Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My final reflections

Week 14
 Time has passed by and here I am writing my reflections about my own learning process after fourteen weeks of intensive and very very hard work. I never thought this subject was going to  be so demanding in terms of time, syncronous virtual classes, designing artifacts, commenting on others´artifacts.  OMG so much work to do.  In week 5 I was about to collapse, and  I must  confess that I went through all and every possible and imaginable feelings due not only to the stress of the subject itself, due dates and hard work  but also because of my  responsibilities at home and work. 

I went through different stages in the process, I sometimes felt totally desperate, with no idea of what to do.  Oh My God, hands in my head how to do with all this information, widgets, gadgets, blogs, posts?  But as we all know the calm comes after the storm.  And here we are, about to finish, with tons of experiences, of every kind, with the satisfaction of having finished part of the process, with the eager of continuing practising for future challenges.  Now, after only fourteen weeks we have learned how to design wikis, glogsters, blogs, podcasts, videos, voice discussions among other interesting things as Second Life.

We have overcome the tasks, our presentations were a great experience too.  Everybody so professional presenting amazing and interesting projects to teachers of other countries.  
Wow!  Outstanding! And we did it too!  Even if we were overloaded with so much information now I can see and feel the results of such a big effort.
I have learnt so much, now I can tell I am on the right track regarding ICT´s in the TEFL classroom.  I can say now that I am walking towards becoming a digitally literate facilitator.  No more old-fashioned devices for fostering listening, No! Podcasts are now the tool to be used, and so on and on.  

There is a tremendous world in front of us willing to be catched and used at the upmost level.  It´s our decision to do it or not. But what implications shall it have?  Is it the difference of moving with the train and falling from it?  What would our students think about? Do they really want to continue working as in the caves?  Surely, rore reflections would be necessary for some of us but what I know now is that I want to catch up that train, but not the slow and noisy one, but the Shanghai Maglev´s, the fastest train in the world.  

Before posting my piece of writing, I want to thank my family for their support.  For not speaking when having our virtual sessions.  For being so patient every weekend in this ending term.  My classmates for exchanging information.  My friends Maite, Ma Aurora, Ivan so concerned with all the process, so willing to help at anytime, so helping when things were not going so well.  And last but not least, thank you Evelyn for sharing all the knowledge with us and for being so generous.


Monday, August 1, 2011

My Final Project

Week 13
Here you are my final project presentation which I shared by means of WiZiQ with all my classmates and also with other teachers  here in Venezuelan  and abroad.  This project is about how to integrate ICT´s in the TEFL, in my case, as I am an ESP teacher for tourism, I developed an interesting wiki to be shared with the hotel chambermaids I work with.  For the incoming term, they will be invited to join the wiki and watch the embeded videos done using Windows Movie Maker and which are related to their occupation.  The chambermaids after watching the videos and will complete some tasks in order to practise.  The wiki will be available for them at any time, not only for watching videos but also for looking for relevant information for them.

Below there is my presentation and also the first video I developed for them.  
Hope you enjoy it as much as I do and please comment on them!
This is the first video of a series I will develop for the course participants of this EOP for hotel chambermaids so can play it as much as they need it.  This kind of tool is absolutely fabulous so the participants go at their own path in the learning process and in the end, and most important, is that they walk towards becoming independent learners which is our final goal as facilitators.

The video is entitled In a Hotel Room is simple but as someone told me once, less is more!


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Web-based lessons and e-portfolios

Week 11

A web-based lesson is a lesson based on a Web 2.0 artifact or a lesson where part of the class employs an artifact in order to teach an objective,a lesson or part of it.  Nowadays, lessons can insert podcasts, videos and music downloaded from internet, wikis, blogs and other interesting web 2.0 tools like Virtual Life or Second Life in order to foster listening, reading, writing and speaking inside the EFL/ESL classroom.
Web-based lessons are an outstanding experience both for students and  facilitators   because   it´s updated, real and meaningful.  It is also well known that students are very familiar with technology but not always are digitally literate.  In this case, the  facilitator has to master the use of the artifact to be used in class, in such a way that time and effort are worth for the purpose of the lesson.  In order to do so, several considerations are to be taken such as technological availability:  enough pcs or laptops, fast connection, and all the necessary devices in order to exploit the tool inside and outside the classroom.  Wikis, blogs, podcasts, videos, SL and many other Web 2.0 tools are great for designing a web-based lesson.  Try the new way of teaching and surprise your students.

