Blog Post

02. Collaboratively blogging / authoring a website in the foreign-language classroom

This is an update to a blog post I made in November. The update includes now at the end how the class turned out eventually. Looking forward to feedback and suggestions!

November 2013:

I have a question that regards a newly added digital component - collaborativley creating a website - to the syllabus of an advanced German language class:

Teams (each team consists of 3 students) create a website that reflects on the topic of

“Love, friendship and marriage in the 21st century.”  

Goal:

Students use their German writing skills to create different types of texts to explore this theme.

Time frame: 5 days

Requirements:

Students have to write one longer type of text (300 words) and two shorter texts (50 words each) 

The various types of text need to relate to each other.

Text types include:

-       a Dear Abby column

-       dating column

-       advertisement for a romantic weekend

-       forum / message board

-       interview (either printed or a recording)

-       report / photo report

-       film / book reviews

-       blog

-       facebook feed / flickr feed

-       chat

What open-source web application to create a website would suit these requirements and goals best? I am thinking of blogspot at this point. Students can easily get it up and running. Plus, they can move around parts of the layout more easily than with wordpress or google sites it seems. Is Omeka over the top, i.e. too much tool than is needed for this purpose?

Also, if you know of examples of students’ collaborative websites, please share! 

UPDATE: February 2014

We ended up using blogspot/blogger as a platform. It turned out that one of the students knows more about web design than we expected (however, he had a hard time using blogger), two other students were familiar with wordpress and thus also had to take time to find their way around blogger. The rest of the group never wrote a blog of any kind. This majority of the class said that they use email and facebook on a frequent basis, but no other social media service.

I created 3 blogspot blogs for them (example: http://ger401werther.blogspot.com/). Initially we thought the students only need 3-5 days to accomplish the task. On the first day we talked briefly about good/bad web design and we let them play around with blogger. However, recording and writing more content for the blog as well as running into problems with the limiting format of blogger took much more time than the originally planned time. The students needed more than 7 days (5 in-class meetings) altogether in the end, to come up with finished websites. 

As a feedback from the students, we got two main requests:

1. Have a class website (maybe using something more versatile like wordpress) throughout the whole quarter that all students can contribute to.

2. Have someone always at hand that can help with design and technical issues (I was that person for this one week, but the actual teacher of the class is not familiar with web applications.)

3. A powerpoint presentation would have been more effective, according to the students. 

I agree with the first point, but am not sure if the 2nd point would be feasible. (We do not have the resources to provide continuous help throughout a quarter.) Since the goal of this foreign-lanugage class is to work on their writing, speaking and listenting skills, I feel we cannot ask them to become web literate as well. Or can we - in a sense that we require the students to do, let's say, a one week workshop to familiarize them with a certain web application, for instance, Omeka? 

Any thoughts on such a task - collaboratively blogging / authoring a website without demanding a high level of web literacy/technological skills from the students - are much appreciated!

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2 comments

@KavuBob and @jatenas on Twitter suggested a list that @jatenas put together. It's at http://ble.soas.ac.uk/mod/page/view.php?id=78154 - log in as a guest to view the list.

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Oh thank you! (I did not see the notification that someone replied to my blog entry)

I know that a twitter-stream and flickr-stream can be easily integrated on a wordpress site (without having to link to it and thus by clicking the link leaving the website.) I assume the same will be possible with blogger/blogspot. 

I had also found this list in the meantime: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/04/10-excellent-platforms-to-cre...

Now I need to figure out with which platform students can play around the most and that allows them to embed various kind of media (texts, images, videos, advertisements, chat, facebook, twitter etc. )

 

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