Making the most of Web2 tools: pragmatic issues and concerns


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Plenary session given at the 2nd ELT Symposium on e-learning in Secondary Education, Cankaya University, 16 April 2011.

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  • It’s an honour and a pleasure to be here. There has been a great exchange of ideas and experience. Thanks to the sponsors for providing this forum. Today I’d like to share a glimpse into my day-to-day digital world, and pass on some insights my students have helped me discover along the way. Insights that revolve around pragmatic issues and concerns. Insights that highlight the love-hate relationship we have with technology.
  • It’s an honour and a pleasure to be here. There has been a great exchange of ideas and experience. Thanks to the sponsors for providing this forum. Today I’d like to share a glimpse into my day-to-day digital world, and pass on some insights my students have helped me discover along the way. Insights that revolve around pragmatic issues and concerns. Insights that highlight the love-hate relationship we have with technology.
  • It’s an honour and a pleasure to be here. There has been a great exchange of ideas and experience. Thanks to the sponsors for providing this forum. Today I’d like to share a glimpse into my day-to-day digital world, and pass on some insights my students have helped me discover along the way. Insights that revolve around pragmatic issues and concerns. Insights that highlight the love-hate relationship we have with technology.
  • Technology—when it works it’s lovely, when it doesn’t you can feel like tearing your hair out. Luddites epitomize the love-hate relationship we have with technology. Luddites, contrary to popular opinion were not anti-technology, but rather were against the inappropriate application of a specific technology. In today’s world, the Luddites would certainly embrace the usefulness of e-learning, but they would be wary of the potential for misuse. Let’s take a look at an iconic example of recent technological change—the iPad.
  • Like all of our relationships with technology, it is primarily the usefulness and seamless integration of technology into our lives that attract us. The modern kitchen is awash with technology and robots – our refrigerator, dishwasher, food processor, microwave, and oven have taken the drudgery out of household duties. What is more, we no longer consider a kitchen as a kitchen without these labour saving devices. In our home, the iPad’s tremendous usefulness features have earned it a place alongside the dishwasher. It sits on our counter as a recipe book, it provides the up-to-date weather forecast, it serves as a media centre and library.
  • Ease of use on its own is not enough, but when combined with usefulness, the technology can become pervasive.
  • However, at times the previous technology was working just fine, and it is inappropriate to just replace the old with the new for the sake of technology and not innovation or change to make our lives easier or better.
  • As we’ve seen from the sessions today, the landscape of education is evolving remarkably quickly. Only a decade ago, email was a revolution in communication and static web pages with information we could consume were the norm. Now, email is viewed by the ‘i-generation’ as a quaint mode of communication, and we no longer consume but create, we live in online communities and life has been reduced to a series of 140 character tidbits in Twitter, or snippets on our Facebook wall. Sometimes we’re blinded by the techno-glitz, and it is useful to reflect on some basic principles when trying to decide how to use e-learning.
  • The usefulness of technology is about much more than how many bells and whistles we can add to the classroom. It’s about…empowering the learner. encouraging students to see learning means more than rote memorization. exploring and realizing multiple pathways to knowledge.(Armstrong and Yetter-Vassot, 1994)
  • Larry Cuban could be classified as a neo-Luddite. Excited about the potential technology offers, but very wary of the reality in practice. In his research for his book ‘Oversold and underused’ in 2004, he found that children taught in ‘high-tech’ schools performed no better than children taught in schools without technology. However, as with the Luddites, Cuban didn’t point the finger at technology, but that fact that teachers were still teaching the same way—with or without technology. Cyberspace is an agent for change, but it is not change in itself. Change has to come from within the teacher, with the support of schools and society as a whole.
  • In addition to attitude and institutional barriers, the nature of cyberspace is ephemeral. Virtually every day I get a link to a new tool that I haven’t seen before. As we’ve seen from Brendan, teachers face evolving demands to use multimedia. Shaun and Naomi’s webinar in itself shows the changing nature of the digital landscape, not to mention the next ‘wave’ of mobile learning technologies, as highlighted by Drs Seferoğlu and Saran, and the need to rationalize the use of Web2.0 via ‘blended’ learning, as illustrated by Patrick Shortt. But, amidst all the techno-glitz, we need to remember the basics and make our decisions on some fundamental principles.
  • Here are five basic elements of a principled approach to follow when making a pragmatic decision on the use of Web2.0 tools. Whenever you are faced with the choice of integrating any technology into your teaching, pause to measure it against these principles. If you are mindful of these principles as a guide, you can make the most informed decision when wading through the bewildering range of options on offer in the digital smorgasbord, and find which tools offer you the best opportunity to lead a normal life while meeting the challenges of the ever-changing digital landscape.
