7 Free Online Courses in December

Winter is here – maybe it’s snowy in your place, but here in Poland it’s just grey and dull (and cold). I managed to find some fine hot chocolate, just to spend my evenings reading and learning. Like every month, I found a set of lovely free online courses, so you may spend your winter break learning something new. 

English for Teaching Purposes by Universitat Aut√≤noma de Barcelona

Start: 3/12/2018

Duration: 4 weeks

For whom: teachers planning to teach in English

This course on English and teaching methodology aims to help university lecturers do their teaching in English, in line with university internationalisation policies. If you are a teacher of a subject other than EFL, you might be interested in this course. Moreover, you will learn how to integrate all aspects of CLIL to put together their own English-medium course on their particular subject.

Performance Assessment in the Virtual Classroom by University of California

Start: 3/12/2018

Duration: 5 weeks

For whom: teachers working in a virtual environment

If you teach in a virtual classroom, you know that assessment is still very much important, but it has to be approached in a different way than in the traditional classroom. This course will present formats of virtual assessments, assessing special populations, including at-risk, gifted, and special needs students, and learning management systems as related to performance and assessment.

ICT in Primary Education: Transforming children’s learning across the curriculum by the University of London

Start: 3/12/2018

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: teachers interested in incorporating ICT in primary education

The materials in the course are based on studies carried out for the UNESCO Institute of IT in Education, Moscow. You will discuss a variety of useful tools and resources for integrating ICT as well as how children perceive the use of technology in a school context. You will also learn about learning design, infrastructure, negotiation with parents, communities of practice, policies, staff development, pedagogical innovations, differentiation, affordable access, and teaching support.

Shaping Your Professional Brand by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Start: 3/12/2018

Duration: 4 weeks

For whom: people who are interested in building their own personal brand

If you think of building your personal brand, you may find this course particularly useful. You will learn how to manage your own approach and be prepared when things go wrong. An interesting item is a study on an effective strategy for apologising, and how to engage in disputes professionally.

Learning How To Learn for Youth by Arizona State University

Start: 3/12/2018

Duration: 3 weeks

For whom: people who want to stop procrastinating and want to start studying

This course looks really awesome! You will basically learn how to learn – you will study the strategies that will turbocharge your learning, including test-taking tips and insights that will help you make the best use of your time on homework and problem sets.

Magic in the Middle Ages by Universitat de Barcelona

Start: 3/12/2018

Duration: 5 weeks

For whom: people interested in medieval culture, beliefs and practices from the perspective of History and History of Science

This course looks like fun, especially with the approaching Solstice. Naturally, I wouldn’t encourage you to study magic – but I think such course may be quite interesting for long, winter evenings. You will learn which spiritual practices were allowed in medieval Europe and which ones were related to the devil.

For science, naturally!

Kickstart Your Career: Getting Ahead at University by QUT

Start: 10/12/2018

Duration: 2 weeks

For whom: students starting their university experience

If your students don’t really know what to do with themselves, I’d strongly recommend this course. They will be able to use this course to find out how to get the most from their university education, how to choose a course of study and how to investigate possible future roles and pathways in the profession they will eventually choose.

I hope you’ll find a nice course for yourself ūüôā 

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7 Free Online Courses in August

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With a disastrous heatwave one must reconsider the idea of summer walks and sunbathing. I myself am a creature of the night – and August is a perfect month to admire night skies with the Perseid meteor shower (in my place it will be the night between 12 and 13 August, you may check your place here). But apart from stargazing, August is the month that gives you “back-to-school” feeling. I used to love it when I was a schoolgirl, it meant friends, longer evenings to whisper your secrets, bonfire time and calm. Alas, I grew up and there are no longer summer holidays for me – but August makes me feel somewhat eager to learn.

Let me take you on my journey through the interesting online courses where you’ll certainly find something interesting for yourself!

