1 Apr 2007

Why do we do this?

Since the Northgate MFL blog was created back in June, we've been trying to find ways to harness new and evolving technologies to help students, and to provide greater motivation in learning MFL at our school. We've gone from what are now simple things like exchanging emails with students, to using the blog to upload and store resources for students to download. This year we've produced podcasts and mp3 recordings, conducted online projects like the Gifted and Talented, used Wikispaces to develop groupwork online, and have used mobile phones to record sound and images to share work. The question I have to ask myself is whether it is actually worth it. I tried a couple of times with the mobile phone in lessons, and initially the kids were too preoccupied with actually using the phone as opposed to what we were using it for, but eventually we got the students to Bluetooth their files to my Mac which was linked up to the data projector - a good bit of peer assessment. The podcasting and MP3 recording has really worked well, the students love doing that, and enjoy the recording experience much more than I gave them credit for. So as far as I am concerned it has been totally worth it.

I'm fortunate that I work in a very forward thinking specialist language college, where most of the staff are keen to give things a go. But when I attend conferences and talks given by people like Joe Dale and Ewan McIntosh, both of whom have proved to be a great help and sounding board in getting the school blog going, I can't help but feeling that I am still in a minority. Many teachers I speak to in the East of England love the concept of starting a blog, or making a podcast, but are either too apprehensive to give it a go, don't have the time due to other pressing workloads, or just don't think it will work. There are also too many for my liking who are, for want of a better word 'scared' of the the fact that they feel that thewy can't dare to leave the text book or syllabus. I for one can understand this to a certain extent - I'm caught between the need to motivate my students, to show them how much fun languages can be, and the need to cover everything in the course in the limited time available. For those of you who have taught AS and A2, you should be able to empathise with me. Some teachers look at me like I'm mad when I talk about using mobiles to send kids' work to each other, and I know that they think that I should have covered that really important gap-fill on page 32.

How do I get them to change their minds?

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