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.