Technology in blended learning: eBooks03-Dec-2012
Looking back over the past three years of my personal and professional development at AVO-Bell Language and Examination Centre in Sofia, I strongly believe that those years have been among the most exciting and inspiring periods of my life.
At present my job is my hobby. Every day I enter the classroom I feel satisfied, because I know that I am able to control my talking time as a teacher and transform lessons into student-centered ones.
I have managed to do this thanks to the IT and interactive approaches towards teaching English as a Foreign Language. I have experimented with some really modern IT applications such as: blogs, wikis, platforms, virtual clouds and forums. Although, all of them can add a feeling of novelty and modernity to various sessions, for me it is not enough. I have focused on more “revolutionary ideas” with firm pedagogical ratio.
In my opinion, digital books unite the requirements of high-standard teaching and enhance learners’ language skills such as: writing, reading, language system and ability to communicate ideas and get the message across.
This is how the idea of an eBook came to my mind. I created it in June 2012, and entitled: Virtual Reality. It really offered a place for students to have a more comprehensive and educational experience online, from writing papers to getting help and doing research. The book also gave learners an opportunity to be themselves and develop their imagination on the pages of an electronic book in the same way as it can be done on the pages of a printed book. My ambition was to put into practice the main principles of teaching learners English as a Foreign Language such as:
- Practical application of language knowledge in a natural way
- Coherent approach, which allows students to learn language in a reasonable way
- Sensitivity towards learners’ individual needs
- Sense of unity, which motivates students to collaborate and cooperate when taking part in writing and designing a digital book
There are significant benefits of creating eBooks and my students were able to experience some of them. When the book was ready they downloaded it on their iPads, and could read it outside the classroom and show it to their parents. Believe me, it is so rewarding to know that your efforts as a teacher are not fruitless.
Moreover, the institution I work for can be described as an environmentally friendly; “green” school. I think eBooks entirely contribute to the idea, and I am proud to be part of the “green” policy of the school and so are the learners I teach.
Currently there are six sections in the book which represent different ways of creative thinking:
- Academic Writing
- Letter Writing
- Short Stories
- Postcard Writing
- Film Reviews
First, the topics were brainstormed and discussed in class. Then, learners had to prepare PPTs with the final outcomes. Subsequently, debates were held in class again where students worked in groups of three or four and shared their opinions regarding the presentations by outlining their pros and cons. At the end, all of them voted for the best presentations. As a result, the decision whose writings should be included in the eBook was made by students themselves.
I would like to say that those inspiring sessions lasted for about two months. Not only did they prepare my students for speaking and writing exams, but they also helped them to form great teams and do useful research. The sessions also motivated students to focus on the layout and organization of their essays, stories and reviews as well as think of the appropriate vocabulary to be used in different context.
At the moment, I am teaching teenagers and adults and my short-term goal is to create eBooks in different groups, aiming at uniting learners’ language efforts and knowledge. At least, when they finish a course at AVO-Bell with me, they will have a digital book that they put their hearts in and it will definitely remind them of their language abilities and achievements.
Please see below for more articles in the ‘Technology in blended learning…’ series: