Sunday, December 21, 2003

Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology Homepage

"Since 1999, PT3 grantees have worked to transform teacher education so that technology is integrated throughout teaching and learning."

Saturday, December 13, 2003

videochat : Discussion Group

My comments: Curiously enough this looks like a forum to me, calling itself a blog.
videochat : What's the story, according to you?

"This weblog is part of an online unit using videos supported by chat tutorials with moderators in different parts of the world. We are using Real English videos with interactive exercises created with Hot Potatoes."

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Blogs / Weblogs in Higher Education:

"This collective blog / weblog is devoted to understanding the best pedagogical and other uses of weblogs and wikis in higher education. Feel free to read and write here"
e-Learning Eclectic:

"e-Learning Eclectic is a news site dedicated to the subject of computer-based systems that facilitate learning."
mcli Forum: Fall 2003: Technology: RSS

"Psss...have you heard about RSS?"

Monday, December 08, 2003

e-Learning Centre: Blogging:

"Here are some resources on the activity known as blogging; a blog or weblog being defined as 'an individual's log of the web - a diary of web pages to recommend to others': It looks at the general use of blogs as well as those in educational contexts."
Criteria for Evaluating the Quality of Online Courses

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Internet Time Group:

"Training does not work.
eLearning does not work.
Blending Learning does not work.
Knowledge Management does not work."

A very interesting debate...

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Online ESL lessons--Real English--ESL video and cdroms

video lessons online
About iStudy:

"iStudy is unique study software that simultaneously lets students learn their classroom material while learning effective new study habits."

I haven't had a look at this yet...but it might be interesting...
An Englishman in Verona:

"Yesterday I delivered one of those lovely (and rare) lessons in which everything goes right. The lesson went to plan, the students all learnt something, they all left more confident with their English and I left with the smug glow of job satisfaction."
Scot's Dot:

"'Some of the UK's best-loved and most influential films and TV shows have gone on the internet as an educational resource for schools and libraries'"

Sunday, November 30, 2003

::: XPLANA.COM ::: Exploring how we can learn and teach with technology

"Last week I did a quick survey of how the Internet and web publishing can completely change the way students write - the Internet gives students a real audience for their writing, it expands the content of their writing (images!), allowing them to link and be-linked-to, while promoting continual revision throughout the semester. Does Blackboard, a web-based course management system, take advantage of any of these features? It does not. "
Blogs as Course Management Systems: Is their biggest advantage also their achille's heel?:

"Blogs as Course Management Systems: Is their biggest advantage also their achille's heel"

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Will Blogs Grow Class Management Wings? - cyberdash:

"Weblogs, as many people know them, are not going to be subsitutes for course management systems."
cyberdash - cyberteacher cyberculture cyberlearner:

Taking the Portal Plunge :

" writing researcher Matt Barton has been integrating technology into his courses for a while, doing some great work with using both wikis and phpBB in his teaching. If I weren't so busy using weblogs, I'd be following in his footsteps investigating their pedagogical value, too :)"
phpBB.com :: Creating Communities

Matt Barton uses this open source bulletin board package...
mattbarton.net forums :: Home

Matt Barton uses a blog as a front page to a site that includes Wikis, forums, and much more...
Thoughts on Blogging by Will Richardson:

"To me, the process of blogging is, most of the time, an ongoing series of steps: 1. Find and read material that is relevant to your life. 2. Capture the essence of this relevant reading, give credit to its source, and synthesize those ideas into a piece of writing that advances a personal, perhaps greater understanding of that topic 3. Publish that writing for response and for perhaps pushing someone else's thinking on the subject. "
Rachel Winckler :

Silent Way blog

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Here's something new:

Interesting to see that almost all of the linked blogs are by teachers in Asia...There really aren't many blogger-teachers working in Europe, are there?

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Found Objects as collected by John Lawlor :: business blog marketing consultant :::

"Weblogs can be more than just personal journals. While we can say that weblogs turn people into webpages, we do not need to limit weblogs to personal journals. "
EduResources Weblog--Higher Education Resources Online:

"It seems to me that the multiplier effect that occurs in weblogging is at the center of what learning and scholarship are really about. Being able to share thoughts, share readings, share online resources, and then get the boost that comes from one person multiplying what is shared into a network of unpredictable connections and responses is just what every teacher wants students to learn about learning, i.e., that it's exciting to learn and exciting to share what is learned. "

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Blogger Con::
"Weblogs. The unedited voice of a person! Will easy and inexpensive publishing technology change the face of politics, business, journalism, the law, medicine, engineering and education? Is a revolution underway, or are weblogs just the latest Internet craze? ...Educators are using blogs to help students express themselves and learn from each other. "
WikiLog:

"What kind of person might like to run a Wiki Weblog instead of a straight WebLog?An individual who wants to write about ideas, relate them to each other, and refine them.

Someone who's been intrigued by the idea of Hyper Text might be interested.

I could see Vladimir Nabokov using a wiki instead of hundreds of index cards to develop a story. :)

Someone who's thought, 'This weblogging stuff looks interesting, but you're always just throwing away your notes as they slide out of view' might be interested."
Blog Vs Forum: "Of course there are, and will continue to be, vibrant and successful newsgroups and discussion forums. But I'm convinced that destination sites and centralized message stores are not the future of online community. Blogs are. They solve a bunch of problems. They also create a few new ones, but these feel like really good problems to tackle."
shellen.com ::: updated once every 10 days whether it's needed or not: "BlogThis! for the Google Deskbar and a few more searches"

for the Google deskbar...
Educational Weblogs

"Wondering who is reading your blog? Well, if you are a student, you might think twice about pouring your thoughts and feelings about school, teachers and fellow students into the virtual world."

mamamusings: Internet Librarian: 30 Search Tips in 40 Minutes

Tips on using search engines effectively...
EdTechPost

Technologies for learning, thinking and collaborating - blog

Matrix of Blog use in education

Sunday, November 16, 2003

AP Campbell :

"If anyone is interested in reading the report I wrote on our blogging experiment last spring, here it is:

The Experience of Computer Supported Cooperative Learning Using Weblogs in the University Classroom: a phenomenological case study
Thanks again to those of you who took part in the course and allowed me to research your activities and make the results available to those who might benefit. Comments are welcome."



Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Another Cat Cult student response

1) Do you think using the weblog on this course was...
b) OK (depending the other alternatives)

2) How difficult was it to understand and use?
a) easy (still don´t know how to do some staff)

3) Did you read what the others wrote?
b) sometimes (often)

4) Did you write because
b) you had to (ie. Only for the assignments)

5) Would you recommend using a Blog next year?
a) Yes

Which assignment(s) did you think were the most interesting?

3) Event
4) General Impression

Saturday, November 08, 2003

WebLogs and Wikis

"Here are some lists of weblog sites based on popular weblog software - there are a lot of weblogs out there"
Cat-Cult blog - One more Student response:

1) Do you think using the weblog on this course was...
a) a very good idea

2) How difficult was it to understand and use?
a) easy

3) Did you read what the others wrote?
a) always

4) Did you write because
b) you had to (ie. Only for the assignments)

5) Would you recommend using a Blog next year?
a) Yes

6) Which assignment(s) did you think were the most interesting?
a) Place
b) People's opinions
c) Eventd) General Impression

Here you have my answeres. and I liked the assigment where you needed to talk to diffrent people. Because that is actually an exchange of culture. And I also liked that you put information about what happening in Barcelona on it.... ann in the beginning I was looking at the website every time I was on the internett, but then people stopped writing and it was not that interesting anymore.

Note: As this student says, a weblog that isn't updated regularly won't be read - it's vital for this kind of project that the blog is updated frequently and serves as a lively noticeboard for the course.

