Sunday, 13 May 2012

Webskills Part 1 - Nicenet

Although you're far...
Photo on Flickr by Aphrodite

I made a promise some time ago - I said I was going to write about my Webskills experience. Then I got very, very busy. Here I am now, ready for the first post.

My intention is not to transfer the whole learning experience into a series of blog posts. What I'll do instead is give you little bits and pieces, showing you how I am applying the knowledge in my teaching and giving you ideas how this could be explored further.

I decided to start with Nicenet because it was our main medium of communication during the course. Also, I have been using it with my CAE class ever since.

Nicenet is an "Internet classroom assisstant". It is a safe place for a class forum. The people behind Nicenet believe that "the classroom is not a marketplace", so you will find no advertising on the site.

The U of Oregon team has provided a very useful step-by-step instructions sheet on how to open a Nicenet class. The first page is intended for the teacher, while the second page can be printed and given to the students. It is a Word document and you can download it here.

It is very important to note that a class can't be accessed without the class key. If privacy is your issue, you couldn't have come to a better place. No one will be able to find your class unless you give them the key. No one will know your class is even there. Of course, this might be a big drawback as well, depending on how you look at it.

Another drawback of Nicenet is that, if you want to use HTML, you have to put it there yourself. Let's say that you want to create a link to my blog. It will have to look something like this:


You can substitute my link and my text by anything you want. Here's how: 


Feel free to copy-paste this code into your Nicenet posts, just make sure that you have removed my links and my text and replaced them with yours. This particular code will open your link in a new window, which is very convenient.

Alternatively, you can learn more here

Flickr photos can be embedded into Nicenet posts by copy-pasting the embed code. You can't embed YouTube videos or other multimedia, though.

What I am doing in Nicenet with my CAE students right now is a book club of sorts. I share a new short story with them every week. They read it and write a short review or answer a couple of questions I have asked them. It works, since CAE students desperately need extensive reading. What they also need is a place where they can write freely and exchange opinions, since most of their regular writing homework revolves around exam preparation. 

If looking for short stories to do with your students, here's where you can go: American Stories for English Learners.

That's all for now, folks, but stay tuned for more. I would also like to inform you that I will be the guest blogger on SEETA at the end of May.


If you are not a SEETA member, why not join? It is a wonderful site with lots of great workshops to attend and everything is free. See you there, I hope.

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