Saturday, June 18, 2005

International Roll Call

by AJ

Well, our handy stat counter is giving me a good deal of interesting information. Most interesting to me is the international makeup of Hobopoet readers. We have readers in Malaysia, Iran, The Ivory Coast, The UK, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Canada, The United States, Germany, and Ecuador.

This brings to mind the recent Newsweek article titled "The Power of Us". The article is about the power of the internet to connect people and form, essentially, huge resevoirs of intelligence and wisdom.... a huge external brain. Such an external brain becomes particularly creative and powerful when it is comprised of diverse individuals... people from a wide range of cultures.

Tim Leary wrote about this same potential... a potential that is now actualizing. Leading this trend is the next generation of internet communication: especially blogs and free internet phones (ie. Skype). Ive experienced this power directly and personally.

Teaching English provides one small example. In addition to this blog, I manage a blog dedicated to language teaching. Its a team blog, co-written with a Japanese English teacher named Torhu.

Torhu and I started communicating via email. We both share an interest in certain unconventional teaching methods. That correspondence then grew into a team blog. Following a class, Torhu will often post about it. He'll detail what he did, what went well, and what didnt. I do the same.

Since we use similar techniques, I learn a tremendous amount from his post. Often I apply his ideas the next day in my own classes. As a result, my teaching has improved quickly... much more quickly than if I was on my own.

The internet makes this possible. None of the other teachers at my school favors my methods... so without the internet I would not have this same opportunity.

The next step for the blog is to involve students. Ive given the address to all of my classes, and Im encouraging them to leave anonymous comments, suggestions, and complaints about my teaching. Thai students are very respectful and thus unlikely to give me direct criticism. However, I have already received one long and detailed (anonymous) comment from a student... one with many good suggestions.

So the blog is helping me create an interactive class.... one in which the students help mold the instruction they receive.

Quite exciting.


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