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!

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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 – storytelling – as 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!

7 free online courses in November

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Yes! My favourite month is almost here! I love November – especially when I can stay in, wrapped up in my favourite blanket, with a purring cat snuggled against me and a great book to read… or a TV series to watch. Have you already seen Stranger Things 2? If not, you should totally do, as you can actually see what Role Playing Games are and how important they may be in real life!

Apart from RPGs (currently I’m writing a nice article about the idea behind this phenomenon, give me a fortnight or so), I don’t mind spending my time learning new things – and as every month, I’d like to share my picks of the month: seven free courses you may attend online:

1 Engaging ELLs and Their Families in the School and Communities by Arizona State University

Start: 13th of November
Duration: 6 weeks

The course is focused on K-12 classroom environment in the U.S., however you will learn how to better and more successfully engage your students and their families in the school and community, how to engage a student in the classroom setting as well as in various aspects of the school including extracurricular activities and the inner workings of the school and education system. You will also be introduced to strategies for engaging the families of your students in the school community. It may be useful for those teachers who deal with parents on a regular basis.

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

Start: 13th of November
Duration: 6 weeks

Why and how are teachers integrating ICT (Information and Communication Technology) into primary education? Here you will compare your own ideas with other teachers around the world and will learn how to be aware of the range of reasons for using ICT and how to analyse the strengths and weakness of different decision-making mechanisms. You will also become familiar with a wider range of useful tools and resources for integrating ICT. It may be useful for those teachers who are slightly overwhelmed by technology in their classrooms.

3 Social Media – What No One has Told You about Privacy by Dr. Anne Kayem

Started: 23rd of October
Duration: 2 weeks

Have you ever accepted a friendship request from the guy or girl you met at the shop only to regret it the minute you clicked on “accept”?  If you have, then you probably know about the nagging feeling of discomfort that you try to ignore or comfort yourself by telling yourself that it does not matter. However,  if you feel concerned that something is not quite right, it most likely is the case. I believe privacy and social media is (or should be) a hot topic at the moment for everyone, especially teachers dealing with teenagers.

4 Applying to U.S. Universities by University of Pennsylvania 

Started: 30th of October
Duration: 5 weeks

This course will help international students (non-U.S. citizens) and non-native English speakers navigate the U.S. university admission process by offering practical information about the documents and pieces that make up a U.S. university application. More importantly, admission officers will discuss how they use those pieces to decide who is accepted and who is denied, so that you can understand the process beyond the pieces. I would recommend this course to anyone thinking about studying in the U.S. – and those teachers who work with students planning to do so.

5 Develop your knowledge of studying in the UK by the British Council

Start: 13th of November
Duration: 4 weeks

This course is designed primarily for those counselling students looking to come to the UK to study, including school counsellors, education agents and those interested in becoming education agents. Potential students and learners will also find the course informative and useful. You will learn about the UK education and training system, quality assurance systems and how they operate, student lifestyle issues, welfare and support for international students, application processes and entry requirements. It may be useful for those students – and their teachers – who think about studying in the UK.

6 Mentoring in Schools by European Schoolnet Academy and Inducas

Started: 15th of May (but materials are still available)
Duration: 6 weeks/ self-paced

This course may be a really great help for DoSes.  It is focused primarily on mentoring of colleagues within a school. Particular references are also made to the mentoring of beginner teachers, supporting them to find their place in the school and classroom.  You will learn how mentors can support and develop the work of teachers in schools. The course aims to support mentors working with teachers by offering them strategies and tools for their work with teachers as well as examples of effective mentorship approaches leading to more effective, happier, and successful teachers.

7 Coursera: Lesson Planning with the ELL in Mind by Arizona State University

Started: 30th of October
Duration: 6 weeks

This course is perfect for teachers who are just starting their adventure with EFL teaching! In this course you will learn how to design lesson plans around the needs of your students and their language level through the analysis of content language and cognitive demands. You will learn how to align language objectives to the adopted standards of your school and content area. Analysis of second language acquisition theories will be applied to lesson planning.

And, as a bonus – just for your teenage students:

World of Spies: Keeping Secrets by Purdue University

Start: 20th of November
Duration: 4 weeks

What does it take to be a spy? Strong critical thinking and communication skills, a firm grasp of logic, and a love of puzzles are all useful. This course, designed for 13-18 year old students, will help them develop those abilities while exploring the exciting world of espionage. They’ll learn about code-making and breaking, encryption, logical thinking and more as you find out whether you would make a good spy. If you have ambitious pupils – that may be a great beginning of their e-learning career!

I hope you’ll enjoy the courses I recommend – I still have to make up my mind on which course should I take. Definitely the one by the British Council, but maybe I should satisfy my inner child and have fun with espionage? So many options, so little time!

Enjoy!

7 YouTube channels to spice up your lessons

 

International Picnic Day! (1)

One of the funniest and weirdest activities you can enjoy with your friends is a so-called YouTube party. Basically, you meet your mates and have regular fun until someone says “I totally have to show you something on YouTube…” And boom, the YT party begins because everyone has seen something to share with friends.

