Monday, 5 November 2007

I should comment on my huge learning curve in technology. I did not even know what an html page, a blog or a wiki was when I started. Now I can create pages, make links, configure pages, insert images, animations, (although finding them is time consuming) all in the snap of a finger. I could create a dreamweaver page with my eyes shut. I have also learnt how to trouble shoot, stepping through every stage of the process to find the problem. The hardest part is knowing what you don’t know. Sometimes, you just don’t have an answer and it can be so frustrating. It’s a good thing I won’t let anything beat me. My motto is “Give in, don’t give up!”

I think I will enjoy having a play with the web design now that the pressure is off and I can do it for my own interest.

Thanks to Debra for opening up this incredible world. I am currently writing an online writing support program for a distance student of it's back to Dreamweaver...aaaarrrggghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Updated link to HotPot

Hi all

I am aware there have been some problems with my web project. Thank you to all who have tried to view it. I think the url has been causing the problems and although I was very nervous about changing it, in the end I had no choice. I think it is okay now. I hope so.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

I don't know what is going on

Hi again.

I don't understand how Maggie and Zahran were able to view my project and feedback on it but Debra says she cannot view it.

I will have to think again. This is so frustrating...this is taking away time I need to finish my other assignments. I am starting to feel the strain...and I was doing so well.

On the bright side, I have a lovely new group of EAP students whom I think are going to be very successful...thankfully I don't have to use too much technology. It's hard enough getting the DVD player to work!

Evaluation of the module

Evaluation of the module

In preparing to evaluate the usefulness and effectiveness of this CALL module, it is necessary to reflect on the user characteristics, the objectives of the syllabus and the linguistic needs of the learners (Levy, 1997). The computer can only have the relationship as tutor with the learner if the module can be relied upon to manage the learner properly and if the students can rely on its judgements (Levy, 1997). This reflection incorporates my own thoughts with peer feedback. By carefully considering different aspects of the materials separately and in conjunction with the learning situation and the learners, I will reflect on the content validity and practicality of the module in terms of design, process, useability and accessibility.

Design: I had constant debate with myself over how much text on a page was too much, what colours worked best, how big the font should be and the layout of the page. Maggie and Zahran felt that it was a clear, simple design. I am not sure why, however, they were unclear about the level of the learners as I pointed out that this was a follow-on from the Web Quest where everything was explained in full. So, I felt it only necessary to briefly refer to this on the homepage. It was interesting, however, to note that Maggie thought it was aimed at young adults or senior high school students, which was exactly my target.

Process: As this module is for young adult learners working towards university, I have considered the need for them to become more self-directed and the scaffolding of the tasks and the recycling of the language was meant serve that objective.

While Maggie thought the instructions were “very clear” and “easy to follow” with “materials (that) were well-selected”, she said that the reading text for the crossword was too hard. I wrote it myself and based it on the language structures and the vocabulary students would have learnt from the Web Quest. This drew my attention to the different standards of learner “levels” in different countries perhaps. I did aim to exploit the multimedia capacity of the project by providing a variety of activities that involved listening, viewing and reading and critical thinking. Maggie said: “Your product is very successful and you give lots of interesting visual inputs (music, video, songs, pictures, dramas, and graphics) to motivate your learners to learn English.”

As for the Hot Potatoes activities themselves, I tried to scaffold them so that students would have more than one chance to test the same knowledge, using a variety of responses, such as numbers, dates, phrases and vocabulary. I believe the tasks represent a mix of activities that require the learner to use a variety of learning strategies like skimming, scanning, memorisation, elimination, deduction and guessing in context. While some tasks require responses in words, other used number or dates. Some of the tasks demanded knowledge of syntax, grammar and comprehension of discourse. I think this was effective. In the multiple choice task students were asked to choose numbers, but Zahran said that he would have preferred distractors, for example, a year or a month or otherwise to have students re-order the pictures through “drag and drop”. I like the idea of drag and drop but I wasn’t sure how to do it. My intention was that students did not always have to work in words. The first matching task used simple numbers while a later jumble required students to use chronological order for dates, thus the scaffolding of the exercises. I take the point, though, that drag and drop would give the students the feeling of playing with cards.

Zahran also commented that he liked the gap-fill exercise in which students had to listen to the song in order to complete the task. He also said that he preferred students to write comments about their scores. I think he misunderstood the purpose of the score sheet. The intention was that the students would record the score they got and then rate the activity. Then as the instructions said, they would feedback to their peers about their success. He also said that they did not understand the aim of the slide show and that more instructions were required. However, I simply thought that the word “enjoy” was enough to let the students know that it was for their pleasure, for fun.

Change: I think I will re-order the sequence of Matching 1 and 2, as 1 requires learners to search for information in a text, ie. Scanning, and chronologically order the dates, which requires a understanding of numeration and sequence. Task 1 is easier requiring knowledge of vocabulary to match concepts, like a word with a category, crow is a bird. This is a scientific task but more linguistically-based so that students. I think that the jumble tasks are quite difficult, testing students knowledge of syntax and grammar, quite analytical tasks requiring a more specific knowledge of language (Warschauer, Shetzer, Meloni, & Teachers of English to Speakers of other Languages (TESOL) Inc., 2000). I think I would put the quiz first, actually, so that the students would read and get a global, overall context of the language. In this way, the tasks would be better scaffolded, offering them more support through the strategies they need to complete the tasks (Wenden, 1991).

Useability: My peers said that they thought the site was a clear, simple design and quite easy to navigate. I had concerns about the need for students to use external sites requiring sound and video. If the students didn’t have these facilities or their operating systems were slow, it might take a while to load, leading to demotivation. It is important also to be sure that students receive adequate instruction on how to move betweens sites and back and forth through the tasks so I tried to put adequate instructions. I was mindful that not all students are confident using the computer. It was obvious that Maggie and Zahran looked at the site thoroughly and tried to give thoughtful comments, for which I am grateful. Overall, Maggie felt the level was not too high for my nominated learners: “From my point of view, you overestimate your learners’ abilities and their patience. I think some of your learners are finding your tasks very difficult, e.g. crossword and jumble exercise.”

Accessibility: Given the typical operating systems available in Australia, this project has no functions that would not work in normal circumstances. However, there may be an issue with accessing the sound component, as I found not all computers have sound cards. Also some systems are slow and this means that loading and buffering might be delayed.


I feel that in designing this module, I considered user characteristics, the objectives of the syllabus and the linguistic needs of the learners (Levy, 1997). By carefully considering different aspects of the materials separately and in conjunction with the learning situation and the learners, I took into account the need for content validity and practicality of the module. Despite numerous technological problems, I am reasonably happy with the product. The only thing stopping me from improving it, is not knowing how to fully use the software.


Bibliographical References

Levy, M. (1997). Computer-assisted language learning: context and conceptualization. Oxford, New York: Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press.

Warschauer, M., Shetzer, H., Meloni, C. F., & Teachers of English to Speakers of other Languages (TESOL) Inc. (2000). Internet for English teaching. Alexandria, Va.: TESOL.

Wenden, A. (1991). Learner strategies for learner autonomy : planning and implementing learner training for language learners. New York: Prentice Hall.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Eureka!!! My Project is there at last

Here, to the right is the new, new, updated link to my HP project.

I am an idiot and completely techno-stupid

Hi everyone I have had such incredible problems with the QUT server this week. I have not been able to get onto my blog at all. I have written posts to many of you about your projects and nothing has posted. I am really annoyed. Anyway, it has suddenly starting working again.

I have posted to Maggie a while back and then Zahran and Esther because I wrote them in word first. I know many of you jet-setters will be heading home soon and as you have all finished your assignments, not like me I am running behind, you probably won't access your blogs anymore. So, I won't worry about posting my comments. You have all done really well, though. Good luck with your futures. I am not doing my last unit until Sem 1/08, so if you are around then I will see you. Otherwise good luck.

Also, I think I have just destroyed my home page so I will have to rebuild it and reload my project to the web in the next 24 hours. One minute it works, the next it doesn't. I don' t know what is going on but I will win!

See ya!

Comments on Zahran's HP project

Hi Zahran

Here is the feedback I sent you by email earlier in the week when I couldn’t use the blog. Looking forward to reading your feedback on my project.

Firstly, I like the colour scheme and the design of the home page much better than the webquest. It is more enjoyable and simpler to read. Clean and clear. In terms of equitable access for all students, ie. Ones who have visual impairment or learning difficulties, research has found that like backgrounds with black print is best. I like the way you have graded the colour from light to dark, top to bottom. Mind you, I am not expert in web design. I just know what I like. I think it is great.

My eye can scan quickly for what is on the page. I also like that you have only a couple of animations, just enough. Well done.

However, I would use a sans-serif font. This looks like Times Roman, the print is too small and it is not a clear font to read.

I like the way, all the activities are simple and not cluttered up with pictures and animations. It is obvious that you like colour and children do too. However, I feel that the green is a bit strong in the background when you are trying to read the activity.

A comment about the other websites you have linked. My only concern is that, depending on the level and age of the readers, that the language and the density of the text on some of the pages might make if too challenging (soft g!) to read and therefore demotivating. You could try rewriting the main information necessary for the activities, just the bits you need. Then in Hot Potatoes, you go into File, Insert text and cut and paste your text in the window that appears. That way, your text will be the appropriate level with all the words you want as part of the quiz. See Doris’ project, only she didn’t rewrite anything, she just took direct from a website without any modifications.

I really like the way you have a clock ticking. How did you do that, please? I would like to use it next time.

