Internet Forums as Places of Dialog in STEAM-ESL Education

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We have started using paper dialog journals to teach science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics, and English writing skills (STEAM-ESL).  I would like to extend this approach to electronic media.  My idea for an internet forum for the students is to not replace the paper journals, but rather to offer a second activity to help the students participate in dialog.  The forum is here.  Please setup an account if you want to help the effort.  The idea is that the Internet forum can be a place where students can talk to each other about different topics that we provide, do free writing on future dreams, or write on anything that interests them.  We could adopt a strategy similar to the paper dialog journals, with the exception that in the Internet forum the students can view each other’s writing and provide comments to each other.  In this way, the forum is more like a collective dialog repository between tutors, teachers, and students.  The structure is different and provides a fruitful second option to getting the students writing.  The advantage of the forum is that the students learn how to type better, get to engage in classroom wide conversation, and the blocks of text are entered into the computer for our further analysis with other programs and analytics like LIWC.  I would like to type in the text from all the paper dialog journals to analyze with LIWC anyway confidentially, but it would be easier to have the students type in their writing for us.  The purpose of LIWC is the quantitatively measure of cognitive patterns in the texts and to quantify emotional content of the writing in an objective manner suitable for a publication with a collaborator at Georgia State applied linguistics or education departments.  The paper dialog journals are absolutely private and the content would never be used for a study, but we could explain that the Internet forum is going to be used for a study to the students so they understand that they are part of an experimental project to improve ESL training for refugee camps.  This is the first work for the STEAM-ESL massive open online course (MOOC), an Internet forum analyzed by LIWC, humans, and other machine language analysis methods that I learn about in this course from China’s Peking University.  I know I am a little far out with the STEAM-ESL MOOC idea, I am really trying to quickly bring into the domain of reality and believe investing in an Internet forum would be a way to do that.  We could start a thread on photosynthesis and climate change and talk about photosystem II as shown above using Foldit!

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About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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