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  1. 1. Optimizing E-language Learning Through Content Syndication Esperanza Román-Mendoza George Mason University eromanme @ http:// Social Media Summer Institute Language Acquisition Resource Center San Diego State University August 12, 2009
  2. 2. Contents <ul><li>Social Web </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Concepts and definitions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Social Web Ubiquitousness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Where we are </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS / Content syndication </li></ul><ul><li>Integration in the FL curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges, actions and RSS-based projects </li></ul><ul><li>Sources </li></ul>
  3. 3. Social Web <ul><li>Concept and definition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiplicity of terms: web 2.0, read-write web, social web, user-generated, live. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Variety of definitions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>See, for instance, Hinchcliffe (2005) and MacManus (2005) for repositories of definitions coined at that time . </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Controversy about the concept and the terms. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Development </li></ul><ul><li>Different degrees of integration/usage </li></ul>
  4. 4. Social Web Ubiquitousness <ul><li>Internet expansion </li></ul><ul><li>Constant launching of services, applications and tools </li></ul><ul><li>Information overload </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities for exposure to authentic language use </li></ul><ul><li>Urgent need to apply strategies to find, sort out, categorize, and reuse information </li></ul>
  5. 5. Some data... <ul><li>Number of Internet users </li></ul><ul><li>Number of websites? How do we define a website nowadays? </li></ul><ul><li>How many servers? </li></ul><ul><li>How many bytes of data? </li></ul><ul><li>How much traffic runs through the Internet per second? </li></ul><ul><li>How many services and active users per service? </li></ul>
  6. 8. Source: HubSpot. 2009
  7. 9. Source: Facebook Statistics. 2009
  8. 10. Facebook Statistics, 2009. Source: IStrategyLabs.
  9. 11. How can content syndication help?
  10. 12. RSS in plain English
  11. 13. RSS / Content Syndication <ul><li>Content syndication is the process by which a reader chooses to periodically receive content published by a given source by means of a subscription. </li></ul><ul><li>Markup language: XML </li></ul><ul><li>Two leading XML dialects ATOM & RSS </li></ul><ul><li>Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication or RDF (Resource Description Framework) Site Summary </li></ul><ul><li>Content syndication has been around since 1997. RSS since 1999. </li></ul><ul><li>Documents enabled for syndication via XML are called feeds , news or news feeds </li></ul><ul><li>News aggregators: Google Reader, Bloglines </li></ul><ul><li>Start pages: MyYahoo, iGoogle </li></ul><ul><li>Social personalized start pages: Netvibes & Pageflakes </li></ul>
  12. 14. RSS Sources <ul><li>Blog posts and comments </li></ul><ul><li>Wiki edits and discussions </li></ul><ul><li>Podcasts and videocasts </li></ul><ul><li>Microblogging updates </li></ul><ul><li>Lifestream entries </li></ul><ul><li>News and other regularly updated information </li></ul><ul><li>Results of queries performed in repositories, search engines, directories, and databases </li></ul><ul><li>Tags and favorites created by users (for instance in Delicious, Amazon, Flickr, Gmail, YouTube, Google Reader) </li></ul><ul><li>Almost anything, by converting it previously with tools such as Page2rss or Feedity </li></ul>
  13. 15. Aggregators / SPSPs <ul><li>Easy to manage </li></ul><ul><li>Share with friends/groups </li></ul><ul><li>Comments </li></ul><ul><li>Favorites </li></ul><ul><li>Stable platforms </li></ul><ul><li>High learning curve </li></ul><ul><li>Tools to create personalized start pages and share them with the Internet community or with a group of people. </li></ul><ul><li>Not necessary to create a personal profile </li></ul><ul><li>Not necessary to provide information about followers and friends. </li></ul><ul><li>Collective editing </li></ul><ul><li>Widgets </li></ul><ul><li>Technical glitches </li></ul>Aggregators Social personalized start pages
  14. 16. News aggregator. Bloglines
  15. 17. Course pagecast template. Pageflakes
  16. 18. Student Blog Entry. Arag ó n.
  17. 19. Google Reader subscriptions
  18. 20. Accessing blog entry directly from Google Reader
  19. 21. Accessing student blogs from centralized Pageflakes site
  20. 22. Subscription to Wikispaces edits
  21. 23. George Mason University page in Spanish. Wikipedia team project.
