May 11, 2005

Blogging and autonomy

Having had such fun in the winter months learning about blogging and enjoying the conversations with some bright and resourceful edu-bloggers, I was eager to try blogging with students. But as term approached, I began to feel it would take a lot more work and energy than I'd thought, and would it be worthwhile? So I actually put nothing in place, except take a look at Moodle.
Then term started, and, taking a hint from Getting There, I invited students of all my classes to give me their input on rules of the class and basic behavioural guidelines.
I first wrote up my 4 rules of the class on the board: 1) be on time, 2) attend at least 2/3 of the classes, 3) practice positively, and 4) respect everyone else in the room. After students had copied these down, I then asked them to discuss these in groups of 2-4 and add anything to them, especially #1 and #2. For instance, what if a student is late? Any penalty? How late is "late" and how late does "late" turn into "absent"? And what if someone is borderline attendance, what should that person do?
Then I asked them to write down their additions, comments, etc., and I collected all the papers. With later classes I asked them to email me their comments and suggestions. I created a special email account at Goo for one school I work at. Goo also has a blog option which I want to try out (my daughter uses it and says it's very easy to set up). My plan is to post all the students' comments and suggestions and questions on the blog (anonymously of course), and include my own comments or other information (like textbook title or homework assignments and deadlines), and see what the interest is. If it takes off, I'll look into a group blog to which all students can post (not just comment on). One step at a time.

So, from now on, this blog will include results and observations on the use of blogging for autonomy, and blogging as an adjunct to regular EFL classes as a tool for self-reflection and to help invite students to be involved in some of the decision-making and running of the class.

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