Monday, April 25, 2011

42. Emerging Technologies

Emerging Technologies
Blogs and Wikis: Environments for On-line Collaboration
Robert Godwin-Jones
Language Learning & Technology
May 203, Volume 7, Number 2
Available at:

This brief article, though a bit old, reflects initial thoughts, now considered quite commonly as valid thoughts, about using online tools for communication and language learning.

The article divides the discussion into first and second generation web, considering communication tools from e-mail, to discussion postings, to chats and blogs and wikis.  Highlights are listed below:

  1. Nice simple definition of XML (extensible markup language) which is code for using content void of format. Very important concept in using online design. The idea that content can be used in more than one way and that its format does not tie it to a specific placement in the planning is one of those fundamental considerations about the change in frameworks and pedagogical shift.
  2. E-mail and discussion forums are included in the first-generation category. Characteristics noted about each tool respectively is the fact that discussion postings seem to enhance reflective thinking and students take longer to ensure their entries are correct and contribute positively to the conversation of the group. The next step in this communication category that is mentioned in the article is the voice trail using tools like Wimba voice. I suspect that the correlation and ideas shared with the text-based tools and the voice based tools will be different. Something that can be connected to the idea of digital versus analog data.
  3. The synchronous tools in the first generation listed are the chat tools that are now available almost with any online interface one can think of. Important observation the article makes is that chat tools resemble the closest an actual environment of F2F, where students know they are part of a very quick and engaging dynamic of communication.
  4. The second-generation web tools mentioned include blogs and wikis. A key featured noted about blogs and wikis, beside the collaborative nature of the tools, is the fact that users and producers are aware they are publicly being read and viewed. This formal quality tends to lead users to creating more accurate content and can promote self-assessment and review.
One final note about the article is the mentioning of important and useful sites to consider around the use of these communication tools, in education and as social tools in general.

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