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CALL Unplugged wants to know.... :)

Hello to all who participated in our little introduction to Second Life (SL) as a viable learning tool.

I have forwarded our professor a list of useful landmarks that may help you find your footing around SL (these she can forward to you inworld). While most involve education in one way or another, I also took the liberty of including some freebie places that I have used in the past (you know, we all want our good virtual hair days).

Since we had very little time to spare in class given the high learning curve required for merely learning to sit and walk in this virtual program, we were forced to delve directly into SL without much of an introduction.  However, I believe that the goal of introducing SL is not so much to hear about what can be done, but rather to have students do something while in SL.  I think you did accomplish that while getting a taste of the very surreal 'life' of avatars in SL.  Should you be so inclined, I would like to get feedback on your thoughts about this virtual program, and the potential applications it could have in a language classroom. Of course, I would like to hear how to better improve a presentation which is so exhaustive in itself that leaves not just our avatars gasping for air, but ourselves wondering if this type of virtual environment is a good fit for us and our learners.  Would you use this technology?  How would you incorporate it into a classroom setting?  What would you like to see done to improve it to meet your needs as educators?  And how would you improve it given the opportunity?

And please let me know if I can be of assistance to you inworld or out.  :)

Online Assessment and Final Reflexions

Chapelle-Douglas (2006) talks about the importance of technology in language assessment and its future. It is explained that developing assessment is important because this will help students develop strategies for self-assessment. However, teachers need to be aware on how to evaluate an assessment to ensure proper validity and reliability. Teachers can develop their own assessments to reflect the materials that were taught in class. In my opinion, schools need to invest not only in technology, but also in training so that teachers can receive proper training to take advantage of the available technology. There are many factors to consider not only about the development of assessments but of the use of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) in general. In this context, how do you think the cost of technology affects computer-assessment development? How do you think the cost of technology affects CALL in general? Do the school systems offer adequate training to teachers to fully take advantage of available technology for teaching and assessment? Finally, can you give your insight about CALL and its importance?

Lorenzo Manzano

Week 12: Online Assessments

Chapelle-Douglas' article (2006) explores the important developments implied by the uses of technology assessment. It mentions, as an example, TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) as a test that can be taken, regardless of where ELLs live. As far as assessments is concerned, an issue attracts my curiosity: legitimacy and honesty in answering a test. Since an online test can be taken anywhere (not necessarily, on a supervised testing site), how can we ascertain the legitimacy of the answers? Can the tested students be entrusted with their own answering? Can online tests be almost synonymous with "take-home" tests?

Discussion Post: Karen

     Sanchez-Serrano's article (2008) talked about distance learning and its effects on student's performance.  The article also talked about how a lot of teachers who teach foreign language courses online received very little, if any, training in conducting online classes. My question is this: Should an instructor of an online course be required to know about the technical aspects of the computer and the internet, as well the course content?  Is it ever enough just to know your content area?  Should there be a separate qualification only for those who can teach online, from those who can only teach within the classroom setting?

Maria's WK 10 discussion prompt

Sanchez-Serano (2008) talks about the difficulties in distance learning, and some of us may have experienced some of these difficulties in our last class. Many of these problems dealt with the technology itself. However, Sanchez-Serano mentions a more ethical concern dealing with the digital divide, and asks how this divide affects distance learning, in particular foreign language teaching. So, my question is have you seen first hand the effects of the digital divide in distance learning - foreign language? If not what do you think are the effects? What are some ways teachers and/or ELLs can overcome the digital divide?

Distance Ed Class Reflections

Post your reflections from the distance ed class of 3/19 here at the end of class. As a reminder, here are the following 4 prompts you can reflect upon. Although you only need to reflect on 1, if the mood strikes you, I encourage you to post further reflections in your OWN blogs.

  1. One of the criticisms levied against distance ed courses is the difficulty teachers face in establishing a sense of community among remotely located participants. What strategies might an instructor employ to foster a sense of community?

  2. “Think of a class you have taught or are currently teaching. If you were to move 50% to 100% of the class time to an online format, what would the change require or involved? How would it require you, as a teacher, to change or adapt?” (Sánchez-Serrano’s, 2008, p. 173)

  3. According to Nancy, one of the Spanish language distance education teachers surveyed by Sánchez-Serrano’s (2008), “the online curriculum should be designed to match, as closely as possible, the needs of the environment and of the students, while not attempting to imitate its face-to-face counterparts as the perfect model” (p. 157).How should a curriculum for online language instruction differ from a curriculum for face-to-face language instruction?

  4. Reflecting on the group project you just completed, what are some of the greatest challenges instructors would face in attempting to set up an international telecollaboration in a face-to-face language class?

CALICO Update #4

I returned home safe and sound yesterday and must say CALICO was very enlightening. Here are a few final thoughts, some of which seems particularly relevant to our current unit on distance learning:

  • The economic downturn is hitting university language programs hard. The German department at Cornell is closing down its Swedish and Dutch programs. State schools in Michigan and California are dropping programs in less commonly taught languages.
  • Hybrid or blended courses appear to be becoming a default solution for cuts in language department budgets. Unfortunately, appropriate pedagogy and training for instructors is not going to be able to keep up.
  • Some have suggested that classes taught via distance learning require a 500% greater time commitment from instructors than do face-to-face classes.
  • Next year's CALICO will be in Amherst, Massachusetts in June.
In chapter 8 of "CALL Dimensions", Levy and Stockwell talk about the advantages of conferencing and its impact on the development of language learning. Audio and videoconferencing technologies have received increasing attention over the past few years and they are considered one of the major advantages of the Internet Technology. Conferencing enables students to communicate with native speakers, or even other students who are separated by distances and helps them to discuss matters in smaller groups similar to a classroom. However, there are still problems with this sort of technology. For instance, not all students have access to high speed internet and when it is used for teaching groups of students it can become  more complicated. When more than one person speaks at the same time, teachers cannot differentiate individual voices. Do you think that the advantages of conferencing is more than its disadvantages? And can one suggest that it belongs to a certain group of students with the same skills and opportunities?

CALICO Update #3

Another action-packed day at CALICO:

  • The following quote was introduced during a talk on the digital divide: "Giving to the poor digital technology that has been designed for the rich may actually add to the causes of poverty and accelerate the exodus of the rural poor into cities already bursting at the seems" Digital Divide.org
  • There have been some interesting ideas bandied about concerning the use of particular iPhone applications for mobile assisted language learning. One on-going project concerns the design of an iPhone application that functions like something of a portable corpus and concordancer. It's called KWICionary.
  • This site is something of a Twitter aggregator. It compiles all the tweets people all over post that begin with the phrases to the right ("i wish", "i love", "i feel", etc.)
  • There are a lot of German speakers here - both native and non-native. It's interesting that in North American, German seems to be the foreign language most heavily associated with CALL.
  • A number of people were very intrigued by the Cyber Language Exchange. A professor from the Dominican Republic is interested in a possible collaboration with Spanish learners at UTSA.


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