19 February 2016

Authenticity Through Collaboration


Let me begin with a question: Why is it that writing skills, so essential, are still being practiced in classrooms as they were over 20 years ago?

Twenty years ago (and more), making learning tasks "authentic" in the foreign language classroom was regarded as an important practice on the part of the teacher. This was achieved  not only by introducing topics which were relevant outside the classroom, ( and then adapted for teaching purposes), but by by stressing the need to  create a sense of an audience for learners.

Peer editing,  peer feedback, publishing students' work in international competitions, exchanging class work with a cooperative colleague, are examples of how instilling a sense of an audience could be done. 

So forgive me if I raise another question: despite the value of these activities, why are teachers not making better use of what is possible today?

Giving students a voice to be heard, widening their audience, not only reinforces this sense of an audience, but also encourages blooming writers to try harder - to try harder when they brainstorm and prepare their essays to trying harder when they edit and proof read their work. 

Write About is one of those digital learning spaces which fosters inspiration and collaboration among teachers and students who are sharpening their writing skills. 

The pilot edition is free and allows moderation. This ability to first test a tool with students is important to many educators, so that we can see whether it is appropriate for our teaching context and to then decide whether to continue with a paid subscription. 

Writing topics come with a visual prompt, may be contributed in different languages, and are categorised by theme and level.  More features can be found here. 

For every reason to introduce digital collaboration in the classroom,there is often an excuse, a pretext, a subterfuge not to. 

For me, that is what remains. Excuses not to change, excuses to deny students today the skills so necessary for them to learn in order to succeed in a world rapidly changing, a world based on digital literacy skills and active online participation. 

The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Writing Essays (Infographic)Change does not need to come all at once either.

When it comes to writing skills, it may be a gradual transition,  from the analogue to the digital. Learning aims still need to be achieved and students may need additional support as digital writing spaces are different, requiring practice of navigation and infusions of multimedia.

This is today's world. A fusion of worlds. A fusion of collaborative activities in every field.

If educators do not continue pressing for change in practices, in order to better engage, to provide learners with more authentic learning tasks and activities, who will?

Source: www.grammarcheck.net

How do you introduce bridges of digital, authentic, collaborative writing?


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