Google+ Followers

Monday, May 26, 2014

Teaching Through Wikis

Let’s say that you don’t want to send a ton of emails to your students with the evaluation plan, program or classrooms activities because most of the emails that the students gave to you are going to bounce back, either they wrote it incorrectly or that someone didn’t receive anything and you wish that all that information were stored in  a place where your students, supervisors and even your students’ parents can see, download or even participate in the making of information for that place or webpage. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Wikis. What is a Wiki you might say? Well, basically Wikis are shared pages from the web 2.0 era that lets people post and share information at any time and any place. The main feature of the Wikis is that more than one person can participate on the development of the Wiki, by posting or editing previous or new information. Let’s take the example of the famous/infamous case of Wikipedia, this page is a shared one in which people post information for educational, research purposes. In it, we can find topics regarding, health, history, sports or music.
Other cases of Wikis are the ones that are specialized on a certain topic, like for example a videogame wiki like the League of Legends Wiki where the users post information about the game, also they post strategy in order to master a character or explanation of the rules of the game per se. How does a Wiki differentiate itself from other tools such as a blog for example? Like I mentioned before, more than one user can post or edit information that is published on the wiki, also, the content is dynamic, being that it can change from time to time in order to keep the information fresh and updated. Another aspect is that the information is organized in pages rather than in post entries (like in the case of my blog). Other feature is that the interaction between users and editors is less limited like in blogs where it is only limited in the comment section of each post. Wikis are useful tools for education too, imagine that you can post the program of your subject, your evaluation plan and weekly activities and each of your students are notified without having to send tons of emails. It sounds awesome, right? Well it gets better; since it’s a shared page you can let your students be editors or writers of your own wiki, letting them post their weekly assignments, or you can have them participate in forums of discussion. The uses of a Wiki for ESL are huge, you can assess and evaluate the student’s writing activities if you want to use your wiki as a tool to assess and evaluate writing skills, also you can use it to check your student’s reading skills or listening skills with readings or videos. Other uses are for posting vocabulary list of the units that you are working on, or a verb list with their respective conjugation. Summing up, I invite you all teachers to use Wikis in your classrooms, also I invite you all to my wiki: http://listeningcomprehensionclass.pbworks.com/, it is still under construction, but soon I’ll start to post activities. Over and out!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blogs as an ICT Tool for Teaching


Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 tools have been useful in the passing, sharing and creation of information since the Internet was established back in the 90’s. Being a social media like Facebook or Twitter, a cloud service like Soundcloud or Dropbox or a video uploader webpage like Youtube or Tubeplus we can let people from around the world our points of view about a certain topic, show a new creation, recipe, song or whatever you do. One of the most used tools in the Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 world are Web-blogs, or commonly known as Blogs. Blogs are like personal logs that people can post on the web and share it to the whole wide world. Since their creation, blogs have been a staple in both Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Blogs not only are used for personal thoughts, or opinions, nowadays we can see through the web many different blogs, cooking blogs, travelling blogs, music blogs and even literary blogs. You might be wondering, "Where can I start my blog?" Well there are many ways where you can start a blog, one way is through blogger (this webpage for example). Other ways are Wordpress, Tumblr or even in Facebook you can carry a blog. Even though, the concept of video blogging have been established through Youtube, the blogs have remained still becoming one of the most used tools by Internet users.



But, how can I use blogs as a teaching tool? The answer is quite simple. For those who have read my previous post on ICT and its uses in teaching, you can see that blogs can become quite a tool on your classrooms. Imagine yourself that you want to make a reading comprehension activity but you don’t want to print 25, 35 or 50 copies of a reading for your classroom. Instead you can post the reading on your school blog for your students to read and also post, either questions regarding the reading or you can create a forum discussion for them to post their opinions or thoughts. Let’s say that instead of a reading comprehension activity, you want to make a listening comprehension activity, you can opt for posting a video or a song (it can be with the lyrics in order to evaluate both reading and listening comprehension) and you can post a series of questions regarding the video or song that you posted. One of the ideas that I'm going to put on next year for my students is for them to carry and administer a blog of their own. By having this, I, as a teacher, I can evaluate and asses the student’s writing skills and their use of grammar, vocabulary taught in class. With the use of personal blogs, students can learn a second language by expressing themselves, letting them use their favorite topics or things, but having some limitations in order for the teacher to correctly asses or evaluate. As you can see my fellow readers, blogs are an awesome tool for you teachers to use, I invite you all to use them and have good time! Over and out.  


