Wednesday, June 29, 2011

CoPs: The First Step to reach Self-Learning

The first time that I heard the Term Communities of Practice (CoPs) was at the beginning of my master course where I made an oral presentation in WIZq with Professor Lisbeth Belisario. Although it was meaningful, I think that in that moment I was not acquainted with the impact of CoPs on TEFL. Today, that my knowledge has expanded I recap some aspects from that presentation.
The main issues presented in that online experience relied on Etienne Wegner`s ideas. He claims that communities of practice are groups of people who share the same interest, interact regularly and learn from and with each other (Wegner, 2006). Under this framework, we provided our audience with some examples such as Venelt and WIZq. However, as technological as CoPs seem, we concluded that they are not always related to technology. In fact, they are everywhere: at home, at school, in our hobbies, in our lives (Wegner, 2006).
Obviously, nowadays I can mention some others. For example, twitter that in my opinion is a rich resource to learn from some authorities in the TEFL arena. For instance, I have a confession to make. I have learned a lot about technology by following Professor Miguel Mendoza on twitter. I would like to highlight that the flood of tools and tips that he always offers by this means is infinite and has helped me a lot in building my self-learning path.
Finally, the reason I felt it was important to write this reflection is to highlight that knowledge (the domain) should be shared not only on the internet but also in our everyday life. This is the keyword to being a successful teacher.

Are Videos Feasible Tools in Public High Schools?

For a variety of reasons, videos are gaining ground to become one of the most powerful tools that EFL educators have at their disposal nowadays. To begin, considering our learners ‘styles can be the starting point to state that these kind of resources may highly contribute to the learner –centered approach. In other words, videos may provide visual learners with some benefits to foster consciousness-raising.
Nevertheless, as with many limitations, we have to deal with lack of technological infrastructure in high school for example. If we consider our local context, more specific public high schools, I wonder whether educators can count on this kind of stimulus as a standard practice. It is well known that at the secondary level, technological devices are not available sometimes. For instance, It is pretty hard to have a video beam to empower your English classes.
I think that at this stage, the internet would play a crucial role since it “is a useful tool to expand the resources available to your students”(Iberri-Shea, 2009, p.36). I strongly believe that there are several clear advantages of the internet to improve EFL learning. However, it is important to know that not only using some web tools such as videos but also web 2.0 tools in general is an educational challenge. But in the case of public high school is a matter of inspiring our students, commitment to our profession and to the sake of our students. The answer is yes, just if we put into practice the above mentioned ideas.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Podcasting under a Technogogic Framework

In starting this piece of work I read a lot of new words but I ran into a new term that called significantly my attention: Technogogy. As Peachey (2009) defines it, Technogogy is a combination of educational potential of new technologies through sound pedagogical exploitation. In other words, a hybrid of technology and pedagogy. Under this conception many tools have been implemented for the sake of using new technologies to contribute to the educational arena. In this respect, podcasting crops us as an important means that may be linguistically well-grounded.
In fact, drawing on podcast definition as a series of audio or video programs delivered trough a static URL and constantly feed by RSS (Ratcliffe & Steve , 2007), it can be said that it may have educational implications for EFL students, since it will contribute to meet the needs of 21st century learners: more authenticy in teaching and learning. skills such as real life listening and more meaningful speaking tasks will doubtless expand educational evolution under this digital era.
It is obvious that people see a huge increase in the range of podcasting in education. Nowadays, more and more people download videos and audio files from the internet, teachers usually visit podcasting web sites for getting audio material for their students (At Universidad MarĂ­tima del Caribe, we downloaded podcasts for an International Trade and Transport Course), more authorities are implementing podcasting as social innovation (Service Podcasting: UNESCO releases a series of videos on human rights, peace and tolerance) among others.

They are all right...Wikis are powerful tools

The recent convergence of advances in technology for educational purposes makes a wiki a powerful tool to learn and teach collaborately. Having a brief look at wikis, it can be said that these web pages contain a flood of possibilities for enhancing EFL context. For instance, introducing students to many abilities of academic research writing (Tardy, 2010) may lead learners to work together and produce high quality texts (Peachey, 2008).
On the other hand, other perspectives are also very valuable when considering the use of wikis as a special contribution to the field of EFL teaching. This is the case of one of Peachey’s (2008) article which showcases an array of issues to learn how to use wikis for teacher development. In this sense, this author states that wikis can be used as a sort of scrapbook to collect together possible ideas that educators have on teaching, such as links, articles, teaching tips, lesson plans, among others.
As beneficial as wikis seem, the use of this powerful tool may not be easy to achieve. The first pillar to be built relies on training potential wiki users on how to use these web pages for varied purposes. This is the first step to foster collaborative and cooperative learning.