Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Week #13: Research on ICT and ELT - Final Project

The purpose of this project is to present a proposal in which information and communication technologies (ICTs) are involved in the field of language teaching. A class blog was chosen and designed on Blogger to be used as a web tool where students from the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas (IVIC) will post their tasks/activities and practice and learn English.

Visit here the Class Blog by IVIC Students

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Week #12: E-Assessment

During this week, our ICTs in ELT professor explained to us the topic of evaluating our students' online work. To start, it is important to know that there is a difference between assessment and evaluation. Our facilitator Evelyn Izquierdo provided us with the following definitions:

Assessment requires the gathering of evidence of student performance over a period of time to measure learning and understanding. Evidence of learning could take the form of dialogue, journals, written work, portfolios, tests along with many other learning tasks.
Evaluation on the other hand occurs when a mark is assigned after the completion of a task, test, quiz, lesson or learning activity. A mark on a spelling test will determine if the child can spell the given words and would be seen as an evaluation.
There are different tools to assess students' work such as:
  • Concept Maps
  • Concept Tests
  • Knowledge Survey
  • Exams
  • Oral Presentations
  • Poster Presentations
  • Peer Review
  • Portfolios
  • Rubrics
  • Written Reports

Other assessment types includes: concept sketches, case studies, seminar-style courses, mathematical thinking and performance assessments.

E-assessment is becoming widely used. It has many advantages over traditional (paper-based) assessment. The advantages include:

  1. lower long-term costs
  2. instant feedback to students

  3. greater flexibility with respect to location and timing
  4. improved reliability (machine marking is much more reliable than human marking)
  5. greater storage efficiency - tens of thousands of answer scripts can be stored on a server compared to the physical space required for paper scripts
  6. enhanced question styles which incorporate interactivity and multimedia.

There are also disadvantages. E-assessment systems are expensive to establish and not suitable for every type of assessment (such as extended response questions). The main expense is not technical; it is the cost of producing high quality assessment items - although this cost is identical when using paper-based assessment.

These are some websites where you can create rubrics and other assessment tools for your lessons:




I created my own rubric as an example to assess my students online work of their Class Blog (final project). Visit the link here

References and links to expand on this topic:



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Week #11: Web-based lessons and e-portfolios

Our ICT in ELT course is coming to its end but in this amazing experience we have learned many things regarding technology and all the possibilities to use it within the field of education, especially to teach English. One of the most useful tool to be used and integrated into the classroom is the Web. During this week, the facilitator taught about Web-based lessons and E-portfolios and their importance for teaching and learning.

Web-based lessons are lessons that integrate the use of one or more Websites for different purposes including research, reading, writing, communication and collaboration with teachers and learners around the world. These type of lessons can bring into the classroom new opportunities for students to develop ideas, knowledge and digital skills. There is so much information on the Web that many creative and original activities/lessons can be done. Different learning styles and language skills can be developed by using texts, videos and sound.

When integrating Web-based lessons into our classroom an important aspect should be taken into account: to include specific steps that describe how and when the Website will be used. In other words, it is important to include and design a Web-based Lesson Plan. A lesson plan should contain:

  • date
  • teacher
  • class/level
  • lesson length
  • topic
  • objectives (learning goals)
  • materials
  • description of the activities
  • websites to be used
  • description of follow-up activities

Example of a Web-based lesson plan to be used with the students of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC)

Teacher: Cirene Ramírez

Level: intermediate - 10 students

Lesson lenght: 90 minutes

Topic: global warming (specifically greenhouse gases)

Aim: students will recognize the theme of an oral text given in English


  1. to practice listening skills using audio and video tools via Internet
  2. to relate visual images with spoken narration in English
  3. to practice speaking skills

Materials: 10 computers with Internet access, headsets

Description of the activities: students will be asked to access Internet in order to watch a short video narrated in English. They will relate the narration with the visual aids provided in the video and then will recognize the main topic.

Website to be used: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/

Follow-up activities: students will practice speaking by sharing their comments and opinions about the video watched in class.