7) Please write any suggestions you have or comments...
Some things were in yellow, it was difficult to read - The messages were hard to find

(note: I changed the colour to make things easier to find - The assignment instructions were in red, the assignments they wrote in yellow. This was fine if you looked at the actual weblog, but from Blogger, the white background made them impossible to read - I didn't realise that a lot of the students read the entries from Blogger - they didn't go to the actual weblog, which is what I always do when I read a blog)
Cat-cult Blog - Another student response:

1) Do you think using the weblog on this course was...
a) a very good idea
b) OK
c) not interesting

2) How difficult was it to understand and use?
a) easy
b) difficult at first, but easy later
c) difficult

3) Did you read what the others wrote?
a) always
b) sometimes
c) never

4) Did you write because
a) you wanted to?
b) you had to (ie. Only for the assignments)
c) a mixture

5) Would you recommend using a Blog next year?
a) Yes
b) No
c) I don’t know


6) Which assignment(s) did you think were the most interesting?
a) Place
b) People's opinions
c) Event
d) General Impression

Comments: > To write about peoples opinions you got a lot of the same answers and if you compare your culture to the Catalan culture also. There are a lot of dutch people so in general the answers are equal. If you write about a place everybody mentions something else and that is interesting to read.

7) Please write any suggestions you have or comments...
> It was very nice to use the blogger, but it but be a bit easier to put the assignments together in a apart part at the block because now it looks a bit chaotic and it's a bit difficult to find something and if it's possible an apart block for the answers to the assignments. If you are searching for an answer to one assignment you have to read most of the things. That makes it slow to work and also a bit chaotic.
Cat-cult Blog - Student reply:

1) I think using the weblog on this course was...
a) a very good idea

2) How difficult was it to understand and use?
b) difficult at first, but easy later

3) Did you read what the others wrote?
b) sometimes

4) Did you write becauseyou wanted to?
or because you you had to (ie. Only for the assignments)?

c) a mixture


5) Would you recommend using a Blog next year?
a) Yes

6) Which assignment was most interesting?
1 ) Place: good to know what experiences people have had in different places, nice to recommend things to each other (or not...)
2) People's opinions: interesting for yourself, cause normally i wouldn´t ask this to someone, though it´s really interesting!
3) Event: like the first question: good to know what experiences people have had in different places, nice to recommend things to each other(or not...)

7) Any more comments?
I liked the catalan culture classes! Usefull information when you´re coming in a new culture that you dont really know

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Catalan Culture Blog

I have been using a blog with a group of 28 ERASMUS students who take an introductory course in Catalan Culture to help them get the most out of their stay in Barcelona. It's now coming to an end, and I have asked them to report back to me, to tell me what they thought about using a blog as part of the course.

Apart from asking them to share thoughts and information with each other on the blog about anything they felt like, I also posted occasional information about what was happening in the city, using the blog as an online noticeboard, and to tell the students of links to websites that might be interesting for them. Although I didn't use this facility as much as I could have done, I think it was useful.

I also made the weblog the evaluation device. Rather than ask them to give me papers, I asked them to respond to four short assignments by publishing their answers on the weblog.

I have just asked them to respond to a short questionnaire, so I can start to evaluate the use of the blog on this course. Here are the questions I sent them:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

An Introduction to Catalan Culture

The Blog



Hi ______________ ! Now that we are coming to the end of the course, I would like to know how you feel about this new tool we have been using.

I would be very happy if you would send me the answers to these questions. This is important for me because it’s the first time I have used a weblog in this course and I want to know if it’s worth repeating with next year’s group.

Thanks for your time!

1) Do you think using the weblog on this course was...

a) a very good idea
b) OK
c) not interesting

2) How difficult was it to understand and use?

a) easy
b) difficult at first, but easy later
c) difficult

3) Did you read what the others wrote?

a) always
b) sometimes
c) never

4) Did you write because

a) you wanted to?
b) you had to (ie. Only for the assignments)
c) a mixture

5) Would you recommend using a Blog next year?

a) Yes
b) No
c) I don’t know


6) Which assignment(s) did you think were the most interesting?
a) Place
b) People's opinions
c) Event
d) General Impression


7) Please write any suggestions you have or comments...

Thankyou very much!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Untitled Document

"Blog stands for Web-log, an informal personal Website. Thousands of people blog every day. (Blog is both a noun and a verb.) I’ve blogged for 18 months, and I’m convinced that blogs are destined to become a powerful, dirt-cheap tool for e-learning and knowledge management. "

brushstroke.tv | 12 things:

"12 THINGS NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT HAVING A WEBLOG"

Monday, November 03, 2003

Index of Teaching Resources and Articles in Academic.Writing

Not specifically about blogs, but some interesting articles...

Saturday, November 01, 2003


I've posted this one before too, but it's a good example of a reflective blog kept up by a teacher.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Thinking and Writing Wrinkles:: "This weblog project is a log of the learning journey combining a group of ESL students and their native-speaking classmates in an elementary school. Students will collaboratively develop their abilities as speakers, listeners, readers, writers and thinkers using weblogs to write about topics of interest to them."

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

TeachingBlog: could I find a more boring name? This blog is intended to support the courses I teach and the research I do.

I've posted this before, but it's worth looking at again - it's a good example of a Tutor blog and what can be done with it.
http://www.utm.edu/~johnston/papers/Johnston3-aelj.doc

TEACHING WITH A WEBLOG: HOW TO POST STUDENT WORK ONLINE
Look what I've just found:

The Blog 500: top five hundred blogs according to Google
... 136. The Story of Feedster. 137. BLOG-EFL. 138. Morgaine LeFaye Net : Blog ...

Hold on, not so fast - it's an automated list of "the top 500 websites with "blog" in the URL" according to Google...

Saturday, October 25, 2003

O'Reilly Network: What We're Doing When We Blog [Jun. 13, 2002]:

"Blog posts are short, informal, sometimes controversial, and sometimes deeply personal, no matter what topic they approach. They can be characterized by their conversational tone and unlike a more formal essay or speech, a blog post is often an opening to a discussion, rather than a full-fledged argument already arrived at. "

"When the Web began, the page was the de facto unit of measurement, and content was formatted accordingly. ...as the Web has matured, we've developed our own native format for writing online, a format that moves beyond the page paradigm: The weblog, with its smaller, more concise, unit of measurement; and the post, which utilizes the medium to its best advantage by proffering frequent updates and richly hyperlinked text. "

"What distinguishes a collection of posts from a traditional home page or Web page? Primarily it's the reverse-chronological order in which posts appear. When a reader visits a weblog, she is always confronted with the newest information at the top of the page."



Thursday, October 23, 2003

Thanks to Bee for telling me about her new blogject (hey, that sounds good)http://garibaldinos.blogspot.com, which is "A collaborative planning environment" and looks like a great example of using a blog to collaborate on a joint schools international project.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Online Learning Update

"Self-publishing tools are gradually finding their place in the Web mainstream...today these resources enjoy more attention than ever. This is in part due to the growing community of "bloggers": people who regularly post commentary to personal Web pages, usually targeting a particular readership. Blogging is making headlines as a powerful means of exposing socio-political issues (Shachtman, 2002; Reynolds, 2003) and as a mode of self-expression; in Iran, for example, blogging technology was viewed as capable of threatening national security and led to the arrest and imprisonment of a journalist (Delio, 2003). Other uses of blogging in online publishing have been described by Downes in articles (2000, 2003a) prior to his current Technology Source piece (2003b). In recent months, Penn State University's DEOS mailing list has been humming with observations about blogging's educational impact, and a new variant of the blog—known as a "wiki" (Godwin-Jones, 2003)—has emerged and been embraced by many online students, including my own. Something is certainly afoot."

Friday, October 17, 2003

Proficiency students blogs:

Here are the links to my Proficiency students' blogs, although they haven't written much yet:

Berta

Gonzalo

Judit

Anna
Finished! Here is my adapted workshop:
ELT Weblog Workshop

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Some students from the Liceo Garibaldi in Naples, Italy have started their own weblog, although they seem to be spending more time posting to Bee Online. It's become active again, and is a great example of how a weblog is being used to promote intercultural exchange.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Blog workshop

I'm doing a blogging input session this Friday at the British Council in Barcelona, so I'm too tied up with that to post, but once I have the material, I'll make it available here.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Applications: Blogging By The Numbers: "While it is difficult to calculate exactly how many individuals are using Web sites as journals, Blogcount estimates that there are roughly 2.4 million to 2.9 million active Weblogs as of June 2003. "

Thursday, October 09, 2003

My comments: I've not been blogging much here lately because all of my classes have been starting up and that's taking up most of my time, although I have been blogging with them (surprise surprise), so I'll start posting the URL's and my comments up here before long.

