[audio logo]

Speaker: OTAN, outreach and technical assistance network.

Ian Summers: Hello everybody. My name is Ian Summers. I'm a project specialist for OTAN, the outreach and technical assistance network. I'll be your host for this OTAN tech talk.

Title for this month's OTT is utilizing collaborative online tools to enhance lessons and engage learners. Our presenter today is Cindy Wislofsky, an OTAN subject matter expert. Cindy go for it.

Cindy Wislofsky: Thank you Ian and welcome everyone. Besides working for OTAN I'm also a retired ESL instructor with the San Diego Community College District, and most of my career was teaching beginning level ESL students. So some of my samples today are examples will reflect that. But anyway, thanks for joining me today talking about collaboration tools.

And let's look at an overview. Why collaboration tools? Well, first and foremost, for adult ed, we want to prepare our students for the workforce or higher education. We want to promote teamwork, improve communication, engage our learners always, and it gives them an opportunity to experience different perspectives, also of course, increase their technology skills. So important in today's world.

The three collaboration tools that we can find online that we're going to discuss today are Padlet, which is a digital bulletin board of sorts, Google Docs, which you are probably very familiar with, that digital word processor, and FigJam, a digital whiteboard which is newer for me. I was very used to using Google Jamboard, but since that is sunsetting, I'm trying to get more familiar with FigJam.

So for each of the tools today, we'll look at some general information. I'll throw out a few samples and then include some lesson ideas for all of you. And as we're going along, think about your particular teaching situation, the level of students you teach, think about how you might be able to adapt to your situation. And the focus is going to be on teamwork, may be just the activity itself or a follow up activity. And I'm defining teamwork as partners, groups, or all class together.

So the first one we'll look at is called Padlet, and which is that digital bulletin board. Padlets are ideal for posting text, images, audio, video links, and much more in small boxes like you would find in a traditional bulletin board. So I'm going to share this as a PDF to you later. And if you're not familiar with Padlet, you can get information with the link there. Currently for new accounts, you can only have three active Padlets as a maximum.

If you signed up for Padlet years ago, you might have many more Padlets that you're allowed to use. I have, my first account I have 27 Padlets and I know teachers who have even more than that because they signed on very early. But currently if you're not signed up, it's going to be three active Padlets. But you can always delete them if you don't need them anymore or there's a way to archive them so that you can push them aside and reactivate them as needed as long as you just have three active that is very workable.

If you have-- think about your school, and if you want to have unlimited Padlets, unlimited students, and have 10 or more teachers interested, here's the link to get more information about an educational Padlet account, which is very worthwhile, and my former school we had that and was very beneficial.

So here's an example with a low level ESL. You could just do a simple writing about any topic like family, career, a favorite color, hobbies, weekend, hometown, goals, for example. So here's one I did with my students number of years ago. And as we know even though you'd make a model, their writing is not going to be perfect of course, especially on their first draft.

So this was always good for a follow up with partners or groups, you can make a scavenger hunt, who hangers, five brothers and which students don't have any children? Things like that. You can categorize, rewrites, if you're ever doing rewrites and looking at errors, I usually make sure there's no name attached so that we don't want to embarrass anybody.

So you can have people post without putting their name, or you could decide on a different way to have that happen. You could generate questions for more information, you could change the first person to third person, lots of things you could do as a follow up to get that collaborative angle going.

Here's another one we did, which was a lot of fun. And that was to take a photo of partner, post that image and describe what they're wearing, that was for a clothing unit. And usually the lower levels we focus a lot on life skills.

So then we have all the pictures posted on the one Padlet on the big screen and we could ask, well, who's wearing a belt today? And who's wearing glasses? Questions like that, how many students are wearing jackets? And the students really enjoyed that.

Now one thing to note is when you're using photos of your students and posting them online, it would be wise to get their permission for that. And in fact your school might have a release form of some type that the students would need to sign. If you don't have that, not every student would be willing to have their picture posted and that's OK, we work around that. But just an FYI.

