WELL – Web-Enhanced Language Learning - 2006 International ...

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Nov 5, 2013 (3 years and 11 months ago)

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Web
-
Enhanced
Language Learning

A Case Report of WELL

for EFL Teachers

Li Ming

June 3 2006

Beijing Foreign Studies University

Introduction


Moore

s Law:

The number of transistors
per silicon chip doubles each year.


(Moore
1965)


Digital data are transmitted in gigabytes
online


Applications enhance the processing of
texts, graphics, audio and visual materials


Great opportunities for EFL teachers in
renovating the traditional teaching
approach, thus enhancing language
learning as a whole.



Educators, well aware of the
potential of Web technology, have
adopted it for creating new learning
environments
…”




the rationale behind this creative
endeavor is the expectation that
unique features of the technology
(e.g., powerful information
manipulation tools and
communication means) will
substantially contribute to the
teaching and learning processes.



(Mioduser 2000)

Some Obstacles for Frontline EFL Teachers


Installation of hardware is relatively easy
because of organizational investment in
upgrading hardware facilities in all key
universities.


Acquisition of software is not as easy.


Software is expensive and is intangible.


Maintenance of software is also more
complicated than that of hardware.


Professional software for courseware
development is very expensive and
need developers with high know
-
how to
cultivate.

Focus of this research


As a result, development of
professional EFL courseware can only
be left to future or commercial
organizations.


This research tends to make the best
use of the web development in order
to enhance language teaching for
frontline EFL teachers.

Web
-
based Vs. Web
-
enhanced


Web based learning is a kind of learning
through electronic means. It as

anywhere,
any
-
time instruction delivered over the
Internet or a corporate intranet to
browser
-
equipped learners

.
(SearchWebService.com 2000)


Web
-
enhanced language learning,
different from web
-
based learning, focuses
on how to make the best use of the new
development in web technology in normal
campus learning environment while
avoiding heavy dependence on the
technology and expertise.

Research Mode of WELL



the Internet has developed
communication tools as well as
information resources



(Schwienhorst 2002)


General Mode:

From the Web

(how to make full use of the resources)


To the Web

(how to make efficient use of the
communication tools)

Methods


Subjects: 3 groups from 2004 to 2006.


Most had teaching experience besides a few.


Year One: general pre
-
course survey on all
students who participated in the programme.


Picked out items related to WELL and
adapted the 8
-
week course design
accordingly.


8 weeks later, post
-
course evaluation.


Year Two & Three: course design was
adapted based on general pre
-
course survey
& post
-
course evaluation.


Students


assignments and mini
-
projects
were analyzed as the results of the research.

Procedure 1


The pre
-
course survey held by our
administrative staff before the
programme started aimed to collect
two kinds of information:


a) students


basic IT skills, and


b) their pedagogical application of
new technologies in previous
teaching.


Students were asked to tick on a four
-
level scale range from the poorest 1 to
the excellent 4.

Needs of Skills and knowledge
related to WELL


Basic IT skills


Software installation and setup


Network configuration


Surfing the internet


Reformatting of downloaded text


Editing of downloaded image


Audio recording and editing


Video recording and editing


Creating multimedia presentation


Homepage design

Pedagogical application of new
technologies


Teach students methods and approach to
evaluate information collected online


Evaluate technical resources online that can be
integrated into language teaching practice


Provide opportunities for students to get useful
technical resources


Use communicative approach in web enhanced
language learning


Help students to make good use of information
online


Design and implement web
-
enhanced language
learning project


Help students to communicate effectively online


Teach basic etiquettes and ethics online

Procedure 2


Based on needs analysis of the
students and the current situation of
EFL practices in China, an eight
-
week
course with 2 hours per week was
offered to the students, covering the
following topics:


From the Web


To the Web

Assignments


Students were assigned to submit five
assignments.


Screen Capture and Picture Edit
--

Finding
Articles and Images


Audio Setup, Recording, and Editing


Finding and Editing Audio English Materials


Video Setup, Recording, and Editing


Locating Video Materials and Making them
Suitable for EFL practice


Use Word Processor to write the rationale
for the mini
-
project in 1000
-
1500 words


Mini
-
project incorporating skills and
knowledge learned throughout the
programme

Procedure 3


Students were asked to give their opinions
on the following aspects in the post
-
course
evaluation.


