I’ve just been analysing some student diary data about question formulation and it was interesting to find out that most of the students saw question formulation as a) not very difficult to do and b) helpful to them when doing an assignment. The data is from student diaries and appear to contradict anecdotal evidence amongst teachers and teacher librarians that many students find question formulation quite difficult. A good source for teacher librarians on question formulation for students is Jamie McKenzie’s journal The Question Mark which raises an excellent array of issues around the topic of getting students to ask questions and getting teachers and teacher librarians to encourage students to ask questions. So I will continue to analyse what the students said about question formulation and then find out what they actually did with their questions. In a previous project, I found that some students were very good at formulating questions, but less good at using these questions.
One of the best new software packages to be freely available to people online is Skype which is a tool enabling us to make phone calls to other Skype users at no cost – as long as both parties are connected to the web. The addition of webcams – which have come down in price dramatically- means that the often promised one to one video phone is actually with us. So I can skype my colleagues in Australia at meetings (e.g. at 6am this morning my time) or for a one to one chat (my morning, their evening). I can also talk to colleagues in other countries and to my son in Dubai. The key difference with Skype if both ends have a webcam is that you can see the other person as well as talking to them. Even a few years ago, this type of web activity was seen as being the preserve of businesses or universities with very expensive videoconferencing systems. Now it’s available to anyone with a web connection. This really is beneficial technology.