Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Students and teachers 2.0

In “the last few years the World Wide Web has changed dramatically both in the way it looks and in the way that people expect to use it” (Learning technologies, Module 11). The Web 2.0 is a powerful technology to be used with our students, it gives more motivating and useful language learning activities, the opportunity to interact and collaborate with other peers and to generate new content. Social networking sites, wikis, blogs, video sharing sites, web applications are examples of Web 2.0.
This change needs a change in the way we teach. We know that our students are not the same as many years ago, they definitely are students 2.0, a new generation of learners, they are digital natives. They learn from experience, interacting with others, taking part in collaborative projects. Some young teachers are also digital natives, but the challenge is for those, as me, who are trying to manage all these new tools that can benefit our teaching situation, and, a more difficult goal, to achieve changes at the schools where we work and become teachers 2.0 too.

Communication in a Global World

“There has never been a time when so many nations were needing to talk to each other so much. There has never been a time when so many people wished to travel to so many places… And never has there been a more urgent need for a global language” (Crystal, 2003, p. 14)
School links projects are the first step to become global citizens. They involve schools in different cities and countries. Students can benefit from them learning from authentic resources, showing their work, understanding other cultures, sharing ideas and learning from peers. Teachers can also benefit from these projects motivating their students to participate, collaborating with and learning from colleges, and developing themselves professionally.
To plan a successful project, it is important to take into account some recommendations as to have a clear topic and objectives, the need of an international relevance, that last two or three weeks and students’ knowledge with the applications to be used.
Tools like eLanguages, and epals are available to any school in the world. They offer teachers the opportunity to share authentic resources and suggest appropriated projects to use in their schools. Facebook, Skype, and Wikis are also useful sites to consider when doing this kind of projects. They are useful tools to improve our students’ skills giving them exposure and practice to the English language.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Digital and technological generation. How lucky we are!

Doing modules 8 and 9, I remembered my days as a student. The time and paper wasted in front of a type writer because I forgot to write a paragraph or to leave a space to draw a picture, my teachers’ presentations on cards or transparencies projected on the wall, and all the time writing on the blackboard and on our notebooks.
How lucky we are! We are using computers and other technological devices that help us to do our work in a better and faster way. We have many tools to use in the classroom that can engage and motivate our students to participate in the suggested activities. Nowadays, using traditional tools, students can be actively engage in whole class activities for short periods of time because they feel bored, they are very different from XX century students. Using office applications for whole-class teaching or in a computer room, are two ways to update our teaching work and to do what they like to do: using technology. Which one is better, it depends on our objectives and the availability of the devices. Both need training and an appropriate and accurate plan to follow.
I am lucky to be part of this course too. During the development of the course units and activities, many ideas have come to my mind, many others from my mates and from the course itself. I need to assimilate all the new information but I know I will put into practice all what I learned very soon.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Keeping our children safe on the web

There is not doubt, our world works supported by technology. Everything we do is related to the use of technological devices. As many other things of our lives, there are advantages and disadvantages around the use or not of these devices. What we need to consider is to minimize the possible problems that can arise.
The information from this unit doesn’t affect how I view the Web 2.0 but it makes me aware about a series of issues to take into account when using Internet in the classroom, especially with young learners.
All what I have learned from this unit is very important and one way to pass the information to parents and children is planning several meetings and workshops to present and discuss the topic.
In the classroom, a set of rules can be presented and discussed, and then, post in a visible area to remember constantly.

The Culture of the Photocopy

I didn't know in detail all about copyright conditions when using materials on the web. Now, I know and I will take into consideration what I learned in this unit every time I will use them.
In Venezuela, people don’t care about copyright issues, it is not a problem at all. It is very difficult to change this conception when people are not aware that they are breaking the law. I could enumerate the reasons of this “free use” of any kind of materials without taking into account the implications involve, but there is not an excuse to be exempted from a legal action.
In my school, teachers usually write the name of the source from where they have taken the materials using in class. But students, not only copy and paste every thing they find, they also want to photocopy and print everything they need. This situation turned too strong that now, they can copy or print with the permission of the respective coordinators or teachers. This is an example of what I called “the culture of photocopy”, but I mean photocopy, print, burn, download, etc.
In conclusion, we have another responsibility as teachers: to prepare and train our students to be aware of copyright issues and take care to what we and our students do in the classroom.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The importance of searching skills

The best way to find appropriate materials on the web is using some techniques to evaluate them. The ability to search quickly and efficiently the right websites is the most useful skill teachers and students can learn. This unit helps us, as teachers, to be successful in making practical use of search engine, in distinguishing between their different types, and in knowing all about using internet in research projects.
There are many things to consider and many aspects to take into account when we want to use the web in the classroom. The first step is to plan the lesson carefully, setting up the goals and the types of activities we want to develop with our students, and then we can start searching for the appropriate web.
I feel that to acquire all the searching skills needed is a matter of practice and with the proper use of all the tools and techniques presented in the units, I will acquire and use them successfully.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The benefit of integrating the web

As I said in previous comments and/or reflections, I have never used the web during my class work because I don’t have a computer in the classroom. I know the school, where I work, has the purpose of improving the English teaching process and after this unit, I have the proposal to support the using of computers in the English classroom.
During the development of this unit, I have been thinking about a great variety of things and activities to do with my students if I integrate websites in the classroom work. Each content from the syllabus would benefit from this and students could practice the four skills, of course, with a conscious and careful selection of the websites.
My students usually use Facebook in their free time, I think I could exploit this used, adding educational links related to the syllabus contents in order to practice vocabulary and structures while they play. Creating a blog to follow outside the classroom is another idea to put into practice.

The importance of evaluating and selecting websites

I had never thought the importance of knowing how web addresses are formed and how relevant is evaluating websites taking into account a set of criteria before we use the web as part of our classroom work. I don’t have a computer in my classroom but I ask my students to look for information at home about a topic previously assigned. Now, I realize how dangerous and waste of time it could be assigning research without evaluating and selecting websites.
Teachers must plan the lesson first and according to the aim of the lesson, they start looking for websites (applying the criteria studied) that are suitable for supporting the learning process.
All the information given in this unit was useful to understand the importance of evaluating and selecting websites, especially to teachers who are beginners using technology in their classrooms.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Netiquette: "Behaving properly online"

Sometimes we make a mistake because we don't know the rules to follow in certain places. I didn´t know all what I learned in this unit. There is a lot of information that can help me to be a good cyberspace traveler. Simple rules, like remember the human, be ethical, respect other people's time and privacy, etc., are also part of our real life. Others, as do not send spam. obey copyright laws, don´t forward e-mail messages you receive without permission, etc., are more related to cyberspace. But both give us the the total set of rules to behave properly on line. From now on, I am going to take into account all of the rules, checking them if it is necessary.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A digital immigrant

I have come late to the world of technology but I have had a possitive attitude towards the use of it in the classroom. I know I need too much preparation and training but I am doing my best!