Online Communities Cartoon by Randall Munroe of xkcd:A Webcomic of Romance, Sarcasm, Math, and Language
We’ll devote a good portion of today’s session to working collaboratively on our blog, capitalizing on the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ to discover some of the tips and tricks to blog posting. Then we’ll share some reactions to today’s readings. It’s all about teaching and reaching today’s students. Are we ready for them?
I was intrigues by the “chacha.com” news. I had not heard about it before. I was looking what qualifications they were looking for in people who do the search for others. Since we often have the problem that our students are not always the best judges of what information they find online is valuable I wonder how chacha can contribute to the solution of this problem. I also always think about how we can teach our students to use sources critically and cautiously. I would like to see how services like “chacha.com” address this.
Yes, your thoughts reflect my thinking/possible concerns. It wonderful that Social Networking allows us (in an idealistic sense) more or less total freedom and, as Helen Sword and Michele Leggott described it in “Backwards into the Future” (a wonderful article!!!), to break down the “traditional boundaries between ‘me’ and ‘us'”. It is promising to share ideas so easily and fast. Nevertheless, I agree with you and we should be aware of the possible downsides. This fast access of information by those student’s, who are not critical, carries often the danger of not being “approved” and leads to a very superficial way of learning. From this perspective, information becomes an input and is not leading to further thoughts of an individual or a society. Even worse, as Kathrine Grayson’s “Network Chacha” describes it, people pay people to select online information for them. Fastfood and Fastbraininput? What is the next step, to find someone who thinks for you? A society a la “Matix” or a “cyberspace odyssee” with a new HAL? I think this reminds us once more of the essences of our profession: to research and find new ways/ideas, to teach others to join us and to share insights in an interactive (!)/social process, and to enjoy (!) critical thinking at the same time.
As a language instructor, in my classes I adopt the communicative approach, which focuses on the negotiation of meaning rather than linguistic form. In my content-based courses, I believe that part of my role as a teacher is to identify my students’ needs, tailoring my teaching methods and course content to address them. I also think it is important to acknowledge the diversity of learners and learning contexts. I am convinced that students learn better when they can relate not only to the material but also to the way it is presented to them. In my quest to explore new approaches, I have become interested in all Web 2.0 applications. Tools such as wikis and blogs represent a second generation of applications that aim to facilitate collaboration and sharing between users by using the web as a platform. In order to stimulate communication outside of the classroom I avail myself of such technologies. The usage of IM (Instant Messenger) and of blogs has allowed me to go beyond the boundaries of the classroom in both content-based and language courses. Students of language courses who engage in regular conversations through these applications are offered a valuable opportunity to practice their written skills in the target language, whereas students of content-based courses have the opportunity to deepen their discussion of texts and films. Outside the classroom, the online WebCT resource has also helped me in providing students with weekly class outlines and other relevant materials. Once again, I look forward to integrate more web 2.0 applications into my teaching style thanks to this course.