Exploring new technological resources such as Virtual Worlds and their unique environments new dimensions of the formative process break current space-temporal barriers by opening up the ESL teaching field. The contexts within the Virtual Worlds (VW) requires thoughts about how ESL participants learn, the interaction between participants, teachers and ‘drop-ins’ or visitors. One of the questions I have formed is: How do international ESL learners interact with their peers and their instructors in a VW?
New demands in fluency and real-life response time makes new complex learning approaches appear. Classroom ESL teaching has a synchronous response tied to a physical student presence, participation, and scaffolded testing. Learning, as a social process, improves to the person, interrogates it, situates it in front of the people who surrounds him and about himself, at the same time that it lets the development and the learning of people and organizations. Communication is established, thus, the central act of human life (Cortese, 2004).
VW’s unique delivery of both synchronous and asynchronous learning is the relation of a social and shared perspective. Exploring, sharing and learning in a VW opens up new venues of student network collaborations. Generally, ESL language acquisition cannot be understood without this social and perspective.The questions to be explored with further reading and going VW are: Is there a successful schemata for ESL in VW? If yes, what does it look like>? What is the experience for the students? What is the learning philosophy of the creator of the ESL VW environments?
As a novice in coding, I studied several resources: London Computing, CS Unplugged, Scratch, and Code Curriculum. As a classically trained musician reading music, learning the piece and interpretation with proper technique is the craft. To minimize the time commitment musicians study compositional forms and patterns. A Sonata Form is a distinct musical architecture which employs patterns and phrases. We expect certain recapitulations and sequences. I feel, despite my rough start in coding that this insight will help me to be more patient with myself. I did not become a harpist in one week. There were frustrations, plateaus and exponential jumps within my journey. But in the end, it was the diligent practice and perseverance that formed the backbone of my musical life. I shall keep that in mind while I “play” the ABC song of Scratch.
In his book, The Culture of Education (1996) Bruner, in Chapter 2 of his Folk Pedagogy holds that there are four dominant models of pedagogy. He describes in detail the following main educational approaches: Imitative learning where teachers model what the students should learn. Didactic learning where teachers and elders pass on the knowledge and children are recipients of this predetermined, structured knowledge base. Collaborative Learning, seeing children as thinkers dealing with certain intersubjective interchanges and finding value in discussion and collaboration. This approach is the center stone of the Harkness Method a relationally centered approach concerned and focused on questions of trust. Finally, Bruner details the concept of children as “knowers” and “managers” of their education,and facts of life, also termed “objective” knowledge.
As an ESL teacher to international students, I taught in varied school environments stipulating though their school culture the what’s and how’s of my educational delivery. Personally, my preference is the experiential learning model with a focus on the collaborative process – the Harkness Method. Harkness encourages verbalization, discussion, sharing, and trust. It enables students through a collaborative approach to come to that higher level thinking as per Bloom’s Taxonomy. The Harkness method encourages analysis, synthesis and evaluation through which students engender “judgments about the value of material and methods for given purposes.” Also, as an ESL teacher, I believe students must drive their own learning, especially adult learners entering College or University. The individual student’s management of “objective knowledge” bestows ownership to their educational process and trajectory.
One of the cornerstones of my teaching is ‘the flipped classroom.’ In the article “Flipping the college classroom for enhanced student learning”, Barkley, (NACTA Journal) states that the major attribute of a flipped classroom is more teacher time in class. “A teacher can spend more individualized attention on each student and provide more interactive experiences for enrolled students. This often translates into better student-teacher rapport and relationships. When students are placed in teams, students teach each other, a powerful way of learning new material, since students can often explain the concepts to each other in a style more conducive to learning.” Horn summarizes one of the major adjustments for the teacher; “Classroom time is no longer spent taking in raw content, a largely passive process. The classroom becomes an interactive environment that engages students more directly in their education.”
