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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Week 4: Blogging

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The use of blogs in EFL teaching is very common today because of the multiple choices that it offers to teachers and students to develop language skills as it integrates external resources like videos, images, other web sites, podcasts and other elements that can foster students’ creativity and autonomy to design their own spaces. 
Besides, blogs can facilitate the development of collaborative skills as it is very interactive, students can interact among themselves and with others who do not belong to the same school environment by exchanging ideas and impressions about different topics.  In this line, Stanley (2006) (cited en Blackstone, Spiri y Naganuma, 2007) states that “(Blogs are) a way of opening up the classroom walls and showing the wider world what is happening... thus creating a small language learning community”, which means that several language skills such as reading, listening and writing can be developed when students access to the blog. 
Also, it can be said that this tool has the five main characteristics that makes language learning through the Internet ALIVE: (Warschauer, et al. 2000) because:

  •    It is authentic because the topics published in the blog are based on real topics and the opinions expressed by the readers are sincere. It is not a mechanical answer that has been previously studied to answer an exam, for instance.
  •     It is literate, as students have to research to support their opinions and also computer skills are required to publish something correctly in a blog.
  •     It is interactive as a lot of people can communicate in the same discussion, even if they do not belong to the class.
  •     It has vitality because it can be designed according to the author likes. It is not a simple and common layout for everybody.
  •      It empowers students by developing writing skills and digital literacy.

The previously described features make the blog one of the easy to use tool in foreign language teaching because of their designs and the different uses we can give them, moreover it can be used at any level and it can be adapted to any activity you want to do.
From the educational and communicative point of view, blogs are interactive electronic media, in which teachers may integrate a wide range of resources that encourage students to express their opinions freely in a second language, without being intimidated by constraints of time or immediate fluidity. Thanks to this kind of tools, learners have the opportunity of organizing their ideas before publish them and edit them when necessary.
However, it is also important to teach students that the blog is not only a tool to develop class activities but also a one of the different types of communication media that exists nowadays, so when someone publish something in a blog is becoming an author and therefore it is important to express thoughts and opinions in a clear an responsible way
Here you have a video that explain the use of the blog in education:

Blackstone, B., Spiri, J. y Naganuma, N. (2007) Blogs in English Language Teaching and Learning:  Pedagogical uses and Student Responses. [Online document]. Retrieved from: 

Washchauer, M., Shetzer, H. y Meloni, C. (2000) Internet for English Teaching. Virginia. USA. Ed. TESOL. (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) 

Week 3: The Web evolution: Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0

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Communication has always been one of the most important issues for humankind. Every attempt to improve the way we communicate has been supported through history so we have had several ways of interacting in written or spoken form by means as the newspapers, the phones, cellphones, and computers and recently with the appearance of the internet as means of communication.  
Consequently, our way of interacting with other people has changed through the years, and it has certainly affected the way in which we live today and definitely it will affect our future as well.
The launching of web 1.0 gave us the opportunity of somehow have accesses to a new kind of information that will be always available for you if you just had and internet connection. However, this format only gave the chance to few people to communicate things. Let’s say that users could only read the information presented without having any chance of replying or making a comment or just adding extra information about a certain topic.
Later on, a new way of communicating and interacting with people changed our lives; the launching of web 2.0 allowed the interaction of people all around the world without restrictions of distance, languages or schedules. Social networks, digital newspapers, blogs, podcasts, and other means of communication in the web are they new forms of getting information that we are used to nowadays.
Nowadays, another type of web has come to change our world once again. Now we are talking about the web 3.0. Innovation here is featured by the fact that the internet has become mobile and now is accessible almost everywhere by the use of other tools different from the computer. Smart phones, tablets, smart TV, are just some of the multiple smart devices that we have today, but it seems that more is coming as the hyperconectivity where almost all products will be interconnected and we will be surrounded by information all the time.
So far, the evolution of the web interaction has benefit language learners and teacher as new resources are applied to language teaching and they can have contact with real language, native speakers and ever learners with a different L1, so there is a rich interaction in the web that let students acquire new vocabulary and even have new experiences that can’t be offered in the classroom.
All these improvements in communication have certainly influenced the way people learn today as well. The new technologies offer a wide variety of means and options for learning some of them are:
Learning platforms
Virtual colleges
Online masters, among others.

