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									                                     Education in a technological world: communicating current and emerging research and technological efforts
                                                                                                                       A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed.)

         A Virtual Learning Environment for English Philology students
         María Luisa Renau Renau
          Department of English Studies, Universitat Jaume I, Campus Riu Sec, 12071, Castellón de la Plana, Spain

         The Information and Communication Technologies have become an important part of our daily personal and professional
         lives. University professors must be aware of these technological advances and make advantage of them in our courses.
         The learning process does not consist any longer in just attending teacher´s explanations in class; it has turned out to be
         also autonomous. The virtual learning environments (VLE) help both professors and students to carry out with this
         autonomous learning. VLEs have become a necessary tool to accomplish our goals. In this article, we explain the design
         and the main pedagogical functions of the VLE addressed to philology students in their 3rd year. In the subject of English-
         Spanish translation, this virtual environment (we call it ‘Aula Virtual’ in Spanish) is intended to have two main objectives:
         on the other hand, provide all the information (documents, texts, resources, syllabus, forum, etc,) needed in order to follow
         the course and on the other hand, enable the students to upload the required tasks, activities and assignments.

         Keywords virtual learning environment; ICT; university students

         1. Introduction
The important role that literary translation plays currently in our society is out of discussion. No extensive research is
needed to know about the big market literary translation has in Spain and other countries whose official language is
Spanish. You only have to go to a library or a bookshop and check the literary sections. How many books are originally
written in Spanish? Or put it differently, how many books written originally in English have been translated into
Spanish? The course is an introduction to the theory and practice of literary translation. Though this is a fairly short
course to go into a deep study of the fascinated and complex world of literary translation, we aim at providing you the
essential tools to be able to solve problems that may appear when translating this kind of texts. On the other hand, as
university teachers, we have to be aware of the latest advances in technology implemented in the teaching/learning
process. In order to prepare this course, we have looked up some important experts in the translation field [1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7]   
   In this specific course, we have amalgamated the art of translation with the new technologies. We have designed a
virtual learning environment where students will be able to compile all the information from the course (articles,
assignments, news, forum, etc.) and also to produce and upload information.
   A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a software system designed to support teaching and learning. A VLE
typically provides tools such as those for assessment, communication, uploading of content, return of students’ work,
administration of student groups, questionnaires, tracking tools, wikis, blogs, chats, forums, etc. over internet. [8] 
VLE software is a collection of integrated tools that enable the management of online course delivery and access to
resources, discussion groups and assessment. Most VLE's can track learners' progress, which can be monitored by both
lecturers and learners. While no two educational institutions use their VLE in the same way, they are most often used to
supplement face-to-face classroom based teaching and learning, with an on-line element. [9]   
   A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a set of teaching and learning tools designed to enhance a student's learning
experience by including computers and the Internet in the learning process. The principal components of a VLE
package include curriculum mapping (breaking curriculum into sections that can be assigned and assessed), student
tracking, online support for both teacher and student, electronic communication (e-mail, threaded discussions, chat,
Web publishing), and Internet links to outside curriculum resources. In general, VLE users are assigned either a teacher
ID or a student ID. [10] 
   According to Mason [11], there are 3 models of VLEs:
          Content and support model; where pre-prepared content is delivered in print or online, and support is
          provided online. Content and support are not integral to one another, ie online support is an optional
          extra and is not integrated into learning activities. Relatively easy to establish but does not fully
          exploit the benefits of online learning.
         Wrap-around model: where there is a mixture of pre-prepared content and online learning activities.
         The learning activities involve online discussion and collaborative activities.
         Integrated model: where most of the learning takes place via collaborative online activities and
         content is largely determined by the learners, either individually or as a group. Learning is very much
         student centered and highly collaborative.

                                                        ©FORMATEX 2011                                                                     49
Education in a technological world: communicating current and emerging research and technological efforts
A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed.)

   In this course, we follow the wrap-around model, where there is mixture of classroom and online activities. Students
are collaborative as they interact with the environment and can also take part in online discussion through the forum.
   Although VLEs have some disadvantages, we want to highlight the advantages according to Ros O´Leary [12] 
               Easy online delivery of materials.
               Easy to use for both teachers and students.
               Widens student access on and off campus to learning materials and resources.
               Offers flexible support for educators who do not need to be in a fixed time or place to
               support and communicate with students.
               Has the potential for new ways of learning and teaching such as active and independent
               learning which make use of online communication, online assessment and collaborative

   As Scott B. Follows [13]  says,  a VLE provides the student with context for the learning process to take place.
Students create cognitive maps of information based on their experiences. Contextualizing content supports the
mapping process, making concepts more concrete, thus facilitating understanding, recall and the integration of
knowledge. The notion of a learning activity in virtual learning environments refers to something richer than in
individual courseware, closer to the notion of project. The difference between other constructivist environments and
what virtual environments potentially offer can be described as making students not only active, but also actors, i.e.
members and contributors of the social and information space. As Dillenburg [14]  states, in the implementation of a
virtual environment, one must take into account both the technology and the characteristics of the other elements in the
learning process and specially, the learner. Students must become the new learning users, where the emphasis is in the
learning instead of in the teaching.
   The process must be observed in a pedagogical point of view fostering the change in the teacher´s role: from the
director of the process (‘sage on the stage’) to the learning process assistant (‘guide on the side’).
Concerning virtual environments, Roberts, Romm, y Jones [15] talk about tour different models used in education:
     1. Initiation: specific class notes in the net
     2. Standard: used only for teacher/learner interaction
     3. Developed: complementary and additional material such as CD-ROM, web pages access, complementary
          exercises, etc.
     4. Radical: all the material in the net.

   The design and development of a virtual environment for students taking this course would be included in the
developed model in the case of the students attending classes (itinerary) as this web site was created as a complement
and support of the traditional classes. On the other, for those students taking itinerary 2 (no class attendance), this
virtual environment would be classified as radical, as all the material, resources, multimedia, assignments, etc. are
provided in the virtual environment and students can sit in the written exam with all these documents.
The Aula Virtual is the virtual environment of the Universitat Jaume I in Castellón. This environment is a support of the
traditional class and allows teachers and students carry out online activities, tasks and assignments. All the university
staff can create an online course in the Aula Virtual. The Aula Virtual is based on the freeware Moodle [16]:
        Moodle is a course management system (CMS) - a free, open source software package designed using
        sound pedagogical principles, to help educators create effective online learning communities.
        (http://moodle.org/). Moodle is a software package for producing Internet-based courses and web sites. It
        is a global development project designed to support a social constructionist framework of education.
        Moodle is provided freely as Open Source software (under the GNU Public License).

   Before, virtual learning environments were designed with only one objective: to provide the students with all the
information related to the course, that is to say, teachers were the ones who could upload information (dossier, articles,
links to internet resources, multimedia…). Teachers were the information senders and students were the information
receiver. The message only went in one direction: from teacher to student. However, this situation has changed as
internet has. It is what it is called Web 2.0 [17]:
      The term Web 2.0 is associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information
      sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web
      2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators
      of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users are limited to
      the passive viewing of content that was created for them. Examples of Web 2.0 include social
      networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services, web applications…

   Web 2.0 advocates that users are no longer passive individuals only receiving information, they can now interact,
receive and send information. They are also producers.

50                                                           ©FORMATEX 2011
                                   Education in a technological world: communicating current and emerging research and technological efforts
                                                                                                                     A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed.)

   Moore [18]  describes the importance of distinguishing between three types of learner interaction - learner-content,
learner-instructor, and learner-learner:
     In learner-content interaction, learners effectively "talk to themselves" about the information and the
     ideas they encounter.

     In learner-instructor interaction, learning effectively takes place from a "sage on the stage", who
     supposedly imparts knowledge and wisdom to the students. This is still by far the most common
     method employed by most educational institutions, from primary schools through to universities.

     In learner-learner interaction, students help themselves to learn, by sharing ideas and discussing
     problems, often in a real or virtual group setting. This is clearly the least common and least
     conventional of the three modes of interaction, but one of the most exciting for those interested in
     online delivery, since the use of online forums and email lists generally enable group discussion to a
     far greater extent than is possible in a conventional lecture / tutorial environment.

   The objective of the paper is to show how technology is taking advantage in the university classroom. Apart from the
classroom activities, students are engaged weekly to upload some assignments in the virtual environment. Students
become, thus, aware of the importance of the VLEs in their learning process.

