Tag Archives: facebook

How Is Technology Changing Learning?

Recently, as part of my final project for EDU P&L 823 – The Functions of the Computer in the Classroom, I asked the question “How is technology changing learning?” using six different channels of communication: on this blog, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, via email and face-to-face.  The question was deliberately very open-ended and I received some very interesting responses.  But, perhaps more interestingly, were the differences between how people responded on each of these channels.

Obviously, the channels that reached people with whom I had close connections (email, face-to-face) received a lot of responses.  Other, more ephemeral, forms of communication where connections are not as strong, received far fewer.  In some ways, this was a bit humbling — I have a hundred followers on Twitter and even more on Facebook — but the response rate was very low.  Perhaps the people with whom I communicate via these channels simply weren’t interested in this question?

Although these new channels (Twitter, Facebook) are changing communication, clearly they do not completely replace the others.  And perhaps integrating them all is the most effective approach.  Watch my final presentation below.

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How Simple Is Really Simple Syndication?

Really simple syndication is simple.  Really!

Really Simple Syndication is simple. Really!

In a word, really.  Really Simple Syndication (or RSS) is a way of publishing online information that is frequently updated.  Think Podcasts and BBC News.  Or, more recently, Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve been experimenting with RSS on my blog recently, as you can see in the sidebar at right.  (Though if you’re reading this post in archived form far in the future, I may have moved, deleted, or in some other way changed them.)

Currently, I have my Twitter feed, my Facebook status, and my Del.icio.us links.  In addition to my tweets, my Twitter feed is updated every time I add a blog post.  So, in some ways, my blog feeds Twitter, which feeds my blog.

This process has me thinking a lot about my personal and professional presence online.  How much is too much?  How much do my students expect?  How narcissistic is it to post your Facebook status to your blog?  In general, I only use technologies like Facebook for professional purposes, but it can be hard to draw the line.

Perhaps the biggest question is, how can we, and why should we, use these technologies for language teaching?  In the business world, I think it is easy to see applications.  I read about a Silicon Valley tech firm that has a flatscreen next to the elevator door that lists employees’ Twitter feeds.  Seeing who’s doing what, can promote interaction in new ways.

Within the context of education, using these technologies is a way of meeting students in the digital world that they already inhabit.  I interact with more students via Facebook than email.  Being able to tie all of these resources together via RSS feeds can give students one place to look for everything (listening homework .mp3s, links to supplemental reading articles, information about extracurricular activities, etc.), which eliminates the excuse of having looked for an assignment in email, when it was posted to the Moodle, or vice versa.

Will these technologies change the way we teach our students?  Not all at once, but the process has already begun.

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Facebook for fun and profit

Facebook

Facebook

The official Facebook page for the American Language Program went live this week.  I’ve begun to add photos, videos and events.  I also, at long last, gave in and signed up for my own account, too.

Amazingly, to me, at least, students found it withing minutes and became fans (kind of like becoming friends, but with an organization).  And many of our alumni, who have returned home after completing their studies with us, were becoming fans around the clock.  This is without any kind of conventional publicity or even me saying to a student, “We are on Facebook.”  Totally viral.

In the past, we’ve (ok, I’ve) tried to create this kind of community via our own Moodle, but students couldn’t be bothered to join.  But now, on Facebook, we’ve literally brought the mountain to the Mohammeds.  Although not appropriate for all ages, this tool can be a great addition to an ESL teachers bag of tricks. (See Bob Eckhart’s article on using Facebook in the classroom in Ohio TESOL Journal, v1 n1.)

And, in addition to building community within our program, we’re hoping this becomes an effective form of recruiting for our program.  It’s cheaper than flying to a recruitment fair, but, somehow, it doesn’t feel quite like flying around the world and meeting prospective students.  I guess it’s the next best thing.

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