Social Software and Language Acquisition

Social Software and Language Acquisition

Sarah Guth (Università degli studi di Padova, Italy) and Corrado Petrucco (Università degli studi di Padova, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-994-6.ch026
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This chapter describes how the social software tools that characterize Web 2.0, such as wikis and blogs, can be used as a valid substitute for more traditional Learning Management Systems in the context of e-learning and blended learning language courses. First, we will give a brief overview of how the educational arena is changing and the role social software can play in promoting these changes. Then we will describe two experimental courses carried out at the University of Padova using social software. The chapter ends with a discussion of the role of these tools in formal education. The aim of the chapter is to show how these tools allow language educators to take network-based language teaching beyond the limits of planned classroom activities, offering students new opportunities to access and produce real language in real situations.
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Web 2.0 And Social Software For Educational Purposes

The educational arena today is finding it necessary to react and adapt to the shift from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy. We are now living in an information society where the way knowledge is created and organized and the very nature of knowledge have changed. The ways knowledge is represented have always been strongly influenced by the tools used to express it. Today it is impossible to think of knowledge without associating it with tools such as search engines, Web sites, repositories of learning objects, and more recently, social software tools such as blogs and wikis. Today’s students need to learn how to operate effectively in today’s information overload and, at the same time, how to become creators of knowledge. Upon graduation, they will find themselves looking for work in a global knowledge-based, networked economy where they will need to be skilled in collaborative and creative project-based work and critical thinking (Bruns & Humphreys, 2005). At the same time, we must also help students develop “the resources and skills necessary to engage with social and technical change, and to continue learning throughout the rest of their lives” (Owen et al., 2006, p. 3). Language acquisition especially is a lifelong process that cannot end with traditional education, but rather must be cultivated throughout life.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Informal Learning: Learning that takes place outside of institutionally defined contexts; for example, learning on the job and in one’s personal life. It can be associated with other concepts such as lifelong and continuous learning, both of which are becoming more important in today’s information society.

Social Software: A generic term used to describe various types of software that enable people to collaborate and create, and join online communities. The tools can promote various types of communication: synchronous one-to-one (instant messaging), synchronous one-to-many (Skypecasts), asynchronous one-to-many (blogs), asynchronous many-to-many (wikis), or asynchronous many-to-one (feed aggregators). These tools allow users to share and create content, collaboratively create and edit content and/or manage content.

Social Bookmarking: Social bookmarking Web sites allow users to store, classify, share, and search their own Internet bookmarks as well as those of other community members by using tags (folksonomies). Most services offer remote hosting so that users can access their bookmarks from any computer. Social bookmarking can serve as a filter for the information overload on the Internet. When users search on these Web sites, they are not searching the entire Web using an algorithm, as is the case on most search engines, but rather they are viewing Web sites that other users have found to be useful and taken the time to save and describe, and for which they have chosen semantically classified tags.

Network-Based Language Teaching (NBLT): NBLT involves teaching languages through the use of computers that are connected to one another in either local or global networks. NBLT allows students to interact with speakers of the target language without having to physically meet with them. In NBLT, the main focus is on authentic communication via the computer and the Internet. Social software offers new opportunities for NBLT.

Feed Aggregators: A client software that allows users to receive syndicated Web content from any type of Web site that uses feeds such as newspaper Web sites, blogs, podcasts, and so forth. In other words, rather than having to regularly check Web sites for updated information through the use of feeds (RSS, XML RSD, XML Atom), updated information is sent to the feed aggregator so users have only one place to check for updated content. Users can decide how much of the updated information they would like to receive in the aggregator (e.g., a few lines or the entire text) and whether or not to receive just text or other media as well. Users can also go directly to the Web sites from the aggregator. Feed aggregators provide a useful tool for managing the information overload on the Internet.

Participation Literacy: Whereas information literacy refers to a person’s ability to effectively manage information, participation refers to the competences required to effectively participate in Web 2.0 environments. In other words, participation literacy involves learning the social skills needed to take part in online communities.

Blog: Simply defined, a blog, or weblog is a sort of online journal organized in reverse chronological order, where a person writes about his or her thoughts and interests, including providing links to relevant resources on the Web. Most blogs allow readers to leave comments. There are many types of blogs, from very personal journals to educational blogs. Various types of media, from audio to video to images, can often be integrated into a text blog.