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Constant Motion: The Never-Ending Evolution of Internet and its Application in the Field of Education

The Internet since its introduction as a public tool for information or media, it has not stopped evolving.  I remember when I was in school, I had to wait for my mom to hang up the phone and connect my PC into the phone plug; now, 13 years after I’m always connected to the internet almost everywhere, either on my laptop or my smartphones. But, to get to the place where we are on this day and age we must get back to the start. Internet started using Web 1.0, you guys all wondering “what’s web 1.0?” well basically Web 1.0 was the first period of the Internet that ran from 1994 until 1997. What were the characteristic of Web 1.0? The main features of Web 1.0 is the use of static pages, one great example of the pages used in that era were the Terra.com, Cheatcc.com, and many others. Other feature those Web 1.0 web pages were static, meaning that the information posted is exactly the one that it was stored on the webmaster’s computer. This feature also meant that the content of the pages was only administered by the webmaster, without letting the interaction between users. Even though Web 1.0 is somewhat outdated, it still has it uses; news webpages like CNN.com, Globovision.com and others still use a Web 1.0 format, where the reporters post the news or information needed to keep the page dated and fresh. 


Example of web 1.0 webpage (quite new, huh?)

Now, let’s head back up to more recent times, specifically to 2003, where Web 2.0 was promoted. Web 2.0 is the type of web that we still use nowadays in examples such as social networks, wikis, blogs, and other sites. The main attractive of Web 2.0 is that the flow of information is uninterrupted, letting users and webmasters create, share and modify the information that is feeding the page, letting users participate in the development of the webpage itself, something that was impossible back in the Web 1.0 days. An example of Web 2.0 is on a wiki, someone something regarding a specific topic, the person posts it, then the user or users can share that information or they can modify it to make it look even better. Another advantage that web 2.0 have permitted its users, is the inclusion of free software, why? Because it permits people from around the world to create software for educational, scientific or research purposes that can facilitates the needs of other without having to wait for a developer to create it. An important step for web 2.0 is its connectivity, by that I mean that it let us communicate with others at anytime, anywhere. Thirteen years ago was difficult to communicate because e-mail was the only available option, and it still is one of the tools that we use, but, nowadays we have Skype, Twitter or Facebook that let us know new people from other parts of the world, we can share our creations to other people (by using clouds or other services), in the case of musicians (I’m a musician myself), we can show our songs and albums to people from other countries without the necessity of a producer or a record company. 



The difference between 1.0 and 2.0

As I said before, Internet is in constant motion, evolving without ending, right now users from around the world are using web 2.0 pages or applications all around the world, but we are reaching the next step: Web 3.0, 3.0 will be the next step in information technology that will allow us to immerse into virtual worlds, a good example is the Project Occulus Rift (see the video below)


Besides its connectivity, web 3.0 will allow us not only to share or create information, but also to look up on information, rather than using keywords or phrases in order to get it. In here I post another video about web 3.0 and the inclussion of semantic webs.



But how web 2.0, 1.0 or 3.0 can affect Education? well, the answer is simple, the new generation is adapting more and more to technology, whether they use smartphones, tablets, Internet, laptops, etc. and we as a teachers must adapt to this coming era. With educational platforms like Moodle, Edmodo, Blogster we can adapt our teaching to this new pages and gadgets making our day to day work easily. Imagine the possibilities, we can create chat rooms, or forums in which our students can debate on a certain topic letting teacher evaluate their writing of use of grammar, or put a video and make questions about it, letting the teacher evaluate their listening comprehension. Heres a video about the uses of web 2.0 for education.



Before I go, Internet and the web are useful tools that can allow us to improve our teachings and we as teachers, professors or reseachers must adapt and gain this opportunity to open the student's door to knowledge. Over and out. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What is ICT? How can I apply them in my classroom?

