Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Most of the students, who have already passed all the required levels to begin a conversational one, do not feel confident enough to start a conversational course even though their grades were over 15 in a scale of 20 points, which means that in theory, they are well-prepared to start the next level.
They usually get into the conversational levels very anxious or worried about the fact that in this kind of courses a text book is not used, which means that students should do their best, not only to pass the level, but especially to master their language knowledge to get their message across the class. Success mostly depends on students’ willingness and the class methodology is focused on developing comprehension skills and oral production.
Class are always held in a traditional classroom and it is obvious that students feel intimidated when talking, because everybody’s eyes stare at the person talking. Sometimes, people feel more confident when they feel certain privacy, like talking on the phone or having a simple conversation on Skipe.
In this regard, the intention of this research proposal is to find out how motivation influences students or not to improve their language abilities, what its impact and relevance in SLA is, specifically on conversational courses, and what other factors such as anxiety or self-esteem are related to the development of oral production. My research questions would be:
- Can motivation improve students’ oral production?
- Can the Web help learners to improve their oral production?
- Can virtual rooms or classrooms help learners to be less intimidated and more comfortable when producing and idea?
Final project artifact Speaking English is fun!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
During this session, Professor Izquierdo started establishing the difference between assessment and evaluation. The second is related to the process of correcting and assigning a mark after the complication of tests, tasks, homework or any other learning activity. On the other hand, assessment is a broader concept which encompasses “the gathering of evidence of student performance over a period of time to measure learning and understanding” (2009). Since this is an ICT class and the uses of ICTs in any class also require the process assessing and evaluation, it is imperative to know what e-assessment is all about.
In her opinion, e-assessment is also the gathering of data about students’ performance over a period of time, but through the use of information technologies and tools. This could vary from an on-screen test to the simple use of a computer application.
By doing a simple research on goggle about e-assessment, it is amazing how big corporations have based their internal assessment on e-tools because they are more accurate, less time consuming and simpler. Pedagogically speaking, I think that e-assessment is becoming more frequently used for the same reasons and the ESL teaching/learning process must keep up with the advances of the world to make it more accessible and entertaining.
However, we are still on the process of establishing such interesting tools in our institutions and nowadays disadvantages must be taken into consideration. According to McCormack and Jones (1998), some of these limitations are:
- the high cost for the implementation of systems,
- the need to set good objectives for tests, which requires certain computer skills,
- the establishment of a right protocol to monitor hardware and software,
- the need of training an important amount of assessors and invigilators in assessment design IT skills and examination management and
- the high level of organization across all parties involved in assessment (academics, support, staff, computer services, administrators).
In my opinion, all theses disadvantages can be easily overcome with time, but meanwhile we teachers must start using these incredible tools so future does not seem so far.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Here you have an example of a Web-based lesson plan.
Web-based lesson plan
Level: English I (undergraduate ESP students, UCV).
Lesson length: 90 min.
Topic: Nominal phrase in the subject position.
Aim: to identify nominal groups within a given text.
- Students will be able to remember the structure of nominal phrases.
- Student will recognize nominal phrases in the subject position.
- Students will be able to look for nominal phrases in a text using a Web site.
A computer with Internet access and headsets for each student in a classroom or in an online session.
Description of activities:
First of all, the teacher will create a WizIQ session for the class and a course Wiki, which will be used for the entire semester.
1. Since students will recognize nominal phrases in the subject position, they will be asked to watch a video on Youtube about the subject so they can bring to mind what the structure of the English sentence is. Being this an ESP class taught in Spanish, the teacher will simultaneously translate the video to students as they watch it.
2. Students will have the opportunity to ask any question.
3. The teacher will do a presentation on Power point about nominal phrases (core, pre/post modifiers).
4. By using an example text (text), which will be displayed on the WizIQ board, the teacher will use the tools the platform offers to highlight some nominal phrases.
5. Students will have the floor to ask questions.
6. Another text (text) will be displayed and students will have the chance, one by one, to highlight some nominal phrases in the subject position.
7. Finally, both teacher and students’ microphones will be on to have a 10 minute feedback session.
Follow-up activity and assignment:
Students will access to the course Wiki. Some texts will be posted, so students will find nominal phrases in the subject position and propose a suitable translation of the nominal phrases in Spanish.