1 Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life by the University of Edinburgh

Starts: 6.08.2018

Duration: 5 weeks

For whom: people who are looking for the truth Out There

If stargazing is a trifle too conventional for you, this course will be a perfect choice for you, as you will study the Unknown,¬†the prospects for life on other planetary bodies in our Solar System and how do we go about searching for it. You might start looking for a good old E.T. and end up with finding the Funghi from Yuggoth, so be careful what you wish for…

2 Improve Your Intercultural Competence  by Purdue University

Starts: 6.08.2018

Duration: 4 weeks

For whom: people looking to improve their intercultural skills

Being the teachers, good inter-cultural communication and an understanding of cultural differences are very important in our work. This course will¬†help you develop the skills and acquire the knowledge needed to meet the global challenges. You will also learn to succeed in a diverse workplace and appreciate the value of cultural differences. It’s a great course not only for us to study but to pass it on to our students.

3 Presentation skills: Speechwriting and Storytelling by National Research Tomsk State University

Starts: 6.08.2018

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: people who want to make their presentations and speeches coherent and logical

This course takes a systematic approach, focusing on the content of a presentation. You will learn how to structure your ideas, facts and data into a logical convincing story using a narrative structure. This course covers fundamentals of scriptwriting, packing, argumentation and language. If you think of joining TED-ed with your students, this course may be a great help.

4 Study UK: a Guide for Education Agents and Counsellors by the British Council

Starts: 6.08.2018

Duration: 3 weeks

For whom: people counselling students looking to come to the UK to study

If your students consider studying in the UK, you may find this course particularly useful. You will learn about the UK education and training system, student lifestyle issues, welfare and support for international students or application processes and entry requirements. You will also see different tools to support you as a counsellor.

5 How to Write Your First Song by the University of Sheffield

Starts: 13.08.2018

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: people who want to sing a brand new song to welcome their students in the classroom ūüôā

If you’re one of those people who have always played on the guitar trying to come up with an own song – here’s you chance to give it a go! You will explore the whole process, starting with setting words to music, working with melody until arranging your song. It may be a great idea not only for you, but also for your students!

6 The Music of the Beatles by the University of Rochester

Starts: 13.08.2018

Duration: 7 weeks

For whom: Teachers of EFL. Seriously.

If you’re not into songmaking, but still appreciate great music, this course is for you.¬†There is probably no band or artist that has had more written about their music than the Beatles – and while the focus will be on the music, you will also explore the culture of the 1960s. You might not like the Beatles, but their impact on music and culture in general cannot be underestimated.

7 Introduction to Psychology: The Psychology of Learning by Monash University

Starts: 27.08.2018

Duration: 2 weeks

For whom: people interested in psychology

This course will help you understand how people learn different behaviours and how biology affects our ability to learn new things. You will explore the difference between learned and instinctive behaviours as well as learn about operant conditioning (learning behaviours based on positive or negative consequences), and observational learning (watching other people and imitating their behaviour). Sounds great for every teacher!

I hope you will like my recommendations – I know most of you is still enjoying the summer break (lucky you!), so I tried to find nice and light classes, but I’m sure they will prove useful and keep your brain challenged before September.

Enjoy!

7 Free Online Courses in June

 

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With warmer days (in case of Rzesz√≥w, Poland it’s actually a proper heatwave) we may either feel encouraged to spend days in the garden or in the park, or to spend evenings outside, enjoying slightly cooler air. I myself prefer the second option, especially that, as usually, I have so much to learn, that evenings and studying seem to be one… for ever.

Even if you’re not as much into CPD as I am, you might find some of the courses interesting:

1 Creative Problem Solving by University of Minnesota

Start: 04.06

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: anyone with an interest in understanding the role of creativity and innovation

This course will focus on a series of “differents” where you are challenged to identify and change your own cultural, habitual, and normal patterns of behaviour. Beginning with a prompt (eat something different), you will begin to recognise your own limits and to overcome them. You will also observe that creativity is based on societal norms – and you will discuss various benefits and disadvantages of this concept.

2 A History of Royal Fashion by University of Glasgow, Historic Royal Palaces

Start: 04.06

Duration: 5 weeks

For whom: anyone with an interest in history and fashion

This course¬†takes you into the wardrobes of British kings and queens across five royal dynasties from the Tudors, Stuarts and Georgians to the Victorians and Windsors. If you want to enjoy summer and¬†explore the styles of monarchs and the impact of their clothing on society – that’s the perfect course for you!

