Tuesday, June 21, 2011

WEEK 8: Social Networks, Communities of Practice, and Personal Learning Networks

1. Social network vs. Community of practice

First of all, I would like to say that I think social network or 2.0 platforms such as facebook, twitter, among many others are very important for our lives. We can be connected with everything with just clicking our mouse. Students love to know things as fast as possible and if they are learning interesting and updated information, they will acquire it even faster, for example, facebook.
In this session we discussed about social networks and community of practice. The former is a platform that allows a user to create a network, especially a social one, and you get connected with people who have similar ideas and purposes as yours. The latter is a group of people who join in a group because they have a common interest in a specific area. They share a common interest, for example, VenTESOL. I think that an Internet user can learn from both web pages. It just depends on what you look for.

Community of practice or COPs is very interesting because the people who are in these groups are really interested in sharing what they know to other people. They desire to interact regularly with others and teach them how to be better webhead, for instance. They encourage people to work with ICT in their personal and professional lives. We also discussed the word “lurker.” It is a member of a community who seems not to be interested in any discussions. S/he does not participate and this may happen for two reasons. First, this person is afraid of making mistakes in front of everybody. Second, this person has participated in previous editions and s/he just pop in and out from time to time to know what the discussion is about. They do not have time to attend all sessions.

2. What is a webhead?

A webhead is an expert using platforms 2.0 and 3.0. The first webhead experts using these platforms were called Webheads in Action (WIA). Webheads belong to a community and they feel like part of a family because they spend a lot of time to work together virtually. There are different communities where people can belong to and share their experience and knowledge. For example:


In this web page you can find all kinds of Venezuelan English teachers from different educational levels sharing their experience, questions and doubts.


Venelt was created in 2006. Avealmec was created in 2007. This web page was created by teachers from different universities in Venezuela. The members who belong here are interested in training other teachers and everything related to ICT.


This web page gather teachers form Venezuela and other countries in order to share experience about ELT and leaning English as a Foreign or Second language.

3. Personal Learning Network (PLN)

So far we have seen how to interact with other people using 2.0 platforms, but there are other ways to share information in a faster way. PLN is that way because 21st century teachers can learn, share experience and ask questions and doubts with/from other colleagues. You can be really connected with other people and this is important for your professional life, you can meet people from other parts of the world, you can find out high school or university projects, among many other things. How can you do that? You can do it create your personal space using 2.0 platforms such as facebook or twitter. For example, I created a group on facebook called: Learning more about ICT. This is a private group just for my classmates of my master program. There they can share their experience about the ICT course we are taking this term and they can also watch videos related to my students and comment their ideas, doubts and knowledge. I am the administrator of that group and they are the users.

Adenis Interviews Evelyn Izquierdo

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Monday, June 13, 2011

WEEK 7: Videos and other Useful Web Tools 2.0

WEEK 7. Videos and other useful Web 2.0 tools

It is a video free software where you can create and edit your own videos. Windows Movie Maker is almost always installed on the PC and it is really interactive and very easy to use. You can add pictures, mp3 music, background sounds and special effect among many things.

The activities that can be done with these tools are infinites in the English classroom. Students can prepare their own role plays, dramatization and even presentations using the window movie maker because they can add their own recording using mp3 files. Also, they can use it to make presentations about whatever topic (family, food, etc). They can even sing songs and record them in mp3 and put them on the movie maker with some pictures and some effects too.

1. www.pimpampum.net/phrasr: This web page is very interactive for students in order to get fun and learn at the same time. You need to write a phrase and click on start and it will appear an image for each letter you write. You can also have a gallery of pictures for each letter. After you do that, you write a title and your name and your own phrase with pictures will appear with your title and name at the end. Students can make their own presentations using this page and they can explain them in class using pictures. They can use their speaking, reading and writing skills.

2. www.storiesinflight.com: This web page is similar to the one mentioned before, but it is even better. You can write a short story and a picture for each letter will appear on the screen. But the letters you write will not disappear from the pictures as happens on pimpampum. The words will appear in the middle of each picture like a story. Students can improve their four skills with this page and they can tale their stories in front of the class or even in their blogs or wikis.

3. www.penzu.com: You can write whatever you want there. For example, notes, essays and even papers. You can have your e-paper there and send it to your teacher’s e-mail. I, personally,used penzu in another master course last year. I used to write my papers there and my students can also do it. It’s a good way to combine face to face homework with distance homework.

