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Using the Internet to Build Student Voice

Publication Date: 
February 2007

It began one Monday evening as I entered the room where I thought I was going to meet the small group of graduate students who had signed up for my course: Introduction to Qualitative Methods in Education. As an educator committed to the use of critical pedagogy, I had planned, among other things, to engage this small group in deep, meaningful and dynamic conversations that would facilitate the development of their individual and collective Voices. Imagine my dismay when I opened the door and found all of fifty-six nervous looking students crammed into the room! In an instant, all my meticulously laid plans for practising my criti­cal pedagogy seemed doomed to failure. I knew that overcrowded class­rooms and large class sizes do little to facilitate non-traditional teaching. How could I, as a single lecturer, possibly reach and engage each of this large number of students interactively in personally meaningful and criti­cal ways? 
In this experiential paper I share the strategy I used to try to address this question. I describe how the addition of an online course component using the Internet helped me provide my students with opportunities to create personal spaces where they felt safe and motivated to construct their own Voices. I discuss the insights this experience gave me about teaching adult learners, and what it taught me about the possibilities this strategy offers for future practice.

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