Friday, July 30, 2004

Our ABC Blook on Blogging

Check out the ABC Blook on Blogging, brought to you by the Wrinkles Weblog Group

British Council Bloggers

Finally, blogging has become a popular feature of British Council websites.

After some previous trials, the British Council Glasgow conference for teachers (taking place this week) has four teachers blogging their observations and summaries of the presentations they attend (Sorry, but these sites are only available to British Council staff via their intranet), using typepad. This could become a regular feature of conference events - it's certainly a good way to bring the conference to those teachers who can't attend. It's true there are few comments to the posts on the weblog, but then a lot of teachers will be on holiday at the moment.

I also found out that the Britsh Council community for exisitng students (Global Village, again not available to non-BC staff) is also to introduce weblogs to help improve the participation by students in this site. This is an interesting development as I proposed it when I was taking the excellent e-moderators course in September last year, for British Council Global Village moderators to improve their skills.

How effective these projects are remains to be seen, but the increase in blogging activity is certainly of interest for edu-bloggers who believe using weblogs hold a great deal of promise with both students and teachers.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Usability News - 6.2 2004 -- Reading Online Text: A Comparison of Four White Space Layouts

Usability News - 6.2 2004 -- Reading Online Text: A Comparison of Four White Space Layouts

"In this study, reading performance with four white space layouts was compared. Margins surrounding the text and leading (space between lines) were manipulated to generate the four white space conditions. Results show that the use of margins affected both reading speed and comprehension in that participants read the Margin text slower, but comprehended more than the No Margin text."

trAce Online Writing Centre - Opinion

trAce Online Writing Centre - Opinion:

"To call blogs literature would be to turn them into an elitist, edited, and vetted art, one which is contrary to their very nature. The complexity of what blogs and their reactionary, perfectly contemporary, accessible prose could mean to the future of sustainable storytelling, to truth in journalism and to the survival of democracy, is too great to call literature."

Weblogg-ed - Using Weblogs and RSS in Education :

Will Richardson's Power Point presentation can be found at this link: Weblogg-ed - Using Weblogs and RSS in Education The presentation provides a well-developed introduction to weblogs in education.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

E-Portfolios for Learning

Helen Barrett's E-Portfolios for Learning Blog was set up to discuss "ideas on electronic portfolios to support lifelong learning"

E-portfolios and weblogging

The paperCreation of a learning landscape: weblogging and social networking in the context of e-portfolios by Ben Werdmuller of the University of Edinburgh argues that for the 'e-portfolio' system to be effective it needs to capture the enthusiam of online leraner and tutors. As learning is not a solitary pursuit, one way that this can happen is to learn from social networks such as Orkut, and weblogging communities (livejournal being the example given). The learning experience, the paper argues, is enhanced and made more valuable by the participation and interaction of others.

Thanks to Stephen Downes for the link.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

EDUCAUSE REVIEW | July/August 2004,Volume 39, Number 4

EDUCAUSE REVIEW | July/August 2004,Volume 39, Number 4: "We are still working toward a common definition for electronic portfolios, or ePortfolios.1 Ideally, all work in an electronic portfolio not only is digital but also is available on the Internet. Yet even though materials may be visible on the Web, the ePortfolio is not simply a personal home page with links to examples of work. In addition, unlike a typical application program, such as word processing, an ePortfolio is a network application that provides the author with administrative functions for managing and organizing work (files) created with different applications and for controlling who can see the work and who can discuss the work (access)."

e-Literate

e-Literate is a weblog about online learning.

Results of Blog Use

I have just finished reviewing the results of a survey I gave to my students of 'Sound and Image' in the last computer class we had.

The students were taking English as a subsidiary subject, as part of their Professional Studies diploma in 'Sound and Image'. A lot of these students go on to work in the world of TV, theatre, cinema, as photographers or in other audio-visual contexts when they finish their two year course.

The English teachers' job is to help prepare them for this offering a mixture of general English and ESP. My class was upper-intermediate level.

We had a computer class programmed every third week and I decided to introduce learner weblogs as a way for them to submit assignments and record the things we looked at in this class.

As this was the first year we had regular computer room use and also the first time I had used weblogs consistently with a class, at the end of the course, I gave them a short questionnaire to see how they perceived the experience.

I am happy to say that it was very positive, and the majority of the students took to the computer classes (and using the weblogs) with enthusiasm. Obviously, this is what I thought I had perceived during the course of the year, but it's always nice to hear it from the horse's mouth.

As a result of their survey, I intend to use weblogs with the Sound and Image group next year, taking into account their comments when the course programme is designed.

Here are some of the findings of the survey

A more detailed analysis can be found at the Weblog in ELT group at http://searchenglish.britishcouncil.org/, the British Council Search English website.

1.Did you like using the computers frequently?

Yes: 14 No: 4

Sample comments:

Yes...At first I feared them, but slowly I begun to understand Its way of "thinking" or "programming".

Yes, I like a lot, because it is a way to change pen and paper of a typical class.And it is an easy way to give you our homework.

2) What activity did you like most using the computers?

Sample comments:

The best activity was explain a photo because I passed a great time choosing my photography. Another great activity was the review of a film because I talked about Tim Burton, one of my favourite directors of cinema, as you know.

The activity was the red herring, the interactive history was funny.

3) what activity did you like the least?

Sample comments:

I really hate film's reviews. I think that a reviewing is a very very personal think and people never could be in agree. So, and exemple is the Big Fish review because all classmates liked the film.... except me. It could be that I am a little ... strange.

Now I don't remenber an activity that I hated during it realization or after.

4) Did you like using the weblog? Why? Why not?

YES:10 NO:4 MIXED REACTION:4

Sample comments:

Yes, I did! I liked it so much. I think that it is a good way to connect to other people as another country or just classmates. More of people believes that weblogs are more more similar than kind of "net post-it's" but, I really know that weblogs are a way of communication in internet.

I don't like so much, because I only use to do my homework and it's obvious that to do the homework is not very funny. But I think that's a good sistem to do the homework.

5) What do you think students should do next year that we didn't do this year?

Sample comments:

Future students.... jeje. I will be a future student. In weblogs students should do a great many things like write a photography session; write about them lineage; write about them first love; an assessment about them ideal holidays; what they searching stdudying Image or Why they are studying Image; etc.