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CALL ( COMPUTER ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING )

The main objective of this course is to enter into the world of technology and knowledge
society in language teaching, in particular in English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The Web
not only provides an infinite amount of information, but also resources, communication and
learning possibilities. Throughout this course we will focus on where and how to search and create
information and educational content from a critical perspective. We will look into how to develop
EFL students' learning on the Web and into how to continue our training as teachers, taking into
account principles such as lifelong learning, autonomy and a learner-centred approach. To this
end we will cover the use of technology in education from a communicative, open, critical and
flexible perspective. While this course also looks into some technical issues, our approach is
primarily educational and communicative.

This course starts in Chapter 1, with an approach to the historical context in the use of technology
in language teaching, in order to understand how we learn in the current society. Theory and
practice will be intertwined to understand technology in education in a comprehensive way. Thus,
in Chapter 2, we will discuss and think about different educational approaches related to
technology and language teaching. We will discuss key notions of Digital Competence in a language
classroom, both from a teacher and a student perspective. Also, in Chapter 3 an essentially
practical perspective of the Web as a source of information is presented and in Chapters 4 and 5,
we will see the Web as a communication and learning environment. We will examine different
examples and uses of digital tools in learning, such as blogs, wikis and social networking
environments. Chapter 6 is dedicated to the Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) and to the
Personal Learning Environments (PLE), a more up-to-date and flexible version of VLEs. Finally, in
Chapter 7, we will learn to evaluate teaching and learning processes through digital environments,
such as the electronic portfolio.

Each chapter is accompanied by some self-assessment tasks and sometimes by practical tasks,
for the completion of which we recommend you follow the contents of the course and learn to use
them in a practical way. A bibliography is also available at the end of each chapter.

Finally, it is our objective to open a debate along all possible lines of thought on these educational
approaches, taking into account technology and its potential in the teaching of English as a Foreign
Language.
1.1. A historical approach

To understand the significance of technology in education at the present time it is important to see
its evolution today. In general, we can identify three stages in the history of technology in language
teaching: a) analogical technology; b) digital technology; c) Web 2.0. Let's see the features of these
stages.

a) Analog technology

Technology was first used for educational purposes in the 1940s in the United States. We find the
first references in the field of language teaching in courses during World War II, designed by and for
the army. The first time that technology was part of a University program was in 1946, in a course
of Audio-visual Education at Indiana University. Since then, videos, recorders, projectors, etc. have
been used in the teaching of Foreign Languages, which meant important progress in this field.
However, this technology gave little space to participation, interaction and collaboration, key
aspects in language teaching.

b) Digital technology

In the 1990s CDs and the Internet appear. Textbooks begin to include not just audio CDs but CD-
ROMs with various materials, including complete language courses, which tend to be based, in
general, on textbooks and traditional activities that do not favour interaction and collaboration
among students. Internet is in a poorly-developed phase and access is not as widespread as
currently. The Web is a place to search information rather than a place to exchange and
communicate information. Since then, years have elapse using Internet to search for material to
prepare classes, mainly downloading texts, images, software, classroom activities, etc. As Internet
becomes popular in the middle and late 1990s, many tools and communication services appear:
email, mailing lists, forums, news groups, etc. All these technologies offer new possibilities for the
teacher and the student, opening doors to communication, interaction, discussion, sharing opinions,
materials, etc. beyond the space and time boundaries we used to have before Internet.

c) Web 2.0

In recent years, the Web has offered a great number of new ways to communicate: chat, blogs,
social networks (video, images, professional, etc.). Since 2004, when the so-called Web 2.0 became
popular, we have seen many tools online that allow educational social networking uses with a high
degree of participation and interaction of students, allowing the user (in our case, the student and
the teacher) to become the main character on the Web.
The following table shows the most important information media in language teaching from the
1940s. You can see that Knowledge technology, focused on communication and interaction, has
only been developed in the past 30 years.

1940 y
Audio-visual media: Retro-Protector and audio, slides, disks, radio projector.
50

Television, projector, cassettes and tapes, language laboratory. PC, multimedia,


1960
interactive videos, CDs, CD-ROM.

1970 Video and computers.

1980 PC, multimedia, CDs, interactive videos, CD-ROM.

Internet: email mailing lists, forums, newsgroups, Web pages. Cable or satellite
1990
television, DVD.

e-learning starts in the mid-1990s. Internet: participatory and social software (blogs,
2000
wikis, podcasts, social networks).

Table 1.1.Technology in language teaching.


Source: Pujol, (2004).

To conclude this section, we offer the table below, which summarizes the main tools for
synchronous and asynchronous communication, which are of great value in language
teaching/learning.

ASYNCHRONOUS COMMUNICATION TOOLS


SYNCHRONOUS COMMUNICATION TOOLS
(make possible a type of communication in
(allow participants to simultaneously interact
which people are not online at the same
in real time)
time)

Chats Email

Chats allow the student to contact colleagues in the Email provides interesting possibilities for the
language they are learning. You can also promote teaching of foreign languages. This tool offers
communication between students and teachers. various educational advantages: establish and
Most notable is the motivation for the develop group projects, use for Pen Pals and
communication in a real and direct environment. tandem learning.

Voice over IP (Skype) Forums

VoIP allows video calls. In general, this function can Forums are helpful for teachers' discussion
be combined with the chat. spaces.

Blogs, wikis, social networks.

1.2. Theoretical approaches to Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL)

Since the 1960s language teaching has experienced a number of changes based on theoretical
approaches. These changes have influenced the way of teaching in the classroom, ranging from
Structuralist perspectives, based mainly on transmitting grammar structures to students, to more
communicative approaches, which give importance to concepts such as participation, interaction,
creativity and culture. It is in this context of successive changes where we also find the evolution of
Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). There are three main theories that have influenced
researchers and teachers in language teaching: Structuralism, Cognitivism and Sociocognitivism,
which have marked the history of CALL, from the end of the 1950s to the present day:

a) Structuralist perspective, from the end of the 1950s to the early 1970s. It understands
language as an autonomous structural system and offers a model of "computer as a tutor" (Taylor,
1980). The main role of computers is to give tutorial explanations and corrections through
feedback.

b) Constructivist/Cognitivist or Communicative perspective. The first criticisms of


Structuralism in the late 1970s bring the understanding of language as a mentally constructed
system, with emphasis on factors such as motivation and interactivity. It is the beginning of
working with programs of multiple-choice activities and gap filling. The computer is now an
incentive for students and a tool that enables the student to understand the use of language. The
main objective of computers is to offer the student language, analytical input and inferential
activities.

c) Sociocognitive perspective. At the end of the 1980s disadvantages to previous perspectives


started to appear with the need for more fundamentalist approaches based primarily on the
approach by tasks. The role of computers is to facilitate different contexts to encourage social
interaction. This new perspective is marked by two important events: the development of
multimedia and the Internet. To the variety of multimedia technology such as text, image, sound
and video we must add the birth of Hypertext, which represented a big breakthrough in moving
towards a socio-communicative approach in language learning. Since then, Internet has had a huge
impact on language teaching, helping teachers and students to share their knowledge and enhance
their ability to do things and communicate.

1.3. Current context. Learning in the information and knowledge society

In the present knowledge society, technology has an important role as the component responsible
for constant social changes. Any change or development in these technologies entails in turn an
evolution in the way of structuring thought, relating to information and transforming it into
knowledge.

In the same way that the printing press and the book were the highest representatives of culture in
the industrial society, technology, and especially the Internet, surrounded by all the digital culture
that they entail, are major symbols of the knowledge society.

The context in which these advances are being developed, as the democratization of the Web, the
ability to not only consume but to create information and participate in it, open content,
collaborative environments, synchronization devices, social networks, etc. represent new ways to
access, develop and communicate knowledge. They are also advances that are in permanent
evolution, in constant change, and therefore education must act, bearing in mind this situation of
change, with open and flexible proposals.

Many studies have shown that we are experiencing a new phase with regard to the skills of reading
and writing. We are in an age of communication, not in the traditional sense, but a communication
that tends to be public, free, democratic, etc. In this context, reading and writing, and
communication in general, have their own features, which mean changes in the way we understand
the world and therefore, how we interact and learn.

At present, while we can find some difficulties in education, even some reluctant views regarding
the use of technology in education, teachers and students interrelate and learn to communicate
naturally with digital tools and environments. We are training in these environments with new
services, tools and opportunities to communicate and learn constantly. However, this does not
mean that we are always prepared to act in a correct way, or to learn and teach in the knowledge
society. Education plays here an important role, both in formal and informal contexts.
We can say, therefore, that these are dynamic and beneficial times, but also of crisis in the areas
related to information and knowledge: art, publishing, music, film, education and culture in general.
People write and read more than ever, new textual genres appear, music, films and culture in
general are more democratized, accessible to all. In education, we relate to knowledge, to new ways
of learning, new spaces and greater flexibility. They are all decisive changes but they are also
creating a crisis in the organizational and business models. The way we consume and produce
culture and education has changed, primarily motivated by technology development. Institutional
structures try to face this fact in different ways: opposing it, working around or adapting to it.

1.4. Educational approaches for the knowledge society: Connectivism, autonomy and lifelong
learning

Technologies are changing the way we communicate and interact with information. As a
consequence, individuals' needs are also changing. We must ask ourselves, as educators, how to
integrate the new learning environments and digital tools as well as the new ways of
communicating in the classroom and in educational curricula.

We are in a time of need of educational changes in keeping with the society in which we live, since
the current model is still based on an industrial society in many aspects. In the educational context
new concepts are being born because of this important change in the way we communicate. These
concepts refer to the evolution of learning in general, taking into account these changes in the way
we communicate and access and create content. This term raises the need to rethink and to
redefine some basic concepts regarding education and, above all, regarding learning. As a result of
this new reality, many authors speak of new theories.

Some of these proposals or concepts, still more theoretical than practical, and which are sparking
debate in education, are Connectivism1, Edupunk2, Invisible Learning3 or Expanded Education4. If
we look at them closely we see they have many points in common, which effectively speak of this
need to rethink educational approaches, taking into account technologies and digital tools and
environments but maintaining a focus on a communicative approach instead of the technological
approach that has prevailed so far. Additionally, many of these concepts explain ideas that have
been talked about for a long time in education, such as autonomy in learning, student-centred
teaching, participation and collaboration in learning, etc. They are concepts and ideas that can find
a way to become truly useful in current society.
We explain below one of these theoretical approaches, Connectivism by George Siemens, which
came about because of the limitations of previous traditions such as behaviourism, Cognitivism and
Constructivism.

Connectivism

Connectivism is a learning theory developed by George Siemens from the implications of


technology, especially regarding the influence that the Internet and social networks have had on the
way in which we currently live, communicate and learn.

Connectivism is based, among other approaches and ideas, on the theory of chaos and complex
systems that explain both language and learning as non-linear systems. This theory explains
the importance of the different contexts and environments in which learning, formal and informal,
takes place and not always under the control of the individual, since, according to Siemens,
learning occurs both inside and outside the individual. Connectivism is focused on the
connection of these elements, or nodes (spaces, elements, individuals) that directly influence the
person's knowledge and learning. It also takes into account the fact that we constantly receive new
information that makes the previous obsolete, and hence the importance of the strategic capacity to
establish connections relevant to learning, rather than information, better understood here as
'contents'.

