Monday, August 4, 2014

Using Canvas for CALL

You can view my course publicly by following this link: Joy's CALL Lesson. When you are there please go to "pages" and go through that page and follow instructions.


Some reflections on producing a CALL lesson with Canvas... We found out last week that anyone can use the Canvas system for free. So since then I have been migrating from my school's version of Canvas to the real thing. At that point I was exhausted from looking at my lesson and so took some time off.

But now that I look at Canvas and work my way around it I find that it is actually pretty easy to use. Plus they have guides to help you set your course up and in the end you have a lot of tools such as quizzes and assignments to help keep track of student work on the site.

It seems there is a lot to learn but I'm excited now that I can explore all this at my leisure. Yet at the same time I feel challenged to understand better how to make the online learning experience just as rich as the in-class learning experience. When I think about this I start to feel that perhaps we need to just let that go. The online-learning experience is perhaps a whole world of its own. I think most students should have a background of using technology and that we should integrate this kind of knowledge and skills into online learning. But for language learning you need to take things a step further by allowing room for not just reading and clicking but interaction with the language. Thankfully, there are a lot of CALL tools out there such as voice recording apps, conference type apps and editing documents together such as in Google docs.

I think the key to this would be to sequence the directed actions students take in one's online course. So that first they complete an online task you designed, whether it be content loading of information via reading, listening or watching (video) and then some kind of practice in a format that can be recorded and assessed. Then there should be an element of production where they take the content and the practice and produce something that is either a writing or speaking element. My CALL lesson is meant to do this in that students eventually create their own photo-narrative using an online tool of their choice. Giving students choices in an online environment I think is a wise thing to do as it mimics the reality of using the internet. Whereas, not everyone uses the same tools or creates information in the same way.

Also creating a collaborative and supportive learning environment is also important. It was suggested to us that in the beginning of our course to have some kind of activity where students get to know each other so it's not like everyone is a stranger online.

Anyways, it's been interesting learning all this and I hope to continue on with it after this quarter has completed. I welcome your comments on my very rough Canvas lesson that I linked to above.

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