3/07/2005

A week later...

It's been more than a week .... but it seems ages... I really miss those free holiday afternoons with my notebook sitting at my desk...
But nothing lasts for ever, right? Hands on work, now.
I´m still tryning to figure out how my blogging poject would be... Furl, Bloglines, Flickr... are tools I really want to introduce and make good use of them. The potential bloggers are EFL student teachers in their last year... so they don't have much time to spend on blogging.. (reading, writing, searching) the question is How to motivate them and as it has been said many times during this workshop, how to keep them motivated...
Hope to think it over a little bit more and turn my ideas into sentences, phrases and weblogs!
Changing subjects, I love yesterday meeting in Tapped in... I thought I wouldn´t be able to make it, but suddenly plans changed and there I went! Thanks everbody for being so charming and for sharing your experience, knowledge and expertise with the whole group.... (the whole Community List is now on my blog, WOW!)
No way I want to miss any novelties in technology or blogging at all!

2/22/2005

Culture Shift or Paradigm Construction?

After reading most of the articles suggested for the 5th week's assignments, I've realized that much more than highly developed, friendly-use and free Internet technology is needed to develop successful electronic portfolio projects. What follows is just a brief summary of the matters that concearned me most... (when thinking about designing my own eportfolio project)
It is clearly stated that portfolios are not new at education, that - generally speaking - students have always showcased, selected and stored artefacts such as special assignments or outstanding tasks, etc. Definitions of eportfolios include notions of digital resource, flexible expression, accomplishment record, competence demonstration, collection of evidence, among others. Moreover, benefits for the users include learner's autonomy and meta-cognition; authentic assessment; life-long learning; creative thinking and collaboration; self-evaluation and reflection. Although the evidence showed during this week speaks positively about eportfolio projects, there exit certain "factors" that should be taken into account when considering "a shift" at teaching practice or classroom settings. To begin with, curricular prerequisites ,... and the question is: Are faculty members or EFL teachers ready to share with their students a precise curricular design? Isn’t it true that classroom settings differ (sometimes much) from study programs? And what about conveying standards? Quoting EDUCAUSE's review:

"...as the culture of the e-portofolio proliferates, it will contribute to an ossification of the current prefabricated, one-size-fits-most eporfolio model."

Other critical success factor is the change in the teachers' and students' roles, student-centered vs. teacher-centered paradigm (not a new discussion, of course) the need of facilitation, coordination and feedback allowing active involvent and meaning construction from the part of the learner.

Not to mention technology infrastructure and administrative support and faculty compensation, significantly essential at any stage of project development.

Implementation comes last but not least, what motivating stimulus will lead to it? Is it an idea or a fashion, a change of policy or some compelling reason which will avoid faculty from questioning about its use every step of the way?

However the five rules for students when implementing eportfolios appear to be clear enough:

1. Mandatory involvement and participation...
2. Computer literacy requirements...
3. Self-evaluation encouragement...
4. Regular feedback deadlines...
5. Imitation fostering and Success...

Future challenges include a rigorous evaluation strategy, a new paradigm development, a public policy, changes in technology and financial support, according to the above mentioned review.

Authors and projects explored are only the beginning of a practice that could radically change the way we teach and learn, not because this practice is new in itself, but because its purpose and current definition in relation to New Technologies have renewed it.

Shouldn’t focus be driven from cultural practices to the teaching paradigm? Once again, I ask myself, Aren’t we more than one hundred years from the firsts EFL's classroom approaches?

2/17/2005

Reflecting about Electronic Portfolios, over and over again...

I've been busy this week trying to read all the very interesting and full of details material about eportfolios (theory and practice) ... summarizing important elements, critical issues and factors in order to answer the question:

What makes a good weblogging project good?

As the Taxonomy of Electronic Portfolios distinguishes among portfolios based on three main determinators, CONTEXT - AUTHOR - PURPOSES;
It led me to the idea of a Community of Eporfolios for teachers' learning, exchanging, guiding, communicating and growing up in "new tech literacy competences"...

The idea of "Preparing Tomorrow's teachers to Use Technology" addressed as the implementing force in CLU's School of Education Web-based Portfolio , has broadened my scope in relation to what a weblogging project could mean and how it could be used at teacher training colleges for student teachers' learning and career development.

Please, imagine the following composition:

CONTEXT: Inter-weblogging EFL communities - Teacher Training Colleges - EFL's Tech expert teachers

AUTHOR: Student teachers - teachers - students - faculty members

PURPOSES: Documenting - Building - Advising - Adding to knowledge - Demonstrating - etc. the creation, development, outcomes and results of a new literacy built up among EFL learners...

I wonder if creating a community eportfolio as a collaborative project among participants of this group (it's just an example) could help raise awareness on how EFL and ESL teachers can cope new technological challenges in an effective way (I was about to say simple... but I recognize some technical and technological mastery is needed)with the purpose of enhancing learning processes, being updated and inserted in a global community for global and particular objectives.

Certainly many of you have been working on this for a while... but have your efforts been done collectively or individually? I feel somehow challenged... close to the front door, but not yet inside... Are electronic portfolio projects a way into....?

2/11/2005

Having fun with weblogging...

A summary of Teresa Almeida d'Eça ‘s Presentation at Learning Times

“Have Fun with English!”

