I’ll be attending my second conference of the American Educational Research Association (#AERA19) this year. The theme is ‘Leveraging Education Research in a Post-Truth Era: Multimodal Narratives to Democratize Evidence.’ It will be held in Toronto, Canada from April 5-9th at the Metro Toronto Conference Centre. I was impressed with last year’s conference but a bit overwhelmed. Hopefully, with the help of their conference app, I’ll find the sessions I need.
I’m placing the final touches on the poster for Dr. Khoury and my session: Rubric to Analyze Online Course Syllabi Plan for Engendering a Community of Inquiry: Round II. Come join me on Saturday morning, April 6, from 8:00 to 9:30am in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 300 Level, Hall C. It’s hosted by the Division C – Section 3b: Technology-Based Environments in the subunit for Distance and Online Education. I’ll be sharing copies of my Online Community of Inquiry Syllabus Rubric.
I’ve shared our research paper on the AERA online Repository. I’ll share a link to the poster here upon completion. Read this blog page to learn more about our study. My hope is that it will be replicated to validate the rubric and improve not only instructors’ syllabi but teaching and learning in distance education.
Have you googled yourself lately? What does the Internet search reveal about you? With each hashtag, blog post, tweet, and online project at a time, you’re building your online reputation whether you want to or not. In the absence of professional branding, your online persona brands you. Curation of our online personal data is more important than ever. This is because our online information and interactions are being used to analyze us for commercial benefit, credit ratings, job selection, relationships, health care decisions, harassment, law enforcement, and machine learning (Matsakis, 2019).
I’m putting together a few basic curation tasks in the ‘recipe’ below for a class lesson. Curation, of course, will take ongoing effort. These are simple actions to get you started.
Curating Your Online Persona
Time: Ready in minutes based on diversity of digital tools used and length of your digital footprint
Serves: Average technology users
Log out of all accounts to fully see information that you publicly shared.
Use alphanumericsymbolic passphrases for strong login credentials (e.g., @T!mBuk2B42Long). Create different ones for different types of accounts.
Consider the long-term impact of posting or otherwise reacting online.
Subscribe to a technical news service that shares how to keep your data safe such as Mashable, TechCrunch or Wired.
Search for your name on different Internet browsers (e.g., Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari). View at least the first three pages of results to find older accounts that you may have forgotten about and should close.
Use Google’s reverse image search tool to see if your shared photos (e.g., headshot, Facebook profile, or wedding pictures) are used elsewhere without permission. For example, did you know that FB profile photos are publicly available? Anyone could be reusing or repurposing them.
Set short and long-term goals based on your findings and personal insight.
Set up a Google Alert on your name to stay informed of its mentions on the Internet.
Cleanse unprofessional social media posts. For example, use GoCardigan to remove retweets and likes on Twitter. Why? Twitter users can delete their own tweets but not their reactions to others.
Close compromised or unused online accounts to safeguard your data and reduce your digital footprint. Review Wikipedia’s list of data breaches. Recheck the list periodically.
Tighten the privacy settings on your social media accounts.
Please share your techniques and issues in safeguarding your online persona. I’ll continue to add to this post as I dive deeper into this topic and as new technologies surface.
I have been developing an accessibility policy for distance education for my college. It’s specific to the Schoology learning management system and other technologies and protocols we use on our campus. It’s based on the policy that I used at my former workplace for my instructional design graduate assistantship, the University of South Alabama’s Innovation in Learning Center. I would love my readers’ feedback on it.
Accessibility Statement for Distance Education
The U.S. federal laws require online course accessibility for persons with disabilities. Follow these basic guidelines for compliance: (Section 504, 1973 Rehabilitation Act & Section 508, Electronic and Information Technology)
Describe images and hyperlinks with alternative text.
Do not use coloring as the sole indicator of meaning.
Use san serif fonts for online text.
Check and repair all portable document formats (PDFs) for accessibility.
Caption all video and provide transcripts for audio.
Provide students with disabilities the prescribed accommodations, as needed.
