Archive for March, 2011

Cyber well-being

When using online resources with our students we must not only remind them the rules of online interactions or nettiquette but also we must warn them of possible threats and how to stay SMART online. First of all, we (teachers) must be 100 percent sure we are using harmless sites (no deceiving advertising, inapropiate content, pop ups, etc.)  If we are having our students play online games, we must play the games with them. If we are using chat rooms, we must remind the rules for their use and that everybody must be respectful at any moment. We must also, show our students that abussive behaviour will be penalized and that it can be reported and controlled in the same website. My recommendation is to always use sites that offer this possibility  with our students; we must give them the safest environment possible.

Take a look at the following sites; they present a lot of useful information on this matter; we can check these out with our students and perhaps prepare a presentation session, before the actual online session, in which our students will explain how to stay SMART when using different electronic devices:

Remember,  be aware, prepare, evaluate, and stay SMART!

Till the next post!

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Copyright is definetely a very delicate subject; specially because standards for the determination of copyright infringement may seem subjective to some people. Let’s take a look at the following standards pointed out by Cathy Newsome in her 1997 “A Teacher’s Guide to Fair Use and Copyright”:

  1. Purpose of use: Copying and using selected parts of copyrighted works for specific educational purposes qualifies as fair use, especially if the copies are made spontaneously, are used temporarily, and are not part of an anthology.
  2. Nature of the work: For copying paragraphs from a copyrighted source, fair use easily applies. For copying a chapter, fair use may be questionable.
  3. Proportion/extent of the material used: Duplicating excerpts that are short in relation to the entire copyrighted work or segments that do not reflect the “essence” of the work is usually considered fair use.
  4. The effect on marketability: If there will be no reduction in sales because of copying or distribution, the fair use exemption is likely to apply. This is the most important of the four tests for fair use (Princeton University). (Newsome (1997)

In my country, people pay little attention to copyright and so they openly violate them. And unfortunately, many teachers are not the exception. If we want to promote the use of online resources to our students, we must (also) raise awareness on the legal use of those resources. We must be a good example and ask our students to follow the copyright standards in each of their assignments. It is not such an easy thing to do here in my country but changes aren’t going to happen if we, teachers, don’t show them possible!


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Using the Web-Searching

We want to use web resources ot support our classes and boost our students’ language learning and sometimes we don’t understand why is it so difficult for students to follow our lead. Perhaps these arguments sound familiar to you: “My students are digital natives, working oint he computers should be an easy job”, or ” I don’t understand how can my students spend hours log in social networks and online and very little using the computer to finish their assignments”. Let’s face it, our students may know more online websites than we do and they may use them everyday but that does not mean that their use of online resources to work on assignments is going to be as effective or relevant.

A fellow teacher always says this when he has the opportunity: “Kids believe the Internet is mostly a resource to play and have fun that can be used to work on assignments, eventually. While adults think that the Internet is mostly a resource to work and research that can be used to play, at times”. And this is shown in the results we obtain when we ask our students to go online and  research without much guidance.

Therefore, it is our duty to give them as many tools and strategies to an effective online research and report. Something very interesting I learnt in this unit is the use of search engines. In the past, I used to write my keywords and spend a lot of time searching for what I wanted because the web gave me just too much stuff to look at. Now I know that I can narrow my options by using quotation marks “”, plus + and minus – symbols.

As in math, + will add a feature to my search e.g. “Venezuela+ politics” this way, I will only find sites related to Venezuelan politics. When using the – symbol, I specify I don’t want the following item in my search results; e.g. “Harry potter-Daniel Radcliff” and when using quotation marks “” I specify I want the two features to appear together in my results; e.g. “Fender Malibu” This way, my results will be limited to those websites containing Fender Malibu guitars together as a phrase and not separately.

To conclude, we must help our students get the most of their online work; they must know how to make their searching easier and more effective by learning some tips on seaching and by starting to critically view websites. if we mange to do this, then, we are assring our students a favourable and productive time working online.

‘Till the next post!

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If we, language teachers, want to use online resources in our classes, me wust take a detailed look at the possible sites we might use and the effect that these sites may have on our students. Therefore, as pointed in the course “Learning Technologies” from the Brititsh Council, we must consider the following aspects when looking for the best sites to use with our students:

  • Accuracy and acceptance
  • Authority and coverage
  • Audience and relevance
  • Educational focus
  • Ease of use

Thus, we must check content, authorship, if it appropiate for our students, if it suits our students (and our own) academic needs, if it is easy to work with, if we can access materials for free, and how much  our students can do with them.

I’ve found some great sites for young learners in this week’s unit and I have now a new perspective on which are more appropiate for my students and how I can get the most of them!

Have a nice week!

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