Edouard-Montpetit, Heritage, Vieux Mtl - Business in a 2nd Language (English-français)

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Edouard-Montpetit, Heritage, Vieux Mtl - Business in a 2nd Language (English-français)
English

Location

Montreal, Longueuil and Gatineau, Quebec
Canada
CA

Beginning in January 2013, three colleges in Quebec's cegep (junior college) system collaborated in teaching their course on using a second language for students in Business. One of the colleges was English language of instruction and so gave the course in French whereas the other two were French language of instruction with a course on English.

Anglais 410 course plan

This is following a meeting with Rebecca on January 8 where we discussed the first six weeks of the course. We noted a number of elements including the following:

  • Although our courses are going to be at the same time and as a result of our efforts two semesters ago, both have labs that are two periods long, Rebecca's course is one week ahead of mine for most of the semester.
  • We have indicated a number of opportunities for Claudie to intervene which, of course, must be discussed with her.
  • The course plans do not need to be identical. What we need to ensure is that we have planned a number of exercises that are structured to promote interactions between our students.
  • The grammar segment which is done in-class will be different. We are both, however, trying to use a flipped classroom approach to this material.
  • Synchronous conversation do not need to include the entire class as long as meaningful asynchronous activities have been planned for students not participating in discussions. This means that the teacher can intervene more directly in student synchronous exchanges and the feedback, which was a major problem last year, will be significantly reduced.
Results of meeting on Wednesday January 16, 2013

Click on text below for copy of revised course plan.

I feel bad about the fact that I didn't have time to get Rebecca really oriented on using Newsactivist at this meeting. We will be meeting again on next Wednesday, however. I want to track the decisions that we made in light of the problems that were facing us on January 8.

  • Although our courses are going to be at the same time and as a result of our efforts two semesters ago, both have labs that are two periods long, Rebecca's course is one week ahead of mine for most of the semester.
    • Moodle couldn't meet this condition elegantly. Because, we would be using two weeks simultaneously, we would have to keep all the weeks on the course in Moodle open. Towards the end of the course, this would mean a lot of scrolling.
    • Neither of us liked Moodle's editing options either. The text boxes are small and so the interface is not WYSIWYG.
    • We concluded that we should use my website at CVM which is edited using Dreamweaver.
  • We have indicated a number of opportunities for Claudie to intervene which, of course, must be discussed with her.
    • Because our course plans are getting more concrete, it becomes easier and easier to plan opportunities for Claudie to interact with our students. The comments feature in Newsactivist is perfect for this. Rebecca insists that here students must at least write some of any entry in her class in English and so we are considering asking students to write a post in English and then summarize in French allowing Claudie's students to react in French.
  • The course plans do not need to be identical. What we need to ensure is that we have planned a number of exercises that are structured to promote interactions between our students.
    • We worked to harmonize our classes. Rebecca will give a lot of activities simultaneously with my class by moving the activities to a different week of her course.
  • The grammar segment which is done in-class will be different. We are both, however, trying to use a flipped classroom approach to this material.
    • Rebecca opted out for a grammar workbook with an online component. I was a little concerned that my students would not pay the $60 for this material and am investigating an online Moodle platform for Grammar from Tango Publications for less money. I would also look for rights to this material and then make my own pre-class quizzes with Netquiz.
  • Synchronous conversation do not need to include the entire class as long as meaningful asynchronous activities have been planned for students not participating in discussions. This means that the teacher can intervene more directly in student synchronous exchanges and the feedback, which was a major problem last year, will be significantly reduced.
    • Our reworking of the course plan reflected this fact.

Next week I want to review the website with Rebecca. I would also like to knwo if Claudie would like us to make any changes.

Document test

This is a link to the document: H13410SP.doc

Questions for meeting Rebecca and Norm on January 16, 2013

Hi Rebecca!
I've been watching a few of the videos you proposed, and I think we've got the makings of a really dynamic course here.

When we meet tomorrow I would like to cover the following topics based on the AQPC meeting last week as well as the work we've done:

What form will our Dragons Den presentation take? Which Evaluation sheet will we use?

