Where There’s MOOC There’s Brass? #edcmooc

Even though I only just finished an intense 18 months of E-Learning Instructional Design study with the University of California, Irvine , I’ve just gone back to college.

I’ve decided to try out my first MOOC, a little bit down to to professional curiosity and a little because I think it’ll be good for my own CPD. Ediinburgh University are hosting the MOOC on “E-learning and Digital Cultures” here at Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/course/edc. There’s probably still time to sign up – this is only day #2!

So Seth, get to the point…. We’re encouraged on the course to share and blog about our learning from the course. This, over the next 5 weeks is where I’ll be sharing.


Where there’s MOOC there’s brass?

The first 2-week “block” of the course is on the theme of Utopias and Dystopias. The block starts off with some pretty outlandish contradictory statements. I’ve decided to write my first blog post of the course before I have read any of the course material, so that I can share my before-learning views and opinions, which I will later contrast with my post-learning views and opinions. I decided to do this because the two opposing claims are just so far apart that my guess is that neither one can be correct.

Utpoian Claims: “Information technologies based on electronic computation possess intrinsically democratizing properties (the Internet and/or worldwide web is an autonomous formation with ‘in-built’ democratic properties or dispositions).”


Dystopian claims: “Information technologies possess intrinsically de-democratizing properties (the Internet and/or worldwide web is an autonomous formation with ‘in-built’ anti-democratic properties or dispositions).”


The claim that ICT is de-democratising strikes me as somewhat absurd. I will be interested to read that evidence that the course provides to support this claim. I can understand and anticipate that the suggestion may be that in developing countries the power of the Internet is denied to vast swathes of the population due to its inherent costs. This certainly would be a denial of democratic participation, but I cannot see how you could make the leap to save that ICT is therefore de-democratising. I wonder(I hope) whether there will be other, better arguments than mine that technology is de-democratising?

So, I will be interested to see what the MOOC offers as its evidence, especially because I have had often been too quick to jump at an e-learning solution to a learner’s knowledge or skills gap. One example of this could be how I will propose an elaborate game-based for interaction where different learners are given separate role-play cards in order to simulate a line manager giving difficult feedback to an employee who is under-performing. it would take a great deal of organisation and supporting of the learners to make an activity like this a success. The same results could the gained much more easily in a classroom-based roleplay scenario, (or even by two employees meeting up for 10 min with a coffee, taking it in turns to switch roles.)

In summary, maybe I need to think a little more about the downsides of technology. I’m willing to bet that they don’t exist, but you have to know about the bogeyman in order to prove he’s not real! 🙂
Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc


Paul Maglione Talks: “Entertainment, Education and Gamification.” #IATEFL

For the first of our posts as one of the official bloggers of IATEFL Glasgow 2012, we spoke to Paul Maglione, co-founder of English Attack, an innovative start-up using movies, games and entertainment news to teach English.

Paul talks to us about the highlights so far of the IATEFL conference for him, what he thinks are good and bad uses of technology for teaching and, most interesting of all for me, gamification.

We’ve got some more great interviews coming up in the next few days from IATEFL. So keep your eyes peeled for Graham Stanley, Pete Sharma and the great digital sceptic Scott Thornbury talking about times when  he think technology is right for teaching languages among others.

The 10 Best Ways to Look Professional Online

Maintaining a professional image on-line is vital nowadays for everyone. From  newly qualified students looking for their first job to top managers with years of experience under their belts. If you’re on-line, you’ll be seen more easily, so it’s a good idea to make sure what they see of you on-line makes a positive first impression, hey?

A positive image goes a long way.

Image From: http://www.flickr.com/photos/colleen-lane/

The How Stuff Works site is often a great source for authentic material for EFL teachers. It is regularly updated with articles about, well… how stuff works and things like that 😀 More than this though, it also often has some handy little “Top 10” lists which are easily exploited by language teachers. The article they’ve just published today, 10 Tips for Maintaining a Professional Image Online is perfect for in-class activities, both for business English students and for high school students. To be honest, it’s pretty darn good advice for a lot of language teachers, too. Here’s the introduction:

Whether you like it or not, you probably already have a significant online presence. Between government documents, newspaper articles and self-generated content, it’s not hard for others to dig up information about you. And whether those people are potential employers, co-workers or casual acquaintances, it’s generally a good idea to put your best foot forward on the Web.

For example, although social networks like Facebook were designed more for casual socializing, more and more human resource managers use these sites to screen potential employees. You must realize that personal Web content can have an effect on you professional life.

As a class activity, I will probably give 1 of each of the 10 pieces of advice to a different student. Ask them to read it, then do a mingle activity where they summarised their advice to each other, noting down what their partners told them. Probably afterwards I would read one or two of the key articles again as a class and do some vocabulary or comprehension work.

Anyhow, without further ado, here are the 10 headlines, or the 10 best ways to look professional online. Click the individual headline to read more.

10: The Best (or Worst) Stands Out

9: Professional Perception is Reality

8: Defend Your Reputation

7: Protect Passwords and Other Vital Information

6: Control Your Branding

5: Use an Alias

4: Establish Your Expertise

3: The Internet Never Forgets

2: Prepare for Potential Employers

1: Privacy is Still Real — If You Want It

What do you think? Do you agree with How Stuff Works’ list? Would you add anything else? Make sure you let us know what you think in the comments section!

Macmillan Open Dictionary

Hi there folks,

I just found out about a great new “user generated” online urban dictionary this evening and thought I’d share it with you all.



Slang Dictionary?

Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/seeminglee/


Here’s the description that Lifehacker gave it:

Macmillan’s new Open Dictionary allows anyone to suggest definitions for new words, similar to online Urban Dictionary. It differs in the fact that the definitions are carefully screened and handpicked, making it—in theory—more reliable and trustworthy.

I bet we could think of some great lesson ideas to use this with! Well, even if we can’t, Cambridge University Press has a few great ESOL dictionary lesson plans that will help get us started.

Direct link to the Macmillan Dictionary

Got any great dictionary lesson plans to use with language learners? Be sure to share them in the comments!


Death By PowerPoint Comprehension Questions

I am currently trying to improve the general standard of presentations my students at Martino Martini Social Sciences school, it’s not as easy a task as you’d think! 🙂
To try to help them out a little I’m going to show them the “Death By PowerPoint” presentation by Alexei Kapterev.

As the presentation is quite long, I wondered whether the students would remember all the important information while I go through the presentation with them. In the end I’ve decided to talk through the presentation once, and answer a few simple questions. Then I’ll ask the students to look at it again themselves on the Slideshare site. To help them with this, I’ve written a short worksheet for the students to work through as they read.

I hope you find it handy! You can download your own copy here.

All the best,

Seth 🙂

Top 100 Language Blogs – We’re nominated!

Along with my colleague and friend Nelba Quintana from Argentina, Nik Peachey from Morocco  among many others (well 97 to be precise 😀 ) I’m really pleased to have been nominated as one of the top 100 languague teaching technology blogs for 2009. The “competition”  is being run by the folks over at the http://www.lexiophiles.com blog

If you’ve found any of the posts here on Digitalang useful, you’re more than welcome to mosey on over to the link below to leave a vote for me.

Look down the list for the name of my blog: Digitalang (the names of blogs appear in alphabetical order)

Before the name there is a radio button -> click on the button and a black dot will appear. Next, browse down and you can leave (or not) a comment about this blog.

Finally, click on “VOTE” and a new window will appear saying that you have voted successfully-
If you do vote, thank you very much!! If you don’r thanks anyhow for being here and reading this 🙂

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