Connectivism aims to understand the role of the teacher as a Manager - Guide, Facilitator - of
these learning environments that are generated inside and outside the classroom. Also it attaches
great importance to the promotion of autonomy and therefore, of collaboration and exchange
between learners, helping students to make connections in those fields.

For Connectivism, the classroom is understood as an entirely unpredictable ecosystem. It is


impossible to foresee what to learn, how or when, and for this reason, both the teacher and the
activities have to be prepared for constant adaptation to the possible learning needs, understanding
that these can vary depending on the students, the moment and the context. The teaching-learning
process is thus conceived as a complex process that involves factors of a different nature.

Siemens differentiates between learning in closed groups and learning in networks. We can find the
first idea in the traditional class, which occurs within limits of time and place and a closed group of
people. However, the idea of learning in a network, invites us to "open" the classroom, connecting
with other spaces and other people who are also learning, which is possible thanks to the Internet
and networks.
GROUPS NETWORKS

Unit Diversity

Coordination Autonomy

Closed Openings

Walls Bridges

Distributed knowledge Connective knowledge

Linear speech Fragmented speech

Table 1.4. Networks versus


groups.
Source: Siemens, (2006).

Siemens (2006)5 summarises the following fundamental principles of Connectivism:

Learning and knowledge resides in diversity of opinions.

Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.

Learning may reside in non-human appliances.

Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known.

Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.

Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.

Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.

Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of
incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right
answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate
affecting the decision.

(Siemens, 2006)

Finally, we show in the table below the main differences between Connectivism and other learning
theories, based on five questions about language:

How does language happen?

What factors influence language?

What is the role of memory?

How do transfer processes occur?

What strategies influence learning?

PROPERTY BEHAVIOURISM COGNITIVISM CONSTRUCTIVISM CONNECTIVISM

Distributed within a
Black box - network, social,
How Social, meaning
Structured, technologically
learning Observable created by cach
computational. enhanced,
occurs behaviour main learner (personal).
recognizing and
focus.
interpreting patterns.

Existing
Nature of reward,
schema, Engagement,
Influencing Diversity of network,
punishment, participation, social,
factors
previous cultural. strength of ties.
stimuli.
experiences.

Memory is the Encoding, Prior Knowledge Adaptive patterns,


Role of
hardwiring of representative of
memory repeated storage, remixed to current current state, existing
retrieval. context. in networks.
experiences -

Where reward and


punishment are
most influential.

Duplicating
How
Stimulus, Connecting to
transfer Knowledge Socialization.
occurs response. (adding) nodes.
constructs of
Knower.

Reasoning,
Types of Complex learning,
clear
learning Task - based Social, vague rapid changing core,
best objectives, diverse knowledge
Learning. ("ill defined").
explained problem sources.

solving.

Table 1.5. Differences between Connectivism and other language theories.


Source: Siemens, (2009).

2.1. Digital Competence definition

The current educational curriculum is based on competences. Learning by competences implies the
integrated and strategic use of different capacities in real and contextualized situations, both inside
and outside the classroom.

Transversal competences

Communicative competence:

- Audio-visual and linguistic competence.

- Artistic and cultural competence.


Methodological competence:

- Processing information and Digital Competence.

- Mathematical competence.

- Learning to learn competence.

Personal skills:

- Autonomy and self-initiative competence.

Specific competences

- Physical world knowledge and interaction competence.

- Social and civic competence.

To describe a competence is a complex task. Additionally, in the case of Digital Competence, we


must consider the fact that the constant evolution of digital tools and environments demand
continuous training and a flexible approach open to the new characteristics of the learning
environment and to the needs of the learners.

As we have seen in Chapter 1, the evolution of today's society, largely driven by technologies, has
meant changes, not only technological, but also communicative. This, therefore, influences the way
we learn. For this reason, we understand the need to talk about educational technology, especially
when talking about language teaching and learning, from a broad perspective and covering
technological issues, but also from linguistic, sociopragmatic and even civic perspectives, like
the responsibility of communicating, cultural, social and credibility issues. We must work in digital
environments in the classroom, and learn in which ways we can participate in those spaces to learn.

In general, we can define Digital Competence as 'The set of knowledge, competences and skills,
combined with values and attitudes, needed for learning in the knowledge society'.

The following video from New Media Literacies can help us to understand this definition. Members
of the research team at Project New Media Literacies discuss the social skills and cultural
competencies needed to fully engage with today's participatory culture. Featuring Henry Jenkins,
and produced by Anna Van Someren at Project New Media Literacies1.

We can summarize what it means to be digitally competent as, 'knowing how to use and develop
strategically the five great skills related to the different dimensions of Digital Competence'.
LEARNING
INFORMATION
DIMENSION
DIMENSION COMMUNICATIVE
(transformation DIGITAL
(collection and DIMENSION TECHNOLOGICAL
of information CULTURE
critical (intrapersonal DIMENSION
into knowledge DIMENSION
assessment of and social)
and its
information)
acquisition)

To learn and To obtain, Communicate,


Act in a To use and
generate evaluate, and interact and
responsible, manage devices
knowledge, organize collaborate
safe and civic and digital work
products information in in digital
manner. environments.
or processes. digital formats. environments.

To use computer
systems and surf To know and
To represent and the Internet to To communicate critically
create knowledge access through digital reflect on the
in different information, devices and specific new socio-
languages (textual, resources and software. cultural
numerical, iconic, services. practices of the
visual, graphic and Use tools for knowledge

sound). To use different collective society.


sources and elaboration of
Producing and search engines. knowledge the Technological
in Manage
literacy and
publishing educational projects digital identity
knowledge. Information and tasks. and the degree knowledge and

management: use of privacy and mastery of digital


To carry out of different Proactively environments.
security of
projects, solve sources and participate in personal data
problems and take search engines, virtual learning and
decisions. use RSS, etc. environments. information in
Internet.
Make use of ICT as To assess the To collaborate and
tools for reflective quality, contribute to Introduction to
and critical relevance and collaborative the rights and
thinking. usefulness of the learning. duties of the
information and digital citizen.
resources.
Table 2.1. Digital Competence.
Source: Adaptation of Torres, (2011).

2.2. How to introduce Digital Competence in the language classroom

Adell (2006) mentions the integration of technology and Digital Competence in the classroom using
five main points:

1. Access: learn how to correctly use technology.

2. Adoption: support traditional teaching and learning.

3. Adaptation: integration in traditional class habits.

4. Appropriation: collaborative use.

5. Innovation: discover new uses of technology and combine different modalities.

Jenkins (2006, p. 56) proposes some social skills and cultural competences that must be promoted
from education taking into account the digital spaces of participative culture. The new skills
include:

- Play: the capacity to experiment with one's surroundings as a form of problem-solving.

- Performance: the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and
discovery.

- Simulation: the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes.

- Appropriation: the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content.

- Multitasking: the ability to scan one's environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.

- Distributed cognition: the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities.

- Collective intelligence: the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a
common goal.

- Judgment: the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources.
- Transmedia navigation: the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple
modalities.

- Networking: the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information Negotiation: the
ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and
grasping and following alternative norms.

(Jenkins. 2006, p. 6)

Lara (2010, p. 10) also suggests developing the Digital Competence in the language classroom from
a communicative, social and participatory approach. Let's see the main differences between this
approach and the traditional or technological approach.

TECHNOLOGICAL
COMMUNICATIVE, SOCIAL AND PARTICIPATIVE APPROACH
APPROACH

1990's-first 2000 (Web 1.0) 2003-present (Web 2.0)

Read the Web Read / Write the Web

Deterministic approach Pro-active approach

Technology training Training about/with/for/in digital culture

Emphasis on WITH WHAT Emphasis on the WHAT FOR

Digital literacy = technological


Digital literacy = communicative competence
competence

Fascination with dichotomies:

Recognition of intermediate tones: hybridization, remix, beta


- Native-Digital
projects, blurred borders, public-private, formal-informal

- online-offline

Hypertext Intertext

Teach Learn

Table 2.2. Lara (2010), from technological approach to social approach.


Source: adaptation of Torres, (2011).
Developing Digital Competence in the EFL classroom means connecting with the way we
communicate and socialize in today's society. We must educate from a perspective that is flexible
and open to change, and therefore work with strategies to read, write, search, and participate in the
Web from a critical perspective.

Internet and digital environments provide a context of real immersion for language students. In
these environments, their actions, their products in the language they are learning, their identity as
language learners and their learning, has a real audience. We propose the development of Digital
Competence in teaching and learning taking into account the following aspects:

- A communicative approach, as Lara explained, which focuses not only on the use of the tool, but
is also based on the different dimensions and strategies of the communicative competence.

The development of Digital Competence should take into account the five dimensions and
communicative strategies, and do so in a transverse way, for example, helping the student to create
his or her Personal Learning Environment, which we will discuss in Chapter 6.

COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE DIMENSIONS COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES

Linguistics
Production
Sociolinguistics
Reception
Pragmatics
Interaction
Discursive
Mediation/negotiation
Strategic

Table 2.3. Dimensions and communication strategies.

- A comprehensive approach that takes into account the way we relate to information and
knowledge, the way we communicate in this society and the civic and social issues, sometimes
forgotten or relegated to a second place in the use of technology. We propose an approach that
takes into account how to learn.
2.3. Pedagogical implications of the Digital Competence

a.- Collaborative learning

In the words of Johnson and Johnson (1999, p. 1), collaborative learning is "a system of interactions
carefully designed that organizes and induces the mutual influence among the members of a
team". It implies a process in which all members are mutually committed with other members'
learning, generating a positive interdependence, which does not involve competition.

Collaborative learning involves working practices in which several individuals related or connected
in some way to each other - it should not necessarily be a closed group - share authorship and
responsibility. These connections are characterized by the interaction and the contribution of
everyone to the construction of knowledge. To work collaboratively, we need to share experiences
and knowledge, and have common goals or objectives, like interacting with people who have
common interests or want to practice the language or languages they are learning.

There are many definitions of collaborative learning, but in general, they share common ideas, as
they appear in the Wikipedia entry, which also refers to the technological component: "it is a set
of methods of instruction and training, usually supported by technology, as well as strategies, to
facilitate the development of mixed abilities (learning and personal and social development) where
each member of the group is responsible for both his/her own learning and that of the group. They
are basic elements: positive interdependence, interaction, individual contribution and personal and
group skills".

Collaborative learning is an important social component of learning that refers to what in social
psychology is known as Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), developed by Vygotsky (1988). This
concept explains the gap between what the individual can do and learn (though within a social
context) and that for which the help of an adult or superior is required. According to Vygotsky, it is
in this area where learning takes place, involving both independent learning and socio-cultural
aspects, and in which the context is an important factor for learning.

