WhatsApp & More for Adult Learners

Two weeks ago I began a journey teaching ESL online to two groups of adult learners when our school district closed its doors in response to the outbreak of Covid19 in the United States. Today, I participated in a webinar in which I described my experience using WhatsApp as an online teaching platform for adult learners without resources beyond a smartphone. Adult learners are hardwired to solve real life problems in real time and that's what my classes and I did.  I did this without much outside help. David Rosen reposted my pleas, Glenda Rose urged me on, but mostly, I stayed up nights summoning all the education and experience I've accumulated to come up with a pretty basic solution to meeting the needs of my students.

David Rosen invited me to continue sharing my journey in a thread here, and so it begins. I'm going to share my journey in this very specific world: Teaching Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education by any means necessary. I invite your participation.

 

Comments

Yes, I’m using WhatsApp with my Basic ESL students. I hadn’t used it before, but it’s very easy to use and almost all of my students are familiar with it. They use their cameras to take picture of their work and send to me, I correct them and return them. They send me texts, voice messages and you can even set up groups. It’s not as good as being in the classroom with them, but since most of my students are refugees who are already staying in touch with friends and families through WhatsApp, it was the obvious solution as a learning platform for us. Who would have guessed there would be such a simple solution, right?

Dorothy Taylor

Educational Opportunity Center

SUNY/University at Buffalo

Hi Dorothy,

Yes! How do you deliver content? What topics or program framework do you use? I've heard that students can interact with each other in groups bur I haven't tried that. Have you?

Nan

 

Hi Nan & all,

Our university was warned we would go to online teaching shortly before we did, so I prepared paper binders for my students. I teach the basic ESL students reading. Another teacher has them for speaking, writing, and grammar, and another teacher for math. I decided to keep things simple and consistent for them so printed out 3 stories for each week of our term from the Marshall Adult Education website http://resources.marshalladulteducation.org/reading_skills_home.htm. I tried to keep to weekly themes, work, health, family, transportation, etc. They can listen to my voice recording of the stories from my ESL Links website http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~dtaylor/esllinks.html. They write answers to the questions, take a picture and send it to me through WhatsApp. I print them out, correct them, scan them, and send them back. If they don’t understand, they call me or leave a text or vm on WhatsApp. The 4th day (our classes met 4 days a week) the students do a cloze reading from El Civics https://www.elcivics.com/worksheets/cloze-exercises/printable.html We practiced in class for 2 days before going completely distance learning. They had a choice of e-mail, texting or WhatsApp for communicating with me. This group all chose WhatsApp and set up the group themselves. I contacted students who weren’t in class those 2 days and left notebooks for them to pick up at our school or scanned the stories and sent them as an attachment and the link to the Marshall Adult Ed website and my ESL Links website. I have lost a few students since we went to distance learning, but a core group seems to be sticking with it. I record the next week’s stories at the end of each week, and text them on WhatsApp whether I’ve heard from them or not that week. 
I also teach 2 computer classes to intermediate and advanced ESL students. They were a much easier transition because it was already web-based (USA Learns and a Wordpress blog). I check and respond to a daily question on the blog and give students a weekly report on their USA Learns activities through either WhatsApp or email. I teach an advanced ESL grammar/writing class using a combination of email, WhatsApp, texting, or phone calls for questions. They send handwritten writing and grammar assignments by taking a picture or typing if they’re comfortable. I correct, scan, send it back, with comments or extra practice or explanations if they need it. I normally teach the advanced students how to use Google Docs, but didn’t have enough time before we went to distance learning.

if I were teaching a speaking class, I would probably set up a Zoom room. Out university is providing lots of support for this, but I’m mindful of using my students’ data when it’s not necessary.

Apologies for the long post. I know we’re all trying to meet our students’ needs as best we can under the circumstances. I look forward to hearing what others are doing.