Monday, November 16, 2009
In the case of ESL teaching, Godwin-Jones believes that teachers “have embraced the world of collaborative opportunities the Internet has introduced” and it definitely offers powerful online opportunities for dialectic collaboration for language professionals as well as learners.
As any other Internet tool, VLEs have pros and cons that are still being debated by many education experts. However, it is important to highlight that VLEs help to incorporate the Internet to the class times instead of using it as just an information source, to facilitate students’ accessibility to live online environments, among many other things.
Professor Izquierdo has used WiZiQ for online lessons in which we listen and interact with our teacher and classmates using a webcam and microphones. Although, not all of us have either webcams and/or microphones, the experiences have been enriching and very interesting. I would really like to incorporate this tool into my class planning.
From my point of view, a VLE is an excellent tool to make students active actors of their learning process, but my only concern is that in the future VLEs totally replace traditional face to face classes in which teachers have the opportunity to meet students and use their words and body language to communicate without doing it through a webcam. I still believe that ecliptic methods always work better.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Students, who are highly likely to use the Internet for chatting, sending emails, viewing images or watching videos, do this commonly through these social networking sites. Therefore, why cannot Facebook be used with educational purposes?
Facebook has become one of the most highly used networking sites in the world and due to its expansion, more and more teachers are beginning to incorporate it into their teaching practices. Of course there are many factors that are both positive and negative when Facebook is considered to be used as a classroom tool. Nevertheless, if it is used effectively and carefully, it can easily enhance classroom learning and help build positive interactions between students and teachers as the teaching/learning process develops.
It is extremely interesting to mention that the origin of this popular social networking site is educative. It was created in 2004 by a student at Harvard University, Mark Zuckerberg, in order to communicate with other students within Harvard's campus. The site was an instant success and it went public a year after, having more than 60 million active users worldwide.
Due to the fact that in today's fast growing society more and more children and young people are relying heavily on electronic sources to learn and communicate, Facebook is, hence, a great way to incorporate education with technology. We teachers can use it to encourage online discussion among students, to provide links to educational resources or to send and post materials. It also allows an easier and faster way to connect out of the classroom or the class itself, so students can talk to teachers online about any questions or concerns they might have. Thus, Facebook is an invaluable asset for education
My colleague, Jesus Bastidas, has created a group in Facebook called Inglés en UCV. It is still under construction, but it is a great beginning.
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?id=526798784&gv=2#/profile.php?v=info&ref=search&id=1381118827. Way to go Jesus!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The Webconference on Social Networking 2009 was the first online forum organized by AVEALMEC (Asociación Venezolana para la Enseñanza y Aprendizaje de Lenguas Mediados por el Computador) and ARCALL (Argentine Association of Computer Assisted Language Learning) and it was held from November 5th to 8th in order to discuss the role of ICT in the ESL classroom. This first online conferences consisted of 12 video-conferences, which were offered through the Web tool WizIQ and are still available in AVEALMEC’s blog. The purpose of the Webconference focused on “social networks and their potential to create communities of practice to share, communicate without barriers and enhance the teaching-learning process in the language classroom” (http://avealmec.org.ve/moodle/file.php/1/Social_Networking_2009revised.pdf).
According to Professor Stanley a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) “is a system that helps people take control of and manage their own learning” and in his presentation he affirmed that the rise of Twitter as well as some other Web 2.0 social networking tools have facilitated for teachers the management of “their own learning and professional development” and the communication “with others in the process”. Therefore, the use of Twitter or any other social networking tools can help learners to do the same.
In 2009, Twitter was the first more used social network, displacing even blogging. In fact, he affirms that after Twitter people are blogging less, since this tool connects you with other people. He also recognized that he bloggs less.
In this regard, he stated that by twitting you can keep in touch with your community on regular bases, ask questions and get answers on real time, send and receive links, know about events, etc.
Although Twitter has so many advantages, Professor Stanley also thinks that this tool can take away time from other things, so the wisely used of it must be taken into account.