  • I’d like to share my attempts at applying a principled approach to weave a digital tapestry into my day-to-day teaching practice. In most cases I drag my students kicking and screaming into the digital waters, but I learn a lot from their successes and failures. I often ask their opinion – here is a recent poll I conducted, as I was curious to see what aspects of my tapestry were perceived as adding value to their learning experience.
  • Here are the responses from my students. Notice the high ratings for the ‘interpersonal’ side of learning (in BLUE), with f2f in the classroom just a nose ahead of the social networking that goes on in FACEBOOK. The GREEN bars show that multimedia is certainly deemed useful (but not essential) in terms of slidecasting, video and a virtual library. When it comes to the more ‘social constructivist’ side of learning, notice the RED bars for the perception of what is not so ‘effective’: where collaboration is emphasized and actual user generated materials are expected outcomes. Message here is that teachers need to ‘sell’ this side of the pedagogy more, as students have likely not had such. Let’s take a look at how the ACUTE principles can provide a framework for any teacher to weave their own digital tapestry.
  • As you can see from the survey results, students valued the social networking in Facebook almost as highly as the f2f contact in the classroom.
  • As of today, FACEBOOK is the most widely used social networking platform around, so it was an obvious choice to use this in terms of students being willing to use it.
  • Here is an example of a Facebook group for one of my courses that my students and I share. We manage all of our communications about the course – the content and the day-to-day events here. There is the communal WALL where everyone in the group can post. I’ve elected to make the group closed, so only members see any content. Facebook is moving into the realms of email, so there is a group email – if you send a message it appears on the group wall. We share Web media via WALL posts, as well as links. We also upload photos and video to share within the group. Important events, homework, projects are included as EVENTS, and there is a DOCUMENT feature where you can post static content. When students visit their home page these group elements appear on their page. In comments on the wall, I TAG students as necessary so they get notifications of specific posts that they need to follow. It takes five minutes to set up and saves a lot of time dealing with common problems, reminders, etc., but it also allows ways to follow up on issues or discussions that could never happen within the time available in class.
  • Facebook is now ‘mainstream’ in today’s cyberculture. It started in 2004 and has half a billion users. Notice how the influence of such tools goes beyond normal borders, socio-economic groups and ages by this example from a school in North Cyprus.
  • is less than a year old in North Cyprus, but notice the impact it has had in such a short time in terms of the cyberlandscape of young learners. Effectively, this is giving virtually everyone equal access to basic digital tools for communication.
  • Most teachers are unsure of how to act/react in a social networking context with students. The natural response is to avoid any contact at all.
  • There are many good resources to deal with the concerns about social networking: It is a common platform students feel at home in. It is breaking all the socio-economic barriers, with ‘free’ access to virtually every student possible via Teachers concerned about separating their personal and professional lives can create a separate TEACHER account and use CLOSED / SECRET groups per class. It is key to have parental involvement and promote digital literacy, avoid cyberbullyingand practice safety on the Internet. Social networking is an obvious extension of the ‘office hour’, but it can evolve into a comprehensive virtual learning environment. In terms of the ACUTE principles, the primary concern is how to use it effectively to reinforce learning objectives.
  • The next set of Web2.0 tools that my students indicated were useful were social media sharing sites. In my use of these media sharing sites, I save a lot of time by uploading media (like my PPT slides or videos) and making them accessible to students. My students, so far, remain passive consumers of this media sharing facility. This role as a consumer of knowledge is a feature that makes this side of Web2.0 particularly attractive to students.
  • YouTube is only five years old, but its impact can be measured by the sobering fact that since I opened this slide,24 hours of video have been uploaded to YouTube. YouTube allows anyone to create their own channel, and put together playlists of videos. This is a great tool to bring together video resources on any subject or theme that we want.
  • Any teacher can create a YouTube channel in a matter of minutes, and dip into the vast library of broadcast videos via playlists. You can synchronize your YouTube channel to your FACEBOOK account, so there is an automatic notification every time you add or upload a video. On uploaded videos, you can add your own annotations, captions and subtitles. YouTube now has an online ‘create your own movie’ from photos as well. This can really enhance the classroom based syllabus and provide a rich set of resources for students to enhance their learning in a medium that they can really relate to. It gets five green stars on the ACUTE scale.