One thing I will say, is that I have now got the introductory Blog class down to a fine art after doing it four times. It (obviously) takes more time with lower level learners, but a 90-minute class is ideal to get everything done. Here are some tips:

a) I take the class to a computer room and show them a couple of example blogs
b) I tell them that they're going to set up their own, individual (student) blogs and go to Blogger
c) They set up their blog and post and publish an introduction
d) Then I show them how to change the settings and ask them to invite me and one or two of their classmates to their blog.
e) If we have time, they accept the invitation and post to their classmates' blogs
f) Their homework is to go back and write something to their blog and to their classmates' blogs. I also join them and write some comments.

I now have the following groups blogging:

1) Proficiency 1 (British Council group)
2) Sound & Image Upper Intermediate group (Polytechnic subsidiary ESP group): They'll be using it as a platform to post their pictures and comment upon them. In the end, I chickened out and am going to use a coursebook with them as well.
3) Audiovisual Production/Direction Pre-Intermediate group (Polytechnic subsidiary ESP group):
4) Erasmus Catalan Culture group Blog (this is a class blog and is going well)

I'm going to tie them all together with a tutor blog (or a class blog) for each group - I'll add links to these later

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Firdamatic: the Design Tool for the Uninspired Webloggers

My comments: Just punch in your options, title and out comes your blog! An easy way to a new design. How long before it'll offer automatic postings too?

Monday, September 29, 2003

My comments: I have now read and replied to the realpro student blogs, but not all of them managed to add me as a user. It was interesting to see the range of questions they asked me, though, and it could open up an interesting channel of communication between them and me (hopefully)

Saturday, September 27, 2003

My new class blog / student blogs

I have started using weblogs with one of my Audio Visual English groups (Class Blog http:realpro.blogspot.com). this is a pre-intermediate group studying cinema/theatre/TV Production/Direction courses. There are 21 students in class and I took them to one of the computer classrooms last Friday.

The session was a success, much more so than the last attempts I have had trying to register students for a class blog. This time, I did the following:

1) I asked them to go to the class blog site and take a look at the links in the latest post. After they'd had a look at these two blogs (one class blog / one individual blog about films) I told them that they were going to set up their own weblog. There were some queries: i) What was the reason for doing so, and ii) what a blog actually was. My answers to them were i) to practise writing in English in a new, fun way and ii) a personal journal / diary. some of the students understood the concept thinking of it as a kind of personal 'forum'.

Anyway, I asked them to go to Blogger and took them orally through setting up a weblog. Some of them were much faster than others, but all of them paid attention because I told them it was going to form part of their first class assignment.

They set up individyual (student) weblogs and after writing their first post, they opened another browser window to check their efforts.

Then I asked them to go to settings and invite me, and at least one other classmate to their blog. Then, the students who were quicker than the others were asked to post to check their invites and post to their classmates' blogs.

When the others had caught up, they were asked to ask me a question on their blogs , and told that I would be answering their question and asking them a question at the weekend. this was their assignment. They have to sign in and answer my question in their blogs before the next class (next Friday). The idea behind this is to try and get them used to accessing the blogs on their own, so we can start to use it as an after-class activity and not just something we use together when we go into the computer room. Let's see how this goes...

When I have time (I have to answer all of their questions now!), I will link to their class blogs from the RealPro blog

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

New Class / Student Blogs - Audio-Visual English groups

I have decided to use weblogs with my audio visual English groups this year, especially as we have been encouraged to take them into the computer room for classes. I want to follow a similar system as Bee has with her students (see side-bar link) , but instead of a class blog, I think I'm going to run a tutor blog.

I am going to ask the learners to set up student blogs (which will also be part of their evaluation) and invite me to them That way, I can set up a dialogue with them.

I am thinking of encouraging student-student interaction through comments system like Blogspeak (the system running here) instead of having a class blog, but I haven't fully made my mind up yet...

With this system, I'm even thinking of abandoning the coursebook (at least with one of the groups), in the best Dogme fashion, especially as coursebooks are generally received very negatively by these groups. Perhaps using weblogs could be a way of 'getting the students to write their own coursebooks' - I will certainly try to encourage student-generated materials, (using weblogs) this year whatever else I decide to do.
Blog Start-Up Experience

I have finally started a class weblog with my Erasmus group (Cat-Cult Blog)

I have had a few snags getting them all registered to Blogger, and I thought I'd record them here for reference.

I set up the blog some time ago, and at our first session, took a list of their e-mails. Of course, sometimes it was difficult to interpret their handwriting (why don't people write clearly when they print their e-mail address!) and not all of the students got my invitation.

Those who did had problems logging in and we had to have a 40 minute session together (even after this 7/30 of them are still not registerd) This is where we had problems:

1. Those who followed the link from a hotmail account were left in a Hotmail frame, and it proved impossible to register (they had to copy/paste the link into a new browser window)

2. Non of them had a Blogger account, so they should have clicked on the 'Create new account button' instead of signing in (it's not obvious from the Blogger window that they were supposed to do this)

3. When these students had created the account, one of three things happened:
a) Success - their account allowed them access to the blog straight away
b) Failure - The account showed no link to the class blog. Going back to the e-mail invitation and following it once more, but this time signing in changed this for most of these students.
c) Failure. As above, but the only way to get the class blog to show in their account was to resend the invitation and get them to follow the link again, this time signing in.

Conclusions: It's not possible to rely on the students being able to accept your invitation. You need to have a session and go through it with them together, ideally in a computer room with an overhead projected PC. I think this is the easiest way to get all students registered for a class blog. the other option (what I have done with the other seven is to set up the accounts for them yourself and e-mailed them their username / password)

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Vance Steven's Introductory Blogger Tutorial

My Comments: If you want to create your own weblog, this is probably the easiest place to start.
Saddam Hussein's Blog
Seblogging: Dynamic Webpublishing, CMS and Weblogs in Education : by Sebastian Fiedler
Seblogging: Dynamic Webpublishing, CMS and Weblogs in Education : by Sebastian Fiedler:

"From my experience it does seem hard to reap the benefits of personal webpublishing within a short timeframe. It easily took me four months to integrate myself into the network - and I spent a lot of that time in the blogosphere, something a time-pressured student is unlikely to be able or willing do.

Most people who kept personal Webpublishing projects (Weblogs, Wikis, etc.) running for months and years can report how certain qualities and benefits only emerged over time. They remember how they were basically talking to themselves at the beginning, how they found a small circle of like -minded authors, how this circle grew through chance meetings and focused search, how their readership grew and got more diverse, and so on."
FroshComp : tellio

My comments: Tutor blog for undergraduates of English, with links to learner blogs.
Blog Linker:
the automatic link swapper and traffic generator
tellio II ::

"Teaching is a humbling profession. Sometimes it is a matter of laying material in a careful, efficient, linear pattern. Bricking a smooth path for them to tread. Then it seems a craft. Other times it's casting scratch before chickens. "

My comments: Teacher reflections on teaching, including on using weblogs with his students.
D. Walker:

Educator blog: thoughts on publishing class work

"I really like the idea of 'self-publishing' as a writing/literature class experience. I just read someone who coigned the term, and I haven't given it a lot of thought, but it seems to get at what I think I want from weblogs. Without having used weblogs in the classroom yet, I have this feeling that they will facilitate more 'immersion' in the writing process. How will students feel about this publishing? It will certainly make the publishing part of the writing process more real. Publishing to date has been little more than sharing with a writing group or the whole class (which is not insignificant), but it has not facilitated the interaction about writing that I hope for."
Weblogs.Com News : The History of Weblogs:

Another definition:

"Weblogs are often-updated sites that point to articles elsewhere on the web, often with comments, and to on-site articles. A weblog is kind of a continual tour, with a human guide who you get to know. There are many guides to choose from, each develops an audience, and there's also comraderie and politics between the people who run weblogs, they point to each other... "
Techlearning > > Education Web Logs > August 1, 2003: "Web Logs [also 'weblogs', or, more commonly, 'blogs'] offer an exciting personal way to express opinions, communicate ideas, and share interesting links. Thanks to free blog publishing software that masks the programming code underlying Web Log creation, virtually anyone can 'blog' or practice 'blogging,' that is, create a Web Log and update it with daily postings. Integrating blogging activities into language arts curriculum in a meaningful way, however, does require planning."