Dorothy

Educational Opportunity Center

SUNY/University at Buffalo

 

 

Hi Dorothy, Thanks a million for describing what you do! I'm going to pass this on to the practitioners I work with. A number of them use WhatsApp with their classes and this will give them a picture of how they could teach in a distance learning format with it. Diana

Hi Nan,

I believe all your students are immigrants. Are they all recent immigrants? Do they all have the same first language, or different first languages and countries of origin? What levels are they? All in one class, or classes with different levels? We know that they use WhatsApp, and that probably means they have smartphones but maybe not computers, right? What else would help us to understand their English language needs? And tell us, if you can, about how the coronavirus pandemic has been affecting them so far. were they employed and laid off from their jobs? Are they eligible for and seeking unemployment insurance? Do they know how to do that online?  If they were laid off what kinds of jobs did they have? Are some still working, and, if so, in what kinds of jobs. Are they looking for jobs and, if so, how? Online? How are they coping with staying home, and  with their families? What changes has this meant for them? Do you discuss any of these things in your online English classes, at least to some extent?

David

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

I welcome your inquiries, David, thank you. I’m going to answer your first batch of questions first.

Student Background

Yes, my all of my students have moved to the U.S. from other countries at one time or another. But I like to use the word migrant rather than immigrant, as the UNHCR defines 70 million people displaced from their homes, whether residing in their own countries, in transit, or resettled in a new one. Among these are asylum-seekers, people whose applications for sanctuary have not yet been processed, and refugees or refugee-background individuals, who cannot return to their homes for fear of persecution. I have all of these in my classrooms.

My current learners are from Haiti, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. They speak French, Haitian Creole, or Spanish. Some Haitian migrants arrived after the earthquake in 2010 and have attained citizenship. Many newcomers have come to join families and others have come to support the families they left behind.

Literacy

No matter their country of origin, the learners in adult education classes such as mine have little experience with classroom learning.  We call them Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE). Adults with high literacy skills are more likely to attend community college ESL classes and transition to degree programs. My students, on the other hand, are most familiar with learning within their communities, in cultures where orality is the norm. So, when these adults arrive in a language learning classroom, they have a different culture, a new language, and all the stressors from having upended their lives to resettle in a foreign place at work.  The result is a lot of struggling students.

In our normal classroom, we use a lot of scaffolding, in accordance with schema theory, to reduce the dissonance that students experience. We use familiar language and content when introducing academic tasks or thinking. That means that using learners' language, knowledge and experience form the foundation of lessons, around which teachers develop practice and extensions to facilitate the language acquisition process. But when the pandemic hit, this classroom model vanished.

In the minutes of scheduled classroom hours, my students and I created WhatsApp groups so that each class was connected using phone numbers. My students do not have computers and email addresses and many do not have Wifi in their homes.

Although almost every student has a smartphone, they were not using them in the way that many people in this country use them. This semester, my students began weekly computer lessons, beginning with learning the keyboard and mouse functions.  They had just begun these studies.  I had just started using a smartboard in class, and I enjoyed showing students my slow process so that they could see that I am an adult learner, too. And this semester I introduced QR codes to my Basic and Level 1 classes to complete textbook exercises. This was the level of our digital literacy when our school closed on March 12.

Teaching Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education at the time of this pandemic is especially difficult because most of these students have depended on speaking and listening in their first languages as their usual means of communication, including informal education. As a teacher I rely heavily on visual scaffolding (drawings, videos, charts, body language, TPR), speaking and listening (in multiple languages) to deliver instruction. I use Culturally Responsive Teaching and Freirean pedagogies not only to reduce cultural dissonance, but out of respect for adults who have overcome obstacles far more challenging than language acquisition in order to reach my classroom.  Thus, when a student is looking unhappy, I ask in class: What's wrong, Rosa? Can we help?

Then she explains that her brother left to return to Honduras and she can't pay the rent. We discuss. We don't "brainstorm." This is a silly word that takes more to explain than it is worth and it is a psuedo-academic term I reject. As adults, we are discussing a serious problem.  Borrowing money? Moving? Talking to the landlord? A second job? Home child-caring?   We discuss possibilities. Rosa decides to get a roommate. We all have friends and relatives who need a place. We shower her with possibilities.  That night, Rosa has a new roommate. 

That's what our class looks like on some days. 

So over the last few days I presented questions in on our WhatsApp classes:  Are you sick or healthy?  Are you hungry or angry?    Do you have work?

