Wednesday, 14 July 2010

GoogleDocs in Ning to collect vocabulary

This is another ELTAS Tech Tools Day task.

Pre-task thinking:
  • Does it make sense to keep a vocabulary list for the entire class?
  • Or does each individual have his/her own list that can not be generalized?
  • How do you collect vocabulary in your classes?
  • Have you tried other systems?
  • What are the pros and cons of each?
  • How does collecting vocabulary in digital form differ from having it in a notebook?

What I'm doing:
One of my company courses now has a Ning. We use this collaborative learning environment primarily to get organized, as the participants have rather demanding jobs that make them have to miss quite a few lessons. The Ning lets them check things neatly in our course log. I can embed any media we used, so that means fewer copies of handouts to pass on to those who didn't show up. We also organize our extra-curricular events there.

One thing they've asked me for over the years is a vocabulary list that they could fill in. We've used handwritten sheets and copied them, but that doesn't work well, especially when they are coming irregularly. So what I've done is to make a Google Docs Form using the questions:
  • English word
  • sample phrase/ sentence
  • sample phrase/ sentence
  • Definiton
  • German equivalent
Any user with the link to the live form can enter information into that form. They don't need a Google acount.
And any user can read (but not edit!) a Google Spreadsheet that has been published as a web page. When new content is added through the form, this web page is updated automatically. On the spreadsheet select the settings: Publish + Automatically republish when changes are made.

So all I had to do is get my students to sign up for Ning. Then I created a text box in Ning and added two links:
  • to the live form to enter new words
  • to the output spreadsheet to view our list.
The text box also contains some reference links:

Macmillan dictionary
Oxford collocations
Corpus Concordance English
American Corpus

Now they'll just have to start filling it up!

The limits of Google Docs in Ning:
Unfortunately, you can't embed a Google Form or Spreadsheet in Ning the way you can in a blog or in Moodle. This is connected to internal formatting in Ning. Pity! It would be nice to have everything under our Ning URL. Adding a link is only second-best.

Create a vocabulary list template using Google Doc Form.
Create categories like:
  • word
  • sample phrase
  • explanation
  • translation
Give it a focus that other EFL teachers can relate to (e.g. words in the local dialect)
Link to it so we can add vocabulary.

No comments: