Classroom use- Closed goups
I'm a middle school French teacher. I started using DuoLingo with my students about two weeks ago. They LOVE it. They are using it outside of class and are enjoying challenging each other. I've provided them with a list of our class user names and given them the warning about Internet "stranger danger." I agree that DuoLingo users are some of the nicest people you will meet online, but I would love to see an option to create a CLOSED GROUP for classroom use. I think the potential could be HUGE. My class is underfunded. We don't have textbooks and until DuoLingo I worried my students weren't getting a structured exposure to French grammar despite my best efforts. Now my "eagles" can soar and the "sparrows" get the drill they need. A closed group option would be a great aid to the public school environment. No worries for the teacher and a great service to the students. Thank you for your consideration.
Oh please create a closed group feature! I just spoke to my vice principal (I am a Spanish teacher) and in order to implement DL in class I have to send home a letter, get parent signatures and police my students' DL friends lists. This could be a VERY powerful tool to extend language learning out of the classroom. Oh please, oh please, oh please!!
I just hate how the school system treats their students in western countries, it's extremely patronizing to the student to have parents signing their children for everything. When I was in my high school in my country, all my school took was one signature right after entry to authorize my participation in all school activities. Parents are notified of major activities obviously and both students and parents can veto out from any activities (although practically noone ever felt the need to). In my country, schools generally only collect additional signatures when taking students for activities outside school grounds activities that spans multiple days (e.g. camps, field trips), but that's pretty much only to make sure that parents know not to worry about us returning home late or not going home for a few days rather than for getting permission. I didn't realize it back then, but in retrospect, it's very empowering that I was the one in control of my own participation in school.
And then I transferred to finish my high school in Australia, the thing that I immediately noticed is how patronizing they treated their students, it was even worse than grade school. My parents trusted me to live on my own, manage my own finances and time, they trusted me with unsupervised Internet, and I'm not keen to disappoint their trust; but my Australian high school still insists in getting parental signatures for every little things, signature for late slips, signature for getting internet access at school (which I later found out to be pretty much useless for learning because of an internet filter that blocks all the websites I need), signature for a class that had to be done outside school, signature for a half-day class trip, signature for going to the toilet (ok, perhaps not that last one). After consulting with my parents on what to do with them, they told me to forge any signatures I needed and I happily did so.
It is of my opinion that teachers should try to trust their students more when interacting with the public, they should not need to wall off their students from interacting with the public, and should only intervene with students's with the public if it is going exceptionally negative. But I guess this is all just a pointless rant; I have no idea why a teacher would not want their student to have experiences interacting with the public; a closed group is significantly less conducive for learning; a closed group cannot effectively teach students how to handle interactions with the nastier side of the internet; a closed group is just about avoiding getting sued. Collecting signatures are not about getting parental consent, it's about shifting blames to avoid getting sued, it is just a theatre. The system is broken if teachers feels they need to shield their student from the public, why remove a huge opportunity to learn?
The issue isn't that the teachers don't trust their students. It is a legal issue. Teachers hands are tied by the administration of the school, the educational department of the state and the parents themselves who will take the school to court. Perhaps your country isn't as litigious as Western countries. As a teacher it frustrates me as well to have good opportunities for learning taken off the table due to fears of legal retaliation.
This is why many online services offer a closed groups for the use of technology for educational purposes (SchoolTube, VoiceThread, EdModo, etc.) By having these services, educational institutions can still participate with other people in other communities, but we can just be a little more sure that they are engaging with other students, rather than adults (thereby working toward their safety if the unthinkable should happen - avoiding endangering the child and avoiding lawsuits.)
Let's not blame the teachers for not trusting the students. The teachers don't make the rules about getting signatures. Those rules are established by the administration, the school board, elected officials and parents themselves through litigation. Teachers get enough blame as it is. This system is beyond the teachers' control. At least there are teachers who are still looking for ways to integrate technology and social media into the classroom despite the obstacles that are in place.
BTW - the letter and signatures that are needed for my class to participate are a requirement of the administration at my school, not me personally. I believe I mentioned that in my previous comment
At least there are teachers who are still looking for ways to integrate technology and social media into the classroom despite the obstacles that are in place.
And for that, I thank you, a lot. I'm sorry if my post appears to point the finger solely on teachers, it's not my intent to do so. Perhaps, I should have made a clearer distinction between teachers, school administrations, and education departments; I'm guilty of lumping them all together. And as you said, some of the blame does lay on the parents as well.