Padlet has a new AI image generator, and it's cool and I tried it here. Here's an example, I haven't used it with students, of course, because I've been retired a number of years. So you start a new post and you look for the, I can't draw a little symbol there, and then you type a description of say, an imaginary place, so I picked an island with purple trees and many dogs. And then it comes up with a few examples, and you can pick one and post it or what they call is publish. And so it seem like that would be interesting for the students and they could share and describe their imaginary place.

Padlet now has a slideshow feature. So after you create a Padlet, you can select the Play button, which is on the right hand column in the toolbar, and instantly a slideshow will start. So that would be a great resource for focusing attention, post-by-post, again, you could correct errors, ask comprehension check questions, add to the content, practice reading.

They also have a way you can set the autoplay from 1 to 60 seconds per slide. So that would be great, especially for low levels to practice reading aloud and trying to control how long they have per slide and you might start slow and speed it up another day to help them with their reading skills.

Padlet now also has a poll feature. So you could ask a multiple choice question to get some instant feedback. Again, you start a new post, you choose the red three dots, the More button and you select Poll. Write your question, you can have up to four choices, you add it and then publish it. And then have your students vote and that will give you some good teacher feedback.

And also Padlet allows you to pin a poll or pin any item actually. So if you do want something to appear in the top left corner always of your bulletin board, you can pin it so the three dots that are in the corner here, the top of the poll, you just click there and you can select the pin. So that could be for anything, maybe you're making a Padlet and you have a lot of directions that you want your students to always have access to and you could pin it to the top left corner so that will always be visible to them when they open the Padlet.

And there are tons of things you can do with Padlet. Here are just a few examples, introduce yourself, post an image, then pick two students to ask questions. With Padlet you can comment if you activate the comment, you as the teacher activate the comment feature and you can have them ask questions to get more dialogue going, they could post an image of a place they'd like to visit and why, students could do likes to vote on that, who was the most convincing with their reason to visit? You can add GIFs of how they're feeling today.

One nice thing about Padlet is the default is like a wall, just random boxes. But if you go to the Layout setting, you could change it to sections. So then once you have a lot of posts, then you can move things into different sections so you could start categorizing things. So that's a nice follow up activity for groups to do or the whole class.

You could post a photo of a hometown memento and explain a significance. Partners can develop a follow up question to ask for a couple of the assigned posts. If you want to do just something fun, post a picture of something red in your house or something tall in the community or something that they would consider complex or funny and then you can all categorize them together. For example, like the color red is it a clothing item, is it something in nature, is it a food item, household item, et cetera.

And some more Padlet ideas, you can tell I really like Padlet. But you could ask a questions and students respond with audio, video, image, or text, they have the options. And then students work with a partner who used a different format and do the same as the partner did. So they're supporting each other in posting in a different manner. The students could upload documents or slideshows and you can house them all in one place and then maybe they're responsible to read them all or read a certain number of them.

The teacher could create a scavenger hunt, then for the partners to find the key information that they've learned from the documents or the slideshows. Padlet is also great as a place to post resources for current topic. So you could add links, and YouTube videos, and articles for the students to review or to learn about a topic. Partners could add summaries and other resource or comments on something. Again, you're bringing in the collaborative nature of it and having them work with the content in a different way.

After reading an article or story, students could type questions they have that were not addressed in the reading. Groups could be assigned to answer those questions either by researching or using their imagination, depending on if it was a real article or if it was a fictional story. Some teachers like to do this, you share a Padlet at the beginning of class, and students can post questions as the lesson continues and progresses.

And then towards the end of class, spend a few minutes to look at those questions, clarify some confusing parts of the lesson. And that also offers students an opportunity to be anonymous with their questions not all the students would speak up but maybe they would type a question anonymously, so this would be great feedback for the teacher as well.

The second one I want to talk about is Google Docs, that digital word processor that we've all used. And maybe you have multiple Google accounts like I do, so you have Google Docs all over the place. But it's great to create and edit, very easy to share, it's housed in your Google Drive account, or you can go to docs.google.com to see all your documents. And I just did that a couple of days ago in preparation for this and I can see I need to clean out my Google Docs because you'll find some really old ones in there.

