These are the questions I’m asking myself, and which I’d like other educators, instructional designers, AI enthusiasts, and ed-tech promoters to ask
I can’t open my social media feeds or email these days without seeing another article about teachers using generative AI products (ChatGPT et al.) or an ad for a book promising 100 AI prompts for educators. I’m skeptical and concerned about the implications of using these products as teachers or with students. These are the questions I’m asking myself, and which I’d like other educators, instructional designers, AI enthusiasts, and ed-tech promoters to ask, too:
Between all the hype and doom-mongering over AI text generators (ChatGPT and their ilk), there is a blunt reality: these products and the profit-seeking corporations that market them are not our friends and they have no place in education at this time.
I really don’t want to write one of those “One year ago today was the last time I …” posts I’m seeing on social media. Mourning what and who we have lost is important. But instead, I want to think about ways in which teaching and learning in higher education have changed in those 12 months, and what these developments mean for us now.
The Fall semester kicked off today as we started our first teaching session of the 20/21 academic year almost fully online (a handful of classes meet once a week to satisfy immigration requirements for new international students). In my new role as Online Program Manager, my motto for the coming months–shamelessly cribbed from a certain fellow Delawarean–is Build a Bit Better. One way we can do that is by exploiting the potential of blended synchronous/asynchronous instruction more fully.
One of the myths about asynchronous learning is that it’s a-teacher-ous:
Exactly. In fact asynchronous also doesn’t have to mean individual activity: it can also involve group work and lots of interaction among students and between students and the instructor. I think I’ve seen a nice diagram of online activities along two axes: individual/group and synchro/asynch, but I can’t find it, so I made my own on Padlet. Hope you find it useful:
What have I missed? Or does anyone know the diagram I’m looking for?!
In coronavirus news, there have been nearly 17,500 positive cases in Delaware, and numbers continue to rise, although deaths from COVID-19 have become very rare in the past few weeks. Most schools and universities will start the fall semester online, with limited in-person classes in some districts, parochial, and private K-12 schools.
When my eldest son was 5, he participated in the North Brandywine Swim League (go Sharks!). This involved the rest of us sitting by the side of local pools for many hours waiting for the highlight of our summer evenings, the under-7 backstroke, or as I called it, synchronized drowning. Twenty yards of tense excitement (for the lifeguards).
Over on Twitter, our British and Canadian #tleap (teaching/learning English for academic purposes) colleagues have shortened synchronous online teaching to synchro, and it’s hard not to think of synchronized swimming. Or possibly drowning.
Synchronous instruction is a mode of online teaching in which students are present “live” at the same time in the same virtual space, usually with the teacher, which for us now means a Zoom class.
(Fun fact: I stage managed St Catharine’s College’s one-day only May Week production of Grease in 1997 at the West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge, in which we used a motorbike as “Greased Lightening.” I had to bring a fire extinguisher on stage and try not to make it too conspicuous because fire regulations.)
Anyway, it struck me that the substitution of a Grease sing-along for the Tony Awards is an apt metaphor for online ESL teaching. You have questions? I thought so. In the remainder of this post, Grease Sing-Along will mean new online ESL classes, while the Tony Awards refers to traditional face-to-face ESL classes. Continue reading “Broadway metaphors for online teaching”
They said keep a journal … yeah, that’s not going to happen, but I am happy to share two documents I created as part of training the English Language Institute faculty to move to remote instruction as our campus rapidly shut down in the last few days due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. I presented these as part of hours of in-person and (later) online workshops and demonstrations spread over 3 slightly hectic days.
We decided to limit our technology to platforms licensed and supported by the University which we felt gave the biggest return on the investment of time without making excessive demands on faculty who are less comfortable with technology. So we’re primarily using Zoom for “live” teaching, and Canvas (our LMS) and GoogleApps for those feeling a bit more adventurous.
These Google Docs are licensed with Creative Commons so you can copy, adapt, and share them. Hope they’re useful to other programs living through these challenging times!
While I was working at the University of North Carolina, I made a series of online workshops for ESL students who didn’t have time to attend the face-to-face sessions we offered. (I call them the bobble-head videos, for reasons which will be obvious if you watch one!) Since then, the Writing Center has reorganized their website (looks slick, guys!), and many of the links I’ve posted on the blog previously don’t work. So, here are the direct links to all the videos:
Update 1/22/13: The video links are not working — either there’s a problem with the server, or UNC has canceled its account with Panopto. I’m working on a solution, but in the meantime, please use the PDFs, and you can just imagine my talking head …
Paraphrasing and plagiarism 1: Using sources (video) (pdf)
Paraphrasing and plagiarism 2: Preparing a paraphrase (video) (pdf)
Paraphrasing and plagiarism 3: Writing a summary (video) (pdf)
AP is running a fun story today about Twitter in Japan, which taught me that the verb Tweet (which I’ve written about here) is translated as mumble in Japanese. Here’s the quote of the day:
“It’s telling that Twitter was translated as ‘mumbling’ in Japanese,” he [a Japanese media analyst] said. “They love the idea of talking to themselves.”
That’s not a trend I’ve ever noticed when teaching Japanese students — any truth in it? It is striking that mumbling is a private act, so even if twitter.jp users are not exactly talking to themselves, they are at least talking quietly and unobtrusively. Compare that to the English “tweet” and “twittering,” which suggests to me a rather louder, more irritating sound.
The report goes on:
Ending Japanese sentences with “nah-woo” — an adaptation of “now” in English — is hip, showing off the speaker’s versatility in pseudo-English Twitter-speak.
(Here‘s a detailed blog posting about this neologism.) It’s not surprising to me that technology has caused new words to come into Japanese, or any language, but I’m curious that the Japanese have calqued (to use the technical word) an English adverb, rather than a noun or verb. For example, German borrowed der Computer, and even French has l’Internet (attempts to translate the word literally using webs and nets never caught on). So, I would have expected the word Twitter (or even Tweet) to crop up — although wouldn’t those words both be very hard to fit into Japanese phonology? And doesn’t Japanese already have a word that expresses the English now? Does its (apparently) word-final restriction mean anything?