Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Katie used to work with me at IH Bydgoszcz. She previously appeared here writing a guest post about DIY festive homework, and is back now to explain how she’s teaching in a student-paced way using an asynchronous model, a great contrast to the fully synchronous model I’ve been working in, with only live lessons. Here’s what she’s been doing:

A bit of background

Much like everyone else on my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds I have had to move my classes online. Unlike most of those people, I don’t have a class full of students who have reliable internet access and regular schedules at home. Although a few of them are sitting at home with wifi and no work to do, a lot of ESOL students are what our government has started calling “key workers”. In my classes I have shop staff, factory workers, warehouse workers, care assistants, cleaners, and of course, full-time mums.

I have a university lecturer who almost always uses a website called Nearpod in her lectures with us, and we follow along on our phones, seeing class results immediately on her screen at the front. She mentioned off-hand once that it was a useful website for setting work to be done at home, as it also has a function for “student-paced” lessons. Unfortunately, as I discovered when I tried to use it, you need an upgrade to use the student-paced lesson function. Fortunately, Nearpod is currently offering a free upgrade! It was a bit fiddly to get one, but it was eventually sorted out. I had to fill in a few forms, and even had a Zoom call with someone about what I needed. There was an option to become a “school” account, and link other teachers to mine, but I went for a simpler option to have the upgrade just to myself.

How do you use it as a student?

The easiest way to introduce you to the site is probably by using a demo lesson, so I’ve made you one (be warned, it’s not remotely professional in tone) Access is very similar to the Kahoot process.

  1. Go to join.nearpod.com
  2. Type in this code: JTOGF (this code expires on 16th May 2020, so get in touch if you miss it and you want to give it a go)
  3. Put in a name or nickname

How do you use it as a teacher?

I’d say that once you get over the initial hurdles of getting an upgrade, you only need a little while to find your way around the website. If you have done the lesson above you will know a few of the possible features, but of course there are always more. If you want different classes to do the same lesson but keep their results separate, you can launch it more than once with different codes. This is helpful if you have many classes of the same level with different teachers.

Giving feedback

Once you’re ready, scroll down on the left side until you see “reports”. Each lesson is listed, and on the right there is a house-shaped icon with a pen on it. When you click on that you’ll be taken to a summary of your students’ results. At the top of that summary you can select “downloads” to view the results either by the whole group or by students individually. I download the student reports and email them individually to each student with feedback or suggestions of particular things to practise. This is very time consuming!

Pros and Cons

Although feedback takes longer, you are obviously not spending any time actually in class, so that does sort of balance out. Unfortunately there’s not a lot of options for students using phones to respond with audio, so they tend to spend a lot of time writing. After the Easter break we’re going to have a go at doing a mixture of Zoom and Nearpod.

Has anyone else tried asynchronous online teaching yet? What tools have you been using?

Katie is an EFL teacher back in her hometown in the UK, teaching ESOL part time at the local council and studying for her MA TESOL part time at the University of Warwick.

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