4. www.fonetiks.org: This is an on-line pronunciation dictionary which has nine varieties of the English language and nine other languages with pronunciation. It has pronunciation samples by over forty native speakers. This web page dictionary is very useful for students who always want to know the meaning of words and also the way they sound. I would use it in my class and I know my students will love it.

5. www.howjsay.com: It is a similar on-line dictionary with instant sounds like fonetiks. It is really easy to use and very helpful for the students in order to avoid mispronunciation.

6. www.googlebattle.com: This web page measures which of two terms has a higher Google rating by searching for term1 or term2 and then counting the hits of either in the returned top 100. For example, sex and abstinence.

WEEK 6: Podcasting - Voice tools and recorders

WEEK 6: Podcasting - Voice tools and recorders

Podcast: A podcast is a kind of digital web where users can record audio and upload videos. Users can also modify what they create in a podcast. They can include new audio and modify background sounds.

Podcast belong to web 2.0 platforms because the owner of the podcast (the web head) and the different users can interact and share information.

Podcasts are divided into audio recorders (audacity) and voice tools (voki, pad-beam com, voxpop, mp3 file hosting sites, chyrfit, among others).

Audacity: Audacity is an audio recorder web page that is very dynamic for the users. We can record voices using this page and we can also add sounds and special effects. This tool is perfect for teachers to make their blogs and wikis more interactive for their students. It is also a good option for students who like to sing and they want to record themselves and pretend to be singer stars. Audacity can be used in face to face projects and on-line projects too.

According to the audacity web page there have been some changes and improvement:

- Control Toolbar renamed to Transport Toolbar. Input/output selection moved from Mixer Toolbar to improved Device Toolbar (on by default).

- New "Sync-Lock Tracks" feature (turned on in the Tracks menu).

- Equalization now supports importing and exporting curves. Noise Removal improvements including new option to isolate noise.

- Improved Automatic Crash Recovery with all project changes autosaved.

- New "Extended Import" Preferences for specifying audio file importers.

- (Windows and Linux) Close button now quits on closing the last window while File > Close clears to a new, empty project.

With these improvements the interaction among students and teacher can be better and knowledge can be learned faster thanks to technology.

Skype: It is a very useful web tool because it combines writing, listening, reading, and speaking. You have a chat where you can write a lot of information there. You can listen to other participants using an earphone. You can upload and download a lot of material that you can read and you can use a microphone to talk to other people. Nowadays the educational field is in a holistic approach. The more teachers apply the four skills in their students, the better readers, listeners, writers and speakers they become. Sky is a good option for students at any level.

Voxopop: I love voxopop because the main idea of this page is to improve communication. We have to remember that nowadays we are working in a communicative approach where students are the principal characters in a class and the teachers or facilitators just guide him/her to the correct way to learn. One of the problems about learning English as a Foreign Language is that we don’t practice our English with other people, not even with native speakers. In order to practice our speaking skills we can use listening tasks when we can imitate real task situations and voxopop provides that kind of bridge to bring social real life situations. Vaxopop is used by teachers all over the world to improve speaking. Voxopop is like message boards, but use voice rather than text and a have a specialized user interface. No longer confined to a physical classroom, teachers and students of different skills can interact from home, or even from opposites sides of the planet.

UNIT 5: Wikis

UNIT 5: Wikis

According to Erben, Ban and Castañeda (2009), “A wiki is a collaborative website that many people can work on or edit. This idea was originally conceptualized by Ward Cunningham in 1994; he named it wiki, which is a term meaning quick in Hawaiian. The computer program allows users to access the original postings and add or change content.” As we can see in this definition wikis are very interactive websites. They have many pages and users can create almost whatever they want. They can download pictures, videos, gadgets, polls, among others things.

It is important to highlight that blogs and wikis are 2.0 pages, but wikis are more interactive than blogs because they identify the users. Wikis have are very personal because you are like a kind of owner when you have a wiki. You can leave comments and also edit information. Wikis are important because they are constantly updated too.

What is wiki for?

