Getting students registered in the course and customizing their profiles can be a good opportunity to practice listening or reading skills in following instructions. Students may need to be pretaught language such as "link, address bar, browser".
I've done the registration with instructions written in about six steps. Also, I do it talking sometimes. I like it because it is a real task.
Food Service and Hospitality
Have learners review the websites for a list of pre-determined local dining establishments gathering information such as ambiance/atmosphere, daily specials/menu items, hours of operation, and special functions.
Then have them assume the role of food editor, for example, and 'blog' about their virtual dining experience.
Great for refining: colocation of descriptors, reduced clauses, passive voice, word form: prefix-suffix, comparative/superlative structures and pesky article usage.
Especially for those at higher levels, these provide a flexible writing outlet that offers a grand opportunity for feedback from instructors and fellow students alike.
I think discussion forums are a great way for students to discuss and share ideas with one another. I read an article recently that illustrated how forums can help students to become more collaborative and autonomous learners. Although the instructor will monitor the forum, students can share their ideas and help one another.
Forum - Event Planning
Using a forum as a tool for students to share ideas and discuss when planning for an event in class, for example a Baby Shower. Ideas around gifts, games activities, decorating, music and food.
As well as being used for discussions, Forums can be used as an opportunity to try out a specific grammar point. A Single Simple Discussion forum allows the teacher to give instructions, and students to reply with their attempt at using the grammar point. The teacher can edit the postings to provide feedback. Classmates can learn from each others' work, and can see many samples of the grammar point in use, all in one forum thread.
Forums to Focus on Students
Using forums can be great to shift the focus of the course toward the students. It is also an excellent way to create comprehension checks. Also helps build rapport between students and also student-teacher rapport. At the beginning of a unit, I like to do my needs assessment on the forum when possible. This allows students time to sit and really think about their goals as opposed to putting them on the spot.
The general discussion is a useful tool for students to practice their writing and reading skills in an interactive format. Students will answer a discussion question that the teacher posts each week. The discussion question can be used as either a review of a certain topic that was previously covered, or to begin a new topic. Students can view what others have posted about the same topic, and can respond to those as well. Students who have a lower English ability can answer in one word, or you can challenge higher students to use simple or complex sentences.
Questions I have posted so far:
What is Easter?
What is Earth Day? How can we help save the Earth?
What did you do on the long weekend?
Giving Directions using Nanogong
I like the idea of students using Nanogong voice recordings. An activity that I would use is this: Teacher posts an assignment in which I record verbal directions on how to get to a common destination, for example, the local post office, medical clinic, library, or any other public facility. These directions will be from location of ESL classroom to the destination. Students must listen to the directions & then using a map of the city/town record their own verbal directions from their home to this same destination. An added activity could be for students to ask each other for directions to their homes. They would need to use phrases such as "go 3 blocks south on 8th Ave" ; "turn left on Main St." "you will see Joe's Antiques shop across the street"... etc.
I don't know how much flexibility we have in this LINC Courseware, but in my NorQuest Moodle course for the new LINC 5 Blended Course, I've added four glossaries, all of which are editable by the students. I've renamed the glossaries as Class Dictionary, Idiom of the Day, Phrasal Verb of the Day (some of you may know how much I love those phrasal verbs!), and Grammar Tip of the Day. I will add a new entry every day, as an incentive for the students to log in and see what's new. They can also add their own entries, and I've removed the 30-minute deadline for editing. Many, many times I make mistakes and I don't realize until much later than 30 minutes!