Flickr: Design that Connnects
By Carla Arena
Professor Carla Arena is an educational technology teacher from Brazil. She presented in AVEALMEC’s webconference her impressions and possible educational uses of Flickr. Unfortunately, it was impossible for me to be in her conference due to personal reasons, but after listening to Professor Izquierdo in our ICT class talking about this conference specifically, I had no doubt to watch it. Being totally honest, I had not had a clue about what Flickr was, so before watching the recorded conference, I first looked up for a definition.
According to Wikipedia, Flickr is a very popular image and video hosting website. This technological platform was develop to connect people and provides a space to keep in touch with others through mails and conversations. As any other social platform, you only need to create an account, and even create your own group with the idea of sharing pictures, talk with others about your own images, etc. This account can be free, in which you have some limit, or “pro”, which offer unlimited space.
In her conference, Professor Arena asserted that an image can be more than what it just is and Flickr, an online photo sharing space, is much more than just a social networking, but “it’s a hub for educational experiments, networking and visually appealing inspiration to any educator” (Arena, 2009).
She also believes that Flickr is one of the most powerful web 2.0 sites that really promotes interaction among people online. She affirms that we learn a lot through pictures because we share stories with then and, by sharing pictures, we share also our stories, our world, our culture in such a way that we build an intercultural mosaic.
Regarding educational uses, Arenas thinks that Flickr can be used to create online flashcards for classes, making them much more appealing than the traditional ones, in fact she said that “Flickr is my substitute for the old flash cards”.
It can also develop critical thinking through pictures because we teachers can encourage our students to become part of intercultural groups with students of other countries and/or other schools around the world. Flickr also promotes discussions and conversations about any topic by using the pictures, among a huge variety of activities that can enhance our work beyond the walls of a classroom.
Before watching this conference, I tried to know more about George Siemens. Just by googling his name, one is able to find a lot of information. Siemens is from Canada and he is a writer and researcher, whose line of research is technology, organizational effectiveness in digital environments and learning networks. In his presentation in AVEALMEC, he talked about the use of new technologies in education. His main ideas went to the fact that education has change or must change in order to adapt to the evolution of new technologies. He believes that it is time to think about the role of the classroom because it can be possibly substitute by virtual environments and we have even rethink about the role of the teacher. The teacher has always been considered as the “expert”, the one with the appropriate expertise on a topic. Nevertheless, information and knowledge are nowadays shared and even created very fast, so Siemens proposes the question if whether communities of knowledge or networks in today’s connected world could substitute teachers or experts.
He asserted that today, more than ever before, we have opportunities to be connected and therefore to have access to knowledge and it is through such connections that learning takes or should take place, because “as a community with a shared interest, humans make sense and manage ideas that otherwise exist separately”.
He truly believes that today’s educational problem can be solved by individuals’ interaction with each other in meaningful way in order to approach problems. He affirms that we should rely on social interactions to solve problems or even to educate, changing somehow the whole education system.
Finally, Siemens closed his presentation by stating that social networks will not replace teachers, but the learning process needs to be interactive. All individuals involved in the learning process must learn from one another and the teacher should merge to the network.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
As any other innovative idea, SL has defenders and detractors and it is obvious that it has advantages and disadvantages.
Education in SL has been used for teachers and students all over the world in many different fields of study. In fact, I, as a student of the Master’s the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language, have experienced three online lessons with our teacher in SL. In our first lesson, she took us to an island in where we learnt the basics of the game, like communicating, walking, flying, dancing, etc. Honestly, it was not easy for me and I felt really frustrated at the beginning, but I am pretty sure that anybody can manage to learn how to use this tool properly. It just requires a little time and patience.
Here you have some pictures of me in SL.
As an educational platform, SL has been used by any kind of institutions, universities and schools all over the world. If you are fond to join this virtual community, you will have the opportunity to meet other teachers and even to go to places virtually created to learn a second language. In fact, there are places with educational purposes, such classrooms, conference rooms, and so on. One of the huge advantages of SL in second language learning is the fact that there are not physical barriers to be part of a class and you are able to develop all the skills due to the fact that writing and speaking are used to communicate with others. Here you have a picture of me in a conference room so you can have an idea of all the places destined to education in SL.
