Thursday, September 27, 2007

Another school year begins

Corridors in colleges and universities will soon be lively and crowded with students again - the buzz, the ringing of the school bell, the excitement of a new beginning... new faces trying to find their ways around the labyrinth of corridors, old students gathering together sharing their summer adventures.
I'm starting my 3-month EFL course with a new group on October the 1st. Wonder what it will be like.Wonder how big the group will be. Wonder how they will respond to our online experiments.
This will be a full-time group consisting of students of informatics engineering, mechatronics and countryside management aged 19+. Unfortunately every year there are many students who enrol just to spend another care free year or two as students, not having to work or look for a job. The reason for this phenomenon is that full time study at state universities and colleges is free of charge. The most popular programmes at state universities get the most serious students. Small, local colleges like ours, have hard time competing with them.
Most full-time students in Slovenia have occasional part-time jobs but are generally not employed. They are financially supported by their families. Few lucky ones have scolarships.
Part-time students, on the other hand, have to pay tuition fee, are usually employed, more experienced and, although they have less free time, are usually more active and motivated to complete course requirements - at least at our college I've been noticing this year after year.
My new full-time group will have 8 classes per week, 4 hours of plenary classes (up to 60 students) and 3-4 hours of smaller classes (of up to 30 students). The smaller classes will be mostly carried out in a computer lab. Instead of taking the traditional final written exam, students will be invited to:
- perform weekly tasks and keep record of their activities using a Google doc or a wiki,
- develop their blog and join the writingmatrix and dekita exchange,
- start using Google Reader or other aggregator to subscribe to blogs of interest.
I like these Google applications because they can all be accessed from a single account, which is neat, especially for students new to these tools. I know this shouldn't be too complicated for my informatics students, but feel a bit uneasy about the mechatronics and countryside management students...

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