Of Mouse And Book
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This paper was published on pp 319-323 of ...

This paper was published on pp 319-323 of
XXXIV FAAPI Conference Proceedings: teachers in action; making the latest trends work in the classroom. Bahía Blanca: Federación Argentina de Asociaciones de Profesores de Inglés, 2009. ISBN: 978-987-98045-1-3

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  • 1. Note: This paper was published on pp 319-323 of XXXIV FAAPI Conference Proceedings: teachers in action; making the latest trends work in the classroom. Bahía Blanca: Federación Argentina de Asociaciones de Profesores de Inglés, 2009. ISBN: 978-987-98045-1-3 Of Mouse and Book – Using Web 2.0 resources in Literature Teaching (A Room of One’s Own Presentation) Prof. Mariel R. Amez Instituto de Educación Superior “Olga Cossettini” ISPI “San Bartolomé” mamez@express.com.ar Abstract This article introduces the theoretical background upon which the demonstration offered at the Conference rests. It discusses the characterisation of “Millennial Learners” and the relationship between current pedagogical theory and the use of technology. It also summarises some of the features of social software, providing a succinct survey of popular resources and their potential for exploitation. The demonstration itself focuses on classroom materials and activities developed by and for students in Literature courses in Teacher Education, and suggests ways in which these can be adapted for EFL classrooms. Of Mouse and Book – Using Web 2.0 resources in Literature Teaching (A Room of One’s Own Presentation) Digital Natives accustomed to the twitch-speed, multitasking, random- access, graphics-first, active, connected, fun, fantasy, quick-payoff world of their video games, MTV, and Internet are bored by most of today’s education, well meaning as it may be. But worse, the many skills that new technologies have actually enhanced (e.g., parallel processing, graphics awareness, and random access)—which have profound implications for their learning—are almost totally ignored by educators. (Prensky, 2001) Much has been written about the profile of “Digital Natives”, “Millennial Learners”, “Net Generation” or “Generation Y”, students who were born in the 1980’s and 1990’s. It is usually highlighted that, being technologically savvy and goal-oriented, they prefer information- connectedness, collaboration, multitasking, and share a focus on immediacy. While recent studies highlight the existence of a digital divide in this generation, both in access to technology and in operational capability (Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience, 2009) or challenge the scientific validity of such a generalization (Bennett, Maton & Kervin, 2008), the fact remains that, as many of the learners in our classrooms do exhibit at least some of those characteristics, teaching practices should be adapted in order to cater for their learning styles and preferences. Moreover, it is widely agreed that information literacies are essential for life- long learning, employability, social inclusion and empowerment to ensure sustainable development (Paas & Creech, 2008), so education has a vital role in fostering such literacies. The effective introduction of ICT contents in Teacher Education Programmes is therefore crucial both for the development of the teachers-to-be themselves, and for the application of innovative uses of technology in their own teaching practices. It should be borne in mind that ICT itself does not guarantee sound pedagogical quality. Technology can and has often been used to reproduce teacher-centred practices that actually
  • 2. hinder the achievements of students and contribute next-to-nothing to innovation and motivation. What matters is not the use of ICT but the pedagogical model that guides our practices and the learning tasks set to students, both of which can certainly be enhanced by resorting to technology: la tecnología (…) no debe ser el eje o centro de los procesos de enseñanza, sino un elemento mediador entre el conocimiento que debe construirse y la actividad que debe realizar el alumnado. El protagonista debe ser el propio humano que, en colaboración con otros sujetos, desarrolla acciones con la tecnología. (Area Moreira, 2007) From a constructivist perspective, effective learning is learning by doing, directed towards the learner’s interests and undertaken in a community, focused on the process of learning rather than on content. The teacher – no longer the source of knowledge – should design experiences that enable students to become independent learners. Some of the essential skills to develop in our society, given the overabundance of information and multiplicity of sources, include effective search, authentication and critical evaluation (Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience, 2009) or, to use a broader term, multiliteracies: From an educational standpoint, the concept of multiliteracies refers to how people must adapt to the changing nature of communication in a digital age and to what must be inculcated in students in order for them to succeed in lives where productivity depends on keeping up with technology. (Stevens, 2006) Many institutions have now implemented VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments) with a management information system, also known as learning platforms. VLEs bring together communication tools such as email, bulletin boards and chat rooms, collaboration tools such as online forums, electronic diaries and calendars, tools to create online content and courses, online assessment and marking – an array of resources available only to authorised participants in which the tutor can monitor frequency and quality of performance. They are closed systems that allow remote access, and can thus be extremely helpful for learners to catch up on missed lessons, work at their own pace, expand learning on a certain topic, and generally improve organisation