You can start a new Doc quickly with the shortcut docs.new if you haven't done that before try that. You need to be logged into your account of course. And you could encourage your students depending on their level to create their own Google account and then teach them how to share links or add email addresses so that people could be added that you want to be able to edit or view or comment on their work.

And one of the features Google Docs has that I don't think too many teachers are using, but it is a good one and that's the voice typing. And sometimes you might just do it for yourself but to make it more collaborative maybe have partners create a dialogue or conduct a short interview using the voice typing. So for example, a pair would be working on one document and you would just go to Tools and then voice typing to find that feature. And Google Docs then will automatically type what it hears and you can even say question mark or period or exclamation point and it will type that for you.

But pairs then can fix the punctuation or the little errors as needed, perform it, share it with others, and it's fun. So they're using their auditory skills but then also making sure the text is reflecting what they've said. So try that if you haven't, I think that's a good one.

You can create an instant table of student information, students could type their own information or partners. So you just make a table with a series of questions, you assign them a number. If you don't assign them a number they might start typing on top of each other when we're sharing the document.

But you can follow up with pairs generating sentences of the content or a paragraph. Sometimes I would have student number 1 is going to write about student number 1, student number 1 writes about 3, et cetera, so that everyone is writing about someone else efficiently. They could write some more questions to add, compare and contrast. A lot of things you can do, and one thing I like about a table is that information is right there, I can see everybody typing at the same time, and then we can use that information immediately.

Google Docs, we know is often used for lengthier writing. So you might have your students doing some peer reviewing or you would be doing that, so there's that editing toolbar on the right side of a document where you could add a comment, an emoji, or a suggested edit, that's this symbol on the right here. So for example, the toolbar automatically connects to wherever your cursor is on the document. So if your cursor was right before the word Vietnam, might pick up that word or it might pick up that sentence.

So to be specific, you could highlight the text that you are referring to, and then you can see the example on the right. Maybe you ask a question, maybe you've got a comment. And later the author will see the highlighted text, and here it's in yellow and so they know that there's a comment. And if they don't see it on the right, they can click on the highlighted area and see what someone has written to them.

Some other ideas you might want to post images of how to do something with a partner, cooking, baking, playing a game, gardening, something like that and write about each step. Pairs can share the directions with other pairs. You can do that through Zoom or another format.

Sometimes you might have groups, each have their own document, as one student begins a story with a couple of sentences or a short paragraph, the next student adds to the story and they keep building the story until everybody's had a chance and they finish the story. And as a group they pick a title, add some images or at least one to reflect their storyline and then share with another group or the whole class.

Lastly, here's an example, there's a new checklist feature which you can use directly in the document for groups to list task and they check them off as they've accomplished them. So you can find that checklist icon in the main editing toolbar above the document. So it looks like the traditional bullets or numbered lists, but it actually has some check marks next to it. So that's where you'll find that. So that will help your students stay organized too and collaborate like, I'll do that task, you do that task, then they check them off as they've completed.

In the last collaboration tool we'll talk about today is FigJam. Hopefully, some of you have heard of that. I don't know if you've used it yet. But it contains your typical whiteboard items like pens and eraser and sticky notes and shapes and text boxes.

But FigJam really does have a lot of other interesting features like the thumbs up and thumbs down, or it has an editable clipboard agenda, if you're going to use it for a meeting of some type, or just to let your students know what's on the agenda today. They have a voice recorder that's pretty easy, a photo booth, a way to easily insert a table, and they have many, many, many, many templates which is nice because Jamboard did not have built in templates, so that's one big plus for FigJam.

So the parent company is called Figma, and you can sign up for a free educational account and they have said that it will always be free for educators. So there's a little sign up process and then they verify through your school email. And students can also sign up for free and this is recommended right now because FigJam does have some limitations, I'll talk about that in a minute.

