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In today's world the advancement in both cognitive psychology and computing has affected the educational arena. Paradigms such as learning through constructivist methods students-centered learning all have been supported by advanced technologies such as virtual reality and simulations.
With the unveiling of this technology computer based instruction has been introduced widely in language classrooms throughout the world. This advancement in technology has revolutionized the way people convene information and communicate worldwide.
Until very recently computer based learning was not part of the curriculum, as most of the teachers lack the training in teaching through technology. As technology has become part of our daily life it has become imperative to incorporate technology in our teaching plans, which will help us impart the required learning more effectively and as the new generation is more computer literate it would be more easy for them to follow and understand. Teachers who lack training in using computers technology in their classrooms think that if they make mistakes, their students will not respect them as traditional teacher role does not allow the teacher to reveal any weakness or inexperience. This is the main reason why a very small percentage of teachers use computers in their lessons. To integrate technology in their lessons proper training is required which can be helpful to both the teachers and the students. The internet offers a lot of material through which the learning get enhanced and more effective learning can take place.
To incorporate technology in teaching the students need to be more competent and the teachers need to have proper instructions and guidance so as to make their learners more involved in the subject and make teaching more effective. It leaves a very good impact on the student to see that their teachers are up to date. When I told my students that the next class will be in the ICT lab, they were curious to know what they would learn and how. Most of them associate computer with games, sports and social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter etc). I made it clear to them that when learning a foreign language they should focus on the task assigned to them to help them learn and achieve new goals. At the beginning, the arrangement of the classroom was made in such a way that I positioned myself behind the students so that I could see all the computer screens. Whenever I felt necessary I kept walking around so that I could monitor all the students.
The activity I did with my students was "online language improvement: text recreation." It was for grade 10 and the length of one period was 40 minutes. The aim of the lesson was to practice reading and memorizing texts, also sharing responsibility with the fellow students. This activity would help them to practice reinforce typing skills in a foreign language, practice the spellings. It would also guide them to use the spell checker with a chosen language. It would enhance their ability to use the word count option. Another aim of this activity was to be able compare a written text with the original document.
I explain the task with its "text construction activity". The activity was to help the students get familiar with how a spell checker could be used efficiently. Students were asked to open two windows. One with the site of the video and other was the word processor. Students wrote down as much as they could by rewinding the video material as many times as it was necessary. They compare what they have written with the script given under the video. Students then replace the misspell word into red and also use red letters that are underlined where they were not sure of what the text was. Students then gather their usual mistakes. They have to finish the whole text in the next class and compare it with each other. This whole activity of text reconstruction is to improve listening comprehension and it also help the students become more responsible for their own development through self correction. The entire activity guided the students about the advantage of playing their cards well. It also helped them enhance their vocabulary and promote efficient self correction. Teamwork and sharing responsibility was also developed amongst the students.
Objectives and Skills
To practice reading learning texts.
Sharing responsibility with their fellow students
Reinforce typing skills in a foreign language
To learn and practice spelling
To be able to compare the written with the original text
Help them enhance working as a team at times work independently and efficiently
Develop the skills of watching listening and writing what they hear
It is a "text reconstruction" activity (http://video.about.com/greenliving/Homemade-Compost-Bin.htm) with a short video about "Homemade Compost". Once they have watched and listened to the video carefully they have to write down whatever they have heard. Below the video there is a script. At first they had to identify where the mistakes were, by giving it another colour.
Students open a word processor and the site with the video. They open the widows side by side. A clear instruction for using the spell checkers is also put upon the white board so that no confusion prevails during the lesson and they follow the instructions smoothly and efficiently.
Students had to open two windows side by side. One a word processor and the other a site with the video. The size of the letters in the word processor was big enough for me to easily monitor and also for them to work efficiently. They listened to the video carefully and wrote down whatever they heard. They had to change the colour of the misspell words into red. Where they had confusion they underlined it and used the red colour again. They could not replace the word so to give them an understanding that whatever their mistakes was they look for an appropriate answer and learn and memorize it. It would help them not to repeat that mistake in future. They took notes and also asked where they got stuck up and had problems. They asked the meaning of certain words. Students worked on their own and wrote down as much as they could by constantly rewinding the video until they thought that they had the right solution and spelling too.
To reinforce all this activity I planned to encourage the students to enhance their vocabulary so I experimented with another activity that was to be done online in the next class. It helped them same time when looking up word and gave them a chance to speed up any kind of vocabulary checking.
