Sunday, March 21, 2004

Experimenting with Bloki

I opened an account with Bloki after a suggestion given by Isabel Perez in the webheads group. According to the Bloki introductory page, Bloki is a web site on which you can create web pages, publish a blog, and host online discussions, right in your browser, with no additional software required. I have 54 students middle school students working on it. We are exploring all its features together as we advance in our EFL program.

I want them to make pages, cooperate and publish online the content they have amassed in class so that what they do can be interactive and make some sense to them.

Their first task was to write me an introduction letter ...who they are, origins, family, likes and dislikes. I sent them back the correction by mail and asked them to adapt it to the page online. In this way they revise what they have done and practise their Internet skills at the same time. In addition to the explanation given in class, I have posted the instructions on the my bloki page

It took me about three 50 minute classes to enroll, explain how the page works and post their first task. We only have 14 computers for 27 students and we cannot have two different Bloki pages open simultaneously on the computer. Must write them to find a solution. Having to logout every time is very time consuming and some students get lost.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

E-learning at Home

My son, a young college student, has no time to go to a language school to perfect his English. He did two or three holiday courses but would like to stay in contact with the language and develop his reading and understanding.

When he was at high school, mother and teacher struggled to share some of the knowledge in the subject. I must sadly confess that very rarely did I manage to develop at home the nurturing and convivial learning atmosphere we all know is so important for progress.

Hope ,however, is the last to die.

After seeing me relentlessly working online with my students, he finally asked me whether I would mind giving him something to read and practice on the net. Although we live in the same house, we work the whole day and only see each other during diner, not a perfect moment to discuss and I did not want to embark on the same situation we had lived before so I proceeded with great care.

First I sent him an email, inviting him to join a blog and giving him the instructions on how to do it. Then sent him some material to listen to, do exercises and asked him to send me the answers to correct, which I send back through mail. He is now keeping a logbook of his progress and leaving messages and comments for me to read.

So here we are, both facing our screens , the mother/teacher in the living room and the son in his room, working together in "a strange and compelling combination of anonymity and intimacy" .

Monday, March 08, 2004

Contribute to The Educational ICT Debate

Peter Twining, Senior Lecturer in Education from The Centre for Curriculum and Teaching Studies (CATS) at The Open University, UK has devised a questionnaire which explores views on whether ICT should be an essential element of education and what rationales should drive its use.

The questionnaire was developed in the light of evidence that suggests that a lack of shared understandings (visions) about the reasons for using ICT in education has lead to the huge investments that have been made in 'educational' ICT having had much less impact than anticipated (e.g. Cuban 2001; Twining 2002). This has lead to calls for a moratorium on further investments in ICT in education (e.g. Stoll 2000; Cuban 2001).

The questionnaire aims to stimulate and inform the debate about whether ICT should be an essential component of education and the reasons that should underpin the use of ICT in education.

I have volunteered, through our school, to be one of the collaborators so I would like to invite you to help Peter in his research. The url below takes you to the questionnaire which should take you less than 9 minutes to complete. Once you have finished it you can see an analysis of some of the core data that has been collected so far.

Click here to fill in the questionnaire

ReferencesCuban (2001) Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom, London:Harvard University Press. Stoll (2000) High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a computer contrarian, New York: Anchor Books. Twining (2002b) Enhancing the Impact of Investments in Educational ICT, PhD Thesis, Milton Keynes: Open University. (visited 31.1.03).

Webheads in Action - Evonline 2004

Evonline 2004 Becoming a Webhead finished last week - this online workshop, which I would call more of a jamboree because of its friendly and informal atmosphere, connected about 120 teachers from all over the world.

For 6 weeks, we had speakers presenting their work, we interacted and collaborated daily, sharing a variety of synchronous and asynchronous tools, finding ways and possibilities to innovate in the EFL classrooms so as to better engage our students in fulfilling their goals.

Our moderators, Dafne Gonzalez (Spain), Teresa d' Eça (Portugal), Susan Nyrop (Denmark) and Maria Jordano (Spain) provided us with a "rich tapestry of experience", as one of the participants put it.

Webheads in Action is more than a community of practice. It is a warm, open and nurturing environment where you meet people who not only work hard but also care and share with the others their love for knowledge.

I would like to thank you for inviting me for the chat and for the incredible six weeks we spent together sharing what we know to provide our students with what is best in EFL and help them in their learning process.

"All for One and One for All"!

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to meet and interact with vital allies who are working locally and globally for innovation and change in their classrooms. Let's keep in touch, exchanging materials, suggestions and ideas!

Congratulations on the huge success and participation! It is an honour to belong to such an enlightened, creative and dynamic community!