A Context-Based Approach to Web 2.0 and Language Education

A Context-Based Approach to Web 2.0 and Language Education

Gary Motteram (University of Manchester, UK) and Susan Brown (University of Manchester, UK)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-190-2.ch007
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Web 2.0 offers potentially powerful tools for the field of language education. As language teacher tutors exploring Web 2.0 with participants on an MA in Educational Technology and TESOL at the University of Manchester, UK, we see that the potential of Web 2.0 is intimately linked with teachers’ perceptions of their teaching contexts. This chapter will describe a “context-based” approach to the exploration of Web 2.0 on a module focusing on the potential role of distributed courseware in language education. It will begin by giving an overall picture of where and how the exploration of Web 2.0 tools fits into the MA program. It will then describe the main aims and aspects of the module and discuss in some detail our context-based approach in relation to participants as well as Web 2.0 in existing literature. The chapter will conclude with two case studies concerning how teachers incorporate Web 2.0 technologies in courseware for their contexts.
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This chapter explores the way that participants on a module run as part of an MA in Educational Technology and TESOL learn about, make use of and evaluate Web 2.0 technologies. This module is a new departure for the course and represents the ongoing need for the MA to refresh itself and to bring new and developing technologies into its domain.

Web 2.0 has its advocates and its detractors; however, it has become a de facto part of today’s Internet landscape. The very nature of Web 2.0, its emphasis on such features as collaboration, interactivity and user-generated content, seems to make it an obvious choice for a focus of discussion when it comes to looking at current trends in the use of technology in language education. These trends, as shall be later discussed, reflect a focus on learner centered, collaborative tasks which, in Second Language Acquisition terms, allow channels for authentic language input and output (Chapelle, 1998). However, it is important to realize that for many language teachers Web 2.0 may simply appear to be another technological innovation that will pass them by along with the many others that they have seen during their career, despite the slowly increasing range of references to the uses and benefits of key Web 2.0 technologies (e.g. blogs, podcasts and wikis) in language education.

As people and communities in various parts of the world increasingly embrace Web 2.0, some educational institutions are inevitably responding to those societal trends and trying to harness Web 2.0 in their learning programs. Others, although they are in societies where technology is more normalized (Bax, 2003a) have, for various reasons, not taken those technologies on board. Perhaps now, more than at any other time, language teachers may need to negotiate these changes as they impact, or not, on their institutions, and consider the implications of ever greater technology use for their language teaching. They may be inspired or effectively obliged to engage with the nature of Web 2.0 and analyze its affordances for language education. Other teachers, even if they are aware that it is being used in the wider world may currently see no application for it in language education.

Web 2.0 is described as relatively easy to use and therefore accessible to anybody with access to the Internet. This is in contrast to its Web 1.0 predecessor which is seen to require at least some familiarity with HTML as a minimum. Setting up and contributing to a blog for example may seem comparatively uncomplicated. However, once a blog has been set up the user may be confronted with concepts and technicalities that may be more difficult to get to grips with, RSS, by way of example. Teachers struggling to understand the concept behind RSS, and the different technologies that support it, are unlikely to be able to stand back and evaluate its uses in language learning terms.

Such issues notwithstanding Web 2.0 tools do appear to offer a lot of what language teachers would want in order to support learners language development: they can potentially distribute the learning and enable students to be in regular touch with a world-wide community of learners; they appear to enable an easier connection to be made between the classroom and the “real” world; they might enable learners to take some control over their learning making use of tools that excite them and which they are using in their everyday lives; they seem to offer engagement in active rather than passive learning, in process as well as product; learners can also potentially engage in discourses that take them beyond the classroom.

On the MA program in Educational Technology and TESOL at the School of Education, University of Manchester, it is important to explore Web 2.0 technologies in language education and help teachers understand generic functions of Web 2.0 in order to facilitate their evaluation of its potential uses. An evaluation of this potential should not, and cannot, be divorced from considerations pertaining to the “ecology” of the teaching environment in which teachers work, or have worked in the past and how that pertains to the wider changes in society. The use of the term “ecology” here signifies all of the rich, interacting elements that create the dynamic of teachers’ teaching contexts including top down societal, curricula and institutional influences and the bottom up influences which may stem from teachers’ knowledge of and enthusiasm for Web 2.0.

