Anticipated Challenges

What could be the problems with using this design? 


Learning Challenges and Learning Goals 

Design Overview 

Educational Theory Behind the Design 

This design does present some challenges.  First, the quality of the individual ePals is not guaranteed.  Some students may respond slowly or with little information, or may not respond at all.  Teachers may also consider having students work in pairs to communicate with their ePals, to increase the likelihood that pals will respond, and to manage the number of students who need access to the computers at any given time.  This will also compensate for the fact that most computer labs only have 15-20 computers available at a given time.  The drawback is that it allows a weaker partner to rely on a stronger partner, and may remove some of the individual student control and empowerment that is involved in the project. 

The set-up of the ePals process may also cause problems.  While it is simple to work from the teacher’s account, it is most effective and empowering to have each student set up his or her own account.  To guarantee that each student has an account set up it would be best to have him or her complete the process in class.  However, this is a waste of instruction time.  An alternative to having students complete this process in class is to have them do it at home.  The problem is that I cannot ask the students to complete the registration for homework, as many students do not have Internet access, or they simply may not complete the homework at all.  A lot of valuable class time may be lost handling technical issues associated with setting up an account and doing technical trouble-shooting. 

The content of the activity may cause problems as well.  Many people consider Halloween and Día de los Muertos pagan holidays, and will not celebrate them.  Both the pagan and heavily Catholic influences may offend people in this activity, and parents may intervene from having students participate.  Students who have lost a loved one may also be bothered by the requirement that they reflect on death and how it is recognized.  There are also the potential technology issues, such as faulty videoconferencing connections due to lack of adequate bandwidth for the transmission.  Since setting up an international videoconference is relatively challenging, it may create additional problems if the transmission does not work at the designated time and both sides have to reschedule.