Tag Archives: teaching computer literacy

Let Your Students Have a Do-Over

By Alec Fehl, author of Labyrinth Learning’s Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2016 Essentials and Your Digital Foundation

Learning to Walk

Do you remember learning to walk? Neither do I. Perhaps it went something like this:

Tried to stand up. Fell down. Tried to stand up. Fell down again. Did this for several days. Was finally able to stand. Tried to take a step. Fell down. Tried another step. Fell down. Bumped my head. Cried a little. Tried another step. Woo-hoo! Did it! Tried a second step. Fell down. Repeated process until I walked.

That may not be the exact sequence, but I bet it’s close. I learned by getting a lot of do-overs, and I know this didn’t happen:

Tried to stand up. Fell down and said, “Oh well…I’ll just try to move on to running.”

Why a Do-Over?

Do your students get one chance at an assignment, receive a grade, and then move on to the next assignment? Most of my students worked that way. Get a C and never look back. My students would fail to master concepts if their end goal was simply a grade.

How do educators address this?

With the current education system, we must find a way to balance facilitating learning with the administrative requirement of assessing, tracking, and rating progress.

I’ve had success in my classes by offering “virtually unlimited do-overs.”

How to Do a Do-Over

To begin, I give assignments with an initial due date. I assess these initial submissions and give detailed feedback, commenting on what’s good and what needs improvement or completion. Here’s the kicker: If I leave feedback, the initial grade is zero. Rather than give a letter grade or percentage, I label the assignment “complete” or “not complete.” My feedback indicates exactly what’s needed for me to consider the work complete.

And my feedback comes with a 48-hour deadline extension. They resubmit within the timeframe and the process repeats: They get more feedback, a “not complete” rating, and another 48 hours to work. This continues until the student either completes the assignment (100%) or misses a deadline and the incomplete rating (0%) sticks.

Benefits of Giving Do-Overs

  • I focus less on determining a grade and more on giving relevant feedback.
  • Students learn revision skills, how to accept critique, and other soft skills.
  • Students work, to some degree, at their own pace.
  • Students are motivated to improve from their mistakes, creating a mindset of lifelong learning.
  • Students benefit from formative assessment as they work through mistakes and are more likely to achieve concept/skill mastery.

While this may not be the perfect system for every discipline, I have used a more detailed version with great success in my classes for almost 30 years.

The Benefits of Web Use for ESL Students

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As internet usage has become so pervasive during the 21st century, it is highly beneficial to incorporate skills in navigating the World Wide Web into ESL courses. In additional to developing technology skills that will be critical to their success of ESL students in school and/or the workplace, the web is an excellent tool for enhancing their language and literacy skills, as well as their professional skills. Following are ways in which incorporating web use into your lessons can aid in developing your students’ language skills and employability skills.

  • There are a number of websites for English language learners that contain lessons and exercises in grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing. You can provide these to your students for them to use as supplements to their studies outside of class.
  • Clicking hyperlinks help with reading skills by connecting the hyperlinked words, phrases, and images with further information on these elements, reinforcing their meanings.
  • Reading web pages can help with prose literacy and understanding graphs, charts, and tables, especially if you review the vocabulary beforehand and choose websites with images and graphics that make it easier for beginner ESL students to understand.
  • Writing responses to what they’ve read on the web, such as requesting information, sending an e-mail, or filling out a form, requires students to be able to comprehend and interpret the information they’ve read.
  • Computer activities can help facilitate oral communication between students. Studies have shown that learners want to discuss their computer research and what they’ve learned with their peers.
  • Watching videos and listening to audio files online can help with listening comprehension, as these can be easily replayed as many times as needed for students to understand the content.
  • Gathering information for specific topics gives practice in research skills.
  • Group assignments using the web gives students experience with working in teams, delegating responsibilities, and coming to a consensus.
  • All of the aforementioned activities and more help improve skills in problem-solving, analyzation, evaluation, and critical thinking to sort through information found on the web and separate good information from the bad. They also develop and solidify students’ technology skills.

Your students’ experiences with computers may vary, so before they can begin these activities, you may need to teach them the basics of computer and internet usage. Labyrinth Learning is releasing its fourth edition of Welcome to Computers for ESL Students textbook and workbook on Wednesday, August 12. Contact us today to learn more about our full solutions for this title.

 

 

 

 

Enhance Your Teaching With Windows 8 CourseCard

Windows 8 CourseCard
Windows 8 CourseCard

Change is hard and when a computer operating system hasn’t been modified in several years, it makes it that much more difficult for people to adjust. Since the new Microsoft Windows 8 now offers touchscreen apps and a higher level of desktop productivity, it raises the bar on multi-tasking, making it a very attractive option.

