Reflections on teaching EFL students

Monday, January 24, 2005

Live blog - James Farmer at Alado

‘Communication Dynamics’ Web Presentation & Seminar

This is my first attempt at live blogging, so please excuse the mistakes, etc... I tried my best to get down all that I could, although I'm aware that I missed a lot as my typing is not that good...

James: Incorporated subversion is meant to embody the essence of the Internet, and is is the at the opposite end of the spectrum to WebCT and Blackboard (sorry for the paraphrasing, but I can't type very fast! :)

James: A Community of Enquiry : socail presence / cognitive presence and teaching presence.

James: Social presence : ability of teachers to project themselves and create a community. Teaching presence: the ability of the teacher to actually facilitate the development of sp and cp.

James: Often overlooked is the actual communication medium, and that's what we're going to have a look at now.

(slides of different communication environments) - James: There are a number of ways that the traditional classroom environment can be subverted to create an environment more conducive to groupwork and communication. One example is the corridoor - one argument is that an open plan environment is more conducive to a communicative environment.

James: Television - it's almost impossible to have an interactive TV without adding expensive equipment (set top box, etc) . Online environments - perhaps the most familiar to people.

James: How does a discussion board add to interactive communication? Can use avatars,etc. Can enter into conversation, but difficult for conversation to be sustained - don't know if a message posted to discussion board will be read by colleagues. Then they have to go and make a response - en fin, this requires people visiting and does not help a community enquiry model - it's hard to have a kind of discussion that can be had with a mailing list, and this is why a lot of teachers use email lists, etc, to try and promote a community of enquiry. It is, however, possible to develop a community of enquiry using a discussion board, but it's very difficult to do so.

James: There are lots of problems with email still.

James: I have been subscribed to Yahoo RSS feeds, but this has proved to be a limited communicative experience.

James: Moving onto the weblog environment. [6 images]. RSS is probably one of the most important part of the weblog phenomena, as using an aggregator, you're able to read hundreds of different weblogs from one area - and this is great as it avoids spam, and is far more a matter of choice than the email environment. You choose what you want to read.

James: Blogs are like organic cities that don't develop in neatly organised areas, unlike how a lot of VLEs are set up. A weblog environment is a very communicative environment. A weblog is a very individual, owned space. There are collaborative weblogs, but these more often than not these form a type of publication and an individual weblog is very much owned by one person and reflects their character, etc...

James: [different models of weblog environments] - online learning environment - each of the blogs are aggregated into the environment. Has a lot of potential - capitalises on the benefits of weblogs. Final diagram represents individual weblogs, individual aggregators (as well as having a central aggregator). Bloglines users will know how easy this model seems to be.

James: Weblogs may be able to develop sp, cp & tp. Communities of Enquiry. Weblogs are very much developed and sustained by individual weblogs - you are in essence projecting your real persona through your weblog. It promottes sustained reflection - for example, journalism, diaries. I believe that sustained discourse takes place, and as people know they are writing for an audience, this means that discourse is being created. Although a student may choose not to subscribe to a teacher's weblog, a similar model in a teaching environment will be that - a student will want to subscribe to a teacher's feed, and the teacher's voice coming through the student weblogs has much more influence than a post on a discussion board.

James: Trackback is also important.

James: [Final Slide] Where to from here? Drupal/Wordpress/Schooltool. What's exciting is thinking that a university may well give each enrolled student a weblog as they enroll, and a netwrok may well develop.

These open source tools allows institutions to develop sustainable learning environments - they are flexible because they are open source, and they can be developed and added to and they provide an exciting future of possibilities.

Aaron: I have a problem - the relationship between online learning and the communication relationships. Not explicit is the relationship between these environments and the there is a dependency. In what way can we use weblogs that are very dispersed and still be used by institutions that are not ready to accept them because of their mentality

James: Have these tools the capacity to change or develop people's approaches to learning? I use Drupal because of one of these...a Blackboard user would be more comfortable with am internal, closed weblog rather than an open, chaotic system that they best offer.

James: The design of online environments is very much like those of physical learning environments - design a place where people can relax and be who they want and you'll get a different kind of discussion than if the environment is ordered and strict, etc...the environment influences the communication dynamics.

Aaron: Using weblogs in Japan has meant that the students can have more freedom and they like this, although they are not used to been given this type of freedom, and this did not really work for some of the students.

James: We are products of traditional schooling environments, and things are different in business contexts often - they are perhaps more open. One question is how to empower individual teachers.

Cleve: It is possible to get the people who make these decisions involved in blogging?

Bee: When I started blogging from school, the children could do it from school or at home. The librarian was furious when she saw them blogging from school and told the technical department to close down the blogs. It took weeks for them to be reopened again. Also, Orkut has been used by the children, and the school closed this to stop students from communicating and having fun with others.

Susan: How do you incorporate blogs in your syllabus? How much class time do you devote to it, and is it a major part of the assessment?

James: Good question. How do you incorporate blogs into the curriculum? Reflective writing is a proven way of learners developing their understanding. The research backs it up. If you ask the majority of teachers how well they do this (traditional journals) - if they are not doing this every day, then learning journals are not particularly high quality. Blogging - it is socially motivating. People have an audience, and this is a very socailly motivating experience - in essence, if they are reflecting on their learning, then it's wonderful. It is an alternative curriculum tool for teachers interested in reflective journals.

James: A subverive approach to encouraging other teachers to use blogs

Bee: [Shows example of blog]- people commenting on other blogs.

James: Another way is through open questions. Can ask students to post responses to questions, and a teacher can comment on these in class.

Cleve: I have learned more in the last five days from the blogging than any other time. This is the strongest testimony that I can make about how that could be useful for students.

Bee: Aaron's post this morning talked about how people come through their blogs, and you get to know them.
James: [ìnc sub site] Inc Sub - aims to host, design and support teachers and content management systems. Will help teachers who need the help to promote open source for education. Can also try out a Drupal environment, a mid-way point between constrained management system and the wild world of blogging.

James: There's more here: incorporated subversion:

Technology, Design, Community, Pedagogy etc.
Communication dynamics: Discussion boards, weblogs and the development of communities of inquiry in online learning environments
posted on 5/10/2004

- the paper on which this presentation was based.

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Edited Alado chat transcript:

Note for non-attendees: A lot of the comments here were reactions to the audio. However, I've left most of it as it is - I think it reads quite subversive :)

Susan Marandi ha ingresado en la sala
James ha ingresado en la sala
Cleve ha ingresado en la sala
Gerry ha ingresado en la sala
Bee ha ingresado en la sala
ale weser ha ingresado en la sala
aaronpc ha ingresado en la sala
brunao ha ingresado en la sala
Aladoadmin ha ingresado en la sala
Daf - Caracas ha ingresado en la sala
JoelB ha ingresado en la sala
blogefl ha ingresado en la sala
DannaW ha ingresado en la sala

[Susan Marandi] Sorry, I'm afraid i didn't get that
[Daf - Caracas] fine sound
[Susan Marandi] Where's synchronized browsing?
[aaronpc] it works
[Bee] ok
[brunao] it's fine
[Cleve] OK works
blogefl ha ingresado en la sala
[Bee] can you see the pages?
[aaronpc] hi graham
[DannaW] yes, works here.
[ale weser] it works here
[James] Great plan!
[blogefl] hi everyone
[James] Hiya
[James] Does everyone see the new page too
[Bee] Hi Graham
[aaronpc] yes james
[Aladoadmin] yes
[Bee] yes
hala ha ingresado en la sala
[ale weser] yes, with the photos ...
Sarolta ha ingresado en la sala
[aaronpc] brb
[hala] Oh I finally did it
[Susan Marandi] No, sorry if I'm being stupid; what should I do again?
[Bee] looks good
[brunao] are the link on these pages live?
[James] some of them
[brunao] very cool
[aaronpc] lookin good
[James] bad idea to have too many links... you'd all wander off!
[Bee] school tool took a long time to load
[brunao] no, we're good students! :-)
[James] heh, I'm not
[Bee] lol
[hala] cookies???
[Daf - Caracas] when you push a page, everybody goes to it so they will come back from their wandering, James ;-)
[James] Hurrah!
[aaronpc] lol
[James] Blogger-conscription
JeffC ha ingresado en la sala
[aaronpc] awfully quiet all the sudden!
[Daf - Caracas] hi, Jeff
[Bee] yes...people do not dare look up
[aaronpc] lol
[Bee] I saw bruna looking for her pencil under the chair
[Cleve] how would the livebolgging work...on blogspot?
[Bee] yes
[brunao] i was hiding behind Cleve
[Cleve] I noticed
Maggi ha ingresado en la sala
[Cleve] OK I'll try!
[Daf - Caracas] :waves hi to Maggi
[aaronpc] shameless!
[James] heh :O)
[Bee] absolutely
[Gerry] Are you recording for your next podcast James?
jchaupart-Colombia ha ingresado en la sala
[Daf - Caracas] :waves hi to JM
[Bee] bonsoir JM
[Aladoadmin] Hola JM,
[Maggi] waves to Daf
[Bee] Hi Maggi
[Daf - Caracas] fine
[aaronpc] fine
[James] hearing you loud and clear!
[Gerry] Toolow
[Maggi] Hi Bee
[James] OK, medium and clear
[JeffC] there's a slider at the bottom to adjust both microphone and speaker.
[Bee] very very low
[James] You're too quiet
[Daf - Caracas] very low, aaron
[Bee] better
[James] yes
[jchaupart-Colombia] Hi, hello, salut from Colombia
[Daf - Caracas] fine here
[brunao] yes
[Bee] but could be a bit louder
[Bee] a bit louder
[Daf - Caracas] yes, Susan
[Cleve] good susan
[James] Susan, you sound fine, a bit louder might be better
[Bee] I guess I am deaf
[aaronpc] yes..you are ok susan
[James] Hi hal you sound OK
[aaronpc] very scratchy
[Susan Marandi] thanks
[Daf - Caracas] some background noise, Hala
[James] a little noise but volume is OK
[Bee] no sound from Graham
[James] blogefl, declare yourself
[Daf - Caracas] no sound
[James] :)
[Bee] he blogs therefore he is
[hala] my husband snoring.no kidding
[Daf - Caracas] lol
[James] haha
[aaronpc] lol
[Bee] and give me two minutes to introduce you
[Bee] wonderful
[Bee] this is what I needed
[aaronpc] yea!
Daf - Caracas ha dejado la sala
[Bee] yes cleve
[Bee] impressions please
[Bee] first hand impressions
Chris Jones ha ingresado en la sala
[Bee] Hi Chris..
[Aladoadmin] Hi Chris
[aaronpc] try again graham
Daf - Caracas ha ingresado en la sala
[Bee] outer space alien
[aaronpc] not hearing anything
[Susan Marandi] you hit it, Bee!
[Bee] very strange
[Daf - Caracas] I was disconnected for a while
[Susan Marandi] Scary, huh?
[Gerry] No mic for my pc :<( [Gerry] Yikes [Chris Jones] Hi, Bee, Daf, and all, [aaronpc] hey chris! [Daf - Caracas] :waves hi to Chris [Chris Jones] Hi, Aaron, [James] hehe, very appropriate! [blogefl] OK, that's a good idea :) [hala] i think i need 100 years to have a blog like yous,james!! [Bee] lol [aaronpc] subversion [Gerry] Don't worry, only flight attendants and MS employees get fired [Gerry] Right [James] OK, let's go [Susan Marandi] Hear, hear! [Aladoadmin] Hi [Aladoadmin] www.digibridge.org [blogefl] Hi andrew [aaronpc] hi andrew [blogefl] Hi James, it's great to have you with us [James] Great to be here [Bee] :-) [aaronpc] yes [Bee] yes [Cleve] yeah! [blogefl] yes [brunao] yep [Gerry] Yes Karen Garcia ha ingresado en la sala [Daf - Caracas] hi K. [Aladoadmin] yes [blogefl] yep [aaronpc] looks good [Aladoadmin] we see it clearly [Bee] the third one is my school [brunao] nice doors! [hala] yes [Bee] and partitions [Karen Garcia] Karen says hi, is happy to hear James and wonders what I should be seeing on the [Karen Garcia] board [Karen Garcia] oh good!!! [Karen Garcia] yes [Daf - Caracas] yes [Chris Jones] http://incsub.org/blog/index.php?page_id=208 [Karen Garcia] nice pictures... thanks AzzamP ha ingresado en la sala [Aladoadmin] James, some of the remote audience is on a dial up connection and the webpages you send us will load onto their browsers slower than those who are broadband high speed connections Bee] HI Azzam [Bee] welcome [Karen Garcia] yes, my dial up is taking forever today... [Susan Marandi] I'm lost? exactly where should I be now? AzzamP ha dejado la sala [Karen Garcia] hi Susan.... [Karen Garcia] you are here and now.... [Karen Garcia] looking at pictures... [Karen Garcia] which just changed... [aaronpc] fine [Susan Marandi] Hi Karen! [Cleve] yes! [Bee] no pb [blogefl] great [Karen Garcia] yes... nice diagram [Aladoadmin] yes [Karen Garcia] I like circles... [Bee] what a pity Dennis is not here [Karen Garcia] social, cognitive and teaching presence... [Karen Garcia] hummmm [Karen Garcia] educational presence... yes!!! [Bee] you do not work together but side by side paddy ha ingresado en la sala [Karen Garcia] anonimity.... how? [Daf - Caracas] :waves hi to Paddy [Karen Garcia] humm [Karen Garcia] 6th sense? [paddy] :waves and relievd to have make it [JeffC] hi karen [Daf - Caracas] :-) [hala] yes [hala] very difficult [Karen Garcia] winks at jeff ;) [blogefl] I agree - I've never really liked discussion boards much [Chris Jones] I've used it in the past. [Cleve] as a student, not as a teacher [Gerry] Very poor if the "group" is small and if there is continual uptake in say a course. [JeffC] i use them socially [Daf - Caracas] i use it with other tools, never alone [Bee] they feel like cold empty shells [Chris Jones] I used it for journaling. [aaronpc] very linear [jchaupart-Colombia] with Yahoo Groups [Karen Garcia] I lost audio [blogefl] I didn't picki up the audio for the last question [Daf - Caracas] Moodle forums are good for a course [Cleve] Oh my yeas! [Bee] yes susan [aaronpc] lol [Bee] lol [Karen Garcia] emails, we have not moved to forums yet [Gerry] Yahoo is supplemented by RSS as well [Bee] yes...you just check [Bee] whether there is something that might interest you... Daf - Caracas ha dejado la sala AzzamP ha ingresado en la sala [aaronpc] yes...for purposes of notification Daf - Caracas ha ingresado en la sala [blogefl] yes [Daf - Caracas] yes [Bee] nope [brunao] fine [Cleve] yes. [hala] no [ale weser] yes [Chris Jones] yes [Bee] ok...got it [Susan Marandi] partly [Sarolta] yes [hala] yes now [Aladoadmin] James, some of our remote audience are on a dial up connection and it will take time for them to load the graphics in their browser [Bee] so the groups having to comment on the others do not have to refer to the blogroll anymore :-) [Karen Garcia] yes, we want a how to session.... [Bee] chaotic, organic [aaronpc] intelligent [Bee] just like our everyday lives [hala] whrer is this? [JeffC] I use http://www.bloglines.com/ to keep track of blogs Karen Garcia ha dejado la sala [Gerry] Can you explain what trackbacks are please?? [aaronpc] when someone links to your post, you are notified about it and can follow the link to their post. [aaronpc] ie trackback Karen Garcia ha ingresado en la sala [Bee] are they on a linux server? ale weser ha dejado la sala [James] little quiet [Bee] very very low [hala] clap.well done [Daf - Caracas] too low, aaron [Susan Marandi] can hardly hear you aaron [Bee] the tools formatting the mentality [Bee] create dependency [Bee] isolation [Gerry] can't hear [hala] good point [Chris Jones] If you can't hear, you can possibly turn up your speakers or the spaeker at the bottom of this page. [hala] traditional decision makers [Bee] to what extent can institutions deal with these collaborative tools when they are not open for them [hala] in inistitutions [blogefl] I come across this in the places where I