Following on my last post, edtech Training Takeaways, I have been a reflecting on a recent webinar that I led. The session, Virtual Tours for Language Teaching, was a last minute commitment to facilitate. Canadian language instructors were introduced to several concepts related to using virtual tours with language learning students during this session. I assume this because only ten percent of the participants had responded that they had tried using virtual reality with students in the past on the webinar poll. During the session, I shared the following:
- an introduction to VR tours
- four different in-class resources
- a myriad of relevant resources
- an introduction to different approaches to VR tours for language instruction:
- instructor lead
- worksheet supported
- a pair and share learning activity
- self-paced learning events
- student presentations
- student generated virtual tours
While planning the session structure, I realized that background information was essential to ensuring the participants would benefit from the lessons. Ramping up to the virtual tour lessons included: an overview of virtual reality, benefits of virtual tours, an introduction to the Expeditions App, the technology requirements to run a virtual tour in a school setting, the different modes of facilitating virtual tours and a run through of an Expeditions tour.
After the session, I realized that I had benefited more from the session that I had expected. I intended the webinar to be a simple “how to” support an app in the classroom with worksheets but it transformed into a more comprehensive session.
Taking time to share with professional peers is laborious and sometimes stressful but usually the experience is enriching. As I reflect on the experience, the following are positive benefits of this recent webinar facilitation:
- Consolidating knowledge: In this webinar, I fused three previous workshops into a singular focus. Of course, some of the minutiae was omitted but this process helped me to re-imagine how different tools could be integrated to support language learners. These tools included: Google Tour Creator, Google Expeditions, Google Street View and H5P’s Virtual Tour 360.
- New ideas: The participants added their thoughts during the discussion. I now have a few more ideas to try with virtual tours over the next academic year. Among these were creating a simple campus tour with the students, a guess the location activity and a series of giving directions lessons.
- Update my digital wares: Facilitating a professional development session requires one to sequence ideas, create or update notes, lessons and worksheets. As technology is constantly changing, running a workshop makes the facilitator recheck all of these support materials before starting the event. Normally, I post these revisions on SlideShare for open public access.
- D’oh moments: After the session was over, there was second-guessing of how the session went. Something like, “Why didn’t I mention that H5P Virtual Tours allowed students to insert their own images easily?” Or, “I should have thought of having those numbers at the ready for this session.” These are important matters as the next time I share; I will not forget these items.
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