3 Tricky English Grammar by University of California, Irvine

Start: 11.06

Duration: 4 weeks

For whom: anyone overwhelmed by confusing grammar rules

We know that English grammar can be quite tricky and sometimes we ask native English speakers “why do you say it this way”… and they don’t know (or worse, various native speakers use different versions). This course may be useful not only for you, but also for your students, as it will¬†provide tips that will help you understand the rules more easily and give you lots of practice with the tricky grammar of everyday English. You may also take Teaching Tips for Tricky English Grammar course!

4 The Science of Everyday Thinking by University of Queensland 

Start: 12.06

Duration: 12 weeks

For whom: anyone with an interest in changing their mindshift

This course deals with the mind, but discusses¬†placebos, the paranormal, medicine, miracles, and more. You will learn how to evaluate claims, make sense of evidence, and understand why we so often make irrational choices. You will improve your decision-making skills and improve critical thinking. It may seem quite long, but it’s one of the best courses to be found on “the net”.

5 Team Coaching by Deakin University

Start: 18.06

Duration: 2 weeks

For whom: anyone with an interest in coaching

This course will help you recognise the role of a coach in developing a positive team culture which may be useful not only for a teacher, but also for a DoS, especially those who start their adventure with coaching others. You will reflect on conflict, change and team development and apply principles and strategies to create a cohesive team.

6 Exploring the World of English Language Teaching by Cambridge Assessment English

Start: 18.06

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: anyone with an interest in TEFL

This is a great course for those who have been thinking of teaching EFL and want to give it a go. You will learn about various teaching contexts and types of students, basic concepts and terminology used for describing communication skills, language analysis and awareness, using resources and other useful information for a teacher-to-be.

7 Developing Your Research Project by University of Southampton

Start: 18.06

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: anyone with an interest in to undertake some academic research

This course guides you step-by-step if you think of undertaking an Extended Project Qualification, IB extended essay or any other scholarly research. You will learn about the principles of academic research, academic reading and note taking, drafting and developing research proposals as well as referencing, plagiarism, and academic integrity. If your students consider studying abroad, this may be a perfect course for them!

I hope you’ll find the courses useful – I myself will probably go for the Everyday Thinking – if you choose the same, we might meet online ūüôā

Enjoy!

5 ways to shine at your speaking test

5 ways to shine at your speaking test

There’s always one part of testing English that you hate. Some hate writing, others listening (aye, that would be me), but somehow it’s speaking that seems to cause lots of worries. To tell you the truth, I haven’t had problems with speaking ever since I came up with some simple steps. I can’t claim you’ll excel at speaking tests after following my ideas, but I do encourage you to give them a go – maybe they’ll work out for you just as they did for me!

1 Be a star!

Do you often do such boring tasks like housework? Doing the dishes may be an opportunity to play some kind of make-believe, and I don’t want you to become Anne of the Green Gables (unless you feel like it), but to imagine you’re a celebrity. Famous, gorgeous, popular and very much in demand for any interviewer possible. Now, controversial as it may be, celebrities are being asked about opinions on just too many things, starting with the weather, through world conflicts, ending with relationship advice – and here you are, being asked about as many various things as only you can think of. Be the Vacuuming Beyonc√©, or Ronaldo, driving alone in his car – and talk to imaginary interviewer

(…) of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.

2 Make your vocabulary shiny

You might already know that I’m a fan of H.P. Lovecraft, and so I revel in the rich and sophisticated vocabulary you will find in his writings. When I was studying English Philology, I decided to learn some of the expressions by heart, so that I could get bonus points for impressive vocabulary. To be honest, it was hilarious, when a simple task of describing a car ride became in my version nothing less than a start of the Apocalypse, full of, naturally, blasphemous and amorphous shapes harbingering the Elder Gods. You get the gist, right? Obviously, I don’t recommend using such a specific area of lexis during your exams, but pick something you are absolutely sure you’ll be able to put in every single topic.

Like Great Cthulhu, obviously.