Wikipedia states that, aelectronic portfolio, also known as an e-portfolio or digital portfolio, is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user, usually on the Web. Such electronic evidence may include inputted text, electronic files, images, multimediablog entries, and hyperlinks. E-portfolios are both demonstrations of the user's abilities and platforms for self-expression, and, if they are online, they can be maintained dynamically over time.   
For me,  as  a   teacher and as a post-graduate student,  e-portfolios are a way of  tracking students´ progress and evolution and also a great way for self-assessment and peer assessment and they can be accessed by different users.  Learners can keep every piece of writing, reading, listening and speaking assignments or projects in the form of an artifact on the web and colleagues can go back and forth in order to give feedback, leave comments and suggestions, etc.  This is an enriching experience for everyone.

This is my first web-lesson plan which I want to share with you,

My first web-based lesson



3D Virtual Worlds - Second Life

Week 10
¨A virtual world is a genre of online community that often takes the form of a computer-based simulated environment, through which users can interact with one another and use and create objects.  Virtual worlds are intended for its users to inhabit and interact, and the term today has become largely synonymous with interactive 3D virtual environments, where the users take the form of avatars visible to others graphically. These avatars are usually depicted as textual, two-dimensional, or three-dimensional graphical representations, although other forms are possible  (auditory and touch sensations for example). Some, but not all, virtual worlds allow for multiple users¨  as stated in Wikipedia (2011).

One of the most popular online worlds is Second Life (SL) launched in 2003 by Linden Lab.  This world is inhabited by the so-called residents which are impersonified by avatars created by people like you and me who give person and life to such avatars and life a life where you can do unthinkable actions not possible in real life.  SL was first created with the aim of socializing, participating in group activities as well as individual and trading.  With this purpose in mind, SL has its own currency called Linden dollar and residents can earn money  by doing a number of different activities with the aim of purchasing goods, properties, services, etc.   
At the very beginning, virtual worlds were used only for video games, but as time went by, they became more real and vivid and they started to be used for educational purposes among others, and it has to be said, for a totally new approach to education: more vivid and therefore, more meaningful and everlasting for students. 
Now, after living in this amazing world I suggest you to create your own avatar, it´s for free, you can fly, live underwater, and do a number of interesting actions you would never dare to do in real life.  But be careful, virtual worlds are, as real ones, inhabited by different kinds of people with different reasons for being there.  There are risks but there are also incredible opportunity for living the experience.  I´m Nairuby Sarowsky in Second Life.  Take a tour, you won´t regret!

If you are not sure about creating an avatar and living a Second Life, maybe this tutorial would be a great starting point



Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs):WiZiQ, Elluminate, Alado, Kodeos, Moodle and others.

Week 9

If a person googles Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) the first definition to emerge is this one from Wikipedia: ¨A Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is a system designed to support teaching and learning in an educational setting, as distinct from a Managed Learning Environment (MLE), where the focus is on management¨.  I other words  Virtual learning Environment is an very important scenario for virtual teaching-learning.  This process can be done synchronous or asynchronous as updated VLE  allows the facilitator to record a class therefore it is available for the learner at any time for the student to learn at his/her own pace and in such a way contribute to autonomous learning.   At present, facilitators can use free VLE´s all over the world.  Moodle, Elluminate, Dokeos and WizIQ are among the most known and employed due to their performance and versatility.  

A couple of years ago, I was a participant on an online version of TKT Essentials at The British Council and the experience was amazing.  Although it was overwhelming to some extent, it was also really interesting from the point of view of the learner because I, as a learner, could work at nights, at my own pace, going back and forth if I needed, looking for information and completing the tasks online, chatting with my tutors individually and in group, and also tracking my own progress at any time.  The British Council used Moodle as a VLE for that course and I´m not sure, but I think they still use it because it is reliable and steady.  I have to confess that when I was first asked about how I would feel about not having face to face (f2f)  classes I  said:  ¨No way, I cannot imagine talking with no one, only sitting in front of a computer without interacting with people¨.  I have to tell all of you how my mind has changed.  I love f2f classes the same way I love virtual rooms basically because interaction occurs in both environments.