All these changes are now creating quite an interest in students wanting to become proficient very quickly. As with anything new, the last thing you want is for your students to become bogged down trying to remember the latest essential features and keyboard shortcuts. That’s why Labyrinth Learning is proud to offer the Microsoft Windows 8 CourseCARD and the Microsoft Windows 8 FastCARD to assist your students in learning and retaining everything they need to know concerning this updated operating system.

Beginning with the Windows 8 FastCARD, students will be able to follow along as you instruct them on the basic skills they will need to master. This handy guide includes instructions on how to navigate and configure the start menu, what jump lists are, operating the recycle bin, where the notification area is and how it functions and finally how to maneuver the specific taskbars.

The Windows 8 CourseCARD has helpful tips on customizing and formatting this new style of desktop, as well as learning how to manage all those necessary files and folders.

Are you interested in hearing more about all the specialized learning tools Labyrinth Learning has available? Connect with us today.

Help Students Learn a New Program With Outlook 2013 CourseCARD

Learning to use different programs that are essential to a well-rounded knowledge of computers is very important in this day and age. It’s why you should go to extra lengths to make sure students are familiar with basic software programs, such as Microsoft Outlook. Thankfully, there are some excellent teaching tools available, such as the Microsoft Outlook 2013 CourseCARD.

The Outlook 2013 CourseCARD is a fantastic beginner’s guide for new users of Microsoft Outlook. Students will be able to reference all of the program’s essential features, keyboard shortcuts as well as productivity tips at any time. The Quick Reference features goes over the Ribbon interface, which is what the program now uses. Students will also be able to use the Basic Topics feature, which includes tips on using the main features of Outlook, including Calendar, Mail, Contacts, Tasks and the To-Do-Bar.

Microsoft Outlook 2013 CourseCARD
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Once students get a basic grasp of Microsoft Outlook, they can further their understanding of the program by using the Advanced Topics feature of the CourseCARD, which provides information on using the new Conversation view, color categories, electronic business cards, attachments and signatures. To become an expert Microsoft Outlook user, students can then move on to Top Productivity Tips and Solutions in order to learn how to set up automatic replies, view calendars during meeting requests, create their own Quick Steps, and use the Outlook Social Connector.

Learn the ins and outs of Microsoft Outlook with the Microsoft Outlook 2013 CourseCARD. Contact us at Labyrinth Learning for additional information.

Join the Labyrinth Learning Editing Team

Labyrinth Learning editing team
Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Interested in joining our Labyrinth Learning editing team? Currently we are accepting resumes for: Technical Reviewers, Quality Assurance Testers, Proofreaders, Copyeditors and Instructor Support Material Authors. These positions are as-needed temporary assignments with financial compensation based on the number of estimated pages per hour. We generally provide the necessary subject software but all other tools and materials will be the responsibility of the independent contractor.

  • Technical Reviewer-Ultimately responsible for ensuring the manuscript is logical and accurate, the best candidate will be familiar with the overall subject matter and most effective teaching practices.
  • Quality Assurance Tester-This position does not include editorial responsibilities. A QA tester’s primary function will be to completely work through each exercise to guarantee every step is correct and in logical order. Precise attention to detail is vitally important for a QA tester.
  • Proofreader-A major component of the Labyrinth Learning editing team is our proofreader. They are responsible for reviewing each manuscript page to ensure correct placement of all required elements.
  • Copyeditor-We are seeking a detailed-oriented individual for our Copyeditor position. He or she will be tasked with reviewing each lesson for grammatical correctness, proper punctuation and accepted formatting.
  • Instructor Support Material Author-Our ISM Authors are responsible for creating new or updating existing support materials including PowerPoint presentations, test questions and assessment exercises.

To apply for any of the above positions please email a short cover letter along with your current CV or resume to editing@lablearning.com. In the subject line, include the position you are interested in.

typing

Easy Strategies to Increase Your Typing Speed

typing
Increase your typing speed with a few of these simple tips.

Have you been looking to improve your words-per-minute on the keyboard? Here are some quick and easy shortcuts on how to increase your typing speed:

  • Research has shown typing ability is broken down into 80 percent technique, 10 percent speed, and 10 percent accuracy.  Proper hand placement technique is vital for increasing typing speed.
  • Practice makes perfect when it comes to improving your typing skills. While practicing might not seem like a very quick strategy, as little as 30 minutes a day works wonders on increasing your speed.
  • Fast and accurate typing skills are based on muscle memory and just as when learning anything new, repetition is the best way to train those muscles.
  • Keep your eyes off the keyboard. This might be difficult at first, so try covering the keyboard or consider starting out with a blank keyboard until you build up your confidence.
  • Correct posture while sitting at the keyboard ensures your hands are resting in the proper position and reduces strain on your back and neck. This also keeps your energy levels up and allows you to type faster and without injury.
  • Realize your errors are great learning tools. While it is frustrating to make the same mistake over and over, keeping a positive mindset while working to correct the problem goes a long way in improving both speed and accuracy.

