Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Computer assisted teaching

Recently I visited The Seoul Hero's blog and read about concordancers, a type of computer program that has many uses but he specifically described looking for common errors in a large volume of student reports so as to set priorities in what to teach. I may not have explained it well - if you have questions, read his post.

I foolishly commented on his post that I was interested because I use computers in my teaching. He asked me to post about "how you use computers in your teaching; I’d love to learn more!"

I can respond with wonderful succinctness: In my teaching, I use computers badly.

Nathan, and my other readers, may want to know a little more. Here it is:

I have made some basic experiments with podcasting. While some people have a face perfect for radio, I have a voice perfect for Chaplin films so that hasn't worked out in a satisfactory way, yet. I haven't given up hope and will revisit podcasting, sometime.

One semester, I gave an interesting bit of homework to my students. I scheduled a week and arranged messenger chats with all of them; fifteen minutes each. You might wonder how I was able to fit 25 hours of chatting into my schedule. Well, it wasn't that bad. I can think and type in English faster than my students so I chatted with three at a time. That worked well except for the times I would also get a late student and an early one - five students was a little too challenging and not worthwhile. Still it was a pretty nonthreatening way to converse more-or-less one on one.

At my university, second year students have a listening class rather than a conversation class and I usually hunt the internet for interesting clips. www.eleaston.com and www.esl-lab.com are fine for short-turnaround homework - assigned one week and due the next, but I usually look for English clips rather than ESL clips as projects for the students.

Here are two interesting ones. As they are difficult, I am happy that they are video rather than merely audio.
old truck
sports camp

As you can see, although I do use computers and the internet in my teaching, I am not doing anything unique or unusual. This is something I hope to change and be more inventive with. Comments and suggestions are definitely welcome.

1 comment:

Nathan B. said...

You certainly did justice to my post, Brian. I have been trying to think of practical ways to use concordancers in a methodologically sound way. I also want to use them in a free way, too! I ended up concluding that the cheapest, most methodologically sound way to use them was to do what Samuel suggested and use them to create a corpus of L2 material from students. Anyway, I'm very pleased that you've answered my little question, and I'm really pleased to find, via this post of yours, some links to podcasting material.

I think the importance of listening is greatly underrated. As a hearing-impaired person, I'd LOVE to teach a class on listening. Hopefully someday!