Over the years, I’ve collected numerous tips for better teaching, better presentations, making course materials, and presenting your best professional face to the world – both in person and online. This talk will include a collection of at least 10 such tips.
The best Teachers are Life-long Learners
With this presentation, I hope to convey to you that becoming life-long learners is the #1 best way to become a better teacher. Over the past 10 years, I’ve accomplished the following and grown immeasurably:
170 Lynda.com (LinkedIn Learning) courses
100+ books (Audible.com)
Online Master’s degree (Full Sail University)
Online Nanodegree (Udacity)
If you want to stay “ahead of the curve” in any industry (or even keep up, let alone catch up) you need to become a life-long learner and make a habit of keeping up to date with the goings-on in that industry.
1.1 Google Classroom
Google Classroom is a great way to stay organized as a teacher and distribute assignments to students in a whole class or individually. Check out the following links for some of my other presentations on Classroom:
Google Service is the most ubiquitous, powerful, and yet also the most under-utilized Google service. Follow the link below to get some tips for making the most of it. There are 10 other Google Services listed as well:
Plus, Drive is a great way to keep your USBs safe (by simply not using them). But if you insist on hanging onto your USBs, you should really install Panda USB Vaccine to disable Autorun that often gets you viruses when you plug it into an infected computer.
2.1 Korean Grammar
As you learn more Korean grammar, you’ll be better able to teach English grammar. You’ll be better able to pick out common mistakes and explain English grammar patterns in a way that is easily understandable.
But first, you might want to learn Hangul touch typing. This will save you loads of time in the future, if you type in Korean much. It can also be quite beneficial in class to type 명사, 동사, and 형용사 (noun, verb, adjective) and other things to help you explain the grammar patterns better.
And here’s a video with 10 more suggestions to learn new words. Use it yourself or share it with your class:
2.3 Korean Games
Learning a little Korean pop culture also provides you with a great opportunity to connect with your students on a new level and make classes more interesting and engaging for them. Here are three games that they’ll all be familiar with that you can learn in class to teach new vocabulary:
Lightshot is hands down the BEST screenshot app I’ve ever come across (yet). It’s so good, I install it on every computer I have access to. I’ve also installed it on every computer in the lab at the high school I work at.
Simply press the PrtSc button to darken the screen and get a crosshairs mouse pointer
Draw a shape around the area you want to copy, print, or save
The editing tools in the app also give you the ability to DRAW or type anything within the space you’ve outlined
Key point: Basically, you’ll be able to create an instant on-screen whiteboard in any class to draw on scans of the book or highlight grammar points in a document you’re showing on the projector
Audacity is the best FREE audio editing app, and it’s great for making listening tests. It’s so versatile that I’ve used it for the following:
Editing sound for movie production
Creating pop song remixes and mashups
Find me on LinkedIn here. I’ve optimized my profile to showcase my professional skills and abilities. These days, your “resume” isn’t just something you hand in on paper. Every employer can (and will) Google Search you, so it’s important to have something online that is complete, professional, and highlights your accomplishments.
There are plenty of great books online to help you optimize yours.
Bonus: “Real” online resumes with WordPress
If you couldn’t tell by the rest of this site, I’m a big fan of WordPress (this site is built on it as well). WordPress is the BEST way to get started cultivating your professional online presence. You have two to choose from:
If you really want to stay organized (a very good idea in today’s busy world), going analog (paper) is so much better than taking everything digital (too many distractions). The Bullet Journal is one of the best methods I’ve found for staying organized. Check out the following for more details:
Let me leave you with three quotes from some of my favorite authors and public speakers regarding your “Professional Performance.”
Either run the day, or the day runs you… Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time… Time management is the best kept secret of the rich.
The whole purpose of time management and getting more done in less time is to enable you to have more time to spend with the people you love, doing the things you enjoy.
‘Time management’ is really a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage time but ourselves. The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
Aaron Snowberger is a Google Certified Educator, Trainer, and G Suite Administrator. He teaches Computer Science & Graphic Design at Global Prodigy Academy and English at Jeonju University. He also does freelance graphic design and website programming work, specializing in WordPress and React. He has designed multiple publications, websites, and KOTESOL posters, and has previously presented at the KOTESOL National and International Conferences, as well as the Seoul WordPress Grand Meetup. Apart from work, Aaron also enjoys cycling and playing musical instruments (like bass guitar).