We find the earliest examples of collaboration in the classroom in the 1970s, although the vast
majority of the theoretical studies related to this field date back to the 1980s. Recently, with the
development of technology, Internet and social tools (blogs, wikis, podcasts, networks, etc.)
collaborative practices and research studies about collaborative learning have increased.

The society where we live is characterized by a social network structure, in which the value lies in
the connection of information and users, rather than in the information itself, which, in turn, is
no longer something static, but it is created by everyone and flows through these connections or
networks. Internet and the new possibilities offered by digital tools and digital environments may
be the appropriate framework to increase the effectiveness of collaborative learning, creating
educational and appropriate environments to do so.

The responsibility for learning in a collaborative and autonomous work environment rests mostly
on the learner and it is he who has to reflect about his own learning. The role of the teacher is to
carefully design the proposal, define the objectives and working materials, act as cognitive
mediator by proposing questions pointing to the construction of knowledge and not to the
repetition of information obtained and, finally, manage and guide the learning.

Regarding the selection of technological tools for collaborative learning, Gros (2007) offers the
following taxonomy of tasks focused on the activity of the student, based on the search, organization
and generation of new information:

TOOLS TO SUPPORT THE ACTIVE PROCESS OF


TYPES OF TASKS
STUDENTS AND WEB-BASED RESOURCES

Tactics for planning, establishing individual


Web-based projects.
and/or group purposes.

Discuss or debate internal ideas and receive


Email, mailing lists, video conferencing.
feedback.

Search and retrieve information. Digital bookmarks, search engines, etc.

Software to build tables, diagrams, concept maps,


Organize information in a coherent scheme.
projects, etc.

Web page editors, collaborative work editors,


Generate new information.
word processors, etc.

Manipulate external information and variables


Simulations.
to test and review hypotheses and models.

Table 2.4. Knowledge construction


tools.
Source: Gros, (2007).
b.- Learning in autonomy

Learning autonomously defines 'an individual' as, 'somebody who identifies himself as a learner,
knowing problems, setting objectives and managing his own learning processes'. Talking about
learning in autonomy, therefore, involves talking of a complex process that depends on various
factors. Autonomy involves the learner's responsibility and decision-making.

Holec first coined the term "learner autonomy" in 1981. Many authors have dealt with the concept
of autonomy, but it is in the last few decades, with the rise of the communicative approach, that it
has acquired special importance in the field of education, especially in the areas of adult education
and non-formal education.

According to Wikipedia1, some of the most well known definitions in current literature are:

Autonomy is the ability to take charge of one's own learning' (Holec).

Autonomy is essentially a matter of the learner's psychological relation to the process and
content of learning' (David Little).

Autonomy is a situation in which the learner is totally responsible for all the decisions
concerned with his [or her] learning and the implementation of those decisions' (Leslie
Dickinson).

Some of the traditional definitions of autonomy argue that it implies isolation, where for example
an autonomous learner is one who learns regardless of the social context. However, most current
theories tend to defend the thesis that autonomous learning does not have to adhere to the
individual and his learning process as something closed. That is to say, learning is not a solitary or a
decontextualized act. Thus, to speak about autonomy in learning involves talking of a complex
process, involving a number of factors, internal and external to the learner.

The role of the teacher developing autonomy in students has been commented on, making
reference to three fundamental concepts: responsibility, motivation and reflection. The student
should be able to take necessary decisions to carry out the process of autonomous learning in
different contexts and in communicative situations requiring the implementation of reactions and
solutions.

The objective of the autonomy development process is that the learner becomes the centre of his
own learning process, taking decisions to resolve the problems that appear in different
communicative situations.
The traditional teaching model based on strong hierarchical structures, where the knowledge is
provided to the student in instalments by means of courses, does not fit with the concept of
autonomous learning where the learner is the manager of his learning process.

TEACHING FOCUSED LEARNING FOCUSED

Give instruction Produce learning

Transfer knowledge from teacher to students Discover and build knowledge

Active teachers Active students

Unique teaching style Multiple learning styles

Curriculum development Development of learning technologies

Quantity and quality of resources Quality and quantity of productions

Teacher's quality Student's Quality

Time is constant and learning variable Learning is constant and time variable

Learning is linear and cumulative Learning is nestled and interaction is networked

Focus on memory Focus on comprehension

Teachers are speakers Teachers are designers of learning environments

Learning is competitive and individualistic Learning is cooperative and collaborative

Table 2.5. Education versus learning.


Source: Robert B. Barrand and John Tagg, "From Teaching to Learning: for a New Paradigm for
Undergraduate Education", Change, vol. 27, no. 6 (November/December 1995).

2.4. Communicative skills and Digital Competence in language teaching

The main objective in the use of technology in second language education is to develop the basic
communicative skills in the language the students are learning.
For second language learners, it is very important to live real communicative situations in which
they learn how to express their ideas and opinions, and to develop their oral and written fluency
and accuracy.

The diverse variety of the Web tools allows students to develop their communicative skills: oral
and written expression and comprehension. On the Internet, learners create products, such as
collaborative documents, videos, podcasts, interactive posters, cartoons, and share them online
with others to see.

To build effective communication skills students must learn to:

Communicate using digital media and environments to support personal and collaborative
learning.

Share information using appropriate digital media and environments.

Communicate clearly to different audiences using various media and formats.

The integration of technologies supports real models and contexts through which students can
actively improve their listening, speaking, vocabulary, and writing abilities. For example:

Oral skills: listening and recording podcasts, videos, radio programs, videoconferences, etc.

Written skills: writing and reading documents, email, chat, comments in videos, blogs,
articles, etc. Writing and reading in a collaborative way: collaborative documents, wikis,
comments on blogs and networks.

The following chapters develop the possible uses of technology in order to support these
communicative abilities in the second language learner.

3.1. Introduction and criteria

As we have seen in this course, we can use the Web in different ways in language teaching and
learning. In general, we can differentiate between two uses, which usually, and as we recommend,
are combined: the Internet as a source of information and the Internet as a communication
environment, which takes the advantage of the features of the social Web that we have discussed in
previous chapters.
In this chapter, we focus on the Internet as a source of information. This is perhaps the more
traditional use, but important in language teaching and learning of, both in professional teacher
training, and in our students' learning processes.

We find an increasingly large quantity of information, resources, content and knowledge on the
Internet. For that reason, we must learn, both as teachers and as people who communicate and
learn in an environment of such characteristics, to search for information and manage these
environments and this information in a critical way and know how to take advantage of what the
Web gives us to achieve our goals.

We will now see some ideas for using the Internet as a source of information and educational
resources: texts, images, audio, video, presentations and multimedia elements. In doing so, we will
offer some websites, services and social networks that can be helpful for teachers of second
languages. We will also see some operational processes of search, and information management,
such as content syndication.

We have found many websites dedicated to language teaching, so we propose here only those that
we consider especially interesting based on the criteria of quality, authorship and content updates.
We believe that there are many other websites that will be of great significance to our area of
education, but for reasons of time we have selected just a few of them.

Before getting into the description of some of these websites and resources, we propose the
following criteria to select an educational website:

- Observe what type of site it is: a blog, a wiki, a forum, a college website, an educational Web
portal, etc. Each of them will have certain characteristics, such as update frequency of the site,
collective authorship or not, possibility of participation, formality, etc.

- Search for the author(s) of the website: observe if it has a single or collective author, if it is a
website of a personal or educational institution, etc.

- Identify the purpose of the website: does it have an educational purpose in itself? What is this
purpose?

- Compare the purpose of the website with our educational objective: is it similar or can it be
adapted easily?

- Ease of navigation: clarity of the different elements and correspondence with the contents,
hyperlinks, etc.

- Language: is it a monolingual or multilingual website? According to our goals, we may need more
one or the other. Advertising: is it a sponsored website? Is advertising an obstacle to our goal?
- Variety of content and multimedia: text, images, audio, video, links, etc.

- Attractive to the reader (researcher, teacher, student) and adapted to the audience: age, level
language, etc.

- Possibility of participation, collaboration and interaction with other users.

- Access: is it free or do you have to pay? Is identification or registration required? Can it be


accessed from mobile devices?

- Licensing and rights: are the contents under copyright, do they have a Creative Commons
licence, or are they open content? It can be useful to know that in order to better decide how to use
the materials or develop our own materials from others.

3.2. General resources

On-line journals dealing exclusively with CALL

- Link: http://www.deakin.edu.au/~irudayar/calljour.html

General resources for teachers

- This site includes links to lesson plans and exercises for students, as well as to teaching
organisations, jobs, etc.
Link: http://www.english-forum.com/teaching.html

Skills

- A site to practice reading skills, with a large story library, plus accompanying lesson plans. Link:
http://www.storyarts.org/classroom/index.html

Grammar and Vocabulary

- Activities for practising grammar and vocabulary (including idioms).


Link: http://english-forum.com/interactive/

- Activities and worksheets to use in class, for intermediate level and up.
Link: http://www.smic.be/smic5022/teacherhandouts.htm
Songs

- A huge data bank of lyrics to lots of well-known songs.


Link: http://www.lyrics.com

- Ideas for using music and songs in the classroom.


Link: http://www.eslpartyland.com/teachers/nov/music.htm

Projects

- Global Internet projects for education - you can join or submit projects here.
Link: http://www.montageplus.co.uk/

Image and video

The use of pictures and video is one of the most useful resources in language classes as a support of
oral discourse. Most manuals include images and are accompanied by visual material, in the form of
a CD or a website.

Some of the best-known social networks for image sharing are Flickr1 (Yahoo) or Picasa2 (Google).
In these social networks we can find images uploaded by the users, tagged and categorized by topic.
Moreover, according to the permissions assigned to the images (see "images with Creative
Commons3 license", for example), we can use them to create our own materials, always respecting
the licensing used by the authors.

Some of the possible uses of the images in the classroom are:

- Resource to introduce a communicative situation, to exemplify expressions, new words,


situations, etc.

- As a basis for tasks to stimulate the oral and written expression.

- Support the verbal memory through the visual memory, to tell stories from the image, practicing
grammar and communicative aspects, to work with descriptions of people, places or sensations, to
search for images in support of other activities using tags such as pre-heating.

Among the most famous social video networks, we can name YouTube4, Vimeo5 and some other
specifically built for educational use as Teachertube6. Websites of radio and television broadcasters,
as the BBC7, which include contents from other traditional channels, are also useful in the EFL
classroom.
Access to video material over the Internet has helped to solve problems arising from the need to
bring video to the classroom, and at the same time it has enhanced the ability to create and store
work carried out by the students themselves.

Videos on the Internet have not been created, except in a minority of cases, to be used in the
classroom. This may limit our ability to work with this material, but it also means that it is real
material. We recommend, therefore, to the teacher:

- To see and to become familiar with the content of the video that is going to be used in the
classroom.

- To select the videos taking into account specific objectives, within the course program, to plan a
didactic activity in line with the objectives.

- To develop a pre-activity and a post-activity (the video can be found in any part of the whole
activity), to adapt the content of the video to the context: by editing it, selecting a part, adding
subtitles, accompanying it with other materials (text, images, discussions), etc.

