Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jhon Quiñones´ ICTinELT final project

Title of the project
Integrating blogs and other web tools to English teaching-learning process.

The purpose of this project is to make a proposal for the ICT in ELT course to be developed with my students of English IV who study to become English teachers at Universidad Nacional Experimental Simón Rodríguez, in Palo Verde industrial area, Caracas, Venezuela.

By the end of the course students will develop their English communicative competence appealing to blogging and other web tools.

Students will...
1. learn how to use blogs and other web tools to develop their English communicative competence.
2. be able to integrate blogs and other web tools in their English learning process.
3. do complementary activities outside the classroom applying blogs and other web tools.
4. learn how to work with their classmates in a cooperative way.
5. promote the benefits of blogs and other web tools in English learning.
Theoretical framework
A blog is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentaries, descriptions of events, or other materials such as graphics or videos.Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.
In the language teaching field, Campbell (2003) distinguishes three types of blogs:
- the tutor blog
-the class blog
-the learner blog
The sample will be composed by sixteen (16) undergraduate students that study to become English teachers at Universidad Nacional Experimental Simón Rodríguez, in Palo Verde Industrial zone, Caracas, Venezuela.
English IV, (the 4th semester of a 5 year career)
Students will work in pairs giving as result 8 groups of 2 students.
Lenght of activities
6 weeks
Week No. 1
An introductory class related to blogs and other useful web tools for English learning will be taught to the students.
-Students will be motivated by their English teacher to become creators ands participants of a class blog.
Week No. 2
- Each group will create an account in blogger and write their welcome post indicating their personal data, expectations about the class blog among other important aspects.
Week No. 3
- Each group will create an account on Snapvine tool and record an "about us" message in which they will introduce themselves giving personal information.
-Each group will post their voice messages on the class blog.
Week No.4
- Different written texts included in the program of English IV will be assigned to each group in order to be read, summarized and posted in the class blog.
Week No.5
-The summaries posted on the previous week will be recorded on Snapvine tool and then posted on the class blog.
-Students will be asked to include to their summaries images and videos associated to the topics of the texts.
Week No. 6
- Each group of students and the teacher will organized a showroom about blogs and other web tools.
- Each group will have 10 minutes to speak about their experiences related to blogs and other web tools used in this project.

Week No. 11: E- assessment

On this week of our ICTs in ELT course, our facilitator, Professor Evelyn Izquierdo, taught us how to evaluate our students´online tasks. In addition, she stated the differences between assessment and evaluation defining each term.
Assessment occurs when gathering of evidences of students´ performance is carried out over a period of time to measure their learning and understanding. The evidences of learning can be dialogues, journals, written works, portfolios, exams along with many other learning activities.
On the other hand, evaluation takes place when a grade is stated after the conclusion of a task, exam, quiz, lesson or learning activity. A grade on a speech will determine if the student can command and transfer a specific content, command language and use appropriate audio-visual aids and this would be considered as an evaluation.

E-assessment is becoming widely used. It has many advantages over traditional (paper-based) assessment. The advantages include:
- lower long-term costs
- instant feedback to students
- greater flexibility with respect to location and timing
- improved reliability (machine marking is much more reliable than human marking)
- greater storage efficiency - tens of thousands of answer scripts can be stored on a server compared to the physical space required for paper scripts
- enhanced question styles which incorporate interactivity and multimedia.

There are also disadvantages. E-assessment systems are expensive to establish and not suitable for every type of assessment (such as extended response questions). The main expense is not technical; it is the cost of producing high quality assessment items - although this cost is identical when using paper-based assessment.


Week No.10: Web based lessons

Our ICTs in ELT course is almost over, but in this fascinating experience we have learning diverse positive and interesting aspects related to information and communication technologies and all the alternatives to apply them in the educational area and more particularly in our English Language Teaching contexts.
One of the most effective tool to be used and integrated into language classroom is the Web. On this tenth week of the course, our facilitator, Professor Evelyn Izquierdo, explained us about the Web- based lessons and thei usefulness for English teaching and learning.

Paraphrasing Professor Izquierdo, a web- based lesson is a lesson that in certain way includes a website or a group of websites. A web-based lesson can be taught completely on line or can be a traditional classroom lesson complemented with an online element. It has different uses.It can be used for research, reading, writing, publishing, communication and cooperation with teachers and learners.

