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!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0

Session 3 
Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0

" Web 1.0, or web refers to the first stage of the World Wide Web linking webpages with hyperlinks  (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol or http).  To take an example from above, Personal web pages were common in Web 1.0, and these consisted of mainly static pages hosted on free hosting services. Nowadays, dynamically generated blog and social networking profiles, such as Myspace and Facebook, are more popular, allowing for readers to comment on posts in a way that was not available during Web 1.0.  Personal or institutional sites were static, web pages were designed with frames and they were impersonal.  There was no interaction, the administrator was the only one who could modify or change the site.  Users were only readers¨ according to  Wikipedia. 

The term Web 2.0 is associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing, user-centered design and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users/consumers are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. Examples of Web 2.0 include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services among others.
Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information. Web 2.0 provides the user with more user-interface, software and storage facilities, all through their browser.  Users can provide the data that is on a Web 2.0 site and exercise some control over that data. These sites may have an "Architecture of participation" that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it.
¨The Web 2.0 offers all users the same freedom to contribute. While this opens the possibility for rational debate and collaboration, it also opens the possibility for "spamming" and "trolling" by less rational users. This requires what is sometimes called radical trust by the management of the website. According to Best, the characteristics of Web 2.0 are: rich user experience, user participation, dynamic content, metadata, web standards and scalability. Further characteristics, such as openness, freedom and collective intelligence by way of user participation, can also be viewed as essential attributes of Web 2.0¨ as Best states.

Web 3.0
Definitions of Web 3.0 vary greatly. Some believe its most important features are the Semantic Web and personalization. Focusing on the computer elements, Conrad Wolfram has argued that Web 3.0 is where "the computer is generating new information", rather than humans.
Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur, considers the Semantic Web an "unrealisable abstraction" and sees Web 3.0 as the return of experts and authorities to the Web.  Some authors propose that Web 3.0 will be a "Totally Integrated World" - cradle-to-grave experience of being always plugged onto the net¨ as stated in Wikipedia/SemanticWeb.

What is undoubtedly is that students worldwide can benefit from  the three Webs 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 in the sense that they can access recent information most of the times at the very moment it is generated which gives an added value to the Webs.  Depending on what a learner or user needs to find out such learner can look up for static information on the Web 1.0, criticize it, share it and improve it within learning communities worldwide using the Web 2.0 and by means of the use of Web 3.0 become experts by the  fact of empowering and enhancing it through collaborative and constructivist exchange with others.
The world is now at our feet and with a simple click it can be opened immediately.  This is something that we as teachers have to manage very well with our learners because there is a huge responsibility in the sense that not all the information is reliable and useful, therefore, teachers have to play important roles as monitors, guides and councelors.  It is important to teach our students on how to use the Web.


E-learning: definition and characteristics

Session 2
E-learning: definition and characteristics

Wikipedia states that " e-learning comprises all forms of electronically supported learning and teaching. The information and communication systems, whether networked or not, serve as specific media to implement the learning process.  The term will still most likely be utilized to reference out-of-classroom and in-classroom educational experiences via technology, even as advices continue in regard to devices and curriculum¨."E-learning is essentially the computer and network-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge. E-learning applications and processes include Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classroom opportunities and digital collaboration. Content is delivered via the Internet, intranet/extranet, audio or video tape, satellite TV, and CD-ROM. It can be self-paced or instructor-led and includes media in the form of text, image, animation, streaming video and audio.What types of e-learning are there? Blended learning also called hybrid learning is the term used to describe learning or training events."  
There are some related concepts which are useful to know:
Blended learning is not only a combination of face to face plus on line learning but also the methodology plus different strategies providing different opportunities for the students. 
Distance education is education by mail.  There is no contact between the teacher and students, some of them offer tutorial sessions at the beginning and while the programme.
Virtual learning uses different channels for delivering information to students.
Nowadays, in Venezuela, e-learning is a relatively new option for learning due to various reasons being the most important the unsteady internet connection and also the fact that our students are used to have face-to-face class sessions.  Nevertheless, the number of teachers acquiring digital skills is increasing and the time shall come when our students and ourselves get used to virtual classes. 
In my particular class environment, which is ESP for Tourism, I was surprised when I first told my participants if they had computers at home and also about the possibility of connecting for doing some homework and I got a possitive answer.  It called my attention the fact that only one of them told the group she had no laptop or PC at home and the rest of the group told her ¨Do not worry, we will help you and show you how to connect here in the hotel!¨.  I explained the fact that we could use internet and computers for having online homework and they felt happy about the possibility.  So... here I am trying to develop a nice wiki project for my hotel maids.

Digital Literacy

Session 1 
Wikipedia defines Digital literacy as " the ability to locate, organize, understand, evaluate, and analyze information using digital technology. It involves a working knowledge of current high technology, and an understanding of how it can be used. Digitally literate people can communicative and work more efficiently, especially with those who possess the same knowledge and skills."  It explains that "research around digital literacy is concerned with wider aspects associated with learning how to effectively find, use, summarize, evaluate, create, and communicate information while using digital technologies, not just being literate at using a computer."  
Paul Glister author of the best seller Digital Literacy (1997) pointed out that " digital literacy is the ability to understand information and, more important, to evaluate and integrate information in multiple formats that the computer can deliver.  Being able to evaluate and interpret information is critical...  you can´t understand information you find on the Internet without evaluating its sources and placing it in context".  

Therefore, we can conclude that digital literacy is much more than using a computer, it is a tight relationship between accessing information, evaluating it critically,  processing it and sharing it with a community in an efficient way.  It is important to point out that the use of different electronic devices apart from computers is also relevant to open the scope of the definition.   Nowadays it is vital to be digitally literate in order to keep up to date with the process of teaching and learning a foreign language.  In the case of Venezuela, there is a lot to do in order to rebuild our teaching-learning environment.  Most of our students have a mobile phone, the majority of them have access to internet in the form of social networks so why not using such tools for improving and updating their learning process?  The question is how and I´m sure that we will start knowing from this class on,  I hope that by the end of this course, we start to use one ICT tool in our classrooms.