Jan 22, 2008

Time and Web 2.0

New York Lori posted the following to Buth's first entry on the blog. Great post, Lori.

My response is below her entry. Please feel free to add your own concerns and comments.

My main concern about using Web 2.0 technology for my English classes is the time factor. I'm worried that I'll be "on call" to my students 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. I envision having to check blogs, emails, podcasts, wikis every single day of the week in order to give prompt feedback to my students. I think of all the writing assignments that my students send to me for reading and editing via email. All of the above is in addition to the daily research, planning, and preparation time that I want to do in order to conduct my dynamic and productive English learning classes.

In the good old days, teachers taught class, gave homework/project assignments, and didn't have any contact with the students until the next class. I think all of these Web 2.0 tools are incredible and I can't wait to start utilizing them in my classes. But at the same time, I panic thinking that I'll never have any downtime between classes. I'm also not sure I'm comfortable that students have 24/7 access to me.

That was also my primary concern with I started using Web 2.0 tools. I can remember being totally frustrated when we had an online teaching expert tell us that he set up virtual office hours on Sunday afternoons. Since I am in the U.S., I thought, that is my weekend, I need those hours free!

What I have learned though is that I don't spend more time online than I do with face-to-face classes and office hours. Of course, I type very quickly and this helps me, but I have learned to tell students not to expect instant turnaround (48 hours is fine). I also tell them I don't respond on weekends (though I admit I do sometimes if the question is easy). I choose at most two tools per class or there is too much to check. Unless the assignment includes review of drafts by me, I tell students I will only look at small sections of their essays--not the entire thing. Wikis are great tools for peer editing. We will discuss how that works during Week 4.

I will admit that it takes more time at first, especially as you learn to work with the tools and decide what you want to do with them. However, once you have spent time with them and know what works for you and your students, it can be much faster than preparing for a traditional class.

Remember when you first started teaching and it took ages to get ready for class. Learning to use Web 2.0 is a little similar to that. However, as teachers, we have to keep up with the times and Web 2.0 is not going to disappear. Take a deep breath, remember the little engine that could(I think I can, I think I can) and move on up the hill.

For those of you unfamiliar with the little engine story from the U.S., take a look at the wikipedia entry below. Although the entry is not entirely positive about the story, what I remember about it from my long ago childhood is that if we just keep trying, we will succeed.



Debbie said...

Hi. I agree with your post. I also fear that the student's would monopolize the time on line. I tutored someone through an online class last term and I realized that the teacher handled the response time very well which gave me confidence.
I think blogging is essential in the business, and science fields and feel excited to use them.

F1 Experiments said...

I haven't used blogs with students, but I have used the dialogues and wikis in Moodle and would agree that it can be very time consuming. however, I found, especially with the dialogues, that my students were much more willing to be honest about what they felt and were willing to disagree in a way that they wouldn't in the classroom, or my office.


Toni said...

Great discussion about the time consuming vs. time effective nature of web2 tools. Thanks Debbie for giving such a clear explanation about how you use it.

Now a "technical" question ... so I've "mastered" adding my comment to a blog post ... but how are new posts done -- can anyone do it ... or just the "owner" (this question obviously reveals me as a complete neophyte)

The two words that resonated the most from Vance Stevens great talk today were "trepidation" and "chaos" -- but I'll follow Debbie's advice and keep muttering the Little Engine mantra.


Debby said...


On this blog, you can only comment. However, I am going to post instructions later today on how to create your own blog. There you will be able to create your own entries.


Loreley said...

Hi everyone, I agree with all the posts! I think that at the beginning is a little bit of a chaos when introducing a new tool (I can tell from experience :)) but later on you get used to and you know where to look things up or what you want to do.
About time consuming vs time effective... I've thought a lot about that because I'm addicted to the computer and I spend lots of ours in front of it... but I think it is worth it. I think that these new tools can be used profitably in class. I always tell my teacher Gladys (who introduced blogs, wikis and YG to me and my classmates) that if I had known about this 2 years ago, my life teaching 1st formers would have been easier.
My 2 cents (expression I've learnt doing EVO sessions this year)
See you around,

Jen said...

Interesting discussion going on here about time management. There are a lot of web tools that save me time - wikis where I simply post information, audio and text resources I use in my classrooms, google documents where I keep all my grades so I can access them from anywhere, etc. My experiments with audio journals in Moodle were incredibly time consuming and I've suspended that experiment for the time being. I'm just starting up a blog for one class this term and I know that it will take a lot of time, but I hope that it will be much easier in subsequent semesters. I think some of these tools have the tendency to be a little addictive - just like email was for most of us when we first had it - or how Facebook is for many of our students. I hope that we will be able to find balance in the end!! This is one thing I have definitely learned from my Finnish colleages in my 1.5 years here so far. People draw a very firm line between their private and personal lives and guard their free time. I think it makes them more efficient and grounded, although sometimes I do find it frustrating, too.

Mona said...

I'd like to say that integrating blogs in the classroom is time-consuming, especially if you as a teacher are new to blogging.. It's taking me quite a lot of time to keep up with everything that is being said here, in this course, (I'm not complaining, I'm rather sorry I don't have enough spare time because I'd like to read everything!)

However, I adore wikis because they are simple and very very useful as teaching tools (or at least that was my experience when I used them in the classroom). And, as Phil said, students communicate more openly than in f2f classes. I think that's because the feel safer in virtual spaces and unafraid of making mistakes..


Buthaina Alothman said...


When you create a blog, which I know you have already done, you will notice that you are the owner/admin of your blog and can decide on who contributes to the blog. You could make anybody an author or another admin, and to do that you need to go to Setting and then click the Permission tab. At that point, you''ll be able to see things you can do to promote or add an author or admin to your blog.

hope this is helpful!

See you, later at our live informal group-meeting, online :)