This week we had quite a few things to do and much to reflect on/work on.
One of them was to try Twitter. I do have a Twitter account/page but I haven’t used it in teaching yet. The textbook mentioned an instructor could send out text messages and/or short posts (under 140 characters). But I’d love to know how other instructors have used Twitter in their online classes (particularly language teachers). I understand its’ uses in terms of posts and chatting with others but don’t understand what advantages this might have in comparison to other tools such as a Facebook page, a blog or a pen pal website (in which students would be paired up to native speakers/writers)? Also, is text messaging students (even in a mass text messaging format such as Twitter) “too personal”? I don’t know the answer to that question yet…
I enjoyed Pilar’s workshop video: Building Community in Your Online Class which was very informative. I couldn’t agree more about the importance of keeping the format “clean” looking and easily accessible/readable. Nowadays, students want things easy and accessible right away so when something is hard to find or a page is difficult to navigate through, it can be very confusing and time-consuming. I think it’s important to keep in mind that students’ ages, marital status, ethnicity, background, hobbies and location will vary. Hence, it is important to make the online course appealing but I also believe it is important to stay open-minded. I liked what Pilar said about being personable and giving students a glimpse of your own family life. Students (even in an on-campus class) like to know the teacher isn’t just some “brainiac” with no life outside of education itself. I have found that when I say a thing here or there about my children and/or husband and/or hobbies, students enjoy knowing that I too have a life outside of school. Being an organized “freak” I definitely am pro-organization. How many times have I had a student ask me weeks ahead of time what was on the schedule for a specific date/class because of an appointment of some sort… It’s vital to have the semester planned out ahead of time, yet keep some room for flexibility. 🙂
As I progress into the “creating” and not just “thinking” of an online classroom Curriculum, I have encountered various dilemmas. I have been asking my fabulous mentor (Pilar) as well as the POT Facebook group page what the difference (in uses) are between Dropbox and Google Docs? I have been using Dropbox and was thinking of recreating my Curriculum to include hyperlinks to each of the handouts/videos I want to include in my lesson. However, as I was updating some handouts, the old hyperlinks (in my Curriculum) didn’t work (for me–for students, the hyperlinks didn’t work at all since they perceived the document as a PDF even if I originally created it as a Word Document). I have been toying with the idea of using Google Docs so my students can view handouts simply by clicking on link. In the past I have had to upload each individual document on Blackboard. By using hyperlinks this will certainly make things easier for me.
Finally, I’d like to start making more videos but am still unsure of what software I should use for these videos. I like the suggestions from the textbook (and from Pilar’s workshop video) but still need to figure out what would work from me.
I’m looking forward to reading your suggestions. 🙂