Friday, September 19, 2003

I BLOG, YOU BLOG, WEBLOG Presentation

My comments: Oops. My mistake. It's at 22:00 Spanish time. Here's the e-mail that Barbara has used to publicise the event. Please copy and send it to anyone you think my be interested.

Join Graham Stanley and Bee Dieu at the Euro Language Forum (ASO) *.

Discover their blogging connections and examples on how to involve your students in reflecting, writing and publishing online.

Graham Stanley is a freelance teacher presently working at Turismo Sant Ignasi-ESADE and the British Council (both in Barcelona,Spain.) He has recently started blog-efl , a weblog about the use of blogs in ELT. (http://blog-efl.blogspot.com)

Barbara Dieu teaches English at the Lycée Pasteur, a Franco-Brazilian school in São Paulo, Brazil and has been blogging with her classes since March.

When?
Sunday September 22nd from 1:00-2:00pm PST/ 4:00-5:00pm EST/
8:00-9:00pm GMT/ 5:00-6:00 pm Brasilia Time 22:00-23.00 Spanish time

* After School Online (ASO) is a forum for educators. The scheduled events,designed for professional development, are open to everyone in the TAPPED IN community (http://www.tappedin.org/new) and all guests. If you are new to
TAPPED IN, please login 10 minutes before the ASO event is scheduled to begin. This will allow us to get you where you need to be.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

My comments: This Sunday at 2.00pm (Spanish time) I'm joining Barbara Deu (see link to her wonderful class weblog Bee Online) for an online presentation about using weblogs. I've not been involved in one of those before, so I'm quite excited about the prospect. I'm too tired to search for the links (for anyone who wants to join us), tonight, but I'll post them tomorrow.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Weblog dealing with : EDTEC 670 - Exploratory Learning Through Simulation and Games
Mr Ford's Weblog

My comments: A good example of a Tutor blog


School Blogs article:

smh.com.au - Technology:

"Watch out for the undoubtedly sixth-grade-style tendency to choose the brightest, most annoying, flashing graphics available anywhere on the Web"
Weblogs in Education:

EduBlogs Blogs in Education:

"For people at groundlevel in education, the Weblog is becoming the Web-presence of choice; educators and students alike are taken by the blog's advantages over the traditional Website - without being radically different, the date-stamped blog structure lends itself to regularly updated personal records and comments on current Web-based resources, with quick and visible responses from other bloggers; this easy interaction facilitates the development of learning communities. Although the blog may be simply presented as 'a place to write, nothing fancy', early-adopters are beginning to explore the use of the genre as a teaching/learning tool in educational environments around the world."
Collaborative weblog:

http://www.simnet.is/annalar/blogg37/

My comments: The weblog's in Icelandic, so I can't understand it, but you can get the gist about how it works by taking a look at the page. This type of weblog is closer than any I have seen to the blog that I would like to use with my students of Tourism this year.

"All students in the course...could write to this weblog but it was not obligatory to participate, this weblog was for discussion about the projects of individual students and this was the place where the students who wanted comments about the project they were working on asked for comments. It also turned out to be the spot for social talk between students where they joked and informed each other of stuff they wanted to broadcast."

comments from :Structure - Units
A word of warning:

Learning Environment: "There is real danger in trying to build academic on-line environment...by imitating the structure of a traditional university class or an university building where fixed groups gather at fixed hour at a certain place ...places where the build-up of knowledge networks by individual student is discouraged and where communication with the outside world is blocked. "
Weblogs for use in student portfolios:
Portfolios

"All students keep a weblog - a learning journal for four months. The journal became one part of the portfolio

One aim of a portfolio is to promote reflective practice in teaching - The portfolio becomes a process, not just an idle snapshot. Reflective practice and improvement is a part of good teaching"

My Comments: The rationale behind the use of weblogs is to help the promotion of metacognitive skills, and contains some interesting predictions for possible future uses of weblogs.
Curriculum planning :

My comments: Another use for an educational weblog

Friday, September 12, 2003

A weblog of my experience preparing the final project of my M.Ed. ELT & Educational Technology dissertation.

My comments: I started it, and will continue...but...
Google Search button facility

My comments: I have added (bottom left) a Google search button to the site. This makes looking for specific posts a lot easier - Rather than have to trawl through the archives looking for something you remember seeing some time ago on this site, you just put in the topic and Hey presto!

It's a nice idea for a weblog that aims at collecting information about a specific topic (like this one does), and gets round the problem of manually linking to specific posts (something I did think about doing at one point, until I realised I didn't have the time)
those who can, blog

My comments: It's a blog written by a trainee teacher in the UK (PGCE student), and although not related specifically to ELT, it might be of interest.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

** Nuestro Blog de Grupo **:

Group blog with tasks:

1. "Make a funny or crazy story!"
2. "Sharing what we learned!"
Teresa's list of ESL Blog links
BlogTalk - A European Weblog-Conference: "What is a weblog? A weblog is a form and a format: a frequently updated website containing entries arranged in reverse-chronological order. But this simple form is infinitely malleable, and weblogs have huge potential for professional and private use. Easily maintained via computer or mobile devices, weblogs are organizing businesses, creating and strengthening social ties, filtering the World Wide Web, and providing a platform for ordinary people to publish their views to the world. (Rebecca Blood) "
rebecca's pocket :: talks :: waging peace: using our powers for good

My comments: Rebecca's blogtalk for the conference in Vienna, May 2003.

"I hope to provide some examples of the ways we can use our weblogs to bring together people--and ideas--which normally would not mingle."

"When I began Rebecca's Pocket, I think there were 50 other sites that called themselves weblogs. By 2001, only two years later, there were hundreds of thousands."
tesolunimelb.blog-city.com: "This is the Blog of a wonderful group of TESOL postgraduate students at the University of Melbourne."
Analysis of Learner Blog #1

Laura 2nde1 English Page:

My comments: I thought it might be a good idea to look at some specific learner blogs to see what students have written about.

Facts and Figures:
Blog Started: March 17th 2003
Last Posting: June 1st 2003 (Note: This may be because the students began a class blog, which may have meant they have had less time to keep up with their personal weblogs.)

General comments: It's obvious that Laura has had a lot of fun with her blog, and she's taken time to change the design several times. Unfortunately, the links to most of her archives don't seem to work, so we can only see a small sample of the postings. She has also started to use the weblog as an HTML project, and she mentions having started using the webpage design programme 'Front Page' (I'm sure some of her motivation to learn Front Page and HTML has come directly from having a blog).

Sample comment:


"Hi people!!!! How are you today??!!!
Today was a give back test day ( I don't know if it's right... I have just invented this adjective, like in class )!"

You can see how her confidence about using the Blog has developed, as the writing seems to be less self-conscious and more reader-orientated on the latest postings. Compare, for example her postings on Her first page with the latest postings

Content: Laura's last postings are about what she did at school, reflecting on tests, what happened in class, etc. She also addresses her teacher and some of her friends by name directly on the blog, so she obviously has a good idea about audience 7 readership.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Learning Circuits -- ASTD's Online Magazine All About E-Learning: "E-learning can create huge change in an organization, so implementers can expect to face some resistance. Two key strategies can help you deal with push-back: championing and communicating"

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Presentation of online resource: Blogs :

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Alternatives to Blogger?

It's funny how I've stuck with www.blogger.com even though there are lots of other weblog publishing systems. Curiously enough, I have got so far as downloading software and thinking about getting to know other systems, but the idea of going through another learning curve and spending time getting to know them has put me off. I am comfortable using Blogger now and this is the reason why I'll be using it with my students this year.

I know I have read about Blogger's supposed limitations, but it seems to me the appropriate system to use in ELT. It is very easy to use and reliable. I was tempted early on by School Blogs, and even set up a weblog with them, but there were problems half of the times I tried to access it (it seemed as if the server was down), and the last thing you want (especially if you are planning to use weblogging in an Internet classroom with students) is for that to happen.