Regarding e-portfolios, these are a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user on the Web. Such electronic evidence may include electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks. The process of producing an e-portfolio (writing, typing, recording, etc.) usually requires the synthesis of ideas, reflection on achievements, self-awareness and forward planning; with the potential for educational, developmental or other benefits. E-portfolios, like traditional portfolios, can facilitate students' reflection on their own learning, leading to more awareness of learning strategies and needs. By using e-portfolios, students can develop creativity and increase their motivation. Collaborative and group work are promoted and ICTs are integrated into the traditional classroom.






Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Week #10: Exploring Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)

The potential of technology is so huge that it allows teachers and facilitators to use as many available tools as possible to enlarge and improve education. Virtual learning environments (VLE) are a good example. These are "virtual places" that normally work over the Internet and provide a collection of tools for communication, uploading of content, peer assesment, administration of student groups, collecting and organizing questionnaires, among other things. The virtual space where educational interactions occur is explicitly represented: the representation of this information/social space can vary from text to 3D immersive worlds.

While originally created for distance education, VLEs are now most often used to supplement traditional face to face clasroom activities, commonly known as Blended Learning. In these environments students play an important role since they are not only active but also actors. They co-construct the virtual space.
Many universities and other institutions of higher education are increasingly turning to VLEs in order to:
  • economize on the time of teaching staff.
  • provide a service for students who increansingly look to the internet as the natural medium for finding information and resources.
  • facilitate the integration of distance and campus-based learning or of learning on different campuses.

There are different virtual environments for learning among which the most used are: Moodle, Elluminate, WiZiQ, and the virtual world Second Life. In our ICT in ELT course we have been working with WiZiQ for online lessons in which we listen and interact with our teacher and classmates using a webcam and microphones besides the different tools provided by the platform. I think this has been a very interesting topic for all language teachers that want to begin using and applying technology into their classes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Week #9: Communities of practice (CoPs) - Exploring Web 2.0 tools for Social Networks

Community of practice (CoP), according to cognitive anthropologists Jean Lavee and Etienne Wenger, is a term that describes a group of people who share an interest, a craft, and/or a profession. The group can evolve naturally because of the member's common interest in a particular domain or area, or it can be created specifically with the goal of gaining knowledge related to their field. It is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that the members learn from each other, and have an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally. However, as Wenger stresses, not everything called a community is a community of practice. A neighborhood for instance, is often called a community, but is usually not a community of practice. Therefore, three characteristics are crucial:
  • Domain - a domain of knowledge creates common ground, inspires members to participate, guides their learning and gives meaning to their actions.
  • Community - the notion of a community creates the social fabric for that learning. A strong community fosters interactions and encourages a willingness to share ideas.
  • Practice - that while the domain provides the general area of interest for the community, the practice is the specific focus around which the community develops, shares and maintains its core of knowledge.
This important concept has found a number of practical applications in different fields such as education which is key for teachers and educators who want to improve and integrate ICTs in the classroom. The first applications of communities of practice regarding education have been in teacher training and in providing isolated administrators with access to colleagues. There is a wave of interest in these peer-to-peer professional-development activities.
Based on the previous information, there have been efforts in the educational field to create and apply this concept to improve the way languages, for example are taught. This is an example of a Community of Practice:
For more information about the topic, you can visit these links:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Week #8: Social networking - Webconferences

One of the most striking features of the web 2.0 is its power to help create and spawn communication channels on the web. These online channels are known as social networks and they provide people with connections that allow them to share or expand their interests and knowledge on a certain subject. From an educational point of view, social networks can be used as a tool for creating and sharing ideas and information as well as developing students' interest in a particular topic. In other words, they can become an excellent resource for language sessions and training.
Social networking is a powerful educational resource for language teachers and students not only because it encourages the development of much needed social and communication skills required in academic and professional environments online (Communities of Practice), but because it responds to a different way of processing the exponentially growing information on the net. AVEALMEC and ARCALL are two Latin-American associations interested in promoting the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the language classroom. They have joined forces to organize this first regional event to help spread the word on the role of ICT in the language classroom. Twelve video-conferences focuse on social networks, web tools and their potential to create Communities of Practice to share, communicate without barriers and enhance the teaching-learning process in the language classroom.
I had the opportunity to attend some of the conferences which I consider interesting and useful specially for those who are working, developing, applying and integrating ICTs into their teaching/learning contexts. I summarized three of the twelve video-conferences and if you are interested in knowing more about them visit the following link

