Teaching Responsibilities

On Friday, I finally was given a schedule of the classes I will be teaching. In total, I will be teaching three classes: Reading and Discussion, Presentation Class, and Project Class. I will be teaching Reading and Discussion and Presentation Class on my own to two advanced English language learners. However, Project Class is going to be taught by six teachers with four students.

Reading and Discussion
First, I will be teaching Reading and Discussion. Throughout the three week course, I will be covering three books. These books include Decline and Fall, Business @ the Speed of Thought, and Night Without End.

My syllabus for R&D is available on google docs. So far, I’ve only made a lesson plan for tomorrow and any comments or advice would be appreciated. The lesson plan can also be viewed on google docs. I wasn’t given a formal guideline to create the lesson plan, so I’m not sure if it’s completely correct. I created objectives first, but didn’t write them on the lesson plan.

Presentation Class
Second, I will be teaching Presentation Class. The main text for the class is called Getting Ready for SPEECH: A Beginner’s Guide to Public Speaking. I’m not exactly sure what my responsibilities are supposed to be for this class because other interns are teaching a Presentation Clinic using the same book. Hopefully, I won’t repeat anything covered in the other class. Here’s my syllabus and here’s my lesson plan.


Training and Workshops

During the last two days, my fellow interns and I have participated in workshops to prepare us for teaching. However, I still feel uninformed about my actual responsibilities. At orientation, we were given a schedule describing the three classes we’d be teaching. The subjects included: the world around us, reading and discussion, and newspaper writing. Also, we had to help the students prepare for presentations at the end of each week.

After receiving this schedule, we then heard a lot of contradictory information.  Now, it appears that everything has changed and we have to return all of our materials. I’m a little frustrated and disheartened. Hopefully, everything will be cleared up today because this is the last day of training before we start teaching on Monday.

Despite my frustrations, I’ve learned quite a lot already. Yesterday, we discussed Communicative Language Theory (CLT), which is the most used theory for teaching English as a second language. Some of the major aspects of this theory focused on terms like realia and tactile. Realia refers to making materials as realistic as possible, while tactile is learning through touching and feeling. Also, the theory places more importance on using the langauge than knowing grammar. Although this way of teaching could potentially present some challenges because grammar rules are not presented, it seems rather effective.

Above: Some of my fellow interns

In my small workshop group, the teacher demonstrated CLT using the silent method. To do this, he used blocks and words written on the board in Korean. First, he took one block, pointed at a word, and said “hana”. He continued this with three more words: dul, set, and net. He used two blocks to point to dul, three blocks to point at set, and four blocks to point at net. Second, he held up the block up to us and said “hana”. Again, he continued this with the other blocks. Third, he simply held up one block without speaking and the class responded with “hana”.  After the exercise was over, we realized that he had taught us the numbers one through four in Korean without ever speaking English.

Also, we focused on developing objectives and creating lesson plans. Since I haven’t had any formal training in teaching before, this was especially useful. We participated in many activities where we worked backwards to find the objectives coinciding with specific lesson plans. Additionally, we revised vague objectives into “SMART” objectives. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound.

When this experience is over, I will hopefully feel even more prepared to teaching English 120 in the fall. Although I will have training then too, I think this will make me help me feel more comfortable.  For now, I need to focus on the present though. The last day of full workshops starts in two hours.

Oreo O’s Sold in Korea!

When I was about 10 years old, one of my favorite cereals was Oreo O’s. Cookie Crisp was okay, but who could pass up oreos for breakfast? However, it seemed to only be available for a short time and then it disappeared all together. While grocery shopping yesterday, my roommate and I stumbled across the holy grail of cereal: Oreo O’s! Apparently, South Korea is the only place that still has the cereal available. Needless to say, that’s what I had this morning for breakfast. Good morning Seoul. Good afternoon everyone back home.

Overcoming Language Barriers

During the 14 hour flight from Chicago to Seoul, an older Chinese woman sat next to me and I witnessed the difficulty she faced when trying to communicate. Surprisingly, the video monitors did not have Chinese as a language option, so she was unable to operate them effectively. Also, the flight attendants did not know Chinese, which resulted in apparent frustration of the woman. However, I attempted to aid her a little by operating her monitor and helping her select movies. After each movie ended, she would turn to me and I would automatically select another one with her approval. Throughout the entire flight, we would communicate with each other by using small gestures, nods, and smiles. It was a very pleasant and refreshing experience. It gave me hope that a language barrier might not be such a huge obstacle to overcome.

Tomorrow, I will finally find out what I’m actually going to be doing here for my internship. I have always known it had something to do with teaching English, but I wasn’t really given many specifics. Once I find out, I’ll address it here on my blog. Since I arrived in Seoul, I’ve spent most of my time walking around the neighborhoods close to campus that have many bars, restaurants, and shops. So far, I’ve had two very traditional Korean meals. Overall, I’m loving it here!

One Day Before Takeoff

This time tomorrow, I will be at O’Hare waiting for my flight to Seoul. Even though I’m “almost packed”, it still doesn’t seem real. Last night, I tossed and turned with delirious, half awake dreams. The unknown makes me very nervous. I wonder how I’ll adapt to the language barrier and cultural differences.

The Korean websites I’ve been looking at are almost impossible to navigate as I randomly click buttons with unfamiliar characters. Is this how illiterate people feel? In the past, I have worked with many international students at my job on campus. Often, I became somewhat frustrated with their inability to communicate with me. However, now I will be thrown into that exact same position.

As an undergrad, I also took a few classes that focused on cultural differences. Mainly, I remember individualistic vs. collectivistic used when comparing Western and Eastern cultures. Is that really true? One story discussed in my International Management class keeps repeating in my mind. It basically described a situation between a pilot and a co-pilot on Korean Air, which is coincidentally the airline I’m using from Chicago to Seoul. The airline was experiencing a high number of crashes because of the drastic power difference. When something went wrong, the co-pilot would not voice his opinion because he unable to stand up and contradict the pilot.

Also, I’m worried about what I’m going to eat. Although I want to experience the complete culture including the food, I am a very picky eater. I’m simply not sure if I will be able to overcome the mental divide that will prevent me from trying it.

Overall, I think I just have to cross my fingers and hope I can manage. Even if the experience turns out to be horribly difficult, the end result will still help me grow as a person. Either way, it’s still happening in ONE DAY!

Continuing My Blogging Journey… in Korea!

During Spring 2012, I was introduced to many social media sites in a course called Electronic Communication. Throughout the class, I documented my journey on this blog. Moving forward, I have decided to continue utilizing it.

In particular, I will be using this blog while I am in Seoul, Korea. In four short days, I will be flying to Seoul for a month long summer internship at Konkuk University where I will be teaching English. I will be leaving Fargo on Sunday at 7:15am to Chicago. Then, I have a direct flight from Chicago to Seoul that leaves at 12:45pm. That flight is about 14 hours, which almost seems unbearable but I will have to manage.

Although I’m very excited about my upcoming adventure, I am also very anxious. My exact responsibilities are somewhat uncertain, which makes me very uncomfortable. However, I should find out all of the specifics when I arrive. Overall, I think the entire experience will push me outside of my comfort zone and expose me to a whole new culture. I have previously traveled to Europe two different times, but was still in a somewhat familiar environment.

As I continue to pursue my education through graduate school, I hope to expand my perspective while gaining valuable experience. I graduated with a BS in Management and English in May and will be starting my MA in English in August. Hopefully, this internship and other future opportunities will make me a competitive applicant for PhD programs. Overall, I’m just excited to start my new journey.

If you’d like to follow me on this particular journey to Korea, you can stay updated by reading my blog posts!

Book Review/Final: New New Media and The Networked Nonprofit

During spring 2012, I enrolled in an online course called Electronic Communication. The class was divided into two main parts. The first half of the semester was dedicated to exploring new social media services. Then, the second half focused on completing a project for a local nonprofit that helped improve its web presence. Throughout the semester, the class was assigned two books to coincide with the coursework: Paul Levinson’s New New Media and The Networked Nonprofit by Kanter and Fine.

First, New New Media by Paul Levinson was published in 2009. The text introduces a new term for examining developing media. Levinson claims that technology has developed beyond the initial term “new media” into an entirely different area. Each chapter then concentrates on one of these areas included in the distinction “new new media”. These topics range from blogging to Wikipedia to Second Life. The suggested retail price for the book is $72.00 and its ISBN is 9780205673308.

In his book, Levinson recognizes a delay in the distinction between what was initially categorized as “new media” in the early 90’s and what current exists. He attempts to bridge this gap by coining the innovative term “new new media” to categorize this technological improvement. He intertwines personal narrative with examples to create a close examination of numerous services.

New New Media is organized into individual chapters that all fit into Levinson’s category of “new new media”. He starts the book with an introduction and explanation of the term. At the beginning of the very first chapter, Levinson explains “New new media is about the advent and impact of media newer than ‘new media’—as different from the classic new media of email and Web sites as those new media are different from old media such as newspapers and television”. Then, he addresses many forms of “new new media” in each chapter including: blogging, YouTube, Wikipedia, Digg, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, and podcasts. At the end, he also includes a few chapters dedicated to important issues surrounding “new new media” in general. Each chapter is relatively independent from the others, which enables the book to be a handy resource on all of the services. This format doesn’t require the user to read the book straight through in order. It instead allows the reader to focus on the services he selects.

Although Levinson made a reasonable case for the term, it has not appeared to catch on since the book was published three years ago. Wikipedia does not even recognize the term’s existence. Levinson provides a lengthy explanation about why he prefers the term “new new media”, which is rather convincing. However, I think there are a few challenges with the term too. For example, when will it end? When the next progression of media presents itself, will it be new new new media? The repetitiveness seems awkward and difficult to type over and over. Although I am now conscious of the difference between new media and new new media, thanks to Levinson, I am not completely convinced “new new media” is the best phrase to use.

One of the most useful features of the book is the specific examples describing a popular event associated with each service. Besides simply describing a service, Levinson provides many examples where the service was utilized for a popular movement. For example, the Twitter chapter discusses “the congressman who tweeted too much” and the Facebook chapter addresses the banning of breastfeeding photos.

Personally, I learned a few key ideas from New New Media. First, the most interesting information I learned from was in chapter 12, which examined “new new media and the election of 2008”. While reading it, I realized that I was one of the individuals who participated in Obama’s online campaign to an extent. This great step in American politics truly reflects the important role “new new media” plays in everyone’s life. Also, it’s inspiring to see a presidential candidate recognize the importance of social media and understand that it is very important to the younger generation. Second, Levinson’s discussion of “gatekeepers” when referring to Wikipedia was an eye-opening topic. Personally, I typically accept the information provided on Wikipedia. Levinson describes Wikipedia as “mass-intelligence driven and explains that the vast amount of information available on Wikipedia would not be available if it had to come from experts. That’s why it’s so useful. It can keep up with the constantly changing world.

In summary, although New New Media became somewhat convoluted at times, it was very informative in exposing the reader to the newest form of media. However, it was readily outdated and is not as applicable currently. To combat this issue, Levinson is releasing a new edition in August 2012. The retail price of this edition is expected to be $40.00, which seems much more reasonable for the content. In the end, it will be impossible for Levinson to remain absolutely relevant unless he abandons the confines of physical publishing. Overall though, the text was very introduction and reference when beginning to explore each service.

Second, The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and Allison H. Fine was published in 2010. The book acts as a guide for nonprofit organizations to adopt and incorporate social media. Kanter and Fine provide an in-depth introduction to potential services with specific examples and defined terms. Also, the book provides many images and tables for reference. The suggested retail price for the book is $34.95 and its ISBN is 9780470547977.

