Course 2 Week 2: Evolution of Connections

The Change of Communication through the Years. How Communication Has Evolved With The New Technologies. Irene Rufferty, May 24, 2017

The development of new technologies created a new way of communication if we compare how we were communicating with our friend and how our kids are doing now.

The way people communicate with one another has changed significantly. 

Back then, we had to go to see our friends because not everybody had a simple home telephone, and we spend hours to speak and to play together in a real place and real-time. Nowadays the young generation communication transformed from real life to virtual reality, they use different social platforms to communicate, search the news, get new knowledge in a variety of areas (drawing, cooking, fashion, new heroes, new movies, games, news about celebrities, memes, etc.). It has advantages and disadvantaged. Unfortunately, as an ES teacher who is running a Distance learning program now, I could not ask my students about the advantages and disadvantages of social media. But I have a young lady at home who has graduated this year, and we as a family went through positive and negative sides of social media.  

ADVANTAGES OF USING SOCIAL MEDIA:

  • You can reach your friends and other people (it can be a vast audience of people with the same interests) in a timely manner 
  • You can reach people from another country or continent not only from your street
  • You get access to the enormous database of your interest (learn another language, how to dance, how to take photos and edit the movie)
  • You can be up to date with the current technology
  • You can join it for free
  • You can support each other by giving immediate feedback

DISADVANTAGES OF USING SOCIAL MEDIA:

  • Cyberbullying – it is easier to bully others through social media than to do it physically. You can get negative response or feedback. You are vulnerable (if you put something that people do not like, the negative comments will be spread across the network quickly as well and stays there)
  •  It is time-consuming (you start and finish your day reading the news and comments, and you need to put new content constantly in order to keep your audience (new photos, comments, etc.), play a game or chat about various things not related to your everyday life and school. 
  • Destroys social skills (you do not know how to approach another person, how to read the facial expressions, what say immediately in a different situation.

How do students learn to communicate in digital spaces in my class?

We are using a variety of educational apps to teach, assess, reflect and report on students’ learning:

Kahoot, Linguascope and Explain EDU – for teaching new vocabulary and develop skills 

Book Creator and PuppetPals – for teaching and assessing

Seesaw – for giving the instructions, sharing the  evidence and reflecting

Google Doc – to keep the information, write drafts and final assignment, share information

Google Slides – to create final presentations

Google Forms – to create questionnaires, to give/ collect feedbacks

The role of technology in education has been changing accordingly to the nowadays reality; teachers start to explore options on how to bring new technology instead of ordinary classroom materials, to move assignments and projects into the web to make more authentic and meaningful for the students.

Course 2 Week 1: Respect the Remix

Copyright and intellectual property were always a case. Back then, it was difficult to follow and check. Nowadays technology makes the process of identifying plagiarism so easy to check. 

Our goal as educators to teach our students how to value other people intellectual property and cite it correctly.

I absolutely agree with the concept of importance to respect and recognize the other people intellectual property, and I was absolutely amazed by the Copyright Flowchart. But I spend some time to figure out the system how it works. According to what I know, when you use somebody’s words you put quotation marks and do the citation. Now with the photos and pictures, we have to figure out to what category of copyright it belongs and use accordingly. 

As an elementary school teacher, I am not sure when  we should introduce this concept for our students, maybe in grade 4 and 5. I honestly, can’t see how our 6-7 years old can understand this concept.

Do you see this as an issue in your school?

I am sure our school has the policy about copyright and plagiarism. 

I asked my daughter about her experience and knowledge in this question.  Since she was a student in my school, so I decided to use her as resource to see how it looks like in our school in real life. The first time she learned about plagiarism and citation in middle school (grade 7-8).  

What did I find?

The teachers do teach and present to the students on what citation is. Some teachers have created presentation for the students to help them understand what is a citation and what is plagiarism. It is important to inform the students by showing visual examples on how citation should be presented in the piece of writing. It takes time and constant effort from teachers to push this concept. There are different programs that allow students to cite. One of them Research and Citation Resources. It will take time to figure out how to use it.

But I believe that it should be always the balance. 

What about elementary school?

As a language teacher I am using a lot of visuals. Now I start to think how our memory cards could look like. 

Do I have time to take photos for all learning engagements for 6 grades by myself? Absolutely, No. So, what are the possible solutions:

  1. To search for the pictures that are free and cite them
  2. To pay for the pictures that  I need.

My takeaway is that there are different image sharing platforms, such as Flickr and Pixabay. I learned that Flickr has a variety of Creative Commons images, but not all of them are licensed, so I should be careful. 

From Theory into Practice

I started my professional life as a coursebook writer. Twenty years ago the goal was clear to teach our students to speak, read and write in a foreign language and also to understand the culture and be able to survive or to study/work in the country. The resources that we had were photos, magazines, videos (cartoons, movies, news, and advertisements). The WL course requires developing the primary skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) and additional or maybe even more crucial nowadays – sociocultural competence that may influence the effectiveness of intercultural communication in a multilingual and multicultural world. The development of technology and the World Web is expending the boundaries of individuals. 

While I was reading the recommended resources, I reinforce my thinking about the importance of the shift in education, and I feel this shift as a teacher who is teaching every day. The two terms “constructivism” and “connectivism” attracted my attention.

I believe both of these terms mean to learn while doing, solving, practising. 

Constructivism can be seen as a major theory of learning, and in a broader sense as a philosophy of education, used as a general title to classify several theories.

According to this theory, we are as educators should find the interests of our students and create learning engagements that will be relevant to each student. A very challenging task! I know that the majority of my elementary students would like to play games and do sports. Will I develop the ES WL program base on this? Probably no, but I will take it into consideration while I am planning the learning engagements.  

Another challenge for me, as a Russian language teacher is a LANGUAGE. In order to make the learning environment active, the students should have the basic language in order to communicate, to participate actively in the process to ask a question, to discuss and solve the problem.

Constructivism suggests that learners create knowledge as they attempt to understand their experiences (Driscoll, 2000, p. 376);  

I believe it was always a case in learning foreign languages at least in the last decade. Our WL students think of a learning goal and steps to achieve it at the beginning of the year. During their learning journey, the students reflect on their achievements. Learning a foreign language develops the ability to recognize patterns and connections, and synthesize them in order to define how it works or simply to understand people who speak this language and carry on the culture. 

So, our goal as WL teachers is to prepare our students for life-long learning, develop an understanding that during intercultural communication the partner could have different values, lifestyle, verbal and non-verbal ways to express feelings and thoughts. That is why I try to create an authentic environment for students to understand the main values of the country they are living in now. For example, Victory Day in Russia. Many countries have a holiday that has the same name, but the value is different. We invited the veterans to listen to their stories, to ask questions and to see the photos. Another popular holiday in Russia is Maslenitsa (Butter Week). During this celebration, we organize different stations that our students can participate in various activities (practicing the language, baking the pancakes, playing traditional Russian games). 

Connectivism is proposed as a theory more adequate to the digital age, when action is needed without personal learning, using information outside of our primary knowledge.

This approach of teaching has its advantages. I am using new apps in order to reach students’ vocabulary or improve their skills. For example, Kahoot games – the motivation to win is high, and all my six years old students read as fast as they can in order to win. It is so simple, but it does work. The first question my students ask is “Are we going to play Kahoot game today?” I am using the bank of Kahoot games to increase the vocabulary, to improve reading and writing skills, to give sociocultural knowledge.