It is essential before moving to their development in the class to define the level of the group and
the objectives that we want to achieve, the type of video that we will work with: cultural content,
understanding, samples of language, news, history, music, culture; and to establish what skills and
strategies are intended to be developed.

As a material for language teaching and learning, the video on the Internet:

- Contextualizes communicative situations and shows attitudes and patterns of interaction of


speakers.

- Gives the teacher a communicative situation where you can see contextualized elements of
verbal and nonverbal communication in the language: gestures, intonation, pauses, etc.

- Develops the understanding of the language, when finding speech supported by the elements
above, and facilitates the communication and the inclusion of the learners in the culture and the
language they are learning.

- Serves as a sample of real-life communication environments, attitudes and ethical and


aesthetic values belonging to a cultural goal.

- It introduces an element of variety into the classes and is a very familiar medium to the
students, who have been brought up in the current audio-visual culture.
- Provides short duration footage, ideal for application in the classes. It can be subtitled with Web
applications such as DotSub8.

In the following link you can find some interesting videos to use in the EFL classroom.

- Link: http://ddeubel.edublogs.org/2010/05/06/top-100-youtube-videos-for-efl/

Other social networks that can be useful in our classes or in our training as teachers are:

- For the creation of comics: Stripgenerator, Pixtor, Bookr (photobook).

- For presentations and bibliography: SlideShare and Prezi (presentations), Scribd (texts).

- For generating social networks: Ning, Elgg, Facebook, Twitter.

1 Link: http://www.flickr.com/
2 Link: http://www.picasa.google.com
3 Link: http://creativecommons.org/
4 Link: http://www.youtube.com/
5 Link: http://vimeo.com/
6 Link: http://www.teachertube.com/
7 Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
8 Link: http://dotsub.com/

3.3. Resources for the student of EFL

a.- Dictionaries

Online dictionaries are a useful resource in EFL teaching. They are easy to use and to integrate into
websites. Today we have a wide variety of both general and specialized dictionaries that offer
flexibility to our learning. Both the teacher and the student should work with dictionaries of a
different nature and of a variety of characteristics, and know when to use each one according to the
educational objectives. Here are some examples:

- Cambridge University Press: allow you to search four dictionaries at this site.
Link: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/
- Longman: allows access to an on-line interactive dictionary, with activities for students of
different levels.
Link: http://www.pearsonlongman.com/index.html

- Wordreference: is proud to offer the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. In addition to definitions,
the Concise Oxford English Dictionary provides rich detail into the etymology of words in the
English language, as well as helpful usage tips for those learning English. You can ask or search in
the forums, where many native. There is also a pronunciation option.
Link: http://www.wordreference.com

b.- Wikipedia1

It is a free, collaborative encyclopaedia. Anyone can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles
(except in certain cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism), once
registered and respecting a specific set of rules for publication and editing. Even if sometimes there
are doubts about the content of the encyclopaedia, it is a very consolidated and professional
project, with a strong and precise policy of use and editing: content filters, structures and
characteristics of the digital language, scientific rigour, etc. For this reason, we encourage teachers
and students to use this encyclopaedia, not just to look for information, but also to add and edit its
content. In addition, this encyclopaedia is directly related to the cultural and ethical features of
Digital Competence: responsibility with information, proactive role of the student, sharing and
collaborating, and especially, communicating in a real context.

Editing Wikipedia in the ESL classroom is recommended especially for adult students, because
editing rules are not simple and require high levels of both Digital Competence and Communicative
Competence.

Using Wikipedia as a source of information is a good activity for any student, as long as students do
not overuse it as their only source of knowledge and the teachers instruct students to verify
information and sources.

c.- Magazines

There are several online magazines that can be used by students to practise and learn the language
and culture they are learning. Some of them2 are born with this objective, and others, such as for
example the online versions of newspapers or magazines, can also be useful for this purpose, for
example, The New York Times3.
d.- Social networks

Besides general social networks, there are specific social networks for language learning. In general
they tend to be multilingual. Some of the best-known social networks of this kind nowadays are
Palabea4, Busuu5 and Myngle6. While some are based on courses (such as Edu.2.07) or online classes
(Myngle) with "language teachers", others are based on the exchange between people who want to
practice a language through an online community. In addition, while some are free, in others, as
Myngle, teachers offer a service for a price that they choose or agree with the student. We describe
an example of one of these social networks.

Palabea

Palabea is an e-learning website and social network which provides new opportunities for learning
and practicing foreign languages. Palabea enables people to learn and communicate in foreign
languages around the world using video audio or text messages. Users can upload photos, videos, post
documents, and create virtual vocabularies to their personal profile to introduce themselves to the
community.
(Link: http://www.palabea.net/)

e.- Podcasts

Podcasts are audio files published on websites, where users can download them, leave comments
and even publish their own recordings. This tool presents a very interesting perspective from the
point of view of learning a foreign language, encouraging the practice of speech and listening.

It is possible to develop any speaking activity as a podcast. Some examples are:

- Students give their thoughts on a topic.

- Students listen to classmates' thoughts and respond.

- Oral diary; oral weekly report.

- Oral book report.

- Picture description.

- Story telling.

- Debates.

- Dramatic monologues.
- Radio drama.

Some interesting podcasts for the student of EFL are:

- BBC Learning English: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/

- Better at English: http://www.betteratenglish.com/

- ESL: Listening podcast: http://iteslj.org/links/ESL/Listening/Podcasts/

1 Link: http://www.wikipedia.org/
2 Link: http://www.linguistic-funland.com/links/Online Magazines %28ESL and EFL-
Related%29.html
3 Link: http://www.nytimes.com/
4 Link: http://www.palabea.net/
5 Link: http://www.busuu.com/
6 Link: http://www.myngle.com/
7 Link: http://www.edu20.org/

4.1. Introduction

The Internet offers new collaborative tools that students use to communicate and to learn, but they
also serve teachers and researchers in their everyday work. In this chapter and in the following one,
we will see some of the tools we can use for teaching and learning second languages.

In this chapter we will focus on the possibilities of the Google account applications, blogs and wikis,
from an educational point of view.

The educational value of these tools and environments resides in the use we give to them in each
situation, depending on our objectives, the student's profile and the learning context.
4.2. Google account applications

A Google account can be very useful both on a personal level and for educational purpose. It allows
us to integrate different applications in one account. Below, we explain some of these services and
possible uses in the EFL classroom. However, our purpose in this chapter is to recommend that you
create an account (if it has not been done in the previous chapter) and that you explore its
possibilities.

We have chosen this online service because of the ease of access and for standardizing criteria in
the course. However, the decision to use a service from one company or another will depend on
your personal decision.

A Google account functions as an access to all Google services. To use these services you only need
to register with an email address and a password.

The services offered by Google are, among others: mail, calendar, documents, websites, blog, I
Google (personalised homepage) and Reader (RSS feed reader). Once registered, you only need to
log in to access these services.

These services can be divided, according to their use, in communication and collaboration
applications. In addition, Google offers a specific section for Google applications in education, link:
http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/edu/index.html

a) Communication services

1. Gmail: it is an email account that allows you to manage mails in a simple way, saving
conversations, using tags (categories), folders, and colours to classify emails according to your
preferences. In addition, you can synchronize with other email accounts to receive all your emails
on the same account.

As we explained in the first chapters, email is a powerful communication tool. In second language
learning, email can be used, for example, as:

a) Talks between the students and teacher: sending reminders of tasks, asking and solving doubts,
sharing materials, etc.

b) Talks between students: on tasks or about what they learn in class, sending notes when they
have not been able to attend class, etc.
c) Correspondence exchange by email with other students, with the teacher, or with native
speakers in the target language. It can motivate writing in the language they learn because it
represents real context and audience, and therefore increases the responsibility of the writer with
regard to being understood.

2. Google Talk: is an instant messaging service with voice (voice over IP, VoIP). Students can talk
about their tasks, ask questions, practise the language they are learning, etc. For example, students
can discuss issues about the language they are learning, ask doubts about a particular task, consult
the tutor, and speak with natives or students in real time.

b) Collaboration services

1. Google Docs: it works as a document editor: text, presentations, forms, graphics, etc. The two
most significant differences from a offline editor are:

a) You can access the documents from any location with Internet access, that is to say, you can start
a document at home and continue it in class, or anywhere with Internet access, without having to
save it every time.

b) Any document can be private or collaborative. You can share a document with other people so
everyone can edit it anywhere and anytime, even at the same time. Students can work on the same
task seeing what the other edits, even though each one is in a different place. The teacher can also
participate reviewing, making notes, evaluating the process, etc. In addition, there is also the option
to chat while editing the document, asking questions, commenting on ideas, debating, evaluating,
etc. On the assessment in this type of document, both the teacher and students have the option to
check the history of the document to see the changes, who made them, and when they were made.

2. Google Calendar: it allows you to organize different calendars in one, deciding which are public
and which are private, which are shared and which are not. You can visualize the calendar by
month, week or day. Using calendars may be useful for planning educational tasks, but also to
create shared calendars, recalling important events: deadlines, special events, beginnings and
endings of a course, cultural events, etc. In a shared calendar any person (previously invited) can
edit information, so it can encourage collaborative work.

3. Google Sites: it allows us to create websites that include videos, images, gadgets and documents.
Some possibilities in education are:

- Create a site for the Centre, Department, class, group work, etc.

- Students can submit a draft or final task on a website created by them collaboratively, in the target
language.
- Students or teachers can have a personal environment to publish work, thoughts, links of interest,
etc.

- Create a personal website: as a teacher (about your teaching; with teaching materials; as a place
for reflection and training; as online curriculum, etc.) or as a learner.

4. Google Groups: students and teachers can create their own forums and mailing lists and
moderate them.

Other services offered by the Google account include:

5. Google Reader: it is a feed reader that allows you to receive updates on the websites you are
interested in: blogs, newspapers, personal sites, etc. You can also share and comment on what you
read or read comments from your contacts. For example, students can share and comment on those
readings that they consider interesting for their learning of English.

6. IGoogle: It is a personal homepage You can manage your home website with your personal
email, your feed reader, your calendar, your to-do list, the time, access to social networks like
Facebook or Twitter, etc.

7. Google Maps: it offers the possibility to see and create collaborative maps, noting and
commenting on places, routes, etc. Some ideas for using Google maps in class can be:

a) To organize plans for the weekend.

b) To describe places in the city where we live or places we have visited.

c) To create tourist itineraries.

d) To create literary routes. You can see an example in the following link:
http://maps.google.es/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=es&msa=0&msid=116355358931800460272.0004
708b5ad3bd5ef1f11&source=embed&ll=41.394196,2.154522&spn=0.045072,0.072956&z=13

In this example, students produced a literary route based on the characters of the novel La sombra
del Viento, by Ruz Zafn, through the Barcelona urban geography. The result is a social, historical
and geographical map of the city with the personal evolution and biographies of the main
characters in the narrative. The objectives of this task are:

a) To learn about important social and historical events in Barcelona in a historical period.

b) To deepen the cultural knowledge of the city.

c) To improve the capacity of understanding literary texts.


d) To enhance the ability to search, to select and to transmit information.

