Thursday, September 16, 2010

Using Chat, Mailbox or Forum and Learning about "Netiquette"

The TwinSpace allows for intensive communication between partners. All members of the TwinSpace community – both teachers and pupils – can use the available communication tools: chat, mailbox and forum. Online interaction has some specificities that have to be respected in order to communicate successfully. That is why we recommend that the eTwinners learn about netiquette to avoid any misunderstanding. When choosing a tool, consider also the language level of your pupils and the nature of the activity you are using it for.


The chat tool allows for online discussions in real time. All TwinSpace members have access to the chat tool at any time. It is possible to have one-to-one chats from school or home but also to have class-to-class discussions. To run a successful class-to-class chat, it is important to test the tools and decide on a topic and time beforehand. Your pupils should be prepared for the topic of the chat and know how long it will last. It is also a good idea to leave them to discuss freely at the end of the session. If you have necessary equipment, let the class follow the chat on a big screen. Consider the language level of your pupils. If it is not very good, the chat tool - which requires a fast reaction time and does not leave much time for thinking in another language - might not be the right choice. In this case, some teachers encourage pupils to have more informal one-to-one chats with their partners from home.


The mailbox enables all TwinSpace members to send messages to each other. It is not possible to send or receive messages from outside the TwinSpace. It is safe, there is no spam, and your pupils do not need to have another email address. The email tool is usually the first tool that partners use to communicate. In order to have an intensive collaborative email project, teachers establish a schedule with deadlines and agree on topics. The topics should reflect the curricula and their pupils’ interests. Some partners put their pupils in pairs to make sure that everyone takes part in a conversation. If you want to monitor your pupils’ work, you can ask them to include you in copy of each email. To have more ideas on how to use email for your project, see “The Image of the Other”.


The TwinSpace contains one main forum but can also allow you to create additional forums using the Content Management System (CMS) section. The forum enables the whole TwinSpace community to discuss a certain topic. Teachers often choose a curriculum-related topic. Some teachers let their pupils discuss topics of their own interest. The advantage of the forum is that pupils can react when they feel ready. Teachers can help them to check the language. The forum is very popular with a great number of eTwinning partnerships. There are some very interesting discussions on cultural differences, school life, cinema, music and even poetry and religion.

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