Наукові конференції, Научные конференции » Сучасна наука в мережі Internet (27.02-1.03.2014) » Sakharnyuk O. M. USING WEB BLOGS AS EDUCATIONAL TOOL FOR ACTIVE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING

Sakharnyuk O. M. USING WEB BLOGS AS EDUCATIONAL TOOL FOR ACTIVE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING

Категорія: Сучасна наука в мережі Internet (27.02-1.03.2014), Педагогіка

Sakharnyuk O. M.

Mykolaiv College of Culture and Arts

 USING WEB BLOGS AS EDUCATIONAL TOOL FOR ACTIVE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING

 

We are living in dynamic and a fast-developing world in which the modern system of education is constantly updating and changing. One of the major tendencies in the educational system is implementation of e-learning. E-learning (short for Electronic Learning) is the use of electronic media and information and communication technologies (ICT) in education. E-learning is broadly inclusive of all forms of educational technology in learning and teaching. E-learning includes numerous types of media that deliver text, audio, images, animation, and streaming video, and includes technology applications and processes such as audio or video tape, satellite TV, CD-ROM, and computer-based learning, as well as local intranet/extranet and web-based learning.

Recent innovations in e-learning include weblogs which can serve as a valuable tool for active foreign language teaching and learning.[8] Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson point out that students do not learn much by simply being in class and listening to the teacher. They need to talk about what they are learning, write about it, correlate it with past experience and apply it in everyday life. [4, p.330] Some of the basic principles of active learning are:

- it is an approach which encourages students to study through reading, writing, talking, listening, and contemplating;

- it places students in an interactive learning environment where they become active partners of the teacher and create their own knowledge;

- it allows to maintain a peaceful, positive and stimulating environment as well as effective feedback. [2, p.8]

A blog (short for weblog) is a frequently updated online journal through software that enables one to easily do so - it requires only a basic access to the Internet and a minimum of technical know-how. The most popular, appropriate and useful platforms for this matter are Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr, the last except from blogging also provides social network elements. It takes only fifteen minutes from setting up an account to publishing the first post using this valuable tool. Using a blog involves some of the most essential active learning techniques – the methods and techniques of collecting information, and those of generating and creative summarizing of ideas.

Aaron Campbell has described three different types of blogs for foreign language learning: the tutor blog, the learner blog and the class blog. [3]

The Tutor Blog is run by the tutor for the learner. Its purpose is

- easy and immediate real-time upload of assignments, homework, course information, lecture materials, notifications or announcements, accessible from anywhere;

- to provide class or syllabus information (Entries in the blog can also serve to remind students about homework assignments and upcoming discussion topics. Links can be provided to sites that introduce relevant topics of discussion. The tutor can also follow up on difficult areas of classroom work that might need review or clarification.);

- to guide students to online resources appropriate for their level;

- to serve as a resource of links for self-study (Permanent links can be set-up and organized to aid the learner in self-study, for example links to online quizzes, English news sites, key-pal networks, audio and video files for listening practice and ESL interactive websites);

- to encourage online exchange by use of comment buttons ( At the bottom of each entry, any blog reader can make a comment that can be read and further commented on by all who access the site. Ask your students questions, give them riddles, challenge their views; whatever it takes to encourage them to comment.) ;

- to give extra reading practice or discussion tasks to the learners (Entries are kept short, geared towards the learner interest, and linked to related online sources for further reading if desired. New vocabulary words can be linked to definitions on other sites found with a search engine). [1; 2, p.9]

The advantages of the tutor blog include the following:

• chronological order of every post which can be particularly useful when there is a strict deadline for publication

• the possibility of creating and monitoring a working environment where students revise and comment each other’s postings

• the opportunity for the tutor to encourage self-initiative among students as they are let to choose the subject of tasks and assignments for the next post

• easier way to check student’s posts for plagiarism-which will also notably reduce the threat for that as students are aware of the risk. [9, p.427]

The learner blogs are run by individual learners themselves. The benefit of this is that this becomes the student's own personal online space. Students can be encouraged to write frequently about what interests them, and can post comments on other students' blogs. Learner blogs are best suited for reading and writing classes. The advantages of the student’s blog cover wide range of activities:

- students can be active participants in choosing the blogging platform which they are going to use – this will encourage them to be active, as well as make them feel an important and appreciated part of the learning process;

- the very building of their blog and its customization require creativity and vision that will provoke student’s interest; [9, p.427]

- blog development and participation can “empower students to become more analytical and critical” [7, p.616-621];

- the blog will mainly provide practice on writing- students will be more concerned about getting things write in their publication;