4.3. Blogs

Concept and history

Born at the end of the 1990s, blogs have become one of the greatest phenomena on the Internet and
have meant advances in the publication of contents, affecting large sectors of society, such as
education.

A blog is a website, with individual or collective authorship, which compiles messages of one or
more authors on a particular subject in a reverse-chronological order, with the most recent entry
always at the top of the page. The use is simple and does not require high technical knowledge to
publish content or edit it. Usually, in each article (entry or post), readers can post comments on it,
and the author may answer them, generating and promoting interaction and communication
between author and audience.

We recommend watching the following video from Commoncraft "Blogs in Plain English", which
explains in a simple way what blogs are:

- link: http://www.commoncraft.com/blogs

Educational Blogs

Educational blogs are blogs whose objective is to support a process of teaching or learning in an
educational context.

The first references to educational blogs are found in the Anglo-Saxon world. Harvard University
and Dave Winer led one of the first projects in 2003. Since then, the use of blogs has become
popular in educational institutions, including public schools and colleges.

In language teaching and learning, blogs have been recognized, since 2005 approximately, as a very
useful tool because of their characteristics.

From an educational perspective, the availability and ease of use of blogging software makes
creating blogs a viable classroom activity and a means for teachers to communicate with other
teachers.

We can consider the blog as a learning environment. It serves as a place for the expression of the
students and teachers, as organizers of data and content, as a channel of communication and as a
resource for participation, collaboration and interaction in the language they are learning or
teaching.
In addition, blogs are compatible with other activities that use the Internet as an educational
resource and allow the implementation of the activities in the classroom, such as small translations,
expression of opinions, presentations, descriptions, etc.

There are two features that make blogs particularly suitable for the development of a second
language: they are services for reading and writing and they offer the possibility of incorporating
multimedia materials: images, videos, links, presentations, audio files, etc.

In addition, blogs are not only a means, but also an end, because they are a real sample of the
student's digital identity, and a place to express themselves in a real way with real speakers in the
target language.

There is a wide typology of educational blogs, according to their objectives.

On the one hand, we find teacher blogs, where they reflect, write, share ideas about her teaching
activities, creating a teachers' network to exchange opinions, materials, ideas, etc.

There are many examples of EFL blogs. Some of them are:

- English, ESL - and More!

Neil Whitfield's English and ESL site with plenty of great practical tips on improving English,
learning English, as well as a wealth of information on closely related topics including diversity and
literacy.

- Jamiekeddie.com - An English Language Teaching Site

Jamie Keddie has excellent posts on teaching English with a variety of techniques. His posts on
learner-friendly corpora very insightful and helpful.

- Listen to English - Learn English

The podcasts on this site will help students improve their English vocabulary and pronunciation,
and their listening skills. There are two short (3 to 5 minutes) podcasts every week, in clearly
spoken English. Many of them are linked to grammar and vocabulary notes, or to exercises or
quizzes.

- EFL Geek

Written by a Canadian teaching EFL in Korea, this blog offers keen insights, truly useful links, great
teaching ideas and much more. It's an especially interesting blog for anyone who is teaching or
interested in teaching in Korea.
4.4. Wikis

A wiki (word of Hawaiian origin that means "fast", due to its speed of use and editing) is a website
that can be edited easily by one or more persons at different times and from different places.
The authors, teachers and students in our case, can edit, add, delete information, comment, etc. on
this shared text. As this is a digital text, one can add written text, images, videos, audio, links, etc. In
addition, all changes are recorded in the "history" to review previous versions, see who has been
involved, and how, etc.

Writing a text collaboratively is a complex task, requiring: planning, reviewing, and all this in a
collaborative manner, for example, reading, reflecting, modifying, negotiating and
dialoguing on the text in which we work.

Here we have some of the main differences between blogs and wikis in order to clarify the terms
and observe their educational opportunities:

1. The interaction with the information. Wikis do not usually have the opportunity to comment on
the published work by colleagues, while on the blog it is possible through the use of the comments.
Some wiki engines allow the creation of a Talk page, to discuss contents of the main document.

2. Working with the document. One person can edit the wiki and another person (the teacher, for
instance) knows exactly what changes have been made and who made them. From an educational
perspective, it allows us to create a personalized following of the students' activity.

Some possible educational uses of the wikis are:

1. A wiki can serve as a primary communication environment or as a complement to a traditional


class.

2. A place for collaboration.

3. A place to carry out and present tasks/portfolios.

4. A place to archive texts in progress. A wiki can be the perfect place to create texts collaboratively,
regardless of distance and time.

5. Class manual with collaborative authorship.

6. A place to publish group projects.

Some other activities that we can develop in the classroom with wikis are:
1. To plan a trip: where to go, how, where to stay, activities, etc. Students can develop a site for each
section, illustrating the text with real links, images, videos, etc. that can find on the Web.

2. Write and plan the staging of a play: text, characters, etc.

3. Edit the Wikipedia. Students can start a new article or edit an existing one. We recommend that:

- Students and teachers become familiar with the use of Wikipedia, by registering and reading,
understanding and respecting the rules of editing.

- Write about something that students know, and document it before writing it in Wikipedia.

There are many services to create wikis. These are some of them:

- Mediawiki: the free software used in the Wikipedia.

- Wikispaces: one of the most important services to create wikis.

- Wetpaint: attractive and easy to use, with multiple templates to choose and multiple functions.

This is an online book about wikis, with examples on how to use wikis in education, which is very
helpful. You can also have a look at school projects using wikis.
Link: http://www.wikiineducation.com/display/ikiw/Home

Here you can find some helpful resources about how to use wikis in the EFL classroom.

- Englishbaby http://www.englishbaby.com/blog/mitchelk/view_entry/17711:
this page gives an example of a wiki used in an EFL classroom. There is also given information
about how to create a wiki.

- EFL Classroom 2.0 http://eflclassroom.ning.com/: a forum for everyone interested in Web 2.0
education. You will have to register to have access to any kind of content. You can ask any kind of
question concerning the topic 'Web 2,0', and find a lot of helpful tips and links as well as
information about wikis as an educational tool.

- Website of the Week Wiki http://websiteoftheweek.pbwiki.com/: a wiki that has been set up by
the British Council Young Learner Centre in Barcelona to collect ideas for using online resources in
the classroom. It's an example of how wikis can be used to support teaching and learning of EFL.

- 6th Grade Wiki http://6thgrade-07.pbwiki.com/: a good example of how a wiki can be used to
support a Young Learner course book.
To conclude, we recommend watching the following video from Commoncraft "Wikis in Plain
English", which offers a short explanation of wikis and how they can be used to coordinate a group.
Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY

4.5. Webquests

Searching for information is one of the most frequent activities in education, in general through
search engines such as Google or Yahoo. However, these searches often take too much time due to
the large amount of information on the Web, and this information can be of very different nature
and quality. For this reason, this activity also causes frustration on the learner if the objectives are
not clearly reflected and explained at the beginning of the activity.

Webquests are structured and guided activities that provide the student with well-defined tasks,
as well as the resources and specific guidelines for this tasks, in order to prevent the frustration
caused by these broad information searches.

Through Webquests teachers can work with students on activities that incorporate the search for
information and stimulate interaction and collaboration among students.

Webquests are generally organized for groups of students, to whom roles are assigned. Students
have to prepare a final product from information searches and small tasks such as answering
questions or resolving small tests. The final product achieved by this series of tasks may run from a
presentation or a document to a theatre play or a radio script.

In order to develop a Webquest it is necessary to create a website that can be built with an HTML
editor, a blog service or even a word processor that can save files as a website.

To develop an activity with Webquests, the teacher should suggest a theme of research and
recommend students some specific websites where the student can find the necessary information.
As students become familiar with the web and search mechanisms, they learn to develop search
strategies, critical selection and information processing, which are basic learning strategies. In
this way, students can develop autonomy allowing them to take decisions on the sites they consult.
For this purpose, the teacher may, for example, propose some topics of interest related to the
subject of the Webquests rather than specific sites.

Tom March and Bernie Dodge, early developers of Webquests, have created an informative site,
which deals with the use of Webquests to support the learning process, and have also designed
some examples.
Link to The Webquest Page: http://webquest.org/index.php
The Webquest Page has more than 20,000 sites on the Internet, with teachers' proposals from
different countries of the world (United States, Canada, Iceland, Australia, England, France,
Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Holland), among others.

Webquest structure

According to Dodge (1998) and March (2000), there are usually four main sections in a Webquest:

- The introduction stage is normally used to enter the overall theme of the Webquests. It involves
giving background information on the topic and often offering key vocabulary and concepts which
learners will need to understand in order to complete the tasks involved.

- The task section explains clearly what the learners will have to do as they work their way
through the Webquests.

- The process stage takes the learners through a set of activities and research tasks, using a set of
predefined guides to Webquests resources.

- The evaluation stage involves learners in self-evaluation, comparing and contrasting what they
have produced with other learners and giving feedback on what they feel they have learnt.

With regard to its duration, Webquests can be divided into:

a) Short duration

- Objective: the acquisition and the integration of the knowledge of a given content of one or several
matters.

- Duration: one to three lessons.

b) Long term

- Goal: extension and processing of knowledge (deduction, induction, classification, abstraction,


etc.).

- Duration: between a week and a month of class.

c) Miniquest

- Objective: is a version of the Webquests that is reduced to only three steps: introduction
(scenario), task, and result (product).

- Duration: around 50 minutes.


Webquests in second language teaching

Webquests in teaching and learning of second languages stand out as a complete tool that permits
to work all the communicative competences and skills, as well as promoting collaborative learning
and interaction between the students themselves.

There are many reasons for using Webquests in the ESL classroom. Dudeney and Hockly1 include:

- They are an easy way for teachers to begin to incorporate the Internet into the language classroom.

- They are group activities and as a result tend to lend themselves to communication and the sharing
of knowledge - two main goals of language teaching itself.

- They can be used simply as a linguistic tool, but can also be interdisciplinary, allowing for crossover
into other departments and subject areas.

- They encourage critical thinking skills, including: comparing, classifying, inducing, deducing,
analysing errors, constructing support, abstraction, analysing perspectives, etc. Learners are not able
to simply regurgitate information they find, but are guided towards a transformation of that
information in order to achieve a given task.

- They can be both motivating and authentic tasks and encourage learners to view the activities they
are doing as something 'real' or 'useful'.

The following links offer some useful ESL Webquests examples, tutorials and articles:

- Kathy Schrocks's guide for Educators. Link:


http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/WebQuest/WebQuest.html

- Designing Webquests, Designing On-line Resources, Internet Listening Activities: Presentation


Handouts from Sharon Widmayer & Holly Gray.
Link: http://www.soundsofenglish.org

- Gavin Dudeney and Nicky Hockly: Webquests: What are they, reasons for using them, producing
them, implementing them.
Link: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/articles/webquests

- WebQuest.es, Free WebQuest Application and Hosting with Drupal, by Silvia Martinez.

