May 11, 2006

A not so brilliant failure

This post (clarified here) echoed with me today, after I had a less than satisfying stint in the computer lab with my students and tried to get them closer to actually blogging. My intention is to give students the opportunity to experience the fun and excitement of blogging that I feel. However, the difficulty is to create activities and tasks that are clear and that require them to do the kinds of things they need to do in order to understand (some of) the potential value and benefit of blogging.

Due to entirely unforeseen circumstances, i.e. not preparing properly, I hit upon several stumbling blogs, erm, blocks.

1) I realized once I was in the lab that I did not have with me the passwords I needed to access my Bloglines account. I therefore could not demonstrate for them how to import an OPML file into an (as yet uncreated) Bloglines account.

2) I decided to show them how to tinker with the blogger template to add a link to another blog. I demonstrated this first on a screen they could all see (tho actually they couldn't all see because the size of the screen was pretty small, and the quality of the picture varied from screen to screen so some students had to squint pretty hard). It was then I realized this was going to be harder than I had thought because none of them know anything about HTML or templates or ...

3) Before we even got to that stumbling block, we hit another one: many couldn't access their blogger blogs because they'd a) forgotten their username ("did you send it to me by email right after last class as I told you to? If so, the URL is in your email which is in your "Sent" folder. If not, I can't help you.")
 or b) had forgotten their password. A couple of boys spent almost the entire hour trying to persuade Blogger.com to tell them what their password was, without success (perhaps because they were giving an email address that was different from the one they used to register with Blogger... )

4)  Most students had (by chance) selected a blogger template that includes a "Links" section in the sidebar, but not all of them had. "Sir, where's the "Links"? One bright spark proposed a solution: to switch templates. However, I decided it would be quicker for me to simply add the code for a "Links" heading in their original template.

5) A handful of students had not successfully created their blog last week (ran out of time or were absent) so they had to be guided through that process.

Eventually, though, more than half the students had successfully added a link to one other blog in their sidebar by the end of the class. I lavished praise on the ones that succeeded.

On reflection, I should have had them all start with just writing in their blogs and reading others. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

1 comment:

EFL Geek said...

In the future you may want to try wordpress blogs - there are a number of free services including eslblogs.org edublogs.org wordpress.com blogsome.com

the bonus there is that students don't need to mess with the template to add links - it's all done in an intuitive interface in the admin section. Additionally wordpress has trackback which blogger does not.

Anyhow good luck with the rest of the course and keep posting updates.