In recent years, English language teachers have used the computer to provide supplemental exercises in addition to the conventional worksheets and class tasks. The use of computer has motivated teachers to reevaluate the computer and consider it a valuable part of daily teaching aid, fostering initiatives to explore the world of e-learning, advancing from innovative software programs, authoring capabilities and the new media. This new avenues allow teachers to incorporate culture, grammar, and real language use in the classroom while students gain access to audio, visual, and textual information about the language and the culture of its speakers, hence making language learning more interesting and interactive.
Multimedia computer programs and tools that allow users, such as teachers, to author or tailor course materials (including assessments) for interactive learning tasks and other pedagogical purposes for their target learning audience. Teachers can use these programs to create simple or elaborate software programs using their own materials. In this way, teachers are able to design the program to fit their own lesson plans (Garrett, 1991; Willetts, in press). As we move from CD-ROM and DVD technology, authoring software is a new class of software, which offers a do-it-yourself approach to Computer Assisted Language Learning. Modern CALL authoring programs are designed to be used by language teachers who have no knowledge of computer programming and allow autonomous content, leaving the functionality to be managed by the authoring program itself. They allow users to display and create ideas and concepts by manipulating and conjoining program features and/or template(s). It automatically generates many types of pre-set activities for the language learner. Features may include: audio, video, built-in html, quizzes, multiple choice, fill in the blank, and other assessment question formats.
allows the teacher to input interactive feedback in assessment to support content knowledge, critical thinking, and students‟ understandings. Not limited to „right or wrong‟ feedback, it also supports learning, reflective thinking, and understanding through branching explanations and verification. Students can return to the questions or activities where they had difficulties and analyze/practice that specific skill again until they understand. Recommended for self-directed learning and learner autonomy, readily accommodating students self- monitoring and assessment of their own learning, hence satisfaction in learning.
The nature of assessment using authoring software helps learners use metacognitive strategies (i.e. centering, planning, and evaluating their learning). Authoring Software allows teachers to adjust assessments according to learning styles and for feedback received from previous activities. Conveniently allows interactive assessments and readily accommodates audio and visual feedback.
The Hot Potatoes is a software that enables you to create interactive exercises. These exercises include multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ ordering and gap- fill exercises. Hot Potatoes is free of charge and can be downloaded from its main page on the Internet. So how to use it? Hmmm….....?
(http://hotpot.uvic.ca/)o Generates a number of quizzes that can be completed onlineo Interface available in a number of languages.o Creates a variety of applications (cross-word, cloze, multiple choice, etc.)o Very user friendlyo Includes a tutorial to guide new users through the process of creating an applicationo Ability to save projectso The “masher” allows one to create a series of exercises into a sequential unit.
It can facilitate the teachers in constructing the exercises with minimal training of using this application. Teachers do not have to be stressed to produce one piece of exercise to the students. The exercises that have been produced by HOT POTATOES are interactive as the teachers can includes sounds and pictures to attract students interest in completing the tasks. The interactivity of the exercises will motivate the learners to act independently and help them in keeping their motivation level high.
Learners also will have more control (pace, choices, etc) in doing the tasks rather than a paper exercise where any one word can be the stumbling block to understanding This is because clues will be given to overcome the difficulty. There is an instant feedback in completing the task will help the learners in their learning.
It has limited interaction between the learners, teachers and the computer itself. It is all too often a "click-and-go" approach, which can mean that the student is not given sufficient scaffolding or support in the learning process. It creates the tendency of the learners to operate a binary correction strategy whereby the learners use the assumption If X is wrong, then Y must be the answer. HOT POTATOES could only be used as a self-learning or a self assessment tool, but does not have merit as a testing tool.
The usage of authoring software helps teachers in developing various exercises according to the level of students and teacher‟s understanding of their students Easy and fast, it can also be a hassle for teachers who are not competent with computer Depending on teacher‟s preference, authoring software can be useful for teachers in the long run When matched with motivated students and appropriate content, authoring software can promote second language acquisition (Winke & MacGregor, 2001) “The shift from thinking of technology as assisting instruction to thinking of it as supporting learning; the problems attending the evaluation of technologys efficacy; the prerequisites to genuine individualization of software; and the advantages and disadvantages of pedagogically shaped as contrasted with authentic materials and of learner control over the learning environment" (Garrett, 1991, p.95).