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The Web offers many tools for teachers and learners and the most popular ones are

the social networking sites and Blog, which both could use effectively in their teaching and learning process. Using these tools promotes students’ active learning as well as teachers’ efficiency to teach even beyond their classrooms. In this chapter, the author would discuss the pilot study conducted with the above-mentioned tools in an engineering college. In a survey done with a help of a questionnaire, it was found that students enjoyed accessing social network and had the interest in receiving inputs relating to language skills through the social network. In this study students learnt to create an account in social networking site Twitter and Web 2.0 tool Blog and also work on the tasks relating to business scenario. Their feedback of students indicated that the author had achieved most of her study objectives. Class or subject area: English Grade level(s): Tertiary Level Specific learning objectives: • The Indian classroom scenario. • The objective of conducting a short Pilot study. • The procedure followed to train students in four skills. • The orientation given to students about Twitter and Blogs. • The encouragement given to students to share their views online. • The use of Web 2.0 technology for training students. • How business English could be taught beyond a classroom. • The use of Podcasts to teach Business English. • The advantages of offering online training through Twitter and Blog.

Author Biography: Revathi Viswanathan is an Associate Professor in English at B.S. Abdur Rahman University, Chennai, India with 19 years of teaching experience. She is currently teaching Technical and Business English to engineering and management students in the university. She has specialized in ELT and has worked on promoting self-directed learning among collegiate students while doing her doctoral thesis. Her other area of interest is the use of advanced technology in language classrooms. She is also a teacher trainer and has been conducting teacher training programs for the past 9 years. Activity Summary

Anniversary Book Project

5th

Social Networking and Blogging to Enhance Learning
By: Revathi Viswanathan Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-ND Author contact: revathiviswanath@yahoo.co.in

Introduction Students learn better when they are involved in their learning process and teachers need to create a platform for their participation. Social media technologies offer learning platforms, which are user friendly and the ones students would feel comfortable to work on are social networking sites for sharing ideas with others and Blogs for uploading responses to tasks. In this chapter, the author would discuss the pilot study she conducted with engineering students to analyse the effectiveness of using Twitter, a social network site and Blog, for promoting language learning. Background Teaching within or beyond a classroom helps teachers and students to form a network and exchange information. B.S.Abdur Rahman University, where the author is currently working, offers a supplemental blended learning program (Pennstate, 2005) and students receive inputs both within the classroom and in the language lab. Students are exposed to business English for writing their communication skills lab exam and facing the corporate world. Additional input on corporate scenario is given through tasks. Teachers handle a rigid curriculum, which includes training students in language skills and conducting continuous assessments within a period of four months. Hence, exposure given to students to learn business scenario proves to be inadequate in this system. It is felt that teachers have to integrate web tools for imparting additional training beyond the classroom. Wikipedia (2012) states that “Social media technologies take on many different forms including magazines, internet forums, weblogs, social blogs,microblogging, wikis, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking”. Students are familiar with social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and MySpace. They use at least a few regularly for interacting with their friends. It is believed that these social media technologies could be exploited for training students in language skills and at the same time create awareness of other Web 2.0 tools such Blog, YouTube and Podcast through these sites among students. They would also learn to use the Web 2.0 tools for learning purposes, thus paving the way for lifelong learning. The author identified Twitter, a social media technology and the microblogging site and Web 2.0 tool, Blog for using them as tools to conduct the pilot study. The advantages in using them are, as Pettenati (2006) states, the characteristics of social networks are ‘spontaneity, high level of trust and autonomous motivation’ (p.4). Theoretical Relevance According to Siemens (2004),”Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual” (n.d). This is applicable to students’ acquisition of knowledge, which he gains from various sources. Siemens theory of Connectivism states that “Learning is a network formation process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources” (n.d)Thus it is evident that students need to form a social network, which in a way would make him learn from each other. It must be stated that learning becomes more authentic and interesting while networking with experts, with peers and additional sources of information given. Reynard (2008) Pettenati & Cigognini (n.d), support the use of technologies to form a network. Thus, the use of social media technologies could be justified with the application of theory of Connectivism. Literature Review Social Networking is the recent trend among youngsters and research studies too have been done to train students in lifelong learning as well as encourage them to collaborate with others. Hoffman