General comments in five levels from
poor to excellent


The course as a whole


The course content


The instructor

s contribution to the
course


The instructor

s effectiveness in teaching
the subject matter

Specific comments in three levels:
always, about half, and never


The instructor gave very clear explanations


The instructor successfully rephrased
explanations to clear up confusion


Class sessions were interesting and
engaging


Class sessions were well organized


Student participation was encouraged


Students were aware of what was expected
of them


Extra help were readily available


Evaluation of student performance was
related to important course goals.

Hermeneutic phenomenological methodology



This method


involves dialectically
comparing the parts and the whole to
capture the essence of an experience.


(Anderson 2002)


The analytic goal was to depict the real
situation of the students


awareness of
WELL.



the
bricolage
in qualitative research
produces sensations in its readers


viewers
by decomposing their logic of
representation and producing possibilities of
alternative modes of existing; i.e., the
transmutation of former concepts, ideas,
and feelings.


Telles (2000)

Approach of results analysis


We first compared results of students


mini
-
projects with their pre
-
course survey,
and then compared results of their mini
-
projects with their post
-
course evaluation.
The results of the analysis then served as
inputs for improvement in the second
round and the third round of the course.
Finally, we compared students


mini
-
projects of the three groups as well as
their post
-
course evaluation results.

Results


Pre
-
course surveys of the three groups showed
that most students had some basic knowledge
and skills to make appropriate use of computers
and the Internet in their daily life and work.


Most of them were weak on how to install
software properly, to surf the Internet efficiently,
to reformulate materials from the web for
effective EFL practices, to acquire audio
-
visual
materials from the web, to integrate multimedia
materials into effective presentations, to design
impressive homepages, etc.


All students were weak in pedagogical application
of new technologies in their teaching experience.


The course design was adapted each time in
response to students


special demands, but was
consistent in general.

Aspects dealt with in a WELL course


Students were introduced to basic IT skills and web
knowledge (software installation, network
configuration, web resources, surfing tips, etc.),
techniques to acquire and edit EFL related materials
(texts, images, audios, and videos) such as word
processor (Word), image editor (Snagit), audio
editor (CoolEdit), video editor (Camtasia Recorder,
DivX505), and presentation tools (PowerPoint).


They were also introduced to knowledge and skills
of communication applications such as offline email
(Outlook), instant messenger (MSN); the
communication environment of the web such as
BBS, online chat room, online email, list group; and
tools to create a EFL teaching and learning
environment such as tools for homepage design
(FrontPage), list group (Outlook), and BBS (Dvbbs).

Assignments of group 1


The results were not very satisfactory.


Computers were outdated. Coordination
with relevant parties was poor. Classroom
arrangement, hardware and software, and
the network were controlled by 3 different
departments.


Designated software cannot be properly
installed for security reasons, and the
network administrator refused to connect
students


PCs to the Internet.


Students were then assigned to work in
groups of 4
-
5 members each to come up
with a mini
-
project using their own
computer and web resources.

Sample1

Sample2

Sample3

Sample4


5 group projects were submitted in
the format of PowerPoint
presentation. 4 had clear indicators
of materials acquired from the web.
All had image illustrations but one
project

s was more like that of the
background. 3 had audio illustrations
and none included videos. Each
presentation focused on introducing
one topic and showed no sign of
pedagogical concerns.

Assignments of group 2


The results were quite encouraging.


After careful coordination with relevant parties, a
new computer room with fast PCs was arranged for
the course, designated software were pre
-
installed
beforehand, and all students were allowed to access
the Internet.


Students were not allowed to access the computer
room freely apart from class time.


Some planned topics had to be dropped.


Most students submitted assignments as required
covering aspects like

Screen Capture and Picture
Edit

,

Audio Setup, Recording and Editing

,

Video
Setup, Recording and Editing

, online comments on
the course, and their mini
-
projects. For assignments
regarding IT skills, they were in the format of

process description illustrated with screen captures

,
something like illustrated technical instructions..

Sample1

Sample2

Sample3

Sample4


For the mini
-
projects, each student
submitted a PowerPoint presentation. All 36
mini
-
projects had effective image
illustrations, only 2 had no videos, and 11
provided no audio files.


