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Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Relative Advantage of Implementing Technology into the Second Language Classroom



One of my roles as vice principal is to act as the liaison for our World Languages Department.  We provide classes in French, Spanish and Japanese at our school and our teachers are very dedicated to providing students with a wonderful classroom experience.  However, technology usually doesn’t play a large role in this.  I welcome the opportunity to outline the relative advantages of using technology in the realm of learning a second language.  You will notice that I focus on French as a Second Language (FSL) as I used to be an FSL teacher and it is the traditional second language most students learn in Canada.

Roblyer outlines two issues in foreign language learning.  “There is the need to create authentic learning experiences that expose learners to native speakers and there is the need to create a broader audience and purpose for student creation” (2015, p 291).  

Technology can play a role in addressing these two issues.  For one, classrooms can access online tools that can expose them to a wide range of native speakers.  For example, Radio France International broadcasts the daily news in a format directed and language level specifically for French language learners.  Exposure to other accents and voices is critical for second language learners as it pushes them to get out of their comfort zone.  As a former FSL teacher, I know my students could understand me but had difficulty understanding someone else who spoke French.

In addressing, the need for a broader audience, technology provides communication tools that open up the world to a classroom.  Using a video conferencing tool like Skype can allow students to speak to more than their classmates.  They can speak with virtually anyone but setting up meetings with another class in a foreign country is more possible than ever.  Modern communications technology provides learners with the chance to overcome this limitation (Pim, 2013, p. 23) and speak with native languages speakers in an authentic manner.

The advantages of technology in foreign language learning do not end here and it is a shame that integration of technology is not more widespread.  Virtual field trips are possible and easily accomplished by using a service like Learn around the world. There are a number of computer assisted language learning websites and games (think Duolingo).  There are even virtual villages in Second Life where visitors can practice almost any language. Above all, integrating technology provides more authentic situations for language learners to practice and improve their language skills.  Language is communication so it only makes sense that second language learning benefits from advancements in ICT.

Resources:
Pim, C. (2013). Emerging technologies, emerging minds: Digital innovations within the primary sector. In G. Motteram (Ed.), Innovations in learning technology for English language teaching (pp. 17-42).  London, England: British Council.  

Roblyer, M. (2015). Integrating educational technology into teaching [Enhanced Pearson Etext Access Card]. Pearson College Div.



Monday, July 3, 2017

EDTECH 541- Walled Gardens and Social Media

This weeks entry has been done within Voice Thread.  In this Voice Thread I voice my opinions on maintaining "walled gardens" and embracing social media in our classrooms.  Have a listen and add your voice to the "thread" by leaving a comment.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

EDTECH 541 Acceptable Use Policies

As technologies becomes common place in all educational environments and society in general, it is important to teach students/users what is acceptable and unacceptable practice.  The first step in the formation of responsible users is an effective acceptable use policy.  Simply put, an acceptable use policy (AUP)outlines how a school or school district expects its community to behave while using their networks and hardware (Common Sense Education, 2017). An AUP helps manage users behaviour and keep all users safe while online.  In a world, where one's digital footprint is everlasting, these contracts are important in maintaining a positive online environment.

When developing an AUP,  officials should include certain elements.  According to Education World, AUP's should have a preamble where the importance and purpose of the document is discussed.  There should also be a definition section where specific terminology is clarified.  For example, what is considered a district piece of hardware,  what is a network etc. There should be a policy statement that outlines the conditions students  must abide by before they can use technology.  Also, acceptable and unacceptable uses should be clearly outlined.  For example, students may use resources that are connected to their curricula but may not use the district's wifi network to engage in abusive behaviour towards others.  Finally, violations of policy and sanctions should be outlined as well.(Education World, 2017).   The best AUPs incorporate what if scenarios in their creation (Michell, 2016).  What if a student cyberbullies another?  What if a student downloads something illegally? What if a staff member ignores copyright?  These questions and many more emphasize the need for such policies to exist.

Here are some examples of Acceptable Use Policies.  I have included my own district's policy which, as it turns out, is not a very good example of what an AUP should be.

Red Deer Public Schools- My own district's net user agreement with policy included. Looks like it needs an update. This document also addresses computer access in our district.

Calgary Board of Education- This is from the largest school district in Alberta. 

Seattle Board of Education-  From the home of Microsoft.

Credo Christian High School- This well worded policy is from a small high school outside of Vancouver, British Columbia













Resources

Common Sense Education. (n.d.). 1 to 1 essentials: Acceptable use policies.  Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups

Education World. (2009).Getting started on the Internet: Developing an acceptable use policy (AUP). Retrieved from: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml

Mitchell, B. (2016, September 16). Introduction to acceptable use policies (AUP).  Retrieved from https://www.lifewire.com/acceptable-use-policy-aup-817563