As an educator in the information age, I have never stopped seeking ways to integrate computer technologies into language instruction. I introduce free technologies to my students by correlating them to my lectures. With these technologies, teaching and learning are becoming more interesting and creative.
1. For lecture delivery
PowerPoint and Digital Storytelling are the technologies I always use in class to deliver my lectures. They are compatible with each other. The animated digital storytelling adds spices to PowerPoint. Usually, in the first several slides, I introduce vocabulary and grammar. Then, I use digital storytelling to give students in-class listening and speaking assessments. Because the narration comes with pictures, the listening process becomes more interesting and students can get clues from the pictures for their discussions and answers. Students can also use PowerPoint and digital storytelling to assist their presentations and cultural reports.
PowerPoint and Digital Storytelling Demo
2. For assessments
1). Poll Daddy is a very useful free web-based tool.I find it very easy to use. Although, based on my observation, it is mainly designed for people to do surveys, polls and ratings, it also offers us a function called “Quiz”. With this function, I can create online quizzes for my students. At the moment ,the Quiz function only allows for multiple choice questions and therefore all the quizzes can be graded automatically. However, multiple choice questions are not enough for the language students to get enough comprehensive practice. Therefore, I explored the “Survey” function and found that it can be used to create written and speaking quizzes. “Free Text” allows me to create composition tasks for students. Students just need to type out their compositions in the textbox. The “File Upload” function allows students to upload their sound files so that I can create speaking projects for them. I can also easily embed Youtube videos, upload listening materials, set a close date for the quizzes, and choose whether to display the results or keep them private. I really like the Reports of Results. With it, I can analyze students’ performance and give them feedback. I would like to use Poll Daddy as a tool to create online independent study, assessment and exam. Please CLICK on the links below to see three demos I created:
2). Hot Potatoes is a free software program which allows me to create different types of exercises for students. Among these different types of exercises, I found that multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, matching/ordering and fill in the blank are all useful for Chinese language students to build vocabulary understanding, and proficiency in listening and reading. I can upload media files and pictures to the exercises which will make the exercises more interesting. Students can use these exercises as self-assessments. I have used Hot Potatoes to create an open-source for Chinese language students. As a language teacher, I would always like to offer my students and any other people more opportunities to practice and improve their Chinese. Please CLICK on the open-source link to see the exercises I created:
3. For students’ speaking practice
Voicethread is an excellent collaborative and multimedia slide show which can be used as a web-based activity to facilitate students’ language learning. Students can navigate the slides which have been uploaded in the formats of images, documents and videos, and then they can use voice, text, audio file, or video to make comments in Chinese. Students can even doodle while commenting. This makes their learning more interesting. In my teaching, I would like to use VoiceThread projects as online tutorials or assessments for listening and speaking. Students also will be asked to create VoiceThread projects to initiate discussions. Collecting group conversations in one place, sharing their voices and hearing other people’s voices can definitely benefit students’learning in a collaborative way.
4. For students’ speaking projects
Voki is a technology that students could use for their individual oral projects. It is compatible with WordPress and easy to use. More importantly, it allows students to create personalized speaking avatars. This will make the speaking projects more enjoyable.
(This is a listening assessment for Lesson One of the Beginning Level )
5. Course blog:
In September, 2010, Windows Live (formerly MSN) Spaces was shut down and migrated their 30m+ users to WordPress.com. Before that, I was a user of Windows Live Spaces. Because of this change, I began to explore WordPress. Gradually I realize that it can be used as an educational blog for my teaching. It is user-friendly and has gorgeous themes. Therefore, I can establish online communities for my teaching and students’ learning. It offers enough storage capability to post course materials, writings and discussions. Although uploading voice files and videos from personal computer is not free yet, I don’t think this will hold me back from using it because I still can have plug-ins from Youtube, Flickr, Voki, and so on. Besides, there are many widgets with practical functions for me to use. I really like that I can add polls to my course blog. With this function, it will be easy for me to create online quizzes for students, get feedback from them and assess my teaching as well as their learning.
When I was teaching Introduction to Chinese Language & Culture – Level 1 at the Anderson Language Technology Center (ALTEC), I built a course blog at Wikispaces. Wikispaces is a tool which is useful in the educational process. It is simple to use and can help students to learn from community building activities. I uploaded all the materials for the course, such as Syllabus, Daily Schedule, Lesson Plans, Dialogues, PowerPoint, Videos and Voice Files, to the blog. I also established links between our blog and other useful online resources; and initiate online discussions. Students used the blog to exchange their ideas and opinions on language and culture, and posted their voice files to complete the online listening and speaking assignments.