                  2. Method and Results
The subject can be followed in two ways: itinerary 1 (class attendance, continuous assignments and assessment) and
itinerary 2 (written exam). The content in both itineraries share the same syllabus but different assessment. All the
materials are available in the virtual environment (Aula Virtual).
   In this paper, we will focus in itinerary 1 methodology. At the beginning of the semester, students following itinerary
1 (91% of the enrolled students in the subject), signed a learning contract where they engaged to enroll in certain tasks
and assignments as well as class attendance.

The course is divided in two big modules:
0. The concept of translation
1. The role of the translator
2. Translatability/ Fidelity/ Equivalence
3. Translation techniques
4. Translating prose
5. Translating children’s literature
6. Translating comics
7. Translating dramatic texts
8. Translating poetry

   Lectures are interactive lessons, so students will be encouraged to take part in group discussions. This is very
important for a full understanding of the main contents of the syllabus.
   The methodology employed will be based on collaborative work by means of pair and group work. However,
individual work will be also demanded at first stages of translation activities, as well as in the reflection before
discussion sessions. Discussion sessions will be face-to-face.

   The assessment of the subject is as follows:
1. Coursework assignments and participation in class activities: 50%
- Participation in class and activities (pair work + whole class discussion) 10%
-Assignments- activities (individual) 10%
-Paper + interview (group work) 15%
-Presentation + interview (group work) 15%
2. Final project: 50%
Translation of a book (group) 50%

    In this paper, we explain the assignments activities part. In the virtual learning environment (Aula Virtual), we can
find some modules for the students to produce and upload information. We focus on the assignment activity module. As
it is explained in the Moodle web page [16], the explanation of this module is as follows:

                                                      ©FORMATEX 2011                                                                     51
Education in a technological world: communicating current and emerging research and technological efforts
A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed.)

                The assignment activity module allows teachers to collect work from students, review it and
          provide feedback including grades. Students can submit any digital content (files), including, for
          example, word-processed documents, spreadsheets, images, audio and video clips. Assignments don't
          necessarily have to consist of file uploads. Alternatively, teachers can ask students to type directly into
          Moodle using an online text assignment. There is also an offline activity assignment which can be used
          to remind students of 'real-world' assignments they need to complete and to record grades in Moodle for
          activities that don't have an online component. In this module, files can be uploaded, allowing students
          to type a message alongside their submission and returning a file as feedback. Students can also type
          directly into Moodle, teachers can provide inline feedback. This could be a Word document,
          spreadsheet or anything in digital format. Multiple files may be zipped and then submitted. After
          students upload their files, the teacher will be able to open the submission and use the Moodle interface
          to assign a grade and offer comments as feedback. A student may submit a file as many times as they
          like up until the deadline. Only the latest file is retained, and this is the one the lecturer marks.
          Teachers can grade them online, and even add inline comments or changes.
   During the semester, students are asked to upload 14 assignments in the virtual environment. They must upload one
or two assignments per week. This is a compulsory weekly task if they want to follow this itinerary. Assignments are
explained both in class and in the Aula Virtual. Students can access anytime, anywhere and they have a deadline to
upload the required assignment. Once the deadline, the application is closed and no opportunity to upload the activity is
   We have focused our paper in the assignments, but in the Virtual Learning Environment, students can find, on the
one hand, what we have come to call unidirectional resources (papers, articles, teacher´s notes, internet resources, etc.)
where students can get information from the course and on the other hand, we have already opened a forum
(bidirectional) where students can interact with the teacher and with other students.

                     Table 1. screenshot of the virtual learning environment

Here there is an overview of the 14 assignments students must do and upload in the Aula Virtual during the semester.
We have included only a piece of the statements of the activities as they are very lengthy and it would many pages to
add the whole text in the assignments.
1. Getting started: traps & tricks of translation
Before getting started into the translation process, students have to translate some passages. They encounter several
difficulties in each one. After the translation, students must answer which structural and idiomatic problems present
these sentences and compare their translations with the group and discuss all the alternatives proposed.

52                                                           ©FORMATEX 2011
                                   Education in a technological world: communicating current and emerging research and technological efforts
                                                                                                                     A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed.)