We did not have full-fledged discussions, but we did exchange some thoughts and feelings about these topics. Right now, while I'm writing this, a student texted me on WhatsApp asking for a letter to prove school attendance that he needs for the immigration application for his brother and I write to my boss. We are problem solvers involved in the full lives of our students. This isn't a literature class that ends at 10 a.m.  We talk about tough topics. My Level 1 class named our WhatsApp group Problem Solvers #1.

Sunday, I copied the photo/instructions on 14 steps to How to Wash Your Hands During the Pandemic from the New York Times and posted it from my PowerPoint to WhatsApp.  We used it for pronunciation practice. I read it line by line, so we had real photos, text and speech and time for students to process before they sent their audio recordings to which I could respond individually, thanks to learning about that button last Friday during a webinar.

The attendance is low now and I know some students have lost their jobs as restaurant dishwashers, landscapers, cashiers, shelf stockers, sales people, cooks, homecare givers, receptionists and they are too stressed to focus on studying English. Few have employment insurance options. In our state, the day laborers can no longer congregate at Dunkin Donuts and the homeowners are not going there to hire workers. Landlords may take advantage of undocumented tenants. They are unlikely to sympathize with the adverse circumstances of workers. Many students rent single rooms with or without kitchen privileges. Some are, or will be, hungry. Our schools provide free food for children two hours a day and I send this information to students.

When we have classes now, there are children in the background, sometimes big families stuck in small apartments. When I ask students to take a photo from their windows, they are photos of traffic and buildings.  Outside my window are bird feeders and gardens. We exchange our photos. I send videos of birds singing and my filling the feeders and my husband coming home with toilet tissue. This the nature of our classrooms.

Now, the discussion is reduced because this platform does not lend itself to looking into eyes and feeling the deep connection and trust we have in the classroom.  Now we feel the distance.


 

Hello everyone,

Here's a benefit of the WhatsApp teaching platform that surprised me: Students are completing their workbook assignments on a nightly basis and then able to participate better in the texting and voice-messaging. That is, they are now reading their answers, having processed the written work prior to class time.  Sort of like the Flipped Classroom.  Then, in the classroom, they are now spontaneously posting photos, since I'm posting videos, and we have an even more interactive exchange, which did not occur in F2F classrooms!

This is also like a visit to students' homes because now I'm seeing the children, the breakfasts, the watching TV photos they send.  We are finding new ways to develop interconnectedness!

 

Hello Nan and everyone,

I attended the webinar last week, Nan, and it was so helpful. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I've also been using WhatsApp with my ESL classes. One is intermediate/adv and the other is a group of mixed levels that includes several students at a very low level. 

I am glad I had WhatsApp already set up before our college closed so I could at least have that contact with them. I've been following your posts and descriptions of how you are using WhatsApp to connect, to share photos and video/voice messages. I didn't realize you had a workbook that the students all had at home to work along with. I wish I had something like that too, but our students are not given any curriculum. I put together my own materials from a variety of free online sources, some workbooks from our department and some I own myself. Since this all happened so fast, I wasn't able to put together a packet of work for them to take home. Lately, I have been sending a document attached to a WhatsApp message for students to read/work on at home. Some of the students are meeting with me on a Zoom live class and we talk and go over the work I sent out. I am trying to help more of them comfortable with Zoom. 

Part of the drawback of WhatsApp is the way the messages are just in a scroll, like a facebook newsfeed. Once I post something, and students respond, it gets lost in the scroll feed. If a student checks in on the group on their phone, and many only have a phone, no computer or laptop, if they don't scroll up they can easily miss my original message. Does anyone know of any other feature on WhatsApp that I am missing that would pin a post or save an important post somewhere more accessible?

The first week after our college closed on March 13th, I spent a lot of time collecting email addresses from the students. This gets them the access to Zoom. But I also thought I could use email as a better way to share documents and information. It does work well for some students. A small group of them are very comfortable with email and even send me google docs of writing assignments. Many more students send me a photo of a writing assignment on WhatsApp. 