In my previous post I talked about the concept of Digital Literacy and how it can affects the learning process in our students through the use of technology, and also I mentioned what are the necessary competence that a 21st century teacher must have. Today I’m going to talk about ICTs, ICTs or Information and Communication Technologies is a term that refers to all the group of communication and information devices, applications or webpages (http://searchcio.techtarget.com, N.D). This includes examples such as radio, television, computers, social media, telephones etc. The term it may sound new to you, but the term ICT was created in 1997 by Dennis Stevenson, a successful businessman (Stevenson, 1997). ICT is a great tool for teachers that let us expand the teaching process enhancing the process of learning for our students. Tools such as teaching webpages, educational platforms, social networks, e-classrooms, videogames, etc. are examples of tools that the teacher can use. But, let’s start with some basic ICT concepts:

·         Distance Learning: also called D-Learning, is according to the webpage thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk (N.D) refers to the “way of learning remotely without being in regular face-to-face contact with a teacher in the classroom”. Examples of distance learning can be courses or Master’s Program that are taught by mail, through internet, etc.

·         E-learning: E-Learning or electronic learning refers to teaching through the use of electronic devices such as videotapes, cd-rom, dvd and computers (e-learningconsulting.com, N.D). A classic example of e-learning would be interactive games such as Brain Age for the Nintendo DS, the Encarta Encyclopedia, and the Duolingo web page.

·         Online or Virtual Learning: online or virtual learning consist in teaching through the use of the Internet. By using computers, online or virtual learning class consist in synchronous classes by having in which professors are connected on the web on a certain place and students connected via a laptop or a computer. Most of these types of classes use a certain platform or website that lets teacher to post activities, evaluation plan, or the program of the subject. Educational platforms such as WizIQ, Edmodo, Moogle, etc. are the most used among teachers and students.

·         Blended Learning: blended learning consist according to knewton.com (N.D) in the “formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path or pace.”

·         Mobile Learning: mobile learning is a type of e-learning that consist in teaching through the use of mobile phones. Mobile phones nowadays are as capable as computer in connecting to the web, log in to websites, share information and also do functions related to educations. Apart from interactive games like “Preguntados”, there are also apps like Duolingo that teaches a second language by an array of exercises that cover the 4 skills corresponding to second language learning. Also there’s the mobile version of Edmodo, a virtual education platform but for smartphones and tablets.

Having some concepts related to ICT and the different means of using ICT in our classroom, let’s talk about my situation in my country regarding to ESL using ICT. Regarding with teaching English using ICT in middle and high schools is something very uncommon because most of the teachers stick to the traditional curriculum that the Ministry of Education sets. However, in Universities , like for example the School of Modern Languages, teachers use online and blended learning in their classes, like for example English from 1 to 4, Composition, Literature and Translation. In my case, I work in a high school in which I apply the use of mobile learning through the Duolingo application since most of the students have smartphones. Hopefully for the next school year, all the teachers will start to apply the Edmodo platform in order to post information such as activities, homework, the program and the syllabus.

To sum up, ICT are a great tool that has many options for teachers to apply in the classroom, by applying them correctly, the teacher can expand and improve the student’s learning process.

 References:

·         E-learningconsulting.com. N.D. What is E-learning?. Taken from http://www.e-learningconsulting.com/consulting/what/e-learning.html on May 18, 2014.
·         Knewton.com. N.D. Blended Learning Infographic. Taken from http://www.knewton.com/blended-learning/ on May 18, 2014.
·         Searchcio.techtarget.com, N.D. ICT (information and communications technology - or technologies. Taken from http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/ICT-information-and-communications-technology-or-technologies on May 18, 2014.
·         Stevenson, D. 1997. Information and Communications Technology in UK Schools: An Independent Inquiry. (pdf version). Taken from http://web.archive.org/web/20070104225121/http://rubble.ultralab.anglia.ac.uk/stevenson/ICT.pdf on May 18, 2014.
·         Thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk. N.D. What is Distance Learning?. Taken from http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/distance-learning/what-is-distance-learning/ on May 18, 2014.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Digital Literacy and the 21st Century English Teacher

Right now we are living in a world almost covered from head to toe with technology. 50 years ago in order to get in touch with someone who lived abroad, we must write a letter to that person, this said letter could arrive one month even three months after it was written, making it hard to communicate with friends, relatives or the people we hold dear. Nowadays we can communicate with people abroad in the commodity of our homes through Skype, Facebook or even with our smartphones. Another example is shopping, nowadays we have webpages such as Mercadolibre.com, E-bay, Amazon.org and many more that let us buy things at any time in any place. 

