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Author Topic: Electronic distribution of texts in class  (Read 6346 times)

Calach Pfeffer

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Electronic distribution of texts in class
« on: June 19, 2015, 12:51:15 AM »
Ideally you have a textbook and everything's in there. Or if you have several paragraphs of text you need everyone to read and it's not in the textbook, there's always the photocopy option. But for my situation next semester that's going to mean maybe thirty pages of photocopying each week. So then I look out over my classes these days and notice everyone has a phone or a tablet...

Normal practice for me is to whip up some basic article-style half page - text plus a picture - then make lots of photocopies. I cut up the photocopies, one complete text plus a picture per cutting. These I had out. Sometimes, if I'm being cheap, and teaching the same content in different classes, I'll ask for the papers back at the end of class. Otherwise, the students keep the paper. They make notes. They underline as they read. They pull out their phones for word meaning checks. Etc. I would prefer not to have to do all that next semester but I wonder if electronic texts will work as well as paper in class.

Has anyone tried electronic texts in class?

What formats work best? Word, PDF?

What delivery system? Website, social media groups, everyone copies from the machine at the front of class?


Basically, for teaching, does electronic work as well as paper?

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Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2015, 02:20:12 AM »
One reason I'm thinking about this is students' actual practice. This last semester there was a textbook, and each week there was a text to work on in class, but each week fewer and fewer students would bring the actual textbook to class. Instead, they'd lean over to someone who did have the book and say "pai yi sha". Someone would then hover their phone over the textbook, at about eye height, it was funny watching them try to manage the focus while sitting down, and take a snap. They'd send the pic to everyone else in the class and viola, everyone has the text. They seemed okay with using their screens to do the reading.

Incidental side note: sophomores have smaller phones than juniors. Sophomores also more often bring their textbooks to class.

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rattie

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2015, 05:24:14 AM »
I really hope someone who has done this replies with respect to the efficacy of this idea.

I was hoping to to have my classes, 40 in each class, read and discuss certain points in a story of 12 pages, for their last class of semester - Eeyore has a Birthday - making copies would be ridiculous, having someone read it out loud equally so, I was trying to photograph the book myself and make it fit onto ppt slides, nightmarish, and besides the shortsighted ones that won't wear glasses wouldn't be able to read it on the Big Screen. They take photos of ppts with their phones and say reading on their phone is easier.

Bulk phone mail yeah!
Rx

old34

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2015, 08:24:49 AM »
I use QQ groups a lot for my classes. have someone in the class set up  QQ Group for the class, invite you to join, and they can distribute the QQ Group number to the rest of the class so they can join. The QQ group will have an upload area where files, Word docs, PDFs, video, PPTs, etc. can be uploaded. You access the area from the QQ app on your computer and click the icon at the top right of the app that looks like a folder with an arrow inside pointing up. That kicks you over to your browser and should log you into the QQ Groups website from which you can upload a file from your computer (like the ones previously mentioned) into the QQ group's file area. Students will get a QQ message that a file has been uploaded, and they can go to the Group and download the file either on their computer or onto their phone from the QQ phone app. Currently a group gets 2GB of disk space so lots of room for uploads.

I'm currently handling 3 groups of Chinese teacher trainees, each with a QQ group and we're passing around a lot of stuff including documents, PPTs, video and audio clips. Very efficient.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2015, 08:59:00 AM »
Does one need a QQ number?


Another aspect I'm concerned about is, I guess, showmanship. My practice to date has always been to make the text a surprise. I use a standard ppt slide with a picture and a title to introduce the segment, and this I follow with some large image, often these days with moving parts that allow some narrative to be generated. This is used to introduce the text, which is then handed out. In theory, I'm creating interest.

I suppose I could rely on the likely fact that few students will voluntarily read the text ahead of time.

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old34

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2015, 12:21:39 PM »
Does one need a QQ number?


Another aspect I'm concerned about is, I guess, showmanship. My practice to date has always been to make the text a surprise. I use a standard ppt slide with a picture and a title to introduce the segment, and this I follow with some large image, often these days with moving parts that allow some narrative to be generated. This is used to introduce the text, which is then handed out. In theory, I'm creating interest.