Images. Alternative (alt) text helps students that use assistive technology (e.g., screen readers) as their learning accommodation. For example, screen readers such as Microsoft’s JAWS (Job Access with Speech) read the description aloud to the user with vision impairment. Make sure you concisely provide alt text for each image in your online course so that students will hear and learn about the images shared. This includes images on a course page or within a document or multimedia presentation (e.g., PowerPoint, Word, or PDF). For Schoology, currently, you cannot add the description for the image during upload. Add it afterward by selecting the image in edit mode. For PowerPoint 2016, follow this pathway to add alt text: Right-click image > Select Format Picture > Select Alt Text. For PDFs, use Adobe Acrobat Pro XI to add alt text to images. This software allows you to edit PDFs and is available in the Faculty Development Center.
Hyperlinks. When you add links to Schoology, it asks for the name of the link to display and the URL. Provide the specific name of the website instead of a confusing web address, also known as the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). The exact name of the website will aid all learners in understanding where the link will take them. Additionally, assistive technology (e.g., JAWS) will read aloud the long URL if you do not give it a name. Imagine listening to an entire URL reading: “h-t-t-p-s-semicolon-forward slash-forward slash-shc-period-schoology-period-com-forward slash-home.” This would cause extra cognitive load on the listener. Here are good and bad examples:
Use of color. Color-coding presents a problem for visually impaired students, as they will not be able to access the meaning of particular coloring of text for emphasis (e.g., red text conveying importance, etc.). Simply add the word or words to convey the meaning such as Important.
Fonts. Sans serif fonts are recommended for online text to provide accessibility. Sans serif fonts do not have the ‘hats and shoes’ on certain letters that serif fonts include. Fortunately, Arial, which is a sans serif font, is the default for Schoology. Avoid using serif fonts because they may waver and become difficult to read on low bandwidth or poor Internet connections.
PDFs. Are your PDFs readable? Conduct a word search within the Find box of a PDF for a word you see in the document. Type Ctrl+F if you don’t see a Find box. If you receive the message, “No matches were found,” then the document is a scanned image, which cannot be read by persons who use assistive technology. Use Adobe Acrobat Pro XI to repair unreadable (scanned image) PDFs. Remember that this software is available in BL12. Here is the pathway to fix your PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Pro XI: File>Action Wizard>Create Accessible PDFs> Action Step #5 is the Accessibility Checker.
Ensure your Word documents are accessible before you save them as a PDF. Microsoft has accessibility checkers that will highlight any issues in your document. Within Word 2016, select the following pathway: File > Info> Check for Issues > Check Accessibility. Then fix issues such as missing alt text for images. See Adobe Accessibility Quick Reference Card for information on earlier versions of MS Word that you may have at home. Currently, our campus has MS Office 2016 on its computers.
Media. Caption all media. Closed captioning is the preferred format (instead of open captions) so the user can turn it on or off according to their needs. If you do not have your media captioned, at the very least, provide a script until you caption the video. However, transcripts do not provide equal access to media files because the words and images from the video are not in sync to enhance meaning. Audio files or podcasts must include a transcript. For narrated PowerPoints, transcribe the audio in the note’s section of each slide.
Captioning Key, funded by the National Association of the Deaf and The Described and Captioned and Media Program, provides a document on specific quality assurance guidelines for closed-captioning. They mention several free captioning services. Our current practice is to upload media to YouTube and use their auto-captioning service and then correct inaccuracies. Ask the instructional designer for the how-to guide on how to set up an unlisted YouTube channel and the video tutorial on how to correct automated captions on YouTube in your video manager account. We also provide the video software production/editor tool, Camtasia Studio 9, which incorporates closed-captioning. The instructional designer can train you to use it.
Providing accommodations in Schoology. In Schoology, you can assign assignments or tests to individuals when you create them. Reuse your existing assignment or test by saving it to your Personal Resources in Schoology. Then bring it back into your course as a new test with a different name. We suggest naming it with ‘Extended Time’ in the title so students know they are receiving the accommodation. Go to the Schoology test settings to add the prescribed accommodations. Warning: Do not reassign the mainstream test to an individual in Schoology, as it will disappear the test scores of the other students. Instead, instructors should make a separate assignment or test for the student(s) with accommodations.
Publishers’ accessibility statements. As a best practice, online courses should provide accessibility statements to the publishers they use (Quality Matters™ Rubric Standards, 2014). This will help those who need access to alternative text files and/or eBooks from publishers, as well as other alternatives to interactive products for adaptive technologies used. Visit the Instructional Design LibGuide on Accessibility where Dr. Rogers has provided a list of publishers’ links to their accessibility statements. If you do not see the publisher you use listed, please notify her, and she will add it.
