Category Archives: A Variety

Why do we need an AUP?

I have been teaching in a blended learning format for several years. I still remember how some students called me as the “techie” English teacher. I have always made it a point to incorporate the use of information technology in my classes.

In terms of teaching through an online learning platform, I started with Moodle. I still remember all the conversations I had with Alfredo Papaseit (the school librarian at that time) who introduced it to the faculty. I remember long hours of setting all the rights and how the program sort of paused when no one in the IT department remembered to press the button to refresh the server after a power interruption that happened after school hours or over the weekend. Moodle has a lot of features that may be overwhelming if an educator is new to the online teaching club. It is a grand learning platform that is suitable for higher education and for big universities.

My second stop was Schoology and Course Director (the older brother of Google Classroom). I was happier using Schoology because it had a similar interface with Facebook. Then, the idea of flipped classroom came and teachers had too many different virtual classrooms and students needed to remember too many passwords and too many shortcuts. It was during this time when I tried Google Classroom, too. It did not have as many features as Schoology, but was only clicks away for a school using Google Suite. Soon after, a group of students proposed that the faculty chooses only one to avoid confusion and to be able to monitor their progress better. Few months later, it became a requirement for teachers to run Google Classroom side-by-side onsite classes. I still remember how we were made to stay outside our physical teaching areas, away from our students, to mimic an “online session.” That was the school’s online class rehearsal.

Early in March 2020, I got to apply my online teaching skills to respond to a real demand when schools were made to suspend classes. I came across new issues though. I came to wonder how my former experience was smooth and productive. I did not receive ridiculous alibis from students (e.g., cannot open PDF files because they are unsupported and cannot open any Google Form because the page says “This site cannot be reached”) and other rude and weird online learning scenarios. I asked myself What am I missing? The answer is a question which is the title of this post. Freaking out with the world when COVID-19 hit, I forgot to share with the school administration the need to have a clear and fair policy laid out. These expectations were presented when I had those online class rehearsals. These policies are absolutely essential.

Scholastic says that having a technology policy is valuable “to harness this [referring to the Internet] powerful tool so that it is effective and safe for student use.” I love how Scholastic listed the components every school IT policy should include. They also provided examples.

Kajeet in their article entitled Why Acceptable Use Policies are Critical for Education highlighted how an agreement supports students’ safety online. They have two main big ideas to stress the importance of an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) – “protecting students” and “providing students.” They mentioned a student-centered approach and shared links to other AUP materials.

School administrators may need to see the bigger picture though. Now that online teaching and learning has taken the front seat as the world continues to fight off an unprecedented health and economic pandemic, how to keep the whole school population safe must be a heavy load on their shoulders. The Internet Society in 2017 defined Key considerations for policy makers. They identified “five priorities for Internet and education.” These are infrastructure and access, vision and policy, content and devices, capacity, and inclusion.

Of course, there are institutions that have gone ahead of this game. No one needs to reinvent the wheel. From my online teaching experience, I am fully aware that these policies are imperative. Administrators and support teams must find time to collaborate and establish one for their community. Schools must continue to cater to their learners’ needs far beyond the sharing of class codes, modules, activities, and materials. Students must also learn, grow, and become responsible digital citizens.

Google Certified Educator Level 1

I took the three-hour online Level 1 exam on Friday, May 8th. I did not expect receiving a very prompt response. The Google for Education team must have been working doubly hard these days. In less than 48 hours after a very comprehensive examination experience, I got the results. With God’s mercy and Google’s guidance, I passed.

If teachers are familiar with when, how, and why they use different apps in Google Suite as educators who incorporate the use of information technology in an onsite or blended learning environment, they are more than ready to take the Level 1 test to be Google Certified Educators. The whole examination is a thorough evaluation of a teacher’s use and understanding of applications in Google Suite like (1) Gmail, (2) Drive, (3) Classroom, (4) Calendar, (5) Chrome, (6) Sites, (7) Tasks, (8) Translate, (9) Docs, (10) Sheets, (11) Forms, (12) Slides, (13) Meet, (14) Groups, and (15) YouTube. The exam has questions on the most recent version of these applications; making the three-year certification logical and supportive of professional development. The test has two parts of teaching scenarios: multiple choice and application. Three hours is fair amount of time to work on all given questions.    

Every candidate signs a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Agreeing or signing it is part of the preliminary questions test takers have to answer right after they open the exam account Google sets. Via Gmail, Google sends relevant information and a quick, helpful overview to be ready for the exam which applicants should take no later than seven days after forwarding payment of US $10 for Level 1. It has been a shared advice not to forward payment if one does not feel confident to complete the exam within a week. Forwarding my payment pushed me to have a go and I am happy I did.

The exam will need to access the web camera. I took time to set my camera before the test schedule. Google needed me to grant them permission to turn it on during the whole duration of the exam. The camera served as my proctor. I linked my phone mobile data to my laptop. I made sure I had credits more than enough to keep the Internet connection running for three hours. I chose non-peak hours. I was online from 2200H to 0100H when the majority goes to bed. I made sure my laptop was fully charged. I locked myself in the bedroom to avoid distractions. I emptied my bladder before the exam started to avoid the need to go to the bathroom (consider doing the same especially when your body responds in such a way whenever you get anxious). I kept myself focused during the whole duration and used the given time wisely. I highly recommend keeping track and budgeting time really well. In fact, I came across a challenging scenario. It was taking me some time to figure it out. So, I skipped and went back to it when I reviewed my output before clicking the final “Submit” button and the page went saying “Validating your exam” which I waited to load for five minutes and closed when it was not showing anything. Well, the page also assured me that my answers were already recorded; that I would only need to wait for Google‘s email for the exam results. 

The examination made me realize that there are still a lot more to learn in Google Suite. The challenge to complete steps accurately and to find the right buttons made me forget about the camera and about the fact that I was taking a test. If you have used Google Suite apps in teaching, consider taking this self-assessment opportunity. It would surely be one of those rare tests you would find enjoyable.

The Communication Process

A Lesson Proposal; Signature Assignment for EdX Instructional Design Models

The Communication Process

As a language learner and teacher, experience, education, and training have shown me that knowing and becoming familiar with the nature and scope of the communication is fundamental to become a better communicator of the target language.  This short lesson that could be covered in 20 minutes has two parts: (1) elements and types of communication and (2) the Transactional Communication Model and common barriers affecting it.

Goal of instruction: Introduce English language learners to the foundation of the communication process

Objective 1: Exhibit understanding of a message by paraphrasing and/or summarizing

Task A: 1. Students read a short article about the communication process. 2. They mark, highlight, or underline words, phrases, or sentences that they find meaningful. 3. Students share three most striking lines from the article.

Measurement 1: Students submit an explanation (2-3 sentences) for every striking point. This evaluation scheme looks into the depth of their explanation.

Objective 2: Prepare and outline coherent and succinct messages

Task B: 1. Students choose a section from a long article about the Transactional Communication Model. 2. After reading, they prepare to render a 30-second summary.

Measurement 2: Students submit their short summary through an online voice recording app. This evaluation scheme checks how well students organize ideas gathered from the given material.

Objective 3: Reflect on the different aspects affecting the communication process

Task C: 1. In 50-80 words, students write about the most valuable learning gain they acquired through this lesson. They may also focus their reflection on questions that they still have or link this lesson with a related educational material or personal experience. 2. They then add their reflection as a post to a class discussion thread.

Measurement 3: Students respond to their peers’ reflection through a forum.  This evaluation scheme weighs the scope and relevance of feedback students share through their responses.