Online Professional Development for Primary School EFL Teachers

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1 Online Professional Development for Primary School EFL Teachers Dr Kia Karavas, University of Athens Teaching English outside the box: New approaches and innovations Pierce, The American College in Greece 22/2/2014

2 The PEAP project The project: which has come to be known with the Greek acronym PEAP, was launched in 2010 and was developed within the context of a European funded project entitled New Foreign Language Education Policy in Schools: English for young learners (see Dendrinos, 2013) is carried out by the University of Athens, at the Research Centre for Language Teaching, Testing and Assessment (RCeL) of the Department of English Language and Literature, aims at introducing a totally new component in the Greek educational system, i.e. English as a foreign language in the first and second grades of Greek public all day primary schools, which until 2010 was taught as a foreign language from the third grade of primary school onwards

3 The PEAP project The project was launched initially in 800 all day primary schools throughout Greece in September 2010, (960 in 2012) and involves a) the development of a curricular framework for the first and second grade of primary schools, b) the a posteriori development of syllabi for each grade and c) the design and development of new teaching materials and learning experiences for 1 st and 2 nd grade learners.

4 Innovation and PEAP The PEAP programme can be characterised as a pedagogical primary innovation (see Markee, 1997). Such innovations involve changes in teachers classroom practices, lesson content and/or teacher student roles and relationships as well as changes in teacher beliefs and principles underlying the new materials and approaches. These types of innovations are the most difficult to implement because change has to happen at all levels (materials, teaching skills and teacher beliefs) if the innovation is to achieve its objectives and become effectively implemented.

5 Developing an effective teacher training programme Challenges 60% of project teachers had no experience in teaching learners of the specific age group 90% had not received systematic training in EYL methodology 1/3 of the sample were novice teachers with 1 to 5 years teaching experience and had received no focused training in EYL methodology. In 89% classes, a significant number of students were from different ethnic backgrounds and were learning English as a third language. As a result of school mergers, the teaching body in project schools changed by 40% from the first to the second year of project implementation. School Advisor evaluation process lasted for 8 months (rendering the School Advisor body inactive during this time) and resulted in some new appointments of well qualified individuals but with little experience in young learner methodology A fair number of our project schools are located in remote areas and islands in Greece which made the provision of face to face seminars to these teachers extremely costly in terms of time, money and human resources

6 Specifications of the training programme Flexible in its form and content Contextualised and appropriate in response to the needs of classroom teachers and the constraints of their contexts. Systematic and continuous

7 The PEAP blended learning training programme Face to face seminars delivered by experienced School Advisors using materials adapted from the online course One day conferences focusing on Teaching EFL to young learners delivered by the project team and organized by the School Advisor An Online distance education course called : e course for primary school EFL teachers Face to face seminars delivered by the project team and organized by the School Advisors using videotaped extracts from PEAP classrooms adapted from the online course Tele training seminars delivered by the project team and organized by the School Advisors using videotaped extracts from PEAP classrooms adapted from the online course

8 Entering a brave new online world While in 2002, 34.5% of American colleges and universities offered fully online degree programs, in 2012 the percentage almost doubled (62.4%). More than 44% of all higher education students were taking some or all of their courses online in 2009 the number will rise to 81% in England (2012) states that there are more than 40 university based TESOL Masters level programmes taught online and by distance and more than 400 private institutions offering certificates in TESOL online.

9 Benefits of e learning Flexibility to reach a wide range of audiences who are separated geographically at the fraction of the cost of campus based training (Shankar and Shankar, 2010) Online learning offers anytime, anyplace learning and its potential rests on its ability to deliver multichannel instruction (encompassing print, audio and visual based content) and to provide multiple formats for real time communication and collaboration with peers across the globe (Burns, 2011). a) teachers can access in service training without leaving their classrooms; b) teachers can improve their computer literacy; c) teachers are better able to interact with their trainers and other teachers online; and d) once a database of online courses has been developed, teachers can access those courses that meet their individual needs. Greatest advantages of online learning lies in the possibility afforded for situated learning since teachers can investigate new ideas and approaches and their application in context within a supportive online community. Many studies show that online education produces learning outcomes equal or greater to those of conventional face to face education if it employs appropriate techniques and skills in the design and implementation of its mediamediated learning programs

10 E learning is not effective when.. The internet is used simply to deliver print documents via Traditional materials have been simply transferred to on online environment Programmes take advantage of hypermedia technology in their design but lack a solid pedagogical foundation

11 E learning is effective when.. It has a sound pedagogical foundation and employs appropriate techniques and skills in the design and implementation of its mediamediated learning programs Technology is used to purposefully and strategically engage learners in activities and interaction, to build a sense of community among learners separated in space and time, to support and cater for differences in learning styles and strategies It is based on the curriculum, the needs of the target audience, the needs of adult learners, the organizational context, its culture and its inherent constraints.

