Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Post-workshop reflections: Introduction to Blogging workshop for 10-year olds

Two sessions.

An hour and a half each.

Ten year-olds.

Thirty kids per session.

Total 60 kids.

Phew.

MOE Language Arts Festival 2008, 28 May 08

But it was fun. I found myself enthused and inspired at the end of the day.

Nice kids. Not too rowdy (I managed to reason with them most of the time, heh). All were enthusiastic about learning new things (it helped that they signed up for the course themselves, rather than being asked to attend).

The session, on how to create and manage blogs, was designed and conducted for the MOE Language Arts Festival 2008. I'm pleased to say that both sessions went well, even though I've not taught 10 year olds how to blog (last year's session was something else).

Well, I did learn that I SHOULD NOT force the boys to work with the girls, unless they want to. So this year, I left them to choose the people they preferred to work with, or to work on their own.


Session Outline
The session covered basics like creating a blog with Blogger.com, publishing a post, editing and deleting posts, creating hyperlinks, adding photos, changing the blog design and layout, how to delete a blog, how to set their blog as private, and how to manage comments.

During the session, I also wove in examples of how they should not assume that photos on the Internet were for the taking (a common assumption among these children), and to exercise cyber-safety and responsible forms of expression.

And I reminded them to tell their parents of the Google account they've created, and their blog URL.


Problems & Opportunities
I'd tossed and turned in bed last night, 'cos I was playing out all possible scenarios of what might go wrong during the sessions.

For instance, poor Internet connectivity (didn't happen), students not having email addresses and not being able to create blogger accounts (a handful of them), and disruptive participants (none).

My biggest worry was not being able to cope with 30 students. I had one very capable and helpful student helper but normally, for a hands-on workshop, I'd preferred a ratio of Five participants to One trainer.

Fortuitously, in the morning session, five students already had blogger accounts prior to the session and had made tentative posts in blogger.com!

Incidentally, I asked why they chose to attend this introductory workshop. I got mostly shrugs. Some said they wanted to see if there were more specific things to learn (I was successful to some degree, but expectations differed among these students).

Anyway, there I was, wondering how I'd cope with 30 students for a hands-on workshop.

Temporary Lab Assistants!
Then in a moment of inspiration, I asked if those five students could act as my Temporary Assistants for the workshop.

"Temporary" as in, to help out at specific segments in the workshop. The rest of the time they would be participants.

They were to go around helping other students sign up to blogger (or create email accounts before signing up with blogger).

At first, they didn't know how to react (maybe they've never been asked to be lab assistants).

Then they quietly went around helping.

I thought they were bored and was sorry that I had to make them help me. But they were quite happy to help, even if they weren't acting excited. Because at one point, I announced: "This student needs help. Can any of my Temporary Assistant come over here?"

To my surprise, all five of the Temp Assistants ran over (yes, ran in that crowded lab)!

I tell you, I could've hugged everyone of them. :)


Temporary Assistants in the Afternoon
For my afternoon, I sought out Temporary Assistants again. This time I approached it differently.

There were four kids who arrived at the lab about 30 minutes early. I asked if they had blogs with blogger. They didn't.

Then I asked if they could help me as Temporary Assistants. While we waited for the class to arrive, I would show them how to sign up and create a blog. Then when the class began, they would have to help others.

Three of them agreed (the fourth preferred to play an online game). I assigned them to look after individual sections of the class. One of them tended to be shy in helping other students, but she went about rendering help in her own quiet way.

I should've called them my Special Assistants instead.

Thanks, kids.


Mission accomplished
All 60 kids managed to create their own blogs using Blogger.com.

The few who already had blogs also learned new things, like creating hyperlinks and managing the blog.

All indicated, via feedback forms, that the session was useful and interesting. Three of them indicated that they'd expected more though. I spoke to one of them to find out what they expected in terms of "more". Apparently they wanted to learn things like how to add new blog skins, tag boards, music players etc.

I think their peers can teach that part better than I can, heh.

These two comments made my day:

"It's cool! Although I'm in a girls school I learnt how to share knowledge with others by blogging" (from a boy, obviously)

"This is the most fun I have ever had in a computer lab"


More Photos from the Language Arts Festival 2008
MOE Language Arts Festival 2008, 28 May 08

MOE Language Arts Festival 2008, 28 May 08

MOE Language Arts Festival 2008, 28 May 08

MOE Language Arts Festival 2008, 28 May 08MOE Language Arts Festival 2008, 28 May 08

MOE Language Arts Festival 2008, 28 May 08

MOE Language Arts Festival 2008, 28 May 08

[Related: Post-workshop reflections - Excel Fest 2007]

3 comments:

  1. Wow, surprised to meet a librarian here! Thanks for visiting my blog :)

    Kids are so fortunate nowadays! I only started to use the Internet when I was 13 years old, and that was because of some school competition thingy (they need an email address to contact us if there's anything, so I created a Hotmail account just for that which expired soon after). I never had my own computer until I was 15, which was also the age I had my first blog at Blogger (I only changed to Windows Live Space last year). From then on I've become a major web addict, almost all my time at home (when I'm not working or studying or playing piano) is spent in cyberspace! :X

    Does the library hold such cool bloggers' workshops often? I think it's very interesting, and actually, Facebook is also a great idea too! :P My friends are all crazy over it now, but I'm still resisting it, ha. Somehow blogging allows me to pursue my passion further...

    Have fun being a Liblogarian! :D

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  2. Hi Autumn_luv, the workshop reported here was organised by MOE, for higher abilities students. I'm not sure if individual schools organise blogging workshops for their students. Probably not.

    I found Facebook useful for connecting with friends and contacts. But it's a different platform compared to a blog. I suspect you're a person who likes to write. :)

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  3. LOL when I was 10 year old... I was only in primary 5. At that time, I didn't create blogs and typed with lots of short forms. It seemed like a million years since then, now I am way more advanced. :P

    Blogspot is a good start for beginners. =) More internet savvy people can get domains. <3

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