Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Blog Survey: Class 1955

Monday, May 15, 2006

Class Blog Survey May 2006

Week 7 of the course. This means we only have four more lessons to go and two of these will be taken up with testing and consultations. I have decided to give both classes a short questionnaire (see below) to see what they thought of the project.

Dear Students

I would like to find out what you thought about our class blog.

Could you please create a new post on our blog (call it 'Questionnaire)', and copy and paste the following into your post. Then write your answers to the questions.

Survey: Section 1

In the first part, please indicate YES or NO or NOT SURE. Feel free to add any extra information.

1. Did you join the class blog?

2. Did you post anything or write any comments on the blog?

3. Did you read other people's posts or comments?

4. Did you like having a class blog?

5. Before this blog, had you published anything on the internet?

6. Did you prefer writing on the blog to writing on paper?

7. Do you believe that writing on a blog can improve your English?

8. Will you continue to use this blog after this course?

9. Have you told other people about our blog / about blogging?

10. Should all British Council English courses use blogs? In classtime? Outside classtime?

Survey: Section 2

Please answer the following questions as fully as you can.

How active a blogger were you? (How many posts did you create? How many comments did you add? How many posts / comments did you read? How many times did you look at the blog?). If you weren't active, why not?

12. What did you like about the blog project?

13. What did you dislike about the project?

14. Did you prefer to choose your own topics or did you like it when I gave you specific tasks?

15. Did you think the blog was suitable for homework tasks?

16. What was the most memorable thing that you read on other students’ blogs?

17. Do you think it is better to have one class blog (as we had), or would it be better for everyone to have their own blog?

18. Did you learn anything new about computers / technology? Do you think this knowledge could be useful for you in the future?

19. Do you think we should have done more blogging in classtime?

20. How could I improve this blogging project?

Thank you very much!

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Before the week-long holiday I set a little blog assignment. In class we had been looking at giving people advice and the homework was to post a problem, fictional or otherwise, and then to respond to other people's problems either by way of a comment or a new post... I thought it was a nice idea, but after a week I find there have been only 2 posts! Also, I hoped that the bloggers would post about their holidays, but so far I am the only holiday blogger. Shame. I wonder if the interest flags without the class-time encouragement...
Anyway, only 3 weeks left with these classes. I shall devise a questionnaire about blogging and hopefully have a new class (I think one will be enough this time) with which to put the blogging project back into motion, this time with a little more confidence.

I 've started, in earnest, the IELTS blog. So far, just a number of found sites.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

IELTS and PBWikis and Wikispaces

One of my projects at the moment is to explore IELTS from an ICT perspective. I have created an IELTS blog which I shall use to collect information and links.

I have, fortunately, just discovered the wonderful world of wikis - and - and hope to publish my IELTS research on a wiki. I'm trying out both wiki sites ( and, but eventually I'll choose just one of them. If anyone is interested in contributing, please contact me.

First impressions - pbwikis look better but wikispaces are easier to use and they seem to offer blog integration. More later...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Camino and Bloglines; Firefox and Google Reader

Blogger was having some publishing problems. We haven't had many posts on the class blogs recently... perhaps this was the problem. Anyway, this morning everything seems back to normal and some new posts have arrived.

Tuesday morning. I first tried to post this yesterday... Time for a quick run through of some of the software I'm currently using.

I have been using Firefox ( for a long time now and have been more than happy with its performance and look (esp. with 'Black Japan'). Now, as I'm using a Mac (OS X) at home, I'm trying out Camino ( (v.1). It's very pretty, very quick, but doesn't have any native extensions (you can get third-party ones) and you can't have those useful buttons on the toolbar ('', 'live bookmarking'), but feels really nice on a mac. I'm looking forward to version 1.1... I've just added a 'Get Camino' Button to show my support; doing this I noticed that my adsense buttons and adverts which show when I use IE or Firefox don't show when I use Camino!
I have just discovered that it's a simple check in the Camino Preferences causing the problem. Under the Web Features pane just uncheck Block web advertising and adsense and other ads will show up.

I'm using a web-based feed reader as I use a mac at home and a pc at work - bloglines. I've also just set up a Google Reader account.

Bloglines ( - If you have more than one blog, this is great for keeping track of them. Everytime someone posts, you are alerted and can read the post from bloglines rather than having to go to all of your blogs. Very useful when y0u have a number of student blogs. I find Bloglines very easy to use, though it isn't always clear how to perform slightly more complex operations, like importing other blogliner's feeds into your own account. This is how to do it:

1) Find a blogliner's list of feeds you find interesting. The URL is My public feeds, for example, are here:

2) At the foot of the page, you will see 'Export Subscriptions'. Click on this and an OPML file opens. This is the page you need to save onto your computer. In practice, it makes things easier if you open the OPML file in a new window (i.e. right click on 'Export Subscriptions') and then save the file onto your desktop.

3) From your own bloglines account, click on 'Edit' and then on 'Import Subscriptions' (under 'Extras' at the bottom of the page).

4) Browse for your OPML file (on the desktop if you saved it there).

5) Click 'Import'.

6) All the feeds will appear. Unfortunately, there isn't, as far as I know, any way to steer the feeds into a particular folder before importing, so they arrive as just a long list of feeds. However, once imported, you can manually move them around. There's a great bloglines tutorial available: Link

Google Reader ( - at the moment this is very unfriendly for people with a large number of feeds. You can't delete mass subscriptions, but have to unsubscribe one by one, which takes hours. Also, you can't clear the 'Read' items; in bloglines you can mark with one click all items as read and they disappear, whereas in Google, they just stay there, nagging at you. I find this particularly annoying. Even now, after clearing manually over 200 subscriptions, the left pane is overloaded with feeds for me to read.

In the meantime, until I have explored OPML editors (a basic text editor is horrible for this), I'm just bookmarking other people's public public subscriptions rather than adding their feeds to my own account.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Dekita Exchange

Course Information Page

We have two class blogs which we use for blogging about ourselves and for posting homework.
  • students’ geographical location - Ho chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • beginning/end of course - end of March to end of May 2006
  • links to student weblogs or equivalent interactive work -
    1. (the morning class)
    2. (the evening class)

Nice-to-have information:

  • students’ age and their competency in English - from 18 to 50, upper-intermediate (CEF B2)
  • number of class sessions per week - 2 x 2 hours a week