According to Richardson (2006), “Wikis promote student-centered teaching in that students themselves have control over what is written and what stays on the wiki pages.” So teachers can promote this approach to the students. If the idea is that students have the central attention inside or outside class and the teacher is just a facilitator, then, wikis can facilitate that and one advantage is that students are much attached with technology since they are very young. So they can learn that computers can be used for learning purposes. Some activities that students can do using wikis are: forum, discussion, social networks, workshops, on-line presentations, among others.

Teachers can also design course syllabus, course content, course projects, projects for kids, among others.

Why a wiki?

Wikis are important because they are free, friendly and allow many users at a time, reading is available to everybody, the language is simple, they are easy to manage (upload videos and pictures, write comments), improves interaction with people you already know or even people around the world, they facilitate group projects, they improve teacher-students and student-teacher interaction, etc. Focusing on the educational field, students are free to create and edit what they want. And this is the idea nowadays. Students must create a real environment in order to learn English as a foreign language.

Wikis in the Educational field

Both students and teachers can use wikis for their own benefits. In the case of teachers, materials are very easy to upload and manipulate. Teachers can modify, edit and add more elements to the material, picture, videos, etc they are using. It is also easy to assess students’ skill. You can assess them individually and there is no risk of cheating.

In the case of students, they can work in their their computers directly, personalize their wikis, and add the information they want follow the teachers’ instructions.


Erben, T, Ban R, Castañeda, M. (2009). Teaching English Language Learners through Technology. Routledge. New York and London. (133-134).

Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

WEEK 4: Blogs

WEEK 4: Blogs

1. What is a blog?

According to Erben, Ban and Castañeda (2009), “Blogs are web logs or journals, posted to a website where they can be seen by anyone. Unlike a wiki, they cannot be edited, unless the owner activates the “comment” feature inviting responses from lectors.” So a blog is a web page that works as a public personal journal that can be used for people or company. The main idea of a blog is to share information to users. Blogs are not very interactive. In the quote above, it is clearly stated that blogs can not be edited by the users. It can only be edited by the owner of the page. Blogs are normally organized in a chronological way.

Blogs are important because you can show and share information about a specific topic. For example, I have two blogs. One of them shows my curriculum vitae and the other one my personal information. People from different places in Venezuela and even from other countries can know about my personal experience, my professional work and my research projects through these web pages. They can also comment them and we may be in contact in that way.

2. Different Kinds of blogs

2.1. Tutor blog: It is run only by the teacher of a class. All the content and the syllabuses are focused on information about the course, homework, assignment, lesson plans and extra activities, among others. In the tutor blog the teacher can add her/his personal information, reflections and work experience. The idea of this kind of blog is to stimulate language on-line and then to have discussion in-class about what they learn with the blog. It must be highlighted that tutor blog is about what the teacher wants to do with her/his course. That is to say, that this kind of blog is not interactive.

2.2. Class blog: This kind of blog is more interactive than tutor blogs because students and teachers are considered participants in that web page. They have collaborative discussions using the blog. It can be an extra-curricular extension of the classroom for the students because they can play, interact and modify a lot of things. They are like owners of the web page and they can not only receive information, but also add it. Some restrictions may be put by the owner about what kind of information they can upload in the blog. According to Erben, Ban and Castañeda (2009), “After drafting, editing, and peer-reviewing, groups present their findings on the class blog site. They can upload the pictures, video files, or audio files they have found. However, be cautious about copyright issues. If students are using their own family pictures, ask for parental approval.”

2.3. The Learner Blog: This kind of blog requires more time and effort from the teachers to run, but it is very rewarding for both the students and the teacher because you can record what you taught every day including homework and assignments that students must do. This is very beneficial for students because they can know exactly what to do (specially if they miss a class). And the teacher can use the blog as a course plan and the blog becomes a good summary of the course.

3. Other Educational Blogs used in ELT

Here we have some educational blogs that can improve classes:

1. www.livejournal.com: Live journal is a social media where people can interact with other people by offering a customizable journal. Here you can publish yourself as a community.

2. http://wordpress.com: Wordpress is a blog where you can start a blog in seconds without any technical knowledge and you can write your personal information, experience, and work there. You can evern write your own e-portfolio.

3. http://blogsome.com: This is another web page where you can create a blog.

4. http://spaces.msn.com: It is a collection of Internet sites and services provided by Microsoft. It is very used for internet users nowadays. It is specially useful for students and workers in order to be updated with their personal obligations.

5. http://360.yahoo.com: It is a web page similar to msn.

