To get more of the adult education perspective on technology for you, I invited Darrin Hetrick, a coworker of mine who wrote a post previously about that topic, to guest write for you again. Today he has agreed to share with you his innovative method of blogging for stakeholders. Thank you, Darrin!
You are all probably aware of the benefits of using blogs as a means to publish student work. Blogs provide a cost-effective means for students to share their written work with their fellow students, friends, and family. However, I have also learned blogs can have another substantial benefit for communicating with multiple stakeholders in an ESL program.
I currently teach ESL to refugees and immigrants at a local factory in rural South Dakota in collaboration with a public university. The factory has set up a program for its nonnative speakers to have access to quality English language instruction while on shift. We offer three levels of classes ranging from beginner to high-intermediate.
As part of my intermediate level classes, I require students to work on their writing skills, particularly paragraphs and short essays. To aid in this, I began using a blog as a way to have students publish their work. I have used Google’s free tool Blogger. If you have not used Blogger, it is fairly intuitive and easy to set up. It is also entirely free, unless you want to have a web address without “blogspot” in the title.
Initially, I set up this blog simply for students to read and learn about one another. However, I also sent the blog to various people at the factory. It surprised me to see how well it was received by those in the company and that they enjoyed reading the stories the students were producing.
In an environment such as where I teach, having the supervisors, administrators, and other teammates involved in what students are learning is an important step in ensuring the success of the program. Those individuals, while not directly involved in the learning process, are all stakeholders. Many have put forth a fairly substantial financial and time investment. As a result, they want to see student progress. They want to hear the stories of the students and see that the investment they are putting into the program is being used effectively and efficiently. I have found that a simple blog with student writing can be one piece of that overall reporting system.
In what ways do you attempt to connect with multiple program stakeholders? How do you find ways to ensure that all members of a program are connected?
Darrin Hetrick completed his master’s degree in intercultural studies and TESOL at the Wheaton College Graduate School. He currently teaches as part of the ESL program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He has taught TESOL in Croatia and Bosnia as well as in high schools, adult education/refugee settlement programs, and community colleges in the Chicago suburbs. His primary interests are curriculum design and development and adult education.