We are living in the middle of an age of educational and technological revolution. Will you get swept away, left behind, or ride the riptide of edtech into the future? Join me as I look at various successful models of online schools and classrooms, the major components that make up a successful online Learning Management System, and how to create one for yourself using WordPress.
This is a talk I presented at the Jeonju-Jeonbuk KOTESOL Chapter meeting for March 2015.
I may have addressed this talk (and presented it) to a slightly wrong audience at the time. The meeting was small and contained people who are primarily ESL teachers – who may be familiar with certain web technologies.
However, I designed this talk for an audience who already understand the basic concepts of an LMS (Learning Management System) and want to implement it themselves in their classrooms.
Therefore, this talk is primarily an argument for WHY WordPress is the BEST solution for an LMS – as opposed to other possible solutions (including Moodle) – and introduces some basic concepts about how to put WordPress to work for you as an LMS.
WordPress as LMS
define:LMS/ Learning Management System: A digital learning environment to manage all aspects of the learning process.
In this talk, I will present THREE basic ideas about WordPress as LMS:
Traditional classrooms usually involve a great deal of printed paperwork and in-class interaction with the teacher.
On the other hand, LMS-assisted classrooms may help reduce (or entirely eliminate) papers and increase student-to-student interaction both in and out of class.
Another reason LMS-assisted classrooms are beneficial for teachers:
No more lost USBs.
I personally haven’t carried a USB in 3-4 years because I store all my lessons, PPTs, documents, and resources on my classroom website (or in Google Docs which can be used in collaboration with my website). Besides that, simply by relying on a USB stick, you are risking spreading viruses between unprotected PCs or even absentmindedly leaving it behind after class.
Are you smarter than a College Freshman?
And another reason to start looking into setting up an LMS is because high-schoolers these days are learning this kind of technology themselves as graduation requirements.
In a document (created in 2006) I downloaded from the San Diego Unified School District that outlines High School Technology Compentencies, the following are the THREE level of Web Authoring competencies they seek for their students:
Basic: Understand web authoring terminology, how to use templates, and district policies on copyright, ethics, privacy, and security
Intermediate: Identify, prepare, create, and upload materials to a web publishing platform
Advanced: Understand and be able to use CSS code, Flash video, downloads, forms, and databases
EdTech is transforming K-12 learning with an intensity and at a pace that is disruptive, creative, and unpredictable.
Students are no longer content to be passive recipients of information. Few kids can sit behind a desk when they have smart phones or iPads in their possession.
The higher education business model is threatened by the need for cheaper delivery of services, content, and learning.
Pricing, Access, Connectivity, Competition – It’s all about Economics.
Actually, what we’re talking about here is the FUTURE of education. Every other industry in the world has seen a radical technological reformation and evolution. Education is now also beginning a radical change in the way school and learning happens, but where will our place be in this period of transition and change?
I think the main reason that more people don’t get more involved with EdTech is FEAR. They are afraid of the unknown, afraid of learning (difficult) new things, or afraid of being left behind.
But, I want to alleviate your fears a bit and argue that WordPress is a (comparatively) easy solution for beginning to get more of your own classes online.
Step 1B: Why WordPress?
The #1 web publishing CMS (Content Management System) in the world – powering 23% of all the world’s websites.
FREE. unlimited. awesomeness.
But what about some of the other LMS’s you may already be familiar with?
WordPress is not “easy” as in “post-on-Facebook-easy” but compared to the many other options out there, it is surprisingly easy. I’ve even transferred clients to WordPress fromJoomla and Moodle after spending significant time with them in the backend trying to fix things how they wanted.
The WordPress Post editor closely resembles a Microsoft Word document editor and is just as easy to publish with.
If you can Word, then you can WordPress.
In fact, in a 2014 survey of WordPress users around the world, the company found out that 91% of WordPress sites took less than 4-5 weeks to make. This is comparatively easy! And I have experience putting together basic sites with all the elements in only ONE week or less.
WordPress already powers 1 in 5 sites you visit on the web, and it’s still growing.
2014 was the first year that non-English downloads surpassed English downloads
WordPress.com gets roughly the same number of monthly unique visitors that Facebook.com gets so up-time and security are big deals. The WordPress.com development team pushes updated code to the core between 60-80 times PER DAY, so both of those facts should give you a feel for just how reliable this service and software are.
If you choose to go self-hosted, however, all that depends primarily on your web host. But the following is a list of some of the top hosts in the world:
I’m NOT an advocate for a strictly MOOC-style LMS. These systems conduct courses primarily online with minimal teacher-student interaction except via the forums. Granted, some teachers are very participatory in the forums, but not all are – and online forums still leave something to be desired compared to the traditional model of in-class, face-to-face, teacher-student and student-student interaction.
