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Project Summary

Teachers of English Association of Kazakhstan (KazTEA) conducted the American English MOOC facilitation courses in 14 cities of the Republic of  Kazakhstan in November, 2019 - June, 2020. The project was sponsored by the Regional English Language Office, U.S. Embassy in Nur-Sultan

The courses aim to raise awareness of EFL teachers of MOOC program and its resources, to teach pre- and in-service EFL and STEM teachers and the general public how to participate effectively in MOOCs, popularize the online free Department of State American English resources by facilitating MOOCs and introducing American English resources at American Corners and Educational Institutions all over Kazakhstan, enhance English language levels and/or teaching strategies of participants through use of online training materials.

Courses:

English for Media Literacy, University of Pennsylvania

English for STEM, University of Pennsylvania

Partners:

'AE MOOC Facilitated Sessions' project was of success thanks to cooperation with American Corners in 10 cities, city and regional departments of education, National CPD Institution 'Orleu'  in Akmola Region, NIS in Atyrau, Kyzylorda State University named after Korkyt - Ata, Kokshetau State University named after Sh. Ualikhanov,  Yessenov University in Aktau, Taraz State University named after M Dulaty

'AE MOOC Facilitated Sessions' Project Report

Period: October 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020

Number of Program Beneficiaries/Participants: 374


1. Please provide a brief summary of the project. The Project involves three different sections within the U.S. Mission Kazakhstan: Regional English Language Office, Cultural Affairs Office and American Corners/Spaces. The grantee is the Kazakhstani Teachers’ Association (KazTEA). Project undergoes in 14 sites across Kazakhstan at 11 American Spaces and 5 Kazakhstani Educational Institutions. Project is based on American English MOOC resources to promote their application in English, Media Literacy and STEM teaching and learning.

2. Provide a detailed description of the progress made to-date toward the program’s objectives and outcomes. The activities you describe should correspond to the financial report.

Official letters on behalf of KazTEA were developed and emailed to the local Educational Departments in 4 cities. Local TEAs in 5 cities developed similar letters on their behalf to their Educational Departments with the request to share the information among school teachers and support participation of selected ones in future. Facilitators in Taraz, Kyzylorda and Kokshetau had meetings with Universities authorities to arrange the venue for their sessions based on the KazTEA request-letters to the Rectors.

The project coordinator developed an AE MOOC Facilitators in Kazakhstan page on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/moockzus/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Facilitators developed posters to allocate information on the project along with an application form with close and open questions on social media (WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook) and share among their contacts thanks to their previous experience in other teacher-related projects. Total amount of applicants for the period accounted for about 700. Facilitators conducted meetings in local pedagogical universities to share the goals and resources of the project.

In January at different times in 14 cities 16 facilitators started their face-to-face sessions within the English for Mass Media course on the basis of 11 American Corners and 5 educational institutions. Every group started with an orientation session that was targeted at technical issues, application procedure of financial aid and overview of the course. While planning a session facilitators considered the guidebook developed by O. Torubara in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in the Ukraine and project coordinator's  recommendations developed for every week, which were available at google disc. Face-to-face sessions were targeted at  practicing content-related vocabulary and grammar in interactive activities, group discussion  on issues raised within the course and projects developing. The most enjoyable part of the sessions was discussion of problem-solving and debate questions related to the themes of the courses 'English for Media Literacy'. Thanks to personalizing learning experience trainees got better understanding of biased media, as well as its types. Having observed and discussed various advertising strategies trainees managed to develop advertisings of their products and services in groups. Diversity was another topic for hot discussion. Trainees noted that gender related issues as well as ethnic minorities are the issues that are neglected in Kazakhstan media. A good example of it was the situation in Korday village that was referred to at the sessions as well.

In their feedbacks trainees pointed that the facilitated sessions were of importance for them in terms of professional development as well as with media literacy competence awareness and application. In terms of professional development most teachers experienced digital teaching tools for the first time. And more importantly, they applied these web-tools in their classes. Thanks to a great number of projects developed during facilitated sessions, the trainees enhanced their presentation and public speaking skills as well. STEM and EFL teachers affirms that  MOOC videos and tasks serve as a model for developing effective online tasks. According to their feedbacks the facilitated sessions were very informative and well structured.

