Saturday, 26 January 2008

Still thinking about ning

It's time to just sit down and write.
I've been thinking about ning and how I can use it in the classroom; it seems that many are doing this and finding it useful. For those of you who don't know, a ning is basically a social network that you have control over. You make it, you manage it. Anyway, as seen in a previous post, I used one on our trip to Japan - and it worked really well for that. Now, to use it in the classroom (as a language teacher) ...

Within the ning we can use its various tools. Time to think aloud ...

Blog - students can blog in the target language. Perhaps students are assigned days on which they must post a blog in the target language. We can then connect with other classrooms - domestically or overseas (Japan for me).

Podcasts -
the ning allows us to upload music. Create podcasts and place them on the site. Podcasts of grammar explanations, speaking questions, listening comprehensions. Of course the students too can put up their speaking answers and so on.

Member profiles: students can write their profiles in the target language, adding to it as they increase their grammar and vocabulary base.

Embedding objects: videos, sketchcasts, brainstorming activities using can be used in all sorts of ways. I have already found self-introductions in Japanese (from You tube) that are appropriate and can be used as listening resources or stimulus for the students own speaking or writing tasks; however, finding these does take time. Sketchcast is something I'm keen to use as it could be used in Asian languages to help explain their scripts. Students should also create their own explanations - moving, purpose built flashcards. All these can be embedded into the ning.

Forum: Questions in the target language could be placed on the forum and discussed. Homework could be to answer these things.

There is probably a lot more to it than this but it's a start.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Travelling with ning

Must post a blog entry, must post a blog entry ...

After a whirlwind trip to Japan with 17 of our school's finest and then the Christmas / New Year period, I've finally managed to get back to what I started out here.

Prior to leaving for Japan, I set up a ning network for parents and the school to use to track us on our adventures. All seemed to find this useful; though in hindsight, I needed to explain how to access it a little more effectively. I set it up as a private network - by invitation - and some parents were confused by the invitation in their email inbox. Anyway, it was a simple way to post pictures, videos and blog entries on what we had done and where we had been. Really simple. We did not have a laptop with us but the hotels we were staying in all had computers, albeit a little slow, we could use. Feedback on the ning has all been positive and if you are going on a similar expedition, I would recommend setting up your own little network. Ning's can be set up as a private or a public network. The best one to check out is Classroom 2.0. If you're a teacher, I highly recommend it as a place to network and learn. Professional development at its best.

There are, of course, many other features we could have used but didn't, for no particular reason. Next time, I would set it up a little earlier and use the forum to answer questions (that came via email or phone). I'm sure there are plenty of other things that can be done. The next plan is to set up a ning for the language classroom ...