Berrett (2012) reports that a flipped class, “…demands that faculty members be good at answering students’ questions on the spot, even when their misconceptions are not yet clear because they are still processing the information.” Wilson (2013) defines a flipped classroom as “… moving the typical ‘transmission of knowledge’ component of a class (i.e. lectures) to outside of the classroom and move the ‘application of knowledge’ (i.e. homework) into the classroom,” but in order to successfully transmit knowledge outside of class, students need to be prepared, trained and guided in using the technology.
I see my role as an ESL teacher in the University Pathway Program to address my international ESL students cultural biases and belief systems – Bruner calls this “How people make sense of the world; How they deal with beliefs, values and symbols of the culture at large; and How they construct “realities” in their minds and share their ideas. In other words, how the single person’s sense of reality is cultivated or harmed through such as skilled and unskilled, and sound and unsound social interactions.” Through collaborative teaching, the Harkness Method, and giving students ownership to their individual learning preferences I have watched my students address their cultural expectations of teachers and their cultural knowledge transfer preferences. Their growth not only as learners but as citizens of the world was achieved through confronting, analyzing, wrestling and evaluating their own cultural biases and expectations giving way to self-directed, individual trajectories reflecting their passions, intelligences (Gardener), and personal authenticity.
Here are some of my favorite websites and they are all free!
PowToon: Create animated videos & presentations.
EdPuzzle: EDpuzzle is an easy and effective way to deliver videos in the classroom. Video is no longer a passive experience.
Padlet: Online Collaborative Platform and shared workspace for education
500 online courses compiled by EdTech: Ready to go back and learn stuff for free…?
EdLink: “visual bookmarking tool that allows any online content with a URL to be collected and shared around any topic. elinks can be shared as a visual web page, sent as a curated visual email newsletter or embedded onto any website. elink also has a Chrome extension that makes it incredibly easy to save important online content on-the-go.” review by EdTech review.
Quizlet: Create your own flashcards and reviews. plus tests.
ChalkUp: features a unique Google Apps for Education integration, which allows educators to grade with criteriabased rubrics.
CodeAcademy: Learn how to create websites by structuring and styling your pages with HTML and CSS.
Storyboard: Digital Storytelling, powerful visual communication.
BookTrack: Booktrack Classroom creates an immersive reading experience which allows students to read with a movie-style soundtrack. Students can read booktracks already created or can create and publish their own Booktracks using books preloaded in Booktrack or by adding in their own stories. Student work will be published and visible for their peers to enjoy. Grades: 3rd-12th, from Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2015
by Jasmin B. Cowin, Ed.D.
You had a great relationship with your man. You knew his faults, joys, and foibles but despite your great love for him he moved on. A bit of time passed and you are starting a new relationship, but your apartment is still stuffed full of mementos: his shaving kit, the shopping lists, holiday mementos and clothes. It’s time to do a full clean-up. Packing the stuff up and moving it into the basement is no help as you are still holding onto bits of his physical being. As long as that box is in the basement you are holding on to parts of him. Best to pack it up and send the items on their way. The same holds true for uninstalled programs which leave a residue and may interfere and glitch new or updated programs or releases.
Think about your first serious update. For me, it was Windows 10. After hesitating for months, I finally took the plunge and updated. Windows 10 requires new and different interactions. Items are located in different places and might have a different name. A lot of personal time was spent in this new environment exploring, reacquainting myself with features that had moved, plus there were new features too. Oh, how I longed for the look and feel of my old Windows, my former friend.
Then came the notice that Firestorm had updated to a new version that I needed to install to be inworld. Having dealt with Windows 10 and the personal hunt for files that had “disappeared,” I went on the net and did some research before hitting the Firestorm install button. The advice was: Do the uninstall first, clearing your computer of the former version, just like cleaning out your apartment before your new love comes over. Essentially, one creates a clean slate.
On the Phoenix clean Phoenix clean reinstall I was directed to:
Uninstall All Viewers
The steps given below refer to Phoenix specifically, but please do the same for all viewers you currently have installed, to ensure that you have no corrupted data that a new install of Phoenix might pick up.