Objectives and Skills
To make them understand how to use an online dictionary
To get familiar with new words and understand their explanation and applications
To build up vocabulary
To know and identify correct application of the words
To practice and use words in a particular context
Helped them work independently in class as well as at home
The site has different options e.g. pronunciations, definitions, thesaurus, real examples, key vocabulary, usage notes etc. All these helped them look for a word with different aspects and know its application and broaden up their perceptions about that particular word. It was a fun learning session.
The site that they had to log in was http://www.macmillandictionary.com
The students used the site very enthusiastically. By adding words that they were not aware of or the meanings that were not known to them with their correct pronunciation and the application of the words were all there for them to understand and learn. There were five groups and all the new words with their explanations details and correct applications were shared amongst the whole class making it more interactive and fun learning activity. I made it a reward-based activity. The team who would win in explaining their words better would be treated later.
About the Activity
Using the internet saves a lot of time for looking up a word and giving them time to speed up any kind of vocabulary checking. This helped the students in the application of certain words. It also guided them to have a proper understanding of the word and its usage. It helped the students to build up interest in knowing new and different words. Students wrote down the words in their copies with all the relevant details its pronunciation, examples, application, explanations etc.
Then all the groups were to come up with their own words and their explanations. The maximum words a group had and how well it was presented was rewarded. The students worked with a lot of enthusiasm and with an incentive that they had to learn a lot in little time. The Macmillan dictionary site helped the students learn with fun and enthusiasm.
Impact of ICT as Compared to Traditional Teaching
Such learning through technology resulted more effective and efficient. The students were more involved in the lessons and curious to know different things. They wanted to compete with the rest of the fellow students. With this sense of competition they happened to learn more and with more interest. Whereas the traditional classroom learning was not interactive and not fun. It was quite monotonous and boring for the students to grasp.
The technology based learning was more effective leading them towards more efficiently learning and developing better understanding of the subject. It also encouraged them to implement technology in their learning and enhancing their own vocabulary and understanding of the subject. It was more fun and enjoyable for the learner and easy for me involve them. But it turned out to be more effective.
Web based instruction has proved to be an essential part of learning and enhancing the quality of English as a second language. Web based lessons are considerably more effective than the traditional teaching which is dependent on the textbook alone. Much research has proved the effectiveness of better strategies for integrating technology in class. Through the use of technology the access to information can be turned into knowledge. If it is appropriately used it will be more interactive and through guidance it can easily become a tool for the development of higher order thinking and learning skills. Technology should be integrated intelligently into a rich, meaning centered curriculum in order to have effective education system. The online learning activities can be used to accommodate a student in his unique learning capacities.
Integrating Technology in English Language Classroom
There are number of ways through which language teachers can make their teaching more effective and interactive. They can integrate technology into classroom instruction. The use of internet, digital media tools, and common software applications can very well enhance student learning. It helps the students to broaden their choices to demonstrate learning through different means Christy, J. (2005). Individualized is again very important. One way to direct students to interactive websites provides ready-made material for both the students and the teacher to follow students should be encouraged to use different software for their presentations. It will actually help them understand the technology and the subject well. They can enhance their learning through this media in the long run.
The same concept has been reinforced by Warsi, J (2007), that incorporating technology helps the learner in the advancement of learning skills. Through technology like audio-visual aid, language can be taught with objects and material artifacts, by bringing the world into the classroom. It involves the learners by challenging his curiosity and by providing different kinds of teaching and learning methodologies. It provides a rich variety and better quality of instruction, increasing the learner's experience of language. It is also efficient in saving time and energy. The learning that takes place is more effective and long lasting. The learner is more enthusiastic and learns through different activities that are more fun and effective.
Further substantiated by Muthu Kumar, S. L. (2004) technology based learning is far more effective than the usually carried out traditional teaching. He has validated his view points by stressing on the technology based instructional programs ensuring that the students use internet more effectively and efficiently and apply their knowledge in their respective subjects more constructively. In today's world the impact of technology in the classroom and the acceptance of the technology by the teachers has become a challenge Les Foltos (2002). It plays a positive role in enhancing academic achievement. Educational leaders are now shaping their programs to prepare their teachers for using these powerful new tools more effectively, for the understanding of the context for success.
Therefore, it is established that web-based learning is more effective and constructive. The learning that takes place is more efficient and long lasting. It enhances the skills of learning and teaching giving both a chance to accept challenge and learn more and enhance their knowledge through constructivism.