Interestingly Aaron suggests that that the topics of the class should be tailored to the students individual interest. I think this is a fine idea in theory. However with 25 students in a class and 6 classes per semester for a total of 150 students. I’m not sure where I’m going to find the time to individually tailor topics to students.
This leaves me with using general topics of interest such as movies, sports, & music which the students have all seen over and over. I do however provide individual advice to students on internet resources in responses to posts made on my moodle installation. I do respond to all posts from students with words of encouragement. If the students brings up something specific (rarely happens) then I direct them to specific websites of interest and use to them.
There is an alternative: break up the class. Instead of YOU the teacher running around trying to find 25 individually tailored topics of interest, you let the students free to find their own. Perhaps they can all run to the computer lab, or you can bring in some resources to the classroom. This is what my colleague and I have done in what we call our “4 corners” class (originally, where each of the 4 corners of the classroom had a different station with different language-learning materials). See here and earlier (pre Nov. 15th 2004) for pics. I.e., autonomous learning.
PS Blinger, if you’re reading this, I tried to comment on your blog but it wouldn’t let me without typing in some security code shown in an image. Well, I don’t know why but I couldn’t see the image. It was just an “x” on my screen, and all attempts to conjure it up failed. Is it because of my uni’s firewall? It’s a damn nuisance that firewall – it won’t let RealPlayer play any videos!