Saturday, January 27, 2007

Is it working?

In reading through some old posts I had clipped but not done anything with, I ran across this one from blogessor about what we mean when we say something works. This is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately.

I have put a ton of work into developing my courses this semester. I am having students blog and we are using a wiki and reading and writing a lot in both my reading and writing classes. Now, a week into the semester, I would have to say that these things don't seem to be working the way I wish they were. My student (Yes, at the moment, ther is only one in each of thse classes. Of course, at the moment there is only one in the whole ESL program, but that is another story for another day.) isn't embracing the tools as I had hoped he would. He has blogged on a class blog before, so this isn't an entirely new experience for him. He has done webquests before, which is basically what we are starting with on the wiki. So what is the problem? Why isn't he more excited?

I don't think we can decide whether or not something works based on students' initial response to it. But I wonder sometimes how long we continue an activity before we decide it isn't working. If I wait all semester to give this student a chance to really try out the wiki and personal blogging and he never "gets" it, am I doing him a disservice?

The worst thing about having real small classes is that there is no momentum built. If this student doesn't immediately buy into the blog and the wiki, there is no one to pull hm along into it, to serve as an example, to build enthusiasm for it.

And I will admit, it seems a little odd to be using these social tools in a situation where there is no built-in audience. What is the purpose of doing this online rather than on paper? I know that my purpose is structuring the course this way was to increase my students' computer literacy and to generate a different energy in the class by doing something different. The computer literacy goal is still valid, and my student will improve his ability to use a computer and to function online. But the energy thing is going to be harder to achieve.

Obviously, I will have to wait until the end of the semester to really evaluate all this. But I can't help asking myself on an almost daily basis whether or not it is really working.


ar-romdee said...

Thai student
My name 's Benyapa. I 'm a student at BC in Thailand.Now, you have a problem about teaching technology because your students 're not response to it,That right?
Most of your students come from?
In my humble opinion, playing game is good way coz my teacher quite use this way to make a good relationship with his students.

Mr. Miller said...

Nancy: I agree that it is often difficult to figure out what "works," and students' initial response is not typically the most reliable assessment. It's good to see other educators grappling with some of the same issues I have as I test the waters with blogs and wikis. I guess our challenge is to embed it in our classroom so it's not just replacing paper with online. Easier said than done. One thing I am doing on my new wiki - and it's still early so I don't know if it "works" - is requiring students to post responses to other student pages. By forcing the students - ie teaching? - I'm hoping to show them the power of what we're doing. Who knows where it will go, but I like being on the trip to find out. I also enjoy your blog. Thanks!