  22. 24. Integration into the FL curriculum <ul><li>RSS-based activities provide opportunities for best practices in e-language learning--as defined in Chinnery (2008): </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>productive, informative, collaborative, communicative, aggregative. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Students gain more control over their learning process and develop critical thinking towards the social web. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Students teach their teachers to understand what they have accomplished using social web tools and how it relates to their learning goals.” (Wilson, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers can have easier access to professional resources and collaborate with other teachers. </li></ul><ul><li>Are our students ready to gain control over their learning process? </li></ul><ul><li>Gradual, simple-step implementation is the way to approach this task. (Wilson, 2006) </li></ul>
  23. 25. Learning Challenge I: Working with content while still struggling with the language <ul><ul><li>Students are still struggling with learning the language but need to cover a lot of content with which they may be not very familiar. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Actions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not rely on data memorization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities to apply language skills to real communicative practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design activities in which learners learn from each other </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assign projects that produce useful, publishable deliverables. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS-based Project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Each student is in charge of studying a particular comunidad autónoma , is required to post a blog entry with the answers, can check other students’ projects (even the teacher has one) and provide feedback in a centralized, Pageflakes-based web site. </li></ul></ul>
  24. 26. Learning Challenge II: Addressing ALL students’ needs <ul><ul><li>Students represent a wide range of linguistic and academic backgrounds. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities for self-paced learning. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitor individualized learning. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students and teachers negotiate curriculum (Schwarzer & Petrón, 2005) and project topics. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use alternative methods of assessment (Schwarzer & Petrón, 2005). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS-based projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students choose 4 or 5 feeds they are going to follow throughout the course and publish comments on their aggregators. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students create a community of practice by sharing resources according to their goals for the course. </li></ul></ul>
  25. 27. Learning Challenge III: Writing in a Foreign Language <ul><ul><li>Students need more opportunities to write in the TL. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assign written exercises for real audiences. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use “student-vernacular” environments for written exercises. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities to learn and use new vocabulary. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduce reading materials that are meaningful to students. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS-based projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students build their own public pagecasts using a social personalized page service (e.g., as a semester-long individual project). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students integrate into their pagecasts a simple blog widget to publish comments. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students pagecasts include widgets of popular social Web services. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students are given a set of feeds to subscribe to according to their interests, language knowledge and specific cultural background. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students are asked to comment on peers’ blogs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students develop a list of relevant terms and use them as tags to create feeds. </li></ul></ul>
  26. 28. Learning Challenge IV: Creating new learning materials <ul><ul><li>Commercial teaching materials for certain languages and courses (such as for heritage speakers) are scarce and very limited in scope </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use authentic materials. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Take advantage of community resources. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integrate different types of literacy. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS-based projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students subscribe to and comment on authentic Web-based materials. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students are required to go beyond the traditional text and use as sources of information all types of media (both in their individual and final group projects). </li></ul></ul>
  27. 29. Learning Challenge V: Addressing affective needs <ul><ul><li>Students who feel comfortable in a class and know their strengths have more opportunities to continue learning the TL. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities for students to feel confident about their language skills. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities for students to track their progress throughout the course (learning portfolios). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expose students to real examples of language use by other speakers. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS-based projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>By subscribing to and following their peers’ blogs, students realize they are part of a big community that can use their language skills for real written communication. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By keeping a digital narrative that includes most of their online course work, students can easily go back to their first contributions and reflect on their progress. </li></ul></ul>
  28. 30. Final Remarks <ul><li>RSS has great potential as “channelizer” of information, and significance for learning processes in which content syndication enhances accessing, filtering, and repackaging data of all sorts. </li></ul><ul><li>As the information produced and consumed by students and teachers in any learning environment is diverse in format, size, nature, and periodicity, to mention only a few variables, so are the possible educational applications of RSS in collaborative or individual assignments and projects, peer assessment, learning portfolios, service learning, and professional development, among many other uses. </li></ul><ul><li>In a world in which the volume of data exceeds the capacity of users to sort and receive it , learners and teachers alike will benefit from a sound use of RSS. </li></ul>
  29. 31. Final Remarks <ul><li>By asking students to access diverse feed-generating sources, organize and select information, FL students will be exposed to FL and communicate with native speakers in ways probably never explored by them before. </li></ul><ul><li>Although there are increasingly more social web services that rely on oral communication, the current web is still text-based. Communication via blogs, wikis and chats requires the written language, and by asking FL students to be producers of information, we are encouraging them to use FL in new environments, with which they are already familiar in English. </li></ul><ul><li>RSS-based students projects and portfolios will enhance not only students’ knowledge about the subject matter but also that of the teacher’s. Students and teachers (and hopefully the community) will form a learning community from which all participants will benefit. </li></ul>
  30. 32. References, Sources and Bibliography <ul><li>Chinnery, G. M. (2008). Biting the hand that feeds me: The case for e-language learning and teaching. CALICO Journal, 25 , 471-482. https :// </li></ul><ul><li>Commoncraft. RSS in Plain English. </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook Statistics. 2009. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Hinchcliffe, D. (2005, December, 21). Review of the year's best Web 2.0 explanations. . </li></ul><ul><li>HubSpot (June 2009). State of the Twittersphere. http:// / sotwitter </li></ul><ul><li>Internet World Statistics. 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>Istrategylabs (January 2009). Facebook Demographics and Statistics Report. </li></ul>
  31. 33. References, Sources and Bibliography <ul><li>MacManus, R. (2005, February 1). Web 2.0 definition and tagging. http:// . </li></ul><ul><li>Román, E. (2008). Manual del Módulo “Tendencias Actuales del e-learning 2.0. Madrid: UNED. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Rom án-Mendoza, E. (2009). “RSS and Social Personalized Start Pages: Optimizing E-language Learning through Content Syndication, in Anderson, L & Lord, G . The Next Generation: Social Networking and Online Collaboration in Foreign Language. CALICO Monograph Series. </li></ul><ul><li>Schwarzer, D., & Petrón, M. (2005). Heritage language instruction at the college level: reality and possibilities. Foreign Language Annals, 38 (4), 568-578. </li></ul><ul><li>Solis, B. & JESS3. The Conversation Prism </li></ul><ul><li>Wilson, S. (2006). PLE Workshop. </li></ul><ul><li>WiseGeek. How Big is the Internet? </li></ul>
  32. 34. Cited Tools and Services <ul><li>Blogger. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Delicious. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Edmodo. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Feedity. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Flickr. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Friendfeed. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Google Reader. http:// / reader </li></ul><ul><li>iGoogle. http:// / ig </li></ul><ul><li>MySpace. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>MyYahoo. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Netvibes. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Ning. http:// / </li></ul>
  33. 35. Cited Tools and Services <ul><li>Odeo. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Pageflakes. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Page2rss. http:// page2rss . com </li></ul><ul><li>PBWiki. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Podomatic. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Scribd. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Slideshare. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>SurveyGizmo. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter Search. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia. http: // </li></ul><ul><li>Wikispaces. http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Wordle. </li></ul><ul><li>Wordpress. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>YouTube. http:// / </li></ul>