I’ve just completed my first online course with Katherine Bilsborough and iTDi. The topic was Creating ELT materials. I signed up after seeing a tweet a couple of hours before the course started (thank you Anne and Twitter!). My interest in the course came from wanting to improve the materials I produce for my own classes.

In this post, I’m focusing on what I enjoyed about the course and what worked well rather than specific content.  You can see more details about the course content here.

writing materials

Here are just a few of the highlights.

  1. Organisation. It was really well-organised and iTDi ensured everything ran smoothly. We were sent emails with all the information we needed before each Sunday session and follow-up emails following each live session.
  2. Flexibility. The live sessions took place on a Sunday afternoon (UTC) but you also receive a recording which means you can catch up if you can’t make the time. Another benefit of having access to the recordings is I’ve found myself going back to them as I produce my materials.
  3. Community. This refers to the use of Google Community and the other participants.  I’d never used Google Community before but it worked really well for sharing documents and the weekly discussions. I was lucky to be on the course with some fantastic coursemates who had a lot of knowledge which they generously shared and this meant that I learned even more. It was nice to feel like part of a group in an online environment.
  4. Feedback. In my haste, I didn’t realise that we’d be producing materials so I had no idea that we’d be getting feedback from Katherine herself on all of the assignments. It goes without saying that having comments from someone with Katherine’s experience was very useful. She managed to create a really motivating and positive learning environment. As everybody’s assignments were posted in the Google Community I learned a huge amount from looking at other people’s materials and comments.
  5. Content. The course was well-paced and included enough to challenge me without being overwhelming. Katherine staged the four weeks logically and provided extra reading materials which complemented the course nicely.

Following the course, I feel more confident about producing my own materials. I think I pay more attention to instructions and sequencing. I’m armed with better ideas about design and I’ve got a lot of ideas for resources I can use. I’ve added an example worksheet I created on this post.

Any negatives? Not as far as I can see. I’d like to have had more time as I did the course in the middle of moving and starting a new job but its flexibility meant I was able to work it around my schedule easily. I’m just disappointed it’s over.

To sum up, I’d say Katherine is an inspiring and very encouraging tutor. She has developed a well-thought-out course that gives a lot to aspiring content writers. It’s the second time the course has run and I can see why it was repeated. If it comes up again I can’t recommend it enough.

I’m definitely keen to take another course with iTDi.  In September there will be another course about self-publishing for ELT professionals with Dorothy Zemach. I’ve been a fan of Dorothy since watching her IATEFL talk. I won’t be able to do it but I’m sure it will be another good one.