martes, 17 de abril de 2012

World of Blogs and Wikis – Week 7

         Two of my favorite modules from “The Interactive Web” are Online Writing for Teachers and Students, and Collaborative Online Writing. Understanding what blogs and wikis are, comprehending how to use them, and recognizing their potential for language teaching and learning have made grasp the importance of these Web 2.0 tools and its features as learning technologies. Online writing offers teachers and students the ability to publish freely on the Web. For teachers and students, this means that we can use blog to record chronically our teaching and learning occurrences, experiences, and reflections. Moreover, we can use to promote and develop writing skills and competencies. For instance, I can create a blog for a particular class, post entries about their work in class, and have them to participate by commenting and reviewing what they have done and learned. This kind of activities creates a sense of a learning community among students and promotes and enhances learning both within and outside the classroom. Likewise, with Wikis, teachers and students get engaged in collaborative writing by giving them the ability to create content and to edit, review and asses each other’s work. For instance, Wikis can give my students the opportunity to observe, monitor, interact, support, evaluate and learn from each other in the pursuit of language improvement; one student can help another proofreading (marking the grammatical errors and corrections to be made; peer reviewing). In conclusion, lessons and activities based on online writing, either collaborative or individual, and for any purpose, are useful, motivational and effective for improving writing skills, interacting, and sharing. Both Blogs and Wikis are highly creative, interactive, communicative, meaningful and effective approaches to help students develop their language skills.

Something else…

          As both a teacher and an eternal student, I have found writing blog posts for reflection very engaging. In fact, my blog for this course has made me rediscovered my inner writer. Yes, I love writing, and I will keep on doing it regularly from now on; I have a lot of thing to reflect on. But I have also discovered a passion for reading about others. There have been a lot of personal reflection throughout this course and I have love reading what others have to say about their experiences, and also to comment on them. When reading from Miguel, Girola, Pavle, Jesus, Alejandro, and Dian, I learned a lot; and for that I feel deeply thankful. I want to continue reading from you guys after this course finishes. I will subscribe to your blogs guys using RSS aggregators and follow your Twitter and Facebook accounts. We are a Learning Technologies Professional Learning Network. How cool is that?

viernes, 30 de marzo de 2012

Using a computer room - Week 6

What classroom management issues may occur from taking my class into a computer room?

For most teachers, their comfort zone is the rudimentary classroom, and when taking a class into a computer room, they can lose control of it rapidly as management issues arise. Taking a class into a computer room can be a difficult thing. For instance, an unprepared teacher may come across with issues regarding technology like mistreatment of equipments and tools, and improper internet usage, as well as classroom behavior, such as misconduct and indiscipline. This is why teachers must be always prepared to solve any classroom management problem to have a successful educational experience. To avoid these issues teachers must point out proper equipment and software usage and classroom behavior, besides preparing and giving the students activities that are interesting and learning-engaging.

Cyber Well-Being - Week 4

Fighting Cyber-bullying: “Do not Respond nor Engage, but Report

My friend Pavle Luger came up with this motto “Do not Respond nor Engage, but Reportas his response to cyber-bullying, and I think this motto is perfect for a fighting bullying campaign. In fact, it inspired me to create a virtual poster (or glog) about it. Indeed, when dealing with this issue, the best course of action is neither to act in response nor to be dragged into a conflict, but to report the problem. When we are attacked, our first reaction is to defend ourselves. But let’s be clear that “defend” does not mean “strike back”. We must set an example, show our offenders they are acting wrongfully by turning the other cheek, as Jesus Christ said. But if the attacks continue, how do we should defend ourselves? Well, to report the problem to mediators must be our weapon of choice. Violence is never the answer.

Welcome to my Life (Confessions of a bullying victim)

This song “Welcome to my Life” by Simple Plan is about teenage angst, but the lyric hints what it feels like to be bullied. If I were asked “how does it feel to be a victim of bullying?” Well, this might be my answer:

“No, you don't know what it's like 
When nothing feels all right 
You don't know what it's like 
To be like me 
To be hurt 
To feel lost 
To be left out in the dark 
To be kicked when you're down 
To feel like you've been pushed around 
To be on the edge of breaking down 
And no one's there to save you 
No, you don't know what it's like 
Welcome to my life”… 

To feel like this is very dangerous and precarious because when we are “vulnerable” we are prone to do very stupid things, hurting ourselves and others, collaterally. I do not like feeling like this. Nobody would like to feel like this. Moreover, when we bully and hurt someone, we are hurting ourselves whether in the short or long term. But, when we make someone feel good, or when we treat someone respectfully, we feel incredibly good and gratified”. With this I am inviting you to reflect on how would you like to be “welcomed to my life”? 

viernes, 9 de marzo de 2012

On Web Searches and Copyright Laws - Week 3

On Web Searches.