Now, almost 3 weeks into distance learning, I am realizing that many students just don't check their email. They gave it to me when I asked for the address, but they don't really use it. They are much more comfortable and familiar with WhatsApp. So I am back to posting both with email and on WhatsApp and hoping everyone sees the message. I am trying to post more often. I made a video of how to access at home resources that many of them did watch. It still feels very disjointed, but I'm doing the best I can and learning all the time what works and what doesn't. I have a core group of about 8 out of 16 who join the Zoom class from the int/adv class and a group of about 12 out of 23 who join Zoom from the mixed level class. 

Thanks,

Jennifer Kluempen

ESL Instructor

Trenton, NJ

 

 

Hi Jennifer,

I hear your concern about students not checking email on a timely basis. Half of my Level 1 class have emails and I set up a Google Classroom, but only 3 students responded to the code and registered.  Clearly, having an email does not mean the same thing from one culture to another.

I feel the same way about WhatsApp, too.  When students don't attend, I text them on Message and get responses more quickly.

Also, I heard in a webinar yesterday that it's possible to make video calls on WhatsApp.  Have you tried that? I'm curious how a call would affect viewing the text and content thread.

I'm really perplexed that more adult educators aren't using this platform. One problem is for those who did not have the opportunity to set up WhatsApp with their students prior to school closings. Although there are instructions in multiple languages, nothing can really substitute for F2F interaction with a known teacher.

Now that we're on Spring Break, I'm looking forward to learning more about WhatsApp and how it can be used as a teaching platform. I hope to collaborate with others.

Nan Frydland

ESL Instructor

 

 

 

 

Hi Jennifer,

I have been playing with WhatsApp to find new ways to use it and discovered that you can tap on a screen and then scroll left or right, like reading a book. In this way, students can locate a question or document that preceded the most recent one. View a WhatsApp thread can be a tool for introducing students to reading books, and allow them to see the thread as a co-created one.

Nan Frydland

ESL Instructor

 

M. Scott Peck wrote in "The Road Less Traveled" that he wished the benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous could be shared with non-alcoholics. Specifically, the community spirit, the deep intimacy, the problem-solving abilities, the commitment to long-term spiritual development, and most importantly, the resolution of the crises that alcoholism produced. As  discussions blossom on this website about how to respond to our mutual crisis---school closures as a result of the Covid19 pandemic---and creative, innovative solutions are shared and practiced, I'm reminded of Peck's wisdom. He believed that it is only out of crisis that human beings realize their best, are motivated to do and give in ways that ordinary life does not promote, and ultimately, are transformed. Today, I am grateful for all the folks on LINCS who have contributed to the growing body of knowledge about distance learning. Because of people like David Rosen, Jen Vanek, and Glenda Rose, I can now use WhatsApp to teach and share my experience on webinars in Zoom. Because of this experience, I have transformed my view about integrating technology in my classrooms. I want to take the classes on Integrating Technology offered on LINCS, and during previews of those courses my mind had been opened to the benefits that all adult learners can experience. Because of the LINCS community I will become a better practitioner. I am deeply grateful for this experience.

Nan Frydland

ESL Instructor

 

 

Hi Nan and All,

I read your post and the other comments by members. The thread comments are all very helpful and informative. Thank you.

In connection, I am writing this extended note to share my experience with web WhatsApp. First of all, I did not know how to use WhatsApp until classes on campus were suspended and teachers needed to switch to online teaching. Few teachers from our program were already using WhatsApp prior to COVID-19, not for teaching rather for communicating with students in a speedy manner, in case there's a class cancellation due to weather conditions, room changes, and other issues. Inspired by fellow teachers, I thought I'd use WhatsApp. In addition, students were already familiar with the Application. I downloaded the free App on my mobile phone. The beginning of another pathway to learning....
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I don't text, so I use the web WhatsApp equivalent. With three online classes, I'm always on the computer; therefore, web WhatsApp works well for me and my class. The keyboard is better for typing and a better presentation of screen display. While working on other online classwork assignments from other schools, I can still see my  Adult ESL students' messages/questions and work submissions.....As already mentioned in the thread, WhatsApp allows students to submit work in documents, audio, and photos, post questions, and share class-related links. Certainly a fast way to communicate with the students and vice-versa. 


