Adequate Use of Selfies: Here, there, anywhere, anytime? (IIT-1)

Dear all in IIT,

Selfies is the topic chosen for our opening discussion. Think about their purposes and how important they are in your everyday lives. Can you think of any examples of miscommunication or politeness strategies when dealing with selfies? Some questions for you to discuss could be:

What are your views about selfies? What is the purpose of a selfie? Can they be useful or a dangerous practice today? How often do you participate in a selfie/group photo? Why are selfies so popular in our communities? Do you share your selfies with your friends or do you post them on social networks? What is the next step regarding social interactions and technology applications?

Please, express your opinions in a constructive way. And if you have any media or references that support your arguments, you are welcome to link them here. Best wishes!

Underwater Selfie

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Gr B (IATS): Online discussion 2 (Sept 2015)

Dear all in Gr B,
I’d like you to discuss and interact with other opinions about the following topic. You should write between 60-90 words. Remember to be respectful and polite with everyone’s comments. I hope you enjoy this task. The deadline is Wednesday 23rd September 2015 before midnight.

 If you want to work, you can work. There is no need to be unemployed.

Do you agree/disagree?

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Gr A (IATS): Online discussion 1 (Sept 2015)

Dear all in Group A (IATS),
I’d like you to discuss and interact with other opinions about the following topic. You should write between 60-90 words. Remember to write complete sentences, and to be respectful and polite with everyone’s comments. I hope you enjoy this task. The deadline is Wednesday 23rd September 2015 before midnight.

Families with more than 4 children should be supported by the government.

Do you agree/disagree? Why?

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Apps for learning EFL: 5 suggestions

I’ve been reading about some apps that can improve your EFL skills. There are thousands of them. After having downloaded some of them to see their availability and design, I’d like to propose the following to my students and anyone interested in improving their English language skills. I’m sure that some of you may know any others, so you are welcome to share them here (Please, click on “Leave a Reply”, below). I hope this selection helps you improve your English anywhere and at any time so that you are ready to communicate proficient messages in English:

  1. British Council-LearnEnglish apps. The British Council has created a variety of apps used to improve different language skills, such as grammar (LearnEnglishGrammar), vocabulary and real-life situations, for instance (LearnEnglishAudioandVideo, MyWordBook2 or SoundsRight, for instance). Moreover, they seem to be working on game-based learning methods by adding some interactive apps that have the form of games with instant results such as PremierSkills or LearnEnglishSports. To see more on these apps go to http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/apps
  2. Cambridge apps for learners of English is also a great option to start improving your English skills. They have apps to enhance your grammar, vocabulary, reading, etc. I would recommend checking this link, http://www.cambridgemobileapps.com/, and especially, the apps called Cambridge Discovery Education (Reading, vocabulary and comprehension); The Phrasal Verbs Machine (Great for the so-popular phrasal verbs in context); Murphy’s English Grammar in Use; English Monstruo (specially designed for Spanish speakers), and wordpics (sports and words). There are some other apps dealing with exams (IELTS Practice tests) and levelled language courses, which need a previous payment but seem useful and challenging (Interchange Fourth Edition, levels 1-4). See more on http://www.cambridgemobileapps.com/
  3. Duolingo is another fantastic app that invites learners to select the foreign language they want to improve, and their own goals (academic, personal, several hours a week, etc). There are also some first tests to diagnose students’ level. See more information on https://www.duolingo.com
  4. Macmillan education apps is another option to check their variety of applications (children, adults, IELTS exams, etc.) for android and apple. I would especially recommend the Encounters app since it puts students into a variety of life conversations with adequate pronunciation tips. See more on http://www.macmillaneducationapps.com/
  5. Merriam-webster apps are also useful to get correct definitions of new terms, to see synonyms, to check the right pronunciation or play word games (Name That Thing, True or False, Spell it) that test your word level (Quizzitive or Scrabble, for instance). See more on http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary-apps/android-ipad-iphone-windows.html
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Online Courses: Foreign languages and more

I have just found a web with a variety of online courses that you can do for free and at your own pace. If you click on the following link on Alison certified learning, you can see a variety of courses to improve your English, French, German and other foreign languages. So, if you need to improve your English skills, your punctuation, your grammar skills or your speaking abilities, check the courses available here.  Check the web and see if it will help you achieve at least some of your goals. Good luck!