  • GOOGLE offers a wide range of applications useful to teaching and learning. One of the tools my students found useful was my virtual library, created using the My Library feature under GOOGLE BOOKS.
  • This is an extension of the classroom library idea, but in My Library, I have virtual shelves arranged for various topics and courses. On the shelf, I can add notes about a book, and I add TAGs to the book if I want it to appear one different shelves. Students can preview the books online and if it isn’t available in the bookshop, order it direct from Amazon. As e-books become more popular and accessible on mobile devices, this means that a student can have their own personal library downloaded and ready to read within minutes. It also gets five green stars on the ACUTE scale.
  • The final media sharing site my students like is slidecasting. When I use powerpoint , I always broadcast the slide show on a slideshow sharing site.
  • There are many slidesharing sites around. They all offer the same features, although some have more to choose from in the ‘free’ version. Like YouTube, you will note the sharing option for social networking sites like Faceboook. A great timesaver, and students value this as a way to review the content. Like the other media sharing tools, it gets five green stars on the ACUTE scale.
  • The final set of tools my students rated as useful or nice but not absolutely essential are the tools that really excite me as a teacher as they offer ways of using Web2.0 tools in a social constructivist pedagogy. However, it appears that my students are not quite so keen on being active members of a social constructivist platform. As we saw earlier, they are happier being passive consumers of knowledge. So, using tools to promote cooperation, collaboration and user-generated knowledge is a particular challenge.
  • It is not only a challenge to our students, but also to many of us teachers. This is a profile of teachers based on a recent survey I conducted, showing that almost 90% of teachers have been teaching longer than FACEBOOK has existed. This also means that most of us have been educated without the use of technology, and it is quite natural for us to base our current teaching practices on the way we remember being educated ourselves. The people I work with are going to be teachers next year, but when they talk about their experiences as a high school student, none had been taught with an interactive whiteboard, and none could remember any integration of the Internet in their high school experience.
  • So, when I did a survey of the technology teachers used in teaching, either directly or in preparation of lessons, the results confirmed this techno-lag that occurs in the educational experience. The responses are for the frequency of use in teaching (either directly or in preparation). I’ve categorized the technologies here by colourRED=BEFORE THE WEB (computer-based software. No Internet needed); DARK BLUE=WEB1.0 (the web before social networking, blogs, wikis.) We are passive consumers of content in this mode; GREEN=Web2.0 as we know it now; LIGHT BLUE=communication technologies. In terms of frequency of use, the top five educational technologies are either computer-based or based on the use of the internet as it existed before the turn of the century. So, as most of us are Digital immigrants, we face the ‘unknown’ in terms of time to learn and time to adapt, so our primary mode is still ‘before the web’ in terms of actual use of technology.
  • In my case, I have tried to shed my digital immigrant accent to some extent by exploring Web2.0 tools like MOODLE, which is an open source virtual learning platform. MOODLE was born in 1999, so it has evolved in the era of Web2.0. So it is natural that students find the interface acceptable to a degree, although it generally lacks the immediacy of social networking tools. More to the point, although it is relatively easy to use, my studentstend to shy away from tools that are designed on social constructivist principles. The real challenge I face is to use effective scaffolding to allow students to bridge the gap from their normal role as consumers of knowledge to more cooperative and collaborative learning model. MOODLE is open source, which means it doesn’t cost anything to licence. However, there are lots of hidden costs—you need your own server, you need computer operator support to maintain, upgrade and troubleshoot. Also, as digital immigrants, many teachers do need some training to be able to use this tool effectively and usefully. The attractive feature of all Web2.0 tools is that they offer a high degree of flexibility – MOODLE can be used on a bottom-up or top-down principle. I’ve observed that when institutionalized, the tendency is for a top-down approach, emphasis on monitoring, centralized grading, and the use of the Internet as photocopier.In short, great potential as anagent for change, but as Larry Cuban observed, such innovation is often inhibited by dominant cultural beliefs about teaching, learning, and the nature of knowledge. While MOODLE has set the standard, there are now many other viable alternatives, some are web-based such as EDMODO and Rcampus – both have higher acceptability and cost values in ACUTE terms.
  • As we’ve seen from Prof. Dr. Sarıçoban and EyüpYaşarKürüm, a tool like MOODLE can be a foundation for a technology enhanced pedagogy, one that places Web 2.0 within a social constructivist and connectivist context. Here the student has been promoted to TEACHER status, and is running a discussion forum with his colleagues. I give students an assessment rubric to evaluate the discussion threads, and they RATE the contributions according to this. All of this is stored within the gradebook of the MOODLE. A great time saver.
