One of the key competences any lecturer needs to develop is to identify good educational resources, and to modify, create and share digital resources that fit their learning objectives, learner group and teaching style. At the same time they need to be aware of how to responsibly use and manage digital content, respecting copyright rules and protecting personal data. These issues are at the heart of Area 2
Please consider where you stand in view of the following long-term goals.
Your answer: I rarely use the internet to find resources for language teaching and learning
Even if the Internet may seem overwhelming as a new place to find language teaching resources, it offers many diverse ways to boost your learners’ learning through digital resources, so it is worth giving it a chance!
Benefits: If your learners are struggling with some communicative language activities, you can quickly search online to find different attractive alternatives to help them. Being about to search for and locate alternative digital resources will give you a more flexible “tool box” for your classes.
Strategies for use: To begin, make sure you know what Internet browser is on your computer, tablet or smartphone, and how to do an online search using it. Your browser is like your door to the Internet, and the search engine is like the path that takes you to where you want to go once you open that door. Common browsers include: Edge (Microsoft), Firefox, Safari (Mac), or Chrome (Google). Open the browser by clicking on the icon for it and getting familiar with how it works.
Tools: Once you have access to your Internet browser, find a search engine to search. The most widely used search engine is Google. Once you have opened your browser, type in the text box at the top of the browser: www.google.com. Here you can search for materials you are interested in for your class, such as “Flashcards” or “English vocabulary” etc.
To level up: You can also locate one of the digital tools profiled on http://platform.ideal-project.eu , or go directly to a well-known website for language teachers by typing in its address into the search bar.
Your answer: I use common search engines and resource platforms to find relevant resources for language teaching and learning.
Being able to locate digital resources for use in class through online searches and getting to know digital platforms is a great way to get familiar with what is out there for you to use (and adapt) for your students’ needs.
Benefits: The more experience you gain searching and using basic platforms to find resources, the more quickly your class preparation can go, and the more adept you will become at helping your learners when they have difficulty with classwork. For example, if your learners are having trouble with pronunciation, you could find and send them to a site where they can click on some words to hear them pronounced, or even pronounce the words themselves and get automatically evaluated.
Strategies for use: To try out a digital tool once you have found it on a search, try simply going to the tool’s home page and looking around. Are there any examples of what the tool does? Look for screenshots of example material and imagine how it might look adapted to your teaching context.
Tools: Different search engines may produce different results, so don’t be afraid to compare them. For example, you may find a broader set of results if you search in Google, and then in www.bing.com.
To level up: Once you have explored the basics of a digital resource by looking around its website and getting an idea of what sort of function the tool provides, try taking the next step of becoming a user for this tool. Sign up or create your account to level up and once this step is complete, try logging in to get access to the tool to see how you would begin to use it.
Your answer: I evaluate and select resources on the basis of their suitability for my group of learners and based on their need for varied language skills practice (mediation, reception, interaction, etc.)
At your level, you have most likely accumulated sufficient experience searching for and evaluating digital resources so that you can suggest at least one tool for your learners to support the development of their communicative activities regardless of their different proficiency levels.
Benefits: Knowing about different tools allows you to help your learners with almost any difficulty by leading them to a resource that can help support them. As a teacher, you may have a variety of tools you are quite familiar with which you can utilise for class preparation, extra practice, class assignments, etc.
Strategies for use: Now that you are getting comfortable with a range of different digital tools, try to incorporate a search for a tool at least once a week into your class work preparation.
Tools: Consider sorting the tools you think might be useful into different lists or areas? Try using a variety of search terms for your searches, for example, focusing on skill nuances. Do a search for foreign language oral presentations and then for foreign language conversations. What are the differences in results?
To level up: As an independent user, you should start comparing different applications following a quality criterion. Explore different tools, think of the benefits of each of them and decide which one best fits your teaching environment.
Your answer: I compare resources using a range of relevant criteria, e.g. reliability, quality, design, interactivity, appeal, and appropriateness for communicative language activities: reception and production, interaction and (online) mediation, etc.
Language teachers want to offer their learners the best opportunities for learning, engaging with and using the target language.
Setting precise criteria when choosing the best digital resources - tools and gadgets -for language learning is crucial for evaluating a new tool.
Benefits: The reasons for using any resource or tool needs to be clear. There is evidence that new technologies only provide added benefit when they meet specific learning needs and help learners to progress on the proficiency scale.
Strategies for use: To progress in this area, it may be useful to identify what communicative language activities and strategies the selected tool will support, and how it will generate useful feedback.
Language teachers should ask themselves whether the content or technology used is challenging for the target users, whether the opportunities for practice are useful and whether meaningful regular assessment can be facilitated.
Try to identify chances to develop learners’ other knowledge/skills through the digital tool according to learners’ language and digital proficiency levels.
Tools: An interesting place to discover new tools, apart from the ones categorised in this project, are on various blogs and websites that are created by other language teachers. Consider searching for language teaching blogs (you can find some here for EFL: https://blog.feedspot.com/english_teacher_blogs/ and some Spanish educators here: https://www.spanish.academy/blog/20-spanish-teacher-blogs-that-will-enhance-your-lesson-plans/) ) and try out some of the tools they suggest.
To level up: Share your knowledge with colleagues and online communities.
Your answer: I advise colleagues on suitable resources and search strategies for development of all the skills and competences involved in language teaching and learning for different teaching environments, as well as maintaining my own selection of digital resources, keeping in mind the new CEFR descriptors.
You are in a prime position to join forces with other digitally engaged teachers to foster innovation in language learning. Start sharing your knowledge with your colleagues and/or online communities. This can be done by setting up a resource repository among colleagues -e.g. by compiling an information sheet, a blog, website or social networks- with useful language resources, keeping in mind the new CEFR descriptors.
Benefits: Being able to maintain, select and promote the use of digital technologies for any given purpose within your language class will allow your colleagues and students to access a variety of educational language resources.
Make sure that this advice goes both ways, so that you also benefit from knowledge sharing, and try to involve as many of your colleagues as possible.
Strategies for use: Try to make your knowledge valuable for improving teaching among other language teachers. You can start sharing resources via email or through professional meetings or workshops.
To share digital language resources worldwide, search for tools that will help you disseminate your own digital knowledge to other teachers. For example, you could start a personal blog or website and invite your colleagues to join, or contribute to existing online language learning networks.
Tools: Consider creating a website with WordPress to share your ideas and resources.
You can also use social networks such as Facebook or Instagram for this purpose.
To level up: Foster digital resource searches and general use across the organisation.
Your answer: I do not create my own digital resources for language learning.
Identifying major issues and problems that may diminish your motivation to create your own digital language learning resources can help you to critically analyse your language teaching competences in the digital era and identify how you may progress in this area.
Benefits: Designing your own learning material is highly engaging and encourages learners’ active participation in your classes.
Strategies for use: To begin with, you can start by searching for opportunities and spaces where your learners, and you as a language teacher, can access digital content. First search for educational platforms and identify what can be achieved.
Tools: Moodle is the world’s most popular learning management system. You could browse through the Moodle forums at https://moodle.org/course/ to identify some existing online spaces which use developed digital learning material effectively.
To level up: Once you have identified a good example of an online space for language learning, consider the possibilities a similar space of your own may offer for your language class.
Your answer: I create lecture notes, reading lists, worksheets with basic word processing tools, using a computer, but then I print them.
Even if you do not have much experience with sharing language learning resources in digital environments, there are a number of things which you can try to implement.
Benefits: The benefits to this are particularly evident with in the time and paper you ultimately save along with possibilities for easier collaboration with your learners and simplified access to learning resources.
Strategies for use: Start exploring the tools and programmes on the IDEAL platform to identify the best ones for your teaching purposes. You could create worksheets which can be shared both online and in print. Depending on your learners' access to a computer, they may want to fill some of these in online.
Tools: Wordsearch includes a variety of options for creating worksheets and sharing them either online on in paper.
Another option may be to explore an assignment in a system like Moodle and start creating tasks for your learners to complete in this environment.
For lecture notes some of the most popular note-taking programmes are Evernote or OneNote.
To level up: You could build upon your existing teaching practice by integrating tools such as e.g. online quizzes, animations, surveys, etc. into existing digital presentations to engage your language learners.
Your answer: I devise digital presentations for teaching languages with some advanced features, like embedding audio elements, animations and interactive gamification elements.
If you are already using digital presentation tools such as Powerpoint, Prezi or Google Slides, and using additional tools to augment these, you can make use of a range of additional tools to continue make much more out of your teaching.
Benefits: Knowledge transfer in a visually attractive format allows teachers to create interactive learning environments and to foster learners’ audiovisual memory.
Strategies for use: The next step would be to explore more interactive and engaging formats that can be realised within the constraints of your educational setting and course format. The more experience you gain creating interactive language activities, using a variety of tools for a variety of contexts, the more you ultimately encourage the learners to interact and communicate in the target language.
