eMails and the curriculum

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 | education, Learners, trends | Comments Off

When was the last time you used one of these?

When was the last time you used one of these?

How many letters do you lately find in your letterbox?  And how many paper based letters do you post in the red post boxes?  Compare that with the number of emails you receive and write daily.  For most of us, emails are now the preferred way of communication, to such an extent that we hardly make use of snail mail.

At school we were all taught how to write letters: the personal “Dear Mary” type, as well as the more formal “Dear Mr Smith” business letters.  We were taught about form, register, good letter writing techniques and even some letter writing etiquette.

Did you know that this is still what is being taught in South African schools?  This in spite of the fact that learners may never have seen such a letter in their life!  The writing of emails is not part of the curriculum of language subjects.  It is true that the writing of emails is part of the CAT (Computer Application Technology) courses, but relatively few learners take this subject at school.

Of course, a few teachers have already taken the bold move to “extend” the curriculum unofficially by including email writing in their classes … but these ones are the exception.

This is just a small example to illustrate the long way we still have to go to prepare learners to function efficiently in this digital age.

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How could a laptop be used as a communication tool?

Sunday, March 29th, 2009 | communication, laptops | 4 Comments

One of the greatest gifts of computer technology to the world is the way in which it brings people together.  You can send an email across the globe, have it reach its destination a few seconds later and get a reply as fast as the person on the other side can type.  Compare that to the time it would have taken if a letter was sent by snailmail – with a possibility of getting lost in the post.

The email facility that your laptop makes available to you allows you as a teacher to engage in more effective communication with all the people with whom you need to interact.

An exchange of ideas with colleagues becomes easier – it can strengthen collegial relationships and allows for collaboration when time and distance prevent you from meeting in person.  You can ask for advice from teachers in other schools and receive replies almost instantly – lesson plans, worked examples and other teaching resources.

Email makes it possible to consults with subject and education experts.

You can contact parents through email.  Many parents may not have email facilities, but an increasing number of them are getting on-line.

It is even possible to communicate with your learners by sending emails to them.  If your school has computers but does not have internet facilities, you could still use internal email to send homework assignments, class notes and other notifications.  This will empower learners to use email and will eliminate the excuse that the homework assignment slip was lost.

Of course, you will also be able to use email for business and personal conversations with friends and relatives.

Email provides a permanent record of communication  – you have a verification of what you’ve said to each other and can go back and refer to the conversation.

Email is not the only way of communication made possible by your laptop.  Many other avenues are opened to you:

  • social networks
  • forums
  • blogs
  • Skype
  • and we don’t know what else may become available in the future.

Your laptop allows you to communicate with others with greater speed and ease – and at lower cost – than ever before.

Click here to find answers to more laptop related questions.

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Is E an African language? Are teachers using email?

Thursday, December 18th, 2008 | Computer Usage, training | 2 Comments

Some teachers of a foreign (or second) language insist that only this language be used in their classes. For example, a teacher of English to non-English speaking learners may be adamant that only English is spoken in her class.

This approach makes sense. The only way to learn a new language is to use it. It doesn’t matter if the grammar is not perfect at the start, or if the learner battles with vocabulary; the important thing is to get the feel of the language and then to gain some confidence in using it.

When technology is brought into a school, a new language is likewise introduced: the language of E.

How do we help teachers (and learners) to start using this language? One way is by insisting that they use E as the main medium of communication.

E is not a spoken language; it is a language in a different sense. But one can apply the principles of language learning. For example, in written communication with teachers, one should insist on using only email. One of the first things that teachers should learn is how to use email.

Principals can play a big role by being firm that all internal communication (memos, schedules, circulars, etc) take place via email. Of course, that implies that the principal has bought into the concept of E.  It also implies that a stable network is in place and that all teachers have email addresses and that they have received adequate training in its use.

Facilitators at schools must put the necessary structures and training programmes in place to ensure that email becomes the standard way of communication in a school.

[This posting has appeared a year ago on my previous blog - see the interesting comments that some teachers have made on this topic].

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