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).
By Graham Stanley from the British Council
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.
By George Siemens
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.