However, I must say that fantasy will always be perfect and this fantasy virtual world is still not perfect. As it was mentioned above, this is a powerful teaching/learning tool, but it needs certain technical requirements that not all lot of people neither have nor have access to. What is more, it takes quite a time to just manage the basic skills like walking for example and this could be a time consuming element if not everybody in the class is familiarized with the tool.
To summarize, I think that maybe SL needs some more time to finally be part of our curricula.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Podcast takes its name from Apple's popular iPod line of products and broadcast (iPOD broadCAST). Its creator, Adam Curry, used this term to refer to his audio files on the Internet in 2004. The good thing about podcasting is that it is not only limited to iPod owners and listeners, but it is available to any Internet user at any time by just downloading the audio or video archives into and Ipod or Mp3, Mp4 player. Podcasts were made available to people via a syndication format, that is, users install a media aggregator program in their computers, iTunes for instance, also called a "podcatcher", and the application captures the audio feeds from the Internet for downloading to the music player.
In our weekly ICT class this time, we had the opportunity to create podcasts using Audacity and as soon as we recorded it, we used a Podcast social subscribing site Podbean to publish our podcasts. It was a very interesting experience and I really had fun doing it.
Now I would like you to check out my audio welcome to this blog.
Powered by Podbean.com
Here you can also listen to me again in Snapvine
The educational uses of podcasting are vast, especially to develop the speaking and spelling abilities. By creating podcasts, students could be more involved in their learning process and, moreover, they should feel more comfortable and even have more fun during the process because they deal with technology in every other aspect of their lives.
Just by googling the term ESL podcasting, it is amazing the amount of sites devoted to ESL learners. Check some of them!
Monday, October 26, 2009
The first wiki was actually developed over 10 years ago by Ward Cunningham, a Smalltalk developer, who conceived it as a quick way to create and share ideas when working. Ward's Wiki is still working today. Its name comes from the Hawaiian word wiki-wiki which means quick.
Wikis is another of the Web 2.0 tools that have been recently used in ELT with educational uses. Wikis are frequently utilized not only by teachers worldwide to share teaching experiences, but also as a nice tool to give students participation. As well as blogging, wikis are powerful and fun tools to use out of the classroom. Students have the possibility to make themselves heard and perhaps participate in a larger community.
There are many sites that you can use to create your wiki, just by signing up for free. Some of them are Wikispaces, Wikidot, Pbworks, Zohowiki and Wetpaint.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The use of blogs nowadays has become so popular that one can find a huge amount of forums in which many try to define the concept.
According to Howard Kaushansky, chief executive officer at Umbria Communications, a blogging market research firm in Boulder, the definition of blog is changing because "Originally a blog was defined by the service you used or the host or by the tool you used to create the posting. So if you used [hosts] LiveJournal or Blogger, that was a blog. If you used Moveable Type [software], that was a blog. The reason the definition is changing is that these tools have made it so easy that there are companies who use a blog rather than a website. ... So it's a little bit more challenging today to define a blog."
Although the discussion is still a bit difficult because of the social impact blogs have had, it is undoubtedly that they are definitely an accessible powerful tool.
As Kaushansky asserts, if big companies and corporations prefer to have a blog instead of website, the question now is that if the use of blogs with educational purposes would enhance or develop students’ abilities in a foreign language.
The department of Education of the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) states in its website that “from an education perspective the availability and ease of use of blogging software makes creating blogs a viable classroom activity and a means for teachers to communicate with other teachers”.
In the case of ELT, blogs provide a communication space that we teachers can use to develop writing, speaking, share ideas and even reflect on work being undertaken in the classroom. Blogs is a tool to give students a voice into their own learning process and to develop their skills beyond the walls of a classroom.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Web 1.0 was the term used between 1991 and 2003 to refer to the state of the World Wide Web. It is one-way flow of information through websites which contained "read-only" material for the user. In a few words, Web 1.0 is a retronym which refers to any website design style used before the advent of the Web 2.0 phenomenon.
Since 2004, the term Web 2.0 is the one used to describe those changes that made the Internet the way it is today. The shift from Web 1.0 to Web2.0 can be seen as a result of technological refinements and the evolvement of the behavior of the users.