(2009) discusses the success of using Social network site, Ning with the students of Univeristy of Regina. The institution decided to include social media application, Ning instead of CMS system for holding discussions among students. Students used the tool for commenting on profile pages of their peers and posted pictures initially, responded to twelve discussion items over the semester (out of which for six items they had to comment on each other’s answers). The discussions included analysis of course readings, coordination on one group project and peer review of draft assignments. Students enjoyed using this platform for holding lively discussions and using Blog. Although the analysis of this study did not offer any evidence to student achievement, students’ self-ratings of learning was positive. It was also found that students, who wanted to have classroom learning, now opted for distance learning. In another study conducted by Alderton, Brunsell & Bariexca (2011) on the selected educators’ use of Twitter, the aim was to find the impact of Twitter usage on their professional practice. The selected participants were users of Twitter. Their individual tweet was given to one of five categories. The categories were, 1. Practice, 2. Resource, 3. Question , 4. Social and 5. Unknown that referred to any other exchange educators had. Besides analysing the content of each participant’s tweets, they had to complete an 11- item survey that consisted of multiple choice and open-ended items. The participants responded that twitter allowed them to build connections with educators. The analyses showed that ten teachers were effectively using Twitter for professional networking and growth. The educators were engaged in true dialogues. They were following other educators and content experts for gaining knowledge of their field of teaching. They could create personal learning network and fulfill themselves of their professional needs. It was evident from the study that the social network site was used for tweeting in all the above-mentioned five categories. Methodology The pilot study was conducted with the aim of providing additional input in business English through social networking site, Twitter and Web 2.0 tool Blog. The objectives of the study were 1. To expose students to business English and corporate culture. 2. To orient students to social networking site, Twitter and Blog. 3. To motivate them to use the tools for accessing information and tasks. 4. To train them in all four skills beyond the classroom. 5. To provide exposure to Web 2.0 tools like Podcasts and YouTube. 6. To show students the possibility of forming a network through Twitter and publish posts in Blog. About 30 students were chosen for the study, which was conducted for approximately six weeks. The researcher prepared a survey questionnaire (with the help of surveymonkey.com) to find out students’ knowledge of social network, their access to the social networking sites and their interest to receive learning input through them. 25 students responded the online questionnaire. For the question on the frequency of the use of social networking sites and students awareness of Twitter, it was found that 40% were accessing social networking sites, particularly Facebook and only 41.7% were aware of Twitter. 25% of them were found to be sharing subject related topics with others. The pictorial representation of the responses are given below:

As the next step, the researcher designed tasks relating to corporate scenario, with the greater focus on developing the four skills. While detailed tasks were posted in the Blog, links were provided in Twitter.. To give an example, Task 1: Corporate Culture It refers to “the values, beliefs and tradition in a company which influence the behavior of its staff. It is important for job-seekers to know about the culture of an organization before accepting the job.” Benchmark (Whitby, 2006). Corporate culture deals with the relationship between staff & management, between colleagues, company traditions, dress code and how an office space is organized. It also refers to the working environment provided. Think about the following points and give your opinion. Do you think a company has to... • offer flexible hours. • give employees their own work space ie a suitable infrastructure. • provide internet access for their employees. • offer training to its employees. • have a workforce with different types of people. • have rules about what its employees can wear. (Whitby, 2006) The rest of tasks could be accessed from http://webbasedlesson.blogspot.in/ As mentioned earlier, some tasks were uploaded in teacher’s Blog and a few in the Twitter. To develop their knowledge of business vocabulary, a few links to online dictionaries were provided in Twitter. Similarly links to Podcasts in Splendid Speaking.com were also provided and they dealt with ‘Giving a short talk’ and ‘Sign posting’. They were given with the aim of preparing students for making short presentations and taking part in discussions effectively as they form part of second semester language syllabus. These tweets could be accessed at https://twitter.com/#!/revathivishy. Students were given orientation on Twitter and Blog and the way to create an account in them. Students learned to access the researchers’ Twitter account and follow it to check for regular tweets, access researcher’s Blog, find a link to her Blog in Twitter. They tweeted direct messages, students were able to send messages as well as provide link to their Blogs through Twitter.

