The big advantage of online meeting programs, like Webex, Teams, Starleaf etc. is the ability to share files. When you are only using the phone, you can just have your computer running in the background and go to web pages together if there is anything online you would like to look at or read together. We did something similar in a little private group when we played cards together online. We had a Teams meeting running for face-to-face contact and played the card game via an app on our smart phones. It was unexpectedly enjoyable. (And the cards didn’t become greasy.)
For the purpose of sharing things with my groups, I am using my blog as a tool, listing those pages I would like to share so that I have them all in one place. I will not add those pages or links I have already set up in earlier posts like for instance Working from Home in my post on home office.
Update November 3: In the mean time, Teams meetings are working out pretty well. I had some severe connection problems a few weeks ago. It took a while to figure out the reasons and we still believe it were various things. I bought a new computer, a tower (haven’t done that in ages) and had my internet connection changed to a higher speed.
When the connection is good and communication and sharing work just fine, I find the experience quite satisfactory. I hope my course participants do too.
Brief summary: the VERB + ing form can cause a lot of confusion when analysed. First of all we are familiar with this form as part of the verb structure commonly know as continuous or progressive like in
We are talking about the continuous form in class at the moment.
Here, structurally, the VERB + ing is combined with a form of the auxiliary verb BE. Whereas the auxiliary BE takes on all the grammatical ‘work’, the VERB + ing never changes. In traditional grammar terminology it is called a participle, the ing participle or ‘present’ participle. The confusion arises, I believe, from the various semantical functions this participle – the form VERB + ing – can take.
This speech will surely be listed among those historical speeches that made a difference.
Also see Joe Biden‘s full speech here
We are in week 13 of Corona. I had to go into my calendar and count. Ever since Germany started with loosening the quarantine measures, life has become a little more restless again. As one writer said: going into ‘Corona’ was easy, getting out again way more complicated.
Our local sportsclub has been opening up gradually. The individual sports departments had to hand in concepts how to uphold the corona regulations and outdoor sports could commence. Thus, I’m back on the tennis courts, even though I didn’t miss it during the total shutdown. We went for long walks instead behind our village. On the weekends we explored the hills and forests of our regions in a radius of 30 kilometers – and were quite amazed at what we found.
But, to tell the truth, it was good to meet more people and friends again. And I must admit, the last two weeks I was on our sports ground almost every day. (The sports pub was also allowed to open under strict hygiene rules 😉
I believe this will be one of the topics of the coming weeks. The past weeks we have been talking about what the current situation is like for us. Most of my English class participants are in home office, so we talked about what that is like for us. I documented my own gradual development into doing my classes online over the weeks with the ups and downs, and adjustments.
Turns out, many of my students are not unhappy with working from home and say they will try to keep a higher amount of work time spent in home office after the corona situtation.
One of the interesting questions for me in this connection was and is WHY many of us – among those privileged to carry on earning money doing home office – are partly even happier than they were before. We’ve had some very open exchanges on this question, which touched upon what will, might be or stay different after the corona shutdowns/lockdowns on the one hand, but also relate to and question aspects of the lives we led or lead or have been leading (I’m not totally sure of my verb structure choice here).
In the mean time, and after what felt like ages, our online meetings are beginning to be quite okay. My tolerance level for technical problems really degraded after five weeks, but in week six things looked a little brighter and I feel a little less overwhelmed, a little more confident and actually quite happy with some of our sessions.
I must thank my group members, who were so patient and helpful in making our online meetings worthwhile. I also feel that there are some advantages to meeting this way. People seem more attentive, more concentrated and focussed on listening. And listening is significantly important to the language learning/development process. Of course, I have no idea what those are doing who slip out of the picture as most progammes allow only a limited number of videos to appear on the screen. But in times like these it is important to trust.
In week five I have been mainly concerned with listing useful lesson links in the post below. The emotional side of things is best described as a roller coaster ride. The weather outside is really nice, if a little dry. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and the only really disturbing thing these days are motor bikes.
Most people I speak to agree on two things concerning what they miss most and what they find best about our new way of life these days. What people miss most, of course, are other people, especially those they feel close to like relatives and best friends. After seeing colleagues only online for five weeks now, if seeing them at all, as the video function is the first to go if the connection is bad, people long to meet again in person.
My fourth week of having to stay at home. If this continues much longer, I will have to come up with different headlines for my posts – it’s becoming a little repetitive.
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in a friends’ garden (without my friends, we are still social distancing), realizing that I was beginning to lose my sense of time; how many weeks have passed now again? I wasn’t sure. However, I did remember that we are in the Easter week. Unless you consider next week to be the Easter week. Actually, it’s just a prolonged weekend and I am babbling.
The weather is wonderful and this week feels a little like a real vacation, despite the situation.
I had just a few meetings and phone calls. And the corona related pictures and videos are gradually being replaced by Easter greetings. However, yesterday I was sent a video that was new to me. (Turned out, when I passed it on, several already knew of it, but enjoyed watching it again anyhow.)
There are many webpages dealing with this topic. Especially now, as working from home has so suddenly become a new situation for so many people, the topic has gained some urgency.
For teachers, a considerable part of our job is done at home – preparing classes, reading, researching etc. – so having a home office and working at home is not totally new for us. But now it has gained a different quality in its exclusivity. I have never spent so many hours sitting at my desk in front of my computer. In the beginning, I didn’t even realize how many hours straight I had been spending at my desk trying to figure things out – see below 😉
It’s the end of week three. I am beginning to get the hang of this online teaching thing. Ideas are popping up and there are great webpages, ESL/EFL and others to be used. Onestopenglish lessons, for instance, are downloadable as PDF files and can be shared. Another page is BreakingNews.com where you can also download and save lessons as PDF files for sharing in your online lesson/meeting.
The sharing is not as complicated as I thought in the beginning – once you understand a few things about the respective programme you are using. (So far I have only been using Cisco Webex.)
There are a few little but essential things you just have to know and follow for everything to work smoothly.
I can’t really believe we are only in the second week. I’m not sure who WE all are, but definitely me and my freelance language teaching colleagues and everyone else who has been shut out of their companies or places they used to go to for work.
I’m trying to keep up my academic, observational approach to the whole situation, but I must admit, it is becoming harder. Already. The measures are supposed to last until end of April, we haven’t even reached the end of March.
In the New York Times, and other similar locations, more and more articles are popping up trying to encourage people. Groups willing to help others in need are coming together. Many, many initiatives that give hope that the world indeed might be a different place after Corona. At least for a time. Even the most conservative of politicians (Wolfgang Schäuble last night) are uttering sentiments like that and I’m sure glad to be in Germany in these times and not in the US – or the UK.