Posts tagged ‘learning’

May 22, 2010

Me and them

This is individual work, I uttered unexpectedly but purposefully.

I was talking to my labour-division-fan groups, trying to get them involved into a collaborative work. C-o-l-l-a-b-o-r-a-t-i-v-e. The thing is they kept stuck to that group notion. Kill the group, I thought. Individual, I said.

Have I become a late neoliberalism agent?, I feared.

Soon, traces of collaboration started to show up.

I work with words. I teach a foreign language. Even foreign to me. I know words are tricky. I know they can mean what they don’t mean. Why would it matter if I’d said individual when I meant collaborative? It just worked.

I was trying to start a learning experience. I don’t know whether learning is social or not. I do know it’s an experience. As such, is it explainable? Well, at least it’s livable.

This is what we are living:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “2001: A Space Odyssey“, posted with vodpod

We are reading 2001: A space Odyssey and after our first academically correct students’ production, I decided to make a change. I told them they would become experts. I selected four quite broad topics related to the book and asked them to jump into the universe (wiki included).

I jumped as well. I didn’t keep my safety teacher feet stuck to the planet earth.

  • Two classes are working together. Same school. Different ages. Same language level. No class face to face contact between the two groups, but for the wiki. (Still weak wiki.)
  • I know nothing about their fields of future expertise. (I’m far older than my students, though. Sometimes that is an advantage.)
  • I’m working without a plan. Yes, no planning at all. I  improvise. Constantly. Thrilling, isn’t it? It’s working. Furthermore, I think it’s working because I don’t have a plan. As the only thing I have is the pure experience, I observe. Constantly. And I try. Trial and error. And patience. Loads of.
  • I’m not grading them. They’re working for free. And they are secondary school students. At secondary school everything is about marks. (Well, some are not working much, I admit. But they wouldn’t be working even if I was grading them.) No marks, but assessment.  Me and them.

I don’t know what the outcome might be. I do know that to some of them it will be meaningful.

As a teacher -that observer/doer who is within the picture, I’m enjoying my own learning experience. Individual up to now, socialized after clicking publish. I’m also enjoying witnessing my students’ learning experience. Individual? Social? Personal. Yes, personal. And shared. And distributed.

En Español.

February 5, 2008

Learning and Teaching

I’ve been working with different Social Media in my SMiELT workshop, and I’ve been constantly asked how to use those tools for teaching EFL. I’ve been unable to answer that question. I AM unable. The thing is I’m on holidays, I’m not teaching at the moment. I’m not in contact with students. I simply cannot think of activities for anyone. I need real students for inspiration, I need real objectives, a real context. Moreover, I need to use the tools for some time.

I haven’t got much experience using web tools in my classes, but I’ve got some. If this happens to me, I can understand how difficult it must be for teachers who have never used blogs or wikis or podcasts or social bookmarking to see the value in those tools.

Some months ago I participated in an online workshop on ICT for teachers (as a teacher, don’t laugh). One of the things I constantly stressed was the what for, they wanted to know the how. I got mad, kept my hands off the keyboard and my mouth off the mic, and got mad alone, disconnected. Now I understand them. How could they see the value of a tool they had never used?

Some tools cover needs you had before they existed. For example, I’ve always asked my students to rewrite, I think it’s impossible to write something valuable without editing and reediting. Consequently, when I discovered wikis, I immediately got hooked on them. They also allowed me to to something I couldn’t do in paper: I could write suggestions without messing the students writings, the discussion page was an extra I only saw when I started to use wikis with my students.

However, this is not the same for every application, how can you imagine the value of twitter before using it? or Delicious? or Facebook? The possibilities they offer are as new as the applications are.

For years we have remarked that education should be student centered. What if education becomes learning centered. (just as Diego Leal cleverly points out somewhere in this post in Spanish).

It’s difficult for me to see which activities my prospective students could get engaged with by using Social Media. It’s easy and obvious how I –as a learner– can benefit from Social Media. Our students are learners, just as we are.

To teachers who are starting:

  • learn how to use the tools quickly, learn on your own, new tools are developed constantly, you cannot have someone tutoring you all the time.
  • use those tools to learn. Think of yourself as a learner, not a teacher; because if you cannot forget you are teacher, your students run a serious risk:
I found this video through Jose Luis, (Twitter, one day I might love you). It shows one of my nightmares.

By the way, didn’t we become teachers because we loved learning?

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