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.

No comments:

Post a Comment