And, oh, the depths of the Internet you may visit…

If you teach teenagers or digitally aware adults you may enjoy a little YT party as well, just try to moderate the videos presented by students as some of the videos may turn out to be somewhat inappropriate.

If you want to avoid potential embarrassment, try to show some EFL-friendly channels. Don’t know which ones are worth recommendation? Well, I’ve shortlisted some nice channels and hope you’ll find them enjoyable.

1 Anglophenia

I really love this culture-oriented channel focused on British and American celebrations, festivals and customs. You’ll find here a lot of short, funny and witty videos on various topics – from British houses (the great mystery of double taps explained) to the practical guide on how to insult like a Brit.

2 English Like A Native

I came across this channel when I was looking for good videos with various accents – I heard Anna’s short film on Scouse and it was more than enough for me to spend the whole evening watching her videos. Funny and smart, discussing the wide range of topics from accents to the ways people shouldn’t pay compliments – I’m sure you’ll love it!

3 English with Lucy

Lucy is a very popular British English teacher who focuses on more “traditional” approach to learning English, talking not only about cultural aspects, but also improving skills, remembering vocabulary etc. I’d recommend lessons with Lucy as a great homework for my students.

4 Learn English with Papa Teach Me

Want to speak like John Snow (and still know something)? Or maybe you’d like to sound like Jason Statham? Just watch Papa Teach Me channel and enjoy the “how to” films full of funny examples, but also really useful information you may find valuable from teacher’s point of view (I do!) – cockney, RP, or real tutorial how to speak like the Lannister.

That would be easy, just send your regards on the tip of the knife…

5 Learn English Kids by British Council

In case the name of the channel isn’t clear enough, let me clarify: this is a great channel for the youngest learners of English. Songs, nursery rhymes, games, stories, lessons – everything you’ll ever need to satisfy the demands of even the laziest child (and his parents). You should also try British Council: Learn English Teens channel as it’s full of useful videos for teenagers.

6 BBC Learning English

Apart from the casual news, BBC has a variety of films on its Learning English channel. “Go the Distance” is a series of videos focused on learning online, the “We Say – You Say” section provides a detailed explanation on proverbs and sayings, 6-minute English sections on Thursdays are just great with interesting topics and great vocabulary chunks… Just try not to lose your head over all those inspiring videos!

7 Learn English by British Council

Short videos, proper lessons, useful tips and interesting people – you can find it all on this channel. You may bring it to your classroom when you feel a bit lazy – or you may ask your students to watch a video as their homework, which is always a better idea than telling them to find the channel and browse it by themselves. I really recommend the series “How to improve your skills”, especially for the beginning of a course.

If you know of YouTube channels that I haven’t shortlisted please let me know, I’ll be happy to watch them – and learn – more.

Enjoy!

 

7 free online courses in October

7 Free OnlineCoursesin October

September is over, and October brings long evenings when you can drink tea or hot chocolate and read books… or learn, of course! With leaves falling in many beautiful colours, let me shower you with lovely online courses, that are free to participate and open for everyone. And if autumn cosiness makes you slightly lazy, the courses I want to show you will wake you up and inspire for a nice change!

1 Storytelling for Change by the Ariel Group

Storytelling is an extremely popular topic nowadays – teaching, coaching, even sales reps operate on using stories, as they make your message memorable, give your audience something to relate to, and above all capture their attention. You will get familiar with important storytelling tools, and create a rehearsed presentation that can help you connect with your audience and inspire change.

The course starts on the 10th of October and takes 8 weeks.

2 Teaching Flipped by University of Utah

Flipped Classroom in one of the most popular ways of introducing Blended Learning. This course is taught flipped/MOOC-style by veteran flippers and MOOCers to give you experience with the tools and learning methods. By the end of the course you should have a good idea of how to flip your own course plus you’ll have the tools to do it well.

The course starts on the 2nd of October and takes 8 weeks.

3 Coaching Learning, Leadership and Change by Case Western Reserve University

Coaching can inspire and motivate people to learn, change, and be effective leaders, among other roles in life. The course focuses on “coaching with compassion” (coaching someone to their dreams and desires) as the most effective form of the process. You will learn about psychology and neuroscience behind coaching which may be very useful not only for a teacher, but also for a DoS.

The course starts on the 9th of October and takes 5 weeks.

4 Launching Innovation in School by MITx Microsoft in Education

Innovation in school is a very popular topic nowadays – each school wants to be unusual, and sometimes a teacher is simply asked to introduce and innovative change – and left alone. Now, this course is for school leaders of all kinds (from teacher-leaders to principals to superintendents) who are launching innovation in schools – starting new efforts to work together to improve teaching and learning. It’s a great way to exchange ideas and share experiences!

The course started on the 28th of September and takes 7 weeks.