What other evaluations are we looking to give?

How do we get our students to the point where these evaluations flow from the material we are presenting?

How linked will our two groups be? How will we work with Claudie?

How will we use our now many platforms? Moodle? Newsactivist? Léa? Can we arrange an external link from Moodle to Newsactivist and back again? (Read this wee's column in Profweb)

How much of what we've already done last year should we scrap in favour of what is admittedly more targeted material for our final goals?

Where are we meeting? Should I come to you or you to me?

Tomorrow should be good!

Norm

Moodle

An interesting issue about Moodle has surfaced. I exhibited at the Vanier Ped Day next to François Lizotte of DECclic. I gave him my two main objections to using Moodle in my class this semester, namely that we couldn't activate two weeks of class simultaneously and that the text boxes to add data were too small. He showed me how to activate the two weeks in question only and demonstrated how to expand the text boxes.

If I was doing this course for just ourselves, I would use my own website. I feel, however, that given that François has demonstrated how to overcome my two main objections to the site and that we are doing this to blaze a path for others, we should use Moodle because it will more likely be useful to future participants.

Damn!

Still unsure about Moodle but

Still unsure about Moodle but I'll save my decision until after we meet and you show me.    See you Monday.

Meeting with Gabe on Tuesday January 22 2013

If you're reading this, you can guess that I'm using this thread to document our progress in giving the course English in Business becasue we have received a grant to develop this process and I see the Teacher's Forum as a way of holding my information until needed to be synthesized into reports and presentations at the end of the semester. 

I met with Gabe at his home in Outremont. What I want to document here is the uncertainty of working with someone developing a software site. My first problem was that I had assignments that were not appearing in my two classes. The mechanism for making the posts appear in the class is simple enough, but I didn't understand that the class had to be left selected in a list. There is no satisfying click or indicator to confirm a selection within a group. Oddly enough, you also can't post to two groups.

Gabe explained to me that some features in Newsactivist were achieved by importing blocks of pre-programmed code from the Drupal community which is the open source CMS that Newsactivist is created from. You get a lot of features, but you also get some features that appear and don't work. Getting these features to work can be very time-consuming and can actually eliminate any benefit that one had acquired by importing the whole block of programming. 

Gabe has discovered that the easiest way around this is to avoid using troublesome features. We agreed to not use the events or calendar features with our students in order to save the money involved trying to make these features work this year. Next year is another story.

Another reason not to work on developing non-functional features is because the whole site including entries may migrate to another server. The programming here would be done before the site went public allowing the programmer to work on ironing out bugs in the current code without disturbing users.

I'm seeing a view of software development that I've never been in on before.

Hello to all

Hi Norm, Rebecca, and Claudie!

Reading Norm's last post gives me a perspective that is important to reiterate: all teachers and students using this site this semester share the exciting possibility of being able to shape this new and developing site as it grows, sometimes by discovering certain bugs or features that are not quite ready for use. Being a part of this project will push me and this site forward and allows us to all be sharing the shaping of the site, and it makes it exciting for our students to be using such a new web-tool, but they should be informed we are using such a tool, an ambitious website with little funding thus far, that works, but is going to be improved a lot by our use of it this semester.

My campus directorhas allotted ten hours of technician pay per month through June to help in the maintenance and improvement of the site. I told him how we have used a lot of time getting the teacher's forum up and runnning in January (here we are using it!) and that we could use a little more of the technician's work in January, as we've used up his ten hours of time, but I discovered in my first classes using the site this week that certain privacy features (which are crucial) needed to be fixed. Luckily, he alotted another five hours of technician time to the site for January, and the privacy of students is now avaiable. I am adding the below note about privacy to the FAQs section of the site, but here is how to keep students' posts private, but visible to the teacher:

When a student wants to keep a post or posts private, the easiestway to do so is to share the post "only with friends" (an option on the content submission form) and have the teacher of the course be the student's friend.

Yesterday, this was working to make the "only my friends" post private within a certain class, yet the private post was still showed up on the front page of the site! With the extra technical time, we've already started tweaking the site and now posts shared "only with friends" really are not visible to other site users at any place on the site.

