Strengthening Online Teacher Practices

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ELT article published by Prof. Jonathan Acuña at http://reflective-online-teaching.blogspot.com/

Strengthening Online Teacher Practices
Reflecting back upon this course on Hybrid and Blended Learning, it no doubt has made me look in retrospection into the things I used to do as a language teacher and the ones I want to be doing in the near future. Let me start by explaining a bit of what I did with my students and the things I foresee in my near future, and how I plan to accomplish them. At the beginning of 2010 I got hooked by the use of blogs and PBL (Project-Based Learning) to teach reading skills, basics in literature, and vocabulary building. At that time I was studying at the University of Oregon, Institute of American English (through its distant education program) and became a pioneer in some sort of blended learning. The course I was taking prompted participants into using Web tools to become more effective in language teaching and planning. As part of my end-ofthe-course project I trained Reading Skills II students to use http://blogger.com to post their homework and assignments. Because the idea materialized quiet nicely, I started to combine the use of blogs and

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ELT article published by Prof. Jonathan Acuña at http://reflective-online-teaching.blogspot.com/

wikis with WebQuests (a great form of using PBL as part of student experiential learning in my course). Then, little by little, I started incorporating more and more tools into my course, which went 80% green the last time I taught it. Sadly, I stopped teaching the reading courses, on the one hand, because of the changes in schedules and, on the other hand, because they were assigned to other professors, who –by the waydo not fully incorporate Web tools in their courses and/or planning.

Teaching English reading skills is now beyond my scope of teaching, but I want to start regaining the refinement in use of learning and teaching Web tools applications I achieved when I stopped. As a language professional with vast experience in the use of educational teaching and learning technology and platforms, I want now to perfect the use of the Cambridge LMS for Touchstone, -the one I am using now with students from all university majors, to help them get the most out of it. Additionally, I want to start incorporating more tools into the other courses I do not normally teach to have students use, feel, reflect, and conceptualize English that they can use in their fields and jobs (Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle). If

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ELT article published by Prof. Jonathan Acuña at http://reflective-online-teaching.blogspot.com/

technology is there to help students learn, I need to make sure –that at least mine- will fully benefit and profit from it. To regain my protagonist role in hybrid and/or blended teaching formats,

“course management strategies” must be strengthened. To do that it is
essential that as an instructor I can guarantee the creation of a successful learning experience for my pupils. For that reason, the practice of proactive course management skills is a need. This practice must incorporate good use of strategies to monitor assignment submissions and the sending of messages to remind students of missed or upcoming deadlines. Furthermore, a more proactive way to help them use, feel, reflect, and conceptualize what they are practicing online with extra practice when they are with me in class. To also ensure my proactivity in VLEs, timely instructor feedback is now on my Top 5 practices. Instructor feedback is very important in learning, but when it is timely is even better to guarantee that students can fully benefit from their learning experiences while taking my course. And to cope with student inquiries –especially when midterms or finals are coming, I will consolidate some virtual hours to be spent on their LMS, and if necessary some availability in the office when working there. Leaving students do things on their own –with no feedback- can be very frustrating and demotivating for them as well.

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ELT article published by Prof. Jonathan Acuña at http://reflective-online-teaching.blogspot.com/

Becoming a helpful, proactive online instructor is no easy task by one that can be highly rewarding at the end of the term when you get to see your students demonstrating (based on Bloom’s Taxonomy of hierarchical thinking) what they have learned with you.

 To fully develop and comprehend this teaching issue, it’s advisable to research and expand these areas: 1 2 3 4 5 Understanding hybrid and blended learning Blogs and PBL in online learning WebQuesting Kolb’s Learning Cycle Blended learning course management strategies Professor Jonathan Acuña-Solano ELT Instructor, Course Designer & Teacher Trainer based in Costa Rica IATEFL Member and NCTE Affiliate Resource Teacher at CCCN Senior ELT Professor at Universidad Latina Freelance ELT Consultant four OUP in Central America

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ELT article published by Prof. Jonathan Acuña at http://reflective-online-teaching.blogspot.com/

For further comments or suggestions, reach me at: @jonacuso – Twitter [email protected] – Gmail Other blogs and sites I often write for my students at the university are: 1. Pronunciation 1 3. Pronunciation 2 2. Readding Skills 1 4. Computering Applications in Education

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