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E-tivities and TEFL: E-teflivities?

May 30, 2011

Catchy, isnt it?  Ahem…

Before I move on to the week’s activities I’m supposed to be doing I thought I’d just quickly relate how last week’s reading relates to teaching English.  Lots of roses by other names (constructivism = communicative approach, socialisation = getting to know you) have cropped up in the reading throughout this MA.  It ‘s interesting to see that practices adopted as standard in TEFL seem to be controversial in HE sector.  There seems to be some concern that pedagogy required for elearning will cause friction by forcing changes in lecturers teaching styles in general.   This is generally seen as a bad thing and certainly make the job of the proponents of elearning a lot harder but maybe this is the revolution in e-learning – not that all learning goes online but that it becomes more student focussed, generated and controlled while lecturers  move to a guiding, facilitating role and away from the didactic sage on the stage mode that is heavily criticised but still present in so manycontexts.

I read a great quote recently:

…’the presentation of subject matter using multimedia is based on a discredited idea’  (Mayes and deFreitas, 2004)

Divorced from its context, it might seem that the authors are against e-learning but in fact, they were arguing against using the same methodology of just telling people things in e-learning to just tell them things using fancier shinier tools.  Without action, interaction, engagement and response, we are just perpetuating outdated ways of teaching.

Gilly Salmon’s Five Stage Model seems to have been adopted as industry standard since it has come up in a couple of modules on this MA and is mentioned in innumerable case studies, despite the concerns of Lisewski and Joyce (2003) in Jones and Peachey (2005) about ‘reification’ of the model, with some of the latter’s students commenting that they just wanted to get on with the work, rather than socialise first.   As with everything, I think there’s room for movement here.  Despite the fact that the stages are depicted in equally high blocks, these sections can be tailored to your learners, with some flexibility for how quickly or not things happen.

I’d like to see a lot more doubling up of stages to give participants more flexibility of focus.  For example, an idea I had for the early stages of interaction that I posted in a H807 forum was:

‘A getting to know you wiki – each S posts a (polite!) question they’d like to know about the others in the group (favourite website for study resources/speciality food in their country/best holiday…)  They’ll have to get quite imaginative towards the end so they are encouraged to post early

In their self intros in a forum they say what they want about themselves and answer a specified number of questions from the wiki – this way they are already responding to eachother and there is already someone in the audience who is interested in hearing what they have to say in their introductory post and who is therefore more likely to respond to them personally.’

This provides students with a low risk imperative to add something small to a wiki (revealing no knowledge or ignorance) that also spawns conversation in the other arena they will need to use.  It then means that when they write their self introductions they are not writing to an anonymous void but to a group of people with pre-stated interests so social presence is minimally established through a technological familiarisation task.  It also means that more experienced learners don’t feel they’re wasting their time doing something too simple.  Any other possibilities for doubling up – does this sound like it is workable practive for you?

Back to the coursework I go:)



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