Final webinar for Blended Learning Classrooms with Vance Stevens, Sharon Graham, and Jane Chien

Learning2gether Episode 443

Skip down to most recent Earlier Events prior to this latest one

On Wednesday 11 March my turn as an English Langage Specialist ended for the year 2020 when I hosted this final Blended Learning Classroom Showcase Event with Sharon Graham and Jane Chien about their experiences with online teaching in coping with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with me introducing the MOOC community space extension to the course toward the end of the webinar.

This was Learning2gether episode 443 and the last live event of the course on Creating and Using a Blended Learning Classroom at The course started on Feb 20, 2020, and officially ended with this closing webinar on March 11, on YouTube here: I had anticipated making it an opportunity for participants to come together and show each other what they’ve learned through their creations.

Sharon Graham was supposed to be teaching in China by now but instead she is teaching  the students there online from her home base in Hayes, Kansas. She showed us a number of the tools she uses; for example, VidGrid,, a platform designed to engage students in video content making them active interactants with the videos, rather than simply passive viewers.

Jane is meeting her students in Taipei face-to-face but she has one student from mainland China who is unable to travel now, and whom she is trying include as a participant in class. We talked about how she could do that by turning her computer / web cam out to the class. It turns out that among the students is where she likes to be in classes, and as she was checking in to our zoom chat from her cell phone, its seemed she could better include this student if she set up a Zoom meeting on the class computer on one account and joined it from her own account on her cell phone. Then the students would be “face to face” on the computer screen, and her absent student woud see his classmates and better experience the context of the class.

Before turning out the lights on the eLearning course, I made preparations to flip the course into MOOC / Community mode by creating an extension to the course in the form of a MOOC / Community space, with more information in the Green Folder in the Schoology portal here,

Participation in or enrollment in the Schoology course is optional; in other words you don’t have to be interacting there in order to participate in the MOOC Community. I have set up spaces outside of Schoology for that. But if you wish, you CAN enroll in the Schoology course. It’s set up to run to the end of the year and I can renew it then if I wish.

Also, in setting up this space, my main purpose is two-fold. Fold one is to model how a community could be managed as an extension to a course, if there were sufficient interest in that, and fold two is to see what happens :-). Maybe a community will form there, maybe not.  Either way, another possibility of blended online classrooms, the possibility of perpetuating them as community spaces, is modeled.

The last half of the 3-week course coincided with a time when schools were closing in unprecedented numbers over concerns with the COVID-19 outbreak. This has sent an equally unprecedented number of teachers into a search for stratgies they can use to transition their classrooms online. Going from face-to-face straight to online is a daunting transition, and one that requires some kind of portal space that will attempt to center the course and provide coherence to activities that cannot be simply explained in class.

This course has been focused on helping teachers conceptualize and create that center space. When teachers have to come up with components for such spaces on limited funds and resources, I call this DIYLMS, or do-it-yourself learning management systems. For teachers who have already been running blended learning classrooms, that center space was already there, and the shift to a totally online environment is simply a matter of layering syncronous activities onto the existing asynchronous ones.

With more schools worldwide closing suddenly almost every day now, many teachers have been stretched to come to grips with the demands of their situations, and many others not yet in that situation are doing what they can to level up and prepare for whatever contigency.

Accordingly, the last week in our course we were hearing from teachers who were having to come up with strategies for dealing with meeting students purely online. Jeff Lebow, who has been working online for years and, like me, incorporating what works online into blended environments for his students, showed us how he had already set up classes for his whole department in blogger and now all they had to do was just add Zoom. In our penultimate webinar we talked with Suzan Stamper and Bonnie Calanchini, two teachers from Hong Kong, about how they were coping in international schools with kids and in the tertiary setting with adults. And in this webinar we discussed with Sharon Graham and Jane Chien how the outbreak has impacted them and what they are doing about it.

These made for interesting webinars but were mere ripples in the tsunami of information that is becoming apparent as the days go by. I’ve been accumulating crosses my radar here:

Since this is a dynamically developing situation, and as there is a chance that we in this community could both learn from and contribute to the ongoing conversation, I have created a kind of static extension to the course in the form of a MOOC / Community space, with more information in the Green Folder in the Schoology portal, as noted above.

I set up a MOOC Community space at (and added it to the sidebar there; direct link here:

I created a for ongoing discussions at and of course I tweeted about it.

In this webinar, I came online to talk more about that, and wrapped up the course on Creating and Using Blended Learning Classrooms in the company of Sharon Graham and Jane Chien, who both joined in Zoom

Announcements were made on these Facebook Groups

Here is the text of the follow up announcement I posted to the above spaces:

The #blended2020 Learning Classrooms online course ended Mar 11 with a webinar attended by Sharon Graham & Jane Chien. and archived as #Learning2gether episode 443.

But though the course has ended, the MOOC community can potentially carry on.
See here how that could happen:

And this is the last best practice that I plan to model in this round of #ELSpecialist online activities.

For the archive of the webinar, YouTube video and show notes, please visit (no need to click; that’s this page)

Also announced here:

If you have any comments or suggestions about the course, let us know

Earlier events

Mon 9 Mar 1330 UTC LEARNING2GETHER 442 – Two Special guests from Hong Kong – What if your school closes?

Tue 10 March 1200 to 1500 PST Library 2.020 Wholehearted Libraries

WHOLEHEARTED LIBRARIES | A 3-hour mini-conference
March 10 | Free | REGISTER HERE
Hosted by: Library 2.0.