When I became a Masters´ student at UPEL-IPC one of our teachers, Dr Rosynella Cardozo, first introduced us to WiZiQ as a virtual learning environment.  We were all astonished, scared, sometimes overwhelmed because even if the environment is easy to work with, our internet connection can make this become a nightmare though.  At that moment, and due to those inconveniences, I could not make it possible to have my own teaching experience online which I really regreted.  Later in every term, the Masters gave us the possibility of having online sessions, some went better some worse but every time I was online I thought here is where I want to teach in the future. 

In ITC´s in the TEFL classroom I have had the worth experience of teaching via WiZiQ and I loved it, it was like I expected and more.  I am so eager that I already notify some of my students that we will have online sessions using this platform and they were surprised.  Actually, I am preparing some classes and next week I will encourage them to open a student account so they can join the classes.  These are all English students who are going to do their communitary service with the language program I work for and they are very young people, from 21 to 24 years old, so they cope with technology very well.  I am sure the experience will be outstanding and they will be exposed to a different teaching style.

Thank you VLE´s for being available!




Sunday, July 24, 2011

Social Networks, Communities of Practice, and Personal Learning Network

Week 8

According to the Merriam-Webster´s online dictionary community is:

: a unified body of individuals: asa : statecommonwealthb : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself <the problems of a largecommunity>c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common locationd : a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society <a communityof retired persons>e : a group linked by a common policyf : a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests <the international community>g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society <the academiccommunity>
The word community derives from the word common which is the key word of the definitions above, as you can see.   As very well stated in Merriam-Webster´s online dictionnary a community is every group of persons sharing the same interest, likes, social or economic interest.  Thefore, we as EFL/ESL teachers constitute a community because we all share the same interest for education, learners, technology in some cases, material design in others, assessment, developing learners´s skills, different approaches, in simple terms we share something in common.  
In relation to EFL and ESL  there are very important international communities of practice or CoPs as they are known like TESOL, WikiEducators, Webheads in action, Diigo communities and locally AVEALMEC, VenTESOL´s, ELTnet among others.  The main aim is to get together, share and collaborating for the purpose of growing in knowledge and number.  
Recently, social networks as Facebook and Twitter have been growing rapidly and amazingly they can also be used for educational purposes with our learners outside the class.  These networks can be the means to convey short messages, have our students write and share ideas, send homeworks and giving instructions for delivering projects, etc.  It is also a good way to have them practice the language among themselves and not only with the teacher, and since messages are not long, they may feel there is opportunity for practicing without making many mistakes.  

community of practice (CoP) is, according to cognitive anthropologists Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, ¨a group of people who share an interest, a craft, and/or a profession. The group can evolve naturally because of the members' common interest in a particular domain or area, or it can be created specifically with the goal of gaining knowledge related to their field. It is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that the members learn from each other, and have an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally (Lave & Wenger 1991). CoPs can exist online, such as within discussion boards and newsgroups, or in real life, such as in a lunch room at work, in a field setting, on a factory floor, or elsewhere in the environment¨.  While Lave and Wenger coined the term in the 1990s, this type of learning practice has existed for as long as people have been learning and sharing their experiences through storytelling.

Brantlee Underhill, PMI Director of Practitioner Markets makes this interesting interview to PhD Etienne Wenger, an authority on CoPs that I would like to share with you, enjoy it!



Videos and other useful Web 2.0 tools

Week 7: 

When I was looking for online definitions of useful and easy programs to manage Web 2.0 tools google took me to  Windows Movie Make immediately and then as I  wanted to know what this was, Wikipedia gave me the following information:  ´Windows Movie Maker is a video creating editing application, included in Microsoft Windows Me, XP, and Vista. It contains features such as effects, transitions, titles/credits, audio track, timeline narration, and Auto Movie. New effects and transitions can be made and existing ones can be modified using XML code. Windows Movie Maker is also a basic audio track editing program. It can apply basic effects to audio tracks such as fade in or fade out. The audio tracks can then be exported in the form of a sound file instead of a video file¨.  Great tool, ummm but how can I use it, will I be able to use this, I can hardly take pictures with my smartphone and edit them.  That´s why I thought.  

