Friday, July 22, 2011
I liked the ICT in TEFL course. I learned a lot and I know that I am going to use this knowledge for my personal, academic and professional life. All the information I learned was very fruitful, but I also had to work a lot and suffered a lot to achieve the objectives of each class. I have noticed that being literate in ICT is a slow and hard process. It is time consuming working with all these 2.0 and 3.0 platforms and that is something we need to have in mind if we want to continue working or improving our skills in the ICT world.
I tried to do my best and so did my classmates. We have worked really hard to create what we have created. We sacrificed hours of sleep and other personal activities for this course and for that reason I think we have already passed it. I have learned a lot of things related to ICT. I have used and observed many interesting web 2.0 platforms and I am going to use them for my classes. I got fascinated by Second Life (3.0 platform) because it is a way where I can have fun and learn at the same time. I love blogs and wikis because people from all over the world can know who I am. I have tried to use these tools in my different workplaces and it has been a wonderful experience.
I have to confess that at the beginning of the ICT course my knowledge about technology was little. I did not even know how to create a group on FaceBook. But now at the end of the course I can do much more than creating a group in that social network. I am really proud to say that every day I am becoming the web head that I want to be.
I want to thank Professor Evelyn Izquierdo for all her help and patience during this course. She helped me a lot clarifying my doubts especially at night hours. Thanks for being a helping hand Evelyn. ;)
My final project is related to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). The main idea of it is to improve reading and writing skills in the students of Administration English III at the Maritime University of the Caribbean. It has been observed during the course and in their exams that these students have severe weaknesses at the moment of reading and writing texts related to their careers. The way to face this problem is to teach them some techniques to improve these two skills.
Administration students are experts using some 2.0 platforms. They use them almost every day, but most of the time for entertainment or fun. The social networks used to surf are: Face Book, YouTube, Badoo, Twitter, Mns, Skype, among others. For this reason, it has been designed a course wiki for them to improve reading and writing. This wiki is the web site which connects the teacher and the student. But not only that, it also connects face to face classes with distance classes because the wiki has exercises for the students and they have to do them at home and bring them in class to be checked by the teacher.
There are also some artifacts designed by the teacher for the students to improve the skills already mentioned. The wiki is one of them. The second one is my own voice recorded on Audacity, put it on Window Movie Maker and uploaded on YouTube. The second artifact is a combination of three 2.0 platforms (Audacity, Windows Movie Maker and YouTube). The reason of combining these platforms was to create an authentic material because that is the idea of the communicative approach being used at The Maritime University of the Caribbean. The main goal for the students to improve reading and writing is using real task situations through these artifacts. Students must create a video like the one the teacher made for them. There is going to be some training for them in order to use these tools. However, they already know how to interact and use wikis and YouTube. The training will be focused on Audacity and Windows Movie Maker that are two platforms very easy to manage and control.
This project is going to be applied for next semester (term 2011-II, from October to February). It is expected to last three weeks. At that time students will read and do all the exercises in the wiki. They will bring the exercises to their face to face classes. They will be given the appropriate training for some of the artifacts and they will show it to their other classmates in class. The video that they have to make will have a formative evaluation.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
1. Web-Based Lessons and E-Portfolio
A web based lesson is a common lesson plan that you have to design for your students in order to show them how and when they are going to be evaluated. Also, the scoring, the date and the objectives are reflected there. The only difference with tangible lessons is that web based lessons are completely digital or they can be a combination of traditional lesson plans with some online components.
2. Advantages of Web based lesson plans
A. A web-based lesson plan can be more dynamic and interactive than a traditional lesson plan because you can add it all the functions and tools that web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 can offer the user.
B. It also develops creativity in students. They love to work using programs, so they will feel motivated to do good works.
C. It also promotes critical thinking. They have to do research about a topic and then, on the Internet, they will compare their ideas with their partners. They have to check different authors too. They will find out that not all the information found on the Internet is good.
