Innovational technologies for self-study: web 2.0 in efl instruction

The transformation in communication that has arisen since the invention of the Internet is accurately documented. After 15 years of extension in global, digital publishing of hypertext and multimedia, we are now come across with transitioning as the World Wide Web keeps developing. Now the Internet is far from past “post and view” web environments, Web 2.0 is an opportunity of sharing your ideas online [8].

Nowadays students enjoy learning in a flexible and informal atmosphere where the learner’s autonomy is encouraged. Taking into consideration the rapidly changing desires of the present society teachers need to prepare their learners and make them suit the requirements, besides, they are able to explore pedagogical possibilities to integrate it effectively into the curriculum. Using Information and Communication Techniques (ICT) they help the students to acquire knowledge and skills in a progressive manner.

The present situation in the classroom shows that considering not enough equipment amount and state educational standards, instructors are not always enabled to introduce and include these techniques to the curriculum. Therefore, we suggest using the Web 2.0 technologies outside the classroom for selfstudy. Thus, learners are supposed to be intrinsically motivated, i.e. they have to succeed not only to obtain a good grade but also to be satisfied and interested in any assignment given.

The aim of introducing the technologies is to foster constructive learning, make the students self-sufficient and train them to relish life-long learning. The learners’ lifestyle, interests and preferences are taken into consideration. As they spend plenty of their time texting, blogging, participating on discussion boards in wikis, social networking for their own purposes in leisure time we consider it rational to encourage improving English writing and reading skills not only through in-class instruction but also through self-study.

WIKIS

Wiki is one of the main components of Web 2.0, the unsuspected generation of tools and applications [1]. Wikis in general actively involve students in their own formation of knowledge [5]. It helps to realize the actual vision of the Web as a space where anyone can take part [23]. Wiki is considered as web application which allows people to add, edit and delete the information in cooperation with other participants [27]. Here the list of uses for wikis in and out of the classroom according to different works is presented.

Mader’s site concentrates only on wikis in education, giving the examples such as project development with peer review, webpage creation, tracking group projects, group authoring, and class/ teacher reviews, data collection. His online page includes writings by various authors discussing integrating a wiki

in instruction, group wiki projects, collaborative writing projects, using wikis within course management systems, and wiki-based collaboration and academic publishing, constructing science knowledge.

Fountain describes wiki as a very useful and effective application, and suggests more uses such as cooperative creating and monitoring of EFL and other English-based subjects projects. He mainly focuses on collaborative usage of wikis as elaboration concept [11].

Duffy and Bruns present a survey of wiki use in education as a list of possible practices. Students are able to use a wiki to develop research projects, add summaries of their thoughts from the previous readings, summaries of books, annotations, and a collaborative annotated bibliography. A wiki also is a very accessible app for uploading course resources, for example, syllabi and handouts, and it gives students the opportunity to comment and edit the information so everybody can see it. Teachers are also able to use wikis for their own purposes, for instance, as a knowledge base, enabling them to share reflections and thoughts regarding teaching practices, and allowing for versioning and documentation. In home-study purposes it is useful for brainstorming and editing, a given wiki topic can produce a linked network of resources. This tool can also be used as a map. 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. Wikis are applications for group authoring. Frequently, group members communicate through emails sending them to each member of the group to contact and coordinate work inside the group. Using a wiki simplifies this process by gathering all the information and changes of the work on central wiki page [9].

Guzdial, Rick, and Kehoe expand the idea of wikis together with CoWeb. They stated this combination can be used for classroom activities and, what is more important, for self-study as discussion and review tools, distributing information tools, and for collaborative artifact creation [12].

For Naish wiki is an information resource, a tool for building e-learning content, a collaboration tool.

The concept of workflow learning in action is thoroughly discussed. Schaffert, Bischof, et al. propose the use of wiki tools in project-based learning, and interdisciplinary and intercultural learning, collaborative story writing.

Tonkin defines four different forms of using a wiki for educational purposes:

  1. Individual-user wikis allows collecting and edit own works using a Web-based environment;
  2. Lab book wikis can be used for keeping notes online and permitting to be peering reviewed and changed by other students;
  3. Collaborative writing wikis are for group joint writing works;
  4. Knowledge base wikis are archives for collecting knowledge of a class.

Bergin suggests applying wikis to create student homepages, implement anonymous feedback, ideas related to the course, studentcreated FAQ, infrastructure hints, and discussions [2].

Wikipedia's School and University Projects page suggests uses of wikis in the classroom to provide students with exercises editing and publishing content on Wikipedia.

Summarizing the ideas of Web 2.0 researches we maintain that Wikis are collaboratively created websites where users can create a series of web pages, edit and revise their and others’ work, provide feedback, keep track of the changes, make projects, joint writings, organize discussions and publish, share and comment information online.

FACEBOOK

A phenomenon social network is relatively new. Geocities was one of the web's first social networking sites. They began in 1994, following AOL Instant Messenger in 1997, MySpace in 2003 and Facebook in 2004. People are increasingly conversing online using diverse social sites. They enjoy the immediacy and convenience of engaging in discourse any time, any place, anywhere. Facebook is one of the most popular social networking opportunities available to everyone for improving English.

