Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Blogs for Kids

"Flush out the writer in children. Blogging could draw out a young writer and open doors to their future."

So says Sharon Housley in the post Blogs for Kids at RSS Specifications.

Sharon goes on to describe the benefits that blogging can have for children. Althoughnot aimed at an ELT audience, this post is obviously of interest to YL teachers thinking of blogging with their classes, or those who already do so.

BALL - Blogging Assisted Language Learning

Jason Ward has an article in the TEFL Web Journal entitled 'Blog Assisted Language Learning: Push button publishing for the pupils.

Jason talks about the benefits that blogging can have in the reading and writing classes. The article speaks mainly of the advantages of using blogs.

Under shortcomings, Jason mentions that students could be exposed to some 'questionable readings' and that it could also have 'a detrimental effect on reading, writing and confidence.'

The danger, it seems is that reading by scrolling a computer screen can lead to a 'superficial and often inaccurate, understanding of the content, and that sloppy writing can result from blogging. Jason also mentions that the commenting feature of weblogs can lead to confidence being undermined if students receive criticism from others.

All the more important, therefore, to ensure that blogging with students is controlled? Perhaps by restricting the commenting feature of student weblogs to those enrolled in the class? All of this is mentioned briefly in Jason's article and deserves to be expanded upon by someone. Any takers?

The second part of Jason's article outlines his own blogging experience with students, and the results.

These results showed that his students overwhelmingly preferred the blog to the regular journal, and seemed to have told others about the weblog. A large majority also believed that using a weblog would improve their English, although many were unsure at the time of the survey whther they would continue with the blog.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Elearnspace - categories of e-learning

George Siemens at Elearnspace has written an article (complete with useful mindmap)about the different categories of e-learning.

Blogs are included in the diagram, grouped together with wikis and 'groove' under the 'collaborative tools' branch. Other categories include courses, informal learning, blended learning, communities, networked learning, and workplace
learning.

Many-to-Many: Social Software: What's New

Many-to-Many is a group weblog concerned with social software. It's definitely worth taking a look at.

From there, the first thing I jumped to was Adina Levin's BookBlog, which has a great discussion on what's new and who's doing what in social software.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Blogging with ERASMUS students

I have started to blog with this year's ERASMUS students, who are over in Barcelona until Christmas. I have them for a class on Catalan Culture, introducing them to the culture and history of Catalonia (and how this is similar to / different from Spanish culture).

Last year I set up a class weblog for this group, and although the experience was positive, and some of the students continued blogging there after the course, I found that having just one weblog between 25 students made it difficult to keep track of what everyone was saying. I also used the weblog as a way of grading them, and it was not easy to evaluate as all posts were on one site. Finally, I asked them to set up an account, and there were problems (with students forgetting passwords and user names).

so, having learned from my mistakes, I set up a class weblog for the group here:
http://catalanculture.blogspot.com
and also individual learner weblogs, linked to the class weblog. I actually set up all the accounts for the students and gave them their logins and passwords. That way I set myself up as Administrator on all the accounts and fixed the settings to help the functioning of the weblog community.

My idea is that the others can respond to what their colleagues say using the comments system, and so when someone makes a comment, an email is sent to the student to inform them. When they publish their weblog, however, an email is automatically sent to me. This way, I know when I have to check their blogs and respond. In theory, it should work much better than last year's system. We shall see! At least it seems that a lot of the students have responded well to using weblogs and are posting about their experiences in the city...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Analyzing Teen & Teacher Weblogs

Bernie Dodge compiled this chart for use during his EDTEC Saturday Seminars on Motivating Student Writing with Weblogs.

On the site you can find a course overview, an outline and resources.