In April 16 facilitators continued the 'English for STEM' course in online mode of training. Since computer and internet literacy skills of trainees was different at different locations as well as English proficiency, facilitators have chosen various web platforms to conduct online sessions. Thus, with low English language skills and computer ones the facilitator in Aktau has chosen Meet Google web platform having started with WhatsApp. Most of the groups conducted their sessions on Zoom platform, since this application was quite popular among teachers across Kazakhstan during online teaching period within the spring semester of the 2020-2021 school year. What is more, due to poor trainees' technical capacities they managed to install and operate with one application only on their smart phones mostly. Another group in Karaganda, where Higher Educational Institutions' teachers outnumbered secondary school ones, conducted their sessions on meet.jit.si platform, Edmodo and Gobrunch, collecting their resources on Trello and Padlet. The group in Atyrau worked successfully on Microsoft Teams as the facilitator had a good command of operating on the platform being a teacher at Nazarbayev Intellectual School, which had purchased the license much before the pandemia. Finally, having struggled with free subscription to the Zoom platform, facilitators had to restore the sessions every 40 minutes to run 2-hour sessions, the decision was made to purchase monthly subscription despite controversial information regarding Zoom security.

Having participated at Educational Technology course recommended by RELO facilitators applied Voice of America and TedED resources for reading and speaking, YouGlish platform for pronunciation, COCA for word learning.

Working in collaboration with the team of facilitators the project coordinator developed some tasks to every unit and uploaded them on the Google Classroom. These instructions with application of other web tools as Google suite, Kahoot, Quizlet, Socrative.com, Pollev.com , apart from those above assisted a lot to make the facilitated sessions more engaging, motivating for participants and of learning effect.

The project team demonstrated friendly and productive rapport There was good discussion and support on whatsapp group/email, each felt free to raise an issue or share her/his best practice. On the basis of gained experience during the project there was a webinar arranged for facilitators in April to share both tools employed and strategies to facilitate online sessions. Thus, facilitators shared a number of web tools to practice the language and learning strategies, like, Trello, Padlet, Movie Maker, Canva, Prezi,  COCA, Youglish.  Thanks to employing various resources like NASA Earth Observatory (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/global-maps) or University of Colorado simulation Platform https://phet.colorado.edu/_m/ trainees got better awareness of global issues and participated in rich discussion. The facilitator from Karaganda, whose group demonstrated regular attendance of online sessions and rich discussion, shared her approach of motivating participants: she inspired them to develop their own projects with application of various web-tools on the basis of the materials of the MOOCourse.  Thanks to application of tools as LearningApps (https://learningapps.org/watch?v=px8wbss8k20), Quizlet (https://quizlet.com/486088852/scientists-annual-physical-of-the-planet-earths-fever-rises-flash-cards/?x=1qqt), Buncee (https://app.edu.buncee.com/buncee/bfe08f3a2a7f4ae291638ead2aa176b5), Kahoot! (https://create.kahoot.it/share/english-media-literacy/4f0529cd-11fa-4af2-b71e-32958ed8e1a2), Movie Maker (https://youtu.be/OURz49OHddk), Active Presenter (https://youtu.be/dyXukUu8yX8), GoConq (https://www.goconqr.com/quiz/20887078/scientists-annual-physical-of-the-planet-earth-s-fever-rises) the group managed to create interactive and engaging rapport during the online sessions.

To enhance content competency during the sessions facilitators invited guest speakers: Kebir M.Jemal, who was undertaking  internship program at Gumilyov Eurasian National University  in the major of Architectural Construction, as well as Mark Dorr- U.S. Department of State Senior ESP Fellow. Thanks to their technical background knowledge and guided teaching the sessions turned to be even more informative in terms of up-to-date content and comprehensive explanation of some technical issues. Thanks to their information and thought - provoking questions participants rose their awareness in terms of global issues, such as recycling industry, green technologies, pollution affect on human well-being in developing countries.

Thanks to the online mode of training there was an opportunity for the project coordinator to join a good number of sessions. 5 sessions per week on average were observed with various groups in April- June. It was a good and encouraging experience for facilitators and participants. The former felt responsibility to prepare with even more dedication, the latter were quite ambitious to demonstrate their progress and support facilitator's efforts.

During the project as facilitators as participants took part in other events arranged on American English for Educators and RELO page. About 25% of trainees joined AE Live: Teacher Development Series 6-8 on Facebook and improved their interactive teaching skills in TEFL. They commented on some themes like 'Grammar Teaching Communicatively', 'Reading for Fun'.  More than 60% of them joined some other courses on AE MOOC platform, such as English for Career Development, English for Journalism. About 20% participated at the RELO webinar on Educational Technology. A bit more than 15% accessed the journal 'Forum'. About 20 % of participants and facilitators joined “HE Innovative webinar series: Online teaching and learning approaches session, “Real-time English for STEM” of the experienced Educator Mark Dorr on March 30, 2020. 12 teachers started MOOC course on TESOL (7 models).