I would be interested in hearing from anybody who has used other weblogging systems - what is it that attracts you to them? And are they i) easy to use and ii) reliable?
Catalan Culture Blog

I have now set up the blog I intend using with my ERASMUS course students. You can find it here, although it won't be in use until mid-September. It'll be interesting to see how they take to it, especially as they are mixed nationalities, from very different backgrounds and studying a wide variety of things. None of them are actually studying English, by-the-way, but they will get the opportunity to use the blog as a forum for any doubts they might have about Spanish or Catalan.
Blog Tips:

Mandarin Design Daily:The MEG Blog: "Blog tips, tricks and cheats"

My comments: A good place to learn how to jazz up your weblog.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Converge: "Why do some students resist participating in course discussion boards when they know their grade will suffer? How can students with polished social skills come across in online courses as uncooperative and unengaged, with short postings of little substance? What causes this? Can it be fixed?"

My comments: Some thoughts on what makes some students reluctant to post to weblogs, etc. The reasons Tim dotson suggests are logistical, personal, educational and instructor-related. The article also has suggestions on what to do to encourage 'Johnny' to participate.
BlogSpeak - FREE remote commenting system for Blogger based weblogs.

My comments: I am thinking about trying this out. The ability to add comments under each posting is a nice way of making a weblog more interactive. It's probably of more use than the side-bar comments box I've been trying out.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Weblog Workshop:

Weblog Workshop :

"There is not a "right" or a "wrong" way to post. This is an area that is wide open for exploration of learning possiblilities for both students and teachers..."

"Although you will probably begin by creating a weblog for your own use, keep students in mind throughout the process. Students need lots of practice engaging in exciting, collaborative learning activities where they have to discuss, think, contribute, read, and write. Weblogs are a perfect place for this so include them in your thoughts and planning."

My comments: Here are some great tips for those who are new to weblogging and want to know where to start. I recommend that you go and take a look at the other comments as it's a clear and well-informed introduction. Well done Anne Davis! Be sure to check out her Edublog Insights too.
Presentations weblog: "EXAMPLES OF Weblog ACTIVITIES

1. Collective study notes
1. Divide up the keywords or study questions associated with a textbook chapter or a story among class members.
2. Each student posts the �answers�.
This enables each student to make a key contribution toward the combined class �study notes,� which are posted online and available to all.

2. The mystery guest
1. Invite some one to contribute a posting to the class blog
2. Students make guesses as to who the guest can be from his/her posting
3. The winner can have an online prize (an online card or a virtual chocolate!)"

My Comments: You can find a good summary of weblog uses on this blog, complete with straightforward ideas for activites like the one listed above. Of course, it's not just about weblogging...
a weblog about weblogging

My comments: This weblog has some interesting posts, but not really relevant to ELT, more to weblogging in general.
EdBlogger Praxis: "What about blogging for younger students? How can an edublog be utilized in a primary classroom? I wish I had the answer to that question, but that is what I plan to find out this year."

My comments: This sounds like a site to watch if you are interested in
teaching very young learners and wonder about the possibilities of using a weblog with them. you can find more of Mr. Wright's comments about this here.
weezBlog: The professor has left their context

My comments: There is some very interesting debate going on here about the nature of using blogs with students and how certain types of weblogs might affect the teacher-student relationship. Especially when students come across personal blogs written by their teachers. Perhaps it's not as important an issue for those of us involved in ELT, especially in the communicative language learning classroom circumstances where learner-centredness has taken a higher priority, but it make fascinating reading anyway.

I suppose that it's always good to bear in mind that whatever you publish on the Web, be it in a weblog or not, could conceivably be read by anyone. I mean it's not like we're writing in a private diary, although some webloggers publish very personal things. This should be made clear to our students if we are encouraging them to write in weblogs, that they shouldn't write anything they might be embarrassed about or could later regret.
Good Weblog Design and Content

"GOOD WEBLOG DESIGN AND LAYOUT

How to make the most of existing blog tools:

1.Use Titles
2.Abstract Long Posts
3.Use a Teaser Paragraph for Long Posts
4.Select a Readable Font, Size & Column Width
5.If You're a 'Linker', Add Something of Value
6.Give Readers Someplace to Go for More
7.Use Graphics If They Add Something
8.Use Categories Only If They Help Your Readers
9.Use Outlining 'Twisties' Cautiously

My comments: There are some useful points here (summarised above) with examples to illustrate the principles, for anyone interested in posting to weblogs.
Catalan Culture:

Although it won't get going until mid-September, I have decided to try using a weblog as part of the ERASMUS course I teach every year. I think it will be a good way of getting to know the students, and a learner-centred way of increasing communication between students, as well as an easily-monitored evaluation tool. There are more details on the web-site.
Bee Online:

My comments: I have recently become quite an active blogger on Bee's class weblog - I was invited to post comments, and have been pleasantly surprised by the level of response from the students. Their level of curiosity seems to indicate that intercultural blogging might hold a lot of possibilites. I still want to organise an intercultural weblog project with my Tourism students to see how this can be exploited.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

RSS Feeds:

LLT Vol7Num2: Blogs and Wikis: Environments for On-line Collaboration: "One of the technologies used by blogs to alert users to new postings, as well to help sort information coming from multiple blogs and other Internet sources, are RSS feeds. RSS stands for "really simple syndication"

"...RSS feeds can help keep track of changes to blogs used as project centers"
Language Learning & Technology: Blogs

LLT Vol7Num2: Blogs and Wikis: Environments for On-line Collaboration: " If one thinks of blogs as being essentially on-line journals, it may not be evident how they could be used in collaborative ways. But actually looking at a few blogs (such as InstaPundit by Glenn Reynolds or Scripting News by Dave Winter) demonstrates how interactive they can be."

"By publishing the blog on the Internet, the student has the possibility of writing for readers beyond classmates, not usually possible in discussion forums. Readers in turn can comment on what they're read, although blogs can be placed in secured environments as well. Self-publishing encourages ownership and responsibility on the part of students, who may be more thoughtful (in content and structure) if they know they are writing for a real audience. This same degree of personal responsibility is lacking in discussion forums."

Students and Blogs:
jill/txt:

"...student's weblogs counted for 40% of their final grade..."

"...I'm planning to set aside time for blogging in each class and giving the students very specific tasks in their blogging time, because I want them to have enough experience with this way of writing and working that they can find out whether it's helpful to them."

My Comments: Jill speaks about there being 3 types of students (in her experience): 1) those who take to blogging enthusiastically 2) those who have difficulty seeing the point of it, and need lots of encouragement and 3) those who begin very negatively and continue to reject the idea of blogging:

For the second type, she says : "...you need to devise specific blogging tasks and actually spend class time blogging."

...and for the third type: "There definitely are people who don't get much out of blogging. But then, there are people who hate written exams or oral presentations, there are people who learn best from discussions with friends and others who learn best from reading or doing. Exposing students to more different ways of learning and thinking and expressing oneself can only be a good thing. There should be a point at which they can opt out of the ones that don't work for them, though."
EdBlogger Praxis: "Examples of Educator, Pre-Service, EFL, Classroom,Collaborative, Project , etc., weblogs that are online."
Interactive Talking Weblog: eigodaigaku

My comments: Eigodaigaku is a Japanese-based weblog for english language learners which contains something called a 'Site Pal', which seems to be a web-bot that learners can 'talk' to (very impressive). The site is not just a weblog - it has quizzes, and other language learning exercises.
Welcome Back / RSS feed

I'm back after a holiday in Portugal. I've started looking into RSS feeds for this blog and found the following, which seemzs to be a good explanation :

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

WANTED: CLASS FOR WEBLOG PROJECT - ENGLISH FOR TOURISM

I am interested in starting a joint project with a class of university students studying tourism and studying English as a subsidiary subject. If you are interested, please get in touch. Here are the details of the class:

24 undergraduate Tourism students. Age 18-24. Level: Upper-intermediate. . Based in Barcelona, Spain.