This is the first of the popular Library 2.0 mini-conferences of the year, and organized in partnership with iSchool Associate Professor Michael Stephens. He writes: ” We should bring our hearts to work, and qualities such as open-mindedness, emotional intelligence, and reflective action are all part of this process. Services steeped in humanism, compassion, and understanding should be the cornerstone of what we do, and why we do it, for all members of our communities, including the underserved. Not only do libraries need high tech, they also need staff who approach their work with a wholehearted attitude.” The mini-conference will explore the human side of 21st-Century information work. We will define what soft skills are, how and when to use various soft skills, types of training that can improve soft skills, and how to share emotionally engaging stories. Learn what libraries are doing now to extend services, create welcoming spaces, and engage users with soft skills such as compassion, empathy, creativity, curiosity, and finding balance. Sessions will focus on how we can nurture a positive mindset in our employees, use the power of stories to promote understanding, and extend our reach into our global communities. Soft skills are heart skills.

(Register to get the actual session links)

12:00 pm US-Pacific Daylight Time
(Click here for international times)

Opening Keynote Panel
Michael Stephens, Associate Professor in the School of Information at San Jose State University | Loida Garcia-Febo, International Library Consultant | Christian Lauersen, Director of Libraries and Citizens services, Roskilde Municipality, Denmark | Rivkah K. Sass, Library Director + CEO, Sacramento Public Library

1:00 pm US-Pacific Daylight Time(Click here for international times)

Finding the Heart of Library Service
Hope Decker, Member Library Liaison, Pioneer Library System

Library Leaders Are Failing Librarianship: Soft Skills Needed for Human Library Leadership
Steven Bell, Associate University Librarian, Temple University Libraries

Mindfulness in the Public Library: a Secular Buddhist Approach
Jeremy Morelock, Database Maintenance and SysAdmin Assistant, Superiorland Library Cooperative

Radical Transparency in the Library Classroom
Bria Sinnott, Arts + Communication Librarian, Albert S. Cook Library, Towson University | Elisabeth White, Science, Technology + Mathematics Librarian

The Library Workplace Bully Versus the Wholehearted Librarian
Sharon Clapp, Associate Librarian, Information Systems and Resources, Central Connecticut State University

1:30 pm US-Pacific Daylight Time(Click here for international times)

Bibliotecas de todo corazón – Nuestro sistema bibliotecario al servicio de la comunidad a través de las diferentes habilidades de aprendizaje y enseñanza.
Judith de Méndez, Librarian, Learning Resources Centre (LRC) Academia Britanica Cuscatleca | Jennifer Garcia, Melissa Hernández, Hilda Gómez y estudiantes.

Empathy from the Inside Out
Rene Tanner, Associate Liaison Librarian for Sustainability and Life Sciences, Arizona State University

The Healing Library: Nontraditional Lending in Response to Trauma
Megan Schadlich, Creator, The Healing Library

Libraries: Places for wholehearted social change
Suji DeHart, Director of Educational Programs, Make A Difference Travel (MAD Travel)

Wholehearted Hypergrowth: Scaling Up in Silicon Valley
Elizabeth Borghi, Knowledge Program Manager, Knowledge Bee Knowledge Management Consulting

2:00 pm US-Pacific Daylight Time(Click here for international times)

Challenging Unwritten Rules Using Practical Wisdom
Joe Stoner, Branch Manager, Newark Library, part of Alameda County Library

Library Cat Herding: Holding the Herd Together Without Getting Ripped to Shreds
Raelynn V. Richardson, Library Services Coordinator for Circulation and Reserves, University of New Mexico University Libraries

Putting the heart [back] into an online library
Lise M. Dyckman, Executive Director, PlaneTree Health Library

The Power of Stories
Kylie Carlson, Senior Coordinator Library Services and Partnerships, Yarra Libraries, Yarra Council | Dr Michael Stephens, San Jose State University | Felicity Macchion, Manager Libraries, Arts, Culture and Venues

Wholehearted Training: Fostering Connection, Compassion and Joy in Digital Literacy
Leana Mayzlina, Senior Program Manager, NTEN | Emily Flores, Training Officer, San Antonio Public Library

2:30 pm US-Pacific Daylight Time(Click here for international times)

Closting Keynote
Stacie Ledden, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Anythink Libraries

Penultimate webinar in the EL Specialist online course on Using and Creating Blended Learning Classrooms webinar: What do you do when your school closes?

Learning2gether Episode #442

Download audio:

Skip down to

On Monday 9 March, 2020 English Language Specialist Vance Stevens hosted a webinar as the next to last live event  in the course on Using and Creating Blended Learning Classrooms on the topic of “What if your school closes?” Officially, it was the 7th office hour of the course, intended to explain or to help anyone with how to set up some kind of portal or activities in their own Blended Learning Classrooms. But for this one, Vance invited special guests from Hong Kong Suzan Stamper and Bonnie Calanchini, both of whom returned from their Chinese New Year holidays at the end of January to find that their schools were declared closed until further notice, and that was 6 weeks ago.

This webinar will be especially relevant if you are in the position of having to jump like a lemming into teaching online, since it focuses on this one particular ramification of the COVID-19 outbreak relevant to the course on blended learning, where schools have been forced to close in so many countries worldwide, and teachers have had to suddenly transition from developing blended learning classrooms all the way to going totally-online in one challenging leap.

Teachers caught in this situation are doing what they can to engage students at a distance in the curriculum, and Bonnie and Suzan came online to discuss with us how they and their colleagues have managed this leap after their respective schools were closed weeks ago.