As its official website states, Facebook is giving people the power to share and making the world more open and connected. By March, 2013, more than 1.11 billion users were using Facebook to communicate, interact, and socialise with each other [10].

The primary features of Facebook, including “wall”, “blog”, “info”, “friends”, “like”, “unlike”, “poke”, “comment”, “send message”, “share photos”, “video”, and “links” provide users with a variety of means to interact and communicate and to make new friends worldwide. Particularly, the “share status” feature plays an important role in Facebook activities. Users are able to instantly discuss and share all types of information and knowledge through this function, which is similar to an online discussion board. Student interactions in online discussions can contribute to learner-centred approach development and make available an opportunity to practise gained knowledge and skills in a supportive and encouraging environment. In addition, in an online environment, students can communicate and interact with others at their own pace and take time to consider comments and responses rather than being “put on the spot” as in the physical classroom. Communication and relationships initially generated in the virtual environment can be brought into the classroom.

Facebook, currently the most used global social networking website, has not been widely used in tertiary education. Many scholars have suggested that Facebook and other Web 2.0 technologies may not always be appropriate or successful vehicles for formal teaching and learning activities. However, integrating Facebook with blended learning in higher education seems to be a feasible means for teachers to enhance students’ learning.

The findings of recent studies show that online learning and instruction have positive impacts on language learning. For instance, Conroy concluded that Internet based or assisted language learning could support students in independent language learning and academic writing because these students are enthusiastic and reasonably competent users of Internet-based tools and techniques. In Internet-based instruction, elements such as emails, bulletin boards, chat rooms, and online discussions can promote learner-instructor and learner-learner interactions. Additionally, learner-content interactions and learning effects can be enhanced through online interactions such as multimedia presentations, learners' contributions to learning materials, and

links to related learning materials. Furthermore, according to Birch and Volkov, online forums can encourage learners, in particular ESL students who may be reluctant to speak up in face to face settings, to engage in discussions [3]. Online discussions can also contribute to assisting students in overcoming their linguistic limitations and expressing their own thoughts. Many studies have also found that team based or project based learning activities can promote active learning.

Thus, Facebook can provide the potential for collaborative and cooperative learning, more learning opportunities, and means for learners to interact with each other and learn effectively.

BLOG

Some approaches involve learners in the direct process of production of learning content. This notion is one of the most outstanding changes from more learning object oriented approaches. Typically, these approaches are based on tools such as weblog.

A weblog, or blog, is a “log of the web”, a term coined by Barger in 1997. The key feature of a blog is the presentation of the content in reverse chronological order [6].

A blog can also be thought of as an online journal that an individual can continuously update with his or her own words, ideas, and thoughts through software that enables one to easily do so. Unlike a standard website, weblog entries are made by typing directly into the browser and with the click of a button are instantly published on the internet. All basic document formatting, like spacing, bold, italics, underline, and creating links, requires no knowledge of HTML or FTP (File Transfer Protocol), so that anyone who can type, copy, and paste can create and maintain a weblog. However, with a very basic knowledge of HTML, users can extend their ability to customize the layout of their blog and even add pictures to enhance its attractiveness. Similar to an open journal, the accumulation of writings and other content creates both a record of learning and a resource for others. Furthermore, a weblog is interactive, in the sense that readers can respond to any given entry with a comment and even threaded discussions can take place depending on the software chosen.

Even though blogs have been in existence since the very beginning of the world wide web itself free, commercially available 'blogging software' of the type discussed in this article, seems to have made its first appearance in July of 1999 [4]. Because of the relative quickness and ease of publishing this type of software affords, the number of users has grown tremendously since then, and we can now observe blogs being used for personal, educational, journalistic, and commercial purposes. In the following section, I will introduce three possible ways that blogs could be put to immediate use with ESL classroom learning.

There are three types of blogs used for ESL teaching or learning: tutor blogs, class blogs, and learner blogs. Tutor blog is a type of weblog that is run by the tutor for the learners. It gives daily reading practice to the learners. Sometimes students find assigned reading material too boring, difficult, or hard to relate with. This is because it is often written with another purpose in mind. So who better to write to them than the person who knows them best: the teacher. Entries are kept short, geared towards the learner interest, and linked to related online sources for further reading if desired. Vocabulary used in class can be recycled this way. New vocabulary words can be linked to definitions on other sites found with a search engine. Furthermore, a casual, natural writing style can be used by the tutor to develop learner familiarity with native language patterns.