I suppose I could rely on the likely fact that few students will voluntarily read the text ahead of time.

Yes you need a QQ number. (I got mine about 14 years ago and it only has 8 digits and the students "ooh and ah" when I give it to them. FWIW. And in fact it's worth something as one of them told me last month...I could sell my 8 digit number on Taobao, she told me, because it's "valuable". Chinese and numbers and value/worth. the endless cultural stream here. But I've digressed.)

Back on topic: I also don't like to pre-supply the content of my lesson, unless I feel it necessary...like an article I want them to read in prep. for the next class. Then they can download it or save it to their phones or go to the printshop with the file on their USB and get their own damn printing done, thank you very much. However they prefer their media delivered and displayed, I leave it up to them now. Every student has QQ on their 'puters and smartphones so every student will join whatever QQ Group you have set up for them. 100% coverage of the class.

I usually upload the good stuff (copies of PPts, etc. after I've delivered the lesson, which, during the lesson, I tell them I will do so as to limit the photo-snapping of slides during the lesson.

An unmentioned benefit of QQ here (yet) is that I use it to transfer large files between myself and others. I write some training manuals which I save in PDF format and need to transfer to other trainers or the Home office" for printing and we all rely on QQ File transfer for large file transfers. In the QQ App you click on a person's name in your contact list and then click the icon that looks like a folder with a sideways arrow. A box pops up giving you a choice whether that person is currently online, or not. One of the options is "Send Offline". Always choose that. Then choose the file you want to send, and quicker than you can say "Bob's your uncle" 5 times, the file will be uploaded to the QQ servers and the next time that person logs in, they'll get a message that there's a file waiting for them. They click it and quicker than they can say "Bob's your uncle" 3 times, they've downloaded the file. It's all just that easy.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2015, 12:41:18 PM »
Not to sound churlish, but do you know if there are Weixin equivalents? Latest platform and all that. And in either case, does one end up with a lot of "hello teacher ,can we friends ? ><"" messaging?

But platform choices aside, electronic texts work out okay in class? Are there any constraints in, say, formatting the materials that apply? Are there any, I don't know, students pining for the texture and smell of cheap photocopy paper?

That thing students do where they underline as they read on paper - does that actually have any utility? Do they miss it on e-texts?

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old34

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2015, 01:03:53 PM »
Does one need a QQ number?

Yes. That's why you have a student set it up...so they get all the Join messages. Plus you have to have a certain number of QQ status posts (stars and moons and whatnot to be able to create  new group...one amongst them will have that, and be happy that you delegated them that duty


Another aspect I'm concerned about is, I guess, showmanship. My practice to date has always been to make the text a surprise. I use a standard ppt slide with a picture and a title to introduce the segment, and this I follow with some large image, often these days with moving parts that allow some narrative to be generated. This is used to introduce the text, which is then handed out. In theory, I'm creating interest.

I suppose I could rely on the likely fact that few students will voluntarily read the text ahead of time.

Yes you need a QQ number. (I got mine about 14 years ago and it only has 8 digits and the students "ooh and ah" when I give it to them. FWIW. And in fact it's worth something as one of them told me last month...I could sell my 8 digit number on Taobao, she told me, because it's "valuable". Chinese and numbers and value/worth. the endless cultural stream here. But I've digressed.)

Back on topic: I also don't like to pre-supply the content of my lesson, unless I feel it necessary...like an article I want them to read in prep. for the next class. Then they can download it or save it to their phones or go to the printshop with the file on their USB and get their own damn printing done, thank you very much. However they prefer their media delivered and displayed, I leave it up to them now. Every student has QQ on their 'puters and smartphones so every student will join whatever QQ Group you have set up for them. 100% coverage of the class.

I usually upload the good stuff (copies of PPts, etc. after I've delivered the lesson, which, during the lesson, I tell them I will do so as to limit the photo-snapping of slides during the lesson.