Webquests use technology to search information, to organize it, to transform it and to produce new
information. Webquests allow students "not only to search new information, but also to integrate it
with the information you already possess and to coordinate with the information achieved by
participants to develop a product or solve a problem" (Adell, 2002).

In conclusion, Webquests can be of great interest in the second language classroom wherever they
present well-chosen topics, together with motivating and up-to-date websites and access to the
needed resources on the Internet.

5.1. Networks and education

According to the Wikipedia1 definition, social networks are "social structures made up of groups of
people (nodes), connected by one or more types of relationships, such as friendship, common
interests, work, etc".

The use of social networks has increased exponentially in recent years. Some of the most popular
sites are Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. Moreover, schools are creating their own applications or
specific social networks to promote communication, collaborative learning and exchange among
their students and teachers.

In recent years, social networks have influenced the way we communicate, interact and learn. Social
networks can promote new learning opportunities, especially if we take into account the theories
that place the student at the centre of the educational process, actively participating and engaging,
rather than being merely a recipient of the information. There are many possibilities offered by
social networks in education. They can promote the active role of the student, open the classroom
to other possibilities that occur outside the classroom, and offer environments for real
communication and real immersion for students of second languages.

Educators have to bring these spaces to the classroom, to make use of all the communication
possibilities they offer, but especially to teach how to use them responsibly and critically, and to
help the student to develop a digital identity according to their personal objectives and learning.

Let's see more specifically some educational uses of social networks.

5.2. Facebook

Facebook is a social networking website originally created by and for students of Harvard
University, although today it is open to anyone with an email account.

In Facebook we can create profiles (for individuals); pages (such as the site of a school, a
publishing house, etc.); and groups, open, closed or secret. This last option is very interesting to
manage study groups by means of a real social network. Some of its features are:
1. Configuration. Membership in the group (which may be open, closed or secret) does not imply
sharing information with the rest of the members. Each profile retains the sharing and privacy
configuration it already had before entering the group.

2. Documents. The group has the option of writing and of sharing notes, newsletters, or any other
type of text.

3. Events. This function creates events only for the members of the group. We can mark the
deadline of tasks, or remind people of any other type of meeting.

4. Group chat. This tool is very useful to expand communication outside the classroom.

5. Notifications. If someone writes something in the group, the other group member can receive
immediate notification in his or her profile page.

In addition, Facebook has a number of applications that can be useful for educational purposes.
Some of them are:

a.- For students:

- Books iRead: to share the books you are reading and see what others think about them.

- Flashcards: to create flash cards to help you study on Facebook.

- Notely: to organize your school life with notes, calendar, etc.

- Notecentric: to take notes and share them.

b.- For teachers:

- BookTag: to share books with students and to create tests to study.

- WebinariaScreencastRecorder: to record a video.

- SlideShare: to create and share presentations.

c.- Generals:

- Calendar: to organize your tasks and your learning and share events with others.

- To-Do List: to create to-do lists and share them.

- Zoho Online Office: to keep all your documents online and to share with others.
- Courses: to create courses, ads, subjects, find classmates, create discussions and study groups.

- Files: to store and retrieve documents on Facebook, so you can access them from anywhere.

5.3. Twitter

Twitter is a social networking and micro blogging service where you can publish short
messages (about 140 characters) through a Web interface, a third-party app or even SMS. These
messages appear in the user profile page, and are also sent immediately to other users who have
chosen the option of receiving them. Anyone can restrict sending these messages only to members
of his network of friends, or allow access to all users, which is the default option. Users can tweet
from the Web interface or from external official applications for computers, tablets, smartphones
and other devices.

Here you can see an explanatory video about Twitter, by Commoncraft.

- Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddO9idmax0o

Some of the features of Twitter that can be useful in education are:

1. The constraint of 140 characters reinforces dynamism in the communication.

2. To provide electronic documentation or links instantly.

3. It allows the teacher to direct all students in general and a student in particular.

4. The individual communication may be public or private.

5. It allows the maintenance of several conversations simultaneously.

6. The meeting is recorded. A student can track the conversation hours or days later.

7. It encourages participation.

Steve Wheeler, Professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Plymouth, England, has
used Twitter with his students and after having tried several ideas, selected their top 10 uses in
education1:

1. 'Twit Board': notify students of changes to course content, schedules, venues or other important
information.

2. 'Summing Up': ask students to read an article or chapter and then post their brief summary or
prcis of the key point(s). A limit of 140 characters demands a lot of academic discipline.
3. 'Twit Links': share a hyperlink - a directed task for students - each is required to regularly share
one new hyperlink to a useful site they have found.

4. 'Twitter Stalking': follow a famous person and document their progress. Better still if this can be
linked to an event (During the recent U.S. Presidential elections, many people followed
@BarackObama and kept up to date with his speeches, etc.).

5. 'Time Tweet': choose a famous person from the past and create a twitter account for them -
choose an image which represents the historical figure and over a period of time write regular
tweets in the role of that character, in a style and using the vocabulary you think they would have
used (e.g. William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar).

6. 'Micro Meet': hold discussions involving all the subscribing students. As long as everyone is
following the whole group, no one should miss out on the Twitter stream. All students participate
because a sequence of contributors is agreed beforehand.

7. 'Micro Write': progressive collaborative writing on Twitter. Students agree to take it in turns to
contribute to an account or 'story' over a period of time.

8. 'Lingua Tweeta': good for modern language learning. Send tweets in foreign languages and ask
students to respond in the same language or to translate the tweet into their native language.

9. 'Tweming': start off a meme - agree on a common hash-tag so that Twemes or another aggregator
automatically captures all the created content.

10. Twitter Pals': encourage students to find a Twitter 'pen pal' and regularly converse with them
over a period of time to find out about their culture, hobbies, friends, family etc. Ideal for learning
about people from other cultures.

Here are some useful links to others who have used Twitter in formal learning:

- David Parry: Teaching with Twitter (Video)

- Alan Lew: Twitter Tweets for Higher Education

- Melanie McBride: Classroom 2.0

- Judy O'Connell: Twitter - a Teaching and Learning Tool

- Gabriela Grosseck and Carmen Holotescu: Twitter for Educational Activities

- Carmen Holotescu and Gabriela Grosseck: Using Microblogging in Education


- Nicole Melander: 14 Days of Twitter

In addition, Twitter can be a very effective tool for teachers and researchers because it allows them
to create a network according to their interests: education, technology, literature, culture, etc. With
these nodes (people), you can exchange bibliography, links of interest, recommendations, etc.

Twitter and collaborative writing

Collaborative writing is a great activity that can be facilitated through social media. Wikipedia
defines collaborative writing as:

"Projects where written works are created by multiple people together (collaboratively) rather
than individually. Some projects are overseen by an editor or editorial team, but many grow
without any of this top-down oversight".

There are a number of examples of how it is being done and these can easily be emulated with a
group of students or interested individuals,

Here are two examples of collaborative writing on Twitter:

Twittories twittories

- Interested individuals sign up to take part in writing a collaborative story and they add their own
names to the list held on a wiki.

- The first person on the list starts the story off with a tweet of 140 characters to @twittories - and
also adds their contribution to the wiki to build the story in a more formal place.

- They then inform the next person on the list who has 12 hours to write their contribution to the
story.

- Everybody only contributes once.

- The story ends when the last person has contributed.

BBC Audiobooks

- Twitter an Audio Story with Neil Gaiman!

- Here are the original instructions for the activity that took place in October 2009:
- Read the opening line of the story tweeted by Neil (or catch up with it in progress by visiting
#bbcawdio) and then follow us at http://www.twitter.com/BBCAA to post the next sentence of the
story (tweets must be 140 characters or less).

- This special choose-your-own-adventure style story will also be chronicled here on our blog as the
story unfolds with its myriad twists and turns created by YOU!

- When roughly 1000 Tweets are logged, we'll edit the contributions and compile a script, then head
into the studio to record and produce the audiobook. The final audiobook will be downloadable free
on our website and also available as a digital download at "Tunes and other audiobook retailers".

In the following link you will find many interesting resources to use Twitter for social learning:

- Link: http://c4lpt.co.uk/140Learning/twitter.html

5.4. Other tools and networks

- YouTube (video): as discussed in Chapter 3, it is a social network in which users can upload and
share videos. Some ideas for educational use are:

- Using authentic materials in the target language: we can use videos of songs, advertising, news,
documentaries, and videos recorded by students.

- Creating a YouTube account and adding those videos that are considered interesting for the
students.

- Recording videos in the target language and upload them to the class account.

- Comment on videos in the language they are learning.

We also have social networks of video for an educational purpose: Schooltube, Teachertube, among
others.

Teachertube is quite similar to the popular online platform YouTube. It is a website to share videos.
Everybody can have a look at the videos that have been uploaded. In contrast to YouTube,
Teachertube is meant to be a platform offering instructional videos that have an educational
value. Videos can be supplemented through activities, lesson plans or other files. The target group
of Teachertube is teachers, students and pupils. Overall goal of Teachertube is to provide video
material in order to extend knowledge or to acquire skills. Link:
http://www.teachertube.com/index.php
- Flickr (images and video): is a website to store, sort, search and share images and video.

- Slide Share (presentations): Slide Share is a website that offers users the ability to upload and
share public or private presentations slides in PowerPoint, Word, Open Office or PDF format.

6.1. Virtual Learning Environments

A Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is a system designed to support teaching and learning in an
educational setting. VLE is one of the most promising technological resources as it offers a wide
range of educational teaching opportunities. While originally created for distance education, VLEs
are now most often used to supplement traditional face-to-face classroom activities, commonly
known as Blended Learning. Some of the best known VLEs today are Elgg, Moodle or Edu 2.0.

In EFL teaching, Moodle is one of the most common VLEs. In the following website we can find some
useful tutorials about Moodle:

- Link: http://docs.moodle.org/20/en/MoodleDocs:Starting_MoodleDocs

In a VLE, teachers can easily add a variety of online resources and assignments into a learning
menu. Each student can access the VLE through a unique username and password. Once inside their
course, students can interact with their teachers and classmates.

A VLE should implement all the following elements1:

The syllabus for the course.

Administrative information.

A notice board for up-to-date course information.

Student registration and tracking facilities.

Basic teaching materials. These may be the complete content of the course, if the VLE is
being used in a distant learning context, or copies of visual aids used in lectures or other
classes where it is being used to support a campus-based course.

Additional resources, including reading materials, and links to outside resources in


libraries and on the Internet.

Self-assessment tasks, which can be scored automatically.

Formal assessment procedures.


Electronic communication support including email, discussions, forums, chartroom, etc.

We must bear in mind that VLEs are a technological system. Using new technologies in education is
not an end in itself but rather an up-to-date means to an end. The content we include should:

- Encourage interaction.

- Be engaging, effective and relevant to encourage learner autonomy.

- Acknowledge the social nature of language.

- Focus on meaning.

- Focus on learning by doing.

6.2. Uses of the VLE in the language classroom

A VLE can be used in different ways. However, combining them and always bear in mind the
student needs. Some of the educational uses of VLEs in language teaching are:

- As a repository of educational materials, links of interest, etc. for a specific area or field, a
teaching Department or a school. It could be a good choice to combine this option with a
participatory and dynamic use: discussion forums, links to other spaces, etc.