  • There are many social bookmarking sites. I use DIIGO (Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff) as an efficient way to share bookmarks (favourites) with students. DIIGO allows you to not only share websites, but you can form a group to share resources with, and include discussion topics and comments on the sites themselves. DIIGO even lets you highlight words or phrases on a web page, add stickly notes and then share these with students, so when they view the same page they see your highlights and comments (and they can add their comments to yours.)
  • Again, my students are still using this resource in a Web1.0 mode, as passive consumers of the content I provide. Still, it is a great time saver for sharing Internet-based resources, can be easily updated and with proper scaffolding, can be used to great effect in cooperative and collaborative learning approaches.
  • GOOGLE APPs for Education is probably on of the most underused Web2.0 resources around. Any school can have the complete suite of GOOGLE applications for free (GMAIL, DOCS, SITES, CALENDAR, IM, etc.) within the school’s own domain. As my institution provides this, I mainly use the GOOGLE APPs for documents and sites. However, any school, no matter how small or large, can have the amazing power of GOOGLE for their own just for the asking.
  • Here is one example of a project-based assignment, in which my students were asked to create their own website. GOOGLE SITEs offers a built in scaffolding methodology. I created a ‘template’ with the framework and instructions for the students to work their way through the project. When they created their own site, they simply apply the template and ‘populate’ the content. WebQuests can be done very effectively in this way as well.
  • There are only so many hours in the day, and what I’ve shown you so far arethe Web2.0 tools I’ve been able to weave into my teaching on a practical day-to-day basis. There are many technologies I have chosen not to use or pursue on ACUTE principles.
  • One of the technologies that doesn’t fare well on an ACUTE scale is the Interactive Whiteboard. There are people who are passionate about their love or hatred of these devices. I haven’t seen much research to indicate that IWBs have any significant impact on the actual outcomes of learning in terms of student performance. And I am always wary of ‘hardware’ solutions…these tend to either go out of fashion or become superseded by the latest gadgets far too quickly to warrant the investment of time and capital.
  • There are plenty of alternatives to the IWB around. This is a nice idea, where you use a special paint to make your entire wall a whiteboard. Contrast the teacher-centered and IWB-focused classroom in the previous slide. Note here that there is an IWB, but in collaborative terms it is off to the side, while the use of ‘ideapaint’ to create ‘interactive walls’ rather than an interactive whiteboard. While students find IWB quite acceptible, the usefulness is confined to the more traditional teacher-led mode of instruction. It is a costly tool, and it doesn’t seem to be particularly friendly to us digital immigrants. In North Cyprus the British Council recently ran a workshop on ‘how to use an IWB effectively’ in North Cyprus…but they had to fly an IWB ‘expert’ in from Jordan. This highlights the problem with hardware solutions – need ‘experts’, need ‘materials’, need ‘power’. Motivation via acceptability can be high, but at what real cost? And what real benefit?
  • Back to where we started. Here is an example of an iPad-equipped classroom. Unlike the kitchen, where the iPad seemed to fit in, I’m not quite so sure how well it will fit into a classroom-based environment. With the current ‘i-generation’, where teenagers send over 3,500 SMS a month (and prefer this to talking to a person on the other end of the line), perhaps our classrooms will be better served to get them to interact with each other without the use of technology. Do in the classroom what we can do face-to-face, and weave the current tools of technology to extend this to meaningful learning outside the class. A challenge in the next decade.
  • When I reflect back on how technology has infiltrated my teaching practice, I see a number of distinct strands of technology and face-to-face teaching practice that have been woven into a tapestry that portrays my personal teaching style and philosophy and the unfolding story of learning of the people that I teach.
  • The loom represent the principled approach, the choice of colours represent the digital tools a teacher decides to use. The resulting tapestry is based on your creativity as a teacher,the forces of the curriculum and the students’ needs. Thank you for letting me share the story of my digital tapestry. I am sure I’ll see a remarkable range of digital tapestries from all corners of Turkey as you rise up to meet the challenge of weaving current and emerging technologies into your teaching practice. Good luck!
  • Making the most of Web2 tools: pragmatic issues and concerns

    1. 1.
    2. 2.
    3. 3. Making The Most Of Web-Based Teaching Tools<br />Pragmatic issues and concerns<br />
    4. 4. Technology – love it or hate it<br />
    5. 5. Watch:<br />
    6. 6. usefulness<br />
    7. 7. ease of use<br />
    8. 8. misuse<br />
    9. 9.