I guess this is one of my personal hot button topics, partly due to my personal experiences, and partly because I have implemented a closed group system for another educational website. In our case, as I go through the reasoning why the feature need to exist at all, it become immediately clear to me that the whole thing makes absolutely no sense. Getting signatures isn't about consent or making students safer, it's about shifting blame (signatures can't prevent bullying or bad behaviors); and closed group isn't about keeping students safe, it's about avoiding litigation (students can be very mean to each other even within closed groups, and there's only one or two teachers to moderate everything, as opposed to a whole community effort).
It's all politics and learning becomes the victim.
and yes, students have much more freedom and are much more responsible in other countries, but until personal responsibility is taught and respected in our society, the blame game will continue and the teacher is caught in the middle. I often explain to my students how children from a young age catch a train, take their bicycle,or a public bus to get to school in Germany. We could learn a lot from other education systems
High School Spanish Teacher here! I've been using my personal Duolingo account for a while now to help me acquire more French. When I suggested it to my colleagues privacy and group control/guidance was their first concern. Closed groups seem to be the best way to address the issues of 1. quickly finding and linking students and 2. maintaining privacy/liability. This is a great site and I want to share it with my students, but am holding off to hear from my administration first. Here's hoping that the great Duolingo team can make this (or something similar) happen! Merci beaucoup MonsieurThibault!
Gracias, Senor Schulz. I hope the big guys at DuoLingo are listening. I got the "green light" to use it in my school and it has literally transformed my class. My students are so competitive. I had no idea. They love challenging each other. I seem to have at least 2 or 3 online every time I check (I think they are even doing it during other classes). We are having a great time. It is the social aspect that appeals to them. We seem to be more of a learning community thanks to DuoLingo. So far, it has made my year.
We have used it for about 2 weeks. One half of my students are VERY involved. The top quarter are on every night and several times during the day. The "middle" seem to enjoy the break from the classroom routine. The remaining quarter seem more motivated by the program than traditional instruction, but are still reluctant learners. I enjoy seeing my most motivated students given the opportunity to soar and to interact with each other. I am encouraged that my middle group is getting the grammar and structure they need. I am hopeful that the lowest quarter will get the remediation they require to succeed. I've been able to conference "tete-a-tete" with several of my students while the class was busy. Sometimes for extension and sometimes for reteaching. Best of all there is no prep or extra grading, yet my classes are happily drilling themselves in French grammar. It certainly doesn't take the place of what teachers do in class, but we are enjoying it as a resource. I am convinced this group of students will be very strong in grammar thanks in large part to DuoLingo (N.B in the middle school I teach French 1 spilt over two years). I encourage you to give it a try if your administration will allow. The results have really surprised me.
I'm very curious to know how this all works out, especially since Duolingo is roughly equivalent to 2 years of college French (minus the speech component). I will not be surprised if you end up with a large contingent of kids who have completed the grammar in less than a year time.
This will presumably leave classroom time for focusing on the stuff that's weak in Duolingo, i.e. communicating verbally. Your students are lucky. When you've been using Duolingo for awhile, it becomes obvious that you have to supplement Duolingo with a grammar text, auditory comprehension, etc. Your students will have their class time to address those facets of their learning.
Thank you to everyone for your input. I'm not sure I really made it clear why the kids would like a closed group. First of all, I was the one who was worried about "Internet DANGER" not the kids or even the parents. I've talked to the kids, the principal, the technology consultant- no signatures required in my case.
It was actually MY STUDENTS who requested the closed group because they want an easy way to identify their classmates and challenge each other. In a few cases the kids friended the wrong username (so therefore a stranger), but we straightened it out.
So, the main reason for wanting a closed group is so we have control over our leaderboard. I'm creating a owl themed board for the classroom because the students want bragging rights on their ranking. I'm not friending any non-students, so I think I have the correct stats. I've told my students only to friend my friends so they will have the same stats I do, but since I have about 90 kiddos that is hard to manage.
Also, I would love a way to play along without adding my ranking to the leaderboard. I have a private (non school) account, but it is hard to go back and forth between the two.
Another consideration, my 12 year-olds have full site privileges. So far they have been very responsible and have made me proud by translating sentences in the immersion tab and contributing their input on lesson question in the forum However, when regular DuoLingo users reply in the forum don't know they are communicating with an adolescent. Does it matter? I don't know, but it is worth discussing.
DuoLingo is a great program and teachers will use it regardless if it is intended for classrooms. They main question is how proactive does DuoLingo want to be about young student users.
Un grand merci ! DuoLingo has set my class on fire. They play all the time. I had more than 10 online Saturday night.
Thanks for the thought, but my students are technically too young to have a Facebook account. There are similar sites for education. The purpose isn't just to have a social network. I'm suggesting how DuoLingo may want to proceed in order to adapt their platform to classroom use. I hope they are listening. We are having a great time !