The Classroom versus Online Learning of an Additional Language

 Applied linguistics, TESOL  Comments Off on The Classroom versus Online Learning of an Additional Language
Aug 032013

The Internet is a fertile new space for the development of  effective and inexpensive learning solutions.

In order for this statement to have meaning, certain contextual dichotomies (not as discrete opposites but rather extremes that fall along a continuum) need to be addressed beforehand: (a) explicit/implicit learning, (b) native/non-native speaker, (c) instructed (formal)/naturalistic (informal) learning, (d) deductive/inductive inference, (e) concrete/abstract thinking, (f) declarative/procedural knowledge, (g) intentional/unintentional learning, etc.  Without considering these dichotomies, the risk is that some may interpret any use of technology as being fruitful.
It’s been my experience that noticing, consciousness-raising, attention, etc. is best served through interaction (with human beings) which provides feedback, recasts, and positive/negative evidence back to the language learner.

The classroom, at great cost, reduces this spirit of independent learning and inquiry.

I guess this depends on who’s teaching the class.  If we are talking affordances (i.e., potential for action), the classroom (with a teacher) offers more to motive students, provide strategies that lead to learners engaging in the language (in and outside the classroom), and help language learners notice differences between L1 and L2 in ways that better lead to intake (gasp).  I recognize that potentiality and reality are two different things, but the classroom can (and does in some cases) breakdown the barrier between formal and informal learning.  In other words, it’s easier for formal learning environments (like schools) to incorporate informal learning than vice versa.

It will remain the job of the teacher (i.e., as didactic leader, facilitator, and coach) to play “curator” in orchestrating the learning ecosystem that evolves around the language learner.

 Posted by at 10:55 am

Teaching and Learning with ICTs

 ICTs, TESOL, Wikieducator  Comments Off on Teaching and Learning with ICTs
Aug 062011

school-of-fishWell, Monday starts a new semester.  As I reflect on how I might create opportunities for my students to be more engaged in the learning experience, both in and outside of class, my current inclination is to use ICTs but in a slightly different way.

This semester I’ll be teaching Microteaching I (third semester), Academic Writing (seventh semester), and Applied Linguistics (seventh semester) to pre-service English language teachers (i.e., eight-semester bachelor’s degree program in English language teaching).  The primary ICTs that I’ll use for these blended classes will be wikis and Moodle.

Student-teachers (STs) taking Microteaching I meet four hours a week, teaching in 15-minute blocks with their classmates (i.e., “students”).  At the time of this post, the wiki was still under development, but will be further developed in the coming days.  The wiki will home STs’ reflective wiki pages that will remain open for all to see and will also be integrated (i.e., embeded) to Moodle.  Since this is my first time teaching this class, there will certainly be tweaks and turns as the class unfolds ultimately driving which ICTs to use and how they will be used to best engage students.

I’ve taught Academic Writing in the past using primarily Wikieducator, but this year I wanted to do something different.  This year I will be using(Doku) wiki along with Moodle as I plan to do with Microteaching I.  The main reason for using Dokuwiki over Wikieducator is that (a) Dokuwiki is more user-friendly and (b) it integrates well to my website hosting service (Fatcow).  The wiki/Moodle integration will look something like the following:

Wikis are a great tool for academic writing as it makes the writing process more transparent.

The course in Applied Linguistics will also integrate a wiki with Moodle…are you seeing a pattern here? :) Students will apply their understanding of linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and discourse analysis to their own teaching practice through an action research project.

The objective this semester is to make the learning process of each course as open as possible so that students see the value in transparent learning.  As their facilitator, making course designs open will provide other educators with ideas as well as opportunities to collaborate and cooperate in areas of curriculum, assessment, and instruction.

How will you use ICTs this semester or year?

 Posted by at 3:51 pm