There are a multitude of electronic forums in which content material can be conveyed and students can exchange written information, within the confines of the classroom or across the globe. Though each of the following involve electronic communication, each can serve a different purpose in the classroom. An overview of some of the information found in this section can be found at CyberESL - Email and Beyond by Tom Robb, Deborah Healey and Ron Corio at http://www.orst.edu/~healeyd/pci/cyberesl.html
Before looking at the links below, for an overview, you may want to consult Claire Bradin's 1998 TESL Ontario presentation on Email for ESL students. Her webpage includes links to Free Email Accounts, Guidance for Students, Finding Keypals, One to One Email Projects, Class and Tandem Projects, Student Lists, and Useful Resources at http://edvista.com/claire/linc.html#free
The more familiar teachers are with Email use, the better they can prepare their students for EMail activities. See Deborah Healey's collection of tips on EMail. These include:
- December, 1998: Email basics
- April, 1999: Email on the Road
- June, 1997: Forwarding Mail
- May, 1997: E-mail Attachments
Getting Started and Sample Projects
A Beginner's Guide- some differences between conventions for traditional and electronic correspondence at http://enterprise.powerup.com.au/htmlxp/pu/emailhow.htm
Pine and Pico Documentation - popular, easy to learn Email program at http://cloud.ccsf.cc.ca.us/Pub/Fac/pinepico.html
Susan Gaer's Email Project Homepages (Adult Ed.) at http://www.otan.dni.us/webfarm/emailproject/email.htm
Sources for Keypal Exchanges, Ideas for Email Activities, and Resulting Student Work
Keypal Opportunities for Students by Kenji Kitao and S. Kathleen Kitao is an excellent resource to consult before starting Email and Keypal projects. In addition to a general article, there are sections called, "For Students, For Teachers, E-mail and Web Projects, Students' Work, Writing E-mail Messages and Others."
Thomas Robb's E-Mail Keypals for Language Fluency discusses three types of exchanges: 1) traditional one-on-one 2) tandem exchanges (partners with different native languages) and 3) the Student Lists (SL) project. There are also links to other sites available to arrange individual or group keypal exchanges at http://www.kyoto-su.ac.jp/~trobb/keypals.html
Ron Belisle has an informative article, "E-mail Activities in the ESL Writing Class," which provides many interesting, yet simple Email-based activities for ESL students at http://www.aitech.ac.jp/~iteslj/Articles/Belisle-Email.html
These Sample Email Assignments and Student Work illustrate that while practicing the essential Email skills, students also have the opportunity for creative writing, exchange of cultural information, and problem solving.
Dave Sperling's Internet Activity Workbook, Prentice
Hall, 1999, makes extensive use of keypals. This online
book review has links to textbook activities and to the book's
companion Web site.
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A Sampling of Collaborative ProgramsDeborah Healey devotes her September and October '98 Tech Tips to a discussion of conferencing tools and conferencing software at http://osu.orst.edu/dept/eli/oct1998.html.
DIWE--Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment - Useful for workshop-based and collaborative revision-focused composition classes. Multiple users can share files. Contains bulletin board and synchronous discussion features. Mac or Windows versions available. http:///www.daedalus.com
Web-Based Instruction programs are now being developed. These usually include conferencing capability (bulletin boards, chat rooms, etc.) WebCT and TopClass are two examples.
Discussion BoardsDiscussion Boards provide an opportunity for students to communicate on a variety of topics and to follow these threads over time. Students can access Discussion Boards created on other sites and interact on a variety of preexisting subject areas. Perhaps the most extensive web-based board is at Dave's ESL Cafe Discussion Center at http://www.eslcafe.com/discussion/ Student forums now include Cinema, Computers,Current News, Family, Food, Hobbies, Holidays, Learning English, Literature, Music, Opinions, Pets, Science,Sports, and Travel. There is also a teachers discussion board on the same page.
Teachers can also set up their own individualized Discussion Boards as a learning tool for their classes. There are a variety of free services now available. Some include chat rooms and white boards. These include NiceNet, eGroups (now YahooGroups), GroupBoard (nice demo of white board), Tapped In, and eBoards (use for home pages and discussion boards-up and running in under two minutes!). Here's a demo for eBoards.
Here is a description showing how one teacher has used NiceNet in her ESL classes. (note the URL for NiceNet has changed; it is now http://www.nicenet.org/
Video Conferencing- As desktop computers become more powerful and software for video conferencing readily available, video conferencing will become more prevalent in the language classroom.Pacific Bell's Education First's Videoconferencing for Learning is an oft-updated website devoted to videoconferencing technology and its application to classroom teaching and training. It is a comprehensive site which includes how to's for videoconferencing in the classroom as well as listserv dedicated to the topic, and links to research and projects at http://www.kn.pacbell.com/vidconf/
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) has a comprehensive site on videoconferencing in the K-12 classroom. Digital Bridges has sections on Uses & Examples, Planning Information, and Resources. The site has one track for teachers and another for administrators at http://www.netc.org/digitalbridges/.
Processes and Outcomes in Networked Classroom Interaction: defining the Research Agenda for L2 Computer Assisted classroom Discussion, Lourdes Ortega, University of Hawai'i at Manoa at http://polyglot.cal.msu.edu/llt/vol1num1/ortega/default.html
For a discussion of how conferencing software can be used to foster communications and critical thinking skills in the ESL classroom, and the pros and cons of real-time v. delayed response modes of conferencing, see Krauss, M. (1994). Extending inquiry beyond the classroom: Electronic conversations with esl students. CAELL Journal 5(1), 2-11. Published by ISTE .