3 Role-play a little bit

I am deeply convinced that if anything, Role-Playing Games are the best source of fun-related speaking exercises. If you want to go full RPG, you might want to read my articles related to this matter, but to be honest – all you need to do is pick up a role of a more or less real person (you might be Harry Potter, or James Bond, or Elizabeth Bennet etc.) and act out for a while – the idea is quite similar to the one where you pretend to be a celebrity, but here you may ask a friend to impersonate another person just to have funny little chats “in roles” – all you need to do is to find someone to be a Watson to your Sherlock.

4 Think of a magic word

Have you ever tried to say bubbles angrily? You probably can’t, it’s just such a funny lovely word that makes you smile. Similarly with kitten, puppy – any other ideas? For me it’s catkin, don’t know why it’s just a word that makes me smile. Why do you need this? Because you should remember this word right before your exam (write it on your wrist if you might forget it). Whenever you start stressing out, imagine yourself in front of the examiners introducing yourself as “Hi, my name is Monika and my favourite word is catkin”.

Only, maybe don’t do this in real life exam…

5 Smile

It was proved that if you smile, your brain relaxes (you’ve probably heard of the famous pencil-in-mouth experiment where people faking smiles were indeed more relaxed… only this experiment was replicated 2 years ago and the results weren’t so optimistic). Apparently, fake smiles don’t work, you really need to feel it – so even if you feel terribly nervous, fake it till you make it! As an examiner, I’ll tell you, smiling people seem more confident, more pleasant and generally are easier to test.

Now, a bonus piece of advice comes from my Phonetics lecturer:

Have a shot (just one, mind!)

Of course, only if you are of age. And if you’ve had a decent breakfast. And if you have some chewing gum so that you won’t be too obvious. Seriously, while alcohol isn’t good for your voice in the long run (unless you want to have that hoarse sexy voice of Janice Joplin), it does switch off your feeling of stress and loosens up your muscles as well as vocal cords which makes speaking physically easier (it’s like in a real life, easier to chat in a foreign language after you’ve had a pint). It’s a somewhat risky method, mind, so I won’t encourage you to try it out before a real test – maybe record yourself speaking, then have a shot and continue to check how your fluency increases and your coherence… well, you might imagine.

Enjoy your experiments!

Free Online Courses in April

7freeonline coursesin April

April showers bring… a lot of free online courses. With the weather still unpredictable, it’s still a nice idea to spend windy days at home, studying and developing our teacherish skills… and not only those, as I found some courses everyone might find useful, not only teachers.

1 Teaching Computing by The National STEM Learning Centre and The University of East Anglia

Start: 16th April

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: primary and secondary school teachers

This course will help you master teaching computer science skills, digital literacy, digital citizenship and digital scholarship. It covers subject knowledge, skills and advice on planning, teaching, assessment and policy – and while it may seem useful mostly for the IT teachers, the truth is we all can study a bit of this field.

2 Academic Integrity: Values, Skills, Action by the University of Auckland

Start: 9th April

Duration: 4 weeks

For whom: mainly for university and college students, including undergraduates, postgraduates and doctoral candidates

What is academic integrity and why is it so important in academic environment? If you prepare students for university (or are a student yourself), you may find this short course really interesting. Apart from plagiarism and misconduct, this course will help you develop study skills and academic writing skills.

3 English for Academic Purposes: a MOVE-ME Project Course by The University for Foreigners of Siena, the Open University (OU) and NUI Galway

Start: 16th April

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: university students taking part in student mobility programmes in Europe, and anyone following academic courses in English. A minimum B1 knowledge of English is required

If you, or, more likely, your students, consider the idea of educational mobility programmes, you might find this course useful – it will provide you with the basics of English for Academic Purposes to come up with proper written and oral academic tests. This course may be used as a great help when it comes to using forum and exchanging ideas with other participants who also think of studying abroad.

4 English for the Workplace by the British Council

Start: 16th April

Duration: 4 weeks

For whom: non-native English speakers who have studied English to at least pre-intermediate level (A2)

This course may be students for those who think of moving abroad and finding a career – as a teacher you may either share this course with your students, or get inspired to share some of the ideas by yourself. You will work on your CV and job application language as well as a successful job interview.

