Following on from my sessions with the 16-19 ESOL Level 1 group and not being wholly satisfied with the way things are going I am thinking now of revising my approach.
I think that it would be of greater benefit to students if we could cut out the very time consuming set up steps and perhaps bring an already established Blog interface to the students for them to use as a class....the teacher would "drive" the Blog.
I have started to think along these lines for the following reasons:
- despite being quite a high level class in terms of their IT and English ability, they had/are having great difficulty in setting up their own individual Blog (just the process of following the straightforward EduBlog instructions proved very challenging and very frustrating fro them). Some students who missed a session were way behind others when tehy got back. I found that I was leaving some learners behind and found myself working with those who understood the format rather than teaching and including the whole class....not good. Some got bored with their lack of success and starting getting distracted with other online things.
- They are currently very isolated from each other - even tho' I linked some of their attempts to a webpage to be viewed thro the Studnet Portal, the students were not really interested in looking at each others Blogs via the net - some did physically move to look at another's work onscreen but i really think that it woudl be more beneficial for us to try and get students to work on a project togther, as a class. I am sure that personal Blogs would work in other subject areas where learners have more research/ language ability/autonomy but the whole point of using this medium with ESOL students, I feel, is to facilitate communication with each other.
- The ESOL classes have one and a half hours timetabled in IT rooms per week and this is quite a long time to concentrate purely on Blogging. We have been doing webquests for years now in order to develop students' internet research skills so the idea of receiving a task from the Class Blog, posted by the teacher, and then the students (in groups or individually) goign onto the web to find answers/info then bringing back this information to one place seems to me more manageable an activity. The next step would be for students to then comment on what others bring back to the project...
- I see it as basically the same process that we use and the students are familiar with from their everyday ESOL classes: Intro to subject or theme, T sets task, students work togther, groups then feedback to the whole class and comment on what each other comes up with. So I think I'm now realising (thro trial and error) that Blogging should be approached from the task and intended end result rather than (as I have done) "Right, we should keep a Blog...erm...What should you write...? Well, not sure really but it's a very exciting thing so we should try it!"
- this class is going on an excursion to see the Terracotta Army at the BM so I will try and get something up and running linked to this and the excellent BM website.
- I think as part of teh PET project, I will try to do something like this for a variety of different levels - liaise with the course tutor and we could together come up with tasks that students can handle/on a familiar topic that I can present to the group already set up on a Blog page. So it will hopefully benefit the division and create resources/examples taht could be rolled out. Mmmm... does that make sense? It's pretty clear in my mind I think...try and avoid the complexities of the Blog set up - just have it as a 'host' for project work feedback and aim on getting students (of whatever language abilty) to participate ie. create posts and ideally encourage them to comment on others posts. Of course they will have to have some ability in actually being able to post a comment adn upload visuals but tehy will all be working on a common theme which the teacher can monitor.