Tools: One option could be to consider online quizzes for learners to do as a self-assessment activity. You may find that there are many different tools available, often for free, that make it easy to set up a quiz and provide targeted feedback on wrong answers. Tools such as Mentimeter or Kahoot enable you to engage directly with your learners. Makebeliefscomix is another excellent tool to help learners understand language as part of a narrative.
Additionally, you can view a range of useful digital tools on the IDEAL learning platform.
To level up: Explore other digital tools that could be used to create more interactive experiences for your learners on the IDEAL platform.
Your answer: I create and modify different types of resources (audio, video, quizzes, scheduling tools, presentations, etc.) to be used for different communicative language activities (receptive, productive, online interaction and mediation in virtual environments).
When creating and modifying authentic language learning materials keep in mind to not only use digital tools and technologies as a mean to meet teaching objectives, but also to use them for language communication activities aligned with learners’ needs and learning preferences.
Benefits: Using digital tools for communication activities will enable your learners to develop competences aligned to the new CEFR –descriptors, especially related to interaction and mediation in online environments-.
Strategies for use: To address this issue, you can develop different types of resources or adapt already existing ones to be used for different communicative language activities. This methodology can be an effective means to structure a lesson and develop language skills for your learners. The requirement to engage in communicative activities will also help your learners stay focused.
Tools: To prepare educational kits and packages you can use tools such as:
- For presentations: Canva, Genially, Prezi, Powtoon, emaze, Keynote (MAC), Swipe.
- Audio: Audacity, WebLaunch Recorder, Webpad, Recording Studio, etc.
- Video: video editor software, toolbox, Yaycam Retro, etc.
- Quizzes: Google Forms, Typeform, Kahoot, Survey Monkey, EasyMLS, HotPotatoes, etc.
To level up: Continue trying out new digital solutions to further enhance communicative activities for your learners -for example, any digital resources or environments that are more engaging, more interactive or more collaborative-.
Expand on interactive tools and collaborative environments.
Your answer: I devise and adapt complex, interactive digital resources like apps and games for teaching and assessment in all skill areas (writing, speaking, listening, reading, online mediation and interaction) for my adult learners, even creating or co-creating online language courses.
By developing your own digital resources, you are clearly able to plan new activities and methodologies based on interactive digital resources.
Benefits: Mastering the use of digital tools and platforms to generate your own resources will make things much easier for you and improve results. Contributing to the outline and coordination of courses in virtual environment will help you to organise your language syllabi and will be profitable for the educational institution you are working in.
Strategies for use: To progress your experience in this area, explore new and existing applications and take the time to compare and analyse them with applications or resources you have already used. Do you have a critical approach to choose the appropriate resource(s) given the learning and learners’ needs?
Tools: Integrating the use of digital tools (such as Second Life or italki) to empower learners to connect with native speakers from other countries can revolutionise the processes of learning foreign languages and reinforce the CEFR-approach to view the learner of a language primarily as a social agent.
To level up: What is important for you, at this high level, is to remember that technology is simply a means to an end. When juggling the different features of the many different digital tools available, keep your focus firmly on the concrete learning objective(s) according to your learners' learning needs and preferences.
You should always be looking to enhance the user experience and not simply use a tool for the sake of using it.
Your answer: I have never considered the issue of data protection or security because the department /institution manages all these issues.
While it is good to be able to count on the assistance of staff and / or the department that provides assistance for the protection of sensible content, it is also important to be able to manage security oneself to protect data such as personal information or student grades.
Benefits: Setting up your own accounts for certain resources or for information protection can be useful. Setting and managing your own security can support for greater confidence in posting, storing, and exchanging your information.
Strategies for use: To effectively approach this issue, make sure you know why it is important for you to provide security for your adult learners´ data. One way of approaching this may be to consider (or even ask your learners) the ramifications of learner grades, personal information or projects freely available.
Tools: YouTube can be a useful resource to find guidance on how to create strong passwords. Explore how to protect devices with passwords (not only your smartphone but also computers (click on here to see how to create strong passwords: https://youtu.be/3f0u-vw58A0).
To level up: Explore the advantages of using digital passwords to keep relevant information secure. Explore examples in the digital and physical world, noting what is done in each.
Your answer: I avoid storing personal data and other sensitive information electronically, but I sometimes do store such data by using local and/or cloud management systems.
