Annabel Marsh, of the English faculty at Abu Dhabi Women's College,
is the managing editor of the Corniche Chronicle, an online newsletter
which publishes works by and for students and staff. She welcomes readers
of the ESL MiniConference Online--and your students--to visit the site,
try the learning activities there and sign the guestbook.
Abu Dhabi Women's College (ADWC) is located in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. It is one of 11 colleges in the Higher Colleges of Technology system. The college offers Certificate, Diploma, Higher Diploma and Bachelor's Degree programs. English is the medium of instruction.
The Corniche Chronicle was initially established in 1991 as a paper-based newsletter. Since that time it has evolved into an online interactive newsletter. In April of this year, it was voted a finalist in the UAE IT Educational Challenge.
The Corniche Chronicle is produced every month. Each month a new edition replaces the old with a new batch of articles and a new set of interactive English exercises linked to those articles. The previous month's edition is then archived and can be accessed through the Corniche Chronicle Home Page. Current archived editions date back to October 1999.
The newsletter is produced using "Dreamweaver" and "Hot Potatoes" applications.
The Corniche Chronicle, as an electronic or online newsletter, primarily aims to communicate Abu Dhabi Women's College news and events to its staff and students. As such it aims to create a sense of community within the college.
It provides an environment for students to write within the framework of their subject areas.
It also provides a forum for students and staff to:
· express opinions (e.g. student editorial/movie & book reviews/letters to the editor)
· share personal stories
· share creativity (e.g. creative writing: prose & poetry / photography / artwork)
In addition to communicating news and events, the Corniche Chronicle also aims to provide a valuable resource for learners and teachers of English. As a college newsletter in an Arabic speaking environment, another distinctive attribute is that it is produced in English. This feature presents an opportunity for learners of English to practice and enhance their reading skills. They can do this both by reading the articles themselves as well as trying out the variety of interactive exercises that are linked to the articles. The level of English ranges from elementary to upper-intermediate.
Finally, the Corniche Chronicle aims to reach a broader internet audience. In particular it aims to be a resource to any learners of English and to encourage learner independence.
Students contribute to the Corniche Chronicle in a variety of ways. They write news articles. They write material that is directly related to their programs of study. They write book & movie reviews / opinions / prose & poetry. They also contribute by sharing their artwork.
Some students are regular contributors and have pages dedicated to their work. Others contribute on a more irregular basis. It should also be said that no matter what the level of English, students are encouraged to actively participate in producing work for the newsletter. This provides an authentic environment for their work and hopefully fosters continued learning.
The Corniche Chronicle is an ongoing project. Lessons learned are also ongoing.
Promotion of the newsletter is vital. Promotion encourages continued readership and contribution. As more and more staff and students find value in what the Corniche Chronicle aims to achieve, the more they value and contribute to it. This is evidenced by the growing variety of contributors and contributions. The December 2001 issue, for example, included contributions from over 30 students.
In particular, the Corniche Chronicle would like to see a greater number of students, from across the curriculum, contributing. It is, therefore, important that they are encouraged to do so.
One of the biggest challenges for the Corniche Chronicle is the time involved in producing it. At the outset of this project, apart from its contributors, the Corniche Chronicle was produced as a result of the hard work and dedication of one person, a full-time teacher. The nature of the project meant that the amount of time required to complete the task far exceeded the amount of time available. This meant that regular production of the newsletter was difficult.
This problem has been overcome by inviting more staff and students to participate in its production. A team was formed to promote the sharing of ideas as well as the various aspects of producing the newsletter. This has provided an opportunity for learning new skills and for getting more involved in college life.
Meeting deadlines is another challenge. Like any publication, the Corniche Chronicle relies on its contributors. The students and staff of Abu Dhabi Women's College have extremely busy schedules. This often results in material being produced and submitted too close to the deadline.
Deadlines, therefore, are flexible. Although there is a time framework from which to work, it is nonetheless important to maintain a degree of flexibility in order not to compromise the aims of the project and to continue producing a good quality newsletter.
The Corniche Chronicle would like to encourage contributions from students of other colleges within the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) system. This would reduce exclusivity and promote a broader sense of unity between the colleges and the students themselves.
However, there's no reason why it should stop here in the UAE. Indeed, there are plenty of reasons of why it shouldn't!
By Annabel Marsh, English faculty
Enhanced Learning Centre Coordinator
Abu Dhabi Women's College
Higher Colleges of Technology
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
2002 ESL MiniConference Online