With the present circumstance, my students and I  have had to find ways to continue communicating in English. We do our best to work together, using the App they are already familiar with and with ZOOM, another online tool new to them.  With so may things happening, they navigate learning with an open mind. With kids at home doing remote learning as well, they are able to juggle their time so that they continue to learn English, be in touch with their classmates and spend time with family.

Again, thank you, Nan, for sharing this thread. Best to all....Margaret

 

Hi All - thank you so much! This thread is really helpful for me because I am teaching my beginners exclusively on Whats App and you've given me some great ideas.  One thing I've started doing  is recording my lessons on Quicktime Player (standard video on a Mac laptop) and uploading it to YouTube (it's easy to create an unlisted private channel.) I then send the link to my students on Whats App. Is it perfect? No. But it works pretty well and not eating up my students' data on their smart phones.  Stay safe and healthy everyone - Gloria

 

 

 

 

Hi Gloria,

Using QuickTime Player to record videos and uploading them to YouTube sounds like a great way to deliver instruction to students with limited digital literacy. Do you have students access the lessons on their own time or does your class watch and then participate in real time?  Do you assign a specific task connected to the videos? I think this is a great idea, thanks.

 

All the best,

Nan Frydland

ESL Instructor

Hello Gloria, and others, please take a look at this Integrating Technology group post

and Google Document (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1viA1bzLjqTb_2yCN0K437aVUifn6AuONS10JktBp94k/edit)

to see tips in using WhatsApp, including making and posting videos directly on WhatsApp. For further information about that, contact Paul Rogers whose email is listed in the Google Doc.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

 

Hi Margaret,

It sounds like you have your hands full of classes!  Where are you teaching? Who are your learners? It sounds like you are managing multiple classes.  Are any of them in real time?

I'm so glad to hear that you and your learners are using WhatsApp to continue learning during this challenging time. I hope to hear more from you!

All the best,

Nan Frydland

ESL Teacher

Hi Nan,

Lovely to hear from you....In response to your question, I work for three schools: Adult Learning Center at Lehman College (CUNY), New York Institute for Technology (NYIT), and Fordham University. Students are all ESL learners.

We meet through video conferencing and discuss what's on the agenda and their independent work - writing, Voice Threading, completing exercises/quizzes. Both NYIT and Fordham have uniform platforms (Blackboard and ZOOM) which are required of every class. Students have easy access and are proficient in computers and other online tools.
It is with my Lehman students that I use web WhatsApp in conjunction with Google Drive (docs and e-portfolios). Students navigate online tools presented to them as best as they can even with unpredictability and challenges. It is a learning process for both students and teachers.

We all work from home. We are isolated, yet we stay connected. I am always grateful to fellow teachers and colleagues. I hear great ideas from all corners.
Thanks again, Nan.
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Best,
Margaret

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for your response. Now I have a better idea of who your students are. Being able to use Blackboard and Zoom, their level of literacy and their access to digital literacy is far beyond that of my adult learners, who have scores around 170-200 on the CASAS tests and no computers, no access at this time to computers. I can see that WhatsApp works with the other platforms that offer you a wide range of opportunities for delivering instruction. I'm glad to hear that you combine tools in your instruction. I will be learning about these tools and how I might be able to incorporate more digital literacy in my classes.  I'm encouraged by your example.

All the best,

Nan

Hi Everyone,

In the short saga of coming to use WhatsApp to teach LESLLA and SLIFE, one objection I keep hearing is about the lack of privacy regarding phone numbers. But in one of my classes, no phone numbers are posted. So I wondered how that happened. It's pretty simple. In Settings, you can check on the privacy box NO ONE and no one can see your number. When creating the group, the administrator can do this and also use nicknames and no last names if desired.

Another feature I discovered was the ability to take a selfie in WhatsApp and post it. Although it's not video, it can be used for the class to "see" participants and create a sense of connection.

