A reflection on my tech experiments thus far…

Since I’ve been trying a few new things with my students this summer session, I thought I should take a moment to see how it’s been going.

For all classes, I’ve used Jing to create how-to videos so I don’t have to spend so much time explaining how to do basic stuff, like create a Google account.

My thoughts: This is going really well.  Students have told me how much they appreciate the videos because they’re easy to understand and they like that they can watch them as much as they need to.  Only downside so far is that I can’t put Jing on my work computer (stupid university rules), so I have to do everything from my laptop.

For my writing class, we’ve been blogging through Blogger.

My thoughts: This is going pretty well.  Most students seem to enjoy the blogging and they have created some really cool blogs!  On the downside, I still have two students who have yet to create their blogs.  And, it’s hard to come up with a new blog topic every week and fit it in to the already hectic class schedule.  I figure this will get easier with time.  Once I have my assignments set, I’ll know what to do, and I won’t feel as rushed.

For my speaking/listening class, we’ve been using Google Groups to post listening logs.  The students find videos online each week, and then they post these videos in our group and comment on them.

My thoughts: This is going pretty well.  I have one student who never posts.  The others post, and they have even found some really interesting videos.  I feel like this assignment could be done just as easily through Blackboard, but as we don’t have Blackboard, we’re settling for Google. Until I get access to Blackboard, I’ll have to keep using this.

For my reading class, we’ve just started using Diigo.  Students find articles online and post them on Diigo for all of us to see.

My thoughts: We’ll see.  Again, I feel like this assignment could be done just as easily through Blackboard, if I had it.  Diigo offers some cool features like highlighting that make it worthwhile, but the students have to download the toolbar to be able to use these features.  If we had a lab where I could send the students to use Diigo, I wouldn ‘t mind asking them to use this feature.  But I think sometimes they don’t like downloading new stuff on their computer, and I can’t blame them. Why download something you’ll only use once in one class?

Of course, I’m hoping that my students see the advantage of the programs/websites I’ve introduced them to.  Blogging is a great way to practice their writing and to keep a journal of sorts on their experiences abroad.  Google groups can be useful for staying in touch with friends or classmates and sharing information.  Diigo is a great place to save research, which will be especially helpful for the grad students I teach.

But so far, things are going better than I expected.  The first attempt at anything new in the classroom is always the worst, so I’m learning what the problems are now, and I think things will be better with future classes.

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