Then while we were attending our online class with Prof. Evelyn Izquierdo we all were asked to look for the software and open it, drag some pictures to the squares and make transitions and effects and after doing so playing.  And there I was... manufacturing and editing my very first attempt to a video using a really simple and useful tool which provided me with unlimited ressource options.  I have to say that  I am a  visual and aural learner, therefore I love images and music and everything which has to do with observable resources for teaching.  

I am aware that we all have to plan for different learning styles in our classrooms but this is a great tool for visual and learners and if we combine some kinaesthetic activities after watching and listening to a video it will really catch our learners attention whatever learners´characteristics they have.

I have been exposed to a new experience which I can tell is amazing and wonderful for our learners at all levels and ages.  The power of designing and manufacturing and, of course, editing a video is immense.  Videos can be used inside the EFL classroom for so many purposes: building lexical items, working with functions, presenting authentic and real language and it is innovative and atractive for the learners.  Moreover, it has also a tremendous impact on teaching and what is more important than that is the good news that our learners can use them outside the class and start walking the way for their learning autonomy.  


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Podcasts, voice tools and audio recorders

Session 6

Wikipedia defines podcast as ¨a series of digital media files, either audio or video, that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication. The word replaced webcast in common use with the success of the iPod and its role in the rising popularity and innovation of web feeds.¨ If you scroll down on the page you will read ¨The mode of delivery differentiates podcasting from other means of accessing media files over the Internet, such as direct download or streamed web-casting.  A list of all the audio or video files currently associated with a given series is maintained centrally on the distributor's server as a web feed, and the listener or viewer employs special client-application software known as a pod-catcher that can access this web feed, check it for updates, and download any new files in the series. This process can be automated so that new files are downloaded automatically.¨
According to a group of academics, journalism & communication Research group at the University of Texas at Austin in the USA a podcast is ¨a digital audio or video file that is episodic; downloadable; program-driven, mainly with a host and/or theme; and convenient, usually via an automated feed with computer software¨.    The term "podcasting" was first mentioned by Aled Williams in The Guardian newspaper in a February 2005 article, along with other proposed names for the new medium. It is a blend of the words "pod"— from Apple's iPod —and "broadcasting".
¨Podcasts have been introduced into the curriculum in a variety ways to meet a range of learning objectives¨ (Chester, A., Buntine, A., Hammond, K., & Atkinson, L. (2011).  Podcasts can be used to enhance the four skills but they can also be used to practice a certain aspect of the language, for instance, pronunciation, intonation and stress.  Nowadays, the use of podcasts in the EFL classroom is becoming very popular as a great means to expose learners to authentic and real pieces of language.  Teachers can record or use existing podcasts in order to have their students practice real life conversations, course participants can listen to different accents and in this way learn more and gain confidence towards their learning process.   Podcasting is an important tool in relation to assessing oral production which has always been such a sensitive area to test, through podcasting we can create the evidence and support our testing results. Wonderful activities can be designed integrating skills by means of a podcast, but the most important thing is that the use of Web 2.0 tools lead to learners´ autonomous learning.   Regardless the type of podcasts, student satisfaction is typically strong and students generally perceive podcasts to have enhanced their learning (Goldberg & McKhann, 2000; Maag, 2006; Soong, Chan, Cheers, & Hu, 2006). 

