Sunday, October 19, 2014

Week 1: Creating a reflective teaching blog

Week 1: Creating a reflective teaching blog

During the first week, I was in Chile participating in an event on ICT in ELT; for this reason I couldn't start the Webskills course on time as planned. However, this second week I've joined all online spaces required and read all the information available. I also participated in the week discussions and answered a survey. I'm really honored to be part of such a fantastic course with facilitators from the University of Oregon, the American English Institute and colleagues from all over the world. I'm doing my very best to catch up on all pending activities. One of them is to create this reflective teaching blog, so here I am.

Teaching and learning with blogs is always a great experience, however, it can be  very demanding for students who are not very familiar with web tools; as in my context, for instance. We offer a distance education program in five different regions of Venezuela. Students from many cities travel to those regional centers for classes, advising or meetings with teachers every three weekends. During the week students keep contact with their teachers through email or the Moodle platform. We have a very low tech infrastructure that limits us the use of certain technology, but we do as much as we can. Believe it or not, even in the XXI century, we still use old methods to deliver the instruction. We design and print instructional materials to be mailed to our students. The bright side of the story is that our school gives us the freedom to incorporate new methods, strategies or resources available to improve our academic teaching task. In virtue of this and in spite of the tech limitations, I have successfully incorporated the use of technologies in my classes, mainly based on the Internet and web 2.0 tools.

I have used blogs for many academic purposes, but never for my undergraduate classes. I have used wikis, instead. They have been perfect for my course objectives. However, while creating this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to blog this upcoming semester for the first time. I'm still in the planning process, so this is the right time to include the use of blogs in the program.

Blogs are excellent tools for class reflections. They offer features that allow us to develop the four basic skills of the target language (listening, speaking, reading and writing), but mainly reading and writing. Since I teach reading comprehension, I think I can use blogs as online spaces for my students to make reflections about their language learning process, discuss the readings and summarize them.

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