- blogging will also improve students’ research skills – they will be more careful with what they publish;

- as the blog reveals the time and date of publication, students will be more attentive with deadlines;

- to encourage shy students to participate (There is evidence to suggest that students who are quiet in class can find their voice when given the opportunity to express themselves in a blog.);

- students’ speaking skills will also be enhanced- after each self-study writing task, there will be a discussion back in the classroom, where students will be prepared to comment on the latest publications;

- students have the freedom to relate their posts to external websites, they can also place links and pictures to design their post, and as blogs suppose informal tone and personal style, they will feel at ease to project their thoughts and ideas;

- there is an exciting opportunity that students can be involved in a cross-cultural project, where they can create a team blog with a student at a similar language level but from another country [9, p.428]

- using blog as an online portfolio of student written work which help them to evaluate the progress they have made during a course.

The class blog is a shared space, with teacher and students being able to write to the main area. It is the result of the collaborative effort of an entire class. It can be used for posting messages, images, and links related to classroom discussion topics. The main purpose of class blogs’ usage is:

- to increase the sense of community in a class (A class blog can help foster a feeling of community between the members of a class, especially if learners are sharing information about themselves and their interests, and are responding to what other students are writing.);

- to stimulate out-of-class discussion, it is an ideal space for pre-class or post-class discussion;

- to help build a closer relationship between students in large classes. [1]

The most productive types of blogs are tutor blog and learner blog.

Good features of a blog application were analyzed by Hall, who pointed out: 1) students' reactions to the blogs were generally positive; 2) most students were very diligent in posting to their blogs; 3) students were able to read each other's opinions and observations; 4) the instructor received invaluable feedback from the students about class activities; 5) class members were able to share differing opinions freely. Bad features of blogs, according to Hall, were: 1) entries were often written for the sake of completing an assignment; 2) students commented less and less on each other's blogs as the semester progressed; 3) some of the student's blogs were virtually ignored by their classmates; 4) many students did not have computers at home; 5) some students forgot passwords, usernames, and e-mail addresses; 6) a few students never took to blogging; 7) blogs soon become outdated and discontinued after the class ended. [5]

The novelty factor creates student interest in starting to use blogs. It is claimed that blogs work best when learners get into the habit of using them. If learners are not encouraged, blogs can quickly be abandoned. [6] So, it is very important part of using blogs in learning process to keep students interested. Some of the useful tips for teachers may be:

 respond to student posts quickly, writing a short comment related to the content. Ask questions about what the learner writes to create stimulus for writing.;

 students should be actively encouraged to read and respond (through the commenting feature of the blog) to their classmates.

 writing to the blog could be required, and it may form part of the class assessment. Students should be encouraged to post their writing homework on the blog instead of only giving it to the teacher. [1]

 

So, blogs have undeniable advantages and can be very helpful in English language learning. Blogs encourage creativity and are the useful educational tool for active learning process. It is necessary to clarify that using blogs is the additional activity and its function is to perfect the language skills not to form them. Wisely used blogs can positively influence students’ concentration and interest in language learning.

 

References:

1. Blogging for ELT, site British Council, submitted March, 6, 2005, from

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/ article/blogging-elt

2. Boykova K.D. Encouraging Students’ Self-Study Trough the Use of Blogs in EFL Teaching.//Science and Education a New Dimension. Pedagogy and Psychology, I (7) Issue: 14, 2013, pp. 8-10

3. Campbell, A.P. Weblogs for use with ESL classes.//The Internet TESL Journal, 9(2), retrieved: November, 16, 2004, from http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Campbell-Weblogs.html Weblogs for Use with the ESL Classes, 2003

4. Chichering, Ar. and Z. Gamson. Seven Principles for Good Practice // AAHE Bulletin, 39, 1987

5. Hall, J.M. (n.d.). Weblogs in English teacher training. Retrieved March, 2006, from http://www. englisheducation.iwate-u.ac.jp/Hall/Blogs/BlogFrontPage.htm

6. Kavaliauskienė G., Anusienė L., Mažeikienė V. Weblogging: Innovation for Communication in English Class. // Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 2006, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 220-233,

from http://e-flt.nus.edu.sg/v3n22006/kavali.pdf

7. Oravec, J.A. Bookmarking the world: Weblog applications in education. // Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45 (7), 2002

8. Wikipedia. Definition of a blog, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

9. Wu, W.S. Using blogs in an EFL writing class. // S. Priya (Ed.), Netlingo: The metamorphosis of language, Hyderabad, India: The Icfai University Press, 2008

 

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