5 Growth Mindset: How to Help Your Child Learn, Grow, Thrive by The Institute for Wellness Education

Carol Dweck introduced growth mindset and introduced a new approach to education as a lifelong process. In this mini-course, you’ll learn the psychology and science of how mindset works to shape child’s future, and the life-altering power that a growth mindset offers. You’ll learn powerful skills to help develop a growth mindset that will set the stage for children to develop and thrive throughout life. Perfect not only for teachers, but also parents.

The course is self-paced, which means you can take it anytime you wish.

6 Supporting Children with Difficulties in Reading and Writing by University of London, UCL Institute of Education and Dyslexia International

This course is perfect for those teachers who want to learn why some children have so much difficulty with reading and writing (an issue often called “dyslexia”), and to learn more about best practice in teaching literacy to all in light of recent scientific discoveries. You will study not only theory, but also practical approach.

The course starts on the 2nd of October and takes 6 weeks.

7 Teaching Literacy Through Film by the British Film Institute and Into Film

Almost every student likes watching films in the classroom, but teachers (and parents) aren’t so sure that this is the best educational help. Recent research, however, has shown that film can be a powerful tool to help improve children’s reading and writing. In this course, you’ll find out how you can help your students learn with film using various approaches and activities.

The course starts on the 16th of October and takes 4 weeks.

 

I hope you’ll find something interesting – I personally pick Coaching Learning, as being a DoS means constant changes and challenges, especially when it comes to relationships with people. If you choose the same course, let me know and let’s meet online with a cup of hot chocolate!

Enjoy!

7 Free Online Courses in September

Seven

Between all the new school year themed workshops and IATEFL I feel like I’m back at school… only as a student. It’s an interesting feeling for someone who’s left her official educational process years ago, but it’s always better to learn new things than forget the old ones.

If you feel you could do with a little bit of learning yourselves, worry not – here’s my traditional set list of seven great courses you may enjoy in September: they’re online, they’re free, they’re awesome! And since I remember how hectic Septembers can be for teachers, I’ve tried to find courses that are either short or self-paced, so you can start them on your own:

1 Creating Effective Online and Blended Courses by Stanford University

If you’ve ever thought of switching your classes online (to a lesser or greater degree), this course may be a good beginning. It is designed to help develop online courses or incorporate online learning approaches in on-campus classes. It’s also nice for those who are rather busy: modules are self-paced, so there are no deadlines, and the materials will be available indefinitely for you to work through on your own schedule.

2 Becoming an Expert Learner by Northpoint Bible College

This course will explore the diversity of intelligences – and helping develop student’s own. You will also explore study and note-taking methods and techniques to support a variety of learners, helping each to become an expert learner. This course may be great for teachers who want to experiment on various methods of teaching – it may also be useful for your students.

The course is also self-paced, which means you can take it or leave it whenever you want.

3 Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills by University of Melbourne

This course explains the social and cognitive skills that are known as 21st century skills. It focuses on their representation in the curriculum, but also explores how teachers can recognise these skills in students, how the level of skill of a learner can be assessed, and then how learners can be supported to develop their skill. This course is designed for teachers who are wondering exactly how they can incorporate teaching and assessment of 21st century skills into their classrooms.

The course starts on the 25th of September and takes 6 weeks.

4 Positive Behavior Support for Young Children by University of Washington

This is an experimental course, hence no certificates will be given, however, it may turn out to become a proper support for those teachers who start working with kids. A lot of children may happen to experience various issues, and this course will focus on current research on the developmental trajectory of children with early-onset aggressive behaviours; positive behaviour support program models; and intervention efforts that promote positive early childhood mental health.

The course is self-paced, which means you can take it or leave it whenever you want.

5 Business English for Cross-cultural Communication by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Everyone who’s ever dealt with international business knows how important CCC (cross-cultural communication) is. This course is focused on common cross-cultural theories and how they are relevant to everyday business practices in a globalised world. You are going to learn some savoir-vivre tips along with strategies to overcome possible cross-cultural issues and misunderstandings in communication. I find this course great not only for teachers, but also students of Business English.

The course starts on the 4th of September and takes 6 weeks.

6 TOEFL® Test Preparation: The Insider’s Guide by ETS

This course may turn out to be extremely useful not only for teachers, and not only in September. This course is highly interactive, using videos, sample questions with explanations, short quizzes and collaborative discussion boards, so anyone deciding to take this test will learn all they need to know. Moreover, this test preparation course is developed by the experts who create, administer and score the TOEFL® test. In addition, there will be free resources and discounted test prep offers throughout the course.

Here’s the best thing: the course is self-paced, which means you can take it or leave it whenever you want.

7 Understanding Classroom Interaction by University of Pennsylvania

This course is perfect for the beginning of school year. Have you ever wondered why some classroom discussions are lively and engaging and others more like painful interrogations? Why everybody (or nobody) laughs at a teacher’s jokes? You’ll learn the analytic tools to answer these and more questions about classroom communication. Sounds great and is probably my pick of the month!

The course starts on the 19th of September and takes 5 weeks.

I hope you’ll pick something useful for you – let me know which course you’ve decided to participate in!