Active Teach: Helping You and Your Students
“See the Language”

SCAD Language Studio ? Professor Christina Cavage, Human Resources headshot, Fall 2013 ? Photography by Stephanie Krell, courtesy of SCAD Christina Cavage

Classroom teaching has evolved during my last 25 years in the classroom.  Our students have changed as well.  Long gone are the days of audiocassette recorders, and overhead projectors. Many classrooms today are outfitted with Smart Boards, smart TVs, and other digital tools. However, due to funding constraints and dated buildings, many classrooms are not fortunate enough to have these tools.  How can you appeal to digital natives, while at the same time work within the constraints of your classroom?

ActiveTeach is the answer. What is ActiveTeach?  ActiveTeach allows teachers to bring the text to life without the worries of a Smart Board. Take a look at this video of my colleague, Elizabeth Holland using the Active Teach for Next Generation Grammar during her class.

Notice how she is able to highlight text to draw more attention to the content. You also have the ability to enlarge, manipulate and annotate. These are great tools for any classroom, and can really appeal to our digital natives.

One great feature is the ability to do exercises from the text, right on your board, through the ActiveTeach.  My students love when I have them come up and complete information within the Student Book via the ActiveTeach. Take a look at the image below. You can see how to select an exercise, and have students complete the answers on the ActiveTeach.

The ActiveTeach also includes all the videos and audio files, as well as some great teaching tips, exercises and games.  Make your grammar come alive!

User Experience and Instructional Design in Language Learning

When we discuss technology, we often refer to “user experience,” that is, the user’s sense of ease of navigation, ease of use, satisfaction with the technology, even the pleasure they derive, and the attraction they feel toward using it.[i]

When we talk about learning technology, part of user experience is a deeper layer that we might call the learning design. That is, the interconnectivity of the various features and elements and how they lead toward significant learning outcomes[ii].

I’d like to relate to you how I became interested in or how I developed an initial understanding of the relationship between teaching and user experience and learning design. This was during my senior year at the University of Michigan when I was doing my student teaching. I was assigned to a high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan to teach first and second year English. And my master teacher, who was going to guide me through this, was Shirley McKeon, who was a very gifted, very talented, very charismatic, and—fortunately for me—very empathic teacher. And part of my job was to come every morning before class and present Shirley my lesson plans for the day. And they looked something like this, where we would list the lesson objectives.[iii] And these were in terms of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and then the lesson structure, with the time, the topic, and the teaching approach that was to be used for each activity. Continue reading