Six things to know about an e-workbook

Well everyone it’s that time again on Six Things when I give a little commercial for Global. OK, actually a big commercial for Global. I’ve been quiet about it for six months (on this blog at least). But I had promised (threatened?) to tell you about the digital component of the course in a little more detail and now I can. Here are six features of the much talked-about e-workbook, the latest in self-study from my course Global.

1 It’s not a simple CDROM.

The e-workbook comes on a disc, it’s true. But it is unlike the recent CDROMs in a few different ways. First of all, it isn’t stuck in some little plastic envelope and glued to the back of the student’s book. We’ve found that many students don’t even touch those CDROMs, or they end up on the floor. Teachers don’t bother to show students how they work. So a little improvement has been to give the e-workbook an A4 pamphlet of its own complete with screen shots and explanations of how to use it. Like a technical manual. Also, you install the e-workbook on a computer and activate it (with an activation code). You don’t need the disc any more after that.

2 It allows different ways of working.

The e-workbook contains of course lots of interactive exercises for grammar, vocabulary, listening, reading, writing, pronunciation the lot. But we realised that not everybody wants to work on the computer all the time. So all the language practice activities are also available as downloadable pdfs, with corresponding audio files. Which means you can print and work. These pdfs aren’t screenshots, they are in fact a complete printed workbook with artwork and proper layout etc. There are more than 100 interactive activities and 80 pages of printable worksheets.

3 It has lots of extra audio, JUST audio

When I was learning German, I desperately wanted to be able to JUST LISTEN to things in German. Basically hear the words, the phrases and perhaps short little conversations. “Doing” listening exercises was helpful, but I didn’t want to do that all the time when I studied. So in the e-workbook we’ve put both. There are plenty of listening exercises (true/false, matching etc) but there are also a whole bunch of files of “just listening”. These include: word lists by category, useful phrases by function, mini conversations (to put words and phrases into context) and extracts from the literature in the book read aloud in an audiobook format. All of these have a feature that allows you to read the text on screen, with the words being highlighted as you read and listen.

4 It has an impressive video offering

We wanted to include video on the e-workbook as well. Lots of ELT video is… how to say… a bit crap. The settings look unreal, the production cost is not so high and it shows. So we decided to save on that budget and instead get great actors and a great writer to do very simple, almost improv theatre-like videos. Here’s an example of one below:

The video material for these was written by the extremely talented Robert Campbell, known for his great magazine iT’s for Teachers (check it out!). But that’s only HALF of the video material. The other half is the authentic material. For this it was like a dream come true: we managed to get the full backlist video archive of the BBC documentaries to choose from. So there is some incredibly good material on there. I’d include one here but we aren’t allowed to display them on the internet!

So in total there are 20 videos on the e-workbook. They are all short clips. Each video comes with a worksheet with comprehension and language activities for the student to do if he/she wants to. An additional bonus is that the teacher has the same 20 videos he/she can use in class, along with an extra 10 clips from the BBC (that follow on from the original documentary clips)

5 It supports mobile learning

Here’s the best part. All the video and audio can be downloaded and put onto any portable music or video playing device: an MP4 player, an ipod/pad/phone or any phone which supports audio and video files. So students can practice their English anywhere, at any time.

6 It has testing and reference tools

If all that wasn’t enough, there is a self-test machine that generates grammar and vocabulary mini tests (the student can choose a number of questions, or take a timed test). The questions will be different each time. And (running out of breath here) there is a reference section too with wordlists and definitions, grammar help, writing tips and a link to the dictionary. Oh, and for those schools big on Common European Framework there are all the language passport and dossier documents as well as self-assessment checklists too for students to build their own portfolio.

The e-workbook also keeps track of all the work done on it. You can create a pdf of your markbook, showing EXACTLY what you have done so far in any given session. This means that the teacher can ask students to email or print off a record of their work.

FINALLY… if your school is using a moodle or other virtual learning platform then the content of the e-workbook can be licensed directly from Macmillan and put onto your site (it’s SCORM compliant, which means it can work in a moodle).

Phew! Well, that’s it. And yes I KNOW this was a commercial plug but it IS my baby after all. So consider this like looking at a bunch of baby photos and making nice noises like “ooohhh” and “how beautiful”… 😉

Published in: on June 16, 2010 at 9:32 am  Comments (9)  
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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ok! Convinced … lovely baby :-))

  2. Nothing wrong with gushing about your baby sometimes. You certainly do it a lot less than (ahem) others of us. 😉

    One point I was really glad to read, and one which I hope turns into a trend, is admitting that coursebook video will never be able to compete with Hollywood production values, and so focusing on getting solid actors and good scripts instead. So many otherwise good coursebooks are, in my opinion, marred by trying for a high grade sit-com kind of video experience which ends up looking very cheesy to our highly media-savvy students. Either the actors are not professionals, or the sets not quite believable, or the scripts too contrived, etc.

    On the other hand, it is sometimes an engaging strategy to laugh AT such videos along with the students…

    • Thanks Marcos. Interesting point about the videos. Of the “sit-com” type of videos, the only ones I really ever liked were the old Grapevine ones (by Peter Viney), and I think again this came back to the really good actors in those. Recently it isn’t so much the actors that I thought were ho-hum, it was more the artificial looking sets (and sometimes the script).

      Although if it’s REALLY cheesy then you’re right you can laugh at them with students. But only for so long…

  3. Hi Lindsay! The eWB is really fantastic and I am glad you mentioned in on your blog! It is such a great part of Global and people should know about it! I think it’s OK to mention a book you’ve devoted so much time to! Fingers crossed 😉

    • Thanks Paz (and Enda)! I am certainly very proud of it…

  4. I had the pleasure of being at IATEFL Harrogate this year and I saw LC’s Global coursebook presentation. I must say I am very impressed with the whole package.

    I particularly like the ‘mobile learning’ component. It’s innovative, fun, exciting and it deserves to catch on. Technology should only be used when it adds value, when it allows teachers or students to do something which could not be achieved without that technology. It should never be used as a gimmick. This is a great example of the former.

    • Thanks Thomas for your comments. I’m pretty sure the mobile component will catch on, it’s certainly what everyone is talking about. There are already some apps for ELT out there…

  5. These are great features, Lindsay, and very well-positioned for todays English language learning world. I loved the video example – very creative and original, something I think adult learners will appreciate and respond to.

    And I think you are perfectly entitled to do a little self-marketing here on your own blog, especially considering this is a product you are genuinely proud of. This does not come across to me as a hard sell; it comes across as a thoughtful course designer proudly displaying the fruits of his work to his online community of colleagues.

    Personally, I am a little envious. You obviously have a great relationship with your publisher, who is treating you as a real writer, and sparing nothing when it comes to delivering a course across the different forms of media relevant to todays ELT multiverse.

    Keep up the great work, Lindsay.


    • Thanks very much Jason for the comments. Much appreciated, and also you’re right about the observation on my relationship with the publisher which so far has been very good on this project. As you well know, this is not always the case!

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