Those are this week's updates. I must say that the first three weeks were so stressful but in the fourth week of teaching solely with WhatsApp I came to find it easier than in-class teaching. In addition to the time saved in dressing and driving to school, I also didn't have to stand over a copier, find the sign-in sheet or reboot the smartboard ten times. I found that making videos that correlated to the textbook and workbook students had, and all the materials we had already co-created, a lot of fun. Some students enjoyed sending their own photos back to me, and then I incorporated them in the next day's materials. In this way I used technology to further objectives, which is the way I've heard it's supposed to be. 

I look forward to sharing more about the journey.

Stay healthy and calm!

Nan Frydland

ESL Instructor

Hi Nan,  After reading your post I realized I must have the same privacy settings already enabled for both of my WhatsApp groups. When the session started, I collected cell phone numbers and set up the group and I must have somehow chosen the privacy settings you are describing. So, I have their phone numbers, but no one else can see them or access them through the WhatsApp group. The name that I entered is the only thing that shows up, and that can be just a first name or first name and last initial sometimes.

I should have realized this was the case because last week we started a group project and some students were asking each other for their phone numbers so they could talk more together about the group project outside of our Zoom class.So they can't see the phone numbers from the WhatsApp group.

Thanks for sharing from your ongoing experiences. I'm learning so much from you and other teachers on this discussion.

~Jennifer Kluempen

ESL Instructor

Trenton, NJ

 

 

 

Jennifer and all,

When we set up our class group, phone numbers were private, too, but I’ve had students ask me to give other students their number so they could get in touch outside of the class group. In one case, it was a student from Ghana with higher reading skills who wanted to help a student from Somalia who is more challenged by reading. She had been helping her in class and wanted to continue to help her. Isn’t that sweet? 
Dorothy Taylor

Associate Professor

Educational Opportunity Center

SUNY/University at Buffalo

 

 

Using WhatsApp as a teaching platform, my students began to contribute to our Covid-19 curriculum in the last two weeks by sending photos and text to be used to create "book pages" of PowerPoint slides. They were assigned to submit four photos taken at different times in the day of their activities and to give each photo a title. We have already had two lessons on How to Protect Yourself & Others, one illustrated with black and white photos from The New York Times on How to Wash Your Hands, and the other illustrated with graphics from a government website (Wash your hands, Cover your face, Cover your cough, Wear gloves, Stay home). After viewing student activity photos, students will compare them with their activities before the pandemic (using past and present tenses). Then they will list 4 pros and 4 cons of their life under confinement. Finally, students will identify four activities that they are looking forward to when the shelter-in-place order is lifted. I hope to create a collection of their work and print it as a booklet, not unlike the collections that Voice of Witness has published about different immigrant populations and their experiences.

Is anyone else designing lesson units around the pandemic?

 

Nan Frydland

ESL Instructor
 

Hello All,

Nan, your lesson idea sounds so good. I am slowly starting some similar projects although they are not as coordinated yet. My colleague did a group video project with her beginner level class and I am using her idea.

For my intermediate/advanced level class we are starting a group video project. I have individual WhatsApp groups set up for them to work together with me on their video projects. They choose the topic/theme. I was interested to see that everyone has chosen a coronavirus related topic. I wasn't sure if students would want to focus on that but apparently they do. It makes sense as it is affecting all areas of our lives right now. We talk about the project together in a Zoom class, I have details posted in our Google Classroom, and they are working on it in WhatsApp groups all at the same time.

Each group of about 3-4 students work together on a chosen topic (examples: Health Tips, Social Distancing Guidelines, Things to do at home, Cleaning during the pandemic) Each student then records their own short 1 minute video of themselves talking about their topic, or demonstrating something. No one in our class has video editing skills, so I figured out how to put it together into a simple video using the Google Photos video tool. This is in progress right now, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it all comes together in the end. So far, I've received 2 video submissions, and I asked that they be completed by next Tues. They send me the video on WhatsApp.

I like your idea of looking to the future and thinking about what they are looking forward to when the restrictions lift. In one class we started taking about how we will have a big party together with everyone cooking favorite dishes when we can be together again.

