Create the best online learning environment

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Most people only think of the platform or app they use when they think about online learning environments. (Zoom, Google Classroom, Thinkific, etc.) Creating an effective learning environment is so much more than just the app you use. Teachers and students realized during lockdown that having a quiet and organized space for learning is essential. Unfortunately not many are able to create the perfect environment due to space or tech restrictions but there are still a few adjustments you can make to have a more organized and effective space.

  • You’ll need more space for cables and devices so make room for them in advance.
  • If it’s possible have more than one device ready for the lesson in case one stops functioning properly.
  • Remove all food or drink from your immediate surroundings and put them further away from your device.(Yes, the coffee mug too..)
  • Put the device you use on a flat surface, preferably on a table.
  • Do not study in bed. While it’s tempting if you’re just revising or reading a text, it signals rest and it’s not helping in keeping focus.
  • Avoid multi-tasking with social media.
  • Schedule in frequent breaks for relaxation, eating and drinking. Online learning is more stressing for the eyes so make sure to have pauses to
  • Have a way to take notes during live lessons either on a notepad or use a note taking app.
  • Put books and other study materials close to you so you can use them if technology fails during a live lesson. Never rely solely on websites, pdfs and docs to deliver your lesson or to answer questions.
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Learning online (or teaching) is very different than just browsing, watching shows, or playing a game so you’ll need a dedicated setup.

How to quickly edit audio for online lessons II. Editing essentials

Audacity desktop (source: audacityteam.org)

This is the second part of the Beginner Audio Editing for Teachers series. To read the first post go to How to….. and part3 .

Editing essentials: You’re going to find these in every audio editor. If you’ve never worked with audio editing before, you should use learn how to use these first.

Add a new track: Open a new audio session or mix your audio with sound and music. /”Track” or “File-import” tabs.

Fade in/out: To avoid starting and finishing the audio abruptly, use the fade in/fade out features.

Cut: Remove the parts you don’t need. /”Edit” tab.

Insert silence: You can insert silence at cuts or at parts where you want to add music later. /”Generate” tab.

Compressor: One of the most important features is to level out differences in volume. /”Effect” tab.

Save track: If you just want to save the Audacity project to work on it later, use the “Save Project As”. /”File” tab.

Export audio: To export the finished audio go to “Export audio” at “File”.

In my next post, I’ll talk about where to find background music and other sounds for your audio lesson.

How to quickly edit audio for online lessons I.

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One of the difficulties that teachers face in the online platform is that while it’s easier to share ideas and materials it’s harder to produce them in quality and in the time frame that is available. Most teachers are not sound designers or engineers and only consume music and audio and before online and distant learning became prevalent they rarely had needed to produce their own audio learning materials. With podcasts and Youtube being popular sources of audio as well, it had been less likely that one would have wanted to record their own audio for a lesson.

However, the pandemic slightly changed the landscape for that issue as well. More and more teachers feel the need to tailor materials they can find on the internet to their own teaching and to their students’ needs or to pre-record audio learning materials. In the following posts, I’ll give you a few tips on how to start quickly producing and editing your own audio, and these tips are aimed at novices and those with little or no experience in sound editing.

Equipment: Any relatively good quality microphones are OK. Since you’re mostly going to record talking and not singing you don’t really need top-notch studio microphones.

Space: It’s more important to record in a quiet space. Make sure you keep the microphone away from the computer as it can record the humming coming from it. Always record speaking and music/background separately.

Volume: Speak (more) loudly and articulate. Things you think can be heard just fine will most likely turn out too quiet. Try to talk like you would be talking in a big auditorium or theatre hall. Try to talk evenly and don’t suddenly shout or laugh loudly as it is going to be hard for the listener to adjust the volume when they happen on a recording. Later during editing, you should use the compressor feature to level out any differences in volume.

Software: The easiest and cheapest is to use Audacity, a free and open source audio editor and recorder. It has only a short learning curve and it has tons of add-ons and support that come with it.

In my next post, I’ll explain what editing steps you should take to produce an audio lesson. and where to find background music for your lessons here.

5 essentials every language learner should have

Even now in the age of digitalization and online learning, one should always have paper exercise books and vocabulary exercise books alongside all other online tools and platforms they learn from. Adult learners usually dismiss the usage of paper notebooks and exercise books, thinking that they’re only for kids learning in school but it’s a mistake. Writing requires different parts of the brain to be activated than just reading, watching, or listening to the material, and usually, words and expressions can be remembered better when we write them down as well.

Also, a typical mistake to rely heavily on online dictionaries and not have a physical dictionary book. This becomes a problem the more you advance in your learning. A monolingual dictionary is essential in the advanced stages of learning as not every word in every language can be easily and exactly translated into a word in another language. Also, the simple act of looking up a word in a physical dictionary can help in remembering.

Practicing with others has great benefits even if they’re not native speakers. The engagement and the need for communication help in the retrieval and retainment of words and expressions.