Sample Assignments/Student Work:
Excerpts from a presentation, Collaborative Computing Applications: Learning Tools for Your Class Lab, Michael Krauss and Greg Kaminski, Lewis & Clark College, at the 1996 TRI-TESOL Conference (Oregon, Washington and BC TEAL), Seattle, Washington.
Chat software can also be used for conferencing. See "No Talking Please, just Chatting" by Marsha Chan which provides a description of computer collaboration in an ESL classroom using chat.
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SL-Lists: 10 topics available for discussion: (intro, chat (low level), discuss (high level), business, engl (learning English), event, movie, music, scitech, sport) http://www.latrobe.edu.au/www/education/sl/sl.html
HUT Internet Writing Project - A more structured forum for higher level ESL learners at http://www.hut.fi/~rvilmi/Project/Two interesting articles that look at discourse and issues of freedom v. control on the S-L lists:
Warschauer, M. (1995). Heterotopias, panopticons, and Internet discourse (UH Working Paper in ESL, Vol. 14 No. 1). University of Hawaii, Department of English as a Second Language.
Warschauer, M., & Lepeintre, S. (1997). Freire's dream or Foucault's nightmare: teacher-student relations on an international computer network. In R. Debski, J. Gassin, & M. Smith (Eds.), Language learning through social computing (pp. 67-89). Parkville, Australia: Applied Linguistics Association of Australia.
A couple of specific technology and/or writing - related lists: Neteach -L A list for teachers interested in using the Internet. Excellent way to follow new developments at http://thecity.sfsu.edu/ ~funweb/neteach.htm
TESLCA-L (the technology sub-branch of TESL-L). If you are not a member of TESL-L, send an Email message to email@example.com with the following commands in the body of the message:
If you are already a member of TESL-L, but want to join TESLCA-L, you only need send
WRICOM - Includes within its scope the use of computers in writing instruction. To join, send Email to firstname.lastname@example.org In the body of your message (not in the subject heading), type "join wricom <first name> <last name>"
Resources:Deborah Healey on Intra-class chatting gives you all the information you need to set up an intra-class chat. Page includes "chat vocabulary", instructions on setting up a local channel using Global Chat (free chat software with an easy to use interface), a link to download Global Chat, and some caveats when using Chat with your ESL students. http://www.orst.edu/~healeyd/pci/chat_help.html
ESL Chat Central (Dave's ESL Cafe-Web-based chat) Since Dave's is so popular, you can almost always find people in the Chat Room. First time users will have to register and get a confirmation number via Email before entering at http://www.eslcafe.com/chat/chatpro.cgi
EFNet #IRChelp - An all purpose help page for IRC. Includes a FAQ section + IRC clients for Mac and Windows are available to download http://www.irchelp.org/
Research/Articles:"No Talking Please, Just Chatting" Marsha Chan provides a hands-on look at classroom uses for Chat. She describes using chat in both real-time and asynchronously (out of class at time of students' choice). Marsha also gives sample lessons for introducing students to chat and discusses some follow-up language learning activities. http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu/org/tcc_conf96/chan.html
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A very practical article (May 2001) for getting started with students at SchMOOze U is
"Using a Modular Approach to schMOOze with ESL/EFL Students" by James Backer at http://iteslj.org/Lessons/Backer-SchMOOze.html
How to With SchMOOze U and Using SchMOOze in the Classroom are the subjects of the November and December 1977 issue Deborah Healey's "Technology Tips" series. Deborah provides step by step instructions for utilizing SchMOOze U, a virtual university for ESL students. Other links are provided to useful MOO resources by Greg Younger and Yoshi Awaji, as well as to the SchMOOzeU Website. You can also link to MOO clients for MacOS and Windows. An excellent place to get started with MOO's. http://osu.orst.edu/Dept/eli/dec1997.html
How to Access SchMOOze U? - The easiest way is to navigate to the SchMOOze U homepage. From there, you have your choice of accessing SchMOOze U via using Cup O' Mud or enCore Xpress (for those with Java enabled browsers) or via Telnet (for those without).
Lots of excellent resources for beginning or advanced MOO'ers from the Neteach Cool Sites page. Includes links to archives from Neteach MOO sessions at http://www.tesol.net/neteach/ moo_information.html
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Newsgroups provide another forum for students' written discussions. Newsgroups can be set up locally (intra-class) or students can access them from the Internet (Note: Internet Newsgroups are not monitored so students may be exposed to inappropriate language). For help in finding the newsgroup you want, try Deja.com's Usenet Discussion Service (now part of Google) at http://www.deja.com/usenet/
Class Newsgroups can be used as a means of collaboration. Deborah Healey provides a brief description on setting up an intra-class Newsgroup http://www.orst.edu/~healeyd/162/162news.html
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Web-based Instruction - Several of the techniques for electronic communication described above are being combined into all purpose "web based instruction" applications. Web Based Instruction (WBI) refers to the delivery of course materials to students via the WWW. Many colleges and universities are in the process of evaluating WBI programs. As this development continues, second language teachers will increasingly use WBI's in the classroom. WBI software will provide the facility to communicate for students and teacher. Other features include asynchronous conferencing, live chats, on-line tutorials, timed quizzes, extensive record keeping, etc. For a discussion of the pros and cons of WBI, a list of many of the currently available WBI packages, and an evaluation of several of the most popular WBI systems, see Tools for Developing Interactive Academic Web Courses at http://www.umanitoba.ca/ip/tools/courseware/index.html
Distance Learning - As Internet access grows by leaps and abound around the world, the concept of a global learning community comes closer to reality day by day. In addition to the exponential growth of the Web and the number of people accessing it, the accessibility of web-based instruction software and web editors with features much like word processors has encouraged educators to look more favorably on creating content for classes without classrooms. Distance learning, then, certainly seems to be the wave of the 21st century.
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