It can be very useful to store your own and your adult learners’ personal information, assignments, grades, test results, etc., on USB devices, Google Drive, or other storage systems typically available in most educational organisations. However, and additional layer of security can be added through the use of anti-virus software, firewalls and password protections.
Benefits: Anti-virus software can reinforce the security of sensitive data and password protecting devices can add an additional layer of security.
Strategies for use: Protective software should ideally be set up by the educational institution so that all the devices can operate safely in a digital environment and use a common set of protections.
Tools: A resource that can be adapted is school-licensed anti-virus and firewall software. They are quite effective for networked laptops and PCs (such as Bitdefender Antivirus, Emsisoft Anti-Malware, Microsoft Window Defender, etc.).
To level up: You may consider exploring other tools and procedures for data protection. Investigate and rate these according to price, features, reliability, effectiveness, etc.
Your answer: I sometimes find ways to protect personal data and other information like by adding a user password, but not always; for example, I can manage some Google tools and / or VLE tools for administration procedures (e.g., closed groups, document sharing, calendar management, questionnaires, writing tasks, peer assessment, etc.).
Data protection is a responsibility for all teachers to consider. A systematic approach to it can help to ensure its effectiveness.
Good data protection approaches can ensure data safety by promoting the use of strong passwords, anti-virus programs (software), and firewalls. However, other precautions should be taken to ensure that learners’ data remains private and protected.
Benefits: Beneficial preventive measures can include e.g.: updating anti-virus programmes or changing passwords every month.
Also document writing and auto-completion features online may risk third-party tracking. Adjusting the security options in your Internet browser to prevent these auto-filling is a good instrument to thwart third-party intrusion.
Strategies for use: A wide range of documents can be revised by unchecking the auto-completion and third-party options, making it more difficult for others to access private information.
Tools: You can explore Google tools or other web-based resources without activating auto completion options to examine how information can be kept more private.
To level up: Additional options related to data security can be explored by thinking about other situations where data safety is key and how data protection is managed.
Your answer: I develop and apply passwords for protection and access to files with personal data (e.g., I can work as administrator in closed groups, enabling features to users, enabling links to protected virtual sessions, documents, etc.).
While it is useful to be implement strong protection measures with data we should be cautious that any registered users do not illegally access (whether intentionally or not) private documents. An example of this include closed classrooms in Microsoft Teams or other synchronous platforms where the teacher has uploaded confidential information about learners. In these cases, individualized or at least limited access should be enabled in the platform.
Benefits: Customizing certain utilities can yield significant effects in terms of both security and protection. Additional applications can help us to create security codes for each individual learner so that that relevant information is only available to them.
Strategies for use: One way of adding data safety and privacy features is by exploiting mechanisms to protect and encrypt files, folders or any other uploaded resources. There is a wide range of freely available software supports which facilitate this for a wide range of systems.
Tools: One example is an open access encryption software called Gihosoft (https://www.gihosoft.com/file-encryption.html), which works for Windows and Mac computers (https://www.gihosoft.com/download/?id=fileencryptionmac).
To level up: Explore the area of digital encryption and security applications within existing digital tools you are using to further ensure security.
You could look for existing examples of policy, etc. already in use in companies, universities, research centres, hospitals, etc.
Your answer: I comprehensively protect personal data, e.g. combining hard-to-guess passwords with encryption and frequent software updates (e.g., managing websites, email systems, cloud-protected boxes, etc.).
You seem to have a very high level of access to and comprehension of digital technologies for information protection and security. This is, of course, ideal. However, even highly digital competent users sometimes struggle with technical or operational issues, or new, improved tools may emerge.
Benefits: There may be new scenarios and tasks for which you will need to adapt your existing approaches (e.g., new security technologies and protection software). The more varied your digital learning spaces, the more likely there will be more advancements (and weaknesses) related to user protection. An updated and constant revision of privacy issues and solutions should not be neglected or diminished.
Strategies for use: To address this, consider setting aside time and opportunities for research and discussion in-class or with other colleagues in relation to affordances for data encryption and storage security programs. If you have access to specialists, it is a good idea to discuss some ideas with them. You could also look to design some activities or class projects related to this topic, in which learners could come up with different digital solutions and strategies.
Tools: Microsoft Teams is a good resource to carry out discussions about data encryption (where the teacher can post restricted items according to groups). Others similar tools could include Google Meet, Zoom, and Flipgrid.
You can view a full section of digital tools related to the area of digital resources on the IDEAL learning platform.
To level up: Routinely review the effectiveness of your data protection strategies and openly discuss practical or technical issues with any available experts.