Diigo

Diigo is one of those tools I wish I have discovered a long time ago. It is not only extremely useful as a collection of bookmarks but also allows to annotate web content and share links, comments or notes. In my case Diigo works as a personal desktop while teaching in various locations across the college. I can simply log in to Diigo and have access to my bookmarks. No need of saving anything on a computer in each classroom. Good for hot-desking too. Another great feature of Diigo is its potential for organising links into groups, lists, sub-groups etc.

Feel free to try it out and connect with me:
https://www.diigo.com/

The images below illustrate my use of Diigo specific to ESOL.

diigo1

My Library view in Diigo

diigo2

My Lists view in Diigo

Web 2.0 and the literacy question

This post is perhaps a bit outside the scope of the ICT and e-Learning course but, as most of the reading resources refer to the Higher Education, I would like to comment on a specific fraction of the FE sector.

In teaching ESOL to adults of various ages and backgrounds, achieving certain English language literacy level is the crucial outcome. However, linguistic literacy is not enough in order to continue education or to secure employment nowadays. It is required that people also have digital literacy and can access various online based services.
Using some Web 2.0 tools is possible with students whose digital literacy is at a level allowing for online collaboration. Even though, an introduction to a particular Web 2.0 tool may be taking a half of the teaching session, it is still worth to dedicate this time just to be able to observe successful outcomes. By successful I mean useful for the students at that time and possible to be utilised in their future activities. Using Web 2.0 just for the purpose of using it does not seem to have any valid point.

When I decided to use Google Drive and Sky Drive, for CV storage and email job application practice, with a group of adults (Entry Level 1 ESOL), I could not predict how difficult such task may be for the learners.
The first problem the students encountered was logging into their Gmail or Hotmail accounts. Some learners had to call their family members or friends to check what their password was. After overcoming this hurdle, we had to face another issue, which was navigating across the websites and switching between the email account and the storage drive. Frustration began to grow…

Here I would like to express my deepest gratitude to people who localised both GoogleDrive and SkyDrive/OneDrive. If not for your translation and localisation services, my students would have spent much more time getting ready for their task.

Changing the web language settings into students’ first languages was definitely a flash of genius on my side. The next stages of the session went more less according to the plan. The learners could look at the Google Drive layout in English on the Smart Board and compare it with their localised version. At the same time they took notes of new vocabulary items and I was sure that their learning will continue at home. The motivation factor was already there. They have to apply for jobs. They have to send their CVs to employers. Now, they can do it independently.
As we can see, without language literacy there is no access to digital literacy because after all, anything we see on the Internet includes written text. Nobody is able to use Web 2.0 tools without reading and writing skills. Although online tools are highly visual, a sufficient level of literacy will always be needed to work these.

Drifted from Pedagogy 2.0 and arrived at TEDx

While on my journey through Pedagogy 2.0, I took my own learning path literally and ended up watching a clip from TEDx. I found this very inspirational talk about learning a foreign language delivered by Chris Lonsdale. Chris shares his 5 principles and 7 actions of Rapid Language Acquisition applicable in a classroom and beyond a structured language course. I am taking notes and going to put this strategy into practice as this will be crucial for my current and future learners. Additionally, I discovered how to embed a video in a blog post.

Padlet

I have started using Padlet. I created two walls for my students to comment on issues we had discussed in class.

The first wall received a few comment:

The other one turned to be less popular:

Padlet is a very straightforward tool allowing for a quick exchange of ideas presented in an aesthetic way. I enjoyed creating my walls, particularly modifying their background, layout and images matching the tasks, and was excited with each comment appearing.

The Padlet activity increased my students’ participation and changed boring homework into an adventurous online activity. Something very easy for digital natives or generation C, whatever we call them, but also a demanding written task which required certain linguistic skills. The messages visible on the wall are only a departure point for peer assessment, proofreading and error correction. Moreover, it was an opportunity to extend learning beyond the traditional classroom walls.

Web 2.0

My approach to the Web based learning tools is usually positive. I find technology a neutral medium which may be potentially directed towards positive or negative outcomes by its users. What counts is not the technology but the way in which we choose to use it (Chandler, D. Technological or Media Determinism, 2002). Therefore, my views are close to utopian claims which, according to M. Hand and B. Sandywell, are that digital and internet information technology inherently have a democratising effect. Its application is such that it democratises the power of speech and access to information. Technology can bring learning to people who are not able to access traditional face-to-face education for various reasons.

(Hand M., Sandywell B., E-topia as Cosmopolis or Citedal, 2002)

I would like to test each new application I come across and use most of those in a classroom.  Obviously or thankfully, it is impossible. Judging by common sense, time and resources available, only a few selected tools can be included in my teaching devices repertoire. Frequently, I get excited about a new app or website and save it in my virtual Pocket for further reading and possible application. On average ten apps per day catch my attention. What happens next is that I usually don’t have enough time to separate seeds from weed. Do I feel overwhelmed by technology, not only in educational but also in its broader context? Definitely not, as the wealth of online tools available to educators these days is rather encouraging.

I believe  this course (ICT and eLearning) will guide me towards the right decisions when working with Web 2.0 tools and extend my knowledge of effective edu-tech applications by connecting with other professionals in our Community of Practice.