Monday, May 23, 2011


     Blogging has changed all the traditional ways of communicating, and it is so, thanks to Internet, again, the magic word of these days, technology! The days when people sat down to write notes and post cards to their pen pals are gone. Fortunately, we never stop learning. There are always new, exciting ways to integrate teaching techniques to stimulate our students in the process of learning, especially with the surge of social media and blogging (Fioriello, 2009).

     To blog is mainly to write, post, express or share opinions, ideas, experiences, knowledge with another individual or groups of individuals who have similar interests; this group could be called a community of bloggers that inspire and motivate each other through commenting, one of the key feature of a blog (LeFever, 2007). Most blogs allow their users to write and submit a comment on a blog post, whether the post is written or an image. This commenting aspect of the blogs is what differentiates them from other static websites. They are interactive.

      Depending on the content and on how the content is delivered or written, blogs are of different types. Firstly, regarding the contents, they could be personal or corporate and organizational blogs. Personal blogs are created to write about one’s personal reflections about life, they function more likely as private diaries. Conversely, corporate and organizational blogs are mainly created for business purposes. Secondly, regarding how the content is delivered or written, blogs can be classified by genre, by media type and by device. By genre, these types of blogs focus on a particular subject, such as political blogs, travel blogs, educational blogs, among others. By media type, these are blogs that comprise videos, links, photos, etc. By device, these kinds of blogs are defined by the means used to write or communicate the information, namely, mobile phones or PDA; in this case, they are called moblogs (Wikipedia, 2010).

     My experience as a student and as a teacher tells me that we never stop learning, and most important, we learn by doing. Reading about the usefulness of a blog and creating my own one, has provided me with the knowledge to teach and train my students as well as some colleagues to work with this tool for educational purposes.

World Wide Webs

     To start with, it should be stated that I had a misconception of the terms Internet and World Wide Web (www). I thought these terms were the same and, after having read about them, I noticed that they refer to different things. Internet is a global system of interconnected documents in which the web is an application. To illustrate this, the Internet is like a big cake in which the web is just an ingredient, namely, the flour or the butter.

     The web is used for receiving information and providing it. There are some webs that can be very helpful for educational purposes. Web 1.0 is associated with web applications that are static, people can not interact using it; users are limited to have a view of contents of what has been created for them. An example of this is the e-portfolio that do not allow users to comment on it. Conversely, web 2.0 is associated with web applications that facilitate participation and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Examples of these applications are wikis, blogs, web networking sites, among others (Wikipedia, 2010).


The current situation of ICT in TEFL

      The enthralling use of technology in Education leaves no doubts that most teachers should be updated. We are not anymore the teachers using just a piece of “chalk” and an “eraser”. It seems that the techno era is definitely building up its foundations on solid ground in the Education field, and it is growing so fast that those who are yet reluctant to its use are being left behind.

     Today, words like e-learning, online learning, and virtual learning, among others, are being heard a lot. Basically, all these terms refer to Educational processes that “utilize information and communications technology to mediate asynchronous as well as synchronous learning and teaching” (Naidu, 2006, p.1). According to Naidu (op. cit), e-learning includes “all educational activities that are carried out by individuals or group working online or offline” (p. 1). This author also refers to e-learning as “the intentional use of networked information and communications technology in teaching and learning” (p. 1).

     The use of ICT in the educational system is growing up, although, there are some constraints. One of the main limitations is the infrastructure. In the field of TEFL, it is not the exception. Based on the expensive costs in providing computer labs to higher educational institutions makes it difficult to promote the use of technology to favor teaching and learning.

    At Universidad MarĂ­tima del Caribe there exists a platform which could be used to expand and exploit the use of internet and computers as a resource to enhance English learning and teaching, however, its use is limited. Students are not allowed to enter some sites which are very useful for them to practice their listening and speaking skills. To muddy these waters, there is not a modern English lab.

     Being in a constant interaction with English learners is of great importance as it is the only way to practice English in a Spanish environment. As an English teacher, recognizing the paramount relevance of using technological devices to promote learning, I definitely pose to teach my groups of learners taking advantage of cell phones, internet out of the university settings, that is, I pose for a blended learning.

Digital Literacy

     Nowadays, people are managing many technological devices using Internet. The use of technology has allowed people around the world to be informed about almost everything. They communicate and share knowledge as well. Nevertheless, to be able to manage those technological devices does not mean we are digitally competent.

     The heart of digital literacy is to be willing to adapt our skills to a new means. According to Gilster (1997,p. xii) “our experience of the internet will be determined by how we master its core competencies”. In this sense, digital literacy is defined as “the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers” (op. cit, p. 1).

     Regarding this definition, firstly, it could be stated that it is not only a matter of acquiring skills of finding things using internet, but also we need to acquire the ability to use these things in our life. Secondly, one important issue to be considered when using internet is the ability to make informed judgments about what we have found on-line, that is, to think critically about it. Gilster (op. cit) considers that this is one of the digital competencies we should acquire as well. Finally, developing search skills is yet another core competency which should be acquired since we have to read and select reliable information.

     To illustrate this process, I put myself as an example. To write this reflection about this topic (Digital literacy), I used my computer and the internet connection to find information. However, I had to read a big amount of information about it but nothing seemed reliable to me. I read and thought about what material should be selected, finally, I chose what it seemed more suitable and reliable for this topic. I should say that I am not digitally competent as I would like to. I am on the right path, though.

Welcome Message

    This blog has been created to share information about technology as a requisite of a course called ICT in TEFL. You will be able to read and comment on Digital Literacy, The Current Situation of ICT in TEFL, The World Wide Webs and Blogs.
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