Among the advantages of web-based lessons, we can mention the following:
- They are more interactive, dynamic and interesting.
- They develop creativity.
- They promote authentic activities, critical thinking, digital skills progress, cooperation.
- They offer opportunities for all types of learning.
- They are adaptable to any target language level and students´age.
- They improve teacher-student and student-student interaction and communication.
- They are interesting and attractive for learners since they include a variety of formats, images, videos and sounds.
- They are useful tools for teachers since they allow them to share their course works easily.
- They can be used for multicultural exchange purposes.
If we want to integrate Web-based lessons into our English teaching classrooms, the first thing we should do is a Web-based lesson plan that includes the following items:
- Period of time (Date)
- Teacher
- Class level
- Lesson length
- Topic
- Learning objectives
- Materials
- Description of the learning activities
- Web site(s) used
- Description of follow up activities
I will put into practice the previous recommendation regarding Universidad Nacional Experimental Simón Rodriguez (UNESR) teaching context in order to illustrate how to do a Web-based lesson plan.
- Period of time (Date): 1 class of 90 minutes
- Teacher: Jhon Quiñones
- Class level: 16 students of the fourth semester of English Teaching career.
- Lesson lenght: 90 minutes
- Topic: The current seven wonders of the world
- Aim: Students will identify the main aspects related to the topic analyzing an oral English text.
1. to develop listening comprehension skills applying audio-video tools on the internet.
2. to associate visual aids with spoken English language.
3. to put into practice speaking skills
-Material resources: 16 computers with internet acces and headsets
-Description of the activities: students will be asked to access internet in order to watch a video about the current seven wonders of the world in English. They will associate the spoken production with the images of the video and then they will determine the main points concerning to the topic such as: ubication, creators, creation date, main characteristics, etc.
- Follow up activities: students will practice speaking by discussing their information and comments about the video watched in class.

Some Web-based lesson samples


Week No. 9: Exploring Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)

On this week, our facilitator, Professor Evelyn Izquierdo, taught us different aspects related to Virtual Learning Environments (VLTs) and their importance for English Language Teaching (ELT).
A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a virtual environment (VE) that supports learning activities. Furthermore, it inherits general VE features like social space, social presence, awareness tools among others, and that can and should be exploited by pedagogic strategies and according instructional design models.

A virtual learning environment is any sort of environment that supports teaching and/or learning with Computer-mediated communication, e.g. a LMS, a C3MS, a Website + Forum.

A virtual learning environment is characterized by being:
- a designed information space.
- a social space where educational interactions occur turning spaces into places.
- explicitly represented since the representation of this information/social space can vary from text to 3D immersive worlds.
- environments in which students are not only active, but also actors: they co-construct the virtual space.
- non-restricted to distance education since they also enrich classroom activities.
-virtual environment that integrate heterogeneous technologies and multiple pedagogical approaches.
-environments that overlap with physical environments.
Virtual Learning Environment can offer the following benefits:
- they can provide obvious affordances for collaborative learning.
- members of a community tend to make better progress (peer intellectual & emotional help and mutual stimulation)
- some goals can't be reached alone (distributed cognition)
- a group can develop special language and practice adapted to specific problems
- They can promote knowledge through enculturation (collective memory)
- cognition is tied to experience (grounded)
- communities can extend beyond formal groups of learners


Week no.8: Social net working - AVEALMEC and ARCALL Web conferences

On this eighth week of our ICTs in ELT course, our facilitator, Professor Evelyn Izquierdo, introduced us into the topic of networking. One of the most important advantages of the Web 2.0 is that it allows to build up and spawn communication channels on the web that are called social networks. These networks offer people connections that permit them to share their likes or deep their knowledge on a specific area. In the educational contexts, social networks can be useful as tools for producing and sharing new knowledge and information and also for developing students´preferences in a specific theme. To put it in other words, networks can represent appropiate and effective resources for language teaching and more particularly for English teaching.

AVEALMEC and ARCALL are two Latin - American associations that promote the use of ICTs in the language teaching field. These two associations have organized a first regional event to promote the importance of ICTs use in language classrooms. This event includes twelve video-conferences that deal with social networks, web tools and their positive points to organize Communities of Practice to communicate and share results of teaching - learning experiences in language classrooms.

I could attend some of these AVEALMEC and ARCALL conferences. In my opinion, I think that they can be relevant and useful particularly for those teachers that are developing, using and integrating ICTs into their teaching contexts. Here, I present the summaries of three of those webconferences.

Web conference on Communities of practice: a social discipline of learning, by Etienne Wenger.
In this webconference, Wenger pointed out the need to consider the social aspects of learning. According to the presenter, this can be achieved by communities of practice and the attendant learning theory. These communities represent a model of learning that is extraordinarily adaptable to the new geographies of connectivity and identity emerging at these times. The presenter of this web conference referred to the communities of practice as a social discipline of learning and their usefulness to increase social learning potential in business, government, education and world progress.

Web conference on Edmodo and the wired classroom, by Nicky Hocky from The Consultants - E.
This web conference took a look at how the social networking tool Edmodo can be applied to create a wired, paperless classroom in face-to-face teaching contexts. Hocky showed some cases how Edmodo was used in a recent face-to-face teacher training course to link participants in the classroom, and to dsitribute information, as well as to conduct short activities.