My idea would be to use the weblog with another class in another country and to compare culture / tourism / etc. I don't have any more specific ideas just yet, so I would be very happy to start discussing it with anyone who might be interested in collaborating.
Damianos replied to my e-mail about the use of weblogs in his ambitious website for high school students with the following:

"...the site has been developed as a study into how ICT could be integrated in the curriculum. You see, as of late (at last!) the Greek Ministry for Education has refurbished the school curricula for primary and secondary education. As I was looking for a topic for my M.Ed. dissertation with the Hellenic Open University I have been developing this site. I tried to implement it in some way, but there were too many constraints from parents' suspicion, children's lack of time due to their hectic lives with extra-curricular activities, outside school like dancing, sports, martial arts and the rest, to timetabling and curriculum constraints; you see not all teachers are ready to integrate technology in their classes and in my case I work with... (someone) who is technophobic, or rather unable or worse indifferent to comprehend technology, so the whole project fell through."

"I tried to publish some texts written by the students myself, but there was not any very positive reaction by the kids. You see, they are rushed off their feet all day, so some additional or divergent activity is perceived as additional burden; and I suppose they are right the way things are nowadays. I'm afraid I don't have an substantial experience of blogs, or any action research material to offer. It's sad really, but that's how things are right now. I am hoping to take the position of school adviser, you know some kind of school inspector, for the area of EFL advisor in the schools of the Ionian Islands. If that happens I'll try to convince the teachers of English to introduce ICT in their classes and do some action research as well. In that case there will be a site with all the material gleaned from the whole project. I'll keep my fingers crossed."

My Comments: Damianos has experienced problems that are all too common in ELT. Fortunately, as people become more accustomed to using computers as part of their daily life, I'm sure that there will be greater acceptance of this kind of ambitios project.

It's interesting to see how teachers in the USA seem to have far less problems encouraging their students to use weblogs. etc as part of the curriculum (see some of the example sites listed below) - I guess that is because computers and the Internet have been more a part of their life for longer, and are probably in more schools than in other parts of the world. In some ways, it gives hope for the future to those of us who are interested in integrating ICT into our curriculum.

Monday, August 11, 2003

WebQuest Portal - a weblog about webquests.

"News and views about the WebQuest model, a constructivist lesson format used widely around the world."
One-Trick CyberPony

Bernie Doges' weblog

My comments: "WebQuest lore, rants, travels and online discoveries" by Bernie Dodgefrom the creator of webquests.
Yukie's Journal

This is a student weblog started by a student of the weblog The New Tanuki.
XEFL.com EFL News - English as a Foreign Language: "Extending English as a Foreign Language "

A collaborative weblog for teachers.
Jim Duber on CALL

Jim Duber on CALL: "This is an interactive journal where I post my bits and pieces and invite readers to discuss issues and trends in the field of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). "

My Comments: A weblog devoted to CALL by Jim Duber
SCRWRITING:

scwriting :: "This weblog was created for the students in my writing class at Shih Chien University in Taiwan."

Another EFL class blog, but with a difference - you can see the postings are set out rather like a forum. Look here to see:

http://www.schoolblogs.com/scwriting/discuss/
Words of wisdom from Weblogg-ed Vol.2: Using Weblogs in Education:

"In the hands of creative teachers, Web logs can enable students to connect their classroom experience to the 'real world.' This has had an extremely positive effect on the students, who quickly realize that they are writing for or having a dialogue with a community larger than the teacher or the class."
Edublog WebRing :

"This webring is a community of teachers, technologists, librarians, and others who are interested in integrating weblogs into their classroom. We also welcome bloggers who are using weblogs in the classroom."

My Comments: I've just joined this webring - you can find the link at the bottom on the left-hand-side.
ep: weblog

"The concept is simple enough. Create a Web page. Update it regularly with brief personal reflections or witty commentary, sprinkled with links to other pages. Put new entries at the top of the page, pushing older ones down. Voilà, you've got yourself a Web log. - David F. Gallagher"


My Comments: This weblog was started as an aid to composition, and reflects 10% of the students' final marks. The first page contains instructional information for students with two links : one to the actual weblog and the other to Blogger, where students have to sign in if they want to add anything to the blog.


This is how it works:


"Although weblogs take many forms, as will be demonstrated in class, ours will follow the example of many of its contemporaries by serving as a filter for the massive amount of information available on the topics we'll be studying. This filter functions as each student-author posts links to high-quality, relevant, web-based information; adds explanation or commentary to these links; and makes general observations about our topics."


The instructions are quite strict, a necessary thing as this weblog is to be evaluated and students marked on their postings - In this way, you can guarantee student participation, I suppose:

"Each student-author should post a minimum of one and a maximum of three entries to the blog each week. Of those, a minimum of one and a maximum of two should include links to webpages you've discovered that you believe will be useful and important to your classmates. Any additional entries may contain simply personal observations and ideas. "

The tutor has also added links to the weblogs that students are expected to monitor over the term that the weblog runs.

The weblog itself can be seen here: http://ep.blogspot.com/

The more I investigate, the more I find examples of how weblogs have been used successfully with students in all manner of educational contexts.
The Secret Life of Bees :

My comments: This is an example of how a weblog has been started around the study of a piece of literature.

Questions for the author were formulated, and some of them were answered. There are chapter summaries, and drawings inspired by the book, etc.

Again, although not EFL, a similar project could be undertaken by students about a class reader, or any other type of class project.
The Georgia-NJ Connection :: "We up here in New Jersey are really looking forward to working with you over the next few weeks and we're hoping that we all learn a little more about journalism and Web logs. "

My comments: Here is a good example of an educational weblog for young learners. It's not EFL, but it shows a good way of using a collaborative (class) weblog with students.
Weblogs in Education FAQ:
Weblogg-ed Vol.2: Using Weblogs in Education: "How have Web logs been used in the classroom? Classroom uses of Web logs are many. They can be used as online student portfolios or filing cabinets where assignments and projects are stored. They can be class portals where teachers keep homework assingments, links, handouts, syllabi, etc. Teachers have also used Web logs as collaborative writing spaces where students read and give feedback to one another. Web logs have served as reader's guides for literature study, as newspapers, and as project sites where students create and contribute all content. See the list of sample Web logs "
Teaching Experiences

This is Maria Jordano's weblog started in May 2003. Here's what MAria has to say about it: "Week after week, experiences, questions and feelings go around my head as typical symptom of a new EFL teacher. All of you, experienced and not so experiences are invited to reply, write or give a piece of advice..."
C.The Virtual English Classroom Weblog Form C

My comments: Unfortunately, there seems to have been a lack of enthusiasm in this weblog also. Perhaps the students were just too busy, or (because there does seem to be an impressive array of communicative options for them to use on the website), they preferred to express themselves through chat or e-mail.
The Virtual English Classroom Weblog Form A: Damianos' message to his students re. weblog use: "Use this web log in good faith, without prejudices and with friendship and tolerance in mind."

My Comments: The time between first and last postings seems to have been short, all in March 2003. I suppose this means that the students didn't take to weblogging. I have e-mailed Damianos, asking for his comments, so maybe we shall find out.
JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL CORFU GREECE: "The web logs are web pages where the students of our school are able to publish their thoughts, ideas, points of view and anything they wish to share with other people who may visit the web log. They can also publish projects they want to share with other students or display any work they wish. "

My Comments: This Greek Junior High School website is an interesting example of the supplementing of coursebooks with Internet-based materials (chat, forums, and weblogs)

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Mathemagenic: learning and KM insights - a klog not a blog: "I have used Blogger for a while, but the blog is almost dead now. One of the things preventing me from putting more time in it is that a Blogger blog (the free version) is hard to organize and searchable. It is a long list of postings. I would like something with more navigation options (like channels or categories)."

My comments: I can see his point of view. As this blog grows, I have been thinking it would be nice to offer this option, but it is impossible with Blogger. The only thing you can do, I suppose, is create links to the most important entries by pointing to the archive pages where these pages are.

It sounds like a lot of hard work, but worth it if you are creating a blog which is more than an ephemeral journal.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

EFL in Japan Blog :: "The politics, economics, education and environment of EFL in Japan."

