Category Archives: Work & Studies

Voxopop – A Web 2.0 tool that can help enhance speaking pair & groupwork

Week 6 is the time for each group in ICT class to evaluate one of web 2.0 tools which have been introduced by the instructors. My group in ICT class have chosen Voxopop as a tool of this kind advisable for English major students to practise speaking in pair or group.

” Used by educators all over the world, Voxopop talkgroups are a fun, engaging and easy-to-use way to help students develop their speaking skills. They’re a bit like message boards, but use voice rather than text and a have a specialised user interface. No longer confined to a physical classroom, teachers and students of oral skills can interact from home, or even from opposite sides of the planet!” (www.voxopop.com).

Acting a a group of English-major students, we have used this tool to practise several speaking sub-skills, including story-telling, group debate and pronunciation practice.  Actually, it has been abble to bring fun and motivation to students in the time of practice. Using this tool, students can record and then listen to themselves, which could help them to recognise their mistakes or weaknesses and do futher practice to gain improvement. Furthermore, they can also utilize this to learn from their classmates and teachers via comments/feedback.

To know more about Voxopop, please visit: http://www.voxopop.com/

To know more about how to practise speaking skills with Voxopop, please visit: http://www.voxopop.com/group/10009435-6578-488e-8cca-4ea19dd84034

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Reflection of the article “Social software: E-learning beyond learning management systems”

The article was written by Christian Dalsgaard from Institute of Information and Media Studies, University of Aarhus, Helsingforsgade Danmark. Its purpose is to discuss the potential of social software to move  e-learning beyond leaning management systems (LMS). It also raises the question of whether the tools should be used intergratedly or separately.

LMS can be understood as a single system that offers all necessary tools to run and manage an e-learning course. All learning activities and materials in a course are organized and managed by and within the system. LMS typically offer discussion forums, file sharing, management of assignments, lesson plans, syllabus, chat, etc. This system is claimed to cover only administrative issues and be unable to support a social constructivist approach which emphasizes self-governed learning activities of students. It is argued that LMS are well suited for managing student enrolment, exams, assignments, course descriptions, lesson plans, messages, syllabus, basic course materials, etc.

On the other hand, social networks are said to be able to stimulate students’ self-governed learning processes and advised to be provided as personal tools for students so that they can utilize them to obtain better learning results. Social networks here refer to weblogs, wikis, RSS feeds and social bookmarking etc.

The writer is right to say that using a management system, personal tools and social networks differs from the sole use of an integrated LMS. In my opinion, the use of  the tools should be very flexible and appropriate to the purpose of the learning. LMS, for example, can be of good help for a course’s administration work. In addition to this, to boost the leaner’s self-governed learning process,  they should be  provided with social networks for their self-governed and problem-based activities.

What we have learn in the second week

In the second week, the amount of what we had to learn was actually in a rise. However, we still found it bearable.

The key learning points included a lecture on Language Curiculum Design and series of workshops and group discussions run by  Stephen Caughley, Instructor and Co-ordinator of the course, and Edith Paillat , the Teaching Assisstant. As for the workshop, we practised  using the two technology tools to support the teaching.  The first one is  LWT (Learning With Text), which can be used to teach vocab and pronunciation. The second one is  Quizlet, which is used to create  supplementary teaching material, for example the material for teaching  vocab (flash cards). You can go to lwt.sourceforge.net and quizlet.com to see and try the tools.

Go to the following link to see the product ‘Flash Card – Flowers”

http://quizlet.com/16069615/flowers-flash-cards/

The most striking to us in the  second weak was the lecture on Curriculum Design given by Prof. Paul Nation. His presentation was clear-cut and full of humour, which was able to satisfy even the most difficult learners. The model of  LCD by P.Nation was of greate help for people to design a curriculum/syllabus. He shared the view of Hutchinson and Waters (1987) on the definitions of needs combining leaner’s lacks, wants and necessities. However, he emphazised the analysis of environment that includes teacher, learner and situation.

What we have learnt in the first week

As for Tech sessions, we have had three hours learning how to set up a blog in order to facilitate the English teaching. Blog is considered to be an effective tool to support teaching English by a large number of teachers of English all over the world. We have been instructed to use WordPress.com to create our own blogs.