It's best used on a computer or tablet. It does not interact well with cell phones at the moment and I did a workshop couple of months ago and the participants could not use their cell phones at all. So I already reached out to FigJam and asked them to on behalf of the adult ed community that a lot of our students only have their cell phones so we would like to see it interact with cell phones. So who knows if they will make that change, but they appreciated my input.

And if you wanted-- once you have an account going, the shortcut to start a new FigJam is figjam.new. They all have little shortcuts to get started. If you're not familiar, I just wanted to throw out the couple of toolbars, there's the bottom toolbar where you find most of the general items. But that's where you also find sections off to the right there and tables, they have stamps and emojis. I think currently it's used a lot with K-12, so they were big on stamps and emojis but can be fun for adult ed as well. And then there's a top toolbar.

So once you have an account, the very left there that's where you'll find your menu and you can get to all your files. You can set a timer, built in timer, you can do a little vote, you can play some music while the timer is going. I have not tried the AI generated design yet, but here's where you find all the templates, lots of templates and you can also add comments to certain posts. So that's a nice feature as well.

So here's an example of a four corners template that I found and you can get students' opinions on a prompt that you type in the middle there. And then you have your students open one of the stickies depending on if they agree, disagree, strongly agree, strongly disagree, and type in their name and then you can follow up with four groups to discuss and write reasons that they are voting. Make their case for the debate that you have in your advanced ESL class.

Here's another example, you could brainstorm what you know about a topic and what you need to learn. From the feedback, you could determine common threads to inform your lesson planning. Students could vote with thumbs up, the stamp on the sticky of the most important ideas. So here's an example, I did with the path to citizenship what you already know what you need to learn and then you can see at the bottom if they voted with their thumbs up what's the most popular?

There is a voice memo widget which is fun to use. You could dictate sentences, have them ready to go on your FigJam. And I've thought, just to make it easier for your students, you could include a text box next to each of the dictations so that groups know which dictation their sentences are going to listen to and they work together and type what they hear. And you could make many, many, many depending on how many groups you have and how many people are in each group.

Some other ideas. Pros and cons for our topic, you could use for a prewriting activity to get them focused as an exit ticket after a lesson ends. Ask your learners how can you apply what you learned today in your own life? And then they answer that onto a text box or sticky note. And then you could use that information for a group discussion another day, and to determine if transfer of information or skills has occurred into their actual lives outside of class, which is always exciting, that's the goal.

Another idea, you could post a story or text and then volunteers use the marker, the pen, or highlighter to find the answers to those questions. Groups could plot out a plan for their group project using the shapes and arrows, we're going to start here and we're going to move towards this, then after that we'll go there. And then next, they could use a table, make a table, and the groups could determine what tasks are going to be needed to accomplish their project? What's their timeline and who's going to be responsible for each task?

Now currently here's the caveat about FigJam, when you share FigJam with students who do not have accounts, with adult ed at least in the program I used to be in it was open entry, open exit, students are coming and going at all times. So to remember to get everybody on board that would take time that you may not have. But anyway, if they don't have accounts, there is a 24 hour time limit when editing can occur with people with no accounts, they call it an open session. And FigJam will automatically close that after a 24 hour period has run out.

So this may or may not meet your needs, but that is a Figma policy at this point. And FigJam is working with Jamboard to smooth the transition as Jamboard winds down. So there's already an import feature in FigJam to import current Jamboards and it connects you up with your Google Drive and you have to do that each time that you want to import a Jamboard.

And they say they may streamline that in the future so that you could do multiple Jamboards imported at the same time. And the way it works now, if you're familiar with Jamboard, they had frames or slides, so multiple frames will appear as sections in FigJam, so they do separate them into sections. But it's all on one big FigJam. And that's a wrap. Thank you.

Ian Summers: Thank you Cindy for that presentation. I'd like to encourage viewers at this time to subscribe to OTAN's YouTube channel where instructional tech videos related to adult education can be found, including tech talks like this one. All this information and more is available on the website at www.otan.us. Thank you again for watching this OTAN tech talk.