My comments: A good example of a welog kept as a personal reflection on teaching, culture, and more by an EFL teacher.
Interactive Language Learning on the Web: "Reading and Writing Skills With Discussion Boards and Weblogs"
A day in the life of an online language educator: "You can imagine that one of the greatest challenges for an English teacher in the vast interior of China is arranging for students to have communicative language practice and exposure to authentic target language through interaction with native speakers of English. In previous years this would have been out of the question "
ESL/EFL sites and blogginglist-serve for those interested in online education worldwide: ESL/EFL sites and blogging: "ESL/EFL sites and blogging"
PowerPoint Presentation: "The Weblog Revolution

How technology and amateurs are changing the way we communicate"
The Subtle Knife: Blog*Diss: Blogs in the Classroom: "Here are some strategies you might consider for using blogs in your classroom.

Blogs and Writing
Students don't tend to write unless they have to. Blogs are one way to change that. Asking students to keep a blog gets them in the habit of writing regularly; what's more, it gets them in the habit of writing regularly in the kind of electronic environments they'll be asked to work in outside the academy. From experience, I can say the only way to develop the habit of blogging is to conscientiously blog for a few weeks. After that, the blog becomes a familiar resource, one which students may turn to even when the class is over, creating a regular habit of communicating through writing."

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

CASE STUDY #2

Barbara Dieu has a class weblog running with her students : It is a new space for the students to 'post messages and exchange ideas'. She also has links to the individual student weblogs, which were started earlier and which some of the students (see lou2712 and franbati) have certainly taken to with enthusiasm.

She recently e-mailed me about the experience:


I teach EFL at the Franco-Brazilian school in Sao Paulo, Brazil and have also started using weblogs with my high school students. The aim of our blogging until now has been:

- to experiment how it works in class, what the problems are and how the students manage it in an academic context with rubrics.
- to make them write "freely" about something that they were exposed to and put their vocabulary to practice (something that I know about: what we did in class and something I do not necessarily know: their exposure to English outside the classroom) and have this feedback to do some action research myself
- give them an opportunity to express themselves as they want, choose links, layout, etc to illustrate their space
- make them feel their remarks and what they feel about the class is important for me
- train them to reflect
- make them more aware of what is expected from them (rubrics and writing)

Most of these students at this level have had an average of 4 1/2 years of EFL at school (3 hours a week), some a bit more and some a bit less. We stopped writing end of June as here in Brazil we have a month holiday in July but we intend to go back to it this month.

You can view the rubrics at: http://members.tripod.com/the_english_dept/critblog2.htm

Now in the second semester, I am planning to have an interactive blog with the class and whoever wants to contribute on different themes at: http://www.beeonline.blogspot.com

I consider the experiment was somewhat successful for a first time (70% of the students adhered to it for 3 months at various levels of competency; about 20 % recorded their ideas but lagged behind for various reasons (lack of a steady computer connection, expensive dial up connection, forgot to
post) and 10% did not do much or nothing at all).



My comments: Barbara's experience is another example of a successful weblog project. Although the response from some students was less than enthusiastic, this is to be expected, for the reasons that she mentions, and a variety of motivation and response is something that we see all the time in the classroom.

I like Barbara's evaluation criteria , which is useful (if not essential) if the weblogs are to be evaluated as part of a class mark.

Let's examine her class weblog in more detail:

A. GENERAL: Barbara's class blog uses blogger software and she has presumably added her students as contributors and also added links to their personal pages on the side-bar. It looks like the reaction to the blog has been positive. I think Barbara has the idea to use this weblog as an extra-curricular stimulus, a space where she can direct students to interesting sites in English, and although it has not been running for long, you can see that the students in general have taken to it well.

B. APPEARANCE: 'Bee's Online' is a colourful, simple format with the emphasis on what the students' write. There are few links apart from those to the students pages, and to the English Department. I think it is a format which reflects the purpose of the blog well, without distractions. The individual student pages show a variety of personal styles - it is obvious that these students have had a lot of fun playing with the design of their blogs, which is important: if the students are approaching the weblog project as a fun activity, then they will be far more inclined to write.

C. TITLE BAR AND DESCRIPTION: The title is 'Bee's Online' and the description : A Meeting Place for Students to Share Opinions and Discuss is straightforward and engaging.

D. CONTENT: 1. Barbara started to engage the students into discussion by adding some links to sites about the latest Matrix Reloaded film. A weblog offers a good opportunity to engage students' interests, and follow up with class discussion, which I think was Barbara's idea. It seems to have worked in this instance, as lots of the students posted replies.

2. Some students have also used this blog to tell everyone that they have made changes in their own personal blogs. In this way, the class blog acts like an electronic noticeboard for the classroom community.

3. It was interesting to read this student's entry : "hello teacher, what's up??? I am sorry, but I haven´t understood the objective of this blogger!!??... So could you please explain it tomorrow ?? " - It shows the willingness of the student to communicate his misunderstanding in the weblog itself, asking for help, and probably also displays a desire on behalf of the student to take part, but not knowing how to start. Barbara follows up the student's question with a succinct reply, detailing the objectives behind the weblog, and encouraging him with a question related to the current subject.

E. CONCLUSION: I think it's a good idea to use the class blog space as a free-form forum for discussing different subjects, perhaps related to themes in class or what is happening in the world that students are currently interested in. Barbara has also added her own comments when necessary, but seems to prefer to leave the entries to the students - in this way it really seems like it is their space. I should also add that her class seems like a a really nice group of students, who I am sure are a pleasure to teach
EDUCATIONAL APPLICATIONS OF WEBLOGS : TYPES OF WEBLOGS: "TYPES OF WEBLOGS
There are two main types or styles of weblogs that are generally called a filter style and a journal style.
The filter style of weblog is where the author filters through the vast mass of information available online and selects and makes available on their site what they consider to be the most useful, interesting or important for their audience.
The journal style of weblog is more of a free form and open structure containing the author's views, opinions and thoughts."

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

::: XPLANA.COM ::: Exploring how we can learn and teach with technology
EDUCATIONAL APPLICATIONS OF WEBLOGS : : "WHAT IS A WEBLOG
A weblog (or blog) is a web based space for writing. Weblogs can be thought of as an online journal where all the writing and editing of the information is managed though a web browser.
At its simplest, a weblog is a personal web site operated by an individual who compiles lists of links to personally interesting material interspersed with information and editorial. The user can instantly place their words and thoughts onto their own web log site through one of the many pieces of blogging sotwre available."
12 Principles of Civilization

"All communities, on or off the web, adhere to basic principles in order to thrive. Mongoose Technology has codified these tenets into the 12 Principles of Collaboration..."

My comments: Thanks to Barbara Dieu [bwjdieu@terra.com.br] for guiding me to this one.
Barbara Dieu (Brazil) has some nice links to articles, etc about weblogs in EFL - you can see Barbara's own class weblog Bee Online by following the link at the left hand side.

Teach them to fisk ?

Teach them to fisk ? "Recently Jill Walker lamented that it was hard to teach her students to blog critically. Perhaps we should first teach them to fisk."

Template change

Bear with me if the links go missing for a while - I am changing the weblog template.

Using Weblogs in Teaching: Framing It | Kairosnews

Using Weblogs in Teaching: Framing It | Kairosnews: ' I split students into two groups, and had groups post on alternate days. As I framed it, students had to do two things in each post: first, come up with their own topic for discussion, and second, respond to somebody else's post; both components were a part of the grade. This allowed us to get an in-class discussion going focused around what types of topics got what kinds of responses, and what kinds of topics were the most popular in terms of number of responses. (I told them from the outset that the students whose posts prompted the most responses would receive a slightly higher class participation grade, for fostering group discussion.) '

'As for helping students understand what kind of writing task you're giving them, I find that the first questions students ask about writing often have to do with content: what are we writing about? Like Jill, I think it's useful to start out with at least some guidance in terms of topics.'

My comments: It seems as if weblogging could be a good way of promoting learner-centred teaching, if student posts are then used as a basis of discussion in class. I am thinking of using blogging with my undergraduate university students of Tourism next academic year, and this seems like a good way of linking weblogs to class activity.

