What to do…

Posted: February 2, 2008 in EVO 2008 Tasks, SMiELT2008

This week we are supposed to be discussing how we can use the tool we have selected to really explore. The instructions say:

Make a post on your blog illustrating and commenting on how you could the tool/platform you have chosen. You should take into account:

  • the public you will be dealing with
  • their level
  • their communicative competence
  • your setting and curricular constraints
  • degree of formality of instruction
  • access
  • amount of time you can spend on it
  • institutional support
  • technical resources
  • your common needs and objectives

In my current position, I don’t really have any possibility of using any of these platforms. I teach adults in a community-based program. Our institution has a computer lab with 15 computers, but the room is seldom available to students. There are computer/ESL classes in there during the time I have one of my classes. Two of my classes are held at elementary schools where there is no computer access at all. During the time I teach my other two classes, the lab is used to teach non-computer classes. Most of my students are afraid to even turn on the computer if they have one at home, and of those who have computers, few have internet access.

It is possible, though, that next year I could actually have some of my classes in the computer lab, which would give me computer access during class. So, it is on the basis of that possibility that I am going to answer the questions.

Our curriculum is such that it would be very difficult to integrate social media into it. To do that, I would have to set aside the curriculum to some degree. I am not opposed to doing that, and I probably can get away with it. Of course, that isn’t the ideal way to do it. I hope to be able to talk to the program director to see if we can’t make some changes or if I can’t develop some new courses that incorporate more social media and more technology in general.

The big question, I think, is why my students would want to or should want to become involved in social media. I have to say that I don’t think they want to at the present time because I doubt that they even know it exists. I cannot imagine them twittering or using the 43Trio. I can, however, see them using Flickr. And that is probably where I would start.

I can see giving my students an assignment in which I ask them to look for a picture and then either answer questions about it or write about it, depending on their level of English proficiency. I could see giving students the task of finding a picture that reminds them of home and then writing about it. We could practice particular grammar points like Alicia is suggesting in her blog.

But, these ideas aren’t really exploiting the social nature of Flickr. My reasoning is that I don’t think my particular students are ready to do that. Maybe I am selling them short, but I think they need to become familiar with the site and comfortable accessing it before I ask them to do much more than look at pictures and write about them.

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