Tuesday, October 17, 2006

FlexLists - Online sharable lists

FlexLists.com is a Web 2.0 application brought to you by Moving Labs. It does what its tagline promises: "Create online lists, flexible, easy and fast!" I'm not sure if they had learners of English in mind when building this application, but the end result is nicely suitable for our purposes. Here are a few suggestions - I'm sure you'll be able to add your own to suit your needs:
  • The obvious: create and publish your word lists for your classes. Add definitions, synonyms, antonyms, sample sentences or more. Or add only the words and the categories you want to have and ask students to provide the rest. Note that FlexLists.com supports uploading (and downloading!) in CSV format so you can easily use your existing lists. No need to type again, just make some minor changes if necessary and you're there. You can decide if you want to let your students edit and change the page(s) you created or only view them.
  • Variation on the above: ask your students to create their own lists and share them with all the others so that they can decide who has the best definition or sample sentence for each word that they can then take and use in their lists. Remember that you can easily download their words and use them in your Hot Potatoes or Moodle exercises to give students further practice.
  • "Getting to know you" with a twist: Ask students to come up with a few questions they would like to ask others (favourite film, place of birth, why they're learning English - or you can set some of the questions or the topics, if you think it's necessary). Have students set up a new FlexList and create the categories for their questions, for example "Name - Place of birth - Favourite film - Sisters/brothers". The next step is, obviously, getting the information and filling the table with it. Of course, you can prompt students to go round and interview each other but this might be inconvenient to do in a computer room - so why not use e-mail? Ask students to create their questions and send them to you first for review - you don't want badly formatted questions to be sent to the whole group. Once the questions are OK, students send them to the group mailing list (your classes do have a mailing list, right?), or, failing that, individually to everybody else in the group. When they get the responses, they fill their lists. Then everybody studies all the lists and creates quiz questions based on them for the whole group ("How many brothers does Maria have?" "Where was Paolo born?"). This final quiz can be organised in many formats - it's up to you.
  • Create a "Bio Data Sheet" on a couple of famous actors. You can very quickly and easily get this kind of information from the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) - visit IMDB.com. Then ask students to choose a celebrity from your list and write their bio, based on the data you presented. You can make the task slightly more communicative if you tell students that their writings will be published on the class website or magazine. You can also ask students to include why they chose their celebrity. This can be a very useful controlled writing task; even shy students will feel secure enough to write their stuff and nobody can say that "I can't think of anything else to write about!" Also, you have to prepare this data sheet only once (shouldn't take longer than half an hour) and you'll be able to re-use it any time later in the future.
  • Variation on the above: Instead of the bio, students make an imaginary interview with their chosen celeb.
Notes on using FlexLists.com: the text of the site contains some really elementary spelling mistakes - but until they are corrected, you can ask your students to find them. Also, make sure that your students save their lists' addresses and understand the differences between "Read only", "Read/Write" and "Full Access" when sharing their list address with others.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Call for chapters: Handbook of Research on E-Learning Methodologies for Language Acquisition

Proposals Submission Deadline: 1/31/2007
Full Articles Due: 4/30/2007
Handbook of Research on E-Learning Methodologies for Language Acquisition
A book edited by Patricia Lupion Torres PhD. & Rita de Cassia Veiga Marriott MEd.
Pontifical Catholic University of Parana (PUCPR), Brazil

Throughout the decades, the teaching of languages has seen the development of a variety of methodologies and approaches such as the grammar-translation method, the total physical response, the silent way and the communicative approach. These practices have involved the use of a whole range of tools like the language lab, the cassette player, the VCR, and DVD players; have concentrated on the development of language skills, grammar, vocabulary and
communicative competence; and have basically relied on teachers and course books as the main source of information and guidance.

With the birth of computer-assisted language learning in the 70’s, foreign language teaching and learning saw the introduction of the use of micro and networked computers and the development of hardware and software designed specifically for instruction. Two decades later, with the popularisation of synchronous and asynchronous communications and of the Internet, a few CALL research and projects focused on the use of e-mail for language teaching, establishing cross-cultural communication activities (Chapelle, 2001). In the last few years, CALL methodologies have gone one step further, this time to embrace not only the new technology, but also methodologies and approaches brought about the by the use of computers, the Internet and
virtual learning environments, taking into consideration students and institutions’ needs and interests in a technological and more democratic society. The use of the new tools available as well as student-centred constructivist, collaborative and meaningful learning theories and approaches is being sought of with a view not only to promote students’ language and communicative skills but also to foster their autonomy, social and interactive skills contributing to their development into more confident, pro-active and responsible members of our society.

The Handbook of Research on E-Learning Methodologies for Language Acquisition will gather the latest research in the area of CALL and not only promote discussions and insights on current e-learning methodologies for language acquisition but also foster the development of both theoretical and practical issues concerning learning, skills development, interaction, communication, collaboration and evaluation of foreign/second language learning online.

The Handbook of Research on E-Learning Methodologies for Language Acquisition will contribute with research in the area of e-learning theory, pedagogy, assessment, methodologies and approaches developed and implemented by prominent international authors, fostering professional discussion and progress in this fast developing field. Each chapter will consist of 5,000 to 7,500 words and will report on research and studies focusing on the theory and methodologies for the learning / teaching of languages online that foster students’ foreign language competencies as well as their autonomy, responsibility and social skills.

Recommended topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Pedagogy of online teaching and learning
- collaborative approach
- meaningful learning
- constructivist approach
- interaction

2. Methodologies for teaching and learning languages online
- virtual learning environments (VLEs)
- MOO virtual worlds
- Virtual communities, virtual identities
- mobile technologies
- concept mapping
- corpus linguistics
- learning objects
- Podcasting

3. Assessment methods of online language teaching and learning
- assessment methods & tools
> effectiveness
> practicality
> validity
> reliability

4. Challenges still being faced by CALL
- pedagogical
- methodological
- technical

5. The future of teaching and learning languages virtually
- virtual reality
- mobile technology
- learning communities
- PADs (Personal Access Device) and WADs (Wall PADs)

Invited Submissions: Prospective authors are invited to submit a 2-3 page manuscript on their proposed chapter via e-mail on or before January 31, 2007. The proposal should be on previously unpublished work on the above-suggested topics or other related topics in the area of e-learning methodologies for language acquisition and should clearly explain the mission and concerns of your research. We strongly encourage other topics that have not been listed in our suggested list, particularly if the topic is related to the research area in which you have expertise. Upon acceptance of your proposal, you will have until April 30, 2007 to prepare your chapter of 5,000-7,500 words and 7-10 related terms and their appropriate definitions. Guidelines for preparing your paper and terms and definitions will be sent to you upon acceptance of your proposal.

Please forward your proposal including your name and affiliation on or before January 31, 2007. You will be notified about the status of your proposed chapter by February 28, 2007. The book is scheduled to be published by Idea Group, Inc., publisher of the Idea Group Publishing, Information Science Publishing, IRM Press, CyberTech Publishing and Idea Group Reference
imprints, in 2008 (http://www.idea-group.com/requests/details.asp?ID=146).

Please forward inquiries and submissions to both editors by e-mail to:
Dr. Patricia Lupion Torres
Head of E-Learning
Pontificial Catholic University of Parana (PUCPR), Brazil
Rita de Cassia Veiga Marriott MEd.
E-Learning Researcher
Pontificial Catholic University of Parana (PUCPR), Brazil

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