Revolutionizing Elearning As Young Students Collaboratively Study Education Essay

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With the changing lifestyle in the society, how students live outside school becomes a challenge in improving the educational system; a procedure that has continuously evolved along with the advancement of science and technology. Gone were the days where school was thought to be a mere classroom and a teacher to educate young minds, rather it also includes modern facilities, technology, curriculum and innovative teaching methods. Parents have now more options in choosing the kind of education to give to their children. But education per se is also sometimes defined depending on parents' ability to pay, lifestyle and even work schedule.

This research aims to incorporate the three factors that affect learning in the realm of modern society: the curriculum, the method and the electronic platform. While learning system has incessantly been changing, the need to provide more responsive and fitting learning package to young learners still exists. But are younger generations ready to go for a full-online learning? Can you imagine few years from now, school will no longer be classrooms but right at our own home and the used-to be school building will be used to facilitate the face to face socialization of the young learners? Children will go to 'school' to play with other kids and go home 'to continue learning' though the help of learning facilitators who could be parents, professional teachers or tutors and the use of electronic platforms like computer, internet and other technologies.

Learning at home is not a new way of learning but it began since renaissance era and modern education has acknowledged this as an option. One of the alternatives offered by most private institutions is called homeschooling, a classic way of learning but redefined with modified curriculum, approach and oftentimes with the integration of technology. It is a nontraditional way of learning compared with common classroom learning, where a parent or tutor or professional teacher act as a facilitator-consultant and a learner stay at home to study. This concept was revived in the United States by John Holt (1964) who felt unhappy with the public school system and later followed by Raymond Moore, a devout Christian and ex-missionary. For most developed countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom, homeschooling is patronized by parents for different reasons. Even for families who migrate abroad seek to find the best home school for their children as they still try to settle down or fit in with their working schedule and in the community.

Homeschooling, an Alternative

There were research studies on the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling to growing stage of children and the socialization aspect is seen to be a common problem. This may not be true to all especially for parents who involve their children with community activities and other special interest classes such as dance class, music, sports and others but these would be extra cost.

How do most homeschooling 'teach' students at home? There are two types of homeschooling, first, parents buy modules and materials and they themselves teach their children or hire a tutor to do it on their behalf; and second, parents enroll their children to distance learning programs. Accredited homeschooling institutions have set their standards to meet their country's regulated curriculum education as benchmark. Usually, the learner or student takes standardized exams to be measured for an upgrade and/or earn his/her diploma. The remote learning could lead to underdeveloped social skills of learners.

Socialization skills play a significant role in the society and if this aspect is seen as one of the disadvantages of homeschooling, then perhaps, it is not the homeschooling concept that affects the holistic development of children but the learning process and approach.

Revolutionizing How Children Learn

This research study focuses on home schooling pedagogy in telecollaborative approach using English as medium of instruction and e-learning tools in teaching and learning. It aims to probe the effects of the said approach in answering the common diagnosed problem in homeschooling which is the underdeveloped social learning skills of learners due to remote or isolated and independent approach in learning. It also aims to evaluate whether young learners are prepared to full-online learning using technology as tool while developing their cognitive, socio-affective and psychomotor domains.

Homeschooling in Asian Countries

Why English Language?

Although the study focuses on the telecollaborative approach in homeschooling using technology as tools, English as the function language is considered significant in developing social skills as learners are exposed to global virtual community. The intense demand brought by the advancement of technology and globalization, reinforcing the use of this language has become one of the thrusts of the Ministry of Education in many Asian countries to cope with the changing pace of global economy and learning. But how long does it take for non native speakers attain English language proficiency in academic context? In East Asia, children learn their native language not only at home but even in schools since almost all subjects is taught in their native language except for English lesson. English is the most studied foreign language in the People's Republic of China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan (Republic of China). In PR China, English is a required language beginning with the third grade, although the quality of instruction varies greatly and most Chinese citizens do not speak it well. The study of English is also required in India, where it is used for official communication. In Nepal, almost all subjects are taught in English, except for Nepali literature (Modern Language, Wikipedia 2007). In the Philippines, English language has become the primary medium of instruction and required to use to not less than 70% of the time allotment for all learning areas in all year levels (Department of Education Order no. 36, Series 2006).

