Monday, April 02, 2007

Using Viva

For teachers who are new to using Viva with their classes, let me give you a step-by-step explanation.

1) First, you need your own password as a teacher. I can create a teacher password for you, or you can contact the team at the CDDP36 directly. You can reach me at

2) Next, you connect to Viva: log in using your login ("identifiant") and your password ("mot de passe").

3) Next, on the right, log in using your user name("identifiant") and your password ("mot de passe").

4) Next, you can use the administration area, "users / add users" to either create a login identity for each class, or for individual students. I strongly encourage you to create individual logins for each student. For my students, I used the same login and password as the students use when logging into the school network. Note that although you will enter your students full names (first and last names), only their first names will actually appear on the forum messages. This is important, as we are supposed to protect our students' identity. Be sure to tell them never to put in personal information like full names, addresses, phone numbers, or even personal email addresses. Note that you can have students create their own individual login simply by hitting "Registration" on the initial Viva page.

5) Once you have created personal logins for each of your students, you are ready to take them to the internet room in your school. For their first visit, please explain to them the purpose of Viva: it's a tool for communicating ideas in a foreign language to distant partners. They need to understand it isn't a "chatroom" and they shouldn't use inappropriate language, or abbreviations like when they send messages on their cellphones. They should use proper English (or another language) and they should remember to *respect* the other participants - no insults, no bad language, etc. They should also try to always write at least 4-5 lines in each of their messages, or more. This is so that other students who read their messages can understand their ideas, and perhaps have something to respond.

6) The best way to get started is to place a message of your own on a topic you've been working on in class, and have them prepare their messages in advance. then they can respond directly to your "teacher's message".

7) Another good way to participate is to locate messages by other students on a given topic, and ask your students to respond directly to those students, by asking them questions and giving their own point of view. For example, some students have recently written in the "Forum Europa" forum on the topic of "Getting to know each other", where I also asked them some basic questions about the environment. Your students can prepare texts in advance on the topic, and then respond directly to those other students.

8) For good students who write quickly and finish their work before the end of class, you can then allow them to use their remaining class time to visit other forums of their own choosing and write messages on their own, either in response to other students, or starting their own topics. Remember to ask them to explain their ideas, and always write at least 4-5 lines or so. There are a lot of really short messages on the forum, and my feeling is that those short messages don't really give students the opportunity to express their ideas or give others the opportunity to respond in an interesting fashion. Students who want responses need to write more, it's as simple as that.

9) Ideally, we as teachers should talk to each other and plan to have our students write about the same topics, so that they can have direct interaction. Feel free to contact me via email, or you can use the "Teacher's Room" forum to tell about a topic you'd like to work on. I don't have the email addresses of all the teachers using Viva, so the forum may be your only way to reach other participating teachers and their classes.

10) If you have correspondance partners for your classes already, feel free to ask me to give your current partners a teacher login so that they too can use the Viva forums. It's an open project, and there is always room for more participants.

That's it! Once you have your teacher login, just jump right in and participate!

Cheers, --- Phil