Such is the way this site's ongoing development will flow in real time! As teachers and students find flaws or have ideas of how the site might flow better, please always share them! I hope to keep improving the site for all of us.

So, hello to Rebecca and Claudie! Let me know when I can visit your classes to share the site with your students, if you would like that, and otherwise, see you here in this forum as we plan together.

Best,

Gabe

Meeting with Rebecca

Rebecca and I met on Monday January 28. She created a class on NewsActivist and we reviewed our class plans. We realized that Claudie had really meshed her class plan with the preliminary plan that we had sent her. I'm feeling that things are finally beginning to mesh.

One of the things that Rebecca and I decided was to use Moodle only for a vehicle to structure our classes. Homework assignments will be on our individual Lea sites or on our individual NewsActivist sites. One of the nice things about NewsActivist is that students in the other class can visit, but the teacher can structure things independently. This is logical given that the classes are often a week out of synch, and we can balance things by adjusting assignments. As well, it means that Claudie's students can intervene.

I'm feeling increasingly prepared to begin. I don't think that I'm going to use a book but will rely on quizzes made in NetQuiz, Nick Walker's Virtual Writing Tutor, which Rebecca is using and funnelling feedback to Nick with, NetQuiz and other online resources. Profweb's column this week was about making e-books and I might organize one for students the next time around!

Class post now that there has been one class!

How does a class post work? I went on to Rebecca's class site with its snazzy new logo. I saw the post for the homework, but I didn't see any posts by students. It will be interesting to see what form they take when they arrive.

Superbowl was a great event! ;-)

Click on another class

Click on another class (Newsactivism 2013 will work or Kaldor's sociology class) and you can see how the posts will show up, most recent at the top!

Let me know if that helps,

Gabe

I can see clearly now

I went on to one of the classes from Farleigh Dickinson University and left a comment. It's fun!

Gabe R U Coming to my class on Monday?

Nuff said!

See you Monday

Hi norm 

see you Monday. Where and when shall I Meet you? Your office at noon? Can you provide the office number for me again?

Best,

gabe

ps: how was the class for you and your students Monday, Rebecca? Nice to have met you! 

 

First class Monday

Hi Gabe,

Come to my class for noon! The class begins at 11:30 and so by noon the preliminaries will have been presented and we can focus on the mechanics of registering on Newsactivist and then go to the language lab to do it! The room number is A8.10 right next to my office at A8.30c.

I should be in my office by 10am.

Regards Norm 

ready to test again

Today, my Friday group will be posting their definition of Ethical Business and also the link to the articles they found supporting their opinion.  I hope it goes well.  At least, it will give your students something to comment on soon.

Please forgive me!

I've been trying to post on Moodle for a few hours now. It works, but to call it slow is being complimentary. I have a feeling that the link might be faster in a hard-wired network, but I give up! It's literally like watching the proverbial paint dry.

I made my class on my website with Dreamweaver. Rebecca, if you send me your material in Word, I'll put it up for next week.

Mea culpa! Mea culpa!

After Week 1

I just wanted to document what happened after my first class. It really is amazing how goals do not always enter into the time allotted. Gabe came and demonstrated how to log in. A number of my students ran into problems registering for Newsactivist because when you reset a password, the site asks you for your old password BUT you are not always given your existing password during the reset process. The temporary fix for me was to tell the 2 or 3 students that this happened with to send me their work on MIO. Once we've resolved the problem, they can post on Newsactivist.

That being said, this class was already much better than last year. The assignment on Newsactivist made students autonomous learners. They worked enthusiastically. I suggested that they could comment on other posts but for the moment I feel that they were quite motivated and actually learning doing their own and forcing comments was too much too soon. Next week, we'll see how we can get students to make comments on posts from other groups.

I feel we should use the teleconferencing very sparingly, making sure that we don't make students too powerless in facing technology without us. I really like the idea of working to guide students in conversations rather than letting them all run free while we frantically make technical corrections.