of coursework. In addition to commercial versions, there are a number of free options, such as Moodle or Dokeos. VLEs are nowadays often integrated with Web 2.0 resources or “social software”. Some popular examples of social software are: Blogs, Internet-based journals or diaries in which a user can post text and digital material while others can comment (Blogger, Wordpress); Microblogging, a small-scale form of blogging, generally made up of short, succinct messages, used to share news, post status updates and carry on conversations. (Twitter, Pownce) Media-sharing services, which enable the uploading or downloading of media files (flikr; YouTube, Slideshare); Wikis, web-based services allowing users unrestricted access to create, edit and link pages (Wikipedia, PBWorks, Wikispaces); Social bookmarking services, where users submit their bookmarked web pages to a central site where they can be found and tagged by other users (del.icio.us, Diggo); Social network sites (My Space, Facebook, Ning), which can be defined as web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. (boyd & Ellison, 2007)
  • 3. The advantages of integrating social software are numerous. As they constitute “horizontal” spaces, with no hierarchies, they foster the development of networking, teamwork, st and collaboration, essential 21 century skills both for education and the labour market. They can also encourage bonding among members, even modifying traditional power structures. In addition, they can provide access to a wider variety of resources to encompass not only plural views but also a diversity of media (images, videos, audio), and allow for individual and joint discoveries and feedback. Some difficulties of assimilating social software into teaching, as Bennett et al (2008) point out, refer to the fact that while young people do frequently own state-of-the art technologies, only a minority create their own content for the Web. Moreover, students identify certain technologies as ‘living technologies’, for their own personal and social use (eg SMS, games), and others as ‘learning technologies’ and more research is needed to determine the specific circumstances under which students would like their 'living technologies' to be adapted as 'learning technologies'. (Dobozy & Pospisil, 2009) However, as stated above, ICT and social software in particular need to be an integral part of education and Teacher Education in particular. They must become as invisible as chalk and board so that students learn to interpret and assess critically the information that surrounds them, and are able to express themselves and communicate using available technology (Area Moreira, 2007). VLEs are useful for the classified storage of resources, quizzes, emailing, chatrooms and forums. Blogs are ideal for reflective journals open for comment by peers and tutor, and wikis for collective content creation and development, complementing or replacing lectures. Through social bookmarking, lists of articles or activities online can be expanded and commented on. Multimedia presentations available online can do away with the monopoly of textbooks, and the creation of such presentations by students to be shared through social media can show their emotional response and their abilities to deal with complex technological resources. Based on this theoretical framework, I have been working to integrate ICT – and especially Web 2.0 resources – into my Literature classes in Teacher Education, and it is the tasks designed and their realisation by the students that are the core of this demonstration. The activities range from personal reading journals to forums to raise expectations or share responses; from selecting existing materials to designing an imaginary film trailer based on a book discussed. Some of the resources illustrated through students’ productions can be found at: VLE: http://ies28.sfe.infd.edu.ar/aula/ Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/literature_in_english_I/ Wiki: http://ieslit1.pbworks.com/ Social network: http://litineglish.ning.com/ Social network (reading preferences) http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2354802- lucia Social bookmarking: http://delicious.com/tag/litinenglish3 Media sharing: http://www.slideshare.net/mamez/masset-creative-writing References Area Moreira, M. (2007). Algunos principios para el desarrollo de buenas prácticas pedagógicas con las TICs en el aula. Comunicación y pedagogía: Nuevas tecnologías y recursos didácticos., (222), 42-47. Bennett, S., Maton, K., & Kervin, L. (2008). The `digital natives' debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39 (5), 775-786.
  • 4. boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11. Retrieved July 1, 2009, from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience, (2009). Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World, 570 (1.1), Retrieved July 3 2009, from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/ publications/heweb20rptv1.pdf Dobozy, E., & Pospisil, R. (2009). Exploring flexible and low-cost alternatives to face-to-face academic support. Teaching English with Technology, 9 (2), Retrieved July 11, 2009, from http://www.iatefl.org.pl/call/j_article6_35.pdf. Paas, L., & Creech, H. (2008). How ICTs can support Education for Sustainable Development: Current Uses and Trends. International Institute for Sustainable Development, Retrieved July 6, 2009, from http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2008/ict_education_sd_trends.pdf Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Part II: Do They Really Think Differently?. Retrieved July 17, 2009, from Marc Prensky Web site: http://www.marcprensky.com/ writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital %20Immigrants%20-%20Part2.pdf Stevens, V. (2006) Revisiting Multiliteracies in Collaborative Learning Environments: Impact on Teacher Professional Development. TESL-EJ 10 (2). Web. Retrieved 29 May 2009 from http://www.tesl-ej.org/ej38/int.html