6. http://blog.ning.com: Another web page to create social websites.

4. Why blogging?

Blogging is a good way to write and share experiences comments and ideas about a specific topic. Blogging is important for educational purposes because it provides students extra reading practice outside classes. They not only practice their reading skill, but also writing and they do not even realize that. I have asked my students at The CVA if they read in their free time and they normally answer no. But when I asked them, “don’t you use web pages such as facebook or twitter?” They answer, “Oh well in that way yes I read and write a lot then.” So in that way they have fun and learn at the same time.

Blogging can be very useful because you can write on-line portfolios and this is really important because you can create a global link and people around the world can know who you are and what kind or research you are doing.


Erben, T, Ban R, Castañeda, M. (2009). Teaching English Language Learners through Technology. Routledge. New York and London. (136, 137).

WEEK 3: Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0

WEEK 3: Web 1.0, web 2.0, web 3.0.

A. Web 1.0

It is the first on line work that was formally used in companies in order to show information about them. It was based on HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol). It was created for business. Nowadays, it is still useful for some organizations (just for information purposes). One of the main characteristics that does not make web 1.0 friendly for the users is that there is no interaction between the owner of the page and the surfers or among the owner, the surfer contributors and the surfer. The user just clicks bottoms and find out information by her/him own.

Web 2.0

According to Wikipedia (2009) “The term Web 2.0 is associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web.” It is the improvement of web 1.0, specially, because it facilitates communication. It is also known as social network. Web 2.0 is a dynamic web page that has taken into considerations the ideas and feedback of the surfer. That is why users are able to interact with the owner of the web site and also with the surfer contributors. Surfers have two functions now: first, they can use the web page (receive information). Second, they can also add information. They are like a kind of owner of the web side. Common web 2.0 web pages are: facebook, badoo, twitter, among many others.

Web 3.0

If web 2.0 is dynamic, then web 3.0 is even more dynamic because you can be in virtual worlds. It is also known as semantic web. Communication is facilitated by an avatar (a digital character that represents you in the virtual world. Avatars can be people, animals, plants, etc) and you can simulate real life environments. In web 3.0 you can be creative and you can let your imagination fly. One of the most common webs 3.0 that is used nowadays for educational purposes is Second Life.

Web 4.0

The technological development of web 3.0 generates web 4.0. Researchers expect that A.I (artificial intelligence) can be a real thing and not just a science fiction idea. They expect to have on-line agents which think, speak and communicate like human beings do.

WEEK 2: E-learning, definition and classification: Distance learning, online learning, blended learning. Current situation of ICT in TEFL

WEEK 2: E-learning, definition and classification: Distance learning, online learning, blended learning. Current situation of ICT in TEFL

A. E-learning

According to Naidu (2006), “E-learning is commonly referred to the intentional use of networked information and communications technology in teaching and learning. A number of other terms are also used to describe this mode of teaching and learning. They include online learning, virtual learning, distributed learning, network and webbased learning.” In other words, E-learning is using any kind of electronic device to learn something. So you can learn from any kind of device. The good thing about e-learning is that you do not need internet connection to learn. For example, you can use your computer without internet connection and you can learn using programs and encyclopedias that are already installed in your desktop or laptop. E-learning is marvelous because it can be used either inside or outside classes, so you can learn new things everywhere.

E-learning is really important in education. According to the communicative approach it is really important that students learn in real contexts. Learning takes places through conversations and real interaction among people. That is why nowadays e-learning focuses on social software such as wikis, glogsters and Second Life web tools.

B. Distance education

According to Willems (2005), “It aimed to allow distance learners, who were generally adult learners in full or part-time employment to be able to study at a time, place, and pace that suited their convenience. The goal of distance education was to free these learners from the constraints of conventional residential educational settings.” As it was said by Willems we combine teaching methods with technology in distance education. That’s what teachers in all over the world have been doing for a long time. Distance education has its advantages. For example, there is no need of a classroom, you have all the tools that you need on the web (you just need a computer and Internet connection), you can study and work at home, you can learn and interact with people from all over the world. Disadvantages are: if you don’t have a computer or good Internet connection, that can be a very big problem, there is not face to face contact with the teacher and the classmates, if you interact with people all over the world, timing may be complicated.