Rebecca, I'd like to know how arrangements are coming for Avrum's visit next week. I contacted Gilles Forest of our audio service to make arrangements at our end. I'm assuming that we can use Adobeconnect, but I've got a call into Jonathan at the CCDMD to see if we still have permission to use the system. Has Michel Vincent made any requests? Daniel Bourry wants me to go through a test preferably on Thursday morning before my webinar.

Regards,

Norm

as I mentioned.

Glad it went well.  Technology is wonderful and motivating when it works.

I am all set for Avrum, but as I mentioned in the e-mail I sent you, we will have to use a webcam because the live-feed is impossible from this end.  The college is very hesitant to let anyone but people from that department use the equipment.  Michel is on vacation until the 18th although I doubt he'd be able to get any further than I have as it seems to be policy.

Let me know if the CCDMD site is still functional.  I have reserved the classroom from 1:00 on so that we are not jumping back and forth from the lab to the classroom. Thursday would be a good day to test for me too.

Comment sent to Rebecca and Avrum after Feb 18 lecture

I was going to put my reactions into our blog on Newsactivist, but your letter has given me an opportunity to structure my responses and then just paste them into the blog.

Please provide me with feedback (the good, the bad and the ugly):

  • ·         Format

Format gets a passing grade but just! Notwithstanding my feedback below, the presentation worked and actively interested at least two-thirds of my students.

The next time we have a speaker, the host school should put the PowerPoint presentation directly into the Adobe Connect interface. We didn't need an image of the presentation on the screen. It's at an angle and too hard to read. Thecamera could focus on Avrum's face which could have been a vignette like we have when we meet virtually. The sound was survivable but cut out too much. Any more than it did and students would have lost interest.

I broadcast the image on a large screen and put the dialog through speakers. Next time, if we're in a language lab, I will broadcast the image to each monitor, allowing students to listen individually.

  • ·         Content

The content was excellent. There was a lot of research here and the graphic interface was an excellent means of getting your point across. You covered both sides of the question alternating from personal ethics to corporate ones. The same phenomenon has been happening in my students' posts on the blog.

  • ·         Presentation

The presentation needed more student involvement. I hate to say that we're teaching the Sesame Street generation, but an hour of pure lecture, particularly on screen is a long time to ask anyone to stay attentive for.

A second time, I would have suggested that questions be inserted at the end of each section of the presentation. This would have obligated students to talk. In the online presentation, we can put students into small break-out rooms and let them debate the questions on their own. All of us including Avrum could go from group to group giving our views.

Avrum, I would like to thank you once again for your participation in this project. As I said, our students do appreciate preparation and thoroughness, even though they don't always include these qualities in their work. The fact that most of my class listened attentively is a major accolade.

Design Issues for the site

I will post this here, but have also created a thread for design suggestions. But Norm and I discussed a few larger site design issues this morning, and so I'll include them in this thread. The below issues may not be resolved until the end of the semester, since design and implementation might lead to bugs or make certain time-sensitive work unavailable.

1. We would like to Private class material that is to be seen by several but not all classes- how to navigate this?
--- norm has request to "only see in certain classes"
--- It is important to note that back-end shifts in types of content or class can lead to problems with content already submitted from different menus.

2. Activities that don't have links to news stories? Shall there be a category that is default hidden from the front page for more reflectional or compositional work that is not yet ready for front page sharing?

3.It would be good if teacher's could organize the material posted by their students in certain threads, such as according to assignment or at least by date or some such system. The search function and tagging allow for certain possibilities in the current design, which Norm will be testing with his classes to see if it allows enough control of content.

Testing two types of video-teleconferencing.

In our class of February 25, we will be testing two types of recorded conversations. Rebecca and I have made a group of four advanced students whom we will ask to leave the class before the discussions and whose cell numbers we will have. We'll make an appointment with the students for let's say 1:30 and call them through Skype to participate in a recorded group discussion at a different location. We could suggest that if they have a laptop and a Skype account we could call them on their Skype account as well. By using the laptop they could access information such as the discussion grid and the PowerPoint presentation prepared by Avrum during their discussions.

