As week two in SMiELT draws to a close, here are some reflections on social media.
What are the benefits/constraints that these open environments may bring in your context?
I teach English language learners at the university level in Japan, so I think that open environments have a lot to offer in this context because students don’t have many opportunities to interact with people outside the classroom in English even though they are eager to make such connections. There are always challenges, such as accessing computers, finding audiences for student work, and keeping the focus on language learning.
What are the pedagogical implications of social media for ELT?
By using social media for ELT, I think teachers are making a more student-centered environment in the classroom. Thanks to Bee’s presentation for Blogging4Educators, I learned that because students can generate content, comment on the content, and carry the discussions outside the classroom, they could be more engaged learners in the classroom. By bringing social media into the classroom, students may have the opportunity to see how their English skill can help them to develop their other interests and hobbies. For instance, if a student is really interested in reading, then we could suggest creating an account at Shelfari, or if a student is really interested in photography, then we could suggest becoming an active user of Flickr or Bubbleshare. Through delicious or shared items in a feedreader, teachers and students could help each other to identify resources on specific topics. In a way, using social media could allow for further customization of student learning.
Are youin ELT? How?
This past year, I started a class blog, Get Hip to Learning English, for my students. I tried to use the blog to continue conversations outside the classroom, or to start new ones. We managed to share movie reviews with a group of Nelba’s students in Argentina, interact with a couple of experts via the blog, and so on. The project that I am most proud of is our class’ IES Film Festival, and the Learning with Computers Film Festival. Along with several other groups of students, we made short films using dVolver to introduce others to the life of Japanese young people. According to Christopher Sessum’s list of skills, the film project activated play, performance, resourcefulness, networking, and negotiation.
Can these social media help you? How?
As I have already mentioned, social media can help me in the classroom because students can communicate with people outside our classroom; however, I still need to learn how to use social media more effectively with students. Through this session, I hope to be able to learn about other ways in which social media can be used to enhance the classroom experience. On a personal level, using social media has helped me immensely; I use a variety of social media tools to share and communicate with my friends and family who live in different countries. In comparison to the first time I lived in Japan a few years ago, this time I feel more connected to my family because we have so many ways to share photos, stay up-to-date on family news, and even to communicate synchronously.
Although I have had some rewarding experiences using social media, I am really eager to learn more.