Monthly Archives: March 2014

Online Communities of Practice

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These kind of communities are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it attending regularly. People attend these kind of groups and learning takes place by participating.

The first kind of communities that we mentioned today was Webhead. It is a community of online language teachers and learners who have been meeting in various cyber-venues since 1998. Three friends started to communicate on this group on language learning and teaching field. They decided on a mutual day to participate and they met on that date. People always share what they have. Members of this group get together on their meeting dates and discuss about a topic on language learning. They attend seminars or conferences together. To become a member of this group one should have a Yahoo account.  Today, there are online conferences on that medium. It is an active group now. Members of it get a lot of mails from this group.

The second focus of this lesson was Dropbox. It stores our files on internet and gives chance to share their links whenever it is necessary. It makes use of flash disks unnecessary. It is a big ease to save files and edit them. After editing a file Dropbox uploads and saves it. A file can be used mutually and when a file is shared each person can work on it and can change it then Dropbox saves it. If one have Dropbox, whatever he/she has on their pc are in safe by the help of Dropbox.

A SOCRATIC APPROACH TO CALL

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Today, we started our lesson talking about our blog pages and why the instructor didn’t use Blogger. It is because Blogger can be banned because of one’s blog posts. Therefore, we are using WordPress for our course.

Topic of today was mobile learning. As almost every people use phones with android or IOS operating system, it is imperious to use mobile applications in language learning settings. Despite its high price, smart phones should be obtained by everyone. They can be used for many classroom activities as I learned from today’s lesson. Edmodo, Feedly, WordPress, Merriam Webster are applications related to our lesson and they have mobile version to download from app stores.

The most important and useful part of this lesson was Socrative in my opinion. It is a kind of application like asking a question to audience in Millionaire. Students don’t have to get an account for this application. A teacher gets an account and Socrative gives a room number to the teacher. Then the teacher gives this room number to his students. Teacher has chance to ask questions to the students in form of multiple choice, true-false, or short answer. Teacher publish a quiz for students and follow their answers at the same time of answering. Students can use a nickname and don’t feel anxiety for being criticized about their mistakes. It is so practical and useful for classroom use. When the activity ends, the teacher can save the file to see students’ response and progress.

Space Race: It is an enjoyful activity that Socrative serves. Students are divided into maximum 10 groups and do a race that the teacher starts in this interactive medium.

Socrative and its applications motivate the students to participate in the lesson actively and eagerly. It motivated even me today. It doesn’t require to stand on the same setting; it can be applied synchronously from different places. So, the teacher can give quiz to the students sitting his home.

The other and last topic of today was QRCode. Its name is unfamiliar but I already know it’s visual. And I noticed I don’t know for what it is used. At the end of the lesson I was clear about it. I think I learned how to create and use it. It requires use of an android or IOS phone because these phones get Code Reader applications to get benefit from this QRCode application. It is an application working as adding links, informations, or whatever you want to a written document. A teacher can prepare a worksheet for students and wants to give a video related to this sheet. To supply this need, teacher creates a code, download it from the site and paste it on Word file. When the students get copy of this sheet they take photo of the code and see whatever added to their sheets. QRStuff.com is the site of creating new codes. Loading created codes are free from this site. There is no need to log in to get benefit. Its mobile applications named as QRCode Reader and QRdroid.

GETTING BETTER

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Days passed and Monday came. Second Monday of March was the day of Wikis. The lesson included Wikipedia, PBWorks, and Google Documents. To start with Wikipedia we can say it likes an attendance sheet; the teacher gives it to the class, everyone writes on it, and then it goes back to the teacher. Finally the teacher decides who is there and who is absent. Wikipedia is like that: one or two administers take an account and open a title, then want their students or learner to write on this topic. Each user of Wiki has a chance to edit or save the documents. In addition to these facilities of Wiki, it is not a reliable source to find information about a topic. As it is used and changed by each user it may give us thoughts of the users not the truth about the topic. So, it can be a starting point to search something or to see what people are thinking on this topic.