Using Weblogs in Teaching: Framing It | Kairosnews

Using Weblogs in Teaching: Framing It | Kairosnews: " from my experience last semester, most students don't know how to blog and need very specific tasks to start with... I also found that ...students don't blog at home until they've already gotten into the habit of blogging - but when we started blogging in class for ten minutes or so every time we met a lot more of them blogged regularly at home ...

It took me a long time to realise this, because I took to blogging instantly myself - so did a few of my students but the vast majority need to be helped into the habit.

I also got students to comment on each others posts, and link to each others blogs in class, and this became a habit too - which I now see has been really helpful for them in the last phase of their work. Although they were working independently on their projects, they actually gave each other a lot of feedback through their blogs, which is wonderful!"

Using Weblogs in Teaching: (from Kairosnews)

Using Weblogs in Teaching: (from Kairosnews)

"I give one blog "assignment" every week, due on Mondays. I try to vary the types of blogging assignments I give. I guess I have three types 1) Sometimes, they are very structured, dealing with the readings, discussions, etc. that we have had in class that pertain to the particular subject/project we are on. 2) They have a general topic or choice of "prompts" to respond to, again dealing with relevant class topics, and 3) free writes, which have "failed" in my assessment.

Perhaps this is why free writes fail? My online classes tend to attract many ESOL students, and I find they are nervous about choosing their own topics. That's why even when the blogging assignment is more unstructured, I give some topics they can use if they like. Some of the students blog on their own -- journaling, complaining about other classes, venting about writing, etc. I have even had three that started a little poetry club so they can comment on each other's work. Some never blog outside of assignments.


I do assess their blogs -- I make their blogging a very small percentage of their final grade and I am very generous in grading the blogs. I don't count spelling or grammar -- just well developed thought. I think the students know that the blogs aren't "worth much" of their final grades, and thus, they are more likely to write without fear."


Sunday, August 03, 2003

ITC Insights : Weblogs for Use in ESL Classes

ITC Insights : Weblogs for Use in ESL Classes: "Weblogs for Use in ESL Classes"

This was last updated in March, and most of the links lead to dead-ends : an example of a short-lived experiment, and a reminder that a weblog is only valid if it is posted to frequently, consistently.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Weblogging as a Learning Tool: A Classroom Study

Kevin Brooks, North Dakota State University: "The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of weblogging as a writing and learning activity"

"Weblogs are emerging as a potential tool for helping students reflect on course material in a public way that encourages feedback, and they seem to have the potential to motivate student writing and learning."

"...contemporary information technologies, despite considerable potential, do not always fit easily into students' notion of writing and learning."



Weblogs

Found at Everything : "...the term "weblog" has come to mean a lot of things. The thing that first comes to my mind is the increasingly popular style of personal web site where the author leaves ...journal entries every so often"

"Weblogs have always struck me as being an especially interesting phenomenon to observe. The things people write in them is often intensely personal--not exactly the kind of things you'd tell someone the first time you met them. Yet these people share it with the world, as if there was no such thing as a secret."

TeachingBlog

TeachingBlog:
"TeachingBlog: could I find a more boring name?" writes Kevin Fields: "This blog is intended to support the courses I teach: announcements for students, filter articles and web sites, reflections on teaching and learning. I've gathered notes into courses and topics; this process will be ongoing."

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Hasta la vista Flooble chatterbox!

I have ditched the flooble chatterbox because it's never been working. I don't know whether it's not compatible with blogger or if putting it at the bottom of the page wasn't a good idea, or...? Anyway, I have been testing out another chat box on my other weblog and at least that works, even if nobody has used it yet.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Weblogs and writing

techLEARNING.com | Technology & Learning - The Resource for Education Technology Leaders:

"Web publication gives students a real audience to write to and, when optimized, a collaborative environment where they can give and receive feedback, mirroring the way professional writers use a workshop environment to hone their craft. ...Students will write when they have something to say, when they have an audience, and when they get feedback."

Teresa Almeida dEca's class Blog

Teresa Almeida dEca's class Blog:

Teresa's experience of using a web log with her students is definitely worth looking at closely. She wrote to me to say that she started after reading Aaron Campbell's paper:

"I felt that a teacher-student blog had the interactivity, type of content and Web presence that I'd been looking for, so I decided to give it a try. It's been mostly a result of instinct and some luck in the choice of layout, I think, because it has certainly appealed to the students from the beginning. In spite of one or two frustrating moments along the way, it has been a very stimulating and challenging experience that I hope to keep up next year with the same students."

Let's look at Teresa's weblog carefully :

A. GENERAL: Her blog is a class blog. The idea is that students can participate out-of-class, with the idea of extra reading and writing practice in a fun way that is very personal to them and allows them freedom to express whatever they are interested in. Teresa alos posts extra activities for the students who are interested in them. This way, she can guide them to web sites, etc that are appropriate in content and level.

B. APPEARANCE: White background with animated GIFs and kid's drawing at the top. It's a good choice for a YL weblog as it's fun and non-threatening in appearance. My only criticism is that the blog is too wide - it's not possible to read everything without scrolling right and left, which is a little uncomfortable.

C. TITLE BAR AND DESCRIPTION: Let's Blog! is the title and below this there are two clear, simple definitions:
1. What is a blog? Answer: A blog is an online diary or log. ... and
2. What is Let's Blog? Answer: a)It is a two-way communication tool: from me to you and from you to me. b) It is our way of talking in English outside of class. c) It is a fun way for you to practice English away from school.

I now think that it is important to give a definition of a weblog at the beginning of a site for students. At the beginning, I found introducing students to the concept was very difficult, and even after they had seen a few weblogs and started their own, I had one student ask What is a Blog? after two blogging sessions! I like the idea of defining the weblog as a an online diary, as a diary is an easy concept to get to grips with.

D: INTRODUCTION You will see that Teresa lays down some ground rules for messages: She wants the students to begin courteously and always include their name and class. The students do not directly enter text into the blog, but e-mail her and then she adds their contributions later. This is good in the sense that Teresa retains control over the publication, and can edit or exclude entries which are confusing or do not match her ground rules. With older YLs it is feasible to conceive a weblog getting out of hand, with some students writing comments which are offensive to others (I had experience of this during my summer 2003 weblog experiment: refer to the first entries in this blog for more details).

By keeping strong editorial control, she certainly avoids this happening. The downside to this is that a certain level of spontaneity is lost as students cannot experience the thrill of posting directly to a weblog and then seeing their comments there on the Web for all the world to see.

E. LINKS: Teresa includes three types of links:
1) Educational sites such as an online dictionary and help on pronunciation and grammar. There is so much content out there on the Web that students (and their parents if appropriate) really need guidance, and this is a perfect way of guiding students to the pages that are appropriate to their level and interests.
2) Student work: By including students' work here, Teresa provides a real reason for producing writing work (for publication), and other classes, and parents can also read what they have done.
3. Homework: It seems like Teresa uses this last link to remind students of homework assignments - another good idea.

F. CONTENT: It is easy to see that students have written to Teresa about all manner of different things that are of interest to them. Teresa has said that some students have not written as much as she would have liked them to, but my guess is that even if students haven't written, then they have benefitted from reading what others have.

One important thing to notice here, I think, is the importance of feedback in process writing approaches (Sorry, I couldn't resist the plug!), and this is a great example of responding to what students have written. Look at the care and attention with which she has replied to every student's entry. I am sure that her students are far more receptive to writing in class than the average group.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

audio BLOGGER

audioBLOGGER: Listen to this: "audioBLOGGER is a service that provides bloggers with the ability to post audio to their blogs from any phone. ". This is worth looking into.

Chuck@China

Chuck@China: "Weblogs do serve another more important purpose - and that is to filter vast quantities of information about a particular subject through a weblog so that people with similar interests can read, consider and comment about the subject."

Courses using Weblogs

Courses using Weblogs: examples of weblogs used in teaching, as opposed to weblogs about education.

eatonweb portal

eatonweb portal :: the original weblog directory: "The journal of an American college student living and teaching English in Northeastern China"

TEFL Smiler

TEFL Smiler: "This is the weblog of a teacher of English as a Foreign Language who's been accused of smiling too much. "

Caution: contents may settle during shipping.

Lost in transit : is a group weblog by expatriates and emigrants around the world writing about their experiences.