Web 2.0: A term used to contrast the World Wide Web in the 1990s as a collection of Web sites produced by experts, institutions, and companies (the read-only Web) with the changes that took place starting with the 21st century where Web applications allow end users to create and share content on the Web (the read-write Web).

Wiki: A software application that allows the creation and development of interlinked Web pages; any user can create new pages and edit existing pages. Wikis, therefore, are an effective tool for collaborative authoring, collective learning, and project-based work.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Norbert Pachler
Rita de Cássia Veiga Marriott, Patricia Lupion Torres
Rita de Cássia Veiga Marriott, Patricia Lupion Torres
Chapter 1
Pascual Pérez-Paredes, Maria Sánchez-Tornel
The research we report is a pilot study carried to test English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students’ reception of an electronic foreign language... Sample PDF
Understanding E-Skills in the FLT Context
Chapter 2
Antônio Carlos Soares Martins, Junia de Carvalho Fidelis Braga
The discussions presented herein emerged from two empirical studies in progress:“Online Learning Communities in the Realm of Complexity” and “The... Sample PDF
The Emergence of Social Presence in Learning Communities
Chapter 3
CALL as Action  (pages 39-52)
Vilson J. Leffa
The objective of this chapter is to offer a new approach for research in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). It starts with the assumption... Sample PDF
CALL as Action
Chapter 4
Vera Lucia Menezes de Oliveira e Paiva, Adail Sebastiao Rodrigues-Junior
This pedagogical and methodological chapter aims at contributing to increasing Web teachers’ awareness of the different ways teachers and students... Sample PDF
Investigating Interaction in an EFL Online Environment
Chapter 5
Euline Cutrim Schmid
This chapter discusses the concept of integrated CALL by drawing upon data collected for a PhD research project that investigated the impact of... Sample PDF
Interactive Whiteboards and the Normalization of CALL
Chapter 6
Alexandra Okada
This chapter presents new methodologies designed to facilitate language acquisition in open learning communities via open educational resources and... Sample PDF
OpenLearn and Knowledge Maps for Language Learning
Chapter 7
Ria Hanewald
This chapter provides an overview of the field of digital objects and repositories. It introduces the concepts of digital objects and repositories... Sample PDF
Learning Objects: Projects, Potentials, and Pitfalls
Chapter 8
Patrica Lupion Torres, Rita de Cassia Veiga Marriott, Andreia Ferreira Ramos
This chapter presents the experience of production and use of learning objects (LOs) for English-language learning at the Pontificia Universidade... Sample PDF
English-Language Teaching with Learning Objects at PUCPR
Chapter 9
Zhuo Li, Feng Liu, Jeff Boyer
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the present use of e-gaming in language acquisition along with its potential and challenges. We review... Sample PDF
Amusing Minds for Joyful Learning through E-Gaming
Chapter 10
Jowati Juhary
This chapter analyses the challenges in adapting a non-language learning courseware (NLLC) for a military learning environment. The National Defense... Sample PDF
A Non-Language Learning Courseware and its Challenges
Chapter 11
Marcus Vinicius dos Santos, Isaac Woungang, Moses Nyongwa
The increasing importance of e-learning has been a boosting element for the emergence of Internet-based educational tools. As we move into the... Sample PDF
A Pliant-Based Software Tool for Courseware Development
Chapter 12
Aysegül Daloglu, Meltem Baturay, Soner Yildirim
This chapter outlines how the constructivist approach can be implemented in Web-based vocabulary teaching, characteristics of effective Web-based... Sample PDF
Designing a Constructivist Vocabulary Learning Material
Chapter 13
Yasunori Nishina
This chapter suggests an effective method for lexical studies using Moodle within the framework of data-driven learning based on parallel... Sample PDF
A Lexical Study Based on Corpora, DDL, and Moodle
Chapter 14
Vander Viana, Sonia Zyngier
Like the advent of the telescope, computers today can provide ways of looking into language patterns that cannot be seen with the naked eye. From... Sample PDF
EFL through the Digital Glass of Corpus Linguistics
Chapter 15
Jing Wang
This chapter introduces a series of studies carried out with intermediate learners of Chinese regarding the reading of authentic e-materials with... Sample PDF
Electronic Strategies to Improve Chinese Reading Skills
Chapter 16
Margaret Murphy, Cristina Poyatos Matas
This chapter argues that politeness is an important component of e-mail language. Many people are uncertain about how to make their e-mail polite... Sample PDF
Politeness in Intercultural E-Mail Communication
Chapter 17
Neny Isharyanti
Studies in computer-mediated communication (CMC) have shown that it has the potential to provide opportunities for ESL learners to actively... Sample PDF
Interactional Modifications in Internet Chatting
Chapter 18
Sedat Akayoglu, Arif Altun
This chapter aims at describing the patterns of negotiation of meaning functions in text-based synchronous computer-mediated communication by using... Sample PDF
The Functions of Negotiation of Meaning in Text-Based CMC
Chapter 19
Esrom Adriano Irala, Patrica Lupion Torres
This chapter belongs to the context of the computer-mediated communication (CMC) for language teaching and learning. Since the introduction of this... Sample PDF
The Use of the CMC Tool AMANDA in the Teaching of English
Chapter 20
Christine Rosalia, Lorena Llosa
This chapter reports on an instrument that was developed to formatively assess the quality of feedback that second language students give to one... Sample PDF
Assessing the Quality of Online Peer Feedback in L2 Writing
Chapter 21
Betty Rose Facer, M’hammed Abdous, Margaret M. Camarena
As part of an initiative to enhance the humanities’ use of emerging technologies, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Old... Sample PDF
The Impact of Academic Podcasting on Students' Learning Outcomes
Chapter 22
Mahieddine Djoudi
The use of the mobile devices in language learning has been developed at a very high speed in the last years. Thus, we are witnessing many research... Sample PDF
Listening Comprehension of Languages with Mobile Devices
Chapter 23
Huw Jarvis
This chapter reports on a quantitative study that examines how language students make use of an extensive range of computer-based materials (CBMs)... Sample PDF
Computers and Independent Study: Student Perspectives
Chapter 24
Renata Chylinski, Ria Hanewald
This chapter reports on a study undertaken on the impact of pedagogical and technological innovations in language teaching and language learning... Sample PDF
Creating Supportive Environments for CALL Teacher Autonomy
Chapter 25
Mar Gutiérrez-Colon Plana
Many language teachers, students, and institutions of virtual learning environments are well acquainted with the feelings of loneliness and... Sample PDF
Frustration in Virtual Learning Environments
Chapter 26
Sarah Guth, Corrado Petrucco
This chapter describes how the social software tools that characterize Web 2.0, such as wikis and blogs, can be used as a valid substitute for more... Sample PDF
Social Software and Language Acquisition
Chapter 27
Bryan Carter, Dayton Elseth
Within academia, distance learning as an approach to education has its share of skeptics. Regardless of how some feel about the methodology, it has... Sample PDF
The Usefulness of Second Life for Language Learning
Chapter 28
Irene Mamakou
Interest in the integration of language learning with knowledge/content construction is growing around the world. In this line, an instructional... Sample PDF
Project-Based Instruction for ESP in Higher Education
Chapter 29
Ma Camino Bueno Alastuey
The adaptation to the European Space of Higher Education and to the new demands of the labor market has produced a shift in university education... Sample PDF
WebCT Design and Users' Perceptions in English for Agriculture
Chapter 30
Heli Simon, Päivö Laine, Ann Seppänen, Ana Barata, Carlos Vaz de Carvalho
This chapter presents the tutoring methodology adopted in an e-learning language course for students in vocational training and higher education as... Sample PDF
The LAFEC Experience for Language Skills Acquisition
Chapter 31
Christian Swertz, Rosa Schultz, Katharina Toifl
This chapter reports the concept development and evaluation results from the project LANCELOT (LANguage learning with CErtified Live Online... Sample PDF
Language Teaching in Live Online Environments
Chapter 32
Astrid Gesche
This chapter provides a basis for thinking about the dynamics and boundaries of foreign language learning in virtual learning communities of the... Sample PDF
Adapting to Virtual Third-Space Language Learning Futures
Chapter 33
Chaka Chaka
This chapter explores aspects of portable handheld language learning that are likely to benefit many mobile assisted language learning (MALL)... Sample PDF
Portable Handheld Language Learning from CALL MALL to PALL
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