I was also thinking what if students can’t get the answers at all, how will they find out what the correct ones. I am thinking about putting these into my own project. Do you have thoughts about that?

If you look at the bottom of the page, “Index”, you will see that the button doesn’t work. That is because you did not build the unit in Masher as I explained to you.

The Masher links all the units to an index page in Hot Potatoes, which is different to your index.html

The problem with setting up the page like a WQ rather than the HP unit, is that it is more difficult to navigate. Eg. When you go to the word document for the self-assessment, you have to work out how to get home. What about some instructions for students to know what to do if they find themselves lost outside the HP unit. I have the same issue but I think I put in an instruction on how to get back.

I used a similar self-assessment form in my CLN616 assessment assignment. I found it very useful. How do you feel it will be effective in judging the success of the project and how will you use the information you get from it?

I look forward to hearing your feedback about my project.

Comments on Esther's HP project

Hi Esther

I have had such problems with my blog not loading. I wanted to give you some feedback even though I guess you have finished your reflections by now.
Some of my comments might seem a bit picky but I didn’t want to give you general comments that didn’t really say anything. Please take everything with a grain of salt.

This project would fit well into an activities program GE. We have culture club for two hours on Wed afternoons which introduces the students to key aspects of Australia. The blue on blue is not an ideal combination, as research shows, especially for students with vision problems and at QUT, for example, we have to consider equity on that matters.

I see you created a whole new webquest.

The You Tube is slow to load. I had the same issue so accessibility could be problem if students have a slow operating system.

Because the project is designed like a webquest, I think you would then have to include all the usual components in order to articulate the pedagogy behind the project ie. Standards, learners’ level, evaluation.

I feel unsure about the age or the stage of the learners. I think you need a few more instructions for navigating the site ie. “when you go to an external site, you should click the back arrow to return to the home page”.

I found when I chose websites that I had to be careful that the language was at a level my students could understand. I think the Easter one is not at the same level at the others. It is really complex and has a lot of stuff in it that is not necessary to do the task. Perhaps consider writing an abridged version of your own if the text is complex.

Maybe consider putting a reminder note in about Wikipedia and the fact that you cannot always trust that the information will be accurate.

The Queens Birthday site is also really complex. What level were you expecting the students to be? It looks to me like these sites require upper intermediate or EAP.

I feel that you have attempted to do such a lot. I think you have done way more than you needed to…you must have flogged yourself. It is very interesting and would actually be really useful for English speakers, say Middle School yrs 7-9 as well as ESL.

Overall, you have worked hard, that’s obvious. I just feel it would generally be overwhelming for students due to the density of the text and the volume of the work. You might like to consider, the following thoughts: What period of time would these tasks be done over? Could they be done in any order? How are they scaffolded for gradual learner development? What level of autonomy or teacher control are you expecting? Do you expect to evaluate it?

Problems with my blog

Hi everyone

I am so frustrated. I posted comments to Jean, Doris, Esther and Zahran this week but they did not appear. I learnt if you are posting a long message type it in Word first. I am now going to attempt to post all my comments again (later today after work) even though I know most of you have finished your reflections.

Also I noticed that many of you created your Project like a webquest without using Masher. I have not been able to find Hot Potatoes in the Education labs but I am hoping to find a way to make masher work so that you can see more than three activities on the index.

Good luck to all those who have finished their Masters.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

My Web Project

Hi everyone

I have a problem with my HP project, so in the meantime, if you haven't visited my WebQuest, please take this opportunity to do so:

I would love your feedback. As I understand, most of you did not use the Masher to build HP unit but just made the site like a Web Quest. I have used the Masher but even though I registered, it still only allowed the index page to list 3 of the activities. I am going to sort this out but for now you can still see all of the links from the home page or just by clicking on the next arrow.

Congratulations if you have finished your MEd. Good luck with your future teaching careers.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

My friend sent me this spectacular photo of last week's electrical storm. We were driving around when the storm hit. It was pretty scary but nevertheless incredible to watch.

I went whale watching at Hervey Bay during the Semester break. We were lucky to see some baby whales breaching out of the water! It was amazing to see the babies swimming along side of their mothers.

My little puppy, Poppy.
Hi everyone

I have had some trouble getting onto my blog. Seems ok now. The last assignment didn't give me as many problems as the Webquest so it hasn't been so stressful. If anyone would like to comment on my activities, I will be posting my project to the web on Friday.


Thursday, 20 September 2007

Update on WQ - Hearing the Songs

Hi everyone

When I check my WQ on some computers, I have no problem hearing the songs, but problems on others. Maybe the computer has to have a sound card or something like that or check that the volume is up. Does anyone have any ideas? Also yesterday the title showed but today not. I will check it out; anyway it is called Multiple Intelligences and Vincent Van Gogh.

See ya!