In traditional face-to-face classrooms, teachers have textbooks and manuals to assist them in planning their daily lessons. There’s also a wealth of resources, painstakingly created by themselves and their colleagues, to supplement and enrich the basic curriculum. Online resources, on the other hand, are not usually as abundant or well-curated, and teachers often have to scramble to assemble materials for their remote or asynchronous lessons.
It’s long been known that the time teachers spend in front of their learners represents but a fraction of the total effort expended in ensuring a quality education. Instructional designers, people whose job it is to create online learning content, report that it takes 73–154 hours to develop a single hour of online training. If nothing else, this figure should put into perspective the immense challenge faced by teachers required to do most or all of their lessons online.
Thankfully there are a lot of resources available to help teachers cut down the time required to produce their online content: LMSs, templates, sharing hubs, etc. One such resource is ZenGengo, which is available as a monthly or yearly subscription.
For the remainder of this post, we will guide you through the process of creating an entire online lesson in less than 15 minutes. Here’s how to do it…
Find a suitable text to form the basis of your lesson. Any topic from the curriculum will do. There are no hard and fast rules about the length of the text, but we recommend something between 100 and 500 words. Obviously this decision will depend on the type of learner. Young students or those who are not native speakers will do better with shorter texts. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to choose a short piece about Harriet Tubman that I adapted from Simple English Wikipedia.
The lesson I’m creating will consist of five different ZenGengo assignment types: Text To Test, Text Gap Fill, Multiple Choice, Speaking Drill and Written Report.
The Text To Test assignment is the fastest way for teachers to create reading, vocabulary and grammar tasks for their students. Text-to-Speech provides a model reading with colored highlighting of the current sentence. (Note: text may also be hidden to create challenging listening activities). Students then study selected words in context before moving onto vocabulary matching and word ordering tasks.
To create a Text To Test assignment, we simply paste our text about Harriet Tubman into the input area and select our preferred Text-to-Speech voice. After that, we simply choose the words and sentences that will make up the parts of the activity. To view our Harriet Tubman Text To Test assignment, click here.
The Text Gap Fill assignment makes it simple for teachers to quickly create cloze activities from any piece of text. It’s as easy as cutting and pasting a passage then choosing which words to remove. By selecting the Text-to-Speech checkbox, ordinary gap fills are transformed into listening activities, which are ideal for language learners. To avoid the issue of scrolling on small devices, longer texts may be broken into individual gap fill questions.
Paste the same text into the input area, choose a Test-to-Speech voice if desired, and select the words to remove from the text. To try out our Text Gap Fill assignment, click here.
The Multi Choice assignment enables teachers to create tests and quizzes to check the learners’ understanding of a text, audio or video, or other resource. Media prompts can be uploaded or recorded directly in the work area, saving teachers time and giving students access to authentic material. ZenGengo’s Text -to-Speech function turns written multiple choice questions into a challenging listening task. In addition to standard multiple choice questions, it is also possible to create ordering and categorization type questions.
In creating this Multi Choice assignment we added the Harriet Tubman text as a rich-text-format document that the students can refer to while answering the questions. In addition to the multiple choice questions, we created an ordering question based on prominent events from Tubman’s life. To view our Harriet Tubman Multi Choice assignment, click here.
The Speaking Drill assignment uses AI-powered speech recognition to match the learner’s speech to a series of phrases or sentences from the text. With instant feedback, learners are able to see which words they have spoken correctly, and which they have not. Learners can listen to a model pronunciation before attempting to speak themselves. The teacher can also create word ordering tasks, where students must speak the scrambled words in the correct order.
As with the other assignment types, our Speaking Drill activity was created by selecting lines from the Harriet Tubman text and cutting and pasting them into the question area. Click here to try it out.
The Written Report assignment enables teachers to collect and grade written work from their students. Submissions can be timed, which makes the Written Report assignment suitable for testing situations. To help prevent cheating, teachers have the option of disabling copy and paste within the text input area. Written Report assignments can be manually graded by the teacher or auto graded by ZenGengo. Audio, video and text feedback are also available.
Written Report provides an opportunity for learners to deal with the subject matter of the lesson more deeply or personally by responding to questions or prompts from the teacher. Our example does not use the original Harriet Tubman text (though it could be added as a rich-text-format document for students to refer to). To try our Harriet Tubman Written Report assignment, click here.
So there you have it, an entire online lesson created from one text in about 15 minutes. The best part about making lessons this way is that it’s effective and enjoyable for the students without requiring hours of effort from the teacher. It’s also important to remember that all ZenGengo assignments are able to be auto-graded, so there’s no extra time required of the teacher after the lesson has been given. To see the results, just open the ZenGengo grade book. For more information on ZenGengo assignment types, visit our video showcase.