  • Bonnie Calanchini, a American teacher who works (from home now) at the Canadian International School of Hong Kong as an Inclusion Specialist, primary level.  Her school has been closed since Chinese New Year in January, and she and her colleagues are going into their 6th week of home learning. Bonnie’s take: “I can say that my school is doing a fantastic job implementing distance learning and the kids are responding well.”
  • Suzan Stamper teaches at Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education where she’s a Senior Lecturer of English and the English Language Support Leader. Her school made the sudden announcement to go online in February, and it is expected that classes will be online until at least after Easter. Suzan’s take: “Going online at the tertiary level has raised challenges for students and teachers.” She notes that her school faces unique struggles with teaching adults at the tertiary level, and teachers have had to go online with little preparation.

We were also joined by Don Carroll in Japan and Nergiz Kern in Turkey, with a cameo appearance from the course beautiful assistant Bobbi Stevens, on YouTube at


Show notes and Zoom chat logs

Screen shares by Vance during the webinar

Julia Hollingsworth. (2020, Feb 29). Millions of children across the world aren’t going to school [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Seesaw –

Classin –

Second Life –

Zoom chat logs

Nergiz Kern : Hi Vance and all. I’m in Turkey right now, but teach mainly Chinese Uni students in the summer in the UK (pre-sessional courses).
Barbara Stevens : classin is at
Barbara Stevens : Hi Nergiz, welcome to our course.
Suzan Stamper : Yes, that is the link for Classin
Barbara Stevens : Our sons who are teaching in Qatar have been told today that they have to stay home and teach online starting tomorrow…no notice
Barbara Stevens : I wonder how art and music teachers are teaching online.
Barbara Stevens : I think that online teaching part-time and then part-time class attendance makes sense. That would help the environment as well if students don’t have to drive to school each day. But still have the classroom experience.
Nergiz Kern : I agree Barbara, that would be ideal.
Barbara Stevens : I wonder if cheating is easier for online learning.
Suzan Stamper : A clever student response:
Barbara Stevens : Marijana Smolčec just shared this on Facebook:
Suzan Stamper : @Barbara – Thanks for the link
Barbara Stevens : Bye everyone. I have enjoyed listening.


Kathleen Morris. (2020, March 8). Resources for teaching online due to school closures [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Our theme for Week 3 in the course on blended learning is focused on how so many countries are trying to contain a global pandemic in part by delaying the start of school terms, putting teachers worldwide in the position of having to set up online learning for their students on short notice, or at least give serious consideration to the possibility.

Posted on Facebook by one of the members enrolled in the Schoology course on Creating and Using a Blended Learning Classroom

Announcements of this event were made on these Facebook Groups

Also announced here:

The text of the latter announcement read as follows:

The webinar coming up tomorrow is interesting if you are in the position of having to leap like a lemming into teaching online since it focuses on one particular ramification of the COVID-19 outbreak relevant to the course, where schools have been forced to close in many countries worldwide, and teachers have had to suddenly transition from developing blended learning classrooms all the way to going totally-online in one challenging leap.

So on Monday March 9 in Zoom at 13:30 UTC we look forward to welcoming two teachers in Hong Kong, Suzan Stamper and Bonnie Calanchini, when they will discuss with us how they and their colleagues have managed this leap after their respective schools were closed weeks ago. Suzan incidentally, has been a longtime participant in Webheads in Action.

The event coincides with #Learning2gether episode 442 and you can find bioblurbs of our guests, the link to the zoom room, and the time of the event wherever you are in the world here:

All are welcome. You don’t need to be enrolled in the course to participate.

After the event


Same text, more characters added, and posted on Facebook

Video and show notes from yesterday’s #learning2gether episode 442 webinar in the #blended2020 course on Using and Creating Blended Learning Classrooms can be found here: The discussion lasted for 1.5 hours and ranged from how teachers are coping with having to go suddenly from f2f to online due to #caronavirus #COVID2019, through portals they might use, including SeeSaw, Classin, and Second Life. Thanks to Suzan Stamper and Bonnie Calanchini in Hong Kong, Don Carroll in Japan, Nergiz Kern in Turkey, and beautiful assistant Bobbi Stevens in Malaysia, for taking part in this stimulating and informative event.

If you have any comments or suggestions about the course, let us know

Earlier webinars and “office hours” from Week 3 of this course

Announcements of the final 5 events in the course were made on these Facebook Groups

Here is the same thing in soft copy …

In my role as an English Language #ELSpecialist I have started a 3-week course on Creating and Using Blended Learning environments, #blended2020 on Twitter

If you are free Tue March 3, Thu 5, Sat 7,  Mon 9 or  Wed 11 at 1400 UTC and are in the mood for a conversation in Zoom about blended / flipped / online learning, or digital storytelling, or portals where these activities take place, I hope you will join us in one (or more) of the events described on this page,

At the link above, you will find Zoom links, times where you are, and also archived recordings of past events in this series, and links to their blog posts.

There are over 40 people registered on the Schoology site and consistent participation but not that many turning out for the online webinars and “office hours” which I am holding every other day at 1400 UTC between now and March 11. You can still register for the course if you want to, but it’s not necessary and you are welcome to attend the live events as guests

The events are informal, tailored to whomever appears, and though I have been quiet here lately, as you can see from the most recent posts at, #Learning2gether has been hopping. Hope to see you soon at one of these upcoming events.