12 The e course for primary school EFL teachers Is accessible to all project teachers Is written in English Aims to familiarize teachers with the basic principles of the EYL project curriculum and with the process and techniques required for the development of children s social literacies through the foreign language Consists of 6 self contained modules focusing on various topics which have been identified on the basis of our teacher profile survey and on the basis of the curricular materials

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14 Content of the e course The first module called Introduction to teaching young learners provides the general theoretical background and basic principles for teaching young learners. It focuses on research findings and principles relating to children s cognitive, linguistic, affective and social development as well as issues relating to classroom management. The second category includes 5 modules which relate to various teaching practices and techniques appropriate for this age group. The modules focus on materials and tasks that form the core of the curriculum, that is using stories, songs &chants, arts & crafts, games, technology in the young learner classroom etc.

15 Pedagogical principles underlying the e course Training must clearly address learner s needs. Training must respect and build on the life experiences and previous knowledge of learners. The richest resource for learning resides in adults themselves; The connection between training and the application of what is learnt must be clear. Adults are life centered (task centered, problem centered) in their orientation to learning. Most human learning is carried out observationally. (Bandura 1977).

16 Specifications of the e course Each module should focus on a specific theme/topic and its content should be complete, relevant, accurate, culturally sensitive. Materials and examples used should be drawn from teachers classroom contexts in order to stimulate teachers interest and motivation. Content should be organized in such a way so that new knowledge is built upon prior knowledge and increases in complexity allowing for deeper understanding.

17 Structure and navigation All modules share the same structure and have the same navigation routes. Detailed information on navigation is provided.

18 Clearly expressed Learning outcomes Each module begins with a detailed presentation of its overall aims and learning outcomes for the module a central principle of adult learning programmes (Morland and Bivens, 2004).

19 Input reading texts Many modules begin with an input reading text which teachers are required to study. This pre-reading text sets the context of the module and highlights many of the principles that will be discussed throughout the module. It serves like a pre-reading activity stimulating background knowledge

20 Content Is complete, relevant, accurate, culturally sensitive. The content and units of each module are presented on the left sidebar and on screen which can be accessed by clicking on either. Each module contains theoretical background information relating to the module theme and organised in increasing complexity. Information is presented in informal non academic language since research has shown that a personal tone to written or oral online training materials activates more mental processes and stimulates student interest (Clark and Mayer, 2011).

21 Content The content of each module is broken down into instructional articles (Morland and Bivens, 2004). These are short, concise documents conveying relevant critical information to support concepts and procedures. They function like subchapters in a book each instructional article is essential to an overall understanding of the subject, but they are written to stand largely on their own, to be read and understood independently. This allows for flexible navigation since some learners may study some articles in detail and may skip or skim others.

22 Multimodality Information on screen is multimodal combining the written word with visual, audio and kineasthetic elements (e.g. pictures, sketches, diagrams, animation, extracts from videotaped PEAP project classes) thus facilitating and enhancing understanding (Moreno and Mayer, 2002). Teachers can choose to read or listen to the printed text on the screen depending on their learning style (Clark, 2002).

23 Observation activities New information is also accompanied by relevant extracts from videotaped project English classes and interviews with project school teachers facilitating the link between theory and practice. Videorecorded extracts are used to demonstrate the concept or principles being presented (this stimulates observational learning and helps teachers see how theory is applied to practice).

24 Observation activities Observation activities are also used as input for various reflection activities. These activities serve to actively involve teachers in the learning process and develop their critical reflection skills (Janicki and Liegle, 2001).

25 Self assessment tasks Systematically through the module there are self assessment quizzes accompanied by detailed feedback, based on previously presented information. Not only are correct answers provided but incorrect answers are explained as well.

26 Further reading Each module ends with an annotated bibliography for further reading and suggested sites with related to the module topic material

27 Systematic evaluation After completing each module, teachers are requested to fill in an evaluation form commenting on the content and usability characteristics of the module.

28 Using the online materials for blended learning The materials of the e course are characterized by their interfunctionality, durability and flexibility Materials can be reused in face to face seminars, can be incorporated in other online e learning platforms, or be used as input for collaborative work and discussion in online Communities of Practice. All module content, including instructional articles with content information, extracts of videotaped PEAP project classrooms, selfassessment quizzes and feedback, reflection activities and feedback, input readings have been uploaded on a separate space on the PEAP portal, accessible only to School Advisors of English to use in whatever way they find suitable for the face to face training seminars they organize.

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