Ning in my classroom

Sep 26, 2009

Students in Croatian high school have three hours a week of the first foreign language (mostly English), but at my school we offer them an extra lesson, called Elective English, where we usually do tons of reading/listening/writing/speaking exercises as a preparation for the unified school leaving exams. This year, however, I decided to try out some of the web 2.0 technologies as part of my elective English class. Both the principal and the ICT teacher were entirely supportive of this idea and even offered to put me on the computer lab reservation list for the whole school year, which will probably make my fellow teachers frown on me, but I can live with that as long as I can use the lab with my class.

As I couldn't make up my mind on whether to use Ning or Moodle for my first e-learning class, I decided to try out both, which turned out to be an impossible task. The first problem we encountered were the students' electronic identities and passwords which were given to them when they first enrolled in our school two years ago. They hardly ever used these accounts set up by the Croatian Academic and Research Network (CARNet) and only a couple of students could remember where their passwords are stored. It's usually no problem for the ICT teacher to get the new ones, but unfortunately, as Croatia is having a completely new e-education system implemented, there have been delays and the students still haven't received their new passwords which they would use to log in to Moodle. So Ning was our only option.

My students fell in love with it instantly. They started using it from home as a tool to communicate with their classmates. What I'm most proud of is that they readily accepted that the language of communication is English only, even when they know that I'm not around. Out of 25 students, only two don't have a computer with Internet access at home. It turns out that they are the lowest-performing students in this class. However, they don't come from the low social backgrounds. I know they have their facebook profiles, but I don't know when and from where they update them. I think I'll talk to their parents, although it's kind of a delicate situation: if their families can't make ends meet, how can I ask them to buy a computer and pay for the Internet access? It seems these students will have to make do with one class a week in the school's computer lab, which is certainly better than nothing at all.

Anyway, while I still haven't figured out how to do tons of things on Ning, I can't stop wondering how my students managed to change their Ning member pages by using their own photos or why a song begins to play when I visit them. I know, I know, I'm only a digital immigrant in their world. But isn't it amazing that it was me who first told them about Ning? And now they can teach me some of the tricks. But I'm a life long learner and I don't mind. On the contrary, I enjoy it.

Gloggings from.... the world

Sep 18, 2009

Every now and then my students are assigned a task to create posters on different topics. Some of them turn out great and are then displayed in the classroom for a while, but all of them end up in the waste paper basket at the end of the school year.

I'm happy to announce that web 2.0 has brought an end to these ecologically unconscious habits. Glogging is a new game in town. Edu.Glogster is an amazing tool that enables students to create online posters. It's easy to use and can be embedded in a blog, wiki or website.

I believe that glogster is a great collaboration tool that allows valuable cross-cultural communication. That's why I've set up a new project called Gloggings from ... the world. Students of all ages and from all parts of the world are invited to create online posters about their country, which will be published in the wiki I created specifically for this purpose. Their glogs are similar to postcards or greetings that we send when traveling (or better: used to send before the Age of the Internet).

Students show us what their country is like through their eyes. They tell us what travel books can't. And we can make it happen. Let's collaborate. This is what web 2.0 is about.

What do you think? I'm looking forward to your comments and tweets.

My Magic Wand a.k.a Web 2.0

Sep 16, 2009

This is my first glog! I created it to show my students the exciting possibilities of web 2.0 technologies. It's an amazing tool so I'm going to use it with my class, as of tomorrow morning.

I learned about Glogster from tweets by my PLN and my special thanks go to @ShellTerrell, @vale24 and @cristama who provided valuable links to this brilliant site and also to @NikPeachey for his comprehensive manual on Web 2.0 tools and @josepicardo for his remarkable Box of Tricks.

Oh the indecision!

Sep 12, 2009

I'd given a lot of thought to travelblogging vs. edublogging and eventually I reached a decision to blog on two fronts: keep writing my travelogue and create a brand new educational blog. Unfortunately, this got me into another predicament: choosing a perfect name for my new blog. Different names kept popping into my head, such as A life in the day of a ..... teacher, Getting there, The smiling teacher, The happy teacher, etc. but Google ruthlessly showed me that all the best names had already been taken.

Suddenly it occurred to me that Traveloteacher would be a perfect name for my edublog, not only because it is such a splendid, cool, unique, already well-known, ....(you name it...) blog name, but also because it shows who I am - both a teacher and a traveler. On the other hand, is it really of the utmost importance for your blog to have a catchy name?

What's in a name? That which we call an edublog
By any other name would inspire as profoundly.

So I created a new traveloteacher blog on Edublogs and I struggled one whole day with changing the password. I believe the people at edublogs must have thought I was round the bend after my seventh Forgot your password? message. And I still haven't managed to change it. Just to boost my self-confidence, I wrote a post for the traveloteacher on blogger. And I realized that I'm perfectly able to maintain only one blog.

But what is your say?

My Birthday Presents

Sep 3, 2009

Less than an hour ago, Shelly Terrell published my post on her blog as part of the series Investigating International Edtech Issues, called Sweet High-Tech Dreams. Shelly told me that I write just like a professional native speaker . Then within minutes the link got retweeted on twitter by Jason Renshaw, who left a comment saying excellent article, extremely well-written and illuminating.

Today is my birthday and these two comments are a wonderful present. Thank you Shelly and Jason!

I like writing but sometimes it is a long and difficult process. I'm a slow writer. Maybe because I'm a perfectionist. I don't know what's wrong, I just know that something is not right. I'm simply not satisfied with it. I struggle with words, I fight with my feelings, I contend for my thoughts. Then suddenly I can feel it and I know this is what I was looking for. However, after it's finished, I'm sure that I've given my best, but still have doubts and think that nobody will like it. That's why I appreciate all the comments. Yes, comments keep me writing.

So here's a birthday cake for all of you who did or didn't post a comment.
Free Clipart Picture of a Birthday Cake with Candles. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart
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