Sat 7 March 1400 UTC Blended Learning Classroom Week 3 DIYLMS – Office Hour 6

The 6th office hour in the course on Creating and Using a Blended Learning Classroom was intended to help anyone with DIYLMS (do-it-yourself-leaning-management-systems) how to set up some kind of portal or activity in their own Blended Learning Classrooms. Of course the instructor, English Language Specialist, can help with any other aspect of the course to date.

Present: Hala Salah Abbas, Rita Zeinstejer, Vance Stevens

The meeting was in Zoom. Here is a recording

I uploaded this video at midnight to YouTube without announcing it anywhere and when I work up in the morning I found this comment on it.

Thu 5 March 1400 UTC Blended Learning Classroom Week 3 Digital Storytelling & DIYLMS – Office Hour 5

The 5th office hour was intended to help anyone with the Week 2 materials on Digital Storytelling or with DIYLMS, how to set up some kind of portal or activity in their own Blended Learning Classrooms. For the first time in the course, no one attended today’s office hour.

Facilitating in a quiet online space can be disheartening. Why is no one responding? Am I doing something wrong?

But then this appeared, extracted from a DM on Twitter in such a way that it disguises the sender:

A million thanks for this! Good timing 🙂

Tue 3 March 1400 UTC Blended Learning Classroom Webinar – Weeks 2 and 3 Digital Storytelling and DIYLMS

The 3rd Webinar for the course on Creating and Using a Blended Learning Classroom is intended to help anyone with the Week 2 materials on Digital Storytelling and presage what’s coming up in Week 3 on DIYLMS, do-it-yourself leaning management systems. Once Week 2 issues have been addressed, the webinar will focus on the materials here:

The video is here on YouTube –

Earlier events

Sun 1 March – Jeff Lebow drops by Blended Learning Classrooms to discuss how he creates his DIYLMS: Told as a digital story

Tue 3 Mar 0100 UTC Minecraft Monday March 2nd at 8 PM Eastern time

VSTE Place sign (1).png

Tonight we will have a tour of villages in 1.15 on VSTE Space. We will show you what we have discovered, how we are trying to keep villagers safe, and welcome suggestions!

Jeff Lebow drops by “Blended Learning Classrooms” to discuss how he creates his DIYLMS: Told as a digital story

Learning2gether Episode #441


The sun had set over the sea and mountain jungles in orange tendrils emanating beneath darkening blue skies, which had long since transitioned to darkness in Penang, Malaysia when my old friend and long-time online colleague Jeff Lebow, himself half cloaked in darkness in his workspace studio in Pusan, Korea, popped by my Zoom chat to see how things were going with my eLearning course, Creating and Using Blended Learning Classrooms, based at Jeff had caught me at one of my scheduled late-night “office hours”, midway through the 3 week course, in the middle of Week 2, which focuses on tools for digital storytelling, on the assumption that these tools can be useful in creating and augmenting blended learning classrooms.

Because of that focus, I’m trying to spin everything I post this week as a digital story, hence the scene-setting introduction above. But here’s the digital video storytelling part:

The video is on YouTube at

Jeff is teaching at a university which, as with many around the world, has delayed start of courses for a month due to the presence of corona virus in Korea, and like many teachers in the countries most affected, Jeff has been put in the position of having to gear up to meet classes at a distance. In his case the transition was minimal because he has for years been keeping his courses on Blogger.

Each course has a tab or category, as Jeff shows us here:


I do something similar in my PBworks site where I can archive previous courses and run the current course from the front page, but the concept is similar. Jeff can keep old courses up onine and bring the material into current courses which can then be topped up with new material. Here’s what one of mine looks like at


If you were in one of my classes when this page was current you would find your section to the left of the plane, and if you clicked on your class, you’d find what you were expected to do in class that day, and in all the classes all term leading up to the present.

Classes that were completed could find records of their learning journeys with me in the archives at right, going back years from when I began this wiki. I showed this example because it’s one where the archives are at the top of the sidebar, so I could capture new and old in a single Jing screenshot. But I have many wikis like this; for example:

Jeff and I use Blogger and PBworks for counterpart purposes, as portals for our courses, where students can go for information about what’s coming up, what they didn’t understand, or what they missed. As teachers we can use these portals as repositories for materials that we can recycle and repurpose into new courses. A portal is an essential part of a DIYLMS.

Now what, you might ask, is a DIYLMS? That’s my term for a do-it-yourself learning management system. Why do it yourself, why not just buy one? Well, that would be expensive and might not meet all your needs; whereas you can utilize free tools to take the place of, or augment, an LMS portal, such as Blackboard (very costly) or Moodle (free, with the catch that it has to be hosted), or Schoology (which we are using in my current blended classroom course). As I explained in the video, even when course materials are on Bb I find it convenient to send my students to those materials via direct links in my own DIYLMS portal, where I can collate all the activities I plan to use for a given day, and the students can operate from and return to a single site order to keep straight what I have planned for them in a given class.

DIYLMS is the topic for Week 3, the last week in the blended classroom course, so while I had Jeff with me I asked him how he managed the other parts of his blended classroom environment. His first contact with his students appears to be in Kakao, a Korean company that makes social connectivity tools,, and which is managed for all students at Jeff’s university by the IT department. From there Jeff gets them into a Band site, which he mentions was created by another Korean company. I had never heard of Band,, which has more information at its video channel, It appears to be completely free, functions similarly to Edmodo, and looks at first glance like Facebook.

Here’s where Jeff talks about how Kakao gives way to Band and then where Blogger and Google Drive fit into his blended learning classroom.

