Blogging for Effective Teacher Education Course in English as a Second Language

Blogging for Effective Teacher Education Course in English as a Second Language

Francis Bangou (University of Ottawa, Canada) and Douglas Fleming (University of Ottawa, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-751-0.ch003
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Two years ago, as teacher educators, the authors decided to integrate the use of blogs into their practice in order to contribute to the development of an understanding of the knowledge base related to the processes of teaching and learning English as a Second Language (ESL) and provide their teacher candidates with a space to critically reflect collectively and individually on course content. In this chapter, the authors use discourse analysis (Johnston, 2008) of semi-structured interviews conducted with these teacher candidates to explore how they use and perceive blogs within a course specifically focused on ESL teaching methods. This allows the authors to problematize the notion of technological integration in teaching and learning and complexify the notion of blogs as democratic spaces (Kuzu, 2007). On the basis of this analysis, the authors formulate four recommendations to guide teacher educators who are working in similar contexts.
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Setting The Stage

In 2005, one of the goals of the university five-year academic strategic plan was to focus on learning that was focused on innovation and excellence. More specifically, one of the objectives was to increase the use of new technologies such as video conferencing, multimedia, and electronic portfolios. Since then, the university has invested a substantial amount of money on the installation of these technologies throughout campus and the provision of necessary technological assistance. There are more than 30 computer labs on campus and over 1,000 computers available to students. Most of the campus is now wireless and there are about 90 multimedia classrooms on campus equipped with Windows and Mac computers, internet connectivity, VHS videocassette players, DVD players and LCD projectors. In case of emergency, the professors have access to telephones within the classrooms. Professors and students can also easily borrow a variety of multimedia equipments and download a multitude of software from university websites. Workshops and professional development courses focused on technology are also offered on a regular basis. Moreover, professors and students can access online course Web sites as well as other e-learning resources through the University’s Virtual Campus.

In step with the rest of the campus, the Faculty of Education has embraced new technologies in significant ways for the last five years. The Faculty is currently expanding the number of multimedia rooms and has installed Smart Board technology in each one of its classrooms and meeting venues. Expertise in technology has become a major criterion in the hiring of professors, who are increasingly expected to integrate it into their course offerings and curricula. This is especially true in terms of on-line teaching innovations. Moreover, professors are increasingly expected to make use of more readily available equipment such as mobile computer cabinets, laptops and LCD projectors through the Faculty Resource Centre.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have changed the traditional thinking about teaching and learning and it is now imperative for teachers to recognize that a new generation of computer literate learners craves intelligent and sophisticated learning resources and support from their instructors (Wang et al, 2008). It is then not surprising that the need for teachers who serve as models in using ICT in the classroom has increased (Kuzu, 2007). It is within this institutional context that we decided to integrate the use of blogs within our teaching practice.

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