- For Teachers
I'd like to know if you use blogs to teach English. Do you get other teachers to be involved as well? What do teachers think of blogging as a tool to learn English?
I've been trying to promote the use of blogs in my country, but teachers here show don't seem to want to use it... or maybe it's just too time-consuming.
It's a tough one this. In my experience, some will, some won't. Technophobia is a stumbling block.
But I have had a pretty fair rate of success with the blog as a teaching tool. It is a superbly flexible platform: you get students to write in any amount of ways and it is also increasingly viable as a resource centre. I used to be a wiki fiend, but in accessibility the blog is king.
Regarding your question re other teachers. Definitely yes. The blog which remains unread is the unwritten blog. So the more teachers you get involved, the more chance you have of getting blogs that are read and used. The comments feature is one of the first features I typically introduce.
One further point for now. How are you going to focus the blog is in my experience a key question. There are loads of possibilities out there, but these are some of the variables we used to try (before I moved onto a different project with my own rather ambitious teaching blog):
a) the freeform blog where they get to write about what they want. on the face of it stimulating, but soon runs into motivational issues.
b) the teacher driven blog where they are given specified topic/s to write about. This is easier to manage in classroom terms, but is evidently less personal. Another variable here is whether the blog is themed or not.
c) the blog where each student chooses one topic and writes about that topic. This works really nicely as a research/reading/writing project. It gets students doing. To note is that this runs best as a time limited project. Blogs can get boring after a time.
d) the reflective diary blog. We didn't get very far with this one with our own students, but with more mature students it's a definite runner - again for a short term clearly defined project.
Our experience was that take up rate ran at about 40% unless it was set as coursework. That seemed reasonable. If you set it as coursework, take up clearly rises to 95%, but at the cost of intrinsic motivation. Your choice.
As outlined above, blogs can be great, but don't run forever. I just had a quick peek and I could find 5/6 student blogs still going - I must have set up over 100 (very conservatively).
My moral: make it as interactive as possible and set clearly defined goals - whatever they may be.
People generally use blogs to promote or market their products. Sharing knowledge through blogs is also a great idea. People who visit your blog can post their comments too
I have a blog...but my 'real' students rarely access it. Most of my blog visitors are 'virtual' students. Hard to get my face to face students on the blog other than for an occasional visit. ;)
Know that feeling.
But the satisfaction is of course that there are many more virtual students than real students and I wake up to find that I have done 12 hours teaching on the other side of the world when I was asleep!
Well, I am not quite receptive of the idea. Blogs, per se, are supposed to be personal online journals, and learning English using blogs as a tool may be difficult as the "student" may not be able to relate to what the blogger is trying to say. I'd still stick to the more tested and proven ways to learn English.
I think not. The blog has come a very, very long way since the personal online journal. For me this is complete wrongthink (although you are clearly entitled to your opinion). It seems curious to insist on what something is "per se" - blogs may have started out as personal online journals but as I say they have come a long way since. By way of analogy think about what the internet started out as and see what it is today. Technology moves on and so do the applications of technology.
Personally, I am a pretty old-fashioned teacher in the classroom: communication still takes place best by one person sitting down and talking to another person. That isn't going to stop me looking for new and interesting ways to engage my students though. The key words are for me "interesting" and "engage". This will depend on teaching context of course but the vast majority of the student generation nowadays spend vast amounts of time on the computer so it seems natural to harness that interest to engage them.
This takes me back to blogs. The blog can do way more than just be a diary. This is just one simple example. A blog can be a resource centre. I spend much of my time teaching IELTS. Try googling IELTs and you come up with millions of results - are they all good. Absolutely not. So with one of my blogs I catalogue what I see are the best resources and show students ways to exploit them.
Why do I do this? It's a way of engaging students outside the classroom. It doesn't work for all students (nothing does) but this has been the best home work I have ever given. I never tell them you must do this - it's not that sort of home work. But when O log on to my Google Analytics I find that they are doing it anyway. isn't this the teacher's dream - students who do home work without you asking for it?
If you are willing to be persuaded of the potential of the blog, check out just one or two of the nominees for best class blog in the 2009 Edublog awards.