Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Thoughts on Teaching "Webskills"

I have to admit that I am personally not a very avid blogger although I really enjoy reading other people's blogs.  However, I find that blogs are very useful in this course and in teaching in general.  Blogs are one of the most popular tools we teach in this webskills course.  Not only are they a lot of fun, but they have so many applications for the language classroom, and they can be used as course management tools as well.

What I love about teaching this webskills course is that it is a process of discovery for everyone.  We all find new tools that we can use to make our professional lives easier and our classes more engaging.  And the tools we explore are not limited to what this course has to offer.  Every term course participants find and share other tools, which we all benefit from.  I think you will find that this 10 weeks will be an exciting process of filling up your "teaching toolbox" and provide you with  many new options in the classroom.

And for those of you who don't feel comfortable with technology, don't worry; you're not alone!  A few years ago, my use of technology was limited to email and the occasional websearch.  Learning new technology felt frightening and overwhelming, but every time I learn a new tool, it becomes easier and easier.  I think you will find the same.  I always say, "If I was able to do it, anyone can do it."

For those of you who are already comfortable with technology, I hope that you will both learn new tools that are useful to you and serve as a resource for others.  This course really is a venue for all of us to share our own experiences and give "tips" to others.

One final thought: while tech tools are a major focus of this course, it's always important to remember that it's the pedagogy behind the tools that is important.  Technology does not lead to learning per se; it's all in how we use the tools to achieve our learning goals and objectives.  We must constantly be asking ourselves, "How can this tool help me achieve better learning in the classroom?"  If it can't, it's like using a hammer when we need a screwdriver.  This is a question we will revisit again and again over the term because we are all here to become better teachers.

Those are my thoughts for today.  I look forward to getting to know you all and exploring the world of technology together!


Friday, January 13, 2012

The End of Week 1!

Well, I just finished the first week of classes.  It has been exciting, exhilarating and exhausting! I am working with teachers from 18 different countries, and I always love how we can come from so many different backgrounds and teaching contexts and still find so much in common to bind us together.

Besides getting to know everyone in my classes, I have been playing around with a lot of new tech tools, and it's pretty amazing to consider all the different ways these tools can be used in classes, whether face-to-face or online.  One of the things I love about teaching is that I am always learning something new, so life never gets dull!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011

After 20 years of classroom teaching, it has been an interesting transition to teaching online.  For years I was skeptical that real teaching and learning could take place in an online forum, but I have completely changed my opinion on that.  I have been part of wonderful, challenging discussions and seen amazing work come out of the online classes that I teach.  Online classes provide a way for people in many different places to come together and share ideas and experiences.  They also provide a huge amount of flexbility - very important for those with jobs, school and families to be able to take courses when they otherwise might not be able to.
The technology can be challenging at times, but like anything else, it's just a matter of getting the hang of it.  I was terrified of the technology aspect the first time I taught online, but now I could handle it in my sleep.  I have seen my students go through the same process.  For us digital immigrants, this is actually a pretty empowering and confidence-building experience.