However, it seems that some institutions and teachers do not seem to understand well how to include these technologies in the daily practice in the classroom and consequently, they feel threatened and do not accept the inclusion of these elements in their environments. But, beyond criticizing these people it is necessary to analyze the inclusion of technology in the classroom in order to make it worthy and not to build a society dependent of technology. In my opinion, we as teachers must balance and combine in an appropriate form technology and traditional education in order to provide students with the necessary tools to live in our new societies without losing our human touch.  

Here there is a video that explains the evolution of the web

Week 2: My ELT context description

At the moment, I am teaching ESP at the school of education at Universidad Central de Venezuela in Puerto Ayacucho,  Amazonas state. The school of education has other teaching centers in different regions of the country where this career is offered in a distance modality called EUS (Estudios Univesitarios Supervisados. Students have to study the subject by their own using the instructional material offered by the department of Foreign Languages, and I travel to Amazonas every two weeks in order to meet the students to clarify doubts and assess students’ progress.
I try to incorporate some technological resources in the classes, but it is a little bit complicated as some of them have very basic computer skills and just have an e- mail account which I use as a means of communication to send them extra material.  

People don’t use computer frequently because computer access is limited and the Internet service in the region is not very fast. Some of the students can access the internet at home or at work or in a cyber, but, there are others who live in the Indian communities, and these students don’t have a frequent access to computers or internet unless they travel to the city. The university offers students very basic facilities like the classrooms and a library. At the moment they are working on updating and improving the computer lab in order to offer the students free internet access. As soon as their computer lab is ready I plan to train my students to use other resources in class different from the e- mail.

Week 2: Basic concepts of ICT in education

In our modern and vibrant world new forms of learning have changed the way in which we used to learn. Today teachers do not have the absolute knowledge to teach students, and students do not depend only on books to learn, ICT has played an important role in education changing all the old paradigms that we knew. It offered a new alternative to become literates and even brought a new kind of literacy with it. However, a lot of people do not seem to understand how technology has contributed to improve education, making it more realistic and somehow more accessible at any time when you have the resources.
The use of technology is so important now that the Unesco considers it one of the main competences students must develop in school, so teachers have to be prepared to assume the role of technological mentors and therefore, as teachers it is necessary to know some basic concepts that we think we know, but we tend to confuse and if we are the pattern to be followed, we should be very clear when we talk about:
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  • E-learning: e-learning refers to the use of internet or wireless technologies to deliver a broad array of training solutions. eLearners access the learning from a computers via the internet or an intranet, or through a hand held device like a palm pilot.
  • Distance education: distance education describes the effort of providing access to learning for those who are geographically distant. The instructional delivery included an instructor who was physically located in a different place from the learner, as well as possibly providing the instruction at disparate times.
  • Online or virtual learning: Online learning is described by most authors as access to learning experiences via the use of some technology. According to Benson (2002) (cited in Moore, Dickson-Deane and Galyen (2011) online learning is a newer or improved version of distance learning.
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  • Blended learning: it is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path and or pace. 
  • Mobile learning: mobile learning includes the use of mobile phones, MP3 players, personal digital assistants (PDA’S) and so on. Recent research has suggested that m-learning works well in environments where access to these kinds of technologies is more formal and accepted or where lifestyles demand more flexible solutions to training and learning. 
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The previously described concepts represent modalities, types of education and tools that have certain characteristics which fit specific needs. It is important to know what they are to be able to choose the right tools and the best modality according to the purpose of the class.
The use of technology in education is not just a fashion or a teacher substitute, it is a tool that helps us improve what we do.


Bailey, J., Ellis, S., Scheider, C., Vander Ark, T. (2013) Blended Learning implementation guide. Create conditions for success plan, implement, and improve. Foundation for excellence in education. [Online document] Retrieved from:
Moore, J., Dickson-Deane, C. and Galyen, K. (2011) e-Learning, online learning, and distance learning environments: Are they the same?  Internet and Higher Education 14 (2011) 129–135 [online magazine] Retrieved from:
The Herridge Group (2003). e- learning, a definition. [Online document] Retrieved from:

Week 1: A little bit about digital literacy.