2. Questionnaire
Students are asked to answer some questions about their expectations about the course.
3. The concept of translation
Students are asked to answer question about the concept of translation and what aspects of language are important in
translation; then, they have to rewrite some sentences without changing the meaning.
4. The role of the translator
They have to answer the following questions: What is translation competence?; Which are the main types of
subcompetences within translation competence?; What skills are required to the translator in order to translate literary
texts?; What are the implications for novice translators? Justify your answer.
Faber, P. 1998. Translation Competence and Language Awareness
PACTE. 2000. Acquiring Translation Competence: Hypotheses and Methodological Problems of a Research Project. In
Beeby, A., Ensiger, D. & Presas, M. (eds.) Investigating Translation. Amsterdam. John Benjamins, pp. 99-106
5. Assignment 4 rewriting
As activity 4 must be reviewed in class due to a certain level of difficulty, we decide to mark as an assignment the
revision of this activity.
6. Translatability/ Fidelity/ Equivalence: reflection
Students are asked to answer the following questions: How faithful should we be (or can we be) when we translate?
Discuss the notions of literal and free translation and the merits of each; they have to describe the main approaches to
(un)translatability. What do you think about the issue?; Exemplify the main types of equivalences between two different
languages (please note the Kade’s, Kutz’s and Rabadán’s taxonomies are very important!); What is meant by realia?
Why do culture-specific term lead to translation problems?
Barbe, K. 1996. “The dichotomy free and literal translation”. Meta, 41: 328-337
Leonardi, V. 2000. “Equivalence in Translation: Between Myth and Reality”. Translation Journal, 4/ 4
7. Translation techniques
Students suggest suitable translations into Spanish for all the sentences below. Whenever possible, offer several
translations for each, using at least two different procedures, or strategies.
     1.He was seen yesterday, while he was having lunch
     2.Oh! Don’t be silly!
     3.Oh, what a shame! I’m soooooo amazed!
     4.Holy cow! He’s a Cockney.
     5.Cockney. Cockneys. Cok. Knees. Why do men from London get stiff in the legs?
     6.I got this fridge from the Salvation Army.
8. Translation techniques
They have to translate some passages into English and note which translation strategy they consider better suited for
this task (according to the context). Consider the degree of faithfulness or literality of your translation, comment on it.
9. 10.11. Translating prose
This passage is an example of the type of text you will have to translate in the exam. They try to use 1 hour to translate
12. Translating children´s literature
Students have to make a critical comment on the Spanish translation of the fragment below from R. Dahl’s The Giraffe,
the Pelly and Me.
13. Translating Comics
Students are asked to translate into English a page from Vertigo a series of Fables comic book
14. Translating poetry
Students have to translate a couple of limericks. The poems are from Lear’s Book of Nonsense.

  In the figure 2 below, you can see all the assignments expected to be done by the students during this semester, as
well as the timing (due date) and the number of the assignments submitted:

                                                      ©FORMATEX 2011                                                                     53
Education in a technological world: communicating current and emerging research and technological efforts
A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed.)

           Name                                      Assignment type Due date                                    Submitted
           Translating assignment 1                  Upload a single file       Friday, 18 February         View 48 submitted
           Questionnaire assign. 2                                              2011, 11:55 PM                    assignments
           The concept of translation.               Upload a single file       Tuesday, 1 March            View 49 submitted
           Assignment 3                                                         2011, 11:55 PM                    assignments
           The role of the translator:               Upload a single file       Thursday, 3 March           View 50 submitted
           assignment 4                                                         2011, 11:55 PM                    assignments
           Assignment 5: rewriting                   Upload a single file       Tuesday, 8 March            View 46 submitted
                                                                                2011, 11:55 PM                    assignments
           Translatability: assignment 6             Upload a single file       Monday, 14 March            View 47 submitted
                                                                                2011, 11:55 PM                    assignments
           Translation techniques:                   Upload a single file       Friday, 18 March            View 49 submitted
           Assignment 7                                                         2011, 11:55 PM                    assignments
           Translation techniques:                   Upload a single file       Tuesday, 22 March           View 49 submitted
           assignment 8                                                         2011, 11:55 PM                    assignments
                                                     Upload a single file       Friday, 25 March            View 50 submitted
           Assignment 9: translating prose                                      2011, 11:55 PM                    assignments
           Assignment 10: translating prose Upload a single file                Friday, 1 April 2011,       View 43 submitted
           2                                                                    11:55 PM                          assignments
           Assignment 11: translating                Upload a single file       Friday, 8 April 2011,       View 50 submitted
           prose 3                                                              11:55 PM                          assignments
           Assignment 12                             Upload a single file       Tuesday, 12 April           View 49 submitted
                                                                                2011, 11:55 PM                    assignments
           Assignment 13                             Upload a single file       Friday, 15 April 2011,      View 46 submitted
                                                                                11:55 PM                          assignments
           Assignment 14: translating                Upload a single file       Tuesday, 19 April           View 46 submitted
           poetry-practice                                                      2011, 11:55 PM                    assignments