D. It promotes digital skills development. Nowadays young students are really good at using the Internet. They are called the native generation. But normally their ICT knowledge is related to social life and entertainment. With web-based lessons they can have knowledge of ICT focusing on educational purposes.
E. It improves teacher-student and student-students interaction. Some people say that technology creates a gap among people because they interact in a distant way. They don’t have physical contact and they can not show their real feeling. Sometimes they pretend to be a person they are not, for instance on Second Life (SL). That may be true, but technology also gets the two main participants in a classroom (student and teacher) get together. Students interact more efficiently in distance classes than in face to face classes because they do not feel intimidated with anyone or they know they have a lot of online resources available where they can get information in a faster and easier way.
F. It promotes collaboration. On the Internet students must work in group almost all the time. You can work individually, but there are some many platforms where you are frequently going to need help from others. Beginners are the one who need most of the help because they do not know what to do and they need a guide who leads the way.
G. You can use games in these lessons and this is something that students will be fascinated. That is what they like. That is the way they learn and share information with others. That is the way they make groups and interact with others. Believe it or not, they can improve their four skills using games on the Internet.
3. What does a web based lesson plan include?
This chart was taken from the class of web-based lesson plan of Professor Evelyn Izquierdo. As we can see in the chart above, we have to fill out the following information. It is the same thing that we do in a tangible lesson plan. The only difference is that you have different 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 platforms in it.
What are portfolios and e-portfolios?
A portfolio is a way to keep all your papers or research papers in a well-organized way where you can see the progress of your work from bottom to top (the bottom papers are the oldest and the top are the newest). That is the main purpose of traditional portfolio and e-portfolio. One of the advantages of the e-portfolio is that this information is always going to be presented in a neat way. Paper can get destroyed or damaged. I really like portfolio. I have made some traditional portfolios and just only one e-portfolio and I think it is a good way to keep your work and also to let your work known by others. E-portfolio is good for:
1. Integrating ICT into the traditional face to face classroom. Students can show what they do through an e-portfolio.
2. Developing tech skills. Students must write and read information first in order to add their personal information in their e-portfolio. They have to learn what a wiki is and all the tools that a wiki can have.
3. Promoting and developing group work. Students can create grupal e-portfolio.
What is the purpose of the e-portfolio?
It is important to clarify what your portfolio is about. The goals, objectives of your e-portfolio are also important topics to mention. It is said that reflections are the heart of a portfolio and it is true. That is the idea of it because in that way we know how much we are learning and we can also appreciate how we improve.
My Web-Based Lesson Plan
As it was mentioned before, a lesson plan must include different aspects in order to have a good class. That is to say, we need to know how our classes are going to be developed and in that way we can avoid improvisations. Also students can know what aspects of English they are going to study and being evaluated. My lesson plan contains:
Teacher: Adenis Raga
Class/Level: Administration students / English III / 25 students
Topic: Improving reading and writing through ICT for the students of Administration English III at The Maritime University of the Caribbean.
Aim: students will improve their reading and writing skills, especially, for ESP texts.
-To improve reading and writing through ICT for the students of English III of Administration at the Maritime University of the Caribbean. (UMC).
- To teach reading strategies through some web 2.0 platforms for the students of English III of Administration at The Maritime University of The MUC.
- To teach writing strategies through some web 2.0 platforms for the students of English III of Administration at The Maritime University of The MUC.
Materials: Computer, internet connection (wideband) and headsets.
Description of the activities: students will be asked to access Internet in order to visit the wiki called improvingskills at home. There, they have to read the information related to reading and writing, watch the videos, do the exercises and follow the instructions assigned per week. They have to bring the exercises to their face to face classes.