In keeping with the narrative of the digital story, this video is queued to start at the moment Jeff starts describing his DIYLMS, 19:10 into the video:

So far we’ve described a CMS or content management system, a space like PBworks or Blogger where materials can be stored. An LMS or learning management system hosts content but also has ways of allowing students to submit work and for teachers to track their progress. I asked Jeff how he handled that in his DIYLMS and he mentioned Google Docs, Google Forms, and Quizziz as being useful for this purpose. Schoology teams with Dropbox in its enterprise version for submissions, but I find Dropbox a little awkward to work with (and a DIYLMS assumes you don’t have access to the enterprise version) so in this course I’m asking students to mount their work online and write in the course forums or comment on the assignments (what I call missions) and then Tweet on our course tag #blended2020 the URLs where we can find what they have done.

Recap and response

Basically Jeff had always in recent memory run his university courses on his Blogger site where each course has its own tag or label, while course materials are in Google Drive. Jeff has dozens of courses, and ports from earlier ones to the more recent iterations, and changes those to keep them current. This blended learning classroom system was in place before corona virus came along and the only addition — now that students are staying home and face-to-face teaching is not possible — is that synchronous work now occurs in Zoom.

Moving on to the last week in the course

The 4th office hour of the 3-week course on Creating and Using Blended Learning Classrooms that took place on March 1, 2020 in Zoom was intended to

  1. help anyone with the Week 2 materials on Digital Storytelling,
  2. or catch up with the Week 1 mission on coming to grips with digital tools and how to mount a digital “poster”
  3. or anticipate DIYLMS in the third week of the course.

When Jeff Lebow dropped in we took the opportunity to do the latter and discuss how an expert in blended and online learning creates and uses blended learnng classrooms in his current context. And I hope you have enjoyed this digital story about how he has moved from a blended environment where students usually met face to face to add Zoom so that now the students can meet in a completely online environment until regular classes resume where he works in Korea.

You can read more about Jeff here:

Lebow, Jeff. (2006). Worldbridges: The Potential of Live, Interactive Webcasting. TESL-EJ 10, 1. .


Earlier events

Wed 26 Feb 1400 UTC Blended Learning Classroom Webinar introducing the Week 2 materials on Digital Storytelling

Week 2 of Creating and Using Blended Learning Classrooms: Focus on Digital Storytelling

Learning2gether Episode 440

Skip down to a sample Digital Story: Office hours Feb 28 with iTDi’s Monthly Roundup
Skip down to Earlier Events

The free 3-week, open to anyone, online course on How to Create and Use a Blended Learning Classroom, created and facilitated by English Language Specialist Vance Stevens, has entered its second week, with an exploration of tools for creating digital stories. Digital Stories are ways that students can creatively express themselves in digital format using multimedia tools or a combination of many tools (or a single tool) to create a narrative for whatever purpose they are assigned or wish themselves to communicate. The tools involved in creating digital stories are of use to teachers wishing to set up blended and flipped learning classrooms.

In the first week of the course, participants were asked to explore a few tools useful in creating blended learning classrooms and then try their hand at getting just about anything about themselves up online. In the second week the task is similar but intended to provide scope for greater creativity: to apply known tools or any of dozens of other  possible tools in conveying some kind of narrative and presenting its link online.

This task is one that teachers might assign students, but the purpose in having teachers do it is to have them explore and try out more tools that will help them create blended learning classrooms. Numerous tools and a rationale for using them are presented here:

The 2nd Weekly Webinar kicked off on Wednesday 26 February, 2020 at the usual time of 1400 UTC with Vance Stevens introducing the Week 2 materials on Digital Storytelling. The Webinar was held in Zoom, and you can see the recording on YouTube at

Jane Chien popped by talk about the course and to clarify how she should complete her Week 1 assignment, which she subsequently did by activating her blog, here, (a.k.a She’s now the third person in the course to complete the week 1 mission:

Here’s a list that’s now starting to grow of others completing the first of the three weekly course missions:

I tweeted where I had uploaded the recording here:

I used the course hash tag #blended2020, and you can search Twitter for all tweets with that tag (and get the Latest; i.e. ALL posts, not just the Top ones) at this link:

Hopefully content at that tag will continue to accumulate as the course continues over the next two weeks.

(Note that searches on hash tags in Twitter will likely default to the ‘top’ or most popular tweets containing that tag, but if you are using this as part of a blended learning classroom, you will likely want to see ALL posts on your hash tag).

Week 2 Office Hours

A sample Digital Story: Office hours Feb 28, 2020, with iTDi’s Monthly Roundup

The online course meets online every other day, beginning each week with a webinar like the one for week 2 above, and then follow up over the next four days with two consultancy office hours. So far, no one has requested a time for that meeting other than 14:00 UTC, though other times are possible if participants request them.

Accordingly following the webinar on Feb 26, there was an “office hour” on Feb 28 where I was joined by Jane Chien and Don Carroll who contributed their experience and discussed with me their approaches to blended learning environments. All such meetings are recorded in Zoom, and there is a recording of this consultancy hour (actually, almost an hour and a half) on You Tube at

I thought I would relate the story of what we did tonight (9 to 11:30 for Jane and I, and an hour later for Don, bundled against the midnight cold in his workshop in Japan) as one example of a way to relate a digital story.