- Environment for interactive activities. Moodle and other similar VLEs have modules of
questionnaires, surveys, "quizzes", tests, etc. In addition, these materials can be reused with ease
and teachers can design them according to their objectives. These activities have a traditional
structure but may be powerful if combined with other resources.

- Implementation of activities that require the use of multimedia elements. Most VLEs can
insert all kinds of audio and video files.

- Activities that require the use of communication tools: forums, chat, blogs, email, RSS feeds,
etc.

- Collaborative activities. Moodle incorporates modules that allow learning collaboratively: wikis,
group work, etc. Teachers can easily follow the work done by every student, in a group or
individually.

One of the most interesting applications in VLE is videoconference. Video conferencing is an


interactive tool that combines the use of video and audio to allow participants in different locations
to interact face to face in real time.
Videoconferencing has several advantages that make it an effective tool for language learning:

- It offers visual interaction in real time.

- It requires the participation and collaboration of users.

- The teacher can easily follow the activity of the students.

- It can be complemented with other materials.

We can find several possibilities to introduce video conferencing in a VLE:

- DimDim: requires an installation process. It offers the possibility to set up your own server under
Open Source license.

- WiZiQ: by registering on the website, you get a free teacher account.

- Openmeetings: it consists of two modules, Openmeetings and Openmeetings Audience, to


schedule and attend videoconferences. In any case, it requires you to install the software in your
own server.

- Elluminate: it includes video resources, audio, virtual whiteboard, chat, possibility to applaud or
whistle to the speaker, presentations from your computer, surveys and tests, multimedia files, etc.

The previous VLEs are built on the educational community standards, and allow developing your
own training materials and tests with standard procedures. In addition, they offer the possibility to
import and export teaching objects like IMS, SCORM and JCLIC, which make it possible to design
activities according to the educational objectives.

6.3. The role of the teacher in the language VLE

The role the teacher in a foreign language VLE consists of the following points:

- To manage and to make available materials and documentation for a course in different
formats (text, image, video, audio). A language learning course may include: online dictionaries,
translators, links to cultural sites, online books, podcasts, television channels, documentaries,
glossaries and vocabulary games, etc.

- To manage and to correct written work by students. We recommend taking into account not
only the correct grammar, but also if the text is socially appropriate.

- To configure and to manage forums and wikis on the course. Teachers can motivate students
to communicate and to interact in the language they are learning. It is not recommended that the
teacher over-correct grammatical aspects since it could hinder spontaneity, self-initiative and
dynamism in the communication.

- To locate relevant information and to solve technical problems that may arise in their daily
use of the course.

- To design activities by integrating external resources (links, audio, video, etc.).

- To motivate students to participate in the language they are learning.

- To pay special attention to the diversity of the students, taking into account: foreign language
level, digital and communicative competence, nationality, age, etc.

6.4. The role of the student in the VLE

Students who use the Internet have the opportunity to engage in active, collaborative learning
experiences where they are the centre of their own learning process. Students should not be
"consumers" of learning materials, they should be able to take responsibility for their own learning,
producing information and transforming it into knowledge and learning.

Active learning involves being aware of the learning processes and taking responsibility for the
information and the results of this learning. Students should be encouraged to make decisions and
manage their learning.

The role of the language student in a digital environment mainly consists of the following activities:

- To participate in the different spaces in the course, consuming and producing content.

- To socialize with other classmates and teachers.

- To ask questions to classmates and the teacher.

- To take advantage of the different spaces of communication: forums, chat, blogs, etc.

- To get involved in the processes of collaborative learning: working in groups, observing the
learning of colleagues, etc.

- To learn how to synthesize ideas.

- To participate in the VLE in a progressive way: is much more effective to participate frequently
even for less time (for example, one hour a day) that long but less frequently.

- To read the contributions of colleagues: can be very useful to solve personal problems.
- To accept the diversity of opinions and answers.

- To take responsibility for learning:

- To have clear objectives.

- To take decisions.

- To learn to manage learning spaces: personal site and profile in the VLE, participation, and
connections with other environments.

Tallei (2009, p. 1) pointed out some competences for the teacher and the student to be developed in
a VLE. We highlight the following:

Teacher competences

Technological competences

- Use of the computer.

- Internet management.

- Selection of suitable sites for work in class.

- Creation of blogs, wikis, web quest, podcasting, etc.

- Management of virtual environments.

- Modification of their communication (mediated communication: synchronous and asynchronous).

- Knowledge of computer languages.

- Creation of web sites and virtual communities.

- Knowledge of educational software.

Pedagogical competences

- Guide the student: moderate and help to have a more participative attitude.

- Training for change.

- Organization of the educational curriculum to be able to integrate technology in an appropriate


manner.
- Change the traditional conception of learning (master class) into a new participatory model.

- Participation in the creation of materials, which imply the use of technology.

- Involvement in the learning process of students (not only to correct and to evaluate evidence or
comments, but also to participate with them).

- Academic oversight (in the sense of providing feedback), interdisciplinary work capacity.

Student Competences

- Development and use of learning strategies.

- Ability to participate in the knowledge society.

- Development and use of strategies to access information.

- Development and use of strategies to handle new information.

- Reflection and critical attitude.

- Ability to solve problems and ability to meet new challenges.

- Active participation in virtual communities and interaction with other people.

6.5. Assessment and tutorship in a VLE

As mentioned, one of the fundamental roles of the teacher in a VLE is the assessment of students,
which consists on:

- Follow-up of the learning process of the students: the teacher can see the students'
participation in the different spaces of the VLE, the readings and activities he or she has done;
when; how much time has been devoted to perform them, etc.

- Assessment and self-assessment tasks: test (at the end of each module, for example), small
tasks and presentations throughout the year, both in group and individually.

Teachers can choose between different tutorship modes in VLEs or combine them (as suggested):
- Tutorship by email: students can send emails to the teacher and he or she can answer questions,
give advice and feedback on their learning process, in addition to the continuous assessment of the
student.

- Tutorship by chat: the teacher can tutor students in real time. This option is especially
interesting for specific issues that need a quick answer or comment.

- Tutorship by videoconference: tutoring sessions can be made by videoconference so that


communication is more personal. In addition, we can count on the elements of non-verbal
communication (gestures, for example), very important in second language teaching.

- Collective tutorship by videoconference session: of particular interest when the group needs
similar recommendations, guidelines, feedback to problems, etc. This mode can be useful for
reasons of time and group cohesion.

- Tutorship through interventions in different spaces of the course: through comments in


forums or blogs. They are used to keep track of the activities of the student, to engage students with
their learning and to solve specific issues, such as error correction.

6.8. Interactive whiteboard

According to Wikipedia, the interactive whiteboard is a large interactive display that connects to a
computer and projector. A projector shows the computer desktop on the whiteboard's screen
where users control the computer using a pen.

Interactive whiteboards are used in a variety of settings, including classrooms at all levels of
education, professional training, etc.

Larequi (2011) explains some features of the interactive whiteboard form a didactic perspective
(Larequi, Recursos PDI, p. 11):

- It is a very flexible resource, able to be adapted to different methodologies.

- It allows the use of many existing materials: presentations, static documents, websites, graphics,
photographs, illustrations, animations, conceptual maps, simulations, videos, etc.

- It allows students to exhibit tasks, activities and analysis of their own materials, cooperative
learning and assessment, etc.

- In many cases, it means cost savings compared to traditional computer lessons, in which a
computer is necessary for each student.
Marques (2008, p.1) adds a series of contributions of the interactive board to the processes of
teaching and learning:

- It allows the sharing of images and texts.

- It facilitates discussion.

- It increases the student's attention and participation.

- It facilitates the treatment of the diversity of learning styles.

- It increases the motivation of the teacher: more available resources.

- The teacher can prepare much more attractive and documented lessons.

- The materials can be adapted and re-used each year.

We now have many educational resources for the interactive whiteboard available on the Internet.
The role of the teacher will be to develop or to select materials, and to adapt resources for their
students.

7.1. Electronic portfolios

According to the McGraw-Hill Higher Education Web page1, portfolios are:

Collections of student artefacts; can be thought of as both objects and methods of assessment. As
objects, they are a place for holding materials such as papers, photographs, or drawings that are
representative of students' work and progress. As methods of assessment, portfolios provide ways for
teachers to continuously collect and assess student work.

Portfolios give students the opportunity to reflect on their learning so that they may evaluate their
learning progress.

There are basically two types of portfolios:

The formative portfolio: the learning process of a student. It contains samples of a


student's work collected throughout the term to demonstrate learning changes over a
period of time.

The summative portfolio: has learning outcomes as its focus and not the process of
learning. These portfolios contain proof of a student's skills while also exhibiting their
range and depth.
The electronic portfolio

Barrett (2000) describes electronic portfolios as:

(those that make) use of electronic technologies that allow the portfolio developer to collect and
organize artefacts in many formats (audio, video, graphics, and text). A standards-based electronic
portfolio uses hypertext links to organize the material to connect artefacts to appropriate goals or
standards... An electronic portfolio is not a haphazard collection of artefacts (i.e., a digital scrapbook
or multimedia presentation) but rather a reflective tool that demonstrates growth over time.2

The electronic portfolio or e-portfolio (e-PEL) has the same features and is based on the same
approach as the Portfolios, but there are a series of advantages and characteristics of the digital
environment, such as:

ease of management,

connectivity with other elements (people and places),

content updating,

collaborative documents.

The e-portfolio can be developed online, such as a blog, wiki or other Web page, but also through
specific software that can be installed on your computer (Mahara, for example).

The e-portfolio, from a more technical perspective, offers:

- Use of technology (software, online tools such as blogs, etc.).

- A personal site to write and publish text, but also to include audio-visual text and links that enrich
the digital text and invite participation: editing content, commenting, linking it, etc.

- Possibility for networking with other people with similar interests.

Figure 7.1: Adapted from a presentation by Peter Rees-Jones to a joint meeting of the
CETIS Pedagogy Forum, June 2004
Link: http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/infokits/e-portfolios/attainment
The e-portfolio offers the possibility of understanding the portfolio as a tool to reflect and manage
our Personal Learning Environment. The e-EPL allows collecting samples of learning both inside
and outside the classroom, focussing not only on formal learning, but also on non-formal learning,
collecting linguistic and cultural experiences, mediated or not by technology, and incorporating
them into our Personal Learning Environment.

Barrett (2009) uses the following illustration to highlight all the functionality of the e-portfolio:

Finally, we provide some resources and examples of the electronic portfolio:

ePortfolio: digital portfolio project used by a group of fifteen North American universities.

Open Source Portfolio: open source software used by the universities of Minnesota and Delaware,
among others.

Mahara: open-source software.