Thanks,

Jennifer Kluempen ESL Instructor

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for sharing your lesson plan ideas.  You are showing me so many creative possibilities for long distance teaching and learning that I would like to learn to use. Your examples have convinced me that even in face-to-face classes, incorporating technology provides educational benefits to students that I hadn't seriously considered. I see that I have used my students' lack of computers and access to computers as an excuse not to move beyond the most basic of teaching platforms---WhatsApp. You have inspired me to learn more about the tools you're using, and then to become an advocate in my school to get Chromebooks for my students. 

I like the idea of cooking and sharing food in a party when restrictions are lifted.  A classroom cookbook has always been a favorite for project-based learning, with or without technology, so that could be combined with the festivities!

All the best,

Nan Frydland

ESL Teacher

Hi Nan,  

This sounds like a great project, incorporating specific English language skills learning, connected to important learning about the coronavirus, integrating technology skills learning and producing a product that may be of interest to family members, friends and possibly other adult English language learners. I hope that when this is done and your students have something they would like to share, if they agree, that you could post it, perhaps on a class web page, and share the link with us, so we can all see what they have created. Have you tried making a free class web page, for example using Weebly?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi David,

Thanks for your feedback. I just signed up for a Weebly website. Now, to set it up for students to share their work! I appreciate your advice.

Nan Frydand

ESL Instructor

 

 

 

Hi everyone,

So, I was initially wary about privacy issues, which is why I hadn't recorded any of my ESL Zoom classes. One of my colleagues organized a group video project for her low-level ESL classes and they responded so positively I decided to try it out for my intermediate/adv level class. They chose the topics, they practiced and recorded their videos and sent them to me on WhatsApp. I downloaded them onto my computer, and used a simple video editor on Microsoft to make a combined "movie" for each group. All I did was make the title card and connect the recordings together. I have to say some of the students had help from a family member who has fancier editing software. You can tell which ones. They added in music and graphics. I don't know how to do that yet!

All of these videos are posted on our department Youtube channel, which is public. I told them all ahead of time, so anyone who didn't want to participate could opt out, and a few did opt out which is fine. I'm so proud of their work. This was a really fun project that gave us all a boost.

Tonight is our movie night on Zoom. Although I'm having some trouble sometimes getting my audio to work when I screenshare to a website or youtube. Anyone know what that problem might be? I can hear the sound, but my students on Zoom can't hear it. It must be some setting of mine, but I can't figure out what it is. Here is the link to our department youtube channel, if anyone wants to take a look. My videos are listed with the title intro: "Ms. Jennifer presents..." You can also see my colleague, Annette's classes which are low level ESL and a variety of other videos.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIzXMZSFMDFK_w25d1n1w2Q  

Jennifer Kluempen

ESL Instructor

 

Thank you so much, Eric. This is really helpful. I will try both of those next time.

Tonight I figured out that I should click the first option, "share computer sound" and it worked ok, but the audio was weak. Students had a hard time hearing and it sounded weak to me too. So, maybe that will be better next time if I also choose "optimize"? I hope so.

I feel like this worked better for me a few weeks ago, but maybe I just forgot that I had to choose those settings? Maybe they were automatically checked awhile ago? I don't know. With all the new technology I am trying to learn it can be a strain on the brain. I was looking at my advanced settings, doing audio troubleshoot reports and all along it was a simple setting fix here.

Thanks again,

Jennifer

 

 

Thanks so much, Dorothy! It was really exciting to see how hard my students worked on this and how proud they were of their work.

One of the videos was flagged by Youtube for copyright issues on the background music. We had to take it down, and I've asked the student to re-do it with different music in the background. I had not thought of the copyright issue, so now I will make sure to point this out before we start any other new video projects. My student thinks it is actually music from public domain, so maybe youtube made a mistake? Could be, but we are re-doing it anyway. 

