January 27, 2015

Guest Post: Calling an old friend to our classes

I have the great pleasure to have Aysegul Kaban write a guest post about some activities she has tried with her own students. I love reading about real life examples of classroom activities, what about you?

There are many online tools for generating QR codes which you can then use in the classroom. All of these different types of information can be stored in a code: A short piece of text, Website address, Email address, URL… 

Why not try some of these examples? 

Most Smartphones will have a barcode scanner as an app which will read QR codes. I love integrating technology to my classes and I teach English as a foreign language to young adults in İstanbul, Turkey.

This lesson plan was created to revise Past Simple, Present Perfect Simple, and Present Perfect Continuous.

I asked questions about QR codes: E.g. Have you ever seen this? Have you ever used QR code? If yes, where and when did you use it? How do we use QR codes? After getting the answers, I talked about the activity and showed some QR codes and asked the students to solve the mystery of the QR codes on the board.

Although most students had seen QR codes, none of the students were sure about QR codes. Only one of them had a QR code reader on his smartphone. I asked the students to download the free QR code reader. They enjoyed when they first scanned the QR code and asked some other codes to scan.

After doing the first trial, I asked the students to scan the code on the board and do the exercise with their partners. They did the first activity. After 4 minutes, I gave the correct information to the students. Some pairs answered all questions correctly and they felt happy because they realized they knew some information about their teacher’s personal life.

Now that the Students had seen an example, I divided the class into groups of 3 (or 4) and gave each group a self-prepared handout about basic rules of simple past, present perfect and present perfect continuous. I told the students that this was supposed to be a group contest. The winning group of the contest received a surprise at the end. I said I would record the score on the board.

I gave students a handout lacking of example sentences and told students to fill in the gaps. Students started a treasure hunt in the class and when they found they wrote it on the handout. While Students were doing the activity, I observed the groups. I checked answers by asking each group and recorded the score.

You can use QR Codes for many other purposes. Here are some tips for you!

1. You are the best forget the rest badges!

Everybody loves awards. Why don’t we give QR code awards to our students when they achieve something great? Award prizes by having students scan a code leading to an animation or badge. When they accomplish a test on Present Perfect continuous, they can get a special code that takes them to a badge for Present Perfect Continuous Guru!

2. Discovery Stations

You are going to cover a new reading but you want to try something different. Breaking the routine is always good for us and our students. You can put codes in different areas of the class that will take students to different online activities, videos or content. You can use it as a warmup activity or reading activity.

3. Answer Fortuneteller

Have students check their answers by scanning the QR code after completing a test or assignment. As a teacher, you can visually confirm when students are checking their work and can also check in to see how they are doing. Creating QR codes for difficult topics and attaching them to students’ homework. If they get stuck, they can scan the code and watch a video of you working through the problem step-by-step.

4. Provide Extension Assignments

A great way to provide optional activities for students who want to improve is to simply put the code on the class assignment and let them follow it to the extension activity or question. It won't take up much space, and might facilitate a little excitement about the extension assignment. You can give URL of a beautiful song with present perfect continuous tense as a warming activity as a homework.

5. Compile Research

Discovering new things is always exciting and by QR codes we give a chance to discover. You can ask students to make a research about their favorite star and have students create codes linking to start discovered during research. These could be posted in class wikis on a specific topic, or on a wall in the classroom. It helps give them ownership of the research process and literally creates "walls that talk."

Aysegul Liman Kaban works as an English Instructor at Bahçeşehir University. She has finished her BA in TEFL and MA in Interpersonal Communication at Marmara University with distinction. She has been recognized by various entities, such as the ELT BLOGATHON Awards, The German National Agency Teacher Trainer Scholarship, and IELTS Morgan Terry Memorial Scholarship 2013 as an innovative, technology integrated project creator. She has been giving talks and workshops at international and national conferences, especially focusing on Mobile Learning, Google Apps, E-portpholio, digital learning apps. She is also Newsletter Editor of IATEFL TEASIG. She shares regularly on eslaction.wordpress.com and on Twitter (@Aysegul_Kaban).

January 23, 2015

The importance of Social Presence in Online Courses

People frequently criticize the online environment for being cold. They say that during online courses they feel lonely and demotivated to learn.

And why is that?

Studies about Social Presence might help us understand about an important aspect in online courses.

What is Social Presence?

According to Menezes (2014), Social Presence is how people perceive their own presence and the presence of others in a virtual interaction and the willingness to build an interpersonal relationship in order to learn collaboratively.

To me, Social Presence depends a lot on how participants choose to take part in an online course. Of course, it also depends on the opportunities of interaction provided during the course.

Let's compare two students:

Student A studies alone. He uses books and the internet to build knowledge.

Student B is taking a course with other students. Besides learning via the material suggested by his teacher, he likes exchanging ideas and discussing about what he's been learning with his classmates.

In the virtual world we can have a similar situation. We can choose to act like Student A, focussing on developing tasks on our own or we can behave like Student B making use of the opportunity to work with the group exchanging ideas and making connections.

We should bear in mind three kinds of course content we can learn from:
- The content proposed by the teacher.
- The content suggested by participants.
- The content built by participants during the course.

When we study alone during an online course, we might be missing the opportunity to learn more with one another.

Here are few tips on how to develop your presence during online courses:


MENEZES, A. M. C. A vivência da presença social: histórias de um curso online para professores de Inglês. (2014) M.A. Thesis. 186 p. Universidade Federal de Uberlândia. http://goo.gl/kNyAck


ISSN 0102-5503 - Ano LI - 200
Janeiro / Março - 2013
Revista da Associação Brasileira de Tecnologia Educacional v. 31 


GARRISON, D. (2006)Online Collaboration Principles. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks. Vol. 10, No. 1, p. 25-34. Disponível em <http://tinyurl.com/6r9bjwz >, acesso em 16/04/12.

GUNAWARDENA, C. N. (1995)Social presence theory and implications for interaction and collaborative learning in computer conferences. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, p. 147-166.

January 19, 2015

Connect Me to Education

I'm starting 2015 with the project of my dreams!

If you read Life Feast and know a bit about my work, you might also know I've been involved with teacher development in the virtual environment since 2009. I started moderating my own online course "Cultura Edtech" to share a bit of what I had been exploring on the web with fellow teachers and to feel less lonely during a difficult time in my life when I had to stay home (You can read about this story in my M.A. thesis - text in Portuguese). The virtual world was my bridge to being in contact with other people.

Since then, I've never left the online world and the online world has never left me. At that time, in 2009, little research had been developed about digital technologies in education and online learning. Most of us, teachers who ventured teaching online, were following our instincts and trying out different ways of teaching and learning. After many years moderating courses, I felt the need to go back to university and develop a research in this area which fascinates me so much. A question that puzzled me was: Why do so many people see the online environment as a cold place and I feel the complete opposite?

For me, learning is a fascinating experience which can be more pleasurable when we are in contact with other people. 

Connectme Education is the result of these years of experience and a wish to reach teachers I haven't reached yet. 

Our aim is to organize online courses, in Portuguese or in English, for the continuous development of professionals involved with education. We want it to be a space where teachers can feel at home and comfortable to learn with each other. Each month, one-month or two-month courses will be proposed to small groups of teachers. I can't wait to start!

I have great joy to invite you to come and visit us at our brand new website created with great care. I'd also like to thank my dear friends and colleagues who have joined me on this project: Roseli Serra, Márcia Lima, Jennifer Verschoor , Cecília Morais and Camila Borges for her professional help with the website and social media.

We hope you enjoy it!

Our first online course is going to be about FLIPPED LEARNING. How about joining us?