Other students will be using Adobe Connect. I will be recording the conersations. Right now, I am assuming that I can log in as a moderator simultaneously from two locations. I'll try to test this before class.

conversations

Hi Norm.

As I mentioned last week on the phone and again in an e-mail, my students cannot use their cell phones for the conversations as it violates the technology usage policy of our college.  Should I switch them to another group or open an Adobe Connect group for them.  Either is fine with me but I don't want you waiting to connect with them via cell because we need to find another method of communcication.  Let me know tomorrow am.

Grammar Reflections

I'm now in the third week of classes and I'm getting pretty excited about my Grammar Reflections module. It has been very easy to get students to volunteer to present - so far. The first presentation was a little weak in explaining the mechanics of that particular aspect of grammar that the student is focusing on, but I believe that the next presentations will be more aware of this requirement.

As well, each week I've been sending out small quizzes to my students to highlight the errors that the student will be discussing in a reversed classroom strategy. The first quiz was a little hard to make, but I realized that for the second quiz, I could use the student's own work from Newsactivist, put it into Netquiz and created a cloze exercise for the students to complete. It gives more detailed feedback to the student who is presenting and truly alerts other students to the nature of the grammar errors that will be presented. 

Grammar Reflections

I'm now in the third week of classes and I'm getting pretty excited about my Grammar Reflections module. It has been very easy to get students to volunteer to present - so far. The first presentation was a little weak in explaining the mechanics of that particular aspect of grammar that the student is focusing on, but I believe that the next presentations will be more aware of this requirement.

As well, each week I've been sending out small quizzes to my students to highlight the errors that the student will be discussing in a reversed classroom strategy. The first quiz was a little hard to make, but I realized that for the second quiz, I could use the student's own work from Newsactivist, put it into Netquiz and created a cloze exercise for the students to complete. It gives more detailed feedback to the student who is presenting and truly alerts other students to the nature of the grammar errors that will be presented. 

Post Mortem of Avrum Goldman Discussion in class on February 25

I just wanted to write down my reactions to the post mortem discussion that we had in class. I've finished grading two discussions - the one that was done on Skype with two students and one four student discussion that was done on Adobe Connect. The class on my end was a bit nerve-wracking but a lot less so than last year. 

For one thing there were fewer people. The idea of only having half of the class involved in the discussions paid off in two ways. For one thing, when there are technical problems, the whole class is not sitting around feeling that the entire lab is a waste of time. I can also devote more time to each student. Two of my students couldn't get on in one of the discussions and I can just reschedule them for next week. For another thing, there was way less feedback. On the conversation on Adobe Connect that I listened to and graded, there was almost no feedback. There is a real potential for meaningful discussion. I've graded three of Rebecca's students. Panay is great but Cédric and Aline were pretty passive. I'll send out all of the evaluation sheets for Rebecca to distribute probably before our meeting on Thursday.

One of my students, Sam resloved my technical problem. In Adobe Connect, at the top right of the meeting screen in the meeting dropdown menu, there is an item called audio setup wizard. I didn't know that certain posts in our lab needed to have the wizard run before students could connect. This should be a lot less of an issue the next time around.

The Skype discussion between two of my students was great. The recordings were clear, although not as clear as the discussions on AdobeConnect. I think that the point of this exercise that Rebecca missed was that I sent my students out of the classroom. I told them to go anywhere - to go to the cafeteria etc and just wait for my call. This again makes the lab less noisy. Rebecca, can your students leave the lab and take their call elsewhere?

Wrapping up a rough semester

I don't know if Susan and Gina can read this, but I hope that eventually they will log on. I'm continuing to keep a journal of our activities with an eye to documenting the project to create an article for Pédagogie Collègiale.