Kanter and Fine stress the important role social media plays in today’s technological age. They insist that it in order for an organization to exist and succeed, it will need to accept social media as necessary and learn to utilize it effectively. While acknowledging that most individuals running nonprofits are not familiar developing social media sites, Kanter and Fine attempt to provide a straight forward introduction to the subject. Specifically, they draw upon their own experiences and those of many other organizations to demonstrate their recommendations. The book is directly targeted at individuals working with nonprofits who could then follow the plans detailed in the book.

The Networked Nonprofit is divided into two parts. Part one instructs the audience on how to become a networked nonprofit, while part two explains what to do as a networked nonprofit. Before these sections, Kanter and Fine define the term “networked nonprofit” and address a few challenges and current trends. Overall, the text successfully convinces the reader that this is an important issue to be considered. It provides a clear goal and adequately explains the reasons an organization should attempt to obtain it. It is an easy read that would be an excellent resource to most nonprofit organizations.

The tone of the book is rather approachable and addresses issues in an easily understood way. The book assumes that those reading it will be inexperienced and thus provides definitions and explanations for any jargon. It also introduces specific examples that assure the reader that these actions could produce effective outcomes. Throughout the book, Kanter and Fine attempt to motivate readers to establish and attain goals by giving support for their claims.

One of the most useful features included in the book is the use of bolded terms. These bolded terms are available consistently throughout the book for quick reference. If the reader comes across an unfamiliar term, it is mostly likely bolded and defined in the back in the glossary section. The inclusion of the glossary is useful because it offers extra explanation if it is required by a certain type of reader. This would be especially useful for someone less experienced with social media and the internet in general. By including the definitions in the back, the book acts as a resource for a range of individuals with varying levels of experience. If one understands the term, he does not have to waste time reading more for clarification. However, someone unsure of a term’s meaning could always look it up for reference. For example, I wasn’t familiar with the term “badge”, so I simply looked up the description of that term in the back of the book. The glossary defined the term as “a graphic applied to a web page” and then continued with further explanation.

Although the bolded terms were useful at first, they became rather distracting as I read the text. I felt like I was constantly being bombarded with additional terms and I found it difficult to retain all of the information described. To an individual with little social media knowledge, I would assume it would be ever more overwhelming. To counteract this effect, I would recommend an extended reading period. If the chapters are read over a longer period of time, it would possibly be easier to adequately absorb the information presented.

Another useful feature of the book was its inclusion of applicable examples. Each chapter typically includes at least a few experiences from real organizations. One specific organization included is the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross was one organization that benefited from expanding its strategy to include social media. By reaching out to individuals online, the general perception of the organization was drastically improved. The development sparked an attitude shift in the organization and created a need for a social media policy. Kanter and Fine utilize this example to demonstrate the need for large organizations to implement a concrete policy that gives the organization a reference on what is expected while promoting cohesiveness.

Personally, I learned a few key ideas from The Networked Nonprofit. First, I became aware of the possible challenges nonprofit organizations may face because many of the individuals leading them are unfamiliar with social media. If an organization hopes to successfully continue into the future, it needs to adapt to technological development and the new generation associated with it. Kanter and Fine were proactive in addressing this issue relatively early in the book. Second, I began to understand that introducing a new tool is time consuming. Sometimes, it takes an extended period of time to successfully start using a site and then it requires balance. One must constantly adjust his attitude about social media to stay in line of the organization’s mission. Third, I realized that a consistent schedule for updating social media is essential. Also, an organization should try to focus on transparency. Transparency is a very important area for an organization to practice because individuals really appreciate openness.

In summary, The Networked Nonprofit is an excellent resource for individuals working with nonprofit organizations. It was an integral component that helped my group successfully assess our nonprofit organization’s current web strategy and recommend improvements.  While working as a free agent, I kept a lot of the advice listed in Kanter and Fine’s book in mind.