work too [Bee] Mario Asselin in Canada [Susan Marandi] Interesting point. nolowell ha ingresado en la sala [Bee] yes [aaronpc] interesting [Bee] the architecture in schools should be changed as well...if schools are to continue [Susan Marandi] How change, Bee? [Bee] bring down the walls [Susan Marandi] :-D [AzzamP] Schools like control, which goes against this perspective [nolowell] oh. is this where the text part goes? [nolowell] cool! [hala] convinced [Susan Marandi] Same as Iran. [aaronpc] yes...environment can really change the way we interact [James] unlearning our own teaching experiences, I know what you mean! [Susan Marandi] It's not just that; the students have to meet the standards of the society [blogefl] At my academy there are lots of legal blocks to me using weblogs with students (they are young learners) [James] go for it, please do! [James] The floor's open [Bee] people do not want to open their secrets [James] Firewall's are possible with younger learners [Bee] they fear exposure [aaronpc] wow! [blogefl] At the university, the attitude is very different - I'm getting a lot of interest from the school and other teachers...partly through introducing Erasmus students to weblogs [hala] the topic has changed to obstacles [paddy] I'm lucky too working in a private langugae school - no barriers,just lots of questions - what are blogs? Here anyone can use just about any tool or technique [AzzamP] Assessment is always an issue - how to provide easy quantifiable methods of assessing learning in weblogs [AzzamP] this is from the admin point of view [Susan Marandi] Just wondering: Is teaching always so bad, though? [Gerry] I was ready somewhere in the discussions that student motivation was impossed by assessment. [Susan Marandi] Or assessment, for that matter? [James] Assessment is not the motivator, it's social and individual [Bee] yes [aaronpc] excellent suggestion [Susan Marandi] I think so [hala] what? [brunao] good idea, but my powers that be are not tech driven at all. [AzzamP] assessement is key for admin, though jchaupart-Colombia ha dejado la sala [Susan Marandi] But it's uphill work and takes time [Susan Marandi] and patience [hala] again plz [paddy] I can't see blogs being formally adopted as part of a course here but we can certainly use it in out teaching freely [Gerry] For k-12, at least in our jurisdiction, it would not be correct to assess for "blogging" itself, except maybe in an IT course. [brunao] it could be kept within a Intranet, no? [nolowell] we have courses in our program that require blogging [Gerry] The bloggins activities need to facilitate the students meeting prescribed learning outcomes. [nolowell] *public* blogging at that Chris Jones ha dejado la sala [nolowell] but they're adult learners in graduate school [blogefl] I agree Aaron - it is a fear of losing control often (in my case) that prevents the academy from thinking about the use of tools such as blogs [Bee] mine do not even know they exist...lol...so I am taking advantage of their ignorance [brunao] i like that [hala] lol [paddy] I hope to add a blog to our website to contact ex-teachers ans students, and then impress the boss [AzzamP] subversion, yeah! [James] good plan paddy [nolowell] the "Grace Hopper Rule" bee :D [James] Similar experiences! [hala] by leting ex teachers really practise it,they will help in chnging the mentality [James] grief [Susan Marandi] Can I ask a question? Maybe you discussed it before, I don't know. [nolowell] Good GRIEF!! Students talking to each other in SCHOOL?? how horrid! [nolowell] :D [hala] no voice [Bee] yes Susan? [aaronpc] i missed that. [James] good [Bee] yes [aaronpc] yes [hala] yea [blogefl] yes [brunao] yes [Gerry] yes [Bee] go on Susan [AzzamP] was the libraiarian not more upset that the students were noisy, bee? [Aladoadmin] Susan is on a dial up connection in Iran and she has some trouble with her audio but this last part came through very clear [paddy] and some of my students have already gone to find my blog out of hours - even one v. weak student took the trouble to write me in English after we'd had a 30 min session writing on my blog. Will show