Based on the study in the most successful school teaching English as second language to students in California, the oral proficiency takes 3 to 5 years to develop, and academic English proficiency can take 4 to 7 years (Hakuta, et.al 2000). An assumption was also made by Epstein (1977) of Washington Post that language acquisition depends on the pace on how English is introduced to a student under a bilingual program. Another in depth study of second language acquisition was made by Van Lier (1998) where in his observation he wrote:

Many of the early case studies of young children emphasized the successes of the second language acquisition process. The researchers often marveled at the rapidity with which these young children learned to converse in the second language, sometimes in a matter of months. These findings concur with the opinions of the general population that learning languages is an easy and natural task for young children. They just 'pick them up,' as it were. However, when we look a little more closely at the details of language use as reported in these case studies, we can see a few general patterns emerge. In none of the case studies, whether of young children, adolescents or adults, are any significant developments of complex grammar reported within the first year, or even in the second year. Rather, all studies speak of formulaic utterances, conversational strategies, and a highly simple code. This simple code is sufficient for everyday social contact, and often gives the impression of amazing conversational fluency in these contexts, but it is not the elaborate, syntactically and lexically complex code of the proficient language user.

       This gives us an impression that conversational proficiency in acquiring English as second language may not equate academic proficiency of the language which is the basic essence for success in formal institutions (schools). Immersion has been used as strategy in most Asian countries like China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia Thailand and few selected cities in the Philippines. Nevertheless, the fact that one develops conversational language skills, it still helps in establishing rapport as one builds social network.

Theoretical Background

Telecollaborative Approach refers to the method applied in the instructional design that involves learners working with their peers in the classroom and with peers at a distance through on line or virtual collaboration. Telecollaborative came from two blended words: Tele means "at a distance" and Collaborate means "share the labors" (literally, "co-labor"); "tele-collaborative" is a learning project in which the participants "share the labors" of learning "at a distance" through the aid of information and communication technology. They may share those labors through electronic mail, newsgroups, discussion forums or a number of other online tools and learning environments.

       This instructional design is anchored on different learning theories, principles and studies.

      Constructive Pedagogy is an approach based on assumption that knowledge is developed (constructed) by the individual through actively participating in the cognitive process, social process and rational process. It, promotes a more open-ended learning experience where the methods and results of learning are not easily measured and may not be the same for each learner (Mergel, 1998). According to Smorgansboard (1997), as influenced by other theorists like Bruner, Ulrick, Neiser, Goodman, Kant, Kuhn, Dewey, Habermas, and Jean Piaget, Constructivism creates real-world environment that employ the context in which learning is relevant; focuses on realistic approaches to solving real-world problems; provides tools and environments that help learners interpret the multiple perspectives of the world; shifts paradigm of the instructor to a coach and analyzer of the strategies used to solve problems; stresses conceptual interrelatedness by providing multiple representations or perspectives on the content; negotiates and not imposes instructional goals and objectives; utilizes evaluation as a self-analysis tool; and makes learning internally controlled and meditated by the learner. 

      Another learning theory aligned to constructivism is David Kolb's theory known as Experiential Learning, first published in 1984 when his ideas have had a dramatic impact on the design and development of lifelong learning models. According to his theory, experience is the source of learning. Kolb and Fry (1983) created famous model out of four elements: a.) concrete experience, b.) observation c.) reflection, and d.) plan, the formation of abstract concepts and testing in new situations. The famous experiential learning circle patterned after Kurt Lewin's, explores the cyclical pattern of all learning from Experience through Reflection and Conceptualizing to Action and on to AA further Experience. 

      The third theory considered by the researcher is Judith Harris' Learning Framework. Harris (1998) is noted for her seminal activities in telecomputing where classrooms are connected worldwide through the aid of internet access. The activity structures are interpersonal exchanges, information collection and problem solving. The researcher adopted the learning framework of Judi Harris to enable learners to relate with situations within and outside their own context, to communicate and to relate outside the classroom through the aid of information and communication technology.

    Two studies conducted were found to have used one or two of the mentioned theories such as constructivism, experiential theories and telecomputing framework. These involved different strategies in teaching language both in primary and in secondary schools. Most of these strategies used technology in teaching especially in developed countries like United States of America and Europe.

   Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT) of United States of America and Project Method in School Projects through E-Learning (PROMISE) of Europe conducted a separate study about effective strategies in teaching English language.