Here then is the Digital Story of this event

The regularly recurring office hour today followed another event which conveniently took place at 13:00 UTC, just an hour before ours. This one, hosted by iTDi, was on a topic that, thanks to the coronavirus, is currently driving at least some participation in the course on Creating and Using a Blended Learning Classroom. I announced this as an update at my Schoology course portal:


Here was how the iTDi event was announced on Facebook:

Fri 28 Feb 1300 UTC iTDi Monthly Roundup on Making the Move to Online Teaching

🤔 Have you suddenly had to move to online teaching? Or are you about to? What are the challenges to overcome and the opportunities it might also present? ⚡️

🔸 Join the next #iTDi #MonthlyRoundup (FB LIVE) with special guest teachers from the #iTDiCommunity, Renata Todorovska and Rhett Burton, who’ll be sharing some of their experiences and insights.

🔸 Fri Feb 29, 1300-1400 GMT:

When I arrived at the event, I was informed that I could declare a watch party. I had never done that before, so I thought, why not, I’ll try it 🙂


To my surprise, within seconds after I did that, some of my Facebook friends joined the watch party, as you can see in the panel at right of the graphic above. One of these, Jane Chien, had seen my announcement in Schoology, was already in the iTDi chat, and had opted to watch it with me where we could carry on our own back channel chat about the event. I captured a little of our conversation here as it pertained to our own course (slightly re-arranged and redacted 🙂

The iTDi event was recorded and you can play it back here

This is what Jane, Don, and I were watching as we chatted as follows …

Vance Stevens – I thought Rhett’s situation was more compatible with ours
Jane Chien – Yes.
Don Carroll – Once again (as always) I’m concerned about the “old wine in new bottles” issue. Is the curriculum the same old “grammar” focus that reflects a “language as system” view of language.
Jane Chien – Yes, indeed. Rhett would benefit from your workshop.
– Don Carroll Now that schools might be closed, everyone is trying to learn online.
Vance Stevens – or we could benefit from Rhett, we’re wondering what people do when they suddenly have to go online
Don Carroll – I’m all for “online” learning. I’m against perpetuating the same old ideas about language just through fancy tech tools.
Vance Stevens – are you teaching online Don? (remind me)
Don Carroll – No
Jane Chien – So, old wine in new bottles isn’t that much of an issue anymore since kids are at home all the time. The parents wants them to learn something online. Most of the asynchronous learning may be boring, so these synchronous classes with teachers is what parents prefer now.
Don Carroll – What I mean is this: If you are teaching, for example, “the verb system” online, then you are selling old wine in new bottles.
Vance Stevens – in my course I’m trying to get people to DO things but most are not that interested, but 3 are SUCCESS
– but why would you teach the verb system online? You can point people to tutorials and actually deal with verbs in online interaction
Jane Chien – Here in Taiwan, kids had a longer winter break because of coronavirus. Online learning has suddenly become very popular for kids…(elementary and secondary).
Don Carroll  – DOING is what online interaction should be about. So far I’m not impressed with what I’m hearing about iTutor. This sounds to me like traditional language teaching being presented online.
Vance Stevens – but people want to be taught, they sometimes don’t appreciate when you are trying to get them to learn
Don Carroll – Maybe I’m a radical, but I feel that the traditional “four skills” are nonsense.
Vance Stevens – I agree with you Don, but I guess people pay to be taught, they don’t know how to learn
Don Carroll – Of course, iTutor is a “commercial product” where you give the customer what they want to buy.
Vance Stevens – i haven’t been listening so much about iTutor, seems kind of irrelevant to [the online course we are participating in now]
– Renata’s situation doesn’t really relate to the purpose of I don’t think
Don Carroll – I’d have to see sample “lesson plans” to be sure, but I strongly suspect that what I’d find is the “same ol’ same ol’ that constitutes 99% of the world’s EFL textbooks…basically just prettily camouflaged grammar lessons.
Jane Chien – I heard people mention that iTutor doesn’t pay teachers well.
Vance Stevens – no one does. Online is intensive, you can never get what you put into it in $$ only in what you learn from doing it
– I may be teaching with these people later this year, teacher training. we’ll see
Jane Chien – Don, I think teaching kids in Minecraft is the best! hahahah
Vance Stevens – Matti’s game was really intricate, great video,
Don Carroll – Mattie creation of the game using all the language resources at his disposal is the sort of language learning that online learning should be all about.
Jane Chien – Thanks for putting up with him. XD
Vance Stevens – ok, over to zoom I guess
off to there now
– see you there if you’re coming

And then we reconvened in Zoom, and you can follow the story to its denouement (and coda) here:

There was not much text chat from our Zoom meeting. At one point Don was describing what he thought would be a useful tool for a blended classroom, if all participants could go to single document or whiteboard and collaborate there, in one space. This is not uncommon in many webinar tools; for example the whiteboard in Elluminate, now Bb Collaborate. I was showing him where I could share my screen in Zoom and if I was sharing a Google Doc or Drawing, or any other tool, we could all write on that tool and our changes would appear in real time in our Zoom recording. But in Zoom chat at that point, Jane did us one better:

From Jane Chien : Guess what I found! Annotation tool on zoom,



Don posted this follow up to our conversation. Interesting article.