Name of web side number 1: http://improvingskills.pbworks.com
Rationale for this site 1: There are two reasons why I chose to work with PB works. First, it is easy to use and students are familiarized with this web 2.0 platform. Second, this web site is my course wiki called improvingskills. This course wiki is going to be used by my students of Administration, English III at the Maritime University of the Caribbean and they will enjoy all the benefits of a wiki. They can be users and also participants. The can watch videos and do exercises and the most important is that they can be in contact with technology related to education and English inside and outside classes.
Name of web side number 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAkXTQty8-Q
Rationale for this site 2: I chose you tube for many reasons. First, students love YouTube. They always use them to watch commercial videos, singers, programs among many others Medias. That is why they know how to use this web site. Most of them already have a YouTube account. Second, I integrated the recorder audacity with the windows movie maker in order to create an authentic material for students to improve reading and writing inside and outside classes.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
3D VIRTUAL WORLD
According to wikipedia (2009), "A virtual world is an online community that often takes the form of a computer-base simulated environment through which users can interact with one another and use and create objects. The term has become largely synonymous with interactive 3D virtual environments, where the users take the form of avatars visible to others." That means that a lot of people can interact at the same time. The benefits of web 1.0 and 2.0 can been used in these virtual worlds because they are 3.0 platforms. The idea of these virtual worlds is to make a realistic scenario where people can communicate, share their ideas and be whatever they want to be. There are a lot of virtual world, but the most common is Second Life (SL).
SECOND LIFE (SL)
It is a virtual world where you can do almost everything. You can fly, walk, run, speak and write to other people, create objects, teletransport, among many other things. In SL you are not just an user, you are an active participant in a virtual world. That is what makes 3.0 platform so special and attractive to people.
It is very easy to use SL. It was developed by Linden Lab and they created this 3-D virtual world because Philip Rosedale, known as Philip Linden got inspired by a novel called Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. According to wikipedia (2009), a commercial called The Ring "changed into the software application Linden World, in which people participated in task-based games and socializing in a three-dimensional online environment. That effort would eventually transform into the better known, user-centered Second Life. Although he was familiar with the metaverse of Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash, Rosedale has said that his vision of virtual worlds predates that book..."
The main idea of Second Life is to interact with other people in another different world. As it is named, you have a second life (your first one is your real one). It is a second opportunity to live other things, to share ideas and knowledge with other people. You can interact on SL using an avatar (a virtual character) that is also called resident. Most people make their avatars look like they are in their real life. Others make a total different avatar who does not have any similarity to her/him. It is not mandatory to have a male Avatar if you are a man or a female Avatar if you are a woman. You can also wear costumes or be naked among many other things.
LANGUAGE, TIME AND COMMERCIAL PURPOSES
The official language in SL is English and the official time is the one from The United States (California time zone). Even though, you can change the time if you want. It can be day or night if you wish. Everybody must speak English and write in English on SL. However, if they are in a group, or in a conference in another country, they can speak in their mother tongue. Other people can participate, but the only thing is that everybody must respect each other. It is a virtual world, but it is a world and people (even though they are virtual) interact there, so there are certain rules that must be followed, for example, it would be considered impolite to write in capital letters because that means you are yelling. If you are going to interact with other avatars, you have to talk to them politely. It is considered impolite to push other avatars.
Almost everything is free in SL. The money used there is called Linden Dollar that cost almost the same as an American dollar. You can get Linden dollars dancing, selling your own objects, attending meetings, etc. You can use real money in order to buy lands. You can use your credit card to convert real dollars to Linden dollars.
What are Prims?
Everything created on SL, even your Avatar, is made of prims. Prims are geometrical shapes that can be shaped depending on your necessity. You can give your prims specific animations through a code called “script.” This script can not only be adapted to your objects, but also to your avatars. Islands or places are also made of prints. There are some places that are restricted because a person has bought them or has created something there with prims and the owner does not allow everybody to enter to that place.
So far we have been discussing the funny, amazing, curious and entertaining aspects of SL, but it also has educational purposes. For example:
* Students can interact with other people from other parts of the world. This is fantastic for students who are learning English as a foreign language because they will have the opportunity to talk or write with native speakers.
