Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Coping with Emerging Technologies

The best way teachers can cope with emerging technologies and keep up-to-date is by becoming familiar with them and by being reflective about the different uses they can give to them in and outside the classroom. Also, by talking to students and sharing experiences and ideas about the uses they give to mobile technology to see which educational implications they may have.

In the same vein, Prensky (2005) invites us to reflect on our present students as the ones who will be designing technology in the future. He wonders on the purpose of hindering them from using technology in order to learn new things in the classroom. I consider that this is a reflection all of us educators should have sooner than later.

For example, modern mobile phones are pocket computers that allow users to perform diverse tasks that can be used for educational purposes. For instance, students can have access to internet, videos, images and download dictionaries; all of them useful for language learning. About this, Shuler (2009) states that “Mobile devices allow students to transcend the barriers imposed by a classroom’s four walls”.

Additionally, Shuler states that mobile phones are an easy way to reach almost every child even the most “socio-economic disadvantaged” ones. This is because mobile technology is available “anywhere, anytime”. Most of homes in the world have access to mobile technology nowadays. Hence, teachers should make a better use of these devices for educational purposes.

Other emergent technologies such as digital cameras, Wikipedia, Blogging and instant messaging could be useful tools in the classroom if teachers designed lessons requiring their use. For example, teachers could implement a webquest -in the classroom - to find relevant information on a topic, or they could have students prepare a digital presentation with photos and animations, etc. Students are more familiar with these technologies than teachers, so why not getting to agreements with them about possible uses in the classroom?
In sum, emergent technologies “are here to stay”; they are the future in every field, including education. Keeping students away from them in the classroom creates an unrealistic context for them. The challenge for educators is to integrate more and more technologies so as to cope with the changing world.


BECTA (2007) Emerging technologies. Retrieved from

Prensky, Marc (2005) Mobile Phone imagination. Retrieved from

Prensky, Marc (2004) What can you learn from a cell phone? Retrieved from

Shuler, C. (2009). Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technologies to
Promote Children’s Learning, New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Retrieved from

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Digital Game Based for language learning

Since early childhood, games are the best way children learn to adapt to their environment, to establish relationships, to find their roles in family and society. Past generations used to play games that were not related to technology, but the “digital native” generation has had that opportunity. They have grown surrounded by technology; they are natural experts in dealing with technological tools. Therefore, education should integrate those abilities so that they do not get involved in unrealistic learning contexts.

About this important issue, Prensky (2009) affirms that current learners have changed drastically and that they need different kinds of motivational strategies from the ones used in the past when technology was not around. Our present learners have spent a lot of time of their lives sitting in front of a computer or console playing games and therefore dealing with technology, sometimes even more than educators have. As a result, educational programs should involve digital games to catch their attention in a more meaningful and contextualized manner.

Digital games characteristics such as immediate feedback and outcomes which turn into learning, enjoyment, pleasure, creativity in problem solving, etc., make them the ideal strategy to engage students in actual learning. Thus, people involved in education should consider making digital games part of the curriculum, given that current educational programs have been designed for students with different characteristics from the ones we have at the moment (Idem).

In my personal setting working with young learners, games are an essential component of my lesson plans. However, I should integrate more technology so as to make them more appealing and meaningful to my students.


Prensky, Marc (2001) Why Games Engage US. Retrieved from
Prensky, Mark. (2009). Digital Game-Based Learning, Paragon House.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Communities of practice video-Etienne Wenger

Reflection on Communities of Practice

“Communities of Practice” (CoP) is an interesting concept that makes you reflect on all the possibilities that nowadays exist to grow professionally and to assist our learners in refining and improving their language learning process.

Language teachers could join a CoP to obtain information about a particular focus of interest. According to Wegner (2006), “Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly”. For example, teachers could learn more about how to better implement Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into their ordinary teaching practice. Through this, they could receive information about methodologies, websites, strategies, software, programs and so on, that they may implement in their classes.

However, being member of a CoP not only implies receiving; it also involves sharing and contributing to others with own experiences and information. As stated by Wenger (2006), “members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information…The practice of a community is dynamic and involves learning on the part of everyone”. From this perspective, for example ELT educators could contribute by sharing their experiences after implementing what they have received from the community and that way enabling and encouraging other professionals to replicate them.

In terms of language learning, students can also create their own communities. They might for example, create a community to overcome a particular difficulty that they share in terms of language proficiency, writing for instance. Through the community they could share specific exercises, strategies, websites, etc. Then, they may share their results and conclude which strategies work better and which ones do not.

Finally, one CoP that I would like to join is The European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning (EUROCALL). This is an association of language teaching professionals from Europe and world-wide that provides information and advice on all aspects of the use of technology for language learning, for those involved in education and training disseminates information via the ReCALL Journal and works towards the exploitation of electronic communications systems. From this organization I would expect to receive a lot of up-to-date information regarding the use ICTs in language teaching. What really calls my attention from this organization is that although it is based in Europe and promotes the learning of languages within that continent, it is also open to share information with the rest of the world about technology and language teaching which is my main interest nowadays.


Wenger, E. (2006) Communities of practice: a brief introduction. Retrieved from November 15, 2009.
Wenger, Etienne. Retrieved November 15,
Wenger, Etienne. (2002) Cultivating communities of practice: a quick start-up
guide. Retrieved from

Microblogging and Social Networking

Microblogging is a form of sending and receiving short messages that can be open to public or accessed by a selected group of people as well. There are different websites that offer microblogging services such as twitter, tumblr, plurk, etc.

Microbloggin is a way to establish social networking and people use social networking for a variety of purposes; business, education, fun, socializing, etc. Given these characteristics, m icroblogging has become an ideal tool for collaborative work.

One of the most popular microblogging tools is twitter. It allows people to communicate quick ideas either about unimportant events or for relevant themes of common interest. The way I see it, twitter and in general microblogging can be a useful tool for language teaching and learning in a community.

Some of the advantages of twitter, is that being so popular, makes it attractive for students to participate in particular language discussions or tasks. Students feel motivated to participate because it implies writing short texts instead of long writing assignments. They can also share ideas and discuss topics, as well as receive and provide instant feedback from tutors and peers which makes it more dynamic than e-mail or virtual classroom platforms for example. Therefore, it can be used as in-class activity or as homework.

For some settings, for example with advanced learners, one disadvantage of microblogging could be the limitation in the number of character (140) as they might be expected to compose longer and more elaborated pieces of work. Also, students can divert the topic very easily from the one originally proposed by the tutor. It might be useful for informal, short tasks but not for formal assignments.

In my particular context, I find it a bit difficult to use it with young learners because of their limited computer and literacy skills. However, some activities could be designed in which they receive assistance from their parents to share ideas about a book or story they have read or to talk about a specific topic established by the teacher.

In sum, microblogging and networking are important tools that should be considered by language tutors so as to generate a sense of collaborative learning with meaningful and practical purposes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Benefits and suggestions for implementation of "blogs and wikis"



-User - or blogger - posts items on a regular basis

-Does not need to have any previous knowledge on computer programming

-Enables people from all around the world to relate according to interests

-While a website is often a one-way form of communication, blogs are two-way (like other web 2.0 tools) since readers are encouraged to contribute (leaving comments and sharing opinions); blogs, then, can also be collaborative

-Focus on one specific area of interest

-They can be private or public


Fosters collaborative writing

Encourages discussions

Promotes learning in community

Helps to improve writing skills and sub-skills such as spelling and vocabulary

Students can receive feedback from other people different from the teacher

Students can keep a diary to track their progress in writing

It is easy to open blogs and use

Everyone is familiar with it

Through Google you can receive information about related blog topics


It is a group editable website

It is a collaborative tool

they encourage meaningful topic association

As anybody can edit the pages or undo the edition, wiki communities depend heavily on the trust between its users


Fosters collaborative writing

Discussions and debates

Learning community

Improving writing skills and sub-skills such as spelling and vocabulary.

Students can receive feedback from other people different from the teacher i.e. classmates

Creating glossaries to improve vocabulary.