You may use the Add/Remove Programs panel to remove Phoenix, or simply delete the entire installation folder. This is typically located C:\Program Files\Phoenix Viewer. You will be left with the folder in the Start menu, however. Which is why it is preferable to uninstall as previously described. This is the way all other Second Life viewers should be uninstalled.
I watched the youtube clips and went ahead. Indeed, I uninstalled and reinstalled but not with the desired results. I could not find Jokaydia Grid any longer. Multiple attempts to regain access were unsuccessful. The underlying assumption is that people in the general population understand tech jargon and have deeper skills sets than reality bears out. According to Sally Bisaccio, my tech guru and independent study advisor at Marlboro College for Graduate and Professional Studies, “there isn’t the support for glitches and malfunctions at a level that people may need. This sometimes leads to frustration, particularly when you unwittingly pursue avenues leading to dead ends – kind of like a rabbit hole.” Sally was right. By midnight, unable to gain access, I had disintegrated into a frustrated, quivering, angry zombie, experiencing a personal Mindstorm leading me into the vortex of Dantes Circles of Hell, Level 6, the City of Dis, Satan’s wretched city where one beholds a wide plain surrounded by iron walls and fields full of distress and terrible torment.
I survived the night and woke up the next morning thinking about technology and ESL teachers. ESL teachers preparing to enter the OpenSym Grids for teaching and content delivery enter a fluid and constantly changing landscape of technical requirements and system updates. The worlds and content within are well worth the time spent on mastering inworld adventures but I really recommend having either a natural aptitude for computers, solid knowledge of operating systems or a special computer buddy to whom to turn to. Your best buddy could be your teenager loafing around on the couch watching reruns of Gravity Falls.
Jasmin B. Cowin, Ed.D.
How could Seymour Papert’s essay: The Gears of My Childhood inform Vermont’s commitment to implementing Personalized Learning?
Vermont’s implementation of the Flexible Pathway Initiative and PLP’s will require students to meet with teachers to discuss their skills, interests and learning styles and career/college goals. This approach not only aims at the “cognitive aspects of assimilation” but also at the “affective component.” The Gears of my Childhood by Papert describes in detail the author’s personal fascination and intensive childhood involvement with gears. In his essay, Papert speaks to the affective feeling of loving his inquiries and his pleasure in discovery of the”How.”.
PLP’s and Flexible Pathways need to take into account that students entering the teen years need “more voice and choice, in both process and product, and especially platform.” For students to fall in love with learning is something which can not be reduced to purely cognitive terms. Falling in love with learning is intensely personal and idiosyncratic. However, if given a voice students will often rise to the challenge and opportunity.
“The PLP redesign was a real eye-opener in seeing how students would prefer to create their own projects. It reminded me that, when given the right opportunities, students will jump right into a project and take the responsibility for their own learning and achievement.”
“It reminded me that student voice needs to factor in much more than it currently does in our plan. We need to revisit what are our non-negotiables. Can we let students choose the platform? Their goals? Ways of reflecting? Etc.”
As this generation of students in Vermont and globally prepares for their future they must be prepared for a fluid and lifetime assimilation of new technology and models of national and international coexistence. “The rate at which technology changes has reached a dizzying speed, with new tools and platforms emerging constantly. “ Luke Rhinehart wrote: “Man must become comfortable in flowing from one role to another, one set of values to another, one life to another. Men must be free from boundaries, patterns and consistencies in order to be free to think, feel and create in new ways. Men have admired Prometheus and Mars too long; our God must become Proteus.”
Vermont’s PLP model is poised to open new avenues for students to explore their passions, interests, and strengths with guided, flexible paths. “What an individual can learn, and how he learns it, depends on what models he has available. This raises, recursively, the question of how he learned these models. Thus the “laws of learning” must be about how intellectual structures grow out of one another and about how, in the process, they acquire both logical and emotional form.” Papert sees the computer as the “Proteus of machines”, the universal enabler, an instrument flexible enough so that “many children can create something” which assimilates new models of knowledge into their individual styles of learning. However, kindling the spark of “love” for learning and inquiry as the driving force in creating a “genesis of knowledge” is the powerful message of Papert’s essay and the universal message to and for educators.