This has been quite a week here in Verona. On Thursday Italy celebrated 150 years of unification, with various degrees of success: some thought this should not be celebrated at all whilst others were euphoric and flags sprouted liberally all over the place, still others were of the opinion that there is actually very little to celebrate about at this moment in time. That, however, could well be said of almost all points in time. In my small, personal way I celebrated my own success this week, because I gave my fist ever public lesson on WiqIZ, which is pure distance learning. I have worked a lot with blended learning. In fact, I would say that 80 percent of my teaching these days is blended, but I have always been wary of virtual classrooms.
What is a virtual classroom?
A virtual classroom, and there are several available these days, at varying prices, is a space where a lesson can be held completely online. most classrooms like this have a chat space and both teacher and learners can generally contribute by audio and, or, video. Documents can be uploaded to the site and, at keast in this case, there is a very useful whiteboard which the teacher can use, and control of the whiteboard can easily be given to the learners too. Wiziq has all these things and it is free to use!
My lesson was a conversation class and I wanted to work on conversation via chat and conversation via microphone, so I planned to keep it fun but simple. I pitched it at an intermediate (B1) level but added some work on binomials which I thought would be of interest to those with a higher level too. The site also records these lessons so that they can be viewed at a later stage, which is an added plus. In fact if you want to see this lesson go to this link:
You can see all the comments there too.
The lesson, as I said, was on Thursday morning so, needless to say, I found it very difficult to sleep the night before. When the time came to start I sat there with baited breath watching the countdown on the screen. Would the room open up? Would they be able to hear me? Would I be able to share my screen?
Well, in fact, as more and more learners joined the space and got caught up in our first game, revising language but getting to know each other at the same time, I soon relaxed and settled into my normal lesson mode. Did I have any problems? Yes, of course I did. I wasn’t very efficient when it came to giving the mike to people, which slowed the pace down somewhat, but hey, I never said I was perfect. The whole experience was absolutely energising and I can recommend it. Working with 26 learners (and one or two teachers) who came from all over the world, was extremely interesting and the enthusiasm of the people learning was infectious.
The quality of the recording is very professional too, so I can thoroughly recommend both the site and the experience. There’s also a whole series of communities there that are vibrant places to visit, for instance try this one for teaching technologies, here is a post someone left about my class (plug, plug)
Well, that’s about it for the moment, but I’m celebrating… How about you?