that to the boss! [Bee] we are going to see it this week [Aladoadmin] yes [aaronpc] yes [Aladoadmin] very clear Susane [paddy] can hear some of it [Susan Marandi] thanks (finally) :-) [Bee] like their personal diairies, reflective journal [Susan Marandi] right [nolowell] the reflection is even MORE powerful when that reflection is shared among students [nolowell] instead of just buried in the teacher's inbox [Bee] this is the most important thing [aaronpc] that's for sure [Susan Marandi] I agree [Bee] and being able to re-read them [aaronpc] self-evaluation should be implemented as well [AzzamP] audience and purpose [Susan Marandi] Yes, we do that [Bee] ok..going to project an example [blogefl] I think portfolios is as another way [Susan Marandi] Mhm. [James] Blogs can integrate with portfolkios very well [Susan Marandi] right [Susan Marandi] thanks a lot [nolowell] they work well in conjunction with aggregators in small group work [AzzamP] don't some teachers object to seeing grammar and spelling mistake in written form on the internet? [James] yes [nolowell] team up 3-4 students to aqggregate each others [James] tough :) [James] My spelling is awfol [nolowell] some teachers object to seeing writing they haven't approved on the internet Azzam .. i try not to let them bother me :D [aaronpc] cannot see it [Daf - Caracas] cannot see anything yet [Susan Marandi] me neither [blogefl] it was a lot of fun - it's probably the thing that really got me interested in blogging [James] naw, share share share [Susan Marandi] That leads up to another question i have ... Maggi ha dejado la sala [blogefl] thanks Bee [Susan Marandi] about whether the connection speed... [Susan Marandi] has anything to do with the usefulness [Susan Marandi] and practicality of using blogs [Susan Marandi] Right! [Bee] yes...I have not yet learnt that... [Susan Marandi] right [Gerry] Peer editing or peer review of writing assignments may also work. The examples of peer review at fanfiction.net shows it is meaningful. [Susan Marandi] True [nolowell] sigh . i have to leave ... see y'all in the blogosphere nolowell ha dejado la sala [Aladoadmin] http://www.internettrafficreport.com/main.htm [Aladoadmin] here is the current speed of the Internet worldwide [James] you're a VETEREN! [aaronpc] fantastic! [aaronpc] yes [AzzamP] thank you for the talk [Susan Marandi] Thank you for the talk, James. [AzzamP] got it [Daf - Caracas] yes [Susan Marandi] And thanks everyone else for their help. [hala] thank you [Susan Marandi] got it (whew!) [AzzamP] a great read, James [aaronpc] thanks so much James! [Bee] Thank you very much James for giving us your perspective [Daf - Caracas] :claps claps [Cleve] Thanks James! [DannaW] thank you [Aladoadmin] clap, clap, clap [Bee] claps [paddy] thank you! [aaronpc] see you at incsub [Susan Marandi] thanks [hala] thank yoy [brunao] thank you very much [blogefl] Thanks James - that was great [AzzamP] muchos gracias, james [hala] you very much [Sarolta] Thank you, James! [James] It's a pleasure
[Daf - Caracas] Great pres James
[Daf - Caracas] I just got the comment feature on my blogger :-)
[Susan Marandi] thanks bee
[Gerry] thanks
[hala] bye
[James] See you later all!
DannaW ha dejado la sala
[James] Byeeeeeeee
[aaronpc] bee your mic is still on
[Sarolta] Thanks, bye.
[Aladoadmin] you can stay in the portal and chat with one another if you like
[Susan Marandi] It's 3 am here, and i have to be at work at 8 :-(
[Bee] sorry
Cleve ha dejado la sala
[Susan Marandi] Bye everyone!
[AzzamP] ok, bye
[aaronpc] bey
[Aladoadmin] bye Susan
[aaronpc] bye
James ha dejado la sala
[brunao] bye all
Karen Garcia ha dejado la sala
Gerry ha dejado la sala
Sarolta ha dejado la sala
[aaronpc] adios!
[Susan Marandi] Bye and thanks!
AzzamP ha dejado la sala
[Bee] thank you for coming...I must go now
Susan Marandi ha dejado la sala
aaronpc ha dejado la sala
[Bee] husband and children waiting to have diner
JoelB ha dejado la sala
[blogefl] bye bye!
Bee ha dejado la sala
[Daf - Caracas] thanks, Bee, Aaron, and Graham
brunao ha dejado la sala
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More links mentioned during the session: