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Monday, January 30, 2012

Startled at the abundance of bargains

     The third week is coming to an end and I have learned quite a lot. What my colleagues have achieved are so amazing! How could I possibly have managed to do so many other things? Some of their blogs seem a lot more attractive than mine! And I also keep thinking of how I can implement what I learn to my teaching situation. Which tools do I really need?

     I stop for a while! Masses of information, huge numbers of sites offering me what I need and what I hadn't thought I might need. Lots of sites willing to offer me their products and services for free. They compete to amaze me and they do. Is there enough time to consume them all?

    I feel as if I am in a huge mall full of stalls of colourful products. I feel overwhelmed with the number of options. I wander around for hours and sometimes I lose track. Then tired, I withdraw. I look for the way out to clear up my mind and reorganize my work!

    I am all the more convinced that there are two ways to deal with the web. One is to discover it and another one is to use it. I need to remain critical before I become a "modified" consumer.

   Marina

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is Technology panacea?

      Some very important issues have been  raised this week during the discussion among members of the webskills course. We are all technology enthusiasts but not so carried away that we could neglect examining various factors teachers should consider when embarking on integrating technology into their lessons.

       To start with, a question that is posed is whether there will come a time that teachers will become obsolete. I personally doubt that and I agree with those who claim that it is the teacher's role that will change. The teacher is  all the more expected to guide students into their learning adventure and "pave the way" for their mental and social development. However, this entails that the teacher should be able to "pave the way" that every single student can potentially take - "the way" that best fits his/her personality and learning style. How feasible can that be and how can we expect a teacher to achieve such a huge goal when he or she has to cater for more than 25 different individuals' needs in most cases? Technology can at this point prove to be a helping tool. A computer and appropriate for a learning situation software can help a teacher with the designing of an individualised lesson. This does not necessarily requires a language lab, but only computer corners in an ordinary classroom. This will allow students who need to practice a particular language area more to do so at their own pace while other students are being engaged in a different activity. It can also be a solution for students who are fast learners and easily get bored when the teacher slows down to help struggling students. Thus, the teacher is still there like a conductor of an orchestra or a director of a performance.

      Another point raised is whether students learn better when using a computer than having a teacher in a face-to- face setting. No doubt, the latter strikes as being more interactive and more humane as a teacher can tell whether the student is in good mood or in good physical condition. Computers, on the other hand, can increase the possibilities, by the means of the Internet and tools such as Skype, for students to interact with native speakers of a foreign language and thus become genuinely motivated to use the language. So the artificial at first sight classroom can be an open window to the world. Let alone that students who live in remoted areas can benefit from sources and learning communities and social networks, otherwise totally missing in their location. 

      Finally, a point that sounds alarming for teachers is the time management and the possible mingling of working time and personal time. I personally feel that there is a likelihood of being addicted to spending most of your time in front of the screen of your computer but still it is again a matter of personal capability to develop and keep distinct limits between professional and personal life. No matter what, this is a new world and has come to stay. It is up to humans to take advantage of the benefits of technology and control their lives properly.

Marina 



Sunday, January 22, 2012

An acrostic for teachers

       For some teachers to write objectives is a real pain in the neck. They usually have a rough idea of what they want to teach but when it comes to assess what their students have learned, they end up to be either too strict or too lenient. Why does this happen? Obviously because they haven't clearly stated their objectives from the very beginning not even to themselves.
     According to the relevant literature, a teacher should know that the learning objectives can be cognitive, psychomotor and affective. A long list of verbs are suggested as appropriate to use when a teacher wants to write an objective of any category. And then a whole theory about the reasons why certain verbs should be avoided.

     The ABCD method of writing objectives that I've learned  this week seems to be very practical. Acrostics are always helpful as they remind you what you shouldn't forget.

     ABCD works as an acrostic that reveals the most important elements of an objective. A for Audience (the learners), B for Behaviour (what learners will be able to do after the teaching), C for Condition (how or the context in which the learning will take place), D for Degree (to what extent, in how much time,  how well?).

A (Audience) helps you consider the students' profile, skills, starting point.
B (Behaviour) helps decide and design where you want to take your students
C (Condition) helps you consider the teaching tools, the teaching approach, the time required, the learning      environment
D (Degree) reminds you that you must set the criteria against which the students' performance will be evaluated well in advance.

Clear though the method it is, it requires a lot of practice on the part of the teachers until they become absolutely able to put all four in one. After reflecting on how well I can apply the ABCD method to my every day teaching practice, I decided to replace the highlighted verb above with the verb "I've been taught". I feel I need to practice more until I meet the target.

References
http://ets.tlt.psu.edu/learningdesign/objectives/writingobjectives/
http://www.slideshare.net/ashleytan/writing-specific-instructionallearning-objectives-presentation

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ariadne's thread

what I found frustrating ever since I started using the internet was that I couldn't easily find my way back. As I was wandering through the numerous paths and alleys of cyberspace, I usually stopped for a while on  an interesting site which suggested various links all potentially worth clicking on; and from one link to the other, amazed by what I discovered, I  usually lost track and subsequently the initial target. Lost and tired, I usually felt like giving up and so I did  most of the times comforting myself with the thought that I could start over the next day.
How disappointed I was every "next day" when I realized that I was not able to retrieve the sources I had found. The amateur  method of copying and pasting on a word document bits and pieces of certain articles didn't help me. I am now in the position to say that I need to hold tight Ariadne's thread and this is http://www.delicious.com to me. It doesn't "taste" delicious but it works effectively for my work like a delicious dish for the body. I have stored all the useful sites my classmates have suggested and at my own pace I will explore them when the time comes. I have already visited some and I have created some stacks of links that I'll need in the near future.

I can now travel more safely with this roadmap in hand.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 14, 2012

"GAINS OF THE WEEK"


I could never imagine that what I might learn in a course could be handy the next moment. This happened to me this week and I feel thrilled about that. To be specific, my class is doing a project this term and we needed a questionnaire for our research. The problem was that we didn't have much time to design, hand it out, collect the filled- in copies and draw the results. So I used for the first time an on-line questionnaire and this is something I learned once I set out on this course.
Second, I created a blog which seems to be friendly and I almost overcame some constraints I had about blogging.
These two things strike me as being very challenging learning experiences and very useful teaching tools. I will now start thinking about how I can use a blog for my teaching since I already know what I can do with an on-line questionnaire.

I feel really lucky I attend this course and share all these with you.

See you on-line!

Marina
Saturday 14 January 2012

Week 1. My first post 

I have been in front of my computer for some time now not knowing how to start. To be honest, I created my blog yesterday but I didn't post anything.
"This is not my first blog", I thought, "but this time I feel kind of strange".  "Why?", I wondered.

After giving it some thought, I realised that the blog I had created a couple of years ago (http://blogs.sch.gr/mkollatou/ ) was a "blog" in the form but not in essence, meaning that I didn't use it to write about my views, my impressions or my worries. I used it only for professional purposes and I kept some distance. I could feel that it didn't resemble to the blogs I followed but some kind of unexplicable constraints kept me back.

So, here it is! I will start using my new blog to talk about what I learn, how I feel about what I learned, what difficulties I may have! And the fact that I have all of you, though scattered in the world being so close, experimenting like me, helps me liberate myself from the fear of being exposed.

It is so nice to meet you all and you Robert in particular for being so encouraging!