Monday, May 23, 2011

Keywords When Blogging

When searching about blogging, I found out that even important organizations as UNESCO have a blog. As a result, I thought that it was time to sort out my ideas, and ask myself the extent to which I was acquainted of blog terminology.

Drawing on the most conventional definition, a blog is “essentially someone´s personal journal made available on the web” (Colmer and Thomas, 2005, p.191). However, nowadays, we know that blogs are more than that. For instance, some authors are always ready to acknowledge the innumerable uses that a blog may have: to share materials, ; to help your students, ; to sell your teaching materials online, ; among others.

In this sense, if a blog conveys all of these features, what is blogging then? it is the activity of updating a blog. At first sight, it looks simple but it is not. When blogging you have to be familiar with an array of terms with different implications, for example, widget, gadgets, post, etc. What seems immediately obvious, for those who learn by doing, is that engaging in any of the blog functions is easier when you explore blogging through playing.

Technological Infrastructure at UMC

It should be noted that Information and Communication Technology (ICT), plays a distinctive role at universities . As Tuning America Latina Project(2007) assumes “the incorporation of ICT into higher education is expected to contribute to improving the quality of education” (p.22) to develop and enrich not only the teaching process but also student learning and academic performance.

Needles to say that in Venezuela Ley Orgánica de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (2004) , is based on the premise of fostering and stimulating the ability to innovate technologically in the educational field. In this respect, Universidad Nacional Experimental Marítima del Caribe (UMC) has tried to work in consonance with this issue based on the consolidation and practice of technology for students’ academic development. The UMC is a highly recognized institution, intrinsically related to the maritime sector where students are offered a diverse range of ordinary degree courses such as, Maritime Engineering – Operations and Marine Facilities; Administration – International Trade and Transport - , among others (UMC, 2011).

UMC counts on a moodle platform called Sistema de Aprendizaje Interactivo a Distancia (SAID)used for Distance Education. We also have some computer rooms designed to satisfy the increasing need of up-to-date information. Due to the task developed by the Communication and Information Technology Coordination and the State Office of Planning in the Higher Education sector (OPSU) in order to achieve this Computer Room in our campus, many students, professors and researchers are able to visit these high-tech facilities (UMC, 2011).

1...2...3...4... Web Tools!

Have you ever blogged, podcasted, wikied, showed photos or commented online? Well, all of these terms that are like a tongue twister for many people, are obviously associated with the wonderful world of the web tools. There has been a flood of perspectives pointing out that web tools have definitely contributed to the way information is collected, treated and analyzed in a global, electronic and interactive medium.

Before we can see the nature of the impact that web tools have on society, we need to be clear about what they are. At one level, we have the earliest incarnation of the web or Web 1.0, tools which enable online users to accomplish an immediate goal, for instance, access a website, email a friend, etc. They are also known as static pages or more technically, a storehouse of online information that could be accessed to achieve an end (West and Turner, 2007).

“The shift from websites that had content which was designed delivered and controlled by the company or person that produced the site, to a ‘user generated’ model of content development” (Peachey, 2011) lead us into a more expansive, more democratic and more interactive tool: Web.2.0. This time we are not going to just read and write, we will be able to socialize, collaborate, create genuine products and share content in an authentic way (Peachey, n/d).

But wait, there is still more. While there has been much recent discussion of what the Web.2.0 follower is, a very important issue has arisen: Web 3.0. According to Peachey (2011), Web 3.0 may be intrinsically related to Augmented Reality. In other words, a kind of fusion between our existing physical reality and the internet throughout mobiles devices which will help us to shorten the distance between internet information and real world objects, places and even people.

And what after Web 3.0? Some people say that Web 4.0 or Ubiquitous Web is under development, but it definitely builds upon all previous stages of the internet growth taking into account both humans and machine agents (Anandarajan and Anandarajan, 2010).

From E-Learning To U-Learning

New technologies are so diversified that they open up new spaces for the emergence of an array of approaches that imply a deeper comprehension of what 21st century education actually needs. In this sense, the mainstream developments and applications of new technologies have put pressure on education to provide with a wide range of tools that may shed light on what lifelong learning requires. Emanating as starting point, the path to achieving self-directed learning emerges as central issue in this approach.

Under this framework, learners can be provided with education in different locations at a distance (Distance Education), using technology to enhance the learning experience separated by time or place (Distributed Learning); within the boundaries of different methods – classroom instructions with online instructions (Blended Learning) – and sustained through different media, as computer aided learning or E-Learning (UNITAR, 2004).

At this stage, it is important to consider whether E-Learning is the final step to reach holistic skills. Of course, it is not. Many other approaches have cropped up, for instance, T-Learning or TV based interactive learning which relies on the benefits of interactive digital television for a more engaged learning (Jokipelto, 2005). M-Learning (Mobile Learning) “in which different tools or mobile technologies are used” (Harman and Koohang, 2007, p.191). And U-Learning or Ubiquitous Learning, based on constructing “a ubiquitous learning environment which enables anyone to learn at anyplace at anytime” (Arniza, 2010, p.1).

It is obvious the advancement of technology in education, and the multiple answers to overcome that, but what seems to be more important is how learners can assume leadership for their online studies in a holistic manner for promoting lifelong learning. That is definitely the keyword.

Fostering Critical Thinking Through Digital Literacy

Fostering Critical Thinking throughout Digital Literacy.

The rapid growth of technology has obviously changed the way human beings work, communicate, interact, and visualize life. In other words, every facet of people´s lives may be influenced by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). From sending a message using a mobile phone until socializing throughout an Avatar, children, teenagers and adults utilize digital technology everywhere.

In this framework, the 21st century society is demanding new professional competences, no matter what the area of expertise is. In fact, some international authorities such as UNESCO (2011), European Computer Driving License Foundation (ECDL) (2011), Tuning Project in Europe and Latin America (2007), among others, have agreed on the importance of fostering digital literacy skills for economic, societal and educational development, mostly based on the critical understanding of using technology (Freire, 2004).

To enlighten us on this issue, it would be relevant to mention that there has been a flood of terms used synonymously to refer to digital literacy: ICT Literacy (Educational Testing Service, 2002), ICT Fluency (NRC, 1999), Computer Literacy (Williams, 2003), among others. However, no matter how many perspectives digital literacy conveys, what really matters is to what extent digital native or immigrants are responsible users of online technology.

Digital Literacy as simply the knowledge and skills required to participate in online activities (ECDL, 2011) is reductionist to the degree that the now digital citizen not only read, write, and communicate using digital technology, but also think and consider critically cultural, political, and educational values associated with those activities. Nowadays, digital literates need a much broader approach to literacy in the digital age (Thompson,2007), as a result there is already a point of departure Safer Internet Day (ECDL, 2011).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Welcome Message

Welcome to ICT in TEFL 2011. Here you will find an array of influencing features for TEFL. That is why this collaborative online space is intended to provide a wide range reflections on ICT and how it is used to foster critical thinking and promote lifelong learning. Feel free to leave a comment.