Sunday, March 16, 2008
Before, During, and After: Connecting with Students Online
Many IEPs host special programs for groups of students from other countries. Programs may be only a few weeks in length, but tend to be very intensive, with English classes, field trips, and other activities. Lasting bonds may be formed among participants, but when the program is over, interaction with staff typically ceases. One way to make a program especially memorable and effective is to expand the interaction between participants and staff. Internet tools such as blogs, wikis, electronic mailing lists, online fora, voice discussion boards, voice email, and chat programs can enable program coordinators to begin interacting with program participants weeks before they arrive in the country and to stay in touch with them after they go home. (The same tools can also be used to enhance interaction with regular IEP students.) I will describe how I have used Yahoo!Groups, a popular electronic mailing list; the chat application at Tapped In, an online educators’ community; Facebook, a popular social networking site; a program blog; and individual participant blogs to link Japanese participants in a language/culture program at an American university with the program team and with each other, encouraging them to interact before, during, and after their trip to the United States.