Nellie Müller Deustch
University of Phoenix
WikiEducator: A community of Educators
Wikis are revolutionizing the way learners and teachers interact with information and in this presentation its speaker discusses WikiEducator as a powerful collaborative community that connects and engages learners and teachers in the process of sharing content. According to Nellie Müller Deustch (the speaker), WikiEducator(WE) is a communitiy of educators and learners who are passionate about collaborative learning. This Wiki has a structure including a Council with members responsible for providing the organizational framework to support the community in the achievements of its aims, maintaining the essential freedoms of the project resources, and making these available on the Internet.
This useful community is organized in groups (workgroups) in which the members discuss different issues and work on them. Nellie stresses the importance of WE specially because it is a platform where teachers and learners and all the participants can collaborate and share information. One of the most important WE pages is the community portal in which important information about the community can be found.
Since the idea of a wiki is collaborative work for a common interest, WE offers online workshops that promote collaboration through different topics regarding education. Nellie has been facilitator of many online and face to face workshops such as blending learning environments, social networks like moodle for teachers, among others.
In summary, this wiki offers the opportunity for teachers and students to become part of it and collaborate while getting ideas for education and teaching.
Carla Arena
Flickr - Design that connects

Flickr is much more than just an online photo sharing space. It's a hub for educational experiments, networking and visually appealing inspiration to any educator. According to Carla Arena, who describes herself as a passionate of Flickr, this tool has a great potential for the classroom. She explains that "it´s all about narrative, showing who we are, it´s about stories, it´s about us".

With these short definitions, Arena begins her presentation and shows support for using Flickr in education. She gave many examples and ideas to teachers of the possible uses of it. For example, you can become part of a group in which people share pictures regarding a specific topic or interest. From one single photo a big conversation can be created. Teachers may choose a topic and students can join the discussion commenting on the photos of that topic and debating on pics. Labels and tags are also useful to learn and practice English specially for beginners.

In summary, Flickr should be explored more in depth by teachers to engage students in the process of learning the language more actively.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Week #7: Web 3.0 Virtual worlds - Tour to Second Life - My SL Experience

Second Life (SL) is a virtual world developed by Linden Lab that launched on June 23, 2003. Its users (called residents) can interact with each others through avatars exploring, meeting other residents, socializing, participating in individual and group activities among other things.
During this week of the course, our professor gave us an introduction to SL. We created our avatars and visited some interesting places where we learned how to walk, communicate and even fly with our avatars. It was an interesting experience for me. There´s still plenty left, though. We have to continue working on SL and using it as a tool for education. In fact, this is the important aspect here since we are English Language teachers and want to develop other types of activities with our students.
These are some of the snapshots taken during the visit. The whole ICT in ELT group is there receiving instructions from our professor and learning from the different tutorials.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Week #6: Web 2.0 Voice and video tools, podcasting

Within the vast world of Web 2.0 tools we can find audio and video tools. These tools are very useful when teaching a second language since they can improve the way we share information with our students.

A very popular tool used nowadays is podcast. A podcast is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and downloaded through web syndication (Wikipedia, 2009). During this week, we learned how to create podcasts using Audacity, a digital audio editor and recording application. Once recorded, we used a Podcast social subscribing site Podbean to publish our podcasts. It was a very interesting experience and I really enjoyed it. I would like to begin using this tool with my students and as soon as I do, I will share my comments with you.

This is the first podcast I created. Listen to it and leave your comments about it

Powered by Podbean.com

Our professor also told us to use another audio voice tool called Snapvine to create our own voice messages to connect with online friends and communities too. I leave you here my first Snapvine message

Comment | Copy This

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week #5: Web 2.0 - Wikis

As this short video shows, a wiki is a website that allows the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked Web pages. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites, to power community websites, and for personal note taking, among others.
Many things can be included in a wiki such as photos, videos, widgets, podcasts, etc. For educational purposes, in our case English Language Teaching, wikis work as a collaboration tool that teachers and students can use to contribute to building ideas together as a group. This tool allows everything (information, ideas, files, links) to be in one place and all members can have instant access to that place.

