ESOL Webinar 6th December. Incentivising learners


Crickey! The technology really got to us on this webinar but nonetheless it was an exciting session as we had Martin Compton,teacher trainer from Ealing,Hammersmith and West London College (and ex ESL teacher) who came to talk to us about some of his ideas. Martin really had to overcome quite a few technical hurdles to get to us;one of them being the melt down of the internet in large swathes of West London,something we hadn’t thought of in the backup plan!

Yet we started off our ‘incentivising learners’ session by looking at how learners can be enticed with the appeal of visually attractive tools such as Glogster and Blendspace. Blendspace seemed to arouse a bit of interest as it is an organic way of bringing together everything from videos to web pages in a way that learners really like.This prompted Barnet and Southgate College to reflect on the common feedback from ESOL learners who say that Moodle is visually boring and not interactive enough. So we discussed possible solutions to this like creating a ‘ mixed economy’ within Moodle itself; for example embedding tools such as Prezi, Glogster and lots of others, that we have already looked at in previous webinars. Redbridge Institute also mentioned that they used Tagxedo; a useful word cloud tool for ESOL learners as there is the silver light function which allows you to hover over a word and highlight it thus drawing  attention to specific lexical items in a very visual way.

Our next point was collaboration. Collaborating is vital for ‘active learning’ in the ESOL classroom and there are an overwhelming choice of tools out there to do this.Indeed many tools do come and go but I suggest that what we should keep in mind is the principle rather than the tool itself, for example; piratepad, linoit or padlet more or less work in a similar way but it is the fact that learners can work together, to create something or peer assess each other, that is the exciting incentive here. The tools can then be chosen because of  personal preference or their compatibility with our specific systems. For example I love Padlet (but I don’t have shares in it honest!)

Martin then looked at the themes of gamify and reward. We discussed avatars, we already mentioned the use of Voki avatars in the last webinar, but the avatars idea is great for learners who maybe want to remain a little anonymous or feel a bit shy and this can help them to build up confidence by speaking English behind a created character. We then looked at Quizlet, which turns out to be a very popular tool, great for setting up ESOL lexical exercises and it offers different gaming options.  Martin also talked about how brilliant Qr Codes are as you can differentiate activities by concealing some prompting text in a worksheet or gamify a lesson by setting up Qr codes around a class. Here learners can then scan the codes with their mobile phones and answer questions,solve puzzles and more. Some great ideas here on including this Treasure hunt Qr creator which I think is brilliant.

Carrying on with the theme of treasure hunts, Martin showed us a range of tools that he used to create a treasure hunt for his teacher training course. Box, a highly recommended content sharing system, was used for storing the core document, which is a series of questions. Prezi was then used as the host of the treasure hunt complete with pirate treasure map and videos containing answers to the questions. Once the learner has answered all the questions or ‘cracked’ the codes they get a certificate. What is really great here is that Martin’s treasure hunt is freely available to download and re-purpose so we really look forward to sharing some ESOL treasure hunts next year.

Next, we heard from Max Norton,RSC adviser in London, about one of the buzz terms of this past year which is ‘Open badges’. Open badges seems to be causing a bit of a stir in the academic world as they are not simply a badge or a certificate but quite a serious idea for encouraging and rewarding learners with an online certification system.These badges might, in the future, be put on online C.Vs or professional profiles such as Linkedin.  The latest version of Moodle also has an open badge option so this may soon be coming near you! So we wondered if it is an idea that could incentivise ESOL learners. Some participants felt this may be more suited to young learners and others thought learners would be keen as many love getting certificates generally. Someone also suggested that it would also be good for non accredited ESOL courses or for portfolio building courses. On a final note an ESOL tutor from Kensington and Chelsea told us that she has created her own loyalty card ‘coffee’ shop style which apparently really works!  Open badges issued by RSC London (see image above) are being sent out to all those who managed to attend the webinar!
The last item we looked at was something that came up on the pre-activity pad, that introduced the session with a really fun video created by Martin using Powtoon.  One of the questions there was how can we use Pinterest?  Pinterest is one of those incredibly simple tools that seem to be gaining increasing popularity so we looked at some of the ways it can be used in an ESOL context that go beyond simply collecting interesting links. This includes creating Storyboards, comparison language and more. Do check it out and add more ideas.  Phew! Here is the recording of the webinar so that you can hear more about Incentivising learners.

The next webinar is should we use social media with ESOL learners? Join us on the 7th February 12-1pm. Book here 


Do you have any ideas you would like to share or something you would like to ask? Please contact me

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