After Rebecca's class withdrew from the project around Week 12 because of technical difficulties, I wondered whether the project would continue. At that point, if we hadn't already received funding for another year, I think I would have stopped. I realized that the amount of work required to set up our synchronous exchanges was enormous. This workload, however, was largely predicated on the technical difficulties that we were experiencing.
For example, I learned that Edouard-Montpetit had switched to Windows 7 in their laboratory during our semester and were having a lot of trouble with X class software. I saw this by chance in a post on the REPTIC listserv. I am very curious to see how the conferencing works with another group because I did notice that conversation which I moderated tended to go better technically than those that were being moderated through the bandwidth at Edouard-Montpetit. The lesson I have taken out of this experience is that everything needs to be checked and if possible, technical support needs to be in the class at least for the first two syncronous sessions.
Another lesson that I learned is that synchronous discussions are not the only tool in the toolbox. Once I stopped trying to interact with Rebecca's class, I used NewsActivist to get my students' business plans reviewed by Gabe's students in Humanities at Champlain-Saint-Lambert. The results were really impressive.
Another phenomenon that began to operate in my class was that my students produced their own technological solutions to problems. Two of my students produced videos to explain their grammar errors in posts that they had submitted on NewsActivist. The explanation was a course requirement, but the video presentation wasn't. The students were extremely enthusiastic and the results indicated that they had put a lot of effort into their presentation - which definitely is the goal of the course.
My class was not as bothered as Rebecca's class by technical problems for a number of reasons. For one, the presentation by Kathy Assayag at CVM was not broadcast to Rebecca's students because of a problem in the lab at CEM. My students, however, saw the presentation and so the conversations and assignments resulting from this presentation made more sense to them. I also think that I was more used to dealing with technology that doesn't always work and my attitude communicated to students.
In any case, after the shock of the departure of CEM from the project, my students really produced. Final projects were amazing and the entire DragonS' Den final project was a roaring success. One of the Dragons, my ethical dry cleaner, can't wait for next year.
The ethical aspect of the course was another success. My students indicated that they had not covered ethical businesses in any other class which meant that they were getting new information, relevant to their discipline, through their English class.
My students' final results made my presentation at RASCALS a lot easier. I had intended to recruit a partner at RASCALS and wound up interesting a number of people in the project and getting a firm committment from Lisa Deguire in Chiccoutimi, a cegep with a lot of technical expertise and experience in distance learning. At the RASCALS Presentation, Manon Parent of cégep à distance told me that they will help teachers with technical problems in teleconferencing. I will definitely be communicating with her over the summer.
ALthough I thought I had lined up an FLS component for next year with Heritage College and Vanier, they both withdrew when it became evident that the teachers who were giving the business course would both be doing so for the first time. Knowing that i didn't have an FLS component allowed me to be more open to new possibilities. In conversation with Gina Lavine and Susan MacNeil of Laflèche and Merici respectively, I learned that they had a similar problem of varied skill levels in ESL for their ESP courses in Hotel Management and Food Services. It is looking pretty good that these two groups will join the project for a class in Autumn 2013 and I will be partnering with Lisa Deguire for English in Business in Winter 2014.
An exciting opportunity that has occurred is that Joliette is considering using the virtual language lab of DECclic. I would like to try it to do synchronous conversations with my groups and potentially, because of a surplus in this year's operations, I will be able to bring Odette Mercure who teaches English in Business at Joliette into the project along with the virtual language lab.

Meeting of HICCUP Group

The second meeting of the HICCUP group took place virtually at 2PM on June 20, 2013. Present were Norm Spatz, Gina Lavine and Susan MacNeil. Although we didn't state it as a goal of the meeting, one of the results of this virtual meeting was greater familiarity with the Adobe Connect Platform.
Initially I thought that we were going to get into specifics about how to allow the two groups to profit from information technology even though they weren't going to have synchronous labs. One method was having teachers be online during virtual job interviews in order to give them more of an appearance of reality. These conversations can also be recorded and reviewed at a later date. This prompted the question of choice of webcam. I must find out the model that we ordered to see if LaFleche and Merici want to harmonize their webcams with those of the project. In any case the project will pick up the cost of their purchase.
Gina will be looking to update her class plan as a result of the grant. It was decided that rather than discussing this during the meeting, we would post on a document in Google Drive which everyone could comment on. Furthermore Gina and Susan will meet face-ti-face in Quebec City on June 27 as Gina will be driving through returning from Baie Comeau. There will be a further face-to-face meeting between the three of us on July 2.