3. Describe any challenges to implementing the program and how you have addressed or plan to address the issues faced. What lessons have you learned implementing the program that may be beneficial for other implementing partners or the Public Affairs Section to know?

Challenges occur due to technical issues and internet connectivity.  Kazakhstani internet companies were mishandling unprecedented internet traffic, which affected participation of some trainees, who failed to join some sessions at different places and different times. What is more, due to lockdown periods at universities under-and post-graduate students had to move to their rural areas with poor internet capacities. Thus, about 5% of students-participants had to drop the course. Another reason for teachers to quit the project was their workload. 3% of them felt overwhelmed during online teaching of their own classes at schools.

Another challenge relates to facilitators' competences in content. Due to low content knowledge in STEM as well as with Media Literacy before it was challenging for facilitators to support and guide discussion on the content related topics. Most facilitators limited their tasks with language and its aspects practicing. Thus, some trainees noted in their feedbacks that tasks should be more 'diverse not only vocabulary and tests'. However, STEM teachers as trainees assisted a lot with additional information and their own presentations related to renewable sources of energy and vertical farming making discussion more informative and rich in content and language.           

Although about 65% noted that they enjoyed working in breakout sessions and employ various web tools and platforms for practicing language and doing some projects, about 75% stated in their feedbacks that they prefer off-line training. It could be explained with low internet connectivity and feeling insecure due to web platforms vulnerability.

Due to technical issues facilitators had to plan fewer activities as they had to plan for technical/internet connection problems, as well as a slower pace of discussions, choosing quality over quantity – focusing on a few effective tasks and making the most of them

4. Provide success stories, photographs, or other documentation and multi-media to share with the GOR and GO to show the program’s progress and impact.

About 75% participants noted they learned many useful pedagogical ideas from the course: e.g strategies of making video lectures interactive and engaging, creating more student-centered activities - like individual and collaborative report/summary writing, group discussions, video presentations, etc.

All the trainees got acquainted with methodology of blended learning and writing instructions for online mode of training. About 65% of trainees got acquainted with Google suite and its applications as Google Form and Google Doc, about 10% with Canva.com, Prezi for presentations. As facilitators as trainees improved their technical skills About 30% of the project participants improved their skills in application of Google Classroom (Almaty, Aktobe, Atyrau), Padlet, Trello (https://trello.com/b/riqQyB8v) as the platforms for interactive classes. There was a huge breakthrough for secondary school teachers in their technical skills. Recording video and uploading it on social network (Facebook page) was of 'wow' effect for some of secondary school teachers.

In their feedbacks trainees pointed that the facilitated sessions were of importance for them in terms of doing tasks different from the Coursera platform and running discussion via breakout sessions. More than 2/3 trainees noted group discussion on reading and video materials of the course was of great help for them as well as discussion on vocabulary and in breakout sessions, which stated for about 60% and 45% accordingly. According to the feedbacks about 75% noted that they improved their English proficiency skills, more than 85% enhanced their STEM content related competencies. More than 2/3 improved their team-building skills and video meeting competences.

Project participants changed their behavior and awareness of global issues. Thus, a group in Shymkent joined the challenge #Stop Global Warming together and made the decision of planting a tree and reduce plastic use and be more concerned about waste sorting.

It should be noted that participation of student-teachers was diverse. Those who are from Southern regions dropped the course since they had to move to their villages with poor internet connection. However, those from urban areas got inspired with online learning and 18 of them (Karaganda) subscribed for “Teach English Now! Technology Enriched Teaching” and created their own educational websites with online lessons and presentations in Canva. Others applied the Media Literacy materials during their teaching practicum held online.

The short-term impact of the project involves embedding materials into training programs at educational institutions for high school and university students. About 45% of participants, who are STEM teachers at tertiary schools and universities, will embed the materials of the course into their classes of biology and IT, e.g. at Yessenov University (Aktau) , Karaganda State Technical University and School-Gymnasium #45 (Karaganda), Eastern-Kazakhstan  State University/ School of Engineering and IT, Eastern-Kazakhstan State Technical University, Kazakhstan-American Free University (Ust-Kamenogorsk), International Information Technology University (Almaty), Almaty Management University.