Some of the video and audio files provided
by the students were obviously downloaded
directly from the web without any editing,
thus made the project package oversized. It
showed that about 30% of the students did
not know how to record and edit audio and
video files. 17 projects had strong
pedagogical inclinations, while others mainly
focused on topics of interest themselves.

Assignments of group 3


The results were also quite encouraging.


A special computer room with more than a dozen
high
-
speed PCs was established for students of
our center, so students had free access to these
PCs whenever there were no classes. All PCs had
access to the Internet via LAN.


All students submitted assignments as required
covering aspects like

Screen Capture and Picture
Edit

,

Audio Setup, Recording and Editing

,

Video Setup, Recording and Editing

,

Rationale
for the Mini
-
project

, and their mini
-
projects.
Assignments regarding IT skills were also
presented in the format of

process description
illustrated with screen captures

. For the project
rationale, all students submitted a discussion of
their mini
-
project in about 1,500 words, covering
the rationale, project design, and significance of
their respective projects.

Sample1

Sample2

Sample3


Sample4

Sample5

Sample6


The mini
-
projects submitted by the students
were in the format of homepages.


6 groups to design 6 homepages: 1)
Business English, 2) Computer English, 3)
Listening, 4) Speaking, 5) Tennis English,
and 6) Extensive Reading.


Apart from

Business English

, all the other 5
homepages integrated audio and video files
as illustrations.


Some of the audio and video files were still
not properly edited, and the size of all 6
projects exceeded 1,000 megabytes.


All of them took pedagogy into consideration.

Post
-
course evaluations


The post
-
course evaluations were all
done in the last session by the
administrative office to ensure fair
results. 13 forms were collected from
the group 1, 19 from group 2, and
25 (including 3 auditors) from group
3. Here is a summary of the results:
(the left
-
side number indicates the
group number; and the right
-
side
number indicates the number of
students making the selection)

In General

Excel
-
lent

Very good

Good

Fair

Poor

Very Poor

1. The course as a whole was:

1
-
1/13

3
-
2/25

1
-
2/13

2
-
7/19

3
-
4/25

1
-
6/13

2
-
4/19

3
-
9/25

1
-
3/13

2
-
7/19

3
-
7/25

1
-
1/13

2
-
1/19

3
-
3/25

2. The course content was:

1
-
1/13

2
-
1/19

3
-
2/25

1
-
4/13

2
-
6/19

3
-
6/25

1
-
7/13

2
-
7/19

3
-
7/25

1
-
1/13

2
-
3/19

3
-
9/25

2
-
2/19

3
-
1/25

3. The instructor

s contribution to the course was:

1
-
2/13

3
-
3/25

1
-
4/13

2
-
5/19

3
-
2/25

1
-
5/13

2
-
12/19

3
-
9/25

1
-
2/13

2
-
1/19

3
-
10/25

1
-
1/13

2
-
1/19

3
-
1/25

4. The instructor

s effectiveness in teaching the subject matter was:

1
-
1/13

2
-
1/19

3
-
3/25

1
-
2/13

2
-
4/19

3
-
1/25

1
-
3/13

2
-
6/19

3
-
8/25

1
-
4/13

2
-
5/19

3
-
8/25

1
-
1/13

2
-
2/19

3
-
4/25

How frequently was each of the following a true description of this course?

