Thursday, February 4, 2010

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.



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