English for ML and English for Journalism courses will be introduced into the training program at Zhubanov University (Aktobe) for -pre-service teachers in EFL. All the facilitators and about 30% of trainees- EFL teachers will embed English for STEM at “English for specific purposes” course for students of non-language specialties, e.g. at 7 training programs at Karaganda State Technical University. For EFL student-teachers this course materials will be introduced at diverse courses as well, e.g. at professional English (Zhubanov University, Aktobe; Ablay-Khan University, Almaty),  intercultural communication (“Bolashaq” Academy, Karaganda; Ablay-Khan University International Relations and World  Languages, Almaty) , stylistics, basic course in English (Zhubanov University, Aktobe).

There are some follow-up events took place as the short-term impact as well. 2 Facilitators (Roza Zhussupova, Damira Zhantassova) and 1 trainee (Galiya Nurmukanbetova) shared their experience on AE MOOC Facilitated Sessions at online conferences at their own institutions, at L.Gumiloyv National University (Nur-Sultan), Karaganda State Technical University and  Ablay-Khan University of International Relations and World  Languages in Almaty.  Danial Saari , Head of the Political Studies Center , School of Public Policy and Law at Almaty Management University, Galiya Nurmukhanbetova PhD in Biology (International Information Technology University) are on the way of writing a research paper on online learning/education issues with two more researchers Aigul Adibayeva from KIMEp University and Piotr Koscinski from Vistula University, which they plan to publish in a peer reviewed journal.

The instructions developed within the project were presented at KazTEA webinar series 'Cognitive Skills via Web 2.0' which were hosted by 4 facilitators at different times and attended by 70 EFL teachers of different levels and regions. What is more, data collected from feedback on Google form, video recordings of Zoom sessions is valuable for writing a valid research paper regarding technical capacities and competences of EFL and STEM teachers for online and blended teaching in Kazakhstan as well as impact of AE MOOCs on EFL and STEM teachers' competences in English progress and content areas. Having discussed with KazTEA board members these papers are going to be prepared for publication at reviewed journal as well with presentation of them at the annual KazTEA conference in 2021.  

There are some recommendations done by trainees. Those who are with STEM background and decent English knowledge (4%) noted that information on recycle industry or nanotechnology in industry as well as more about application of physics could be added to the content area. Some trainees who are keen on research (8%) stated that information re APA style of citation should be updated according to the latest requirements.

The most noted achievement is that 4 facilitators in cooperation with RELO John Silver and English Language Coordinator at American Council - Benjamin Taylor submitted 2 proposals for TESOL 2021 based on their training experience in terms of engaging learning at AE MOOC facilitated sessions and digital competency development on the basis of AE MOOCs.

Most of the sessions and video of participants in the form of feedback are published on social media both the MOOC Facilitators Group Kazakhstan and their personal pages.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/834481146988513/?source_id=108535407274526

Links to the Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/groups/834481146988513/permalink/958214747948485/ - project

work , Aktobe group

https://www.facebook.com/moockzus/videos/958699701217134/ - project work, Almaty

https://kargoo.gov.kz/blogs/view/25/142864  English for Academic Purposes at Karaganda Gymnasium No.45

https://www.canva.com/design/DAD4yDnNeFA/La27zs9pDWC7vqvHRnikog/view?utm_content=DAD4yDnNeFA&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link&utm_source=publishsharelink  - lesson developed by a 2-year student-teacher (Yermek Tolganay) at 'Bolahsak' Academy

Project Vertical Farming and Indoor Hydroponics

https://www.facebook.com/moockzus/photos/gm.929778564125437/171880857606647/?type=3&av=108535407274526&eav=AfYVGi-BHi7ZCdBJukamqwboG2pGqEk5yAJO_F4iSnkW19IGbzrcdKng0FIY8UCC5Lc&theater&ifg=1

Conducting experiments at home on Global Warming

https://www.facebook.com/moockzus/photos/gm.915772408859386/165857091542357/?type=3&av=108535407274526&eav=AfYkRgb4IepTQo-BU0ABsPydVVX4HOG6IPpseI4bPQKKN3kqse0m3s6rMZUp1etFe1w&theater&ifg=1

TV news on Qyayljar - Petropavlovsk

http://petropavltv.kz/ru/news/education/dlya-uluchsheniya-urovnya-vladeniya-angliiskim-yazykom?fbclid=IwAR0BwpNOpG0ZkISV3aDbdcv2f3EqhQ7bn2ZNhQe4gfn0b8W5yfsusu50OtE

National CPD Institution 'Orleu' support of the project in Kokshetau

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1820848751378852&id=100003612356647

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Kazakhstan

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