All language teachers create material of some kind, be it lessons, tests, quizzes, or reference materials. More and more, language teachers are using the computer to author these lessons, not merely to produce static HTML or word processing documents, but interactive lessons and quizzes that take advantage of the computer's capabilities in multimedia, interactivity, and communication.
Advantages of computer-delivered lessons created by teachers might include:
- Student motivation. Students might find the multimedia, interactive environment more stimulating than paper-based lessons.
- Teacher motivation. Some teachers may find authoring more interesting than creating paper lessons and may be encouraged by recognition for effective use of technology.
- Custom content. Target content to specific population, interests, needs, locality.
- Multi-purpose. Reuse the lessons in other classes (even at other schools, if the form is portable), and modify, improve, and adapt.
- Multiple takes. Quizzes designed with a formative intent—rather than evaluative tests—can be taken multiple times by students to reinforce correct answers.
- Feedback. Quizzes can offer feedback immediately, embedded in response to each incorrect or correct answer and include links to internal or external reference material. The type of feedback is far more useful to the learner as it may be explanatory, diagnostic, or elaborative, providing far more information than simply confirmation of right or wrong.
Your authoring project will be a coherent, coordinated set of quiz questions using Hot Potatoes. You must plan out your project carefully:
Step 1: Determine language activity.
- What’s the skill focus?
- What’s the linguistic focus?
Step 2: Determine nature and form of language task.
- What type of activities do you want (e.g., cloze, multiple-choice, multiple-select, matching, sentence jumble, crossword puzzle)?
- What's the structural or communicative purpose? How will the activity reinforce the form or vocabulary?
Step 3: Find or create content.
- What's the source of your content or will you create it all yourself? For example, if your questions are based on audio or readings, where does that come from?
- What is the form of the content: audio, video, or text?
Step 4: Write activities. Your quiz must include:
- at least 3 of the 5 Hot Potato activity types
- at least 10 items of each type
- use of multimedia (text + illustration, audio, or video)
- detailed lesson objectives (in the introduction field)
- detailed directions for students for each activity
- explanatory or elaborative feedback for each answer, correct or incorrect
Step 5: Write questions and feedback
- verify that they address the language focus you want to address
- double-check your spelling and grammar (it should present a model)
- have a peer offer formative feedback
Step 6: Collect and organize materials
- save all source files and files to refer to (audio, video, illustration)
- organize material in one folder with subfolders as needed
- all material to be uploaded to Web must have legal file and folder names (no special characters or spaces)
Step 7: Author lesson in HP and copy folder to the class Public folder
- copy to Groups > SEDTL512 > Public
Audio. If you want to include audio in your lessons that you record yourself, Audacity is one tool you can use. It's a free voice recorder and audio editor for Mac and Windows. It's very popular in language labs and among langauge teachers. Download it here.
If you want to save your recordings as MP3 files, you need to follow another step to download and install the free LAME library. There are different steps for Windows and Mac, but it's not difficult. See the step-by-step instructions.
Keep your files organized. Remember to keep all your Hot Potatoes files organized together in one folder. Below is an example of files in one folder for three activity types: multiple choice/select, cloze, matching. Three graphic files and one audio file linked in the data files (HP file) also reside in the folder as do the three HTML output files (Web pages). Notice the naming convention (no spaces or special characters.