    10. 10. The usefulness of technology is about…<br />much more than how many bells and whistles we can add to the classroom. It’s about…<br />empowering the learner. <br />encouraging students to see learning means more than rote memorization. <br />exploring and realizing multiple pathways to knowledge.<br />(Armstrong and Yetter-Vassot, 1994)<br /><ul><li>much more than how many bells and whistles we can add to the classroom. It’s about…
    11. 11. empowering the learner.
    12. 12. encouraging students to see learning means more than rote memorization.
    13. 13. exploring and realizing multiple pathways to knowledge.</li></ul>(Armstrong and Yetter-Vassot, 1994)<br />
    14. 14. The misuse of technology often stems from the fact that…<br />innovation is inhibited by dominant cultural beliefs about teaching, learning, and the nature of knowledge and about the way schools are organized for instruction.<br />(Cuban, 1993)<br />
    15. 15. The goalposts keep moving<br />
    16. 16. A principled approach…<br /><ul><li>Acceptability: students willing to use it
    17. 17. Cost: value for money
    18. 18. Usefulness: reinforce learning objectives
    19. 19. Time: quick to adapt and apply in practice
    20. 20. Easeofuse: intuitive to learn and do
    21. 21. Acceptability: students willing to use it
    22. 22. Cost: value for money
    23. 23. Usefulness: reinforce learning objectives
    24. 24. Time: quick to adapt and apply in practice
    25. 25. Ease of use: intuitive to learn and do</li></li></ul><li>Students have their say…<br />
    26. 26. Effectiveness in terms of your own learning…<br />
    27. 27. Social networking<br />Applying the technology of the day to add relevance to learning<br />
    28. 28.
    29. 29.
    30. 30. North Cyprus: Year 7 (aged 13-14)<br />How long have you had a FACEBOOK account?<br />
    31. 31. North Cyprus: Year 7 (aged 13-14)<br />How often do you use your mobile phone to access<br />
    32. 32. To friend or not to friend…<br />
    33. 33.
    34. 34. Social media: students as consumers<br />
    35. 35.
    36. 36. My YouTube channel<br />
    37. 37.
    38. 38. GOOGLE library<br />
    39. 39.
    40. 40. Authorstream<br />
    41. 41. Social constructivism<br />
    42. 42. The land of digital immigrants<br />
    43. 43.
    44. 44. MOODLE<br />
    45. 45.
    46. 46. Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff<br />
    47. 47. DIIGO<br />
    48. 48.
    49. 49. GOOGLE Sites<br />
    50. 50. Technology I don’t use<br />
    51. 51.
    52. 52. Interactive whiteboard<br /><br />
    53. 53. A brave new world?<br />
    54. 54.
    55. 55. A digital tapestry<br />
    56. 56. Tools mentioned<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
    57. 57. A few tools to explore<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />http://slideshare.com<br /><br />http://podomatic and<br /><br /> and<br />
    58. 58. References<br />Armstrong, K. L. & Yetter-Vassot. C. (1994). ‘Transforming teaching through technology’. Foreign Language Annals, 27/4, 475–486<br />Rego, B. (2009). Teacher's Guide to Using Facebook (Read Fullscreen). Scribd. Retrieved April 10, 2011, from <br />Cuban, L. (1993). Computers Meet Classroom: Classroom Wins. Teachers College Record 95/2, pp. 185-210. Retrieved from<br />Poitras, G. (n.d.). Notes on Luddites and Neo-luddites. Retrieved from<br />
    59. 59. Images<br /> [ostrtich]<br /> [loom]<br /> [Mikey mouse smashing a computer]<br /> [first day of school, no wifi]<br /> [wall phone]<br /> [iPads in classrooms]<br /> [constructivism]<br /> [microphone]<br /> [moodle]<br />
    60. 60. Postscript: aspirations of a teacher-in-training<br />On the following slide you will see a comment from a discussion in one of our Facebook groups from a teacher-in-training about to graduate and look for a job teaching. <br />Note that the desire to use Web2.0 tools isn’t technology-driven. It’s based on providing the best learning experience possible in and outside the class.<br />
    61. 61. A teacher-in-training writes about using Facebookin teaching:<br /><ul><li>I hope that I can have this experience because i really want to use such [Web2.0] tools if i will be a teacher. Because I had difficulties of not doing exercises in classrooms hocam. When i was in high school, we, as all students, wanted teacher to do some practise to understand the subject better, but our teacher responded as we didn't have time to do so as he needed to catch up the syllabus. Therefore, i don't want my students to encounter such problems.</li>