* You can practice and improve your four skills with SL. You do not need to be in your classroom with your book, workbook and pencil. You just have to be an adventurer and be prepared to share with other people.
* You can meet famous people that will be difficult to meet in real life. That is an excellent opportunity for all the users on SL.
It is important for teachers to have in mind that Second Life is a virtual world where students can get exhausted easily, so the three steps that every class must have: warm up, body of the class, and wrap up must be done in an efficient way. Everything must be prepared in advanced and students must do what the teacher has already planned in order to fulfill the objectives or tasks of the class. We must avoid improvisations either in face to face classes or virtual classes.
Personal Opinion about SL
I used to think that SL was just another virtual world where you can just get fun and meet a lot of people, but now I have noticed that you can really learn a lot of things in this new world, especially, for educational purposes. You can do almost everything being an Avatar and if you are very well trained, you can do wonderful things. Sometimes it is difficult to assess and evaluate the four skills and the sub-skills in real class, but on SL it is so easy to do it and you can have fun at the same time. I love SL! I have an avatar on SL. It is called raskolnikoff1984. This is him:
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
According to wikipedia (2009) A learning environment "is a public or private destination on the Internet that addresses the learning needs of its members by facilitating peer-to-peer learning. Through social networking and computer-mediated communication, people work as a community to achieve a shared learning objective." That is to say, VLE is a designed information space that can be used for many different purposes, for example, educational web sites where students can be users and also administrators. The good thing about this is that students can co-construct their own educational space. They can have classroom activities, they can stimulate face to face classes with extra activities, and above all, they go beyond normal classes. A 3.0 platform that can wok as a VLE would be second life. Students’ attitude and achievement will change rapidly learning in these kinds of 3-d platforms. There are different VLE platforms. For example:
Alado Virtual Room
This virtual room offers different options. For example, you have chats where you can have discussions in groups. There are some rules at the moment of writing for these kinds of chat rooms. For example, you can write in capital letter because that means you are yelling. If you have a question, you have to write a question mark (?). If you want to speak using the microphone, you have to write mic. If you are writing and you haven’t finished, you have to write dots (…). You can also have forums; you can upload documents, videos and pictures. The best thing about these virtual rooms is that you can interact with your students in many ways. You can improve the four skills in that way.
This is another virtual classroom. You can have different rooms opened at the same time. It is very easy to use this room and the best thing is that you have many tools where you can create an interactive class. One of the problems of Illuminate is that you should not have more than six cams on. If you do, the platform gets really slowly. But you can use more cams that other virtual rooms.
As Illuminate, you can have different courses opened using this platform. Moodle is another educational site. It stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. It has been pedagogically designed for social on-line classes. It is completely free; you can be inside a learning community; you can share experience and learn about e-learning, teaching style, among many other things.
It is also a based educational platform created by teachers. It is very friendly and easy to use. I have used wiziq many times as a student and just once as a presenter. I made a presentation about mixed ability classes to my classmates and my teacher in the first semester on my master. The experience was really good because it was the first time I made a presentation on a virtual room.
My Personal Experience in my Wiziq Class
I had to make a 30 minutes presentation about my final project for the course Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) taken at The Universidad Pedagogica Experimental Libertador. The main topic of my project was to improve reading and writing skills for the students of Administration English III at The Maritime University of the Caribbean.
The experience on wiziq was excellent. I felt really good making my presentation in that virtual room. I have done it before and it was really good to do it again. I tried to make my online class as productive and interactive as possible, that is why, I interacted with the audience using the chat room and the microphone.
I thought I was going to be asked questions, but the audience just congratulated me at the end of my class. Wiziq is a really amazing web 2.0 platform in order to teach distance classes. You can really interact with the audience and you can improve the four skills in this virtual room. I hope I can continue teaching classes on wiziq and I also hope I can teach others to use it.