One Learner’s Journey

MaryH’s blog for reflecting on the EVO08 SMiELT session

Social Media in Practice: The LwC Film Festival February 1, 2008

In response to my last post, Connecting and Reflecting, Patricia asked, “I was wondering if you could somehow describe the process of starting and leading this [Film Festival] project (benefits, challenges, etc) for the other participants [of SMiELT]. ”  She also said, “It would be great if you could share this project with us as I feel that often our discussion of the social media revolve around discussing them in theory; we would like to see practical applications of what teachers do.”  Although I did not generate the idea for or lead the Film Festival Project, I would like to share my reflections on the process of participating in it.

The Learning with Computers Cartoon Festival for 2007 had a theme of “Friendship and Teen’s Lives Around the World” and was organized by Carla Raguseo. I heard about this opportunity to collaborate with others through the online community of practice, Learning with Computers.

Sometimes it can be a challenge to find classes to collaborate with because two classes usually need to be studying the same thing at the same time and the learners should have similar levels of English proficiency. In the case of the cartoon festival, it was ongoing for the year 2007, and the theme was broad enough so it could fit with a variety of curricula, so it was fairly easy to participate. I contacted Carla R about joining the project, and she guided me to the Cartoon Festival wiki where you will see the specific organization of the project.

My class had a scheduled period in the computer lab every other week. I had introduced students to the project and the theme; then, when we were in the lab, students worked on creating their films using dVolver. Although I provided the students with instructions how to create their films, they did encounter a few difficulties. For example, the length of each character’s utterance is limited to a certain number of characters; also, some students had difficulty e-mailing me their finished products. In the end, I received all of their films via e-mail.

Next, I asked students to write short “directors’ statements” to help them put their movies in context. After all, since the movies would be viewed by students and teachers who may be unfamiliar with Japanese culture, the movies needed to have some background information. I then posted the links to the movies along with the directors’ statements to our class blog, Get Hip to Learning English. Although you can generate HTML code to insert the movies directly to a blog or web site, I decided just to link to the students’ movies directly. The next time we were in the lab, students viewed each other’s films, and left comments for each other via the comment box below the movie. Finally, students voted on the one that they liked the most. A popular movie in our class was “No Eyebrow

In my opinion, the benefit of this project was having the opportunity to use English creatively and to communicate a message  for an international audience.  In doing so, students not only had the opportunity to connect with others, but also to watch and learn from movies about young people’s lives in other countries.