Always

About Half

Never

5. The instructor gave very clear explanations.

1
-
2/13

2
-
12/19

3
-
10/25

1
-
11/13

2
-
7/19

3
-
15/25

6. The instructor successfully rephrased explanations to clear up confusion.

1
-
4/13

2
-
10/19

3
-
13/25

1
-
9/13

2
-
9/19

3
-
12/25

7. Class sessions were interesting and engaging.

2
-
6/19

3
-
7/25

1
-
12/13

2
-
11/19

3
-
15/25

1
-
1/13

2
-
2/19

3
-
3/25

8. Class sessions were well organized.

1
-
1/13

2
-
14/19

3
-
7/25

1
-
12/13

2
-
4/19

3
-
17/25

2
-
1/19

3
-
1/25

9. Student participation was encouraged.

1
-
3/13

2
-
10/19

3
-
15/25

1
-
10/13

2
-
6/19

3
-
9/25

2
-
3/19

3
-
1/25

10. Students were aware of what was expected of them.

1
-
6/13

2
-
11/19

3
-
10/25

1
-
7/13

2
-
6/19

3
-
13/25

2
-
2/19

3
-
2/25

11. Extra help were readily available.

1
-
9/13

2
-
11/19

3
-
15/25

1
-
4/13

2
-
8/19

3
-
10/25

12. Evaluation of student performance was related to important course goals.

1
-
7/13

2
-
13/19

3
-
11/25

1
-
6/13

2
-
6/19

3
-
13/25

2
-
1/19

Results Analysis


Though there were differences
between the 3 groups


results, they
were fair and quit consistent in
general.


Around 60% of all students gave
positive comments


About 30% regarded it as fair


Only about 10% held negative views
about it.


If we take the three groups


mini
-
projects
into consideration, it reveals some
interesting points.


Group 1, even though their projects were not
satisfactory, around 70% of them regarded
the course good as a whole.


Group 2, their projects were quite
satisfactory, but only a little more than 50%
of them regarded the course good as a whole.


Group 3, around 60% of the students
regarded the course good as a whole, and
their projects were also quite satisfactory.


So we can see that the evaluation results
could not serve as a reliable index to assess
instructors


performance, at least not as
reliable as what the results of students


performance can reveal.

Discussion


The results of this research has provided
insight into finding appropriate means of
language teaching and learning enhanced
by the new web environment blessed on
us. Comparison of data collected in three
years, including analysis of target learners
needs and wants, the changes of physical
resources and the learning environment
via means of pre
-
course questionnaires,
post
-
course questionnaires, assignments,
mini
-
projects, etc., we came up with some
useful findings.

Findings


There have seen significant effects of
the fast development in IT industry
on web
-
related applications, which
have given rise to new opportunities
for EFL teaching and learning.


Course design could make good use
of the benefits blessed on us by the
new web environment.

Implications for frontline EFL teachers


1) Frontline EFL teachers could get access
to tons of authentic English materials
directly from the web, hence able to
design most up
-
to
-
date English courses;


2) with some basic IT skills, EFL teachers
could easily get audio
-
visual materials,
which are very beneficial for language
classes, and edit them for suitable use in
multimedia EFL courses;


3) by using both online and offline
communication tools and systems, EFL
teachers are able to extend the classroom
to the web, hence enrich the environment
of EFL teaching and learning, and bring
better educational results.

Extend the classroom to the Web


Although this research has brought up
some useful reflections on web
-
enhanced
language learning environment, there
were aspects that have not been
investigated thoroughly.


For example, the present research
covered more of the

from the web


aspect,
and discussed or practiced little on the

to
the web


aspect.


The question of how to make effective use
of communication tools and systems can
help to broaden frontline EFL teachers
flexibility and efficiency in ELT.


e.g. by offering feedback to students


writing online at a flexible time, teachers
can efficiently make their valuable
comments reach more students rather
than each individual; and by opening a
thread discussing EFL issues in a BBS,
both teachers and students can benefit
from insights shared by repliers.

Flexible after
-
class tutorial


We do believe, further research into
WELL will bring more benefits to
frontline EFL teachers in the era of
ever fast development of information
technology.


The End!

From Web


Website


Articles


Images


Audio
-
visual

materials


Create Own Teaching Materials


Tools: PowerPoint, Snagit, CoolEdit,
Camtasia Recorder, DivX505


Samples

To Web


E
-
mail System


List Group



Assignment Handling


BBS


Communication


Assignment
:
Sample1

Sample2


Create Own Teaching Environment


Tools: FrontPage, Outlook, Dvbbs


A Sample Website

Course Assignments


In Class Assignments


Picture editing


Audio editing


Video editing


Project


A website with individual contributions,
incorporating skills and knowledge acquired
through this module as well as other modules.
Each student is required to contribute at least a
short courseware integrating Texts, Graphics,
Audios, and Videos to the website.


A project rationale in about 1500
-
2000 words.


All assignments should be submitted to the following
address:
http://202.205.1.2/bbs/forumdisplay.php?s=&foru
mid=152


*Please start a thread with your name as the title
and submit all your assignments under the thread.

The End!

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