miércoles, 21 de enero de 2009

Blind Optimist

I work at ITESM-Campus Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico City), a technological high school/university institution which has 33 major campuses all over Mexico. It is one of the top-ranked schools in Mexico. I work in the "profesional" (university) division of this campus. Our language department has teachers teaching 9+ languages (depending on enrollment). My job is the coordinator of the language labs, currently two old dinosaurs but with time and patience, I will bring them up to date, making one of them in to a self access center.

Despite the fact that we are a technological school, our language department has the same problem most humanities departments have... technophobic teachers. However, keeping in the spirit of blind optimism, I wont go into the trials and tribulations I have had.

Since these teachers how little to no experience with blogging, I would propose that the language department begin a blog, onto which teachers who wish to participate with their classes can. There are two reasons for this. Instead of assigning students whole blogs to create, they can assign small assignments as contributions to the blog. Those teaching lower levels can find ideas to contribute without the idea of having to write entire essays.

The blog idea I have is one devoted to tourism in Mexico City. While the country of Mexico has been a popular tourist destination for some time, that tourism has been concentrated in beach resorts like Acapulco and Cancun. Mexico City should be one of the architectural treasures of the world but sadly no one seems to know anything about it except that it is polluted and has crime problems.

I googled and found no serious blog dealing with why people would want to come to Mexico City. Mexico City is a huge place and such a blog would be a large undertaking. There would be opportunities for large and small articles, as well as lots of photos with captions. This should allow for the creation of assignments for all the different levels. As we teach French and other languages, blogs in these languages could be created as well and link to each other.

One thing about this idea is that it is authentic. Writing for an authentic audience is a difficult thing. The topic is one that makes it more likely that such a blog would actually be read. Student's residence and intimate familiarity with the topic(s) would make them far better providers of information than just about any native speaker. And with the unlimited space a blog affords (compared to a guide book) there is room for topics that might never make it into a normal tour guide (like street foods or topics related to youth culture in Mexico City)

I would begin the blog and maybe write one article about something obvious (like the Cathedral or the main plaza - I can rip the info off the articles I wrote for Wikipedia! ha ha ha) to show what can be done and then offer to meet with teachers to help them set up their assignments.

3 comentarios:

  1. Hi Leigh,
    I’m sure your proposal will encounter a positive response.
    The activity itself is highly motivating. Everybody likes talking about their hometown and showing its attractions to potential tourists.
    I would say most students – and teachers – will find the media you’ve chosen - a common blog - quite user friendly, even if they have little or no experience of web 2.0 tools. I also like the fact that it'll be shared by all levels because that means that students at a lower level will benefit from more advanced ones.

  2. Great idea, Leigh! And blogs are endlessly editable (not the comments, though), for the perfectionists among us! I like the idea of creating a real blog for a real audience. Not always an easy thing to do. There are so many blogs out there and so little time!

  3. Hi Leigh,

    I really like your idea...and I like that it has a real-world application and audience. I think this will be huge motivating factor. The aspect of linking it with similar material in other languages is really beneficial, and a way to get teachers from across languages collaborating together.