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Marie Arndt: My dream Learning design project proposal

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Marie Arndt
11 January 2013

Marie Arndt: Blended learning support of academic writing in English for Engineering students in Oman

Tags: English. academic writing, education

My context


I am currently teaching English and Academic Skills at a government-funded Higher Education College in Sohar, Oman. The students have a first Foundation year when they study IT, Mathematics and English. After FY they study English for another two years, alongside their chosen major subject. Even though students who start at the college have studied English for 12 years at school their proficiency is generally lower than would be expected when they start college.The students often come from small villages or other small towns in Oman. They are expected to achieve as they must compete for jobs after graduation.  

Sohar college is the only educational institution in Oman where engineering is offered. The BA programme in Engineering is 4 years. All teaching is in English and students are expected to use English in both writing and speaking throughout the course, as well as digest subject-specific texts in English. The lecturers on the programme are mainly from other Arabic countries, India and the Philippines; some lecturers has an insufficient command of English to guide students effectively on the course.   
 


The challenge


My intention is to work on a project of a blended learning scenario to practice and perfect students’ English and academic skills to raise their ability to complete the project they have to complete in their final year. One major drawback is the highly unreliable internet server of the college, which means that ideally the CBL-part should be possible to work on offline. As most students have android mobile phones it would be great if the design was suitable for mlearning as well as elearning.


How you might go about bringing that change


Drawing up a support programme that students find helpful for their engineering studies. It must be simple and easy to follow, at the same time be linked to their studies. Vocabulary and comprehension of subject specific text must be blended with academic writing skills practice. The challenge is to make it interesting without being too heavy and regarded as too challenging. Liaising with future employers would also be a way to find out what employers expect of the graduates.

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Contribute

Joshua Underwood
1:28pm 11 January 2013


Hi Marie,

I'm interested. Can you say something more about your current practice, how you go about supporting their academic writing now and why you want to change this?

josh

Marie Arndt
3:04pm 11 January 2013


Hi Josh,

 

Bot sure if you got my response, so I write again. I have been asked to device this support, so there is nothing in place now.

 

Marie 

Peter Miller
8:06am 12 January 2013


Something like TiddlyWiki might work for the offline aspect. The OpenSim sim-on-a-stick is another possibility.

Mark Johnstone
1:59pm 12 January 2013


Hi Marie,

I'm very interested in this project. I'm also teaching pre-engineering students, in Riyadh, and have been designing my instruction around a blended learning model for several years now. I like your idea of using reading to support writting, and a PBL focus would also be very useful for Arab students. Perhaps this could also be blended with some basic project management skills as well?

I've encouraged my students to join IEEE ($25 a year for students) and set up a local student chapter on campus. IEEE offers a wealth of relevant and current materials around which to organize student writing and inquiry.

Collaborative writing on mobile devices is challenging. If you have access to a computer lab perhaps you could schedule lab time for them to do some of this writing while doing the reading online. My students are all "bring your own device" and we do have reliable wireless on campus.

Let me know. I'm sure we could put together a very productive project and perhaps link some of our students up for some itnernational collaberation.

Mark

Marie Arndt
4:23pm 12 January 2013


Hi Peter,

 

I will check out TiddlyWiki and OpenSim as I'm not familiar with either. In the past I've used Edmodo.when I was teaching in an institution without an LMS. Recently I found Iversity that looked quite interesting. Both of them require online access though.

 

Marie

 

 

Marie Arndt
4:31pm 12 January 2013


Hi Mark,

I was so excited when I read your proposal and thought it would be great if we could do something together. I hope I won't be too much of a follower, as you obviously have more experience of teaching the specific target group. I have just been asked by the Programme Director to draw up a suggested strategy to alleviate the engineering students' need to improve subject specific vocabulary and writing, especially for academic purposes. There is specific problems with their ability to complete their final-year project. 

Marie

 

Mark Johnstone
5:17pm 12 January 2013


Hi Marie,

This is great. Why don't you go ahead and start a Cloudscape around this and name it whatever you like - whatever you think will attract others - and we'll see if we can get a few more people interested in this.

Perhaps we could start with a clear needs analysis from your side and  then go from there. What is their final year project?

Mark

Marie Arndt
5:52pm 12 January 2013


Hi Mark,

Hi Mark

I will do my best to create a Cloudscape in the right place, Teaming up page, I assume. I haven't got their course outline at hand, but I think they have to produce an extensive report.  

Speaking to colleagues in the engineering dept today they complain that the students can't explain processes and that they can't write, esp. academic writing, also need to extend specialist vocabulary.