5 Conflict Transformation by Emory University

Start: 9th April

Duration: 5 weeks

For whom: people who struggle with conflicts in their environment

This course introduces the concept of conflict transformation and how it can change the conflict into something constructive. You will study various methods of mediation, as well as tools and ways to handle conflicts creatively into something useful. I believe this course may be useful especially for those of us who struggle with class discipline, as it may give us more ideas on how to manage unruly students.

6 Giving Helpful Feedback by University of Colorado Boulder

Start: 23rd April

Duration: 5 weeks

For whom: everyone who needs to give feedback to others

This course may prove useful for teachers, trainers and DoSes alike, as giving feedback is one of the key elements of our work – and we could use some extra tips to make our feedback better and more helpful, making people more positive and encouraging them to a much greater extent.

This course is my pick of the month, but traditionally, I have something extra:

7 The Science of Beer by the Wageningen University

Start: 24th April

Duration: 5 weeks

For whom: people interested in beer and its history

This MOOC is developed by students of Wageningen University & Research in honour of the 100 year anniversary of the university. You will learn¬†all about beer, including how it’s made, the raw materials used, its supply chain, how it’s marketed and the effect of beer consumption on your body. It’s not a bad idea to study this before holidays start…

I hope you’ll find a course that will suit your needs – if you pick Feedback, I’ll see you online, but I believe all the courses are equally useful.

Enjoy!

How to complete an online course?

How can you complete an online course_

For a while now I’ve been sharing ideas on free online courses you can take up every month – hopefully you find them inspiring at least as much as I do. One of the comments I get is that while it’s easy to find a nice course and sign in, it’s far more difficult to complete it. Some people say that’s why paid courses are a better option as you feel the pressure on finishing something you paid for.

It’s like with season tickets to the gym – you wait until the season finishes to leave the dreadful place for ever…

Today I want to share some tips that should be really helpful to make your online courses noticeably easier to complete (and to do it on time!). So let’s start with the first step:

1 Pick your course carefully

Don’t go for a full 8 week long specialisation on Coursera as your first course. Pick something lighter, like Get Started with Online Learning on Futurelearn. You should pay attention to grading policy (if you know you won’t have much time for assignments, pick the course with in-course tests). Check the duration of the course (start with 2 or 3 weeks long ones) and the amount of¬†time estimated for your work (2 hours a week sounds rather ok). You don’t have to choose the area connected with your work – one of the nicest courses I’ve taken was on witness investigation (I’ve learned a lot about how the brain works, I must admit).

2 Plan your learning

I mentioned that I might be slightly overly organised, but when it comes to online learning, it’s a serious advantage. Remember, that you can rely only on your inner motivation, and this may tempt you to complete most of the course at once and then stop, take a break… and forget about the course altogether. So the main rule is: hold your horses! Don’t do everything at once. The courses are divided into modules and after each module you should have a break. Like with learning a language you should spend 15-20 minutes a day learning (it’s a great opportunity for you to find yourself in your students’ shoes, teacher!). Remember about your homework, but…

3 Leave time for reflection

Don’t go with your homework activities immediately after you finish watching videos and reading articles. Give yourself some time to digest the knowledge. It’s a good idea to have a little reflective log or journal before you start learning online. You may take notes not only of the topics you learn, but also questions that arise. Like every student, you are not expected to grasp everything at once, and sometimes great help can be given by your fellow students in course chats or forums – you will get inspired and some of the people are guaranteed to change your perspective. In most courses, educators also take part in discussions, so you’ll have a chance to discuss your ideas before you send in your homework.

4 Think about a support group

You must gather your party before venturing forth.

Sometimes inner motivation is not enough – then we can count on other people! It’s always nice to have a learning buddy to support you if you don’t feel like studying or have a sudden motivation drop (happens every other day, I know). Sometimes having a learning buddy may result in some kind of competition and that’s also very useful: who doesn’t finish Module 3 by tomorrow gets us both coffee! Don’t forget that chatting online with your course colleagues is one of the ways to find new friends – and as every brony knows, friendship is magic.