If you’re looking to update and improve your teaching style and curriculum, please feel free to contact us today at Labyrinth Learning for more information on everything we offer!

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Labyrinth Learning Provides Assessment Tools to Help High-Reaching Students

Education is changing rapidly due to technology for students and many bright teenagers would like to move quickly through the secondary school system. A new bill introduced in the Wisconsin legislature would allow middle school children to earn high school class credit, similar to the advanced placement programs in many states that allow high school students to take community college classes for credit.

Student Assessment Computer Software
Source: Shutter Stock

12 and 13-year old kids may be lacking in the essential computer skills needed to use word processing programs or spreadsheets. These programs are necessary in high school and college.  Labyrinth Learning has the resources to help bridge the gap between what students have learned and what they need to know and help them more easily excel in their new environment.

In addition middle school teachers need tools to evaluate computer technology skills and work with students as facilitators while students learn and improve their skills.  This facilitation will be made easier with technology for students that can be implemented in the classroom for these students who are excelling.

Labyrinth Learning has the necessary resources to bring young students and teachers together for a positive learning environment.

computer literacy

Add Symbols With Alt Codes

At the most basic level, computer literacy means being able to navigate universally utilized software programs, such as the Microsoft Office Suite, knowing how to type in a reasonably quick manner (QWERTY style preferred!), and understanding how to use printers, scanners, and other basic computer accessories. Then there are the tricks that take your computer literacy to the next level; adding symbols with Alt codes is one example.

In a basic computer course, students learn to insert codes by using the editor feature of the program, scrolling to “insert” and then selecting the code they want to use. This is fine for the very occasional code, but what about the symbols you use on a regular basis? Perhaps you’re writing about a product that is trademarked™, you work with products or scenarios that are temperature specific°, or you incorporate foreign words that use accent symbols to enhance their pronunciación. In these cases, the Alt codes are your most efficient choices.

Keyboard short cuts
Source: Stock Exchange

To insert an Alt code (on Macs, use the Option key), you simply place the cursor where you want the symbol to appear, and then press Alt+Number Code. Voila! The symbol, or letter with an accent, will appear.

Here are some common examples:

  • Alt+0153 = ™
  • Alt+0162 = ¢
  • Alt+0169 = ©
  • Alt+0177 = ±
  • Alt+0225 = á
  • Alt+0233 = é
  • Alt+0237 = í
  • Alt+0243 = ó
  • Alt+0250 = ú
  • Alt+0241 = ñ

Visit Labyrinth Learning to review textbooks that will enhance your students’ computer literacy.

Microsoft Office 2013

Discover Some of The Most Underused Features of Microsoft Office

While a single computer course can teach you the basics, seminars, additional training sessions, and advanced computer courses are the best way to break out of your routines and learn new tricks to enhance your performance.

To prove a point, we thought we’d share some of the most underused features of Microsoft Office 2013, compliments of TechRepublic.com.Microsoft Office 2013

  • Find a recent file. How many times have you saved a file one day, and then struggled to find it the next? The search feature can take forever, which contributes to the frustration. Instead, you can click on “File” and then select “Recent.” Voila! Your most recent saves will appear. This works in both Word and Excel.
  • Create your own templates. If you find you use the same format over and over again, it will save time if you simply create your own template. In older versions of Word, this was a bit complicated. The new Microsoft Office 2013 Suite has simplified the process. Click here to learn how to make easy templates of your own.
  • Quick Excel tables. If you use Microsoft Excel on a regular basis, you will save a good deal of time and energy by learning all you can about the table features. It is easy to transform a range of data into a table for easier data formulating and manipulation.

Maybe it’s time for you company to splurge on a Microsoft Office seminar for your trainers and employees. Contact Labyrinth Learning to discuss software options that will enhance employee performance.

 

Senior man working on laptop computer

Computer Literacy Essential for Job Seekers

Senior man working on laptop computerMany adult students take classes to improve computer literacy in an effort to boost their resume power. What many job seekers don’t realize is that, in most cases, you have to be computer literate just to find or apply for jobs.

With so much hiring being done through computers these days, computers have become a necessity when seeking employment. New applicants must have the skills necessary to send and reply to emails, create cover letters, and craft professional resumes to wow their potential employers.

Computer literacy courses are a growing field of study and many people are flocking to these courses in hopes of gaining the right skills to find a better job. Begin your computer literacy course with a proven lesson plan and training program like those available at Labyrinth Learning.

You’ll find software and training books in basic computing to teach students how to effectively use programs in the Microsoft Office suite such as Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint, all of which are used on a day-to-day basis in businesses around the country.
Contact the professionals at Labyrinth Leaning to help you determine the right products for your new class today.

Image: shutterstock.com