Tecnology connects us all around the world. 


As a whole, technology has become an integral part of our lives making living quite easy. In the case of education, especially in English Teaching, technology is a huge tool that can improve the teaching experience, enhancing the learner’s learning process. But by only knowing some English Teaching websites makes you a teacher who adapts technology to his or her classes. First off, the teacher must know Digital Literacy, but, what is Digital Literacy? Digital Literacy is the ability to understand and process information and create more information through the use of technology (library.illinois.edu, N.D). But how Digital Literacy can help English Teachers? The answer is rather simple: since we are living in a world where digital media, social media such as Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr and technology are part of day to day routine, teachers, professor all around the world can use this useful tool to their advantage to improve the class experience, breaking the mold of the old school style of teaching that sometimes is difficult for both teachers and students.

Digital Literacy, The New Frontier. 


A good example can be: instead of using expensive course books, a teacher can upload the program, syllabus and the necessary material through a Cloud like Dropbox where the student can download it to their smartphones or tablets. If one day the teacher wants to change things around, he or she can use a digital classroom like Moogle or WizIQ where the Teacher can use many resources to explain a certain unit from anywhere he is. Another possibility of using technology in developing for example writing could be through the use of the Edmodo platform. Let's say for example, that the teacher wants to evaluate the student's ability to create a declarative paragraph or essay, the teacher by using Edmodo can post a forum for discussion in which the students will post their ideas or opinion on a topic that the teacher has previously explained. But as the concept of Digital Literacy say, teachers must know some competence in order to apply technology, in here I put, to me, the necessary skills that a 21st century Teacher must have: 

·         Know your group of student: this is something that every teacher, from the old school teachers to the new ones, they must need their students and their respective needs and not throw information at random because you are a teacher and you are the authority because that will cause distraught in your classroom.

·         Use whatever that is at your disposal: technology is everywhere and you can get it anywhere at any time. Most of the software for teaching purpose, blogs, social networks, are free, so take that into account. However, the schools or institutes are not well suited, that is sometimes that teachers must take into account and adapt to what the school or workplace are providing us.

·         Know the technology: as I said before, just because you know some websites it won’t make you a “techno” teacher. No, you must read beforehand what you are going to apply with your students, whether is going to be positive or negative for them. Also to know which software or webpage is going to improve or decrease their skills, wether ir oral, written or readinf.

·         Adapt to new technologies: with the lives we are living, sometimes what we think is brand new, two hours later is old and outdated. We as teachers must learn to adapt to the running course of society and the technology that it keeps updating almost frequently.

In summary, to me, teaching through the use of technologies is a huge advantage that we have over the teachers that were before us, why? Because it let us explore roads that weren’t explored, it let us use mediums such as videos, movies, images even video games that let us create a better teaching/learning environment to our students. I think this won’t stop because technology keeps growing and growing, improving each and every day making the task of teaching more suitable.

Before I finish my first blog entry (wohoo!) I invite you all to visit this websites that talk about digital literacy:
With nothing else to say, I’ll see you on my next entry. Over and out!




Thursday, May 1, 2014

Welcome All!

Welcome my readers to my blog, An ICT Odysset, in here you will read about my adventures in the world of ICTs and how I apply them in my classroom. But first of all, let me introduce myself; my name is Giacomo Mederico, I'm 25 years old, I graduated in Modern Languages at the Unimet, also I'm a Public Interpreter graduated at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. I'm also a huge fan of Video Games and Comic Books and also I'm a bass player. If you want to contact me, you can do it through here or via my email: giacolecturas@gmail.com, also through my wordpress account: http://giacosclassroom.wordpress.com/ and through my Soundcloud: www.soundcloud.com/giaco-6. I'll see you on my next blog post! Over and out.