Unit 3: Possibilities & Benefits
Reflection on Web 2.0 Communication Tools
In the last unit, we explored some of the numerous web 2.0 tools available to students and educators today. Before we begin to focus on specific questions and possibilities, please watch the following video which provides a good summary to our ideas Social networking sites have educational benefits
The different sites explored in Unit 2: Exploring & Implementing Online Tools included just a few of the modern methods of communication and networking. Creating electronic pen-pals, blogs, and branching out educationally on social network tools all allow students increased communication opportunities in the target language.
Now that you've been introduced to the reasons for changes in our classrooms and the 21st century learner and some of the tools available, let's reflect on their application in the classroom:
- What topics do you usually cover in your class(es)?
- Could these topics be addressed via any of the communication tools we explored? Which ones?
- Is there computer and internet access available in your classroom or in your school?
- How often could students get online within class time?
- How much homework do you usually assign?
- Could online assignments be required? Offered as an extra assignment?
Many teachers are hesitant to implement new technology into their lessons and requirements because they are unsure of how to do so. The elements of course and lesson design will still apply, but these tools open up the options for activities and enrichment. Whether web 2.0 tools are used in the classroom or at home, clear guidelines and expectations need to be conveyed and well as goals of the activity. Students want to learn through practical ways, so by explaining the objectives of the communication activities, students will understand the purpose to the activity and can then take their learning into their own hands, practicing the target language using their tools and methods. The usage of these tools is ultimately up to you, the instructor. They could simply be used as additional, optional practice for students by simply sharing the sites with them and encouraging their usage. Any additional practice students choose to participate in is great and many may have already explored ways to add to their language learning through these tools. The other option would be to set up electronic pen-pals and/or classroom blogs or social networking sites. Writing to native speakers and peers could be scheduled into class time and even required as homework, requiring a certain number of messages per week, month, or quarter. In order to make the best choices for your class, you should examine what resources are available in your classroom and school and to students at home. Students need to be able to access the internet easily in order for these activities to be successful, so examine what is available and practical.
Let's think back to the questions that you reflected on while exploring sites and tools in the last unit:
- What would my students think of this site? Is it something they already use?
- Would students access this in and outside of the classroom?
- How might this help their language acquisition? Could this increase their communication activities?
- Does these sites make language use practical and realistic for students?
- How might their motivation and attitudes be affected in terms of language learning?
The answers to these questions were hopefully positive! By using tools and sites that are already being used by our students, we are connecting to their worlds and the mere nature of these sites cater to a more constructivist learning approach. How can these tools work together to increase student motivation to learn, their language fluency, and their connections with peers, teachers, and natives?
First of all, students want to use their technologies int he classroom, so their initial motivation to participate will increase. Once they are interested, students are also able to increase the amount of language practice opportunities and are able focus on topics they are interested in, experiment with the language, reflect on their learning by correcting vocabulary and grammar use and possibly even gaining cultural insights. As they are exposed to more practice, the increased amount will in turn increase their fluency due to practicing accurate use and expanding on their classroom learning. As their language confidence grows, so will their interest in learning. By using these online communication tools in combination with classroom practice, the following benefits should unfold:
- Increased and more realistic opportunities
- Opportunity to expand learning beyond the classroom
- Opportunities to communicate with native speakers
- Increased rapport amongst peers and instructors
- Increased language fluency
- Increased student motivation
- Increased positive attitudes towards foreign languages and cultures
The overall goals of learning or teaching a foreign language is to be able to communicate. Simply put, communication has never been easier than it is in today's connected world, so methodology in schools needs to evolve with the times and with the audience, the students--these few simple tools are beginning steps in bringing the classroom into the 21st century!
Go back to the main course page Foreign Language 2.0: Benefits and Implementing Online Communication
Visit Foreign Language 2.0 Resources for a list of resources used in this course and for further exploration suggestions.
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