5 Don’t give up!

Ever tried, ever failed, no matter. Try again, fail again, fail better. Maybe it’s not the most optimistic attitude, but don’t let one failure cast shadow over your future. Just try next time, remember the moment you gave up and try to eradicate it. Find a teaching buddy to support you, plan everything better – and don’t give up!

It’s not too late to take up one of the courses starting in February!

Enjoy!

7 Free Online Courses in February

7 Free Online Coursesin February

Long winter evenings of February may look picturesque, but if you prefer staying in, I have a good excuse for you to do so: free online courses. A lot of teachers enjoy their winter break, so if you want to procrastinate without the slightest feeling of guilt, you may enjoy one of the options I’ve picked for you:

1 Becoming a Better Teacher: Exploring Professional Development by the British Council and UCL Institute of Education

Start: 5th February

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: teachers of EFL or educators who teach in English

I believe teaching is constant learning – this course only proves my point. The course is divided into simple modules that will show you how important CPD and its organisation is. From understanding Kolb’s cycle to learning through classroom observation and peer feedback – it will definitely help you develop your reflective skills and improve your teaching practice.

2 Language and Mind by Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Start: 5th February

Duration: 8 weeks

For whom: new teachers or those who need to revise their linguistics

Some people believe language to be a social creation and language learning to take place through social interactions. Others point out biological foundations of the language. This course will try to make you familiar with relationship between language and human mind; to understand language as a special purpose cognitive ability; and to understand underlying mental computation for natural language processing.

3 Introduction to Psychology by University of Toronto

Start: 5th February

Duration: 8 weeks

For whom: educators interested in psychology

This course focuses on the brain and some of the cognitive abilities it supports like memory, learning, attention, perception and consciousness. During the course you will look at human development from the perspective of individual growth as well as the influence of environment. The final part will focus on various forms of mental illness and the treatments that are used to help those who suffer from them.

4 Tricky American English Pronunciation by University of California, Irvine

Start: 12th February

Duration: 8 weeks

For whom: English language learners who want to improve pronunciation of American English

In this course, you’ll practice the sounds of American English that might sometimes be confusing, as well as proper sentence stress. The access to all of the lectures and handouts is free to anyone, but the graded assignments and quizzes are only available in the paid version of the course. You will need to submit recordings of your own pronunciation for graded assignments.

5 Speaking Effectively by Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur

Start: 5th February

Duration: 8 weeks

For whom: educators and students of English

This course focuses on the dynamics of effective spoken communication. It defines speaking as an autonomous medium with a particular vocabulary, syntax, structure, style and register. You will start with body language and basic conversation skills before moving on to such aspects as appearing in interviews, making formal presentations and participating in meetings.

6 Storytelling for Change by +Acumen

Start: 13th February

Duration: 8 weeks

For whom: trainers and educators who want to use the elements of story to get closer to the audience

The course focuses on something that seems to be present in all aspects of our lives Рstorytelling Рas an essential tool for changing the world because it starts with changing conversations around, what we see, hear, feel and know to be true. The course is also quite innovative as you will be expected to form a Story Team as part of this course. Story Team meetings are an important and fun part of the course. This is where you will discuss the material, practice with a friendly audience, and learn from each other. This course will consist of a mix of team and individual assignments.

7 MOOC-ED: Learning Differences by Friday Institute and North Carolina State College of Education

Start: 5th February

Duration: 6 weeks

For whom: educators including teachers, coaches, administrators, or people who play a role in meeting the needs of all students

Historically, schools have approached student learning with a one-size-fits-all mentality and have struggled to adapt to changing student needs. That ends now – and this course is to help you change the way you teach and the way your students learn. You will focus on understanding learning differences, motivation etc. as the course focuses on providing a more personalised learning experience for all of your students.

I hope you’ll find something useful to enjoy over a cup of hot cocoa on a cold February night. If you belong to the vast majority of people who are eager to start online courses but struggle with systematic learning – don’t worry, next week I’ll post some tips that will help you choose, start and finish an online course.

Enjoy!