I took a different approach with this latest group and used a full afternoon to cover all the basic tools of WordPress in one big hit. The drawn out nature of showing them and having them try it out on the “Sandpit” last time, meant it was a long time before we actually got blogging and I wanted to avoid that this time around. This worked quite well, and to my surprise hasn’t really led to the trainees needing a great deal more support.
The enthusiasm levels have been good, with several learners who were not keen to start with, really taking to it, and even asking if they can create another blog for their personal use.
Copyright issues have been integral this time, and I’ve only had to edit a few posts to remove unauthorised content. I developed a one page “Copyright Crib Sheet” to lay down some ground rules.
The ICT Key Skills qualification, which we are using the blogging to contribute to, calls for learner to “combine information”, for example by annotating an image, and I’ve been exploring the use of online image editors such as Splashup and FotoFlexer (that last suggested by a learner!) to cover this. I want to use our fledgling Moodle site to put up some notes on how to use these extra tools, as I’ll never have time to teach them all!
Also important to the Key Skills are the planning elements, and this was the first time I’d used the “How To grow a Blog” worksheets with the learners. I had wondered about this, since I find the metaphor of a plant a good one, but wondered if my adult might find it a bit too child-like. No one remarked on that aspect though, and the comments were reasonable.
The staff found them useful as evidence, though I have private doubts about whether the trainees themselves ever pay more than lip-service to “planning” their work! It’s hard to make them see the advantages and we find the same issue with the Improve Own Learning Key Skill. They’re far more product than process focussed — nature of adult learning I suppose, but at odds with my own inclination which is to experiment and try things out and think out other methods.
The commenting on each other’s blogs has also improved this time around and there’s some good back and forth going on. One particularly interesting exchange occurred between a learner posting about immigration policy, and another who actually is an immigrant, their training course being done here in a second language. Interesting expanding of horizons for several I think.
I tried to plan the groups around the learners I knew were regular absentees so no one group got hit too badly by having people missing, but the trainees have still noticed the problems when a key person — say the one individual who is the Admin, is away and they have to ask me to edit something instead. Hopefully this will stand them in better stead in the workplace and appreciate the importance of attendance to group and team projects.
I wonder how much of the trainees confidence is down to the fact that I’m more confident this time around, having worked out some of the hiccups with the first group. I’m looking forward to starting the next group, and will feel less put off by any initial disinterest, since this group have developed so well in spite of their initial doubts.