Here’s the article

and finally, every good digital story created for this course ends with a tweet-out of what you have done, on hash tag #blended2020, as in the example here


EL Specialist Consultancy on Sunday March 1, 2020

Is coming up at 14:00 UTC on that day

Earlier events

Sun Feb 23 Learning2gether 438 1400 UTC Vance Stevens interviews Nellie Deutsch at the CO20 Live Online Conference

Wed 26 Feb 1300 EST – Joe McVeigh hosts a free TESOL webinar on Needs Assessment for ELT Course or Curriculum Design

Joe McVeigh has invited his TESOL friends, and their your professional friends and colleagues, to join him for a free webinar on Wednesday, February 26th on the subject of Needs Assessment for ELT Course or Curriculum Design. This webinar will be offered at 8 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. EST (New York time)

You can join live on Facebook:
or online at:

Needs Assessment for Course or Curriculum Design

A new course or curriculum should be designed based on the needs of the students. However, often teachers begin a curriculum or course design project without first stopping to carefully consider and  assess the needs of the learners. In this American English Live event, we look at the process of needs assessment. We review several methods for learning what student needs are, including a menu of different needs assessment techniques and options.  Then we consider how to use that information in course design, looking at basic steps and choices in development.

If joining via Facebook, try refreshing the page at the time the webinar begins.

Thu Feb 27 – Sat Feb 29 2nd Oxford English Language Teaching Online Conference 2020


What if every teacher around the world could attend the same event?

Well, you can! In 2020, take your teaching to the next level at the 2nd Oxford English Language Teaching Online Conference.

Join us for a series of webinars delivered by leading ELT experts.

  • Watch a variety of sessions focused on global skills, assessment for learning, digital and vocabulary.
  • Connect with experts and share your thoughts with colleagues around the world.
  • Join any of the sessions and receive a certificate of attendance and exclusive ELTOC resource pack

View the “Event Lineup” flyer here:,6L3QL,F18UK6,Q9ZQU,1

Make sure you’re part of it. Sign up and we’ll keep you updated about event registration, speaker line up and other ways to get involved!
Watch ELTOC 2019 conference webinars here

You must be a member of the Oxford Teachers’ Club to view them.
Not a member? Don’t worry. Registration only takes a few moments and is completely free.

More into at

Vance Stevens interviews Nellie Deutsch at the CO20 Live Online Conference

Learning2gether Episode 439

On Sunday, February 23, 2020, Vance Stevens interviewed Nellie Deutsch at Connecting Online, the CO20 Live Online Conference. The idea for the interview was at my suggestion, the interview was recorded in Zoom and uploaded to YouTube here:

In my promotion of the event at, I wrote that I would “inventory Nellie’s projects, find out how she started out on and eventually arrived at her blend of free and remunerative endeavors, and probe her motivations and aspirations. ”

Nellie prepared in advance for these questions and came equipped with slides answering them. This made my job as interviewer one of the easiest that I have ever conducted.

Here is what the event looked like in the CO20 program here:


The slides referred to above (Nellie’s) are here:

As noted above, the interview was a part of the three-day free annual online conference described below.

Feb 21-23 The 11th annual connecting online conference 2020

Links given at the post above

Post Conference

After the conference, Nellie thanked her presenters, put all the videos up on a playlist, and handed out certificates to presenters. Other levels of certification are possible. You can find out more here about this — “Digital Badges will be available for introductions, feedback, and for reflecting on 5 of the live online sessions”

Earlier events

Thu 20 Feb 12 noon UTC LEARNING2GETHER episode 438 – Opening webinar for course on Blended Learning

Sun Feb 23 noon UTC – iTDi hosts Facebook Live with Marcos Benevides talking about his upcoming course on task-based language teaching

Marcos Benevides has been involved in TBLT for nearly twenty years! And he is currently researching task-based assessment, which will also inform this course.

His most recent book is Widgets Inc.: A task-based course in workplace English, 2nd Edition. Since its original release in 2008, Widgets has been widely recognized as the first practical, truly task-based coursebook.

Marcos is also an award-winning co-author and editor of nearly fifty ELT titles! His books have been nominated for British Council ELTon Awards three times (2011, 2015, and 2019), and have won twice. He has also received the 2010 Duke of Edinburgh English Book Award and several Extensive Reading Foundation awards.

If you want to find out more about task-based language teaching, and his upcoming course, join Marcos on Sunday, 23 February at 12:00 GMT.

(Check what time this is for you.) The event will be broadcast simultaneously on theiTDi Facebook page and in the iTDi Zoom Room.


Sun 23 Feb 1500 UTC – TESOL CALL-IS webinar Ways of promoting Creativity in the Classroom with Vicky Saumell

TESOL CALL-IS cordially invites you to attend the webinar “Ways of promoting Creativity in the Classroom” with Vicky Saumell.

Date: Sunday February 23, 2020.
Time: 10:00 am (GMT -5) / 12:00 pm (GMT -3) / 3:00 pm GMT

Please join this webinar from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

  1. Go to the CALL Interest Section-TESOL YouTube Channel. Use the following links: or
  2. Then, go to the video that says “Live” Session and has the title of this webinar.
  3. Click the play button and enjoy it!

Vance Stevens begins a free online course on How to Create and Use a Blended Learning Classroom

Learning2gether Episode 438

The opening webinar for a free, open, and online course on How to Create and Use a Blended Learning Classroom was opened by its creator Vance Stevens in a webinar on Thursday, 20 February, at 12 noon UTC.

English Language Specialist Vance Stevens and RELO Bangkok Alice Murray officially opened and introduced the course with this event recorded in Zoom. The course was originally planned to start on February 17, but the opening webinar was delayed to the 20th to allow enrollment numbers to eventually reach 30. As the course was scheduled for 3 weeks, the end date of the course was pushed back to March 11. You can read some of the back story here:

The slides for the webinar are online and available here:

The course takes place in Schoology with a more detailed and coherent backend developed in PBworks, here: (to give the mnemonic link established for the course, whose hash tag is also #blended2020, as you can see when you search on Twitter here:

It is planned to schedule several more synchronous webinars and office hours at times negotiable with participants, but attendance at the webinars is optional. What is more important is asynchronous participation in the Schoology discussions. But there are no certificates offered for the course, and participants are welcome to drop in and participate in whatever capacity they feel will benefit them at any time over the next three weeks.