It is very popular

There are wikis especially designed for teachers

There are wikis especially designed for K-12 grades

It is fast, free and easy to use

Diigo video

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Delicious video

Benefits and suggestions for the implementation for Web 2.0 tools



It is a social bookmarking site.
Bookmarks can be tagged (have keywords added to them), so that you can search for similar sites within all of your bookmarks

Potential uses for language learning classes

As a teacher you can create a Delicious account to keep websites easily accessible to integrate within your lessons plans.
Language teachers could use a Delicious account as the homepage for the browser; They can then share the account with the sites the students need to use in class - this way it is easier for students to access the required sites for class lessons
Students can use Delicious as a way to save frequently visited sites to practice and reinforce the four communicative skills
Students can use it to keep track of sources they are using for a research project.



Diigo is a free social bookmarking, research, and knowledge sharing tool created to mimic the ease of taking notes while providing a network for sharing and discovering information.

Potential uses for language learning classes

Diigo allows students to take personal notes and highlight text information on web pages similar to what you would on a piece of paper. They can share this information with other students to foster collaborative learning.

You can then bookmark and save this information for further review, while adding tags to keep everything organized.

All of this information is also saved online and can be accessed by any computer or browser, including cell phones with browsing capabilities.
For ELL this allow them to have access to language anywhere.

Wall Wisher


Wall Wisher is an online notice board maker. It gives you a virtual space where you can post short text notes in the same way that you could put post-it notes onto a notice board in your classroom.
But this noticeboard can be shared between people all over the world. As well as text notes you can add images, video and links to other websites.
It’s a neat way of getting a shared space to collect ideas from people for a brainstorm. Or to post resources for a topic

Potential uses for language learning classes

Students can ask questions about a topic which you (or each other) can then answer enhancing language learning in community.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Collaborative and Transformative Learning

According to Palloff and Pratt (2007), collaborating in an online learning course implies expanding learning experiences, trying out new ideas and sharing them with the group, additionally to giving and receiving critical and constructive feedback. The main advantages that I see in this type of learning has to do with the opportunities for students to negotiate different aspects of their own learning processes as long as the instructor designs the course in such a way that allows it to happen.

Collaborative learning provides students with opportunities to develop a sense of shared goals which in the long run will involve them in a unified effort to meet them. Also, it permits students to develop a sense of belonging to a learning community when they have the opportunity to introduce themselves and share with the others their expectations, their fears, their limitations and so on.

In addition to this, collaborative learning promotes in students the involvement of their own real-life experiences in the contents of the course so as to make it more meaningful and contextualized. This can be achieved by having students solve real life problems and connecting topics to their real situations.

These characteristics of “Collaborative learning” can be easily applied to language teaching and learning. In its basic definition, language implies communication and negotiation of meaning, and this has a lot to do with collaborative learning as it has been established before. An online learning community is the best scenario for the development of a second language in a meaningful context. It provides the possibility for the exchange of information by employing communicative skills such as reading and writing. Regarding listening and speaking, the tutor may utilize forms of synchronous communication such as video conferences. It is up to the tutor to design activities and tasks that really meet the learners’ expectations and needs and place them into meaningful contexts which require the contribution of all learners in a balanced way.

On the other hand, “transformative learning” as stated by Palloff and Pratt (Idem) basically entails a continuous process of self-reflection about learners’ own progress. It may lead them to think about what they are learning, how they are learning and the instruments they employ to reach their goals. Concerning language teaching and learning, this can be adapted by implementing a scaffold online program in which students have to go back and forth in contents and strategies so as to facilitate a reflection process in which they have to analyze what they need to access a higher step in the command of the language. Also, by establishing a reflecting instrument such as blog portfolio in which they register the main activities carried out in the course to have the possibility to track their advancement in the different skills.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Changing Instructor Roles

In my opinion these are the new roles tutors can assume:

From lecturer to facilitator

The teacher does not give students the information; he guides them to find it on their own. For example websites, documents, blogs, etc.

From provider of content to designer of learning experiences

Trough dynamic and meaningful activities the teacher leads students to apply contents to solve real problems.

From source of information to presenter of critical or open-ended questions

Invites students to reflect about issues instead of taking things for granted.
For example, asking students to reflect about the way they contribute to take care of nature instead of giving lectures about it.