The study was conducted for one and a half months, as the researcher wanted to know students’ interest to work on social networks and Blog for learning purposes. The researcher’s Twitter was accessed by nearly 26 students. However, it was found that only 7 students were involved in doing tasks uploaded by the researcher and could complete only 75% of the tasks within six weeks. The researcher corrected them and offered comments in students’ Blogs. To give a few sample Blogs, http://malarvizhidoll.blogspot.in http://naveedshiraj.blogspot.in http://purushothamank.blogspot.in/ It is worthwhile to state that the importance of the tasks uploaded were discussed in the class periodically. At the end of one and a half months, a feedback questionnaire (designed with the help of Surveymonkey.com) was given to 7 students who could participate in the study. The 12 questions included in the questionnaire aimed at finding out students frequency of accessing Twitter, effective usage of Twitter, number of tasks completed, difficulty level, exposure given to corporate culture and skills through varied tasks, level of confidence to use the skills and so on. They were asked to rate the effectiveness of the study in relation to the exposure given to various skills and usage of Twitter as well as Blog. Results Students’ responses to the feedback questionnaire was very encouraging. a. Frequency of accessing twitter—57.1% accessed once a week. b. Difficulty in accessing teacher’s blog—83.3% had no difficulty. c. Ability to provide a link to one’s Blog in Twitt er—83.3% could do it. d. Number of tasks completed -- 40% could complete 5 tasks. e. Difficulty level of tasks -- 50% found some tasks easy and some difficult. f. Reasons for not completing all tasks --- while 60% had problems with Internet connectivity, 60% had no time to complete tasks. g. Exposure of tasks to corporate culture -- 100% could learn corporate culture. Besides the above responses, students were asked to state their expectations about future tasks. Similarly,the students were asked to rate the effectiveness of the pilot study and their confidence level in using the skills after participating in the study. The pictorial responses are given below:

Discussions The study gave an opportunity for the researcher to use Twitter and Blog as tools for imparting additional input and train students to use the tools for learning purposes. Students too learned to use the tools for sharing their opinions through their Blog, participate in asynchronous communication, and develop their four skills and business vocabulary. They could list out the words (though a few) in the feedback questionnaire. A few had subscribed the online business dictionary too in www. businessdictionary.com. They learned corporate work culture from the tasks given, thus fulfilling one of the objectives of the pilot study. Most of all, students showed interest in networking with their friends through Twitter, which indicated possibilities of involving students in collaborative tasks in future with the help of this tool. As Alderton, Brunsell & Bariexca (2011) indicate social networking sites provide the opportunity “for people to find significant others that can help them in their personal development” (Harrison & Thomas, 2009, p. 121). However, the study also highlighted a few limitations. The lack of 100% participation could be attributed to... 1. the rigid semester pattern in the university. 2. students’ lack of understanding of corporate culture through tasks and their relevance to real life. 3. flexibility of the study by way of not assessing students’ responses and awarding marks. The study aimed more at providing exposure to business English through social networking site and Blog. Conclusion Thus the study provided rich experience to both the researcher and students. Although very few participated in the study, it was evident that the social networking site like Twitter and Web 2.0 tool could be used as teaching and learning tools. It is worthwhile to state that some students (three of them) showed interest to respond to the tasks after the study was completed. The positive outcome has shown the researcher new avenues to use this microblogging tool for offering more inputs on corporate scenario as well as training in language skills for a longer duration.