Podcast Powered By Podbean

My first interview



Session 5

Wikipedia defines Wiki as "a website that allows the 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 collaboratively by multiple users. Examples include community websites, corporate intranets, Knowledge management systems, and note services. The software can also be used for personal notetaking".
Wikis can be used for different purposes. Some allow control over different functions (levels of access). For example editing rights gives you the options of changing, adding or removing material. Others may permit access without enforcing access control. Other rules can be imposed for organizing content.
Ward Cunningham, the developer of the first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as "the simplest online database that could possibly work." "Wiki" (pronounced [ˈwiti] or [ˈviti]) is a Hawaian word for "fast".
Nowadays, there are millions of Wikis for different purposes, many of them for the purpose of teaching different subjects or topics.  Among the most famous wikis is Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page. which is a collaborative encyclopedia on-line.  Experts from all around the world offer their expertise in order to feed this powerful tool with their knowledge and in this way people can benefit and get information in a very fast way about different topics in a huge number of languages.  Another important one is WikiEducator http://wikieducator.org/Main_Page which aims to be an evolving community for learners based on collaborative free learning.   Wikis are very powerful artifacts as far as working collaboratively in the TEFL class is concerned.  A Wiki can be used by teachers at different levels and with different learners needs, from children to adults, it can be adapted for designing projects for students, it allows to share relevant information about so many topics and therefore, knowledge can be shared and meaningfully built up.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Welcome to ICT"s in TEFL-2011

Welcome to Nairuby Mata ICT in TEFL-2011 created to share information about the use of ICTs in Teaching English as a Foreign Language Classroom.  This blog aims at providing all EFL/ESL teachers with a space to share ideas and comment on the different ways to enhance TEFL by means of using technology... It´s good to have you here...

Monday, May 23, 2011


Session 4

¨A weblog, or simply a blog, is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is “blogging” and someone who keeps a blog is a “blogger”. Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog.  Postings on a blog are mostly arranged in chronological order with the most recent additions
featured most prominently.¨
In simple terms, a blog is a website, where you write material on an ongoing basis. New 
items show up at the top, so your visitors can read what's new. Then they may or may not comment on it, or link to it or email you.
Blogs in education:
There is no limit for the use of blogs for instructional and academic purposes:
Instructors can use blogs for:
• Content-related blogs as a professional practice 
• Networking and personal knowledge sharing 
• Instructional tips for students 
• Course announcements and readings 
• Annotated links 
• Knowledge management 
And the pptions for students are ilimited: 
• Reflective or writing journals 
• Knowledge management 
• Assignment submission and review 
• Dialogue for group work 
• E-portfolios 
• Share course-related resources
Features of a Blog-Based Class 
There are several options for designing and choosing a blogging service.  The facilitator, in this case, must have clear what is the purpose and also what is required from the blog. The university of Montclair, explains the following as a list of features which could make a successful blog-based class: 
• It must be possible for a teacher to create as many “class blogs” as deemed 
necessary to organize class materials. For example, it must be possible for a 
teacher to create a blog for class notes and another for posting group feedback. 
• The class blogs must be viewable by all students. Furthermore, only the teacher should have administrative privileges to modify these blogs. 
• All students must have their own individual blog for posting assignments. Only two people, the teacher and the student, can view the student’s individual blog. 
Students can edit their own writing and the teacher can add comments to the 
student’s submissions. However, students cannot edit the teacher’s comments. 
• For the sake of organization, it must be simple for the teacher to change between students’ blogs. 
• The blogging service must provide server space on the Internet to store class and student blogs. 
• The blogging service must be free. 

   Blog titles and URLs shall communicate the purpose of the blog. For example, a blog of class notes should be titled “class notes. 
• Creation of class blogs should be done before the first class and assigned relevant blog can be kept solely for giving group feedback to the class. In this way students can easily find pertinent information. Other possible class blogs are student assignment instructions, vocabulary, and answers to past assignments. 
• By creating separate class blogs, information can be efficiently organized. For
example, one class blog can be solely for keeping lecture-based material.

• The teacher-created class blogs can be used as an example when introducing the concept of blogs to the students.
• The creation of all the student blogs can be done on the first day of class. • After introducing the class and the class blogs, give students a non-blog related activity and have them come up to the teacher computer one at a time to create their student blog.

As you can see, blogging is useful at different fields, personal, academic and bussiness.  It makes you feel closer to people elsewhere, exchange ideas, build knowledge and also learn from other cultures.  Our main concern in this subject is how Blogs can be used in Teaching English as a Foreign Language at different levels.  Teachers can be use blogs for desigining relevant projects for the class, for posting general and specific information about the course, organizing and assigning activities, publishing the course syllabus and the evaluation plan in a specific number of pages, normally Blogger provides you with the possibility of using up to 10 pages.

In case you do not know how to start blogging please feel free to click and follow the tutorial.  Hope you have fun and use it for academic and personal purposes.  Enjoy it!