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Using a Multimedia Weblog in the Language Classroom

Using a Multimedia Weblog in the Language Classroom

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Using a Multimedia Weblog in the Language Classroom

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  1. Using a Multimedia Weblog in the Language Classroom Dr. Mary Ann Kenny November 2010

  2. What is a blog? • Short for ‘web log’ • Type of website • Series of entries on a single page • Reverse chronological order – newest appears on top • Personal, online journal • Can also be a group blog • Frequently updated, like a diary • Intended for public consumption – viewer needs to know the blog address

  3. Why use a blog in the language classroom? • Multimedia – integration of text, image, sound and video • Ability to link and embed different file types – can function as an e-portfolio of students’ work • Productive language skills – writing and speaking • Comment feature – instructor or peer feedback • Online • Free • Fun – motivational tool

  4. Feedback and Assessment • The blog comment feature enables viewers to leave a comment after the blog posting • May be used by instructors to comment on students’ writing/pronunciation • May also be used for peer feedback • Students should be encouraged to read the feedback they receive and alter their postings accordingly • “Feedback that is made promptly available is far more effective than delayed feedback because in the former case the learner has an ‘online’ awareness of his/her progress. This is, in fact, one reason why computer-assisted instruction can be so motivating.” (Dörnyei 2001: 124)

  5. Blogging software • www.blogger.com • www.wordpress.com • www.edublog.com

  6. Using blogger.com • Text: The default option for all posts to the blog is text • Image and video are simple to upload within a blog posting • Other file types e.g. Powerpoint and sound files need first to be stored online (using e.g. google docs) and the link embedded in the blog • Links to web 2.0 applications – available online - (Voki, Voicethread) may be also be embedded in the blog • For an online demo of how to use blogger go to: http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/blogger/index.html

  7. Web 2.0 applications • The term Web 2.0 has gained popularity since 2004 • It initially suggested a revival of confidence in the Web following the dot.com bubble and crash in the early 2000s. • Applications include discussion lists, podcasts, blogs, wikis, social networking sites and virtual worlds • All facilitate sharing, collaborating and interacting online • Software does not need to be installed on the user’s desktop but can be accessed remotely via the Web

  8. Voki/Voicethread training videos • Voki: http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/voki/index.html • Voicethread:http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/voiceThread/index.html

  9. Other ICTs used in the Blog Project at ITB • Any applications that can be uploaded to google docs (PDF, HTML, Word, Text) can be embedded in the blog via the link to share. In this project PowerPoint (saved as PDF) was used. • For an online demo of how to use google docs go to: http://www.ehow.com/video_2202053_use-google-documents.html • Video (in this instance created with Movie Maker) can be uploaded directly to the blog • For an online demo of how to use Movie Maker go to: http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/winMovieMaker01/index.html

  10. Aims of the blog project at ITB 2009/10 • to improve student motivation and engagement • to provide formative feedback to students via the blog comment function • to improve students’ ICT skills • to improve students’ ability to learn written and oral production skills in the foreign language

  11. German Blog Project ITB 2009/10: Schedule of Tasks

  12. Evaluating the Blog Project at ITB • Pre-project questionnaires • Post-project questionnaire • Student presentations • Student blogs

  13. Experience of using a Blog with German ab initio 1b – Overview • Diverse group – ab initio/PLC; General Business/International Business/Age profile/Technical Ability/Gender • 17 individual blogs created • 6 blogs fully complete5 blogs almost complete5 blogs with between 2 and 5 text/image postings1 blog no postings • Students’ technical ability not as good as expected – a majority had never created a Powerpoint presentation • Students enjoyed working with multimedia – MovieMaker, Voki, Voicethread • All said they worked on the blog outside of class • A majority said they had shown the blog to family and friends • Very positive student comments on instructor feedback. All said they had read it, had learned a lot about spelling and grammar, and had altered their postings on the basis of instructor feedback

  14. Aim 1: Student Motivation • one (mature) student talked about showing the blog to her teenage daughters who were “mortified” to see photos of themselves, but “other than that they thought Mum’s getting very cool” • “using the blog was a very interesting and fun way to learn German as it allowed me to string together what I have learned so far” • “a blog is more fun than just doing exercises so we spend more time on it and learn more” • “I found it very interesting. You have to combine a lot of things like language, grammar, technology” • Use of words like ‘fun’ and ‘interesting’ significant • according to Dörnyei “many practitioners would simply equate the adjective ‘motivating’ with ‘interesting’” (2001: 72)

  15. Aim 2: Provision of Feedback • all students questioned said they had read the feedback, a majority had altered their postings on the basis of feedback • “very useful, since it corrected my mistakes and gave me ideas” • “It was good to be able to see my mistakes and to be able to [go] back and correct them” • “I learned that when I rush I make a lot of mistakes” • statements relating to grammatical insights, e.g. “[I learned] how to structure sentences” • spelling “I learned to correct my grammar and spelling” • pronunciation: “I had the chance to listen to my pronunciation and improve it”

  16. Aim 2: Provision of Feedback • considerable advantages over more conventional approaches to student feedback. • In his review of the sustainability of feedback in contemporary undergraduate education, Hounsell reports on growing indications “of students not taking feedback seriously, alongside diminishing evidence that [. . .] feedback has ‘made a difference’ to the quality of work students produce” (2007: 103).

  17. Aim 3: Student ICT Skills • Students had relatively poor ICT skills at the start of the project - only five students said they had previously used PowerPoint to create a presentation • Students found some aspects of the project difficult, e.g. difficulty of uploading the PowerPoint presentation to the blog • The myth of “Generation @”? • Surveys show that students use ICTs in the main for social networking purposes • MovieMaker was mentioned by a number of students as being “particularly good” and Voki as “very interesting” • “I did not know how to use any applications, but I learned. It was a good experience” • “as everything is technology-based nowadays, using a blog is absolutely ok”

  18. Aim 4: Student Language Skills • number of student observations relating to the development of independent learning skills • Several students commented on the need to carry out independent research using online dictionaries and other sources. • “I had to use a dictionary for almost every posting” • “by writing about the various topics a certain amount of research had to be conducted in order to both find words and then put the paragraphs together”

  19. Useful addresses • ICT4LT: http://www.ict4lt.org/en/index.htm • CILT, Technology for languages: http://www.languages-ict.org.uk/technology/technology.htm • Teacher Training Videos: http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/

  20. References • Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Motivational Strategies in the Language Classroom.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • Hounsell, D. (2007). Towards more sustainable Feedback to Students. In: Boud, D. and Falchikov, N. eds. Rethinking Assessment in Higher Education. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 101-113.