7.2. The role of the teacher in digital environments

The fundamental role of the teacher in digital environments is the same as in face-to-face
environments: to help the student to learn. However, we can specify some activities of the teacher
in these environments. Siemens (2008, p. 220) propose in "Teaching in social and technological
networks" seven roles that a teacher can play in a networked learning environment, specifying
what strategies and tools he or she will need:

Roles of educators in online courses

EDUCATOR
ACTIVITY OF EDUCATOR TACTICS AND TOOLS
ROLE

Drawing attention to important


Amplifying Twitter, blogs.
ideas/concepts.

Learning design, tutorials, adjustment


Arranging readings and resources to
Curating of weekly activities to reflect course
scaffold concepts.
flow.

Comments on learners' blog posts,


Assisting learners to rely on social sense
Wayfinding help with social networK formation,
making through networks.
"live slides" method1.
Displaying patterns in discussions and Google Alerts, RSS reader, visual tools
Aggregating
content. (eg., Many Eyes).

Assisting learners in thinking critically


RSS reader, discussion of information
Filtering about information/conversations available
trust, conceptual errors.
in networks.

All use of tools and activities to reflect


Displaying successful information and
Modeling educators' modeling of appropriate
interaction patterns.
practices.

Dally (or regular newsletter), activity


Maintaining continual Instructor presence
Staying In forums, video posts, poocasts,
during the course, particularly during
Present weekly live sessions in synchronous
natural activity lulls.
tools (e.g., Elluminate).

1 Dave Cormier. "Presenting with Live Slides". Dave's Educational Blog. November 6, 2009.
<http://davecormier.com/edblog/2009/11/06/presenting-with-live-slides-oer-literacies-and-the-
future-preso/>
SOURCE: Based on George Siemens. "Teaching in social and Tecnological Networks", Connectivism:
Networked and social learning. February 16, 2010. <http://www.connectivism.ca/>.

Table 7.1. Roles of educators in online courses.

From the table above, teachers can play the following roles in digital learning environments:

- Facilitator: providing students with the necessary content and tools for their language learning
process (course material, tools to practise the language and develop skills and communication
strategies and learning).

- Course administrator: the teacher has to review and to manage the participation, also offering
quick answers to questions or problems that may arise in learning environments. The teacher must
also keep up to date content and the technological resources.

- Organizer and planner: the teacher must organize and clearly define the objectives of the course,
as well as the structure and the content (in the different modules, parts of the course, etc.).
- Knowledge of basic Internet services and resources: the teacher must have the competence to
learn about the tools and services available on the network that can be effective for foreign
language learning.

- Assessment developer: the teacher must provide feedback to the students about their learning
process, showing where he or she is in the learning process, what can be improved and how.

We could summarize the role of the teacher in digital environments as a guide and facilitator of
the students' learning process. The teacher must, from this role, respond to the diversity of student
needs, teaching them especially to:

- Learn how to use the tools (language variety, tools and digital environments, etc.) to
communicate.

- Learn to find, to produce and to manage information.

- Learn to behave ethically in different communication environments: sources, licenses, etc.

- Develop reflection and socio-effective strategies.

Final conclusions.
A critical perspective and a look towards the future of educational technology

This course has examined possible educational uses of technology with a special focus on second
language teaching and learning. Some of the services discussed in previous chapters are blogs,
wikis, Google applications, social networks, Virtual Learning Environments and e-portfolios.

Communication technologies are part of the broader ecology of life at the present time. Much of our
reading, writing, and communicating is migrating from environments like books, letters or
telephone to the screen and mainly to Internet. In such a context, teachers can no longer think only
about how to use technologies to teach language, but also to think about what types of language
and communicative competences students need to learn in order to communicate effectively
via computers and Internet. This realization has inspired an approach focused on the importance of
information technologies not only as teaching tools but also as a legitimate medium of
communication.
It is important to emphasize the fact that the use of technology does not represent any value or
educational advance by itself. Computers are machines, not a method. Therefore its value lies in
how we use them to achieve specific educational goals.

When using technology with an educational purpose, it is essential, as with any other tool, material
or source of information, that we use them in the classroom:

To check whether it fits the educational objectives that we want to achieve or, if not, to
adapt them otherwise to our educational context.

To check that the language (both first and second languages), register and content of the
materials and the services that we use, are adequate both from the linguistic and the
educational point of view for students, taking into account criteria such as age, level of
second language and suitability for the objectives of the course.

Language educators do not only have to teach students grammar rules, but also to help them gain
apprenticeship into new discourse communities and networks. This is accomplished through
creating opportunities for authentic and meaningful interaction both within and outside the
classroom, and providing students the tools for their own social, cultural, and linguistic exploration.

It is essential to use technology in second languages teaching and learning, always considering the
main communication skills to be developed in the foreign language:

COMMUNICATION
EXAMPLES OF DIGITAL ACTIVITIES
SKILLS

Recording and listening podcast, videos, radio, videoconferences,


Oral expression
etc.

Oral comprehension Searching and selecting information and do it critically.

Writing and reading documents, email, chat, comments in videos,


Written expression blogs, articles, etc.
Writing and reading in a collaborative way: collaborative
Written documents, wikis, comments on blogs and networks.
comprehension Searching and select information and do it critically.

Table 1. Communication skills and digital activities.


The teacher's role regarding the student's digital competence will be to guide students in the self-
development of this competence, together with communicative competences in the language
they are learning.

Communicative competences1:

Linguistic competence: knowing how to use the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of a
language. Linguistic competence asks: What words do I use? How do I put them into
phrases and sentences?

Sociolinguistic competence: knowing how to use and respond to language appropriately.


Sociolinguistic competence asks: Which words and phrases fit this setting and this topic?
How can I express a specific attitude, when I need to? How do I know what attitude another
person is expressing?

Discourse competence: knowing how to interpret the larger context. Discourse competence
asks: How are words, phrases and sentences put together to create conversations,
speeches, email messages, etc.?

Strategic competence: knowing how to recognize and repair communication breakdowns


and how to learn more about the language and in the context. Strategic competence asks:
How do I know when I've misunderstood or when someone has misunderstood me? What
do I have to say then? How can I express my ideas if I don't know the name of something or
the right verb form to use?

Technology and its learning and teaching possibilities change constantly increasing at a faster pace.
There is a steady flow of new information, as well as tools and new services that leave the previous
ones obsolete.

It is not simple to determine the future of educational technology and its learning possibilities.
However, there are two main sparkling lines of the future (and present) of education:

Mobile learning: any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed,
predetermined location, or learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the
learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies (Wikipedia). In other words, mobile
learning decreases the limitation of learning locations with the mobility of general portable
devices. These devices are, for example, handheld computers, smartphones, eBooks,
tablets, etc.
Connective learning: Siemens (2006) explains it as "a learning theory for the digital age",
indicating the special importance that is given to the effect technology has on how people
live, how they communicate, and how they learn. Connectivism sees learning as the process
of creating connections and developing a network.

Other future trends in technology that will surely influence education are:

Semantic Web: this refers to a specific aspect of the Web's evolution. It's a Web that
enables computers to understand the semantics and meaning of information on the
Internet, making use of hyper-structures leading to entities of hypertext.

Real time Web: it is technology that enables users to receive information as soon as it is
published, rather than requiring that they or their software check a source periodically for
updates. RSS syndication enables users to read updated data from any place and anytime.

Augmented reality: it describes a real-world environment whose elements are augmented


by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.
Augmented reality deals with the combination of real world and computer-generated data,
offering a view of reality that is modified by a computer. This field of computer research is
being implemented through applications such as Smartphones, and Foursquare or Gowalla.

It is essential to consider the use of technology in education, and more specifically in the field of
second language teaching, as a field in constant change. With this purpose, it is important to
understand technology in education from a communicative approach focused on lifelong
learning and learning by doing.

In conclusion, the key to successful use of technology in language teaching lies not in hardware or
software but in people, and the capacity as teachers to plan, design, and implement effective
educational activity.
Appendix and webography: online resources

1. On-line journals dealing exclusively with CALL

- http://www.deakin.edu.au/~irudayar/calljour.html
(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

2. General resources for teachers

- This site includes links to lesson plans and exercises for students, as well as to teaching
organizations, jobs, etc.
http://www.english-forum.com/teaching.html
(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

3. Skills

- A site to practice the reading skill, with a large story library, plus accompanying lesson plans.
http://www.storyarts.org/classroom/index.html
(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- A site that offers good listening activities (you need to install Real Audio).
http://www.hio.ft.hanze.nl/thar/listen.htm
(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- A site dealing with the writing skill for students.


http://tqjunior.advanced.org/5115/s_writing.htm
(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

4. Grammar and vocabulary

- Activities for practising grammar and vocabulary (including idioms).


http://english-forum.com/interactive/ (Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- Activities and worksheets to use in class, for intermediate level and up.
http://www.smic.be/smic5022/teacherhandouts.htm
(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

5. Songs

- A huge data bank of the words to lots of well-known songs.


http://www.lyrics.com (Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- Ideas for using music and songs in the classroom.


http://www.eslpartyland.com/teachers/nov/music.htm
(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

6. Projects

- Global Internet projects for education - you can join or submit projects here.
http://www.montageplus.co.uk/ (Last accessed June 27, 2011)
7. Reading

- ESL reading: http://www.eslreading.org/ (Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- ESL reading. The Internet TESL Journal's:


http://iteslj.org/links/ESL/Reading/ (Last accessed June 27, 2011)

8. Pronunciation

- ESL pronunciation. The Internet TESLJournal's:


http://iteslj.org/links/ESL/Pronunciation/
(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

9. Dictionaries

- Cambridge University Press allows you to search four dictionaries at this site.
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/ (Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- Longman allows access to an on-line interactive dictionary, with activities for many levels of
students. http://www.awlelt.com/dictionaries/index.html
(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- WordReference.com. Link: http://wordreference.com/es/Index.htm


(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

10. Podcasts

- BBC Learning English: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/


(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- Better at English: http://www.betteratenglish.com/


(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- ESL: Listening podcast: http://iteslj.org/links/ESL/Listening/Podcasts/


(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- Google Students Channel: http://www.youtube.com/googlestudents11


(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

11. Level test

- DIALANG:
http://www.lancs.ac.uk/researchenterprise/dialang/about
(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

12. Virtual Learning Environments

- Moodle: http://moodle.org/ (Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- Blackboard: http://www.blackboard.com/ (Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- Elgg: http://www.elgg.org/ (Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- Edu 2.0: http://www.edu20.org/ (Last accessed June 27, 2011)


13. Tools for VLE activities

- Quia. Link: http://www.quia.com (Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- Hotpotatoes. Link: http://web.uvic.ca/hrd/hotpot/


(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- Clic. Link: http://clic.xtec.cat/es/index.htm (Last accessed June 27, 2011)

14. Top 100 tools for learning 2011

- Centre for learning & performance technologies. Link:


file://localhost/Link/ http/::c4lpt.co.uk:recommended:2011.html
(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

- Jamie Keddie lesson plan. Link: http://lessonstream.org/browse-lessons


(Last accessed June 27, 2011)

15. Facebook

Example of the use of Facebook in the classroom. Spanish as Second Language students in a Study
Abroad course in Barcelona used this network as a group to discuss tasks, to support the
presentation of tasks, events, etc.
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