You can log in this Web and do as instructed and very soon you will have your own blog to share what you want to your friends, colleagues and students. The important thing you should bear in your mind is that you need to  recognize the  difference between ‘pages’ and ‘categories’ in the first step of your creating a blog.

You should be very patient to maintain your blog by feeding it with posts every day or at least 3 days a week. Also, you need to be creative to make you blog look attractive and informative. As a teacher, you should be aware of both strengths and weaknesses of this tool while applying it in your teaching.

To get to know how to create a blog, pls visit the link:

Learn WordPress.com: Our zero-to-hero guide.

Group project (Hung, Viet, Thuy, Lua)

                                    Motivating Vietnamese school teachers of English to do self study
1. Description of the targeted problem
There are numerous challenges facing Vietnam education system nowadays, in spite the significant changes and reforms since Doi Moi, the economic renovation starting in 1986. In the particular case of training for teachers of English under Project 2020, it can be observed from test results and teachers’ testimonials that their English proficiency after a few years of working as teachers tend to decline to lower levels than the levels they were at during colleges and universities. According to a recent survey conducted by 2020 NFL project in 2011, more than 95% of teachers surveyed do not meet the language proficiency requirements set by Decision 1400. This can be explained by, among other reasons, their low motivation for self study, or in a more general term, for professional development in terms of methodology, language proficiency and research.
It is common knowledge in the Vietnamese educational context that doing research, writing articles to be published, participating or presenting in workshops or seminars, networking with other professionals in their community of practice, etc. are not, unfortunately, among teachers’ top priorities. It is also very difficult for most of them to take time writing journal reflecting on what they are doing in an attempt to improve it, and even enhancing their English proficiency. This is because their intrinsic motivation for self study is not really up to what is expected.
2. Possible explanations for the problem
This can be resulted from many factors, some of which include their personal needs, government policies, working culture and shared values, and access to resources for research and development.
First, it is undeniable that most teachers in Vietnam have to work very hard for their fundamental needs. Given the hierarchy of needs by Maslow (1943), when their focuses are still at lower levels, it is really difficult for them to value, appreciate and act on the upper level of “self-actualization”.
Second, regarding government policies on salaries for example, it is not reasonable to expect teachers do focus on research when they have to spend time, energy, efforts dealing with problems stemmed from low income.
Third, low motivation for self study can be explained by the institutional working culture. When nobody around the school is doing any research or professional development activities, it affects negatively teachers’ attitudes and appreciation towards these activities – it does not become a shared value among their community of practice.
Finally, limited access to resources for research such as international library links, books, articles, or budget, etc. also discourages teachers from further research and development.

3. Suggested solutions
Firstly, appropriate polices should be issued by the government. For example, teachers’ salaries have to be improved so as to better their living conditions. Teachers should be given opportunities to attend training courses inside and outside the country so that they can widen their knowledge and skills.
Secondly, stricter policies from schools should be employed. For instance, research must be compulsory and a basis for promotion.
Thirdly, sharing and caring cultures should be encouraged among teachers in every school.
More importantly, technology should be utilized to motivate and support teachers’ self-study. ICT, for example presents various opportunities for teachers to facilitate their professional development. First of all, online materials should be suggested for teachers to do their self-study. The examples can be youtube.com, esldiscussions.com, voaspecialenglish.com, etc. Second, language software applications could be introduced and/or provided to them (Langmaster, Livemocha, Dyned, Global English etc.).
The solutions mentioned above are hoped to be helpful and suitable for Vietnamese teachers of English to use as self-study means in order to boost their professional development in general and English proficiency in particular.

Reference
Maslow, A.H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review 50(4): 370-96

Please go on the link brlow to see PPP.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1innKCrkKZXVH8YUhJM8HzeOo6rR7q9YJ2PI5FI6LSAg/edit#slide=id.p

flowers

<a href=”flowers” title=”flowers“>flowers

You can use Quizlet.com to make a flashcard. It is very useful for the ones who want to design a lesson for young learners.

Prof. Paul Nation

Prof. Paul Nation

What a fabulous lecture on Curriculum Design we had this morning! The professor proves that knowledge, expertise and experience overweigh every kind of technology.