1 Apr 2009

Out of a coma, so much to tell you about!

It's been a while. Over a year in fact. Nearly two actually. This blog has been in slumber, one of the thousands that get started, with something to say, only to then fade away into obscurity when the blogger runs out of valid points to make. So it has taken something quite substantial to make me reawaken this dead space of the internet, hasn't it?

I have a class blog, over at http://www.northgatemfl.co.uk/, and over the last few weeks I have come up with ideas and concepts, opinions and views, that are not particularly interesting for the students at my school, nor do they tie in with what my ideal readership for that blog would be. The MFL blog has been going now for coming up to 3 years, and I see it as a kind of dear friend, or a pet that you've had since it was a puppy. I've watched it grow, neglected it at times, worked hard to plug its content to anyone that would listen, and seen it reach just short of 14,000 hits. This month has been it's biggest ever month. Now it's not loads, compared to some blogs, but I feel that 700 hits in a month could be the start of a positive boost for the blog. I remember telling a colleague a while back that I was falling out of love with technology, I was getting bored with it to a certain extent, fed up of evangelising about the use of technology in MFL teaching, only for my (interactive) sermons to fall on deaf ears. I was actively looking for a colleague to take over the other blog, so that I could try something else instead.

Then I had a kind of epiphany, albeit in three parts, like a good BBC mini-series.

There are still teachers out there that are genuinely enthused by using new technologies.
I was asked, right out of the blue, to travel up to Liverpool to speak at the Primary Languages Show, to talk about podcasting in languages. I had forgotten the look on someone's face when you present an idea to them, a concept that can really motivate students in a subject like MFL. Maybe I get caught up in the daily grind too often, and forget about what can make learning fun. However seeing the faces of those teachers up in Liverpool, who had discovered a new found enthusiasm, actually motivated me, and inspired me as well.

I got my tweet back.
At about the same time as I started this blog, only to ignore it for two years, I joined Twitter. I didn't get it, and it really didn't get me. I post things, 'tweets' and was ignored. I considered many people on there to have ideas well above my station. I couldn't see the point. In October 2008 I rejoined, this time with a plan. I was going to actively get involved in seeking out people who were interested in language teaching, and language learning, and then gradually seek out others who had more of an ICT slant and slowly combine the two. At first I tweeted rarely, but read often, taking on board new ideas, resources, strategies. I would ask the odd question, and would be surprised yet delighted when I actually got a reply. I became more confident, and would be more direct, and ask for advice, even being so brave as to offer my opinion on occasion. Now I have built up what is commonly refered to as a Personal Learning Network; trusted colleagues, leading lights, inspirational teachers and professionals with an incredible amount of knowledge and experience, ready at the stroke of a key to point me in the right direction. I feel confident to post blog updates there in the knowledge that I will get more constructive feedback from my PLN than from anyone else in school, a fact that has no doubt contributed to the slight increase in my blog's traffic.
So if teachers ever ask me what the point is of Twitter, I shall point them to this paragraph.

I'm the Go-to Guy
Am I a geek? I don't think so, but some of my colleagues would beg to differ. Nevertheless, I believe that schools need people like us at the moment, someone to shout out, rightly or wrongly that technology is the answer to everything. In my current school, I have set up countless blogs and wikis, and have run workshops on getting staff into the idea of what else is out there, and how technology can really kick start your teaching. Staff come up to me in the corridor and say - "Hey, I used Wordle today!", or "Did you see our Year 7 History projects on Glogster?", proving both to themselves, and to me that teachers are becoming more comfortable with technology. I sat down today with a teacher who wanted a demo on Audacity, to make podcasts. After a while he admitted that he wanted to have powerpoint presentations on his blog with commentary from students. "Have you heard of SlideShare?" I asked. There began a whole new discussion.

So in using the three headings above, I guess I'm saying is that there are teachers out there who have a deep fundamental understanding of the pedagogical ideologies behind the concept and need to work on our students digital literacy, but in more than equal measure, there are teachers who are still getting the hang of embracing the simplest of Web 2.0 tools in their classroom, and just now I've discovered the joy of seeing colleagues reinvigorate their teaching through technology, and for now, that's dandy. I just hope it's not 2 years until my next post.

Photo by mushon


Bob Hill said...

I find this blog most encouraging and interesting. I also hope it will be sooner than two years to the next post.

Helena Butterfield said...

I'm glad it's not just me who feels like that sometimes!

Doug Belshaw said...

Great stuff, Alex! :-)

sinikka said...

Hi again
I just commented on your wiki post and then I read this... It's like serendipity to read your thoughts about Twitter, as I'm a rather sceptical novice at it myself. Hope you don't mind me adding myself as a follower on Twitter :)