Web conference on Wiki Educator: A community of Educators, by Nellie Müller from the Deustch University of Phoenix.
The presenter discussed Wiki Educator as a powerful collaborative community that connects and engages learners and teachers in the process of sharing contents. This web conference included a tour of Wiki Educator as a community of educators and learners with a passion for sharing and collaborating on ways to improve instruction and learning to make e-learning free and available worldwide. The presenter also elaborated on the method of workgroups and a council of elected and nominated members used to ensure a democratic and collaborative working environment in a wiki system. The presenter also highlighted the importance to understand how a collaborative editing environment could benefit the community and promote lifelong learning.



Week No. 7: Web 3.0: Virtual worlds - Tour to Second Life

During this week of the ICTs in ELT course, our facilitator, Professor Evelyn Izquierdo, taught us about Second Life (SL) that is a virtual world developed and launched by Linden Lab on June 23, 2003 and it is accessible via the Internet. A free client program called the Second Life Viewer enables its users, called residents, to interact with each other through avatars. Residents can explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another, or travel throughout the world (which residents refer to as "the grid"). Second Life is for people aged 18 and over, while Teen Second Life is for people aged 13 to 17.

Second Life is a three-dimensional modeling tool based around simple geometric shapes that allows a resident to build virtual objects. It can be used in combination with the Linden Scripting Language in order to add functionality to objects. More complex three-dimensional sculpted prims (colloquially known as sculpties), textures for clothing or other objects, and animations and gestures can be created using external software. The Second Life terms of service ensure that users retain copyright for any content they create, and the server and client provide simple digital rights management functions.
There is no charge to create a Second Life account or for making use of the world for any period of time. Linden Lab reserves the right to charge for the creation of large numbers of multiple accounts for a single person.

Avatars may take any form users choose (human, animal, vegetable, mineral, or a combination thereof) or residents may choose to resemble themselves as they are in real life,or they may choose even more abstract forms, given that almost every aspect of an avatar is fully customizable. A single resident account may have only one avatar at a time, although the appearance of this avatar can change between as many different forms as the resident wishes. Avatar forms, like almost everything else in SL, can be either created by the user, or bought pre-made. A single person may also have multiple accounts, and thus appear to be multiple residents (a person's multiple accounts are referred to as alts).

Avatars can communicate via local chat or global instant messaging (known as IM). Chatting is used for localized public conversations between two or more avatars, and is visible to any avatar within a given distance. IMs are used for private conversations, either between two avatars, or among the members of a group, or even between objects and avatars. Unlike chatting, IM communication does not depend on the participants being within a certain distance of each other. As of version, voice chat, both local and IM, is also available on both the main grid and teen grid, using technology licensed by Vivox - a provider of similar services to other MMO worlds.

Instant messages may optionally be sent to a resident's email when the resident is logged off, although message length is limited to 4096 bytes. If a message is sent to an offline resident it will also be saved to be viewed when they log on.
As a course task, we had to create our avatars and visit some fantastic places where we learned how to communicate, walk and even fly.Personally, I think that Second life virtual world could be an useful tool to be applied to make different English teaching activities more attractive and enjoyable for our students. I would like to study more deeply the educational potentials of this virtual world and use them in my English teaching contexts.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Week No. 5: Web 2.0.Wikis

In our ICTs in ELT , our facilitator, Professor Evelyn Izquierdo, explained us what a Wiki is and we were assigned a task that consists of developing our personal wiki projects.Mine has to do with the integration of my teaching activities at Universidad Nacional Experimental Simón Rodríguez with blogging as an alternative strategy to make the teaching-learning process more effective, participative, cooperative and interesting.In addition, I would like to present the following important information related to wiki websites.

A wiki is a website that allows the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor. Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used to create collaborative websites, to power community websites, for personal note taking, in corporate intranets, and in knowledge management systems.

Ward Cunningham, who was the developer of the first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as "the simplest online database that could possibly work. "Wiki" is a Hawaiian word for "fast".

Wikis are one of many Web 2.0 components that can be used to enhance the learning process. A
wiki is a web communication and collaboration tool that can be used to engage students in learning with others within a collaborative environment.

Duffy and Bruns (2006) list several possible educational uses of wikis:

• Students can use a wiki to develop research projects, with the wiki serving as ongoing
documentation of their work.

• Students can add summaries of their thoughts from the prescribed readings, building a
collaborative annotated bibliography on a wiki.

• A wiki can be used for publishing course resources like syllabi and handouts, and students
can edit and comment on these directly for all to see.

• Teachers can use wikis as a knowledge base, enabling them to share reflections and
thoughts regarding teaching practices, and allowing for versioning and documentation.

• Wikis can be used to map concepts. They are useful for brainstorming, and editing a
given wiki topic can produce a linked network of resources.

• A wiki can be used as a presentation tool in place of conventional software, and students
are able to directly comment on and revise the presentation content. Parker & Chao61 .

• Wikis are tools for group authoring. Often group members collaborate on a document by
emailing to each member of the group a file that each person edits on their computer, and
some attempt is then made to coordinate the edits so that everyone’s work is equally represented;using a wiki pulls the group members together and enables them to build and
edit the document on a single, central wiki page.