Key Terms in this Chapter

High-Tech Contexts: One where the use of technology is integrated into everyday life, so you would expect there to be easy access to the internet, probably these days through wi-fi; for the bulk of the population to carry mobile phones and for technology to feature strongly in the education system.

Pbwiki: One of a burgeoning number of wiki environments. The following page provides a useful comparative analysis of different wiki environments: http://www.wikimatrix.org .

Low-Tech Contexts: Whilst the middle classes may have access to mobile phones and access to the internet at home, schools may only have traditional computer rooms which may not well be networked. Access to the internet for the general population is via internet cafes in urban areas rather than through wi-fi.

Trackback/Pingback: Links that allow blog users to reference content on each others’ blogs. For example, say every learner in a class has their own blog and one learner embeds a video file in their blog about a trip they have been on, if other learners comment on the video in their own blogs and use the trackback function, this will automatically show in the blog of the learner who embedded the video. Note that blogger.com does not currently offer the trackback and pingback function

Context-Based Approach: An approach that encourages teachers to have the confidence to creatively reflect on their teaching practice as it responds to the particularities of their own teaching contexts. Kumaradivelu refers to this as a “teacher generated theory of practice” (2001, p. 541). This means that the potential of technologies cannot be evaluated in abstract terms but as it is interlinked with contextually appropriate practice.