   According to the research conducted by Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT, 1998), the fundamental skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic remain the cornerstones of schooling and student learning. Studies have shown that students with routine access to technology learn these basic skills faster and better when they have a chance to practice them using technology and are more motivated to learn when technology is part of their daily school experience. Studies show that once students become familiar with technology, they quickly develop proficiency in its use. This opens up an exciting new world of learning possibilities for them, and their potential for achievement skyrockets. Students gain new skills and become familiar with new technologies that will help prepare them for future success in an increasingly technological world. Even the most basic tools can help young learners become more productive.

   Researchers involved in the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow project revealed that third-grade students found it easier to write with a keyboard than with a pencil or a pen. Because writing was easier, they wrote more. By writing more, they learned to write better. Their engagement to learning tasks with technology led them to this improvement. As a result, they spend more time learning and practicing the basic tasks than students who approach the same tasks in a traditional paper-and-pencil manner.

      In Europe, K. Antilla, M. Erickson and S. Holme-Larsen conducted Project Method in School Projects through E-Learning (PROMISE, 2005). They found out that many of the participants of the computer supported problem based learning were positive about the technological approach. They said that the students love to do computer supported collaborative project work because it was different from how they normally work. The product orientation was not what attracted the children, but the process of learning on how to find information and how to do the research. However, the difficulties on the linguistic and cultural aspects of communication with foreigners were the crucial barriers on this project. Many respondents found that the lack of personal linguistic competence was a heavy barrier, whereas professional educational aspects such as teaching, learning, students' role in the classroom practice less important. Several participants declare that their over all impression was that their students were happy to participate in transnational computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL) projects. They considered it as a benefit and gave new inspiration to teachers and students who were involved in such projects.

      Both ACOT and PROMISE stated that technology played as an important contributor in teaching learners to write, read and even work with peers. However, what were emphasized were not the technological aspects alone but the process involved using technology as tools in teaching students made them perform better. Although diversity in language, culture, and lack of technology tools in some areas became barriers in Europe, still the learning tasks were found to be beneficial.

      The fourth theory considered for this study was Mc Grath's Mentoring Framework, a framework that directs mentor or the teacher to lead the propositional knowledge of the mentees or the students to procedural knowledge through providing, leading or showing. It process learners to become reflective practitioners of knowledge. The end goal of this framework is to make learners skilled in applying their learning at the end of the process. This framework was adopted in the National English Proficiency Program of Department of Education in 2003. It was a mentoring program designed for teachers to improve their presentation and discussion skills, art of questioning and giving of task instructions skills.

      The last theory considered and found to be the baseline of the theoretical framework is the Social Network Theory where a map of all of the relevant ties between the nodes is being studied (Barnes, 1954). This theory refuted the traditional sociological studies where individual attributes matter more than the relationship. Instead it was the opposite, where relationship ties matter most and where individual attributes matter less (Burkhardt, 1994). 

      With the advancement of technology, social networking technologies play an important part in student motivation, retention and learning-especially in distributed learning environments. Social networking technologies and media are important tools because of their ability to foster interaction and communication between students. This is especially important in online learning communities, where students may have limited face-to-face time to build a support network with their peers (Baird, 2005) and homeschooling is one of the classic examples.

      Derek Baird wrote that a key element of a social network technology like Flickr was its uniqueness on its platform design. Online collaboration and community are interwoven as main components. Though it was not originally designed for education, it was found to be useful. Baird said that one of the main pitfalls of introducing new technology into the classroom (online or otherwise) is the risk of having the technology frustrate the user to the point that it distracts them from their original learning goal. Apec Cyber Academy Program, Taking IT Global, ejournals and other educational online site are some example of social network tools that are important because their ease-of-use allows the student to keep his/her focus on acquiring new skills, building on existing knowledge while at the same time developing writing, software, and strengthening social ties within their learning circle.

      An application of social network theory was studied by Kern, R. and Warschauer, M. (2000) where they presented the development of language teaching using computer. In their paper, they presented the theories behind the computer assisted language learning (CALL) and the development of network-based language teaching (NBLT) as one form of CALL. According to the authors, NBLT is language teaching that involves the use of computers connected to one another in either local or global networks. Whereas CALL has traditionally been associated with self-contained, programmed applications such as tutorials, drills, simulations, instructional games, tests, and so on. It represents a new and different side of CALL, where human-to-human communication is the focus. Language learners with access to the Internet, for example, can now potentially communicate with native speakers (or other language learners) all over the world twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, from school, home, or work. Learners can communicate either on a one-to-one or a many-to-many basis in local-area network conferences and further multiplies their opportunities for communicative practice. Finally, the fact that computer-mediated communication occurs in a written, electronically-archived form gives students additional opportunities to plan their discourse and to notice and reflect on language use in the messages they compose and read.

      However, still teachers remained skeptical in the use of this strategy (Cotton, 1995). As basis, few research studies have been conducted as to computer and language learning. Some example of this was the academic survey of instructional use of technology in 1995. It showed that 59% of foreign language programs and 65% of ESL programs used no form of computer technology in their courses and placing language teaching at the bottom of the list of academic areas surveyed.

      In this study, the review of NBLT of Carla Meskill's and Krassimira Ranglova's research (2000) on the implementation of new technology-enhanced English as Foreign Language (EFL) teaching in Bulgaria was cited. Meskill and Ranglova showed that the use of computer networks was part of a broader conceptualization of the language program that resulted in a more "socio-collaborative" approach to learning, a sterling example of the fact that technology is not just a machine, or even just the use of a machine, but rather a broad form of social organization. Part of the review is the summary of findings on how technology, content matter, and activities were integrated in the literature-based curriculum through the use of audio tape, concordance programs and style checkers, word processing, and email collaborations. In their findings, students under NBLT significantly gained higher in reading, vocabulary, grammar and writing.

      Teachers reported that the new curriculum required students and teachers alike to radically alter their understanding of what it is to learn a language. Because of the fundamental shift in perspective required by the new curriculum, instructors reported an initial shock followed by gradual and favorable adjustment to this new independent and participatory style of learning. Likewise, teachers felt their own adjustment experience, though initially quite difficult, eased by the immediately discernible benefits reaped by their students.

      Students reported a very enthusiastic response to the new curriculum. They reported this "response-based" approach to literature involving email exchanges with American university students to be extremely helpful in terms of motivation, confidence, and overall English language development. Interestingly, though not unique in the literature, only half of the students found the peer editing element of the curriculum helpful.

      Cited studies provided evidence for the viability of computer technologies as tools to support language learning goals and the socio-collaborative process. It is believed that through these theories, Constructivism, Experiential Learning, Telecomputing, Mentoring Frameworks and Social Network Theory, learners in Asia under homeschooling program would become socially adjusted and academically developed as other students in a regular school programs.

Research Objectives

This research aims to probe the following:

Readiness of young learners for full-on-line learning

Effectiveness of telecollaborative approach in promoting critical, reflective and social skills

Effectiveness and functionality of the e-platforms

Significance of the Study

Technology has been part of our growing modern society. Utilizing it to the full benefits of every citizen begins with the right education that we provide to our younger generation. How we gear them to lead our future civilization is as significant as conceptualizing the appropriate learning pedagogy and tools that educators use before actually implementing it in the learning process. Hence, this study considers the possible significant effects of full online learning through homeschooling programs and prepares responsible stakeholders for its possible effects to avoid any adverse possibilities from recurring in the future.

Research Methodology

      The researcher will use Experimental and Qualitative Research as methods. A qualitative research is a method in which the investigator attempts to study naturally occurring phenomena in all their complexity (Fraenkel and Wallen, 1998).

Procedures

      The respondents are selected middle school students ages 10-12 from Taiwan and the Philippines. The study period is divided into three major stages: Preparation of curriculum and evaluation tools, e-platform and strategies; Actual experiment stage; and Evaluation and Analysis. Below is the research project's milestones and target period.

Research Target Milestone and Time Frame: 2 Years

STAGE

TIME FRAME

MILESTONE

1st

2 months

Data Gathering

Homeschooling in Taiwan and in the Philippines

Standard Curriculum and Assessment

Ministry of Education's School Policies

Respondents

2 months

Curriculum Design and Assessment Tools Preparation ( identifying specific learning objectives and subjects to be used)

6 months

E-Platform Design and other Technology Tools Preparation

1 month

Random Sampling and Test of E-tools

2 weeks

Final Selection of Respondents

2nd

8 months (within the school year of the respondents' countries)

Experiment Stage

8 months

Data Gathering

3rd

These stages are inclusive of the experiment period where there will be an ongoing analysis until it reached the final conclusion and presentation.

Data Analysis

Evaluation

Consultation

Drawing of Conclusion

Research Final Presentation

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