Jennifer

 

Hello everyone,

As the semester was about to close last week, I wondered whether my basic and level-one adult ESOL students had changed how they felt about digital learning since using WhatsApp as our classroom for eight weeks. Our digital literacy education began in February with QR codes, Duolingo, and messaging photos outside the classroom, and an interactive whiteboard in one class. We considered four ways of learning: orality, print literacy, digital literacy, and doing. Unsurprisingly, students with higher levels of literacy liked reading and writing, while the lowest literacy level students preferred orality. Also unsurprisingly, now that students have experienced a context for learning, and the immediate relevance of, distance learning, they reported interest in developing digital literacy skills both in our computer lab and in our classroom. Consistent with collectivist culture, they voiced that the teacher relationship mattered most. Notably, a student who is interested in acquiring a hairdresser's license, likes print literacy for learning, whereas a student working in a restaurant who is interested in becoming a cook, likes learning by doing. Most of my students are working parents interested in helping their children with all forms of learning.

My reticence to integrating technology in classrooms with SLIFE shifted as well, as the experience of using WhatsApp proved its immediate relevance when our classrooms were shuttered. Now I have been inspired to take LINCS classes Integrating Technology and Integrating Digital Literacy in English Language Instruction.  I plan to watch COABE webinars on Google docs, slides and classroom, and maybe attend a free New School for Social Research online class about distance learning that they are offering for free. I learned a lot reading Dr. Rose's "Teaching Adults English in the Digital World" and highly recommend that book. I delivered my first webinar three weeks after I jumped into distance learning and will continue to share my learning journey. A blog post for EdTech Center describing how to use WhatsApp for teaching is forthcoming. Answers to David Rosen's questions emanating from the Teacher Stories webinar are forthcoming as well.

Nan Frydland

ESL Instrutor

 

 

Hi Nan, and others who may know,

Irene Rodgers has question about data usage and costs when using WhatsApp. She wrote me, "One of my students initiated a WhatsApp video call.   We talked 40 minutes.  It worked well.  I  could show her text with the reverse camera view and make social connection and demonstrate pronunciation and activities and also show her text with reverse camera view, but what is it costing her?  For me it runs on WiFi so there is no data cost.   Her English comprehension and her digital literacy are both low level so she doesn't understand the question of cost.    Might she get a big unexpected bill?"  Irene also wondered, Nan, if you teach primarily with a combination of the voice, text, and short video messages or if you use Video calls. She added, "Thank you so much for any help.  Irene Rodgers, volunteer teacher for Lutheran Social Ministries in Trenton, New Jersey"

David J, Rosen, Moderator LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group  

 

 

Paul Rogers replied that there are no costs to use WhatsApp itself. He added, however, that a student's phone may get filled up with photos, and in that case the student might have to pay for extra memory or storage.

David J. Rosen, Moderatoir

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group

 

Phone memory clogged with photos is more a problem with iPhones than with Android. With Apple, you have to either buy a new phone with more memory or upload to the cloud. My Samsung A10e from Tracfone allows me to easily insert a micro SD card to expand the phone's memory. SD cards can be swapped out as they fill up.

Yes, David, that's right.  Using WhatsApp is free, but everyone is responsible for their own storage charges. WhatsApp provides a Setting option for automatically saving photos or not.

Nan Frydland

ESL Teacher

Hi everybody,

As schools are finishing their academic year, I’m wondering if any are conducting student surveys to find out how students felt about their distance learning experience. I used primarily What’s App because that’s what my students chose to use. Counseling staff at our school are conducting surveys right now, I think having counselors conduct the surveys will get more accurate results because most of my students are too polite and kind to critique their teacher directly. I’ll be happy to share our results when I receive them. I’d appreciate it if others who have conducted student surveys would share them with the group as well.

Dorothy Taylor

Educational Opportunity Center 

 

 

Hello Dorothy,

I am glad you asked this question because we need to better understand the sudden and widespread transition from in-person to remote or online learning from adult learners' perspectives. For those who think a survey of your students is worthwhile I have created survey questions that you are welcome to use as they are, or to adapt to your needs. You will find them on a Google form at https://forms.gle/RcurupXPjhPLTf3u7. If you want to use them as they are, you can just give your students the link to this form and in June I can post the results here for all the students who take the survey using this form. If you want to see the results for just your students, however, you will need to copy (and perhaps adapt) the questions on your own Google form. Please post a link here to your student survey questions, and your summarized results, so we can all better understand student perspectives on this transition.  Thanks.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group