Back in June, I gladly waved goodbye to Avenue campus, having spent the last few months hunkered down in its corridors hunched over my laptop, exasperated in my efforts not to write 8,000 words of waffle in lieu of a dissertation. Yet, I found myself not a month later returning to campus to start a 3-month internship with the online MA programme in English Language Teaching.
For many students of English and French progressing into teaching is the natural next step, nourished by working abroad with the British Council in their third year or taking part in language outreach programmes with local schools. However, as someone who had decidedly avoided anything to do with linguistics or teaching for fear of classrooms full of screaming, snotty-nosed children (not that many of my classes at university were much different), I was surprised to find myself quickly hooked by the programme and the work at hand.
I think it is fair to say that the position was somewhat undersold, with the task at hand advertised chiefly as content migration. Previously hosted on Moodle, myself and another intern were responsible for transporting the course to Blackboard. Thankfully, this turned out to be a smaller portion of the work than I’d imagined and the summer was not spent mindlessly clicking copy and paste.
The move to Blackboard presented the opportunity to refresh the course a bit, and our goal was to create a welcoming environment and try to create a sense of community and identity for the course through its online learning environment. Students and tutors of the course are based across the globe, therefore it was important to create a (virtual) space that linked them to each other and made them feel connected to the university itself too. To this end, we’ve spent time a lot of time editing videos and graphics for the course, creating personal and study support materials for the students, and exploring and testing various sites and computer programs for educational interaction.
The internship also afforded the opportunity to reflect on my own language learning at university. Skimming through the course checking for broken links and other glitches I had numerous lightbulb moments where the theories and concepts explored in the course content shed light on my experiences in French classes over the last 4 years.
Overall, the experience has been engaging and massively educational. I’ve learned a lot about virtual learning environments, teaching and education, and language acquisition, which has ignited a keen interest in an area I had previously overlooked.
Lifelong Learning invites you to join us to sample some of our courses for 2018/19 and to meet our tutors at the upcoming event this weekend.
Come along to our Open Day to find out more about what is on offer in our Lifelong Learning programme for 2018/19. This event will include some taster events and will also offer you the opportunity to meet some of our tutors and to ask questions about individual courses. Tea and coffee will be available.
Please note that you cannot book for the individual taster sessions at this stage, this will be done upon arrival at the open day. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
To view a full programme of events and book a place on the open day please visit: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/lifelonglearning/news/events/2018/09/15-lifelong-learning-open-evening.page?
To view full details of the Lifelong Learning courses on offer please visit our website: www.southampton.ac.uk/lifelonglearning
Students and colleagues are invited to drop-in for coffee, cakes and an informal chat / demo of Modern Languages and Linguistics’ new look MA in ELT: Online course. Details of the event are as follows:
Date: Wednesday 12th September 2018
Time: Between 10:00 and 12:30 – please feel free to drop by at any point
Venue: Room 2129, Building 65, Avenue Campus
Over the summer, with support from two student interns, we have been upgrading our MA in English Language Teaching: Online programme, ready for relaunch in September 2018. The upgrade has involved a migration from a Moodle Virtual Learning Environment to Blackboard, as well as a review of the structure and clarity of all of our online resources and materials and the usability of the various course communication channels from a student experience perspective. Our students are all busy part-time online learners, and practising English Language Teachers, who are based in around 25 different countries across the world.
We will have computers set up with our new Blackboard course in Room 2129 and would be happy to demo the features of the course, and chat generally about our experiences of running a fully online programme for part-time distance learners.
This event may be of interest to you if you would like to hear more about developments to this course, are thinking about upgrading your own Blackboard course, or have an interest in the design of online learning experiences generally.
Welcome to everyone coming to the University of Southampton open days this weekend!
Enjoy your day!