Besides that, MOOCs are COMPLICATED to implement, especially without a dedicated team behind them.
I feel that, at least as far as online course websites are concerned:
Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication.
Leonardo da Vinci
Therefore, when considering the following options for course website preparation, I’d recommend:
Level of Instruction: prepare a SINGLE course (at least a first)
Time (Schedule): allow a modified time schedule for students to access the site
Role of Online Components: enhanced
Teacher role: Teacher supports
Student role: Teacher-guided learning
Student support: School mentoring
Student to Teacher ratio: 2-3x Traditional
But, for simplicity’s sake, here are the TWO MOST PRACTICAL ways you can implement an LMS website in your classroom:
Make homework include online interaction
Step 2B: How can we use WordPress to create an LMS?
There are TWO options for using WordPress to create an LMS:
Is a hosting SERVICE where you can get a FREE site and username at their domain (http://yourname.wordpress.com)
Is limited in freedoms, but provides paid upgrades and is still a viable option for class websites
Hosts the (downloadable) SOFTWARE and all documentation, but you are required to find your own self-hosting solution (http://www.yourname.com)
Is virtually unlimited in customization options
If you go self-hosted, many of the top hosting providers offer a “One-Click Install” from the CPanel (Control Panel) of their site. It’s a simple matter of point-click-wait-5-minutes and you’ll have the FULL WordPress software up and running on your domain.
Here’s a list of recommended hosting providers again:
In WordPress, you will only need to understand (a minimum of) 5 key concepts to be able to effectively communicate the above 6 aspects to your students. They are:
Pages are hierarchical, “stand alone” articles on your site. Though they have publication dates (and can be scheduled for automatic future publication), they do not “flow” as a blog would. Pages are not inherently “related” to each other and they ARE NOT categorized by Categories nor Tags (more later).
If you want a Page to have some kind of relation to another Page, you must assign it a “Parent” in the Page Attributes widget in the Page editor.
Pages will therefore act like individual menu items (they will be automatically added to your main menu if you don’t create one manually) – and “Parent” Pages will act as the top-level dropdown menu containing any “Child” Pages beneath them.
Pages may also utilize “templates”. These will give your Pages a different output on the front of the website and may look like any of the following:
And so on
Posts are chronological (non-hierarchical) articles that “flow” along the Blog page, Home page, or Archive pages as they are written and published.
Posts are grouped together by Categories (that act like “buckets” or Folders), and Tags (keywords that are used to Search the site).
Posts may also utilize “Formats” that style certain Post types differently. For example, you may have different styles for:
Regular (Standard) Posts
Aside Posts (without a title visible on the Blog archive Page)
Status Update Posts
On the front-end of a site, Categories may be visible as Folder names for Month or Topic, or in the Breadcrumbs (the “You Are Here” collection of links at the top of a Post), or as individual Menu items.
(On the front-end, you won’t really be able to SEE the difference between Categories and Pages as they appear in the menu unless you click on the link. If it’s a Category, there will be a long list of Posts; if it’s a Page, there will be only ONE Page.)
With Categories, I usually assign each of my Classes to a separate Category. That way, when the students click on the Category name, they are taken directly to an ongoing blog list of ONLY Posts for their class.
On the front-end of a site, Tags may be visible in a “Tag Cloud” (a collection of frequently used keywords throughout the site), or in the footer meta (a collection of data at the bottom) of a Post. You can also Search for Tags as these are WordPress’s “keywords.”
With Tags, I usually add the keywords for the lesson subject – such as a grammar point we’re studying or the key concepts to understand.
WordPress Media is unique in TWO primary ways:
You can Drag-&-Drop media from your Desktop directly into the Post editor window to upload files.
You can Copy-Paste URLs from popular websites like YouTube and Twitter to get immediate, automatic embeds of those videos and tweets (among other things). No more copying over embed codes!
The WordPress editor also provides you with a view of what your Post will ACTUALLY look like on the front-end even as you type it and before publishing it.
Step 3B: Plugins add Power
The above 5 functions are available both on WordPress.com and with the WordPress.org software. However, if you REALLY want to power-up your LMS, going self-hosted and installing your own plugins is the best way to go.
The following lists provide (at least) FOUR plugin options for EACH of the 6 aspects of learning previously discussed: