Text messaging interactions that occur in real-time through the use of a computer connected to the Internet is commonly known as chat (sometimes called the chat function) and instant messaging (IM). Chat can be a stand-alone application like Yahoo! Messenger available on the Internet or it can be included within a course management system (CMS) like Blackboard, preloaded on your computer (e.g., iChat for Mac OS X), or available on a web site or as a part of a game. While chat generally refers to communication between more than two people who connect to the Internet and join a chat room, IM usually refers to communication between two people. Some learners may be familiar with chat and IM because they use these tools to communicate with their friends and family (e.g., mobile phone applications). IM tools often accommodate the use of webcams for video conferencing and voice chat (see Voice chat).
Ask learners to discuss these issues and have them to work together to set up rules for chat and IM sessions that will minimize potential miscommunications.
Chat sessions can be examined after the session to review language production
Create a chat room for learners to brainstorm ideas in a group setting or synchronously discuss controversial issues.9 It is easy to use, and participant’s contributions are colourcoded. Without a paid subscription, the conference notes are available to the public.
The power of digital imaging can be harnessed and incorporated into the language learning classroom to add visual appeal and interest to all aspects of teaching and learning. Digital imaging, in this section, refers to both digital photographs and digital graphics (e.g., graphic organizers).
Create theme-based photo galleries (e.g., create folders for national holidays and celebrations, travel destinations) as an instructional resource. Share with colleagues to expand your digital library.
concept mapping software. (web diagram)
tools for visually organizing and communicating ideas. examples: diagrams, concept maps, KWL charts, timelines
online mind mapping. supports collaboration online
concept mapping integrates with SMART boards; multidimensional concept maps
Unlike chat and IM communication tools that generally include short text messages communicated in real-time, discussion boards accommodate longer text messages using delayed-time communication (i.e., asynchronous). Discussion boards are often used within courses of instruction to exchange ideas, share information, and build a sense of learner community. Discussion boards are an important tool for socializing and learning within course (or learning) management systems (CMS, LMS) such as Blackboard, Moodle, and Web2Go. Many free discussion board forums are also available on the Internet, offering another option for asynchronous or delayed-time communication.
provide or negotiate expectations beforehand
Boards2Go provides free online discussion boards. Discussion boards can be password protected. Control who posts messages on the board by allowing only registered users to contribute. Multiple moderators can be assigned to discussion topics. Messages are threaded. Discussion boards can be embedded within websites. Registration requires your username, password, e-mail address, and your first and last name.
Quick topic is a free, easy to use message board hosting site. Discussions are private, unless made public by the board’s owner. The postings are not threaded, so each new posting appears as a new entry. Submit and receive postings to a topic by e-mail. Register by entering your e-mail account and creating a password.
Wallwisher is an online message board for posting short (multimedia) messages in response to a prompt. Set up a wall where learners can post ‘post-it’ type notes in response. Wallwisher includes an RSS feed so it is easy to follow new developments/additions to the page. There are also bookmark and share options. Supports video and web links. Security options allow you to decide who will have access to the wall space and who can post. Register with your name and e-mail address for a free account.
Sharing documents, slideshows, and other multimedia is easy with online platforms that support a variety of document types. The titans of document sharing sites include Scribd and Slideshare. Each boasts millions of users and includes authentic resources across a range of topics. When learners upload their assignments to one convenient, secure online location (e.g., Google docs), instructors have easy access to these assignments and are able to provide feedback and support as well as monitor progress and assess completed work in a timely way.
Provide a detailed rubric for learners to use when reviewing the work of their peers.
Free online file sharing including music, pictures and documents. Sign up for a free account.
New documents and presentation slides can be created using Google docs or upload Word, Open Document text, Star Office text, Rich text or HTML files. Excel, Open Document spreadsheets, Power Point’s or drawings can also be converted and uploaded. Documents can be shared. Security controls are available. Files can be saved into folders for easy organization. New features are added regularly. Google docs does not support SmartArt graphics included within Word documents. Google Docs is a free online service.
A free online resource for social reading and for publishing documents and slideshows. Reading materials can be shared through social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) or embedded into weblogs or websites. Use the ‘explore’ feature to search this expansive resource base. Scribd supports a variety of file types including: pdf, doc, ppt, tiff, png, jpg, OpenDocument, and StarOffice documents.
Slideshare allows users to upload and share their Power Point presentations, documents, PDF’s, and videos. A basic account is free and upgrades are available for a monthly fee. A free account includes unlimited uploads, but advertising is present. Google doc presentations can also be imported into Slideshare. Users can browse Slideshare by area of interest and by tags. There are also social networking features that allow users to follow (like Twitter) or share (like Facebook). Slideshare can be embedded into websites, blogs, and wikis.
Zoho offes a wide selection of applications, among them, online word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet tools as well as chat, wiki, e-mail and more. Zoho also features a tab-based tool bar, a document template library, and offline support (documents can be edited offline). Edits to documents can be tracked. Documents can be shared with individuals or with a group. Zoho also supports real-time collaboration and chat. It is free to join.
Electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) or digital portfolios are a collection of learner work (i.e., artefacts) that can be used to support English language teaching and learning in a variety of ways. They function in the same way as paper-based portfolios, that is, as a record for both learners and instructors to demonstrate their learning, skills, and development over a period of time. However, ePortfolios are also considered an extension of paper-based portfolios because they are able to support the inclusion of multimedia products like podcasts and movies. They act as an electronic filing cabinet for learner work. Electronic portfolios may be authored using software applications such as Dreamweaver or MovieMaker. Web-based tools such as PB Wiki or WordPress incorporate interactive elements so dialogue and feedback can be included within the ePortfolio. (See Wikis and Weblogs) Other web-based services (e.g., Google Pages) provide a static-only13 approach. Institutionally-based hosted tools are also available for developing both static and interactive ePortfolios.14
can be accessed at any time from any computer with an Internet connection.
Learners make decisions about how to organize and present evidence demonstrating achievement of learning outcomes and objectives.
e.g. growth over time
This open source e-portfolio repository includes: a file repository system for uploading documents and files, a blogging tool where blogs from other sources may be integrated into Mahara using RSS feeds, and a social networking environment with an option for group discussions. Personal, career and academic skills can also be documented. The user has control over what artefacts are shared and viewed by different audiences, for example, a resume and cover letter for an employer or learning artefacts shared between group members. Registration is free and a username and password are required for log-in.
An activity that is categorized as a game includes tasks that provide an element of engagement, decision making, and knowledge acquisition from a new perspective. (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004, p. 93)
Most instructors have, at some point, included web-based games in their English language classrooms. There are a plethora of websites offering games to support the development of language skills and vocabulary development. Games in the ESL classroom provide learners with an opportunity to engage in focused, meaningful language learning practice and production. A modest representative sample of Web-based games that are ready-made and customizable are included below.
to build sight vocabulary with beginning level learners
This site provides templates to create dynamic interactive games and activities, Power Point pages for course development, and more. Purchase in a bundle to save money or each template may be purchased individually.
Download a free trial version. Compatible with Windows and Mac. Spyware free. Game Show Presenter includes graphics, music and sound effects, a question editor, and it tracks scores for up to 10 people or groups. Step-by-step instructions are provided to create your game show.
Create a customizable Jeopardy game using the template provided. Start building a game by creating a password. Unless you become a Jeopardy Labs member, your games are available publically. You decide on the price for your membership. A library of templates is available to modify or use.
Jeff Ertzberger’s customizable Microsoft-based games include those for PowerPoint, Excel, and Word. Each game template can be downloaded individually and includes a video tutorial, instructions for Office 1997-2003 and 2007 and a sample game.
Create your own learning games, quizzes, Web pages, surveys, exercises and more. A 30-day trial version is free. Subscription rates are available on a monthly basis.
As computer technology evolves to increasingly more sophisticated video cards, faster broadband connectivity, and improved (and inexpensive) memory capacity for computers, increasing attention is being paid in the Computer-assisted Language Learning (CALL) literature supporting the use of gaming and virtual environments in English language programs. Gaming commonly refers to massively multiplayer online games (MMOs or MMOGs) where many players interact with one another within a virtual fantasy world. In these games, players role play a character, taking on the traits of that character. These games are persistent, that is, they continue to exist and evolve even when a player is away from the game. Multiuser virtual environments (MUVEs) also are persistent and among the most popular and largest of these is Linden Lab’s Second Life (SL). Within SL, players are able to create a customizable avatar, travel throughout the 3-D virtual environment, attend events, interact with others and much more.
Microblogging is the practice of posting small pieces of digital content – which could be text, pictures, links, short videos, or other media – on the Internet. Microblogging has become popular among groups of friends and professional colleagues who frequently update content and follow each other’s posts, creating a sense of online community. (EDUCAUSE, 2009, p.1)
Twitter is one of the most well-known and popular microblogging tools available on the Internet, and Edmodo is a tool designed specifically for educational contexts.
A recent example of this was demonstrated during the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Survivors used microblogging tools to find their family and friends and provided up-to-the-minute personal accounts of their experiences. Microblogging tools connected family members, friends, and the outside world when other communication tools were unavailable.
This free microblogging site is designed specifically for educational contexts. Register for a student, teacher, or parent account. When instructors create a group, an access code is generated for learners to access the group page. Internet-based resources can be linked to the group page.
Twitter is enjoying immense popularity around the world. Set up a free account to begin tweeting. You can also follow people, groups, events, companies, an area of interest to you, and much more. You can use Twitter on your mobile device, including your iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, or Android. Twitter can be added to your web site or social media page (i.e., web log, Facebook). The best-known microblogging site is Twitter with over 175 million registered users.
Learning English as a second language has potential to extend beyond the brick and mortar classroom when learners have access to mobile devices such as Smart phones (e.g., iPhone, Blackberry, Android) and tablet personal computers (e.g., iPad, Blackberry’s Playbook). With a wide range of applications (apps) available to support teaching and learning, mobile devices provide opportunities to interweave learning experiences within the learner’s everyday lives.20
An RSS feed reader is an online tool that collects new information published on the websites you subscribe to. Many websites include RSS feeds to encourage regular visits to their site. Instead of visiting each of your favourite websites individually to read updates and new information, RSS feeds regularly check these websites for you. The RSS feeds then deliver updated information to you at one convenient web site called a feed reader. A feed reader (e.g., Google Reader) acts like a mailbox, collecting all the current information collected from the web sites you subscribe to.
Google Reader is a feed reader. When web sites include an RSS feed, select Google Reader as your feed reader from the list of choices provided. Google Reader links to all other Google accounts, making it an especially convenient choice if you are already a Google user.
Bloglines is a dedicated RSS service. It also supports a number of different languages including French, Portuguese, and Spanish to name a few.
A podcast (also known as a webcast) is an audio (or video) show broadcast over the World Wide Web, much like a radio show. Podcasts are often published as RSS feeds (See News Feeds, above), where listeners are notified of new programs via a feed reader (e.g., Google Reader). While you can download podcasts from the World Wide Web, it is also very simple to create audio podcasts. Creating a podcast requires only a digital audio recorder or computer that can create MP3 files, space on a server to host the file (e.g., iTunes, your Weblog), and something to talk about. Podcasts can be incorporated into classroom practice in a number of ways to support language skills development and knowledge building across proficiency levels.
For a sample podcasting rubric, see http://www.beaut.org.au/podcastrubric3.pdf
Audacity is an open-source sound editing and recording software program for creating and sharing audio files using your computer. It is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and BSD platforms.
iPodder offers a comprehensive directory of podcasts organized into broad interest areas, among them, arts, education, food, recreation, shopping, sports, and travel. This web site also provides detailed how-to’s for publishing and promoting a podcast, how to record a podcast, as well as a list of podcasting websites, tools and resources.
Download the latest iTunes for free. Subscribe to podcasts available on iTunes or upload your own podcasts to iTunes to create a personal library.
For iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch users, podcaster is podcast management system for downloading audio and video podcasts directly to your hand held device(s). Available to download from the iTunes store for a small fee.
Downloads and manages recorded audio files from a handheld device (e.g., iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone). For Windows users, this program is already available on your PC. To start Windows Media Player, click the Start button , click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Player.
Search engines, metasearch engines, and web directories are valuable tools for finding information on the Internet. Search engines use Webcrawlers to find information, and metasearch engines harness the investigative power of multiple search engines to find the information you seek. Web directories (also search directories) are human-compiled lists of web pages. Search engines include web directories in their searches. Providing facilitated instruction to learners as they search the World Wide Web supports language learning development and builds technology skills.
While you and your learners may be familiar with Microsoft Power Point for creating and presenting information, there are a number of dynamic online slideshow tools that are easy to use and support the use of audio, video, images, and text. These slideshow tools offer the opportunity to create unique multimedia slideshow experiences.
When you use the “Favourites” option on your Internet browser to catalog web sites of interest, these are stored on your computer and cannot be accessed from another location. However, when you use social bookmarking tools, you can save, organize, share and access your digital website library from any computer at any time.
This free social citation site allows users to manage their reference lists, share their lists with others. Readings are organized by tags. Stores PDFs online.
Delicious uses tags or key words to organize and share your bookmarked webpages. Download Delicious and the application will be added to your Internet browser toolbar. When you would like to save a webpage, click on “Save to Delicious”. You will be able to access your bookmarks from any computer, making it an ideal service for instructors and learners who often work at different computers.
This powerful digital library tool allows users to annotate (using highlighter and sticky note features), archive and organize bookmarks. Diigo is a free download, and Diigo also supports transitions from Delicious.
Shelfari is free to join. Import books from your recent Amazon.com purchases, from a website, or your Delicious library. You can find and invite friends, join or create a group, write reviews, and discuss your favourite books with others. The books themselves are not available on Shelfari’s website, but links are provided to online sellers such as Amazon.com.
Social networking is commonly used for maintaining and extending existing relationships with friends and family members. However, social networking tools can also be used to extend learning outside the walls of the classroom and to engage with others who share similar interests.24 Both friendship-driven and interest-driven uses of social networking tools can be harnessed for building and practicing English language skills.
Users build their own personal website page. Photos can be uploaded and shared. There are numerous applications that can be used with Facebook, among them, Slideshare, GoogleDocs, Zoho Online Office, and Podcast. There are over 500 million active users of FaceBook.26
This is a professional social networking tool where you can connect with future employers, research companies or organizations you are targeting, and find employment opportunities. A basic account is free and premium services are available at a cost. LinkedIn supports apps such as WordPress and Twitter.
Chat with people in real- or delayed-time. Share video and photos. Follow or host threads, play games, watch videos, and listen to music. MySpace has an online “iKeep Safe” tutorial as well as numerous tips and downloadable documents about staying safe on the Internet.
Ning provides a free 30-day trial, but you must sign up for a Mini-, Plus-, or Pro-plans with your credit card information first. Each plan has a monthly fee. Ning allows users to build a private social networking web site.
Web-based survey and polling tools can be used in English language programs by program administrators and instructors, as well as by learners. Polls can also add to the vitality of the face-to-face classroom with the use of student clicker systems (see Clickers in the classroom, below).
QuizSnack is free for a basic account and can be upgraded to a premium account by purchasing pay-as-you-go points or paying a monthly fee. Simple step-by-step instructions take users through each phase of the process to generate a professional looking poll or survey.
A basic Survey Monkey account is free. This allows 10 questions per survey with up to 100 respondents. It’s very easy to use. Fifteen question types are provided, among them, multiple choice, short answer, and rating scales. An upgrade to a ‘Pro’ account is available for a fee.
Zoomerang offers free unlimited surveys and polls each with 12 questions designed for 100 responses. Results can be viewed graphically in real-time.
Clickers are small devices that look and work much like a television remote control. Each learner is provided a clicker and they are able to vote on questions solicited by the instructor, much like audience members of a television game show. Results are tabulated and displayed graphically and in real-time within a Power Point presentation as learners select and submit their responses to the question.
The benefits of using clickers in the classroom include: greater participation rates among learners, particularly for those who are ‘shy’; active learning through prompt feedback; and the instructor is able to immediately gauge learners’ understanding of the concepts and material presented.
Clicker systems are not web-based, it is a hardware system that must be purchased. Another clicker system currently available is eClicker, an application for iPhone and iPad. Used in conjunction with eClicker Host, polls can be conducted in class using these mobile devices.
Producing and publishing videos for teaching and learning purposes does not require sophisticated skills, expensive equipment or software to create professional quality videos. Video can be filmed using digital video recorders and cameras (e.g., Flip camera), Smart phones (e.g., iPhone), tablet PC’s (e.g., iPad 2), or an iPod Touch. Software for editing, narrating and publishing is often available on the Internet at no charge. Video can be used for a wide array of purposes for English language teaching and learning.
Voice chat tools allow real-time conversations between two or more individuals over the Internet. Many voice chat tools also include instant messaging and video conferencing with multiple parties. Learners may be quite familiar with voice chat applications for communicating with their family and friends in their home country. A computer with a microphone and speakers or a headset is required when using voice chat tools. A webcam is also required when using tools with video-conferencing capabilities.
Gong is free and offers a number of communication tools including real-time voice and text chat. Messages from learners and their instructor can be recorded on voice boards. Voice recordings can be sped up or slowed down, a useful feature for ESL learners. A voice editing feature is also available. Gong can be used as a stand-alone application or added to Moodle.
Google Talk supports text and voice chat. Transfer files, send instant messages, and audio conference. Free PC to PC calls are free. Download Google Talk from http://www. google.com/talk/index.html.
Skype features instant messaging, audio and video calling, file sharing, as well as video-conferencing tools. To get started, download the latest version of Skype and select a user name and password. Skype credits may be purchased as there is a fee for computer to landline or mobile phone calls. Subscriptions are also available for purchase. New features are added regularly.
Free PC-to-PC audio and video calls. To get started, download the free application. Drag and drop photo sharing is also available as well as instant messaging. More features are added regularly.
Webcasts and webinars fall under the umbrella of web-based conferencing. A webcast is similar to a radio production where audio and video is broadcast over the Internet to a user. A webinar (web-based seminar) may be a one-way or interactive presentation or workshop delivered to a particular audience. The focus is generally educational in nature. Web-conferencing software often feature real-time audio and video communication tools, an interactive whiteboard, desktop sharing, public and private text chat, polls, quizzes, surveys, and break-out rooms. Often these programs accommodate a large number of participants, and sessions can be recorded.
Web conferencing offers an option to programs wishing to provide courses of study for learners in geographically isolated areas; however, high speed Internet access is required for real-time participation.
Workshops and presentations can be easily broadcast live. These can also be recorded allowing participants who were not able to attend the live version to listen at a time convenient to them.
A 14 day free trial is available. A monthly fee allows unlimited meetings with up to 25 participants at a time. WebEx also offers mobile options for 3G Smart phones and iPads.
Though Elluminate is purchased and hosted by institutions, Elluminate also offers a free v-room for educators to hold a webinar session with groups of up to 3 participants. Go to http://www.learncentral.org/ user/vroomreg. Elluminate can be integrated into CMS including Blackboard. For a free trial of Elluminate visit: http://tinyurl.com/48yt6ae
This site is sponsored by Elluminate and is a public Elluminate access point. After joining, as an educator, you may develop and host a free webinar for a large group or conduct a group meeting at http://tinyurl.com/nnygbk. Sessions can be recorded.
A free 30-day trial is available. Monthly subscriptions are available at a minimal cost. MS Live Meeting features an interactive white board, desktop sharing capabilities, multi-party audio and video conferencing tools, and much more. Sessions can be recorded.
Wimba is purchased and hosted by institutions and can be integrated into course management systems including Blackboard and Moodle. The Wimba collaboration suite of tools includes Wimba Classroom, Pronto, Voice, Create, and Diploma. Wimba provides live product demonstrations at: http://www.horizonwimba.com/ demos/live.php
Web sites can be developed for a wide variety of purposes for English language teaching and learning. Web sites may include web pages that are static or dynamic (interactive). Static web pages include information, documents, and hyperlinks that we can access and read, but not make changes to. Examples of static web sites include our provincial ATESL and national TESL Canada sites. Web sites that take advantage of interactive features such as collaborative editing and comment boxes are ideal tools for supporting writing projects, group projects, and ePortfolios. Web blogs and wikis are interactive web sites. Each type of web site is driven by different purposes and processes. Both learners and instructors can use authoring (editing) software or online tools to develop personal or professional web sites.
Create webpages that have a countdown clock that you can set from 90 days to 0 days from the time the page is complete. This is a free, open-source site. Great for shortterm projects.
Create free personal webpages or a class wiki page using pre-built templates. Security settings are available to control access and sharing of information. Tutorials are available.
Create a free Flash30 web site or portfolio. Visit the Wix learning center to learn about planning, designing, writing and publishing a web site. Video how’s are also available.
Develop animated, interactive web-pages using this authoring tool. Free trial downloads. Educational pricing is available.
Dreamweaver is considered among the best for designing and developing professional-looking web pages that include interactive content. Student and Teacher editions are available at a discounted rate. Download a free trial of Dreamweaver CS5 from http://tinyurl.com/kgoop
Download a free version of KompoZer to create web pages. Compatible with PC and Apple computers.
Expression Web replaces Microsoft’s FrontPage for creating and managing web sites. Download a free Ultimate or Professional version for a 60 day trial from http://www.microsoft.com/expression/try-it
Practitioners know the importance of interactivity and collaboration, peer review, and the development of writing skills within the ESL classroom. While we are familiar with the idea of pair or small group work in face-to-face environments, we can move this knowledge building to the online environment where learners can contribute to the group at any time, from anywhere (i.e., asynchronous communications). Blogs are tools we can incorporate into our practice as a way to facilitate the learning process beyond the confines of face-toface contexts. Further, these web-based tools can be effectively used for writing practice and assignments as well as for self-reflection and peer review. A weblog or blog is “an easily created, easily updatable Web site that allows an author (or authors) to publish instantly to the Internet from any Internet connection” (Richardson, 2010, p. 17).
Rated as one of the top 100 tools by the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies.31 You can sign in using Twitter or Facebook accounts.
A free open source weblog tool that supports multiple blogs, RSS feeds, file and photo management, and plugins. It can be installed as an extension to your personal website.
Creating a blog is easy with Blogger, a free online tool. First, enter your valid e-mail address and select a password. Next, choose a name for your blog. Finally, select a starter template for your blog. You are ready to begin publishing on the Internet.
Edublogs is a weblog site designed specifically for educators and their learners. A free account is available, and it can be upgraded with additional features for a small fee. No e-mail address is required to register for an account. It provides tips for managing student blogs and helpful ideas for using blogs in the classroom. The site also boasts that most schools are able to access it in their computer labs, unlike other blogging tools that may be blocked by in-house administrative controls. Edublogs supports multimedia plug-ins.
While a basic Word Press account is free, premium features may also be purchased (e.g., for your own domain name, additional storage). A tutorial is available to take new blog users “from zero to hero” in a few easy to follow steps. Features a spam blocker and privacy option for your blog.
A wiki is a collection of Web-based pages that allows anyone with access to the Internet to contribute or modify content. Perhaps the best known example of a wiki is Wikipedia (Wikipedia.org). Wikis are web-based tools that can be used to support ESL writing skills through independent and collaborative writing projects: Learners can write, read, exchange, review, and edit documents. Wikis provide instructors with a flexible instructional tool to support and promote interactive learning and collaboration within their teaching and learning context(s). The instructor can monitor the contributions of each student by looking at the page history or ‘recent changes’ features available with many wikis. Wiki providers such as PBworks, Wikispaces, and Wetpaint offer easy, online alternatives to developing web sites for personal and professional use.
This is a popular wiki service for educators. A basic classroom wiki space is free and can be upgraded for a fee. The level of security for accessing the wikis can be controlled.
Wikispaces offers a basic free account for individuals with the option to upgrade for a fee. There is also a fee-based option available for large organizations that require many wikis and advanced settings. Wikispaces is very simple and easy to use.
A basic account is free. Upgrades are available for a fee and include the option of removing advertisements from your wiki pages.