An unmentioned benefit of QQ here (yet) is that I use it to transfer large files between myself and others. I write some training manuals which I save in PDF format and need to transfer to other trainers or the Home office" for printing and we all rely on QQ File transfer for large file transfers. In the QQ App you click on a person's name in your contact list and then click the icon that looks like a folder with a sideways arrow. A box pops up giving you a choice whether that person is currently online, or not. One of the options is "Send Offline". Always choose that. Then choose the file you want to send, and quicker than you can say "Bob's your uncle" 5 times, the file will be uploaded to the QQ servers and the next time that person logs in, they'll get a message that there's a file waiting for them. They click it and quicker than they can say "Bob's your uncle" 3 times, they've downloaded the file. It's all just that easy.

But platform choices aside, electronic texts work out okay in class? Are there any constraints in, say, formatting the materials that apply? Are there any, I don't know, students pining for the texture and smell of cheap photocopy paper? You upload the stuff in whatever format you decide (*doc or *docx or PDF)

 
Quote
Are there any constraints in, say, formatting the materials that apply? Are there any, I don't know, students pining for the texture and smell of cheap photocopy paper? }Are there any constraints in, say, formatting the materials that apply? Are there any, I don't know, students pining for the texture and smell of cheap photocopy paper? [/quote}

Whatever format you upload them in is what they get. How they want to read, use, print or even smell it is entirely up to them
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

old34

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2015, 01:25:17 PM »
Quote
Are there any constraints in, say, formatting the materials that apply? Are there any, I don't know, students pining for the texture and smell of cheap photocopy paper? }Are there any constraints in, say, formatting the materials that apply? Are there any, I don't know, students pining for the texture and smell of cheap photocopy paper? [/quote}

I run on Mac OS X and iOS exclusively. Both have built-in PDF reading-ability built-in.  Their built-in apps ( Pages, Keynote and Numbers) are all, both able to convert and read (respectively)
MS Office Word,  Powerpoint and Excel files, as well as Exporting to those formats, as well as PDF.  since no one here (yet) uses those Apple formats, I convert my work product to .docx, or pptx, or xlsx or PDF before I upload them to the QQ group folder.  takes two mouse clicks to accomplish this from within the Mac. and no one has ever complained that they couldn't read the file. It just works, and has worked well for me and my classes and students.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2015, 01:05:04 AM »
Does one need a QQ number?

Yes. That's why you have a student set it up...so they get all the Join messages. Plus you have to have a certain number of QQ status posts (stars and moons and whatnot to be able to create  new group...one amongst them will have that, and be happy that you delegated them that duty

Quote
Are there any constraints in, say, formatting the materials that apply? Are there any, I don't know, students pining for the texture and smell of cheap photocopy paper?

I run on Mac OS X and iOS exclusively. Both have built-in PDF reading-ability built-in.  Their built-in apps ( Pages, Keynote and Numbers) are all, both able to convert and read (respectively)

MS Office Word,  Powerpoint and Excel files, as well as Exporting to those formats, as well as PDF.  since no one here (yet) uses those Apple formats, I convert my work product to .docx, or pptx, or xlsx or PDF before I upload them to the QQ group folder.  takes two mouse clicks to accomplish this from within the Mac. and no one has ever complained that they couldn't read the file. It just works, and has worked well for me and my classes and students.

Okey doke. Sounds good. I shall now contemplate on whether or not I can support the technological overhead. I had the same problem with the Edmodo experiment a year or so back. It was a great idea, but, seems to me, because there was very little I was actually using the technology for, it turned out more complicated than just handing out paper.

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old34

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2015, 08:46:57 AM »

Okey doke. Sounds good. I shall now contemplate on whether or not I can support the technological overhead. I had the same problem with the Edmodo experiment a year or so back. It was a great idea, but, seems to me, because there was very little I was actually using the technology for, it turned out more complicated than just handing out paper.