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Nowadays we live in a world which is based on technology, the use of computers, smart phones, tablets, and other smart tools in our daily life open a door to a kind of parallel world in which most of us spend most of the day: the web. Social networks, quick information access, bank transactions, work demands, online purchasing and even entertainment are just some of the reasons that make us to use the Internet very frequently and therefore it has become very important in our lives.
Yet, the use of technology involves more than the ability of using a computer or operating a digital device to surf the web. It is also necessary to have another skill that let us use these resources properly in order to be successful in these types of virtual environments. This key element is better known as digital literacy.
Digital literacy is usually described as the ability of finding, understanding and creating new information using different technologies. One definition is given by Eshet, Y. (2004), who states that digital literacy consist on utilizing digital reproduction to create new, meaningful materials from existing ones; constructing knowledge from a nonlinear, hypertextual navigation; evaluating the quality and validity of information; and have a mature and realistic understanding of the & quot; rules" that prevail in the cyberspace.
 Although this is a very complete and academic definition, I prefer another definition is given by Josie Fraser (2012) in an article for The Guardian where she defined it as digital literacy = digital tool knowledge + critical thinking + social engagement.I like this one, because it explains in very simple and words the real meaning of digital literacy. According to this perspective, a digitally literate person is not just the one who knows how to use the internet to search for information and evaluate the information found before using it, in fact, it is a person who is able to produce new information (critical thinking) and knows very well which medium to use (digital tool knowledge) according to the information that she/he wants to present to a specific audience (social engagement).
Basically, we can say that digital literacy empowers people to become more competent in society today as we are surrounded by technology and our ways of communicating and getting information has changed a lot in the last twenty years.
Therefore, nowadays it is extremely important to prepare our students to be digital literates, so they can live, learn and work successfully in an increasingly, complex, information –rich and knowledge based society (Unesco, 2008).
For doing so, it is necessary to have digital literates teachers, otherwise, how can teachers help students to develop technology capabilities? Competent technological teachers should be able to:
  • Use basic technological tools (hardware and software).
  • Manage applications.
  • Use the web and its resources.
  • Make use of the networks to access information.
  • Know how and when include technology in their pedagogical activities.
  • Analyze students needs and their context in order to use technology properly.
  •  Adapt the use of technology to students reality.
  • Create proper virtual learning environments.
  • Design projects that involve the use of technology.
  • Develop students critical thinking skills.
Personally, I love technology and as a teacher I do really think that we should certainly prepare our students to deal with todays demands. However, I think that it is important that the teachers consider students reality and needs before planning a class or a course that involves the use of technology. We cannot assume that as we are in the 21st century all our students have access to technology, do students have technological resources? Do they have computers and internet access? Do institutions provide them with technological facilities (computer labs, internet access, etc.) what do they know about the use of the web? These are just some of the multiple questions we should answer before including technology in our classes

The following video explains in a very simple way what digital literacy is. 

This one refers to how to include digital literacy in the classroom.

Anyangwe, E. (2012, May 15). 20 ways of thinking about digital literacy in higher education. theguardian. Retrieved from
Eshet, Y. (2004). Digital Literacy: A Conceptual Framework for Survival Skills in the Digital era. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 13(1), 93-106. Norfolk, VA: AACE.
Lankshear, C. and Knober, M. (2008) Digital Literacies. New York: Lang Publishing, Inc.

Unesco (2008) ICT Competency Standards for Teachers. [Online document] Retrieved from:

Welcome to my blog

Hello! This is a wonderful space that let us share some knowledge about the use of ICT in EFL and to know as well why it is so important in education today.
Nowadays, our world is developing so fast on the basis of ICT that having an Internet connection is almost a must for doing everything. For this reason, computer literacy has become so important in education that we have to train first ourselves as teachers in the use of technology in order to prepare our students to take on the challenges of the present and the future.
The use of technology in the EFL classroom has been present since tape recorders, videos and other types of audiovisual media were used to teach foreign languages, and it has evolved along with the evolution of technology. Therefore, teachers should be prepared to include all these tools in their practice as there are multiple technological options that can improve the learning process by providing real experiences and letting students to explore other sources of knowledge different from the teacher.
There are so many options we have to include in our classes which are just amazing. Therefore I think that a space like this would be very useful especially for those ones who are still afraid of including these new technologies in the classroom.

I hope we can exchange not only ideas, but also some tips that help us to improve our practice in the EFL classroom.