and anywhere.
1. Students can't initiate their own threads unless the teacher enables this feature.
2. Students must have e-mail accounts, so teachers can invite them to the site.
3. Being notified of new posts through e-mail is important to be updated. However, your inbox will fill up quickly and can’t stop this flow unless you disable these notifications.

2. Schoology:
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Schoology is a social networking interface, cloud-based service and learning management system (LMS) for K-12 school and higher education institutions that allows educators to create, manage, and share academic content (See more here).
1. Reading this articleGaillard (2010) pointed out that Schoology supports 3 important NETS standardsCreativityDigital Citizenship, andTechnology Operations and Concepts. This site helps students express their ideas freely, gives multiple chances to use various applications such as discussions boards, messaging, and online collaborations and how to make use of them in real projects, and offers schools and teachers the opportunity to teach students about safe online behavior and sharing information with people online.
2. It is easy to use because it is like the interface of Facebook and Edmodo which are familiar to teachers and students.
Teachers can do things as simple as posting assignments, quizzes and links to additional resources or as sophisticated as conducting online courses. It helps them manage lessons, homework and activities with ease choosing from a variety of content types, embedding rich text and media and importing existing content from other systems like MoodleGoogle DocsKhan Academy and Examview. It is an easy way for grading students online, and tracking their attendance (From Schoology Website).
3. It is completely free allowing the connection of students and parents to teachers and learning resources anytime, anywhere in a secure online environment.
1. It takes a lot of time and efforts to teach students about the different features of this site and how to use them to accomplish assignments successfully (See Schoology’s Channel for Training).
2. Using such open social networks, students have access to a variety of people outside school. That’s why teachers should provide their students with online safety tips and set some boundaries for their online activities.
3. Using Schoology as an alternative to the traditional classrooms is a big problem for low economic-social level students and poor-technologically schools. It requires them to be online most of the time accomplishing their tasks.

alt text
CourseSites is a free, hosted online course creation and facilitation service that empowers individual K–12 teachers, university instructors and community educators to add a web–based component to their courses, or even host an entire course on the Internet (See more here).
1. CourseSites involves a variety of tools in the same place that helps addressing most of students’ multiple intelligences and learning styles. For example, visual students can use blogs, wikis, discussion boards, videos, and slideshare presentations to develop their linguistic, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. Auditory and verbal students can use Voice Boards, Voice Podcaster, Voice Presentations, and Live Classroom to develop their verbal, musical, and spatial intelligences. Reflective students can use their personal Journals to reflect on their experiences while working on a certain course.
2. You can easily create courses in just 3 steps: sign up, create a course and invite students. There is a YouTube channel created to train teachers to use its features. Students are also automatically enrolled into free, self-paced courses. It is a password protected site which requires all users to login using a current Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo account, or a chosen username and password. The course creation wizard with structure and theme choices makes it easy to build your platform in minutes.
3. This interactive e-learning platform, that allows you to post and update course material, interact with students, promote collaboration, as well as assess and improve performance anytime and anywhere, is completely FREE.
1. It needs more technical skills to use such platform. It is suitable for advanced students (high school and higher education students).
2. You can build just 5 online courses for free .
3. Only students can be invited to join CourseSites and participate in courses. Parents can’t be invited to be part of this platform.

Resources Used:

First: Collaborize Classroom
1. CollaborizeClassroom (2012). Features. Retrieved Oct. 25, 2012 from this link.
2. Collaborize (Dec 21, 2010). Collaborize Classroom, An Online Learning Platform (full version). Retrieved Oct. 25, 2012 from YouTube.
3. Tucker, Catlin (Dec. 1, 2011). Teaching to Common Core State Standards with Collaborize Classroom. Retrieved Oct. 25, 2012 from this link.

Second: Schoology
1. Gaillard, Nicole (Nov. 17, 2010). Your Digital Classroom. Retrieved Oct. 26, 2012 from this link.
2. Schoology (2012). Learn More. Retrieved Oct. 26, 2012 from this link.
3. Schoology (Oct. 10, 2012). Schoology’s Channel. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2012 from this link.

Third: CourseSites
1. CourseSites by Blackboard (2012). Learn More. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2012 from this link.
2. CourseSites by Blackboard (Dec. 16, 2010). CourseSites Tutorials. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2012 from YouTube.
3. Sharp, Jacqui (Jul. 12, 2010). Multiple Intelligences: ICT applications and tools. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2012 from this link.