I was an early adopter of Edmodo, and even recommended it here in the Teacher Tips sub-forum. I still like it, but admit it does have a steep learning curve. But I've abandoned using it for my classes in favor of QQ groups primarily because it's difficult to get all students to sign up and use it on a regular basis. and even though there is an Edmodo app for smartphones, that's an extra step Ss have to take, whereas QQ apps and registrations are all but ubiquitous here in China with a 99.9% adoption rate and installed base, so it's just easier for them to manage and use.

I now use QQ groups exclusively for distributing class content and for communicating to and with a  class.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

latefordinner

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2015, 03:23:08 PM »
Thanks for starting this thread. It hooks onto a difficulty I've been having, getting Ss to do even elementary prep for classes. I want to talk with some of my Chinese colleagues, pick their brains, but I've a strong hunch I'm going to try to go the QQ route next semester. This despite the fact that I distrust social media. But if I can get it to work for me, to achieve the desired outcomes, why not?

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2015, 08:10:49 AM »
So I have wechat ids for the monitors of the various classes I'm teaching this semester. The plan is I send them documents before class and they distribute them in whatever way they choose. (I haven't tested this yet, but I'm led to believe I can send files to a wechat contact provided I use the web wechat interface to do it.)

Now, there'll be a few students with tablets in the classes, but most will be using smartphones. In my experience, by third year students in university have or have access to relatively large screen smartphones. But these guys are newly minted and they may still be clinging to their dinky sophomore phones.

But anyway, begs the questions: what's a good e-text format?

I'll assume they can probably handle common document forms - word document, pdf, plain text, html. But if I want readability and pretty pictures for interest and discussion, what size document and what format? Anyone have experiences, good or bad?

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old34

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2015, 08:49:18 AM »
I've been using a combination of WeChat and QQ groups for the last 8 months. I teach groups of Chinese English teaches who will go abroad for further training. We have them for one month before they go. A new group comes through about every three weeks, so there's some overlap.

Each new group sets up both a WeChat group and a QQ group. We use both for messaging, but the QQ group primarily for file transfers and uploading study materials to the QQ group library which each group automatically gets when it's set up. Most trainees access both QQ and WeChat primarily through their smartphones. I don't know anyone who accesses WeChat through the web. I never knew there was a file transfer function in WeChat and certainly not through the phone App. AKAIK you can only send and receive audio and picture files through the WeChat phone app. The QQ phone app CAN download uploaded files directly to the device.

I go to QQ through my Mac app (English version), log in, find the group and there is a small "Share" icon. click on that and it opens the web browser and takes you to the group's page. That part's all in Chinese-but primarily icon-driven so it's esay to figure out. Click the file icon and see a list of files in the library. Click the "+" button (Add file) and Window pops up showing the files on your hard drive. Find the file you want to upload and click it. The file name appears in the box. Enter the Capcha code and click the upload button (上)and the upload begins. It's usually pretty fast.

When it's finished a checkmark appears and you'll see the file now in the group files list. Everyone in the group will get a message on their phone that a file has been uploaded and they can go through their phone app directly to the group. It will show the file and type. They just click it and it downloads to their phone. No need for them to go through a browser to access it.

This workflow seems much simpler than attempting a file transfer through WeChat as I'm still not sure there's a way for them to access the file through their phone. And you can handle the upload to QQ yourself once you've been added as a member to the group. Everyone will be notified automatically. No need to rely on the monitors to distribute your materials.

Just a recommendation from someone who's been there-done that.

In brief: use WeChat for messaging and QQ for file transfers.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Electronic distribution of texts in class
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2015, 09:21:06 AM »
Okay fine, I'll bite the damn qq bullet...

1. get QQ International for computer & a QQ number for me
2. for each new group of students, have a representative student set up a QQ group
3. get invited to that group
4. log in, upload texts, log out
5. profit.

That's the process in a nutshell?


What I'd like on top of that is a document format that works with the limitations of a small screen. Ideally, I'd like it to render like those minimal webpages you see in webview inside apps. No bells, nor whistles - just text and a picture. I can cope with dumping docx on them, but if there were some format that required less swiping....


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