Thank you to a wonderful group of ESL (English as a Second Language) educators who I worked with today. Your interest, questions and positive outlook as you worked towards understanding blogs and how they can be used to enhance learning in classrooms was appreciated and motivating. There was so much I hoped to share with you – many different tools and applications that all have outstanding possibilities for use by you and your students in your classrooms.
Technology as a tool – as a process
Liam mentioned that in deciding on using various technology applications in a classroom, decisions must be made about the quality and the effectiveness of the tool.
As educators, it is our job to decide which tool or application will add the value to a learning activity. Using technology with classes is not a competition to use as many applications as possible, or to use an application just so you can say that you are using it.
We have to keep the learning outcomes in mind, and if a technological tool can add to a students’ understanding, or help them create understandings then there is a place for it in our classrooms.
The web can be an overwhelming place for “newbies” (or newcomers). But if you start slowly and spend some RFF time looking at what others are doing, you will be able to quickly gather an idea of the huge amount of wonderful things that other teachers are doing in their classrooms and with their students.
Checking out the blogrolls on blogs is a great way to open up the “blogosphere” and expand your horizons. Each class links out to other classes at the same school, at schools in other parts of the country, and often across the globe.
You will find links to educational sites that you can use, museums to “visit”, on-line news, resources that can be shared, on-line conferences to listen to, and even professional development opportunities through videos and discussions.
Don’t forget to read the comments after each post to see what others are thinking. You might feel comfortable commenting and adding your thoughts to discussions.
Even if you can’t see yourself setting up a blog just yet, I am sure that you will find the time spent “lurking” on blogs will add to your classroom repertoire of teaching/learning activities and strategies.
I promised to come back to Ning, didn’t I?!?
A Ning is a social networking application where a group of people who share a common interest in a topic can set up a group on the internet. If you want to be part of that group you can join the Ning and you will be given a home page and access to all sorts of discussions, forums and opportunities to share ideas or ask for help.
Each person in the Ning has their own home page and you contact people through their page. You can leave messages, share photos, watch videos and participate in shared activities or meetings. How much you participate is up to you.
The two large badges on the right of this post are both Ning groups that I belong to. Click on either and have a look. Make sure you find you way to the Main Page to see what is happening within the group.
Another way to get started is by becoming part of an online project. The beauty of many projects is that someone else is doing the organising and will be able to answer your questions and concerns. You will find that there are people with differing degrees of expertise participating, and that you will be supported and encouraged along the way.
If you find for some reason that the support is not there – you can unengage and move on to something different and better suited to you and your class.
The Department (in NSW) runs Book Raps for all stages over the year, and these raps are beginning to use blogs and wikis to share student work and discussions. A great way to get involved!
Check out the “TESOL SEMINAR PAGE” at the top of this blog for links to other project places.
I will post further information that might add to some of the discussions we had today in another post soon. If you need greater elaboration on anything, please leave a comment here (just click on comments, fill in the required boxes, and hit submit) and I will endeavour to help you out where I can.
Thanks for an exciting morning,