Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Quick Reflection

I've spent some time this morning updating Google Reader with the sites relevant for this new paper - blogs, wikis etc. I also checked out some of the new blog entries made on sites relevant to the previous paper - facilitating online communities - and found this post "Towards Reflective BlogTalk" by Konrad Glogowski. It's an interesting read for anyone thinking of setting up student blogs in their classroom, as Konrad journals his continuing efforts to improve the learning of his students. Is this ongoing evaluation in practice? I suppose I'll come back to this once I read more about evaluation.

I found some of the comments to Konrad's post typical of many teacher's responses to using new teaching/learning methods in that they focussed on the practicalities of the technology and the classroom environment as a barrier to learning. Konrad's discussion of his successes/failures provides reflection that others can benefit from. This is one of the aspects of blogging that I find really helpful. Just yesterday I read a blog post, by Debbie, reflecting on a learning situation in Second Life and it instantly became a 'starred' item for future reference.

Not sure how this is going to relate to 'formal' evaluation but I enjoy this kind of reflection.

[Photo by r0b1]


Helga said...

Hmm, it seems that i have still a lot to learn. Just wrote you a long comment, and then pressed the wrong button. Anyway. Point was, that I already start to enjoy this whole elearning experience thanks to your blog! Great that it is so easy to share ideas (and pick it up whenever it suits you). I seesm to me that you already have some experience in this whole area. I am looking forward to hear more from you.

Cheers HElga

bronwyn said...

Yvonne I believe that reflections such as yours on the area of blogging are all part of the evaluative process. To evaluate we have to "think critically" as you are doing.

Konrad is also doing this in his reflective writing and he also explicitly mentions the evaluation process he is conducting with his students: "Over the past couple of months I’ve been trying to test and implement a number of strategies to get my students more involved in their work." He is trying out the "ripple effect" strategy to see if his students write more reflectively.

In evaluation, it is usually an issue or an interest in something which stimulates us to look more closely at what we are doing. So in your case being interested in how we can use blogs in teaching has triggered you to look more closely at the subject - this is evaluation. In this course this could lead you into a formal examination of the effectiveness or usability of blogging in a teaching situation.

oneteachersview said...

I used blogging in my programming class last year as a way of students recording a journal of where they were up to, what problems they had encountered with the software they were creating, and with their peers who has access to the blog they came up with solutions on how the students could continue. I am looking at doing the same this year as it works well as a deep writing skill instead of the students doing surface writing. It starts to get the deep order skills required for Achievement Standards Level 3.

bronwyn said...

I am wondering Gerard how much support you needed to give your students with writing? So they wrote in a meaningful way on their blogs. Did you give them specific prompts or sit them down and demonstrate how to write?

oneteachersview said...

I had to start off by giving them a structure(what did you do today?, Are you meeting your plan?Describe a problem and how you overcame it? When did you realise that you game had a bug that you could not overcome, what methods did you use to try and fix it? Explain how the game design document helped you come up with what was going to happen in the game and the consequences?) , as well as demonstrating what I was after, however after a couple of weeks they got used to what was being asked, and started to explore their own peers and posting answers to the questions that other students were leaving on their blogs.
Where was a good place to find sprites? How do you make the sprite go behind a wall hiding his body? Where do I find dueling banjo music? When filling in the evaluation form on someone else's game, what happens when you cannot complete the game, is there a way around the monkeys on level 4? (That one got half the class playing the game to try and complete it, someone did come up with a solution)
It was a way for some of the quieter students to have there say as well, they wouldn't talk much in class, but they wrote a lot in the blog about what they were doing, and how they found the technological practice.

We are just starting to writing skills in our school and when I realised that I had already started by doing the blogs last year, I felt kinda good about it. It will be interesting to see what this years students with the professional development I am getting through school and how the blogs compare this year.

We do not have email accounts for our students at school, however once they got their own gmail accounts and the blog you couldn't kick them out of the class fast enough, and remember to tell the librarians that they need gmail and blogger to do there homework. I had students kicked off the internet for doing homework in the library. whoops.

oneteachersview said...

I think I am going to have to re-read my comments before posting them as some of the words have gone missing.

We are just starting to do professional development on writing skills in our school, it should say.

Yvonne said...

Hi Gerard

Your approach seems to have produced the same in-depth results that Konrad achieved - only via slightly different methods. By asking the students specific questions you've led them into deeper thought about their work. Konrad asked his students to complete diagrams about how teh content of blog posts across the class compared/contrasted.

These are the same critical writing skills that have to be developed if students are writing on paper too. But often learners don't share their 'paper' copies whereas blog posts are available for the class to see.


Yvonne said...

Hi Bronwyn

Blogging is an interesting tool but I've only come across a couple of teachers who are using blogs with secondary students. (In addition to Gerard and Konrad here!)