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Learning and Interactions

Learning is a natural process that implies acquiring knowledge and experience. Learning about anything may happen 24/7, especially today when we can access the internet from any mobile device. Even when sleeping, one might be have some knowledge-experience rest in the brain, so that new associations-understandings may continue on the following day. Learning may be planned and organised (formal) but it is also instant, which implies responding to a specific time, context, need and place. Learning needs individual actions but as human beings we also respond and require communicating and interacting with others. This communication can be online, face-to-face, professional, friendly but anyhow, rewarding and motivating. Motivation is an attitude in life. You can have it and you can keep it up. I wanted to reflect upon being curious and a constant learner today. It’s been a while since I started interacting online with Professor Nicholas B. Burbules, whom I have recently had the opportunity to meet face-to-face (See selfie with Professor Burbules -Gardens at the College of Education). I Nicholas C. Burbules and Soraya García-Sánchezhave been following Burbules’ work on ubiquitous learning (u-learning) and his thoughts with regards to education, ethics, educational psychology and advances in learning. Professor Burbules, from the University of Illinois, is also Gutgsell Endowed Professor, an online teacher, a researcher, an academic, a philosopher and an approachable person interested in conversational learning, in exchanging thoughts and knowledge with students and colleagues around the globe. I wanted to dedicate a few lines to the wonderful, kind and welcoming people I met at the College of Education and at the Faculty of Modern Languages at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Bill Cope, Mary Kalantzis, Rita van Haren). Thank you all for your hospitality, the enjoyable meetings and interesting thoughts.

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El proceso de la transformación: Tecnología y pedagodía

Hoy, leyendo el artículo de S. Pérez de Pablos en El País, “Siete razones por las que se debe encender el móvil en clase” (http://tecnologia.elpais.com/tecnologia/2015/02/20/actualidad/1424453286_004100.html), que recomiendo a todos, no he dudado en hacer una reflexión sobre las 7 propuestas, que resultan muy prometedoras e incluso diría, ya comunes en algunos centros educativos. Se mencionan espacios cuyos contextos de aprendizaje son ubicuos (u-learning), es decir suceden a cualquier hora y desde cualquier lugar, a través de distintas apps y dispositivos móviles que resultan atractivos para los niños, para los jóvenes y también, para los adultos. Despiertan curiosidad, recursos, continuidad, inmediatez y motivación. El aula y el docente ya no ocupan los primeros escalones de la pirámide sino que que las tareas individuales y colectivas que se desarrollan fuera del aula por los propios “creadores del conocimiento”, es decir, los estudiantes, son esenciales en el proceso de aprendizaje y en la consecuente reflexión del propio proceso. Efectivamente, hay que promover el pensamiento crítico, la creatividad, la interacción y la propia reflexión del conocimiento adquirido a través de una correcta combinación entre tecnología y pedagodía.

Como apuntó Pérez de Pablos, “la clase ha perdido su protagonismo”, pero justamente por esa razón, el docente debe innovar con tareas y métodos de aprendizaje constructivos que faciliten el diálogo, el debate, el pensamiento crítico y por qué no la resolución de problemas que se acerquen a la realidad de los propios estudiantes, y con ello, a sus necesidades. Sí, hay que incentivar el aprendizaje autónomo, cooperativo y colaborativo en al aula también y ,por qué no, a través de herramientas digitales que faciliten dicho proceso.

Sí, veremos ese día, y casi diría que ya lo estamos viendo. Al entrar en algunas aulas, el estudiante ya tiene el móvil o la tableta encendida para la realización de actividades que mejoren el aprendizaje. Sin embargo, hay que invertir en educación. Son varios los centros que tienen escasos recursos para actualizar sus aulas con las mejores condiciones tecnológicas que faciliten las mejores aplicaciones pedagógicas. Sigamos invirtiendo en educación. Sigamos participando en el desarrollo de las tan populares habilidades del siglo 21 (21st Century skills). Sigamos recibiendo/contribuyendo en ese proceso de transformación educativa.

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