From objective-based to project/inquiry-based instructional designer and assessor

Getting to agreements with students about the contents of a project instead of imposing his ideas.

From user of ‘one size fits all’ approach to moderator for a variety of learning styles

Designing sessions with a variety of activities that meet most of the students’ learning styles.

From controller of a teaching environment to co-creator of a learning experience

As part of a learning community, the teacher doesn’t know everything and doesn’t have all the answers. From that perspective, he has to accept that students are able to generate knowledge as well.

From instruction-presenter to learning-facilitator

He has to engage students in active participation, providing them with all the tools so that they can find and use the information in real contexts.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Managing and moderating the online learning environment

These are in my opinion the 30 most important factors in managing and moderating an online learning environment.

1. Set clear objectives for the session.
2. Become familiar and proficient at the use of the technology – practice in advance.
3. Provide an overview of timetable, procedures, expectations and decision-making norms
where appropriate.
4. Create a policy on communications.
5. Value participation.
6. Generate ideas through active brainstorming and facilitate development of consensus.
7. Set a specific amount of time for group discussion and collaboration.
8. Encourage contributions from ‘student experts’.
9. Use problem solving and case study approaches.
10. Set topics clearly and in advance so that the conversation doesn’t wander.
11. Limit instructor participation – complement and expand on ideas, don’t offer them.
12. Vary presentations with discussion and student-centered activity.
13. Engage experts or professionals in a related field via presentations and panel
14. Encourage active use of peer messaging.
15. Test the presentation online in advance of your scheduled lesson.
16. Ask a lot of questions, and review answers or comments providing summary comment.
17. Be prepared for technology failure – have a backup option (email, fax or telephone).
18. Make sure participants are comfortable with the system – hold practice sessions.
19. Don’t rely on offline materials – bring them into the online environment for discussion.
20. Be conversational and avoid sounding lofty and academic.
21. Create open debates with posted positions on topics.
22. Thank students publicly for comments that show insight or depth.
23. End sessions at the posted time.
24. Be patient; speak slowly and distinctly.
25. Set the agenda and pace, be prepared to adjust according to participant need.
26. Manage the flow and direction of discussion without stifling creative opportunity –
watch for balance in contribution, particularly the instructor’s!
27. Be responsive – remedy issues as they arise, help participants with information
28. Use private messaging for prompting appropriate contributions.
29. Provide a weekly agenda of activities and assignments.
30. Be sure to begin and end at agreed time.


LaBonte, Randy et al (2003) Moderating Tips for Synchronous Learning Using Virtual Classroom Technologies. Odyssey Learning Systems Inc. Retrieved from [Available as an Eresource]

Friday, October 16, 2009

Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication

In my opinion, the future of education will be more in the form of virtual courses. This type of education is more accessible to most people as it is cheaper, breaks the barriers of distance and facilitates the adjustment of schedules among other reasons. However, as it is mentioned in Haefner’s (2000) article, the most adequate type of virtual education is the one that embraces synchronous and asynchronous modes of information exchange. This provides learners with a variety of opportunities to express ideas, come to agreements and thus generate new knowledge. If courses focus on only one mode, students will get bored and discouraged due to the lack of variety, appropriate and timely feedback and interaction. Therefore, the ideal course would be the one in which the student can interact in real time, but also the one in which he/she can devote time to think and reflect so as to prepare high quality contributions to the learning community.


Haefner,Joel. (2000). The Importance of Being Synchronous. Academic. Writing. Retrieved from

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Psychology of Learning Environments

Nowadays there are many devices that can deviate students’ “attended input” from the teacher to any of the features on their computers such as instant message, e-mail, videos, etc. The answer to this situation can be found on this phrase that caught my attention from chapter 6, “If anything, these students may find themselves distracted by the instructor”. Why can’t the instructor become the primary target of their attention then? To do this teachers have to design classes in which they really have to use technology for meaningful purposes related to the subject matter; something in which students really find a practical use. Otherwise they will keep on putting the instructor as the “unattended input”. I have experienced this for example, when I have had the chance to take my little students to the computers classroom. I must make sure that they understand what they have to do before hand; because once they start working with the computers it is almost impossible to have the whole group’s attention back to give further explanations or instructions.

