I was asked today by Barbara Sawhill to briefly take part in a presentation she's giving with Barbara Ganley on 'Using Skype, Podcasting and Blogging in Foreign Language Teaching'
Sitting here waiting for their Skype call, I decided to prepare myself a little bit and refresh my memory about their work.
As soon as I start looking I'm struck by what I've been missing out on by not blogging much, or taking much notice of the 'edublogosphere' recently. I can't let this happen again, no matter how busy I get.
First, I found a description of the workshop they are giving today:
"Recently, new technologies have distinguished themselves as credible tools that increase students' production and competence in a target language. With this change, a new conversation has begun about the structure of a language class, thinking about moving from a traditional teacher-and-text-centered classroom to a student-centered and possibly even a totally un-centered, textbook-less learning environment. In this workshop, we will explore several new "disruptive technologies" -- blogs, wikis, podcasts, rss feeds and Skype (http://www.skype.com)-- and explore ways these tools can support the objectives of a language curriculum."
This year I've been witness to the efforts that Barbara Sawhill has been making with her Spanish students, as we've been involved in podcast exchanges. Tonight, following links, I've just come across one of the most interesting reflections I've ever seen about using recorded Skype conversations.
Barbara Sawhill talks here, on the Language Lab Unleashed blog, about using recorded Skype calls as assessment tools for language learning.
In particular, she reflects upon students conducting Skype interviews as part of their final projects, and mentions the great value of doing this when students really use these conversations as a form of self-evaluation. She found that many students approached the task trying to produce something they thought Barbara wanted, rather than really reflect upon the conversations they had had. When her students approached the task as more than "just a list of questions that need to be answered", however, as one of Barbara's students (Gigi) did, then something special took place. In the recording, Gig talks to Rita, an EFL teacher in Argentina. She reflects upon the conversation in her blog.
Barbara also mentions the idea of students using these conversations as "snapshots" of what they were able to do at a particular moment, and she hopes some of them at least will be able to listen again in the future, and to be able to assess their progress. This is surely an area that has great potential in language learning.