A short story based on a fictive true story that can happen to anyone.

“Does anybody know how to use Google?” – The teacher intriguingly asked his students.

“Yes, we do!” – The students answered in unison.

"Can you find anything in Google?" The teacher inquired.

“Yes, we can!”, “Sure” – The students answered.

“Would you help me find some information on Google?” - The teacher replied expecting his students to volunteer precipitously.

The students rushed to show the teacher how they use Google: “Yes, we can show you!” – Cried one of the students. “Of course!”, “Yes!”, “Sure”, - said a group of students.

Angel, a Digital Native, took control of the computer and typed “” and accessed to the webpage. “When you enter the page, you type the name of what you want to look, hit enter, and then it appear the pages with the information.” – Said Angel arrogantly. Then he asked “what do you want to look, Mr. Mendoza?”

What Angel and rest of the students did not know was that Mr. Mendoza was a Tech Savvy, and was about to ask them to look for something that would not return any result.

“I want to know about Deibylandia? Where is the kingdom of Deibylandia?” - said Mr. Mendoza.  “D – E – I – B – Y – L – A – N – D – I – A.” – he slowly spelled the word.

Angel typed the question “Deibylandia” into the search box, hit enter, but there were not any page about it.  Then, he typed the word Deibylandia, and again, no pages for that word. After that, all the students gave up.

      To search in Google, or any other search engine, is more than just typing in the search box a word or phrase, and work with the first results it shows (although this is pretty much the basics of web searching). Searching the web involves skills that will help us find better results to work with. And it also requires expertise; this is that we need to know how search engines work, and how to use searching tools, techniques and technology to make the most and best of our inquiries. Sure, the students in the short story were never to find anything about Deibylandia, but they gave up without trying other options. They just looked for something. They did not really search for it. Look for and search for are different things.   

My reaction on copyright laws.

      Although copyright laws can limit and/or affect my teaching practices, I am aware that they are important and necessary to protect original works from being misused, stolen, copied and distributed illegally (pirated). And breaking these laws is wrong and it is a punishable crime. If I really want to use someone’s copyrighted material in a class, I just need to ask permission. If this fails, I will continue searching the web until finding something suitable or I will create my own original material. Is there something teachers can't do?

jueves, 1 de marzo de 2012

Using the Web – Week 2

Module 3 - Evaluating and Selecting Websites 

  • What does it mean to say a website is educationally useful?
          The World Wide Web’s content, information, data, resources and services available are greatly vast that cover almost every aspect of life we can think of. In this sense, and educationally speaking, the internet is largely useful. However, a website is educationally useful when its content is of interest (instructive and informative) to teachers, students or anyone involve in education. 

  • How has the evaluation criteria made you question websites you have used in the past?
          My criteria for evaluating websites I have used in the past were “common sense and trial and error”; and the results were mixed. Now, the evaluation criteria have made me question websites in a systematical/methodical way. It made me realize of the importance of website evaluation. I know that excellent resources for teaching reside alongside the most doubtful, but how can distinguish one from another. Well, it is necessary to evaluate them for accuracy, acceptance, authority, coverage, relevance, audience, educational focus, usability and, ultimately, synthesize them in order to make it educationally suitable. 

Module 4 – Integrating the Web

  • What areas of my syllabus would benefit from integrating the Web?
          Maybe I am precipitating myself here, but I believe that all areas of my syllabus will definitively benefit from integrating the web in it. The web is greatly vast and useful, and we (teachers of EFL) can find a lot of content, resources and services that can fit or be used in all the areas of our EFL syllabus. But Pedagogy must lead the well-evaluated-and-integrated-by-the-teacher technology.  

  • After using some of the websites in this unit, how did the lesson benefit from the website being used?
          Beforehand, the website for this unit was selected using the evaluation criteria; it was taken into account the accuracy, acceptance, authority, coverage, relevance, audience, educational focus, and its usability. The page itself was just right for the class; it has an appropriate content and language level for the audience. If everything well according to plan, the class benefited greatly from the website used as it gave the learners the opportunity to enhance their learning in a more interactive, engaging and interesting way.

  • What websites do my learners use? Could they be exploited?
          I am not sure what websites they use to learn English or on a daily basis. Though Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, and other popular websites would be the most convenient answer to this question.  I guess that it would be proper to carry out a survey/poll to find out what websites they use the most, evaluate them and think of ways to integrate and exploit them in my teaching.

martes, 21 de febrero de 2012

Reflection on Learning Technologies for the English Classroom - Week 1

            1. Why should I be using technology in the first place?

             In the first place, I should use it, as a resource, to enhance my teaching by applying different information and communication tools in different learning contexts across the syllabus and curriculum. But keeping in mind that “Pedagogy leads Technology”.

            2. What can I do in my own teaching situation?

             First of all, I can integrate more learning technologies in my teaching to enhance learning. I can use learning technologies such as YouTube, Wikipedia, PowerPoint Slides, etc, efficiently and effectively in different learning contexts across the syllabus and curriculum to access, select and present relevant information and content in a wide range of activities and learner-centered tasks.
            3. What do my students already use technology for?
            There is no doubt that ICT and LT tools are part of most people’s lives. My students are widely familiar with learning technologies such as Wikipedia, which they use regularly to complete their homework and tasks. But I believe that their use of technology is limitless, either educationally or for entertainment.

            4. How can I meet my students' needs?

             I can use learning technologies diversely to address different learning styles. I can involve them into activities with content and information that are engaging, challenging and motivating regarding their age, background, preferences, and above all, their learning needs. I can also create a technological-driven environment in the classroom where they, themselves, can satisfy their own learning needs. One of my students’ needs is to have fun while learning, hence, I can use learning technologies, such as YouTube to play a song with lyrics, to make them feel stress-free and have some fun while practicing the language. Yes, I do believe that learning can be fun.  

First WizIQ Session and Getting Started - Week 1

       On February 18th, 2012, we had our first WizIQ session, and I must say that I enjoyed it plenty. From the very beginning of the session I was already interacting with Miguel Mendoza, our e-moderator, Monica Quintini, the Project Officer from The British Council for Venezuela, and my e-mates in this great adventure, and it was really nice to meet them all. After a brief introduction on what Learning Technologies for the English Classroom is all about, we got hands on the platform we are going to use throughout this course, and we started with Module 1, Preparation, Unit 1, Getting Started. We became familiar with the platform, and performed our first tasks. In the Introduction Forum, I got the opportunity to introduce myself to my fellow e-mates, and to get acquainted with them. Yes, I made new friends, and it feels awesome. And as Miguel put it, we are now a “PLN (Professional Learning Network)”. How cool is that? Later on, I was in the zone when we got to find our way around the platform; I was just like a boy with a new toy. Now, I am reflecting about this experience. I have no doubts that learning technologies are indispensable in language teaching, as they can engage teachers and learners in a variety of ways. Somehow, this whole experience has made me realized that technology can have limitless applications in language teaching; for instance, post homework assignments, group discussion and forum, wikis, educational social network, and so much more, but we must learn how to integrate technology and language teaching effectively and efficiently. I want to learn and master all I can about learning technologies; to be updated, to improve my classes and teaching performance, and to grow professionally, and this is why I am taking this course. To be honest, I feel like my love for teaching have been refreshed and updated, and this is just the beginning.

sábado, 18 de febrero de 2012

Learning Technologies for the Classroom - Week 1

       In week 1, Getting Started Unit, I became familiar with WizIQ platform; a tool for online teaching. I opened an account to join a class, and I got to know the site and how it works. Then, I got started at the British Council’s online course, Learning Technologies for the Classroom. There, in an easy-to-follow throughout of eight sections, I successfully engaged myself in theoretical and practical aspects of online learning and teaching. I got to review other participants’ profiles, and learned how I can interact with them by means of different forums; even for help and troubleshooting. Also, I was introduced to the British Council’s online course philosophy and development tools. By successfully completing a quiz, I acquired the knowledge and competencies needed to find my way around this platform. In summary, I have learned a lot. I learned how to navigate, interact, view and change my account’s settings, access and use the course’s tools, and other basic aspects of using learning technologies.