Teaching Language Through Social Software
By: Elih Sutisna Yanto
NIM . 0908066094
The impact of communication and information technology (IT) development on
language education has been widely countenanced. Ballenden (1984) points out
that computer technology will increasingly penetrate all areas of life, including
education. Maddison (1983) maintains that the technology of education and the
technology of communication are two sides of the same coin. The development
of information technology that has followed the development of computer
technology has stimulated people especially those who work in the field of
education, such as teachers, curriculum planers and media designers, to
endeavor to carry out experiments and studies on the possibilities of utilizing
computers for educational purposes. In the last few years the number of
teachers using Computer-assisted Language Learning (CALL) has increased
markedly and numerous articles have been written about the role of technology
in education in the 21st century. Although the potential of the Internet for
educational use has not been fully explored yet and the average school still
makes limited use of computers, it is obvious that we have entered a new
information age in which the links between technology and TEFL have already
been established. Computers have been used for language teaching ever since
the 1960's. This 40-year period can be divided into three main stages:
behaviorist CALL, communicative CALL, and integrative CALL. Each stage
corresponds to a certain level of technology and certain pedagogical theories.
The reasons for using Computer-assisted Language Learning include: (a)
experiential learning, (b) motivation, (c) enhance student achievement, (d)
authentic materials for study, (e) greater interaction, (f) individualization, (g)
independence from a single source of information, and (h) global understanding.
The barriers inhibiting the practice of Computer-assisted Language Learning can
be classified in the following common categories: (a) financial barriers, (b)
availability of computer hardware and software, (c) technical and theoretical
knowledge, and (d) acceptance of the technology.
Although the use of ICT tools such as blogs, can be very motivating for
learners, teachers themselves sometimes fearful of the technology, or feel that
they are not technically competent enough to use these tools. However, as we
will see, all of these tools are easy to set up and use, with no specialist technical
knowledge required. Teaching language through blogs makes the role of the
teacher will be so different with the traditional teacher . In this case, the
traditional teacher is called face to face (f2f) teacher. For example, in the
traditional classrooms, there are teachers who still use lectures as the main
teaching strategy. On the other hand, in using blogs, a teacher simply cannot
stand in front of a class and lecture. Moreover, the students in using blogs must
learn to be independent and active learners; there will be no one to “spoon-feed”
the information. It is really different with the face to face students in traditional
classroom .It happened because the information content and readings are made
available and it is the students’ responsibility to read the information. Blogs is an
examples of social software, computer tools which allow people to connect, to
communicate and to collaborate on line. A blog is essentially a web page with
regular diary or journal entries. The most common type of blog is kept by one
person, who will regularly post comments, thoughts, analyses, experiences of
daily life, interesting links, jokes or any other form of content to a web page.
Blogs may consist of written text only, or they may include pictures or photos –
photo blogs – or even audio and video.
Most blogs will allow readers to comment on blog entries, thereby
creating an online community around a common topic, interest or person. We
can thus see why blogs are referred to as social software, as they set up
informal grassroots, or list of links to other writers/readers of blogs. Blog will
sometimes include a blog roll, or list of links to other blogs which the blog writer
admires, thereby widening the online community of blog writers and readers.
Blogs used in education are known as edublogs. Edublogs cover a wide
range of topic related to education, from musings on educational policy and
developments to learner compositions. An edublog can be set up and used by a
teacher, by individual learners or by a class. A teacher may decide to use a blog
to provide their learners with news and comments on issues, extra reading
practice or homework, online links, a summary of a class for learners who were
unable to attend, study tips, and so on. In this case, learners will access and
read, and possibly add comments to, the blog outside the classroom. A blog set
up and maintained by a teacher is known as a tutor blog. The teacher may
decide to allow their learners to write comments in the blog.
A teacher may encourage their learners to each set up and maintain their
own individual blogs. These are known as student blogs. Learners can be asked
to post their blogs once or twice a week, or however often the teacher judges
convenient, and content can range from comments or current affairs to
descriptions of daily activities. Other learners, from the same class, from other
classes or ever from classes in other countries, can be encouraged to post
comments and reactions to student blog postings.
The third type of blog is the class blog, one used by an entire class.
Again, this blog can be used to post comments on certain topics, or on class
work or on any other issue the teacher thinks interesting and relevant to
learners. In a class blog learners all post to the same blog.
To conclude, there are some obvious advantages to using blogs in the
classroom. They provide a ‘real-world’ tool for learners with which to practice
their written English, as well as a way of contacting learners from other parts of
the world if the blog is used as part of an international exchange. Even if a
student or class blog is not shared with learners in other parts of the world, a
blog is publicly available on the Internet. A further area to consider is
assessment. Given that a student or class blog is essentially a written
assignment, blog postings can be used for evaluation. If the teacher intends to
evaluate blog entries as part of a writing assessment, as with any written work
the criteria for evaluation need to be made clear to learners in advance. Criteria
will probably include those used to evaluate more traditional, paper-based forms
of writing, such as accuracy, fluency, coherence and relevance, but they may
also include criteria related to the visual nature of this electronic medium, such
as the effective use of visual, or visual presentation overall, and other areas like
the length of posting and awareness of audience.
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