When a 21 year old student walked into class on the first day, stopped by my desk and informed me that HE “doesn’t do” computers in English, I knew that the time I had spent agonizing which Ed-Tech to use and how to get the students to use it, was not wasted. In my previous course a sizable number of students had trouble with the online component of the course (on Moodle, I’m not in charge of it ) and expressed a significant lack of willingness to try online tools that could help them.
Time to be sneaky.
My latest class is incredibly diverse, even more so than the last one. In a class of 37 students, the youngest is 19, the oldest is 54. There are representatives of either 3 or 4 religions ( I don’t ask such things) and different sectors of society. They are all in my class because they failed to pass the minumum threshold on the English component of their college entrance exam.
How to use the Moodle section was rammed down the students’ throats both at the beginning of the first and second lesson. Pure “front door” approach. Some students seem to tense up and tune out and then need to get individual help over the phone.
Another tool was sprung on the students – use of a QR code to take attendance. Since that required use of their beloved cellphones (in case you don’t know this, Israeli’s are inseperable from their cell phones) that seemed to be less intimidating for most of them.
Nonethless, I decided that the only way to go was to add one more thing. You see, you need a framework, a building, in order to have a back door to use. Especially in such a large class.
I told the students that we would be using Edmodo, which is built like Facebook but is not on Facebook and is completely closed and private for our group. I explained that we need it because this way they can get more support from each other and that assignments done on Edmodo are “Process assignments”, they can be commented on, corrected and even regraded.
I signed the students up and gave each one a card with their password (same username and password). You should have seen the sigh of relief when they realized they were already on the group without doing anything (the registration process is simple but they do need a code from me). In addition, the fact that emails were not necessary for registration reassured some students that it was really a private group. I explained only the minumum they needed to know to get started. Let them discover things on their own and / or explain as needed. Too much explanation in class is wasting precious face-to-face time and intimidating.
In my previous course most of the students did not take advantage of the vocabulary lists I put up on Quizlet for them to practice with, despite extolling the many wonderful things one can do with Quizlet. Many students told me that they had studied for the quizzes only from the book. Quizlet sounded like a whole new program to learn to deal with.
This time, I posted a reminder about the quiz and added a link to the Quizlet page. The definitions they need for the quiz are all there, so I’m pretty sure almost everyone will enter the site. Whether they choose to practice from the list or try to click on buttons to enter different practice modes is up to them.
There have only been two lessons out of nine so far, though I’ve been in touch with some students through Edmodo (it’s great to read how they introduce themselves). We will see how smoothly use of Edmodo progresses and which other tools I can bring to their attention.
Will keep you posted!