Tag Archives: iep

Virtual Lectures

lecture hall

Occasionally, students in our program ask if they can take regular university classes in addition to our full-time intensive ESL program.  In a very few cases, we have arranged informal course audits through which students may sit in on courses as a way to supplement their learning.  In addition to the language input, this arrangement can be a good way to introduce international students to American academic culture.

Recently a student approached me about his interests in sitting in on a few lectures.  His primary interest was in becoming familiar with the English vocabulary in his field of study.  He was already comfortable with the content in his own language, but was nervous about learning all new terminology in English.  In the end, actually sitting in on a class was not a good option for this particular student.  Fortunately, there are a couple of good online alternatives that I could recommend: YouTube’s EDU site and iTunesU.

YouTube.com/edu hosts thousands of lectures from institutions across the U.S.  Not all of them are lectures — and it’s easy to get sucked in to videos of marching bands and football games — but there are lots of options available.  Search for “physics lecture” and you’ll get over 4000 videos.

iTunesU.com takes a similar approach, but it is tied in to Apple’s iTunes music store.  This means it is very easy to put videos on your iDevice (iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc.) to watch on the go.  The bad news is that you need to install the iTunes application to access them.

Both locations offer hours of free content from some of the most prestigious institutions in the country.  Of course, many of the videos are just recordings of lectures, which may be somewhat dull.  And sadly, that may be very good preparation for American academic culture.  But, if high level students are looking for content rich input, these sources will provide a wealth of options.

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WTMI

a young child texting on a cell phone

It seems like today's students are born with phones in their hands.

WTMI stands for Way Too Much Information, an example of shorthand commonly used for texting and instant messenger.  There are lots of others.  I frequently hear stories from students and colleagues about how proficient students are at texting.  Some can allegedly send text messages without taking the phone out of their pockets.  The mosquito ringtone — a ringtone so high-pitched that adults can’t hear it — is another means students have to covertly use their phones.

Many of our students (and many of us) use text messages everyday.  A recent article in the Columbus Dispatch reported on a study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.  I wouldn’t say the study has way too much information, but there is a lot.

Among the findings: 75% of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones and 88% of teen cell-phone users text.  In fact, use of texting is so widespread that teens send more texts than they make phone calls.  Is this last part surprising?  Although I’m a relatively late adopter of texting, now that I use it, I find that I do text more frequently than I talk on my phone.

I’m not sure what percentage of schools ban cell phones, but 65% of cell-owning teens at those schools take their phone every day.  Obviously, we don’t ban phones at Ohio State, but the fact that 64% of teens with cell phones have texted in class and 25% have made or received a call during class is worth noting.

In addition to the startlingly large total numbers of texts (a third of teens who are texters send more than 100 texts a day; about 15% top 6,000 a month,) the increased use of texting and cell phones over the last five years is amazing.  In 2004, only 45% of teens owned cell phones (now 75%), and in 2006 only 51% of teens were texters (now 88%).

What are the ramifications for the classroom?  In our pre-college intensive ESL program (which is obviously very different from elementary and highschools,) cell phones are a part of students’ lives.  Very few have a traditional landline.  When possible, I try to embrace this technology.  For example, I had students use their phones in class to listen to the cellphone tours of the statues outside the Ohio Statehouse before a recent field trip.  Used in this way, cell phones could conceivably replace, or at least supplement, a traditional listening lab.

Students taking calls and sending texts is an obviously a distraction.  I usually take the opportunity to address classroom culture and etiquette, but it can be a constant classroom management struggle.

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Google Maps for New Student Orientation

After putting student-created videos on Google Maps I’ve been thinking about how a similar process could be used to provide an orientation to the institution and community for new international students.  Some of the teachers at Ohio University are already well on their way to creating such a map.

Videos of some of the popular destinations have been recorded, posted to YouTube, and embedded into the popup balloons on the map.  [Note: Not all of these features will work on the video I have embedded above.  Click on “view larger map” to see the fully-featured version.] Others include other useful information such as websites and phone numbers.  This was all teacher-created, but the opportunity exists to allow student contributions.

This is something we really need to pull together.  Know of a similar example?  Leave a comment.

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