BTW, please link up with me on Google+

Marie

 

Mark Johnstone
2:51am 14 January 2013 (Edited 2:53am 14 January 2013)


Hi Marie,

I found your Cloudscape. I think the Teaming up page is where it goes but don't see more than a dozen others there. I'll add you to Google+ though I haven't figured out what that's for or what it does. I looked at Google Groups as an open email venue. For a collaborative space GDocs are fine with me - maybe that linkis into Google+ ?

Do you know the CEFR? This week I've been reading an article about its use in IEPs by someone working in Oman. I can send you a copy if you like. Perhaps the CEFR could provide a framework for a needs analysis of first year engineering students in the Gulf region. Performances described there could be then be repackaged as a survey for instructors and / or a self-assessment instrument for students. That, and perhaps a few interviews, could provide data necessary to support curriculum design decisions.

We have the same problem where I work. University lecturers complain that students can't do this or that, but they are not very good at articulating deficiencies and what we get is very anecdotal.

Mark

Marie Arndt
8:14pm 14 January 2013


Hi Mark,

I don't know CEFR. I would love to have a copy of the article with ref. to Oman.  Let me read it and think about it, but your idea of a survey sounds good. The only problem is that we have no teaching until 16 Feb. I can probably find some staff, but the students won't be there.   We could be on to something very good here, so I think we should keep going. In 10 days' time I'm going to Indias for 10 days so I won't have much time then. 

I think it would be great if we could pin down more exactly what staff and students find wanting, and see how they match. After that we could work on a learning design. While this is missing, we could start by thinking about an outline that we can build on as we develop our design. Brainstorming.

 

Marie 

 

Joshua Underwood
11:04pm 14 January 2013


Hi Marie, Mark,

Have you formed a project group and cna I join please :-) Not wuite sure what the best way to brign the group is together. Perhaps coalescing around the cloudscape Marie created or maybe you have thought of another way to do this? Forming a Google+ group? Creating a shared calendar to co-ordinate activity?

Josh

Marie Arndt
3:55am 15 January 2013


Hi Josh,

 

Of course you can join Mark and me if you are interested in what has been posted. We can form a space in Google+ and GoogleDocs if that is suitable to all. Denise (surname escapes me) is based in Abu Dhabi and may want to join us. I will be back online later today (GMT+4) as I am preparing to go to work now.

 

Marie

Mark Johnstone
2:50am 16 January 2013


Hi Marie,

I just saw your message about CEFR. I'll post the article in the links section of this page later today.

The CEFR is a language benchmarking system developed by the Council of Europe with the aim of creating a unified measure of language competency for use by CoE member states (and others).

 

Mark Johnstone
4:44am 16 January 2013


I've added McBeath's article on the CEFR to the links section of this page.

Mark

Paula Cardoso
1:04pm 16 January 2013


Hi Marie, Mark and Joshua.

I've read your projects and they have a lot in common with my proposal. Have you joined efforts already? I've already added my cloud to your cloudscape, so you can see and tell me what you think.

Paula

Isabelle Martin-Fernandes
4:23pm 16 January 2013


hello Marie, Mark and Joshua and Paula

i would like to join us, my inicial project is in  http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloudscape/view/2786

i think we can work togethet and share opportunities to share ideas and , why not, projects and more.

my presentation is in : http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/7310

Isabelle Martin-fernandes

twitter: isabellefr10

Mark Johnstone
8:52pm 16 January 2013 (Edited 8:52pm 16 January 2013)


Hello Paula and Isabelle,

I've added Isabelle to our Google+ Circle, which is the way we are communicating with we've been using to communicate with one another. I didn't add you Paula because i could not find you on Google. If you are on gmail you can send a message to mcjsa25 there and I'll add you to the circle - we'll go from there.  

Luís Salema
9:56pm 16 January 2013


Hi!

I'm interested. On-line language learning, with a special focus on oral skills, is my research interest.

I hope you accept me.

Regards,

Luís

Marie Arndt
6:08am 17 January 2013


Hi Luis,

Have you included Mark, Josh, Janet and Paula in this message? They are  also in a circle called Vocabulary building on Google+

As far as I'm concerned, no problem.

Marie 

Yibin Zhang
12:49pm 17 January 2013


Hi, Marie,

I am a English teacher in Shanghai, China.Currently I am a visiting academic in London.

I am interested in your proposal. Can I join your group of discussion, and be one of the group member?

Yibin

Luís Salema
7:20pm 17 January 2013


Hi Marie, Mark, Josh, Janet, Paula and isabelle (my colleagues from Universidade Aberta)  and other colleagues!

As I wrote in my last post, I'm interested in joining this group.

May  I join your group?

Regards,

Luís

 

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