Ecology (Teaching Environment): The teaching ecology refers to all the rich, interacting elements that create the dynamic of a teacher’s context. These may include top down societal, curricula and institutional elements and bottom up elements such as learner requests to use more technology in the classroom.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Mark Warschauer
Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas
Chapter 1
Michael Vallance, Kay Vallance, Masahiro Matsui
The grand narrative of educational policy statements lack clear guidelines on Information Communications Technology (ICT) integration. A review of... Sample PDF
Criteria for the Implementation of Learning Technologies
Chapter 2
Mark Pegrum
This chapter discusses the application of a range of Web 2.0 technologies to language education. It argues that Web 2.0 is fundamentally about... Sample PDF
Communicative Networking and Linguistic Mashups on Web 2.0
Chapter 3
Bernd Rüschoff
Current thinking in SLA methodology favours knowledge construction rather than simple instructivist learning as an appropriate paradigm for language... Sample PDF
Output-Oriented Language Learning With Digital Media
Chapter 4
Infoxication 2.0  (pages 60-79)
Elena Benito-Ruiz
This chapter reviews the issue of information overload, introducing the concept of “infoxication 2.0” as one of the main downsides to Web 2.0. The... Sample PDF
Infoxication 2.0
Chapter 5
Margaret Rasulo
The aim of this chapter is to discuss the effectiveness and the necessity of forming a community when engaged in online learning. The Internet and... Sample PDF
The Role of Community Formation in Learning Processes
Chapter 6
Tony Mullen, Christine Appel, Trevor Shanklin
An important aspect of the Web 2.0 phenomenon is the use of Web-embedded and integrated non-browser Internet applications to facilitate... Sample PDF
Skype-Based Tandem Language Learning and Web 2.0
Chapter 7
Gary Motteram, Susan Brown
Web 2.0 offers potentially powerful tools for the field of language education. As language teacher tutors exploring Web 2.0 with participants on an... Sample PDF
A Context-Based Approach to Web 2.0 and Language Education
Chapter 8
Lut Baten, Nicolas Bouckaert, Kan Yingli
This case study describes how a project-based approach offers valuable new opportunities for graduate students to equip them with the necessary... Sample PDF
The Use of Communities in a Virtual Learning Environment
Chapter 9
George R. MacLean, James A. Elwood
Prensky (2001) posited the emergence of a new generation of “digital natives” fluent in the language of cyberspace and familiar with the tools of... Sample PDF
Digital Natives, Learner Perceptions and the Use of ICT
Chapter 10
Steve McCarty
In a cross-cultural educational context of TEFL in Japan, the author sought to enhance the integrative motivation of students toward the target... Sample PDF
Social Networking Behind Student Lines in Japan
Chapter 11
Antonie Alm
This chapter discusses the use of blogs for foreign and second language (L2) learning. It first outlines the suitability of blogs for language... Sample PDF
Blogging for Self-Determination with L2 Learner Journals
Chapter 12
Revathi Viswanathan
Training ESL students in soft skills and employability skills with the help of Web 2.0 technologies is the current trend in Indian educational... Sample PDF
Using Mobile Technology and Podcasts to Teach Soft Skills
Chapter 13
Andy Halvorsen
This chapter looks at the potential use of Social Networking Sites (SNSs) for educators and second language learners. It views SNSs broadly through... Sample PDF
Social Networking Sites and Critical Language Learning
Chapter 14
Nicolas Gromik
This chapter reports on an ongoing project conducted at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. A mixed group of seven advanced EFL learners produced... Sample PDF
Producing Cell Phone Video Diaries
Chapter 15
Thomas Raith
This chapter explores in how far Web 2.0, Weblogs in particular, has changed foreign language learning. It argues that Weblogs, along with Web 2.0... Sample PDF
The Use of Weblogs in Language Education
Chapter 16
Nat Carney
This chapter gives a comprehensive overview of blogs in Foreign Language Education (FLE) through reviewing literature, critically analyzing... Sample PDF
Blogging in Foreign Language Education
Chapter 17
Pete Travis, Fiona Joseph
In particular, this chapter looks at the potential role of Web 2.0 technologies and podcasting to act as a transformational force within language... Sample PDF
Improving Learners' Speaking Skills with Podcasts
Chapter 18
Volker Hegelheimer, Anne O’Bryan
The increasing availability of mobile technologies is allowing users to interact seamlessly with a variety of content anytime, anywhere. One of... Sample PDF
Mobile Technologies, Podcasting and Language Education
Chapter 19
Jenny Ang Lu
This chapter aims to investigate how podcasts can be made to fit into the repertoire of resources utilized by teachers, especially in language... Sample PDF
Podcasting as a Next Generation Teaching Resource
Chapter 20
Matthias Sturm, Trudy Kennell, Rob McBride, Mike Kelly
Web 2.0 tools like blogs, Wikis, and podcasts are new to the vocabulary of language acquisition. Teachers and students who take full advantage of... Sample PDF
The Pedagogical Implications of Web 2.0
Chapter 21
John Paul Loucky
This study describes a task-based assessment (TBA) approach to teaching reading and writing online. It then analyzes key factors emerging from the... Sample PDF
Improving Online Readability in a Web 2.0 Context
Chapter 22
Jaroslaw Krajka
This chapter contrasts the use of corpora and concordancing in the Web 1.0 era with the opportunities presented to the language teachers by the Web... Sample PDF
Concordancing 2.0: On Custom-Made Corpora in the Classroom
Chapter 23
Darren Elliott
This chapter looks at the ways in which teacher training and teacher development are taking place online. It seeks to address the ways in which... Sample PDF
Internet Technologies and Language Teacher Education
Chapter 24
Sarah Guth
This chapter discusses the potential of social software and Web 2.0 tools to enhance language learning in a blended learning context. It describes... Sample PDF
Personal Learning Environments for Language Learning
Chapter 25
Shudong Wang, Neil Heffernan
This chapter introduces the concept of Mobile 2.0, a mobile version of Web 2.0, and its application to language learning. The chapter addresses the... Sample PDF
Mobile 2.0 and Mobile Language Learning
Chapter 26
Euline Cutrim Schmid
The first part of this chapter discusses the transformative potential of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs), by analyzing the opportunities of using... Sample PDF
The Pedagogical Potential of Interactive Whiteboards 2.0
Chapter 27
David Miller, Derek Glover
This chapter summarizes the work underway to chart, critically evaluate, and systematize the introduction of interactive whiteboards (IWB) into... Sample PDF
Interactive Whiteboards in the Web 2.0 Classroom
Chapter 28
Samuel Holtzman
The process of technological inclusion begins with an analysis of the features and functions of the specific tool in consideration. Pedagogy should... Sample PDF
Web 2.0 and CMS for Second Language Learning
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