I (Vance) explained that the idea for the course is to practice community-as-curriculum along MOOC precepts and take advantage of this opportunity to work in consultation with an English Language Specialist (me) who developed the course following two decades experience in cultivating blended and online learning in f2f classrooms and in distributed communities of practice — and perhaps more importantly, to network with and learn from peers.

Throughout the course, I will model methods for creating blending learning environments which, if they resonate with you, you can apply in your own teaching context.

If you are interested in participating, please visit this page:

and follow the instructions there for enrolling in the Schoology course and participating in the webinars, if you are able to do so.

Please feel free to distribute this announcement to anyone you feel would be interested. Enrollment is open and the EL Specialist is available from Thu Feb 20 to Wed March 11, 2020.

For more information

The course takes place in Schoology at this address

But you can only reach that address if log in to your account at Schoology (free) and then access the course through your control panel. To do this you must first enroll in the course, using the access code PPZF-676N-BGXQW

Step by step instructions for doing that, with screen shots, are given here:

Live online webinars and consultation opportunities which I call office hours were scheduled every other day throughout the course, all of them at 1400 UTC, which was the time agreed upon by attendees at the first webinar, and absent any feedback to the contrary from anyone else in the course.

Schoology has a category of materials that can be included in courses called ‘assignments‘ but I prefer to call these missions, an idea I got from Shelly Sanchez Terrell some time ago. Accordingly, the mission for the first week of the course was essentially to orient in the course and then produce a “digital poster” by which I meant just about anything you could put online that would get participants playing with the tools and showcasing their skills. By the end of the first week, three out of 40 enrolled participants had produced links to their missions, duly recorded in a Hero’s List, here:

There were two office hours two and four days after the first webinar. Both were recorded in Zoom, uploaded to YouTube, and added to the course recordings archive at


Sat 22 Feb at 1400 UTC – 2100 Bangkok time – First Office Hour

The course on How to Create and Use a Blended Learning Classroom held its first “office hour” on Feb 22, 2020. Not sure if anyone would be there, I (Vance) started on time and dived into the back story of how the course came about. Magali from Ecuador appeared soon after and we talked about how the course can cater to her need to learn more about digital storytelling, which happens to be the topic for Week 2 of the course:


Mon 24 Feb 1400 UTC – 2100 in Bangkok – Second course office hour

At the opening webinar we decided that 1400 UTC would be a good time for our synchronous events in the coming week. Participants can also request other times in case 1400 UTC is not suitable.

You can read more about how this is intended to work here:

As explained at the link above, this course has a webinar or office hour every other day for three weeks. We’re still in our first week with 40 people registered in the course, a dozen or so interacting in Schoology, but only a handful turning up for synchronous events.

This time it was Ti’s turn to drop by and show us the Screencast-o-matic she had produced, and we discussed how she can come to grips with her blended learning classroom by setting up her own portal linked to from the one her school provides. From this feedback I’ve decided to bring that forward in the course and talk about that AND digital storytelling in week 2. More specifically I built a unit on Twitter into the Week 2 materials, since Ti was using this actively in her existing courses. My focus in this new addition would be on the potential of tagging in Twitter as a means of aggregating everyone’s content under tags unique to the course or event within a course.


Earlier events

Sun Feb 16 1400 UTC Learning2gether 437 Wrap-up and closing ceremony of EVO2020

Wrap-up and closing ceremony of EVO2020

Learning2gether Episode 437

On Sunday, February 16, 2020, at 14:00 UTC, Electronic Village Online,, held its annual wrap-up and closing ceremony, this time for EVO 2020. The session was run by Carolina Buitrago and Martha Ramirez, our Head Lead and Lead Coordinators for EVO 2020.

In an effort to get everyone to talk to one another, the two lead coordinators conducted a couple of polls and then had the groups go into breakout rooms in Zoom. We found out later that anyone could have recorded a breakout room, but in the main room, the breakouts resulted in silence, so Nellie Deutsch, who was hosting the Zoom sessions, recorded the event in two parts.

The first part displayed interesting display of results from the Polleverywhere (e.g. how the app can form word clouds from data input.

There was then a breakout session. As mentioned earlier, any group in its breakout room could have made a recording of that room. This didn’t occur to anyone, but now we know (for next year, or for our future Zoom sessions)

Nellie resumed the recording after the group reconvened. Here is Part 2


The sweetest takeaway from this session for me was when Head Lead Coordinator Carolina Buitrago thanked us all for our hard work and passion and said that “It is inspiring to see that there are still people who want to make education better without anything in return.”

This occurred at 29:31 in the video here:


The event was announced on Facebook

The official EVO closing ceremony takes place on Sun Feb 16 1400 UTC in Zoom at All are welcome to attend to hear moderators talk about their sessions and to share participant experiences.

  • EVO Minecraft MOOC can carry on as long as there is a server running and as long as people want to play (and learn, of course :-).
  • (Co-hosts wee added to our EVOMC20 group announcement for acknowledgement, not actually expected to attend 🙂


And afterwards


Earlier events


Sat Feb 15 1300 UTC Learning2gether 436 Final EVOMC20 Classic 1.12.2 Play and Learn Time – Mattie’s wool race