C. On- line classes

You use technology to learn something new for academic purposes. It is very important to have Internet connection on on-line classes. Nowadays on-line classes are common in academies and even in English courses because these places want their students to learn English in

D. Blended learning

It is the combination of all the terms discussed above. It is my personal opinion to say that teachers and students must be connected with blended learning. Students and technology are already connected because they are native generations (they know how to use a computer when they are very young) and we, teachers, are immigrants generations (we just manage the old technology, but we want to learn more new things). So if teachers are always behind students in the matter of technology, we should work about it and prepare ourselves to be better webheads. I have tried to use technology in my classes, but I think to know more about it, especially for academic purposes.


Naidu, S (2006), E-learning, a guidebook of principles, procedures and practices. The university of Melbourne. Australia.

Willems, J. (2005). Flexible learning:Implications of “when-ever”, “where-ever” and “what-ever”. Distance 429-435.


A. Do you use ICT with your students?

Yes, I do. But I only use basic tools such as CD player, CDs, and video beams. I use smart boards at the CVA (downtown) and I try to use my own laptop for extra activities in class.

B. How often?

I use them almost every class.

C. What do you do in the technological area?

At the CVA I can create games and activities using the smart board. When teaching incompany, I just create extra activities invented by my own with the CD, CD player and my laptop.

D. How would you describe your local context?

My three jobs can have access to technology. CVA and Maritime University of the Caribbean have more access than Effective English Company. Students at the CVA and Maritime University of the Caribbean have more contact with technology because they interact directly with it using web pages and laboratories.

I have three jobs, so I must decide for only one place. I am going to focus my research at The Maritime University of the Caribbean. This university has several systems. For example, they have a platform called “SAID” (Sistema de Aprendizaje a Distancia) and “CAMPUS.” The former is a platform used to teach on line classes to students. The latter is a system which has many administrative functions: grades and assistance records are uploaded by the teachers there. Maritime University has also three OPSU rooms for the students and teachers. They can connect on the Internet for free. They also have a Multimedia room that is a special laboratory only used for the “Coodinación de Ciencias Aplicadas” (This room is more restricted than the OPSU rooms).

Students have Internet connection at the Maritime University. The university already mentioned has broad band connection. This connection has some limitations. For example, students cannot access at any social network pages such as facebook, badoo, etc. This prohibition was created to avoid students visiting non-academic web pages. They cannot use chat rooms such as msn either.

SAID can only be used to TSU students and students of “velero” course because they do not have face to face English classes (velero course is a special course taken by maritime engineering students in order to pass to the first semester). Teachers can use SAID if they do a “diplomado” in distance education that is given at the Maritime University.

E. What's the sudents' performance using TIC?

Engineering students know some basic infomation about technology. They know how to use computers, laptop and they know how to use internet for academic and pleasure purpose. They also know how to use 2.0 platforms very well. Platforms such as facebook, twitter, badoo, among others.

WEEK 1: Digital literacy

WEEK 1: Digital literacy

According to Alkalai (2004), "Digital Literacy involves more than the mere ability to use software of complex cognitive motor, sociological, and emotional skills, which users need in order to function effectively in digital environment." What Alkalai means to say in this quote is that Internet users must educate themselves in order to use any kind of web tools in a proper way. Web tools are not just tools for entertainment or fun. They can be very helpful in our daily jobs if we learn to use them in an effective way. For that, it is important to know every detail about them.
How can we know every detail about web tools? How do we learn to use them appropriately? First of all, it is necessary to be opened to learn new things and not get scared with technology. Technology is almost always showed to us in a friendly way that helps us to get things done faster and betters, that is to say, work more efficiently. Second, it is also important to have the necessary equipment and the time to use any web tools. It is going to be very difficult to know how to use, for example, glogs and wikis if we do not have access to a good computer and fast Internet connection.

Moreover, technology has affected education in many ways. It is very common to see students who are more connected with technology (native generation) than the same teachers (immigrants generation). Normally, teachers use technology in class. Some of them use the basic ones such as a CD player, CD and video beams. And others use more advanced tools such as smart boards, laptops with Internet connection, etc. I think that the most important thing is to avoid getting divorced with technology. If we get divorced with them, we may also get divorced from our students. The main goal about digital literacy is to get connected to technology and learn more and more about it.


Alkalai, E (2004). Digital Literacy: A Conceptual Framework for Survival Skills in the Digital Era. Journal Article.