Field Trip to Kirchhain

Here are some images from our field trip to the Alfred-Wegener-Schule in Kirchhain. Thanks again to Carsten Schouler to guide us around the school and for all the information he provided us with. I hope that this was informative for all of you.

"Anwesenheitsliste"

„Anwesenheitsliste“

Gebäude Nr. 8

Gebäude Nr. 8

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First Session

Oh my. This has been something of a bumpy start, I’d say. Sorry for all this mess last Tuesday. Some things were my fault directly, some indirectly. Of course, I needed to be better prepared for technical difficulties because this is also what the course is all about.

So, probably one of the following two things applies for you right now: Either you knew this all from the beginning—what with the unreliability of a media setup and that it’s always this way—or you are surprised that even in a media room something can go wrong. Well, I’m sure that you are not surprised by technical difficulties, because you all experienced these things before.

In the last semester we had a teacher from the Alfred-Wegener-Schule in Kirchhain as an expert who was asked for these obstacles. He said that he really prefered the word obstacle to anything else (problems or difficulties, say) because with this word it is clear that you can somehow overcome these obstacles and get things working. I hope that we can focus on the advantages of the new media in this course. I know that many teachers talk about their Plan B when it comes to a new media session. This seems to be a lot more work than just preparing a conventional session. But sometimes also traditional methods don’t work as they should and you’ll have to come up with something else.

To say it with the Beatles: „I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (better) / it’s getting better all the time (it can’t get no worse)“

New Semester Starts

I’m not writing as much as I would like to write in this blog. This is mainly because of the work I do at the University of Marburg and the courses I teach there. So here is a post about exactly that: the courses that I teach in summer semester, New Media in Foreign Language Education and Presenting Content.

The first one is supported by a blog I keep especially for the course and an online course at the VCT. The second is also a blended learning course with its online component at the VCT. Both are starting next week and therefore I will be off in a moment to go on preparing them 😉

Happy New Year

Hi everyone,

to start off the new year, let me say that I wish you all the best for 2009.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Also, to get back to work, here is an interesting article for you to read:

Faz.net: Wer lehrt die Kinder googeln?

See you next week.

Internet Communication and Its Discontent

Or should I say „your discontent“? Don’t get me wrong. I shouldn’t really comment on this session because I wasn’t there and I could only tell from the chat, but I feel that most of you are really opposed to what we are doing. And I question myself, why is that.

Ok, there are a few of the obvious reasons, but what I am concerned about is that most of you would only use the new media as an extra like, let’s say, watching „How the Grinch stole Christmas“ with your class a week before christmas. Am I right?

Is it true that there is absolutely no potential for the new media to be used in class except for recreational purposes? Or am I getting the whole thing completely wrong and secretly deep down inside you would really like to use it for educational reasons but don’t want to tell us about it.

Again, don’t get me wrong. We are not going to bend your opinions until they break. We are not a persuasion seminar. We just want to know.

Ok, here’s the transcript of the chat of Group 2 (PDF), maybe you can analyse why it went wrong and how one could make it better.

Gesamtkonferenz Session Résumé

Odd title, don’t you think. But those of you who were there know what I mean.

Right, there are a couple of things I’d like to say about the session and especially about the two different methods we used today.

In the first part we used the drill and practice approach. With the result that you all looked up the answers quickly and reproduced the findings from the session one by one. Everyone of you actually contributed to that, simply because everyone of you had to say something, otherwise your partner would have been annoyed. 😉 Honestly, do you remember anything you said during this?

In the second part we used the role play approach. You will find that approach to be mentioned in all the books about teaching methods, actively involving students to take part in a discussion or something similar and acting as members of a specific group. We had a lively discussion that was fun but not everyone of you participated actively in the discussion.

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Featured Poster Post

Obviously, in Group 2 the poster concerned with the quotation from The Atlantic Monthly was the one which evoked the most discussion. Not because of the way the group created the poster of course 😉 but rather because of the quotation.

Nevertheless, this week sees two featured articles, one dealing with the poster mentioned above and one dealing with the drill and practice poster.

The first featured post by Simone Simon called A Case of Negative Utopia deals with the Atlantic Monthly poster and as a conclusion she writes:

[M]edia competence definitely needs its place in the curriculum, because our western life is steeped in new media. Media skills are essential for an active and mature participation in our society, especially with regard to the information system. In all probability, our recent educational system will not end in a disaster, if we accept the increasing importance of new media and the necessity to teach media and technology competence in school. Nevertheless, there are several other skills of at least equal importance, including the traditional learning objectives, because life is not and will never be a one-dimensional entity.

This sums it up rather nicely.

As for the drill and practice poster, Marina Boonyaprasop – the author of this week’s second featured post Drill and Practice Software – Old Fashioned Method in Modern Days? (and also the winner for the Best Tagline Award) – argues about the inner conflict of teachers about the still necessary bits of drill and practice and mentions that

[i]t might be old-fashioned and other methods might sound more modern, mature, cosmopolitan, enduring, or thought through, but there is no way around the Drill and Practice method in today’s EFL classrooms – and we should be happy to have at least some adequate and interesting software in order to make memorizing easier and more fun for our students.

I don’t know about old-fashioned, it’s just sometimes you have to get the skills and terminology across in order to be really constructivistic about what you are teaching (say I, who has only taught university courses…).

Bildungstalk: E-Learning in der Hochschullehre

Ein Gespräch mit Prof. Dr. Stefan Aufenanger über E-Learning in der Hochschullehre findet sich im Frankfurter Bildungstalk.

Die Zusammenhänge, die er anspricht, sind durchaus auch interessant für unser Seminar und dem Einsatz von Neuen Medien im Schulbereich, auch wenn sich nicht alles eins-zu-eins übernehmen lässt. Dennoch sind vor allem die Widerstände in beiden Bereichen durchaus ähnlich.

This weeks recommended additional material.

Winter semester courses are online

The courses I will teach in winter semester 2008/2009 are now online and ready to be signed up for (if you have registered for them already via the online Vorlesungsverzeichnis of the uni). I will teach the following courses (class pages in the Virtual Center for Teacher Training):

Additionally, I will be part of a group of three to teach the course „Techniques of Scientific Work“, which will be an online course with four in class session throughout the semester.

The New Media in FLE course is also accompanied by another blog I will keep for this course only, which is hosted at WordPress.com.

If you’re one of my students: See you in the first session the week after the next one.

New Media in Foreign Language Education

Welcome to the course “New Media in Foreign Language Education”, which takes place at the University of Marburg in Winter Semester 2008/2009. This blog accompanies the course and contains the latest course related ongoings. To tell you what the course is about, I will shortly quote the course description.

The use of the new media in education is essential to modern teaching and learning. If properly used, it may help to overcome the deficits of traditional education (lack of transparency, quality management, etc.) and, additionally, may motivate not only the student but also the lecturer. However, the use of the new media evokes new questions and defines new scenarios of educational activity.

What are these scenarios? How can the computer be used in the language classroom and beyond? Hence, this course is meant to introduce various theories and methods concerning the use of the new media in foreign language education.

All questions answered? I don’t think so. The course will be a good basis for further discussion about all these topics. My blog will deal with Group 2 taking place Wednesdays whereas Anna Maria Gallus’ blog will deal with Group 1. However, we will both do both courses together.

All of your blogging tasks will be specified in class and—later on—in our blogs as well. Just wait and see…

I hope we will get a course that everybody can take something out of. Feel free to comment this first post if you have any questions or suggestions already.