Another purpose of blogs is promotion of exploration of English websites. Any entry made by the tutor can and ought to encourage further exploration of the Internet in English by linking to related articles, and content based websites. For those learners reluctant to step outside the comfort of exploring the Web in their native language, being led to interesting English language sites will increase their confidence and help to overcome their aversion. Besides, it encourages online verbal exchange by use of comment buttons. At the bottom of each entry, any blog reader can make a comment that can be read and further commented on by all who access the site. Teachers can ask questions, give students riddles, challenge their views; whatever it takes to encourage them to comment. Moreover, it provides class or syllabus information. Entries in the

blog can also serve to remind students about homework assignments and upcoming discussion topics. Links can be provided to sites that introduce relevant topics of discussion. The tutor can also follow up on difficult areas of classroom work that might need review or clarification. In addition, a permanent link to the classroom syllabus and rules can be included on the blog. It serves as a resource of links for self-study. In the right and/or left margins of the blog, permanent links can be set-up and organized to aid the learner in selfstudy, for example links to online quizzes, English news sites, key-pal networks, audio and video files for listening practice and ESL interactive websites.

The learner blogs are blogs that are either run by individual learners themselves or by small collaborative groups of learners. In ESL, learner blogs may be best suited for reading and writing classes and self-study. A common reading assignment can be followed by blog postings on the thoughts of each learner or group of learners. Furthermore, the act of constructing the blog may encourage the use of search engines and net surfing in English to find the appropriate sites to which links can be made. This will empower the learner to direct the reader to sites of choice for further reading. Individually, blogs can be used as journals for writing practice, or as free-form templates for personal expression. The idea here is that students can get writing practice, develop a sense of ownership, and get experience with the practical, legal, and ethical issues of creating a hypertext document. In addition, whatever they write can instantly be read by anyone else and, due to the comment features of the software, further exchange of ideas is promoted. Tutors can even run a mega-blog of select topics of interest gleaned from student blogs so that the broader issues are brought into focus on a single website.

The class blog is a type of blog is the result of the collaborative effort of an entire class. In conversation-based classes it could be used like a free-form bulletin board for learners to post messages, images, and links related to classroom discussion topics. It could also be a space for them to post thoughts on a common theme assigned for homework. With intermediate and advanced learners, class blogs might also useful for facilitating project-based

language learning, where learners can be given the opportunity to develop research and writing skills by being asked to create an online resource for others. Class blogs could also be used as a virtual space for an international classroom language exchange. In this scenario, learners from different countries would have joint access and publishing rights to the blog. The entire exchange would then be transparent to all readers and could be followed and commented on by other learners, tutors, parents and friends. For reading and writing classes, it might also involve the use of knowledge management software, like Userland's Manila, that allows for a great deal of threaded discussion behind the scenes. Much like a publishing group, individual learners can be given varying amounts of responsibility to publish material arising from postings on the discussion list. The results of this effort are what is seen on a website by the public at large [6].

Blog software usually provides the possibility for comments and trackbacks, links back from other sites. In such a way a distributed, collective and interlinked blogosphere is created. While wikis are used for collaborative work, blogs are a personal form of publishing content. As far as the educational benefit is concerned a number of possible uses can be identified: promote critical and analytical thinking, promote creative, intuitive and associational thinking, provide potential for increased access, exposure to quality information, and to have combination of solitary and social interaction [4].

Abovementioned Web 2.0 technologies such as wikis, social networks, namely Facebook, and blogs assist to find the connection of gained in-class knowledge and their application through self-study by interaction and collaboration with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, information interexchange, project making, online reading and writing opportunities developing critical and analytical thinking, editing and commenting other students’ works and variety other functions that facilitate English learning, in contrast to websites where people are limited to the passive viewing of content.

 

REFERENCES

  1. Adie, C. (2006). Report of the information services working group on collaborative tools.
  2. Bergin, J. (2002). Teaching on the wiki web. Proceedings of the 7th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, ITICSE’02, Aarhus, Denmark: June 24-26, 195.
  3. Birch, D. & Volkov, M. (2007). Assessment of online reflections: Engaging English second language (ESL) students. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 23(3), 291-306.
  4. Blood, R. (2000). Weblogs: A history and perspective.
  5. Boulos, M.N.K., Maramba, I.& Wheeler, S. (2006). Wikis, blogs and podcasts: A new generation of Webbased tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education, BMC Medical Education, 6(41).
  6. Campbell, A. P. (2003). Weblogs for use with ESL classes. The Internet TESL Journal 9(2).
  7. Conroy, M. A. (2010). Internet tools for language learning: University students taking control of their writing. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(6), 861-882.
  8. Dearstyne, B. W. (2007). Blogs, mashups, & wikis: Oh, my! The Information Management Journal, July/August, 24-33.
  9. Duffy, P. & Bruns, A. (2006). The use of blogs, wikis and RSS in education: A conversation of possibilities. Proceedings of the Online Learning and Teaching Conference 2006, Brisbane: September 26.
  10. Facebook Press Room Statistics (2013), Retrieved January 16, 2014, from http://www.facebook.com/
  11. Fountain, R. (2005). Wiki pedagogy. Dossiers technopédagogiques.
  12. Guzdial, M.Rick, J., & Kehoe, C. (2001). Beyond adoption to invention: Teachercreated collaborative activities in higher education. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 10(3), 265-279.
Year: 2014
City: Oskemen
Category: Philosophy