Another kind of Wiki is PBWorks. There are plenty of attendees of this page. People open a new group and work on this group cooperatively. It is a useful application for classroom activities. It can be used in EFL classrooms to discuss on some topics related to the field, or to create a class project.

There are two important options on Wiki websites; edit and save. As I said before these options give the users chance to change content of the page. For example; a teacher opens a topic on one of these Wiki websites and adds his/her students to this page. The teacher asks the students to write what they know about this topic. Teacher will check their participation and evaluate them. When the students open the page, they see the option edit and they write their knowledge under the topic and they save what they write.

I used to afraid of the idea of using computer in classroom because of inefficient knowledge about data processing and computer technology. Today, I believe I will use them efficiently with the help of CALL course.

The last point of this lesson was Google Documents. Each Gmail user log in with their Gmail account to Google Documents. Google Documents stores one’s ppt, pdf, word, or excel files. As it happens in the other pages, two or more users can work one page of Google Documents. There is a difference from PBWorks; all attendees can work simultaneously on a page. In a PBWorks page, when one user works others cannot work; so, they have to wait till the first one complete his/her work.

Working at the same time and downloading files is another plus of Google Documents. If something goes wrong and one user delete the file, it can be reload because it was saved by the Google Documents.

To sum up this lesson I can say I am gaining important information in this class. I am looking forward Monday mornings to go the computer lab and take this lesson. And I am feeling  I am getting better for new classroom activities.

LESSONS TAKEN FROM A LESSON

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This was the second week of this term and the second meeting with the instructor for CALL course. What we covered in this lesson were WordPress, RSS, Feedly, Twitter, and Twitterfall.

To publish our reflections, we had gotten a blog account before the lesson. We examined all parts of WordPress to use its applications more easily. First of all, dashboard is applied to establish our blog. There are plenty of options to set blog page’s appearance and content. For example, we can change our tagline to express our thoughts or anything that we desire to seen under our names. Tagline is our slogan. As the instructor said maximum 10 people can use a blog account as admin. That means I and my friends can get a mutual blog account to publish our experiences in a mutual medium when we become teachers. However, Blogger permits 100 people to manage one blog. The instructor gave some people’s names in the field of using these blogs actively and mutually. These people publish their classroom experiences in their blogs. They write their reflections of their lessons and share them with other people. One of these people’s name is important; Özge Karaoğlu. It is because she got a prize for her reflections on her blogs. The lesson that I took from this that I should follow ELT department teacher’s blogs to get new and experienced ideas to apply them in my class. Also, I can publish my own experience in my blog if I apply an original idea in my classroom.

As we continue to customize our WordPress blog page, we can change themes, appearance, etc. And we can add new links, media, posts, or we can edit our published posts. The most important part of it is publishing and editing posts. There is an option named Stats that shows us how often our blogs have been seen by others, and from which part of the world it has been seen. Therefore, WordPress serves us a good chance to publish our thoughts on an online medium and to be seen from all over the world. By the way, we can make the world hear our voice by the help of WordPress.

Another internet-based application that we had a glance at was RSS and its new version Feedly. Feedly is used to follow new uploads when we log in with our gmail account. We can add another blogs of friends, sites that upload their current content everyday such as BBC, Times, or other pages that are related to ELT department from all over the world. So, we can follow new posts of our friends and new development of our own field.

As all of us know, Twitter serves us a chance to follow important people. I learned a new thing that I hadn’t heard before the lesson. It was Twitterfall.  It seems a real fall. When we log in with our Twitter account and type current topic with # (keyword), all the tweets that were written with this keyword 3 kilometers around us fall in our screen.

As I expect, this course gives lots of chance us to improve our knowledge about internet and its uses in ELT classrooms. When I listen to the instructor ideas about using these applications in my class flash in my mind. And I know that at the end of this semester, I will have gained a remarkable amount of ideas to apply in my own field in the future.