I serve as the professional development officer for the Emerald Coast Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ECTESOL), which is a chapter of the Sunshine State TESOL of Florida. Our local conference for the Gulf Coast area will be held in Pensacola on February 9th from 9:30-3:00. It will take place at the International Center, Building 71, at the University of West Florida (UWF). Registration costs $25 and includes lunch. The theme is Exploring Paths to Literacy Proficiency. See the itinerary below.
9:30 – 10:00 Registration (and refreshments)
10:00 – 10:10 Welcome General Session: Ms. Rachel Hendrix, Executive Director, International Affairs, UWF; Overview of Conference: Dr. Arlene Costello, President, ECTESOL
10:15 – 10:55 Keynote Speaker: Ms. Ginger Alberto, Program Director, Student Achievement through Language Acquisition, Florida Department of Education, Topic: Meeting the Needs of English Learners in Literacy Proficiency
11:00 – 11:30 Concurrent Sessions
Room 1: Engaging English Learners, Dr. Arlene Costello
Room 2: The Pragmatics of EFL/ESOL, Dr. Laureen Fregeau, University of South Alabama
11:35 – 12:00 Lunch & 12:00 – 12:15 Cultural Performances & DOOR PRIZES
12:20 – 1:00 General Session
Featured Presentation: Dr. John Pecore, Associate Professor, University of West Florida, Topic: Writing a winning TESOL grant proposal
1:40 – 2:15 Concurrent Sessions
Room 1: Language Writing Frames to Aid ESOL Elementary Students’ Research Projects, Dr. Sandra Rogers, SHC
Room 2: Supporting Non-Literate Adult Learners of English on Paths to Literacy, Dr. Meg Smith, SHC
2:20 – 2:50 Special Presentation General Session
The Dynamics of Literacy: Language and Science Dr. Vanessa Mangual, Bi-literacy Consultant, Benchmark Education
2:50 – 3:00 Business Meeting: Report by President; Paper Report by Treasurer; Ms. Vicki Murphy, ECTESOL Conference Chair, DOOR PRIZES
3:00 – 3:20 ECTESOLBoard Meeting, Conference Room
Please register by January 29, 2019. You may bring your payment onsite on the day of the conference. Visit the ECTESOL website to download the registration form and learn more about our organization. Contact Dr. Arlene Costello at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We hope to see you there!
I serve on the Educause Games & Learning Steering Committee. One of our new activities is to host book clubs on this topic via Twitter. You do not need to be an Educause member to participate. See my co-committee members invite below.
Please join us for the January Games & Learning Twitter Book Club. This month, we will be discussing Chapter 5: Remodelling Design of Rethinking Gamification (Fuchs, Fizek, Ruffino, & Schrape, 2014). Per the book’s copyright terms, you may download a free digital edition from the publisher’s website: https://meson.press/books/rethinking-gamification/.
As usual, the book club will be hosted on Twitter at 6:30 EST (5:30 CT |4:30 MT |3:30 PT) on Wednesdays. Use the hashtag #read4games to participate.
January 16: Why Fun Matters: In Search of Emergent Playful Experiences by Sonia Fizek
January 23: Exploring the Endgame of Gamification by Scott
January 30: Eudaimonic Design, or: Six Invitations to Rethink Gamification by Sebastian Deterding
Please join us!
Tiffany Taylor Attaway
On behalf of the EDUCAUSE Games & Learning Book Club Committee
This article originally appeared in the Peace Corps Hotline on 5/15/2010. It has been updated to reflect my past decade of work/life.
The Peace Corps has remained on my mind now for 30 years, fresh as the memory of the first homemade, thick, warm, corn tortilla that I ate with crude salt or the first taste of green mango with hot sauce, lime, and (more) salt! Looking back, I realize that I have been involved in various Third Goal activities both formally and informally since my volunteer service in Honduras from 1985-1987. I guess you really never stop being a Peace Corps Volunteer! For those of you unfamiliar with the Peace Corps’ Third Goal, here are all three goals of service with this US government agency: (Peace Corps, N.D.)
To promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:
To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
My actual first Third Goal activity was while I was still serving in Honduras. I submitted a quilt to the 25th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. The quilt was designed as a flag, with each stripe an arm, reaching out to help someone. The arms got progressively shorter as the ‘collaboration’ was made with the receiver, and the last arm ‘shook’ the hand of the recipient. The design signified governmental agencies’ past efforts of distribution of goods and services, in contrast with the Peace Corps’ effort of working with host nationals to bring about change.
When I returned home from service, I asked that my family hold a reunion. It was a great way for me to share my experience and give them all the gifts that I had brought back. I didn’t’ realize it at the time, but I influenced one of my nieces to join the Peace Corps. Her name is Rachel (Rogers) Miller, and she served in Lesotho from 1999-2000. You really never know who you might persuade to serve, even at informal gatherings. In my case, I returned in 1987, and my niece volunteered 12 years later.
While pursuing my masters in teaching, I used a poem that I’d written about my Honduran neighbor, as part of a dance/spoken word performance I choreographed for the theater department. If my Honduran neighbor only knew the profound impact she had on me with her small-framed presence, smoking her hand-rolled cigar, sitting quietly in her backyard among the banana tree fronds! It was such an honor, not only to participate as a choreographer but also to share my Peace Corps’ experience visually and orally with the university students.
After I became a teacher, I would share my Peace Corps’ photo album which included trinkets and a copy of Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” with my elementary students in Los Angeles. I’ve used it many times in the classroom. In addition, I shared my story with the whole school by organizing other returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) to collaborate on a display for career week. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) recruits former RPCVs for their bilingual skills, so at my school in East Los Angeles, there were three of us. The display case had photos and souvenirs from each of our countries of service. The students really enjoyed learning about their teachers’ work in the Peace Corps.
I’ve blogged about my PC experience on this WordPress site. I also attend Peace Corps informational events at my alma mater to answer questions and encourage others to join. Most importantly, I stay in touch with my fellow Honduran RPCVs not only to reminisce about the past but also because they became such good friends. PCVs become like a fraternity of friends because of the shared experiences and closeness that serving in a foreign country brings, especially during the hardships of second language learning and working in an underdeveloped country with norms very different than your own.
In closing, I don’t go around talking about the Peace Corps all the time. Instead, I’ve embedded it into my life, work, and artistic endeavors. As Shane Townsend (RPCV Bolivia 2003-05) said in a previous Hotline article, “The pursuit of the Third Goal is much like the Peace Corps’ experience itself; you’ll get far more out of it than you can imagine.” Part of that has been realizing that the third goal has been a charm for me. The Peace Corps is firmly a part of who I am even now.
Peace Corps. Retrieved from https://www.peacecorps.gov/about/
The English Language Programs of the U.S. Department of State is celebrating their 50th anniversary of the Fellow Program. As a former English Fellow to Mozambique, I want to share my teaching English experience as part of the celebration. I wrote about my fellowship in a newsletter while working elsewhere. Sections of the article are provided below. Please note that this information is outdated. It’s a snapshot of the early 1990s in Maputo, Mozambique from the perspective of a foreign worker.
The Multilingual Mozambican (Rogers, 1995)
I miss Africa. It was as great a pleasure as a hardship to teach in Mozambique. From September 1992 to December of 1993, I was employed by the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo, the capital city. After interviewing at TESOL Vancouver, the (USIS) United States Information Services provided me with an English Teaching Fellowship (ETF) contract for one year. Having always wanted to visit Africa, the stability of a US government contract made my adventure-in-the-wait a job reality with roundtrip airfare, medical insurance, and a generous stipend. In addition, UEM provided me with housing.
…My (US) salary as a visiting teacher was better than that of the host nationals. Monthly, I received $600 and the equivalent of $200 in their currency (Metical), which suffered from superinflation: one dollar equaled 5K meticais. My first check was for a million meticais.
When I first arrived in Maputo, the country was still at war. There were numerous war orphans and amputees on the streets. During my stay, I witnessed the uneasy steps towards peace that eventually led to a peace accord and democratic elections. I saw the UN tanks replace their army’s. I experienced the rebel leader leaving the bush and taking up residence in the city (my neighborhood). I talked to teachers who after being restricted from traveling outside the city for 15 years, finally got to go visit their hometowns. It was an amazing time in Mozambican history, one that I’m glad I can share. The UN Mission (UNOMOZ) was a success and the troops pulled out. The country was a tropical paradise in ruins that needed to be rebuilt. The major obstacle to rebuilding the infrastructure and a normal lifestyle was the litter of hundreds of landmines. Mozambique had the largest landmine problem in the world.
