Friday, July 11, 2003

Rethinking the Blog class

Setting up the Blogs before the students went into class was definitely a good idea. I also produced a worksheet which guided them through changing the settings (title, description, name, etc). This time the class went much better and there wasn't the sense of frustration that occurred the day before when the work the students had done was lost.

The experience, however, was not without its problems. Some of the students lost work because the computers crashed when they tried posting their entries. The PCs we use are not ideal for the job we ask them to do, and sometimes we have to try two or three times to load a webpage. This is OK if you persist with the refresh button, but if the students use the back button, then their work can sometimes be lost. What I suggested to the students was one of two things:

  • They should copy the text they write before moving onto the next screen, so if it is lost then they can always retrieve it from the clipboard.
  • They should write their text in a wordprocessor first, so they always have a saved version of the text, and they can copy it into the blogger new post screen.

Because language learners take longer to formulate and write their ideas, this strategy seems to be a good one.

At the end of the class, most of the students (although not all) had managed to write and publish something, and they were starting to get to know their way around blogger.

Looking at the meagreness of their their results, I did wonder whether the experiment was profitable considering the time it was taking to produce short pieces of text. On second thought, I came to the conclusion that judging the experience only on their results is misleading. If I look back upon what actually went on during the class, then I can say that I was kept constantly busy by the students, calling me over to ask me questions about what to do next or how to do something. They were also actively involved in reading; not only the worksheet I gave them, but also the instructions on blogger.com and then some of them went to see other blogs to see what people had written. It was also a valid attempt to engage their interests and to encourage them to produce writing that could conceivably be read by many people, from different parts of the world. Looking at it this way, it seemed to be a very good use of half-an-hour's class time, and I decided to repeat the experiment, not only with the same class (FCE2), but to also introduce it to the other class I am teaching at the moment (FCE1).

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