The EFL Tutor Blog
A year ago I presented my my first blog for students, The FCE Blog, at Teacher's Day in front of 50 of my co-workers at the BAC, the theatre of the language school I work at.
A translation of this presentation into Spanish was published in an interview at Educ.ar, the Argentine Ministry of Education blog, which opened the door for me to meet the Spanish speaking edubloggosphere. A most rewarding learning experience. It was viewed over 2,500 times at Slideshare and favourited by 20. For all of you wondering whatever I said there, here is the English version of the interview.
I must say I love my first blog. I have used its name/logo as my avatar. Sometimes -not too often- I miss the days when I had no idea there was a network of edubloggers around. I made me focus more on my ideas. Definitely what I produced before September 2006 was purely original content. Somehow ignorance helped me to write unhindered from thoughts such as, hasn't anyone done this before? Shouldn't I build upon what others are doing? Once you are connected, I believe you assume the responsibility of not reinventing the wheel. I did check there was no like of it around the web. There was not.
In April 2007, the blog got a mention as an example of the ELT Tutor blog in the book How to Teach English with Technology published by Longman. The students' reaction to this was 'We are making history'. I think the blog showed there are simply no more walls in our classroom.
Personally, I am so glad Stephen Downes has included The FCE Blog in his Edu-RSS feed list of edubloggers.
All in all, a successful presentation. As I have been asked to present again, I am reviewing it. Some core ideas I still find relevant; but others have changed under the light of the knowledge gained in the last six months.
I do not have answers yet. I get stuck and need help. I am posting the questions and hope you make me think. (Contributions will be properly acknowledged and linktributed in a future post).
Can we still use the concept of "digital natives versus digital immigrants" to explain the divide between teachers and students?
Students use msn, fotologs (highly popular in Argentina) and text incessantly. When I speak of blogs, wikis, del.icio.us or Flickr, I am speaking a new language to them. I am not trying to integrate the same technology they master to my lessons. I am introducing new tools which are far more social than a private mail, chat or text message. Learning and sharing with the whole world has, so far, been pretty innovative to them. They do not adopt blogs and wikis at the touch of a button. You can expect a series of adoption resistance moves before the whole class gets engaged.
How can student blogs be best moderated?
Reading class blogs, mostly ELT, it is hard to find lots of blogs flooded with student comments. Moderation and word verification seem to be rather off-putting. Moderation in itself is a top-down activity, which somehow makes the course blog a teacher-centred place in the end.
In order to engage students in writing their reflections, is it better to blog in class or at home? Do students reflect more in blog posts of their own or in comments?
This question is connected to the idea of assigning posts or comments as homework. When I think about my own learning as a blogger, I can connect anywhere, but I still find my home the best place for writing reflections. I can come up with an idea for a class anywhere; however, I would not have developed a whole blogging project on a school computer. Now that digital literacy is not so time consuming, I find it a lot easier to make myself home in a public computer.
Not that these are the only questions in my mind now. But let's say it is enough for one post.
Presentation handout (in Spanish).