2.0 sites are interactive and dynamic and the “readers” become a part of the site, because information and opinions can be shared among the creator and/or visitor(s) of the sites. Moreover, people are able to interact with other users with messages, chats, chat rooms or e-mails, being able even to share the content of websites. Some examples of the Web 2.0 phenomenon are social networking sites as facebook, second life, twitter, youtube, blogs, etc.
After this class, we had the opportunity to create our own static website, a professional one on Wordpress. The experience was enriching, amazing and fun. Now I am “professionally” on the net.
Take a look by clicking on Beatriz Peñín's professional site.
Finally, I should say that all these advances are being today the matter of study for many researchers and experts on education, who are definitely interested in how useful are all these new tools and how they can be used to enhance education.
Thomas Greene, Larry Landweber, George Strawn (2003). A Brief History of NSF and the Internet. http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/03/fsnsf_internet.htm.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
1. efficiently and effectively access digital information to assist with investigating issues, solving problems and decision making
2. produce creative solutions to support learning and develop new understandings in areas of learning
3. communicate, share and work collaboratively in local and global environments
4. understand the legal, ethical and health and safety implications of using ICT and their responsibilities as users and developers
5. develop new thinking and learning skills to support learning.
As one can see, it definitely provides us updated tools and new techniques to develop better ways to get to our students’ interests and to fulfill their expectations. In the following video, you will listen to different experts’ opinions about what ICT in education is all about.
Obviously, when one refers to ICT in education, it also encompasses ELT because nowadays languages are a major subject in the learning process all over the world because of the spread of technology.
As Doug Brown said in the video, ICT in the 21st century is recognizing that learning without technology is just not learning. However, it is also necessary to acknowledge that technology ha not reached all levels of society, especially in developing countries in where efforts have been made but are not enough to overcome the tech barriers.
Technology is always improving and it is surprising how fast it updates. In Venezuela, it is difficult to keep up with this accelerated flow of information and updates of new technology.
The Central University of Venezuela has made huge progress on the installation and digitalization of the different faculties. All Schools now have at least a computer lab available. However, the financial difficulties do not allow authorities to buy better equipments or tools and most of them are old or damaged to a point in which supplies to repair them are very difficult to find.
At the School of Social Communication, new equipments were bought this year, but the access to them is limited to some subjects. My subject, English, has not been included yet in the program of digital classes. Nevertheless, I have had the opportunity to ask for some tasks to be done on blogs, such as university newspaper for example. The experience was really satisfying and rewarding, even if I could not participate in the process.
As teachers, it is imperative that we try to incorporate these tools in our classes, even though we do not have full access to them.
At this point it is important to highlight the efforts made by organizations as Avealmec in Venezuela, which tries to promote the use of new technologies into the classroom.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
asked what digital literacy was, I felt that my mind was
correctly read because I was wondering myself if I fitted into the concept. Was I a digital illiterate person?
According to the Danish Technological Institute, digital literacy “involves the confident and critical use of Information Society Technology (IST) for work, leisure and communication. It is underpinned by basic skills in ICT: the use of computers to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet”.
As we can see, the concept encompasses a wide variety of dimensions. This particular type of literacy requires “ordinary” basic literacy skills, which are a necessary precondition for digital literacy, that is to say, cognitive skills. These are the fundamental skills because they consist of reading comprehension, writing, and critical thinking. But it is also important to have the technical skills, which are skills revolving around hardware and software applications, networks and other elements of digital technology such as the Internet, cell phones, personal digital assistants, and other digital devices (Wikipedia, 2009).
The combination of both cognitive and technical skills constitutes digital literacy.
What is digital competence?
As all we know, technology is nowadays part of our lives and has become an everyday tool, not only for small children but also all-aged adults. It is now mandatory to be proficient in its use and education has incorporated tech tools to better enhance the teaching/learning process.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I warmly welcome you to my blog. This blog is intended to share my experiences and learn much more about Information and Comunication Technologies (ICT).
ICT is the name of an interesting subject I am doing at my master's program in the Central University of Venezuela, taught by professor Evelyn Izquierdo, who has applied many of the newest technological tools to her teaching context.
This subject was created to teach participants the wide variety of technology available in today's world, how this can be used and applied to our specific teaching context and to improve and "refresh" our traditional teaching/learning methods.
Thanks for checking my blog.