Consequently, those technological devices do not match with the traditional classroom where the teachers transmit knowledge and the students receive it.
Today students can have access to any kind of information in a better format that the one employed by the teacher in the classroom. Therefore, the classroom should become a place where interaction is promoted at all times, where cooperative work is a common strategy, where students contribute to the construction of knowledge through critical thinking; all of this achieved through the use of technology for meaningful purposes with practical outcomes.

Additionally, when courses are completely virtual, the instructor ought to consider that the main feature of an e-learning course should be “interactivity”. This means that it should contain varied activities such as sound, images, video, games and exchange of ideas with e-learning classmates. For example, they should consider the possibility of including a virtual world where students can negotiate meanings through a variety of possibilities. In other words, it has to be one that fulfils the main characteristics of usability: Coherence, Complexity, Legibility and Mystery. These might guarantee that students feel at ease and demonstrate willingness to learn and make a better use of the virtual environment.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Role of Community

To start with, it is imperative to define a learning community as a nurturing environment in which a person can learn assisted by other members and by a leader who guides the processes. The most important here is not the transmission of knowledge but the generation of knowledge through interaction. This is because knowledge changes so rapidly that what you know today may be obsolete tomorrow. Therefore, long life learning should be promoted from the community.

In a learning community there should be a variety of spaces which guarantee that everyone has the opportunity to share and expand their learning strategies. As mentioned before, the learning takes place more from interaction than from the teaching practices. From that perspective, the teacher is more a facilitator and a guide. In a virtual community, the teacher should design the appropriate spaces for learners to interact meaningfully and express their ideas in a critical way.

Despite all the benefits offered by a learning community, it is important to take into account the possible disadvantages presented by them so as to avoid that some members lag behind. Among these factors is the possibility that not all members have the same opportunities to participate, the lack of direct feedback, students with low motivation may not be taken into account, lack of an appropriate follow up process and so on.

In sum, learning communities represent a great opportunity for the generation and exchange of knowledge in a “safe” environment as long as it provides the suitable conditions that ensure the advancement of every learner.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Modern Learning Spaces

The advent of technology has generated new learning spaces additional to the traditional classroom. These spaces are dynamic and interactive and foster a variety of learning styles and strategies. Nowadays students can connect with the world at the “drop of a hat” and the classroom setting cannot limit this possibility. It has to support students in developing criteria to optimize their communication abilities. Additionally, the learning that takes place in those spaces is asynchronous and not static as in the classroom.

Another conclusion is that teachers have to shift their roles and be open minded so as to cope with the demands that the new learning spaces imply. In modern spaces students’ participation is vital and teachers have to create the opportunities for reflection, interaction and continuous exchange of information. This assertions align with the words of Reynard (2009) , “As educators, we don't want to focus on developing test takers and rote repeaters of information; we aim to develop individuals who can think for themselves”

In sum, modern spaces represent a challenge for teachers and students since they require changing roles in traditional ways of thinking as well as teaching and learning practices.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Task 1.2.3 Embedding media

Notes on Videos (Tasks 1.2.1 and 1.2.2)

Assessed DB thread “So what does it all mean?”

· This means that the reality we faced when we were at school and university differs a lot from the one our students are facing now and also differs from the one they will face in the future.

· It means that we teachers have to be prepared to face all the challenges of modern society so as to be able to help our students to get ready to face their future.

· It means that technology is changing so rapidly that if we close our eyes and sit down to take a break, when we open them, we will be already behind.

· It means that the better we are prepared the more successful our students will be.

· This means that we have to educate our students to become long life learners.

My expectations

According to the subject's name, I infer that NLE is related to taking advantage of technology to optimize our teaching practices so as to facilitate the learning processes of our students. Therefore, I expect to get acquainted with new technological resources to provide my students with tools that enable them to better face the demands of the current society.

Will ENL enable us to design our own technological tools?

How will the course help us change our traditional teaching practices?

How will NLE help our students shift their roles towards more autonomous learners?