The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Friday, July 03, 2020

10 ways to tackle coronavocab: #5 learning and teaching

Whether you’re still teaching online or getting back to some kind of normal, this is an obvious topic for a 5-minute activity. If you've been teaching online over the past few months, a lot of this vocab will probably have already come up (mute/unmute your mic, break-out rooms, type in the chat box), but if you're just getting started, say on a summer course or looking ahead to the new academic year, then these are going to be vital terms for your students to know to help things run smoothly.

Some of the other terms here are a bit more 'meta' (synchronous/asynchronous etc.) and perhaps more relevant to teacher chat, but could still be useful as part of a discussion with more advanced learners about their feelings about different types of learning and teaching. Although if you're asking for feedback, think about how you'll be able to respond to students' likes, dislikes, preferences and grumbles.

Some examples in context:
For those with children at home trying to do homeschooling as well as their job, it can be very difficult.
Synchronous learning, such as a live videochat with a teacher, requires reliable internet access.
Many schools provided paper packets and asynchronous instruction as well as synchronous instruction via Zoom.  
She believes remote learning could remain a part of the plan next school year.
Now, create breakout rooms for trios to discuss their answers. 
There will be a short presentation to kick off small group conversations in breakout rooms.  
There's a lot of questions in the chat box. 
When they begin, the students mute the microphones on their devices to just listen to her, unless they have a quick question. 

  • If you have time ahead of a new online/remote course, you could send out some worksheets/activities to help familiarize your students with the platform they'll be using and crucially, feed in some of the key vocab they'll need to negotiate the online learning environment and deal with issues that might crop up. That could include some of the words and phrases above (mute/unmute you mic, chat box, etc.), but perhaps also some basics too (click on, a pop-up, drop-down menu, icon, etc.). A lot of this vocab lends itself very nicely to simple images, but don't forget the language that goes around the key terms too (type sth in the chat box).

  • If your students have already had experience of remote teaching, getting feedback on what they like, what they don't and what problems they've had can be an opportunity to feed in (or correct) some appropriate vocab. Everyone likes a moan too, so vocab for glitches (the screen freezes, the sound is distorted, my connection isn't very reliable/drops out) may prove popular. 
  • Remote, online or distance learning – which term do students think’s most appropriate and why? They could discuss in groups, pick a term, argue their cases, then vote on the best one. Check out my blog post on the topic here to see some of the trends.
  • Retronyms: to contrast with the ‘new normal’ of remote teaching and learning, we’ve had to come up with new ways to distinguish that from what used to be just normal – face-to-face/classroom teaching/learning. Use these as a starting point to explore other retronyms and get students to explain why they’re needed (landline, acoustic guitar, snail mail, hard copy, print book, etc.). Can they think of any others or suggest new ones that might be needed ... a live/ face-to-face meeting/party, perhaps?

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