The second week of the Spring Term has nearly ended and I completed the CALL course for this week. At the beginning of the term, I was quite enthusiastic about the course. Furthermore, when I first heard that I would teach the CALL course this semester, I was away for the military service and it made me feel really happy. However, I was disappointed when I saw the physical conditions of the computer lab and the number of students taking this course.
First of all, the students had different computer skills, which is quite normal. Some of them could change IP and DNS in order to overcome the problem with the blocked webpages; but some of them could not get an e-mail address. Some of the students would keep blogs in previous years, some of them do not like and do not use even Facebook, twitter, etc. In fact, this is not a problematic situation on its own. However, when the number of students taken into consideration, this diversity about the student profiles made the course quite difficult for me.
In addition to this, the number of students for the CALL course is 120 and they are divided into two groups. 60 of them attend as the day group, and the other 60 students attend as the evening group. For example, when I asked the students to log in Google Reader in order to follow their friends’ blogs through an RSS Reader, some of them signed in using their Gmail accounts while some of them did not have even a Gmail account. While I was busy with the ones without a Gmail account, the others got lost; when I tried to help the ones with Gmail account, the others could not follow. This kind of problems occurred in the classroom.
In addition to this, the physical condition of the computer lab was really bad. There are only 25 computers and 4 or 5 of them did not have any Internet connection. The students have to bring their laptops; however, there are not enough plug sockets in order to charge their laptops. The Internet constantly disconnect throughout the course without any reason. I couldn’t find someone responsible for this situation.
These problems turned the class into a chaos and finally, one of mys students objected this situation. He stated that many of the students could not follow the course, the content was too loaded and I was having the class in a hurry. He was right in some parts, except the course content; and I started to think how I can modify this course. I tried to divide these classes into groups but the students did not have free time or computer lab was not always available for us.
Then, I found a way to improve the quality of the course. I remembered the talks I gave even with 500 people. All of the participants did not have the Internet connection or a computer in those talks; but they enjoyed and liked the talks. Some of them could take notes using their smartphones or pen&paper; some of them could use their own laptops and the Internet connection; and some of them just listened the talk. I decided to have my classes in this format. This is a two-hour class and I will give a talk at least one hour on the topic of the week and then I will leave the students alone and they will practice in the computer lab or at home. Throughout the week, I will also help the students via the Internet.
Actually, I believe that this course in this way will be much more helpful for the students. They will be able to follow the course more easily. I hope; and now, it’s time to modify the course schedule once more.
Dr. Sedat Akayoğlu