Technology makes writing better. Discuss

Hi and welcome to my blog, especially if you are coming to my session at the Macmillan Teachers Day here in Barcelona tomorrow, May 4th.

In my session, "Technology makes writing better", I'm going to be suggesting that Web 2.0 tools such as Blogger, Edmodo, Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) and TodaysMeet make the sort of writing task we get on Cambridge exams like FCE, CAE and Proficiency better — in that, with the help of not too much technology the tasks can be made more collaborative and thus more fun, more productive in terms of language learning, and so much more 21st century.

Links from the session

After the session, I'll be posting an edited version of the presentation on Slideshare, and here on my blog…

Comments, feedback, suggestions, other ideas…? Do make them — either here or else on the TodaysMeet for the session.

Two tools: Edmodo vs ClassDojo

Here's one that came from the post-CELTA support group which I run at IH Barcelona, where there's recently been some discussion of Edmodo and where someone asked if ClassDojo wasn't the same sort of thing.

Not really, I don't think: they're in fact designed for two completely different purposes.

Edmodo  [ tour  ] is Facebook, basically. If you sit a teen down in front of Facebook and come back many hours later and s/he will be happy and not want you to bother her/him, and will have communicated with 100-200 people in some way, plus done a ton of other things. Could you harness some of that for English language learning?

Personally, because of privacy issues, I wouldn't want to use Facebook with learners; Edmodo I definitely would use with teens, first of all because it would be primarily the learners using the technology and provide total privacy.

Classdojo [ tour ]  on the other hand, is essentially the teacher grading learner behaviour and not the learners using the technology at all. If you had 15 (or 25!) kids in each class, and "graded" each learner 5 times in every hour, how many clicks would you have to make over the course of a week? Wouldn't you be better spending your time actually attempting to modify (not merely grade!) their behaviour?

Classdojo would be a fascinating tool for a behavioural psychologist or other researcher, but I can't see its practicality for the classroom teacher.

Or have I missed something…?

Footnote | Our (totally private!) support group has been running since 2004 and in fact still uses a Yahoo Group (not Edmodo!). For adults, who (unlike teens!) still use e-mail, I can highly recommend it.

Amazing things other teachers are doing with technology

It's always great to see what other teachers are doing with technology and — though they aren't primarily in ELT — the 100 projects in Terry Freedman's Amazing Web 2 Projects Book (slideshow above) allow you to do just that, with a huge variety of different web tools being used in so many different ways.

Terry's blog is well worth reading. His current 31 Days to Become a Better Ed Tech Leader, for example, has some really meaty food for thought in it… and we should be thinking about what we — and our learners — are doing with technology.

Which devices are most useful in the classroom (poll)?

There's a current poll on the excellent site which asks "Which of these devices have you found most useful [in your classroom]?".

The options given are interactive whiteboard, computer room , mobile phone, PDA/hand-held computer, Mp3 player, DVD player, single computer and "other", with computer room (28%) and interactive whiteboard (21%) currently topping the voting.

Twitter: no privacy, choked with spam

Largely because I've come across a number of links suggesting how Twitter could be used in education (see below), I've been having another play with it — and frankly I'm not impressed.

Unless I've missed something, there seems to be a major privacy issue. Either spammers are forcing me to "follow" them or else Twitter itself has decided that I've got to follow a certain number of people, whether I'm interested in what they're twittering about or not. Within 24 hours, I found myself "following" (that is, receiving updates from) 24 people, only 3 of whom I'd actually chosen to follow, all of them with over 500,000 "followers".

The result? That when I log in, I am first forced to read the equivalent of junk email, and worse, have to choose to stop following each of the spammers individually, before I start to see the updates from people like Lance Armstrong (1.6m followers) that I am interested in.

>> Twitter in education:

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