                                                  Figure 2: students´assignments schedule

           3. Conclusion
Integrating the information and communication technologies in the university classroom has become necessary in the
current system of education. If we, university staff, want to be updated and linked to the real world, it is crucial to
incorporate the new technologies in the teaching/learning process. Virtual Learning Environments play an important
part in the teaching/learning process in Upper education. They are no longer just means of transmitting information in
one direction (teacher-student) but they are interactive and bidirectional, as students can take an active part in these
educational environments.
   We have been working with the new technologies for years with computer science students. It may be seen more
understandable as this profile of students require more knowledge in this field. But, nowadays no matter the students´
field of study, new technologies must be present in the course. We believe that university, apart from knowledge, must
prepare students for the real world; we know our students use the technology in their free time (Internet, electronic mail,
social networks, chats, messenger…), and we want them to use it in their academic lives as well.
   So, this year we have been working with Philology students and the results (graded by the amount of people and
assignments submitted) show that 90% students of the students enrolled in itinerary 1 finished the course having
fulfilled all the activities. We think that our main objective has been accomplished as we have successfully integrated
the new technologies with an educational purpose. We will keep on working on this as we are convinced in a near
future, the information and communication technologies in the university classroom will be compulsory. We, as
teachers, are aware of this fact, and we are obliged to get to know and use them in class.

54                                                           ©FORMATEX 2011
                                      Education in a technological world: communicating current and emerging research and technological efforts
                                                                                                                        A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed.)

      4. References
[1]  Baker, M. In other words. A coursebook on translation. London: Routledge. 1992.
[2]  Barbe, K. “The dichotomy free and literal translation”. Meta, 41: 328-337. 1996.
[3]  Delisle, J. 1988. Translation. An interpretative approach. [translated by P. Logan and M. Creery]. Otawa: University of Ottawa
[4]  Fernández Guerra, A. 2001. El arte de traducir y la máquina de traducir. Antagonismo o síntesis integradora. Valencia:
[5]  Hurtado Albir, A. (dir.) Enseñar a traducir. Madrid: Edelsa. 1999.
[6]  Leonardi, V. “Equivalence in Translation: Between Myth and Reality”.
     Translation Journal, vol. 4, No. 4. 2000.
[7]  Valero Garcés, C. Apuntes sobre traducción literaria y análisis contrastivo de
     textos literarios traducidos. Alcalá de Henares: Universidad de Alcalá de Henares. 1995.
[8]  Weller, M. Virtual learning environments: Using, choosing and developing your VLE. London: Routledge. 2007.
[9]  JISC Regional Support Centre Scotland South & West. 1 Todd Campus. West of Scotland Science Park. Acre Road. Available
      at http://www.rsc-sw-scotland.ac.uk/index.htm. Accessed 5 March 2011
[10]  Whatis. The leading IT encyclopedia and learning center. Virtual learning environment (VLE) or managed learning
      environment (MLE) available at http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_gci866691,00.html. Accessed 20 February
[11]  Mason, R. Models of Online Courses, ALN. Magazine, vol 2, issue 2, available from Pedagogical Evaluation of Virtual
      Learning. 1998
[12]  Ros O´Leary. Virtual Learning Environments. Published in the site of The Association for Leaning Technology. Available at:
[13] Scott B. Follows; Virtual Learning Environments. T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), Vol. 27, 1999
[14] Dillenbourg, P. Virtual learning environments. EUN CONFERENCE 2000:«Learning in the new millennium: building new
      education strategies for schools». WORKSHOP ON VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS. 2000
[15] Roberts, T., Jones, D. and Romm, C. T. (2000). Four models of online education. Proceedings of TEND 2000, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
[16] Moodle site at www.moodle.com
[17]  Wikipedia. Available at www.wikipedia.com. Accessed 23 March 2011
[18]  Moore, M. G. (1996). Three types of interaction. The American Journal of Distance Education, 3(2), 1-7, Pennsylvania State
      University, Pennsylvania

                                                         ©FORMATEX 2011                                                                     55

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