A Wiki is a portal for learning that:
  • promotes collaborative work
  • facilitates and develops the creation of group projects
  • allows edition. Anyone can make changes - (no more waiting for the Webmaster to get around to your requested changes)
  • encourages students' participation
  • improves the relationships among the members as well as communication and interaction

According to the creator of Wiki, Ward Cunningham, a wiki a) invites all users to edit any page or to create new pages within the wiki Web site, b) promotes meaningful topic associations between different pages by making page link creation almost intuitively easy and by showing whether an intended target page exists or not and c) is not a carefully crafted site for casual visitors. Instead, it seeks to involve the visitor in an ongoing process of creation and collaboration that constantly changes the Web site landscape (1).

In our ICT course we just learned what a wiki is and we are currently working and developing our personal wiki projects. Mine refers to English for Scientists and it is under construction but if you are interested in its progress you can visit the following link: http://englishforscientists.wetpaint.com/

These are some wiki hosts you can visit

Wetpaint: http://www.wetpaint.com/

Pbworks: http://pbworks.com/

Wikispaces: http://www.wikispaces.com/

For more information about this topic:

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Week #4: Web 2.0 Blogging

Our weekly topic this time was bloggin. You might be wondering what a blog is. Well, a blog (abbreviated from weblog) is often described as an online journal but blogs can also be better described as "web sites that are easily created and updated by those with even a minimum of technology know-how"(1). In other words, blogs are like online diaries.
For educational purposes blogs are an excellent tool teachers should use in their classrooms. Any post (topic published) can become a discussion and that is why participation is key in this process of knowledge exchange. As language teachers we have many possibilities when using blogs for and in our classes. We post our perspective of a topic, or a reading exercise, or just a simple question regarding the language we teach, and then students participate actively in the discussion of that post and that's how relationships and collaborative work are built.
In the field of Language Teaching, Aaron Campbell (2003) has outlined three types of blogs: the tutor blog, the class blog, and the learner blog (2). Each of these three types of blog can be used in language classes to provide students with the ideal space to share their thoughts, comments, knowledge, and discuss topics related to language learning.
Blogs are also a way to create different communities of bloggers (people that blog) and contact other teachers and students that do the same thing we do and have common interests. In simple words: blogs give people the power of the media, in this particular case the power of education and teaching. It'll depend on us to use it properly for the right purpose.
And you, what would you do with this power?
Check this video that shows, in a simple and illustrative way, this great tool.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week #3: Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0

The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet. With a web browser, one can view Web pages that may contain text, images, videos, and other multimedia and navigate between them using hyperlinks (1). But what are the main features of those Web pages people see every day when surfing the net? Is there any difference among them? Yes, there is. Web sites can be classified into two types: Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. The first term refers to personal or institutional web sites that are mainly used to publish information. Some typical characteristics of a Web 1.0 site include:

  • Static pages instead of dynamic user-generated content.
  • The use of framesets.
  • There is no direct contact between the user and the site owner (limited contact with the webmaster).
  • Online guestbooks.
In contrast, Web 2.0 is commonly associated with web applications which facilitate interactive information sharing and collaboration on the WWW. A Web 2.0 site allows its users to interact with other users or to change website content. Examples of Web 2.0 include web-based communities, web applications, social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, among others.
Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information. They can build on the interactive facilities of Web 1.0 and own the data on a Web 2.0 site and exercise control over that data. Web 2.0 websites typically include some of the following features and techniques. Andrew McAfee used the acronym SLATES to refer to them:
  • Search: finding information through keyword search.
  • Links: guides to other related information.
  • Authoring: the ability to create and update content leads to the collaborative work of many rather than just a few web authors. In wikis, users may extend, undo and redo each other's work. In blogs, posts and the comments of individuals build up over time.
  • Tags: categorization of content by users adding one-word descriptions to facilitate searching, without dependence on pre-made categories.
  • Extensions: software that makes the Web an application platform as well as a document server.
  • Signals: The use of syndication technology such as RSS to notify users of content changes.

In our ICT course, the weekly task regarding this topic consisted of creating a static web page using a Web 2.0 application (a blog in http://www.wordpress.com/). We had to build a portfolio in which we show our profile as an English teacher and as a professional in the ELT field. This site has academic information that might be of interest to the ELT world. This was a good experience and we learned how to combine new tools and adding, modifying and even deleting information.

My URL in Wordpress is: http://cireneramirez.wordpress.com/ Feel free to visit it and enjoy it.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Web

Week #2: ICTs in ELT

This week, we learned and discussed the topic of ICT in the field of English Language Teaching. ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology and it covers all technical means for processing and communicating information. This term is often used to describe digital technologies including methods for communication (transmission techniques, communications equipment, media) as well as techniques for storing and processing information (computing, data storage, etc.)
In our world, technology is changing so fast that people need to adjust and adapt to new trends and innovations in order for them to be updated and not to get left behind. In the case of education, both teachers and students should know how to use the new tools offered by technology and apply them in their daily life, specially in their learning/teaching contexts.
Nowadays, there are many associations around the world that integrate technology with language teaching in order to engage students in the language learning process. To fulfill this task, certain conditions are required. For example, it is mandatory at least to have Internet access and a computer. And it is also important to know the web tools available for this purpose and how to use them. A combination of all these aspects allow people to make use of ICTs in ELT effectively. However, this is an ideal context. In many cases teachers and/or students do not have either the money or the facilities to use ICTs.

In Venezuela, it is very difficult to use ICTs in all teaching contexts since most schools and universities need money and infrastructure in the first place. In my case, I teach at the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC) and the availability of technological facilities is reasonable. There is one English lab with 15 computers approximately with free Internet access. Students have English lessons twice a week and can make use of the lab any time they want. Audio and video tools are also used in class as well as the Moodle platform to have extra practice and reinforce what learned in class. Nevertheless, I have never used with my students blogs or wikis to engage them in collaborative and interactive tasks. I think it would be interesting to create a wiki or a class blog aimed at students of science to promote active participation and collaboration while learning English.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Week #1: Digital Literacy

In our first week of class we discussed the topic of Digital Literacy and its role in English Language Teaching. Now, you must be wondering what Digital Literacy refers to. Digital Literacy can be defined as the basic computer concepts and skills needed to use computer technology in everyday life. But being a digital literate person also includes critical cognitive skills. Thus this particular type of literacy is using digital technology, communication tools, and/or networks to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information in order to function in a knowledge society (ICT Report, 2002). Digital literacy encompasses computer hardware, software (particularly those used most frequently by businesses), the Internet, cell phones, Personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other digital devices (Wikipedia, 2009).
In the field of Education, more specifically in Language Teaching, the use of technology is becoming more and more important since the spread of information takes place every second ubiquitously. Therefore, teachers should learn and incorporate the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in their classrooms in order to produce, use, store, communicate, and/or disseminate information.
What are the main digital competencies teachers must have to be considered digital literate people and use technology efficiently? Teachers as well as students should combine their cognitive skills such as reading comprehension, writing, and critical thinking with the use of technology. Once they know how to use a computer (electronic devices in general), web tools, social networks, and communities of practice, and are capable of searching for information, sharing knowledge and working collaboratively, they can be considered digital literate people with the competencies needed to learn, teach, and share knowledge.
Web tools are some of the instruments teachers can use to fulfill their task through the use of technology. They should handle as many Web tools as possible to facilitate the learning process and make students aware of the current trends in education. In this 21st century, teachers might utilize blogs, wikis, podcasts, videos, and others to develop and build knowledge, information and communication. Social networks (social structures made of individuals or organizations called "nodes," which are connected, Wikipedia, 2009) allow teachers and students to be “tied” and exchange thoughts, ideas, information, and at the same time to work collaboratively. Finally, Communities of Practice (CoP) are also networks that support professional practitioners in their efforts to develop shared understandings and engage in work-relevant knowledge building (Wikipedia, 2009).
To summarize, it is very important that teachers learn and use different ICTs in their environments to promote effective learning and improve students’ potential regarding learning a second language.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome to My ICT Course Blog

Welcome and thank you for visiting.

I created this blog to share knowledge about Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in English Language Teaching (ELT).
Currently I am doing postgraduate studies to obtain a Master´s Degree in the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and one of the subjects I am taking refers to ICTs in ELT. Therefore the idea of having this blog is to make weekly reflections on the issues discussed during the course by posting the specific topic seen in class and the task required.
If you are interested and want to participate actively, you can follow my blog and share everything you consider relevant within this field.
Comments and remarks regarding this fascinating world are all welcome.

Cirene R.