Last Tuesday Teresa presented her EFL teacher – student writing project at LT. She addressed it as her 1rst experiment in blogging, adding that as she wasn’t sure if it was a web page or a blog, she started calling it a Plog

Have fun with English is a beginner EFL blog for 5th grade absolute beginners aimed at generating a two-way communication in English outside of class. It’s purpose is to stimulate practice of the language learned in class 'anytime, anywhere', giving students a voice of their own.
Teresa’s objective has been creating an open door to an authentic and broad audience that can comment and suggest on her students’ interest and writing experience.

She faced many challenges when starting to develop this project, among them were:
- How to spark motivation in absolute EFL beginners?
- How to keep the flame lit?

First decisions were related to:

Internet providers: She chose custom-made blog because it meant more layout flexibility, more control over content and less hassle

Sort of layout: She applied a simple, colorful, 3-column layout, with icons and images, specially attractive for children.

Type of content: Teresa thought it could be anything that interests her students, as far as they follow a RULE: Always in English. “…the only 'obvious' imposition on my part…” she quoted. (However there appear some translations in students native language on the page)

First page was released in 28 November 2003, it included the announcement about the blog project, an invitation to send messages and some interactive exercises created in (Hot Potatoes), but first message didn’t arrive till 6 December 2003.

The presentation continued with the explanation of some add-ons at blogging project. Theresa recalled them as “unexpected but welcome”, and they truly are…

Add-ons chart

In this matter, the group experienced with Voice Mail, Photos, E-Cards and Photo Stories, among other things. They had the opportunity of an exchange with a group of Polish EFL students through HandyBits, which allowed voice emails accompanied by the corresponding text, just perfect for young learners…

The potential of this tool broadened when Student " Teacher " Student, and Colleague " Students exchanges took place. In case students hadn’t direct access to Internet, or couldn’t send a voice message by themselves, handouts of an email template were given at class, so Teresa compromised to allow all students the chance to send messages and see them answered online. (Low Tech – High Tech Flexibility, as she calls it.)

The blog also included pictures, photos and drawings were posted or uploaded to the web; e-cards for special occasions, happy birthday songs into the e-card and, the latest trend: Photo Stories.

Conclusions lead to the following reflection:

Have fun with English is a simple experiment in writing to practice the target language that has taken on different dimensions contributing to add motivation and new learning horizons to students and teachers….
Here the unexpected has become reality and has gone beyond any 'wildest dreams'!!!

Congratulations! Teresa for such a success and thanks for sharing all your knowledge and expertise with this international weblogging learning community of EFL teachers. Your experience teaches us that we need to be well prepared for a new generation of kids that is not afraid to take risks… accept challenges…. and prove right!

You can see the complete PowerPoint presentation.
And also have a look at “Have fun with English” actual page.

2/10/2005

Did I do it? YES! I did!!!!

I can't hardly believe what I've accomplished a few minutes ago... (an you wouldn't believe my emotion when having this task accomplished, me and my kids jumping and singing "I did it" "I did it" - they followed my joy, indeed...
Thanks to Bee, who is always on alert, just as the rest of the coordinating team. (thanks Aaron, I haven´t thought about that...)
I signed up for a free account in a server, uploaded the voice file and managed to past the HTML code correctly! I still can´t believe it worked!
Thanks everybody for this wonderfull learning experience that teaches us much more than "ways of using Internet tools"... What follows is also amazing:










Task # 4 Test, Is audioblogging free?

In order to fulfill task 4 (practice posting a sound file to your blog) I've downloaded HandyBits and Audacy into my PC. Yesterday I had my son's recorded a short passage with all the words he knows in English (he's almost five...) Anyway, I converted the record into a MP3 file, according to Michael Coghlan's instrucctions in his page http://mikecogh.blogspot.com
The thing is I'd love to post my son´s recording to my blog, but couldn´t fine any free tool (I mean, some tool like Audioblog.com) and I don´t have any server to post it first and take the HTML code later. Is there anything I can do?

However, I successfully managed to copy and past Michael's audiopost from his page. (That cheered me up a little bit! Thanks Michael ....) What follows is his voice:







2/08/2005

Santiago, a funny little one

Santi, un pequeñin travieso
This is Santi, wearing the Buzz's suit his elder brother gave to him...

Federico - my sunshine

Todo un hombrecito...
It was hot that morning in December, when Santi, Fede and I went together with their grandpa to a school celebration ... "Fede was performing a monlight walker"...

2/06/2005

Creating you own Web?

This question came as an affirmation for the first time in my cyberlife... "aggregators help you make your own internet" WOW!!!

Unbelievable and Unthinkable before this week!


I must say last weeks' learning has been much more productive and promising than I ever imagined... enrolling in this course has shown me how much is still there.... to be discovered about new technologies and its possible uses for teaching and learning.

But now, the real question is... How to put together all this new knowledge in my classes? How to foster blogging with student teachers at teacher training college? Is it possible to change years of traditional classrooms settings into a new modern educational environment? Do students embrace this "virtual existence" because they believe in it, or because teachers require them to do so? Which of the following strategies will be most appropriate for triggering "blogging habits": (Some brainstorming I want to share and exchange ideas with this blogging community)

Althought many questions still remain there, my biggest reward is that knowledge has been triggered... and learning is taking place!

Bet ()

PS: A word on this week's collective task: It has been a delight to work with Nancy! Thanks.


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