The first MYLO lesson with my year 8's was very successful today. We were based in an ICT room which allowed us time to set up individual learner accounts for each student. As the school administrator I had previously registered the school online and then set up teacher accounts. Each teacher then sets up groups which the students join once they have each set up their own learner accounts. To do this last step you provide the students with a website link and the username/password of the site, and once they have set up a learner account they simply "Join a group" with the group name that you created it under and the access code that you were provided with at the time.
Once I'd got more experience of the "site map", as with all new websites to navigate, and tried a few activities under the guise of my own Screen Name, (Speedy Gonzales...watch out I'm on the leader board!), I became more familiar and realised how easy setting up learner accounts for the students would be.
TOP TIP FOR SETTING UP LEARNER ACCOUNTS:
1) Ask students to use their school email when creating accounts in case your school blocks access to their personal email accounts - they can always forward the details to their home account later; 2) Remind students to take care with the spelling of their email addresses (yes a few rogue emails have been sent out there - only 6/30 so not too bad), and 3) Remind students to create "acceptable" screen names...
All in all the set up took about half of the lesson (25-30 mins), but this process will only need to be done once. This time period includes troubleshooting which was more often than not correcting student's typing errors when entering the email addresses/user names etc... Note: If you are a current user of the trial site, warn the students that when first entering the site the username/password may need to be entered a few times i.e. there isn't a problem with the page. This will be rectified when the site goes fully live. We were then ready to start some activities. However, prior to letting the students "loose" (they really were chomping at the bit!), I asked them to fill in a vocabulary table that I had prepared of the phrases needed to complete the activities online (English provided, they find the French in the phrases list on screen). This was with the intent of the students retaining a written record of the phrases once having left the ICT room. I am planning also to use it for reinforcement activities once in a normal classroom (i.e. acting out the role plays).
As we are trialling the online software I decided to record our students' opinions of their experience so far - albeit limited. They had some interesting things to say, including comparisons with other online language learning sites. My publishing of the students' comments on this subject are not intended to be to the detriment of other language learning sites, yet to discover what MYLO can offer that is different through the students' eyes. As a teacher I am also aware that the excitement of a new technology can cloud a student's judgement to a certain extent. The range of language learning sites already on offer on the web are vast and of a high quality. It is the interactive features of the MYLO site (students competing against other students and the storing of personal scores) that are sticking out for me on first use in comparative terms. However, what I will be looking out for is the quality of LEARNING that takes place regardless of it's software features.
Note: the student interviewer (budding journalist in the making I think!) and the students' comments were completely unscripted.
Until the next MYLO update!
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