Wednesday, June 3, 2009

online collaboration

Comme le monde est petit

I am really happy to be 32 in 2009 ( did I say 32? I meant 21 of course!!) for one reason : the Internet (with a capital letter to show how much respect I have for it). You are going to ask me why I like the Internet so much. I will answer to you in only a few words (you see I am not so boring after all!), it is because it makes the world very small.

Although I live in New Zealand in the middle of nowhere ( my neighbors are cows, literally speaking) I feel in the center of the world, thanks to the Internet.
I would say a month ago (maybe 2) I met @msfrenchteach on Twitter. An one day I asked who wanted to work on an online work using etherpad. @msfrenchteach answered quickly and after calculating the difference between our times ( oooops I have forgotten to say that @msfrenchteach is in the US) we made an online appointment.

I picked my year 12 French (their 4th year of French) and told them roughly what we will be doing (couldn’t tell much because I wasn’t sure of what will be happening). So here they are at school at 8 am (we start usually at 8.30) ready to work. Skype and etherpad are on. So after a few minutes giggling (teenagers the same everywhere!!) they were ready to work hard. We spent one hour online asking each other questions. I was just here to help them in case of emergency, like a dictionary. I have to admit I was so proud of them. I was looking at them working with pleasure, they were so excited to speak with other people so far away. And I know they were not lying because at the end they asked me when we will do that again.

When I said to people about this experience they all asked why I didn’t do that with a French school. Easy to answer. When you are 15 or 16 you don’t feel very confident and you know that your level of French is not very high. Why would I have put them in front of kids who speak fluently French. Realistically we all know how boring it is to speak with people who just start to learn a language, it requires a lot of patience that you don’t have when you are 16. But I do believe that you feel ok when you speak with people who have the same level of language as you ( hope that what I write makes sense!!, bloody French can’t even write English properly ☺ )

This experience was wonderful for me and the students and we can not wait that @msfrenchteach has finished her summer holiday (we are so selfish) to have another online collaboration


  1. Etherpad is such a great wee tool, have been using it lots too when skyping. Thanks for describing your experiences here, I have forwarded your post to the Languages and e-Learning facilitators I work with, a wonderful example of how you have utilised the technology to connect and engage your students.

  2. Nice post! My students had a great time communicating with your students! They would love to do it again sometime shortly after school resumes. Thanks for the awesome idea and the invitation to connect with you!(Hope your rugby team won the regionals!) PS Happy 32nd Birthday..whenever that may be! :-)

  3. Jenny MerringtonJune 8, 2009 at 1:28 PM

    I am an elearning facilitator working with Fiona (above).
    What a great experience for your students. Having that opportunity to communicate with others is so empowering and combining Etherpad and Skype is a great idea.I'll share your experience with the languages teachers I work with.