…Portuguese, as well as many African Bantu languages, are spoken in Mozambique. Spanish is understood by the Portuguese speakers and vice versa. It’s very close. I think it’s important to mentions this because, like most Americans, I was completely unaware of this fact. However, in my humble opinion, Portuguese is a more structurally complicated language.
Being fluent in Spanish helped me meet the language requirement to get the job. Also, my volunteer work with the Peace Corps (PC) in Honduras (1985-87) and an internship in Guatemala (1991) showed my ability to adapt to harsh conditions. Due to severe droughts and a sixteen-year-old civil conflict, Mozambique was one of the poorest countries in the world.
Teaching conditions at the university were definitely third world: no window panes to keep the dust out, sometimes no running water to wash hands or flush toilets, and frequent power outages. Most importantly, transit was limited for the students. Public transit was nonexistent in Maputo. Given these hardships, one must wonder why anyone would want to work there. Well, I knew from my PC experience that no matter how much I put into a job like this, I would gain more from it; and I strongly believe I have.
As a light-skinned, American female raised in a democratic society, I underwent a complete minority immersion. Placed in the Engineering faculty to teach English for Specific Purposes (ESP) to beginners, I encountered a majority of black males as well as a host of visiting professors from Communist countries. Mozambique was a Socialist/Communist country undergoing political change. In the past, they received assistance from Russia and Cuba, as well as other former East bloc countries. Some of my students had received military training in these countries and thus spoke Russian, German, and Spanish. Additionally, many Mozambican professionals had studied abroad…Not many Mozambicans spoke English, but a good number of them were multilingual. One charming example of this was the night I went out with some German backpackers to a simple open-air bar and had half the locals buying drinks for us and speaking German.
Another factor adding to the multilingualism in Mozambique is that many educational materials had been donated to the university in languages other than Portuguese… So learning how to read in English (the language of the largest selection of books) is necessary for third and fourth-year students at UEM. Hence, ESP programs focused on reading proficiency.
To add to the multilingualism, many visiting professors didn’t speak Portuguese and thus lecture in their native language. For example, my students were used to receiving math classes in Spanish because of the numerous Cuban professors employed at the Engineering faculty. Visiting professors make up about 50% of the staff due to the ‘brain drain’ caused by the civil conflict and previous war of independence. In such a case, the majority of management and PhDs are very young and abroad obtaining their credentials.
As for the communication in my classroom, students received instructions only in English at first, but they were informed of my Spanish fluency and consequent comprehension of Portuguese. We exchanged English for Portuguese during free periods. The only formal instruction for non-native (adult) speakers at that time was the Brazilian Cultural Center downtown. I attended classes for one month, but the accent was so different that I decided it wasn’t a good idea. Mozambican Portugues is truer to Portugal given the colloquial insertions and accent. This is because Mozambique was Portugal colony until 1975.
Eventually, I learned to communicate in Portuguese. My students were at ease after my acquisition. It led me to question the ‘English only’ rule: If I’m to be the facilitator, how can I help them if I can’t speak their language? That year (1993) an article appeared in the TESOL Journal questioning the validity and general acceptance of such rule with no empirical basis. In my opinion, this rule creates a high affective filter. I was made aware of this by reading hundreds of my students’ journals each week.
To further expand on my minority immersion, I was the only American teaching English in the city, probably the entire country. British English dominated Africa. This is due to…their colonization…and their continued outpouring of funds for English programs throughout the continent. For example, the British Council had a wonderful library and resource center in … Maputo.
…Teaching Mozambicans was a great pleasure. They were very receptive and gracious. I miss my students and the Mozambican teachers. Together they showed me how to relax and have a good time despite the harsh conditions. Thanks to them, I too have become multilingual. Initially, Mozambique was at the end of the world for me, as it appears to many based on their global location, but now it seems somehow closer with the education I carry of the land and its people.
#ELPalumni #Mozambique #TESOL #fellowimpact
Rogers, S. (1995). The multilingual Mozambican. The Teacher, 1(2). Recife: Brasil: Association Brasil America.
“The more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled.― Paulo Freire