Sunday, November 27, 2011

Week 9: Learning Styles - Technology Connections

Howard Gardner from Harvard University published his book "Frames of Mind" in 1983. He identified that we all possess seven intelligences. Because our understanding of the brain and human behavior is constantly changing, the number of intelligences is expanding. Two to three new intelligences had been added recently. Gardner claims that we all have all the intelligences, but that no two people are exactly alike. These Multiple Intelligences are:
As teachers, it's crucial for us to understand this information. By understanding a student's strengths and weaknesses in each intelligence, we can help students become more successful. He also notes that integrating multiple intelligences into the classroom involves changing our idea about teaching and learning. It requires addressing individual differences and providing a range of activities and experiences to facilitate learning. (Source: Technology and Multiple Intelligences)

Richard M. Felder and Barbara A. Soloman in their webpage Learning Style and Strategies identify that there are 4 kinds of learning styles. They are:

  1. Active and Reflective Learners
  2. Sensing and Intuitive Learners
  3. Visual and Verbal Learners
  4. Sequential and Global Learners
Each style results in different ways of inquiring knowledge. It means that the way a teacher teaches in the classroom should address this plurality so that all students can get the benefits in learning. What about you? What's your learning style? You can find it out here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Week 8: Teacher Resources Online

Among other teacher resources online, I like most because it allows me create certain teaching tools which can be used in the classrooms. I can make many kinds of fun activities, like: word search, crossword puzzle, etc. I takes me less than 15 minutes to create such activities. It does ease busy teachers like most of us. Amazing..

Another tool which can promote learning autonomy is Hot Potatoes. I was first introduced to this software when I took a short course about multimedia in teaching in England, 2008. I like this software because I can create fun and interactive computer-assisted language learning (CALL) activities, either online or offline. I can create many activities, like: drag-and-drop, gap-filling, multiple choice, and crosswords. Feedback is also available right after the students have answered the questions. It motivates the learner more when they are studying a foreign language.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Week 7: Learner Autonomy and the One-computer Classroom

Learner Autonomy
An inspiring article by Dimitrios Thanasoulas entitled What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered? provides a definition about it. It is described as 'the ability to take charge of one's learning'. The term' autonomy' has come to be used in at least five ways:
  • for situations in which learners study entirely on their own;
  • for a set of skills which can be learned and applied in self-directed learning;
  • for an inborn capacity which is suppressed by institutional education;
  • for the exercise of learners' responsibility for their own learning;
  • for the right of learners to determine the direction of their own learning.
In order to enhance learner autonomy in my Structure (English Grammar) class, I distribute the course outline to the students which contain the schedule of the course and list the following components:
- day/date
- material taught/learned
- homework (should be done prior to the class)

By putting the homework they should do before they come to the class, I hope my students will do the exercises coherent with what they are going to learn in the classroom. By doing so, they've got 'prior knowledge' of what I teach and can engage actively in the learning process.

In addition to that, I also assign the students to do extra assignments in Self-Access Center (SAC) by doing pathways. They have to the pathway activity once a week. Their assignments are scored and integrated in the scoring system to determine their final score.

One-Computer Classroom
In many situations where there are not enough computers in the school, it is sometimes enough to have one computer in each classroom to be used by the teacher and the students.  The 7 Categories of Classroom Computer Use provides different ways to make better use of the computer available in the classroom.

In my university there are several so-called multimedia classrooms which have a computer, an LCD projector, a good sound system and a big screen, but not connected to the Internet. I like teaching in those classes as I can make use of the equipments available. I usually explain the materials by using PowerPoint with different font colors, pictures, embedded video to make them interesting for the students to pay attention to. Listening activity can be done well, too.

The advantages of this one-computer class are:
1. The teachers have supporting electronic teaching tools.
2. All students' learning styles (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) can be addressed to optimize their potentials.
3. Fun and livelier teaching-learning process.

The disadvantages:
1. Paying too much on the tools available can keep the teachers away from engaging the students actively in the lessons.
2. Having no Internet connection makes the teachers need to download the materials they want to use in the classrooms in advance.