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My playground

Page history last edited by Svetlana Obenausova 10 years, 4 months ago





Abstract - The aim of this article is to present Web 2.0 tools which the author of this article considers useful for teachers of English, mainly wikis, blogs, and Edmodo.


Key words - Web 2.0, ELT, wikis, Edmodo, ICT, the Internet, online teaching.   


New Web, or Web 2.0, as it is commonly known, is not a novelty. People have been blogging, podcasting, using wikis, showing photos online and commenting on other people’s postings for many years already. Especially young people, that is. However, these Web 2.0 tools are only slowly making their way into schools all around the world. In our country the usage of these tools is by no means widespread, I would therefore like to present some of these tools in more detail as I sincerely believe they are ideal especially for ELT.


What is the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0? As Solomon and Schrum suggest, in Web 1.0 times students were able to find information online and use it, but could not interfere with it. Now they can write directly online, comment on other postings or upload photos and other files into their blogs. They do not need to rely on webmasters, they can publish directly from their laptops. (Solomon - Schrum, 2007).


The book Web 2.0 by G.Solomon and L.Schrum is full of great ideas how to implement Web 2.0 tools into your teaching. In this article I would like to concentrate mainly on wikis, blogs and Edmodo, the two tools I find especially useful in ELT. This article is based on my personal experience as a teacher trainer in the department of English, faculty of education.




In our department we use our departmental blog for quick announcements of teachers about their availability or unavailability or changes in the timetable. We use the blog as it can be accessed from each teacher’s home, unlike our website.


To my knowledge I am the only person who encourages students to write comments on their class reading into their blogs. I routinely check how far they got in their reading and what their views are. In our ICT classes students are encouraged to work with blogs with their future pupils as it motivates pupils to use their English for writing.


Some teachers prefer blogs to wikis for sharing content. One great example in ELT are Claudio Azevedo's fabulous blogs for teachers of English:

Movie segments for warm-ups and follow-ups http://warmupsfollowups.blogspot.cz/

and Movie segments to assess grammar goals


These two blogs provide teachers all around the globe with a huge archive and one new film extract with activities every week.





In what way are wikis different from blogs? As Dudeney and Hockly (2007) summarise, wikis are public websites that can be private or public and unlike blogs, they are not linear. Blog entries are chronological, wiki pages can be organized either alphabetically or according to the wish of the wiki owner. This is one of the reasons for my preference for wikis.

So what is a wiki? It is a web-based platform that allows users to freely create and edit content. Since I always recommend free software, I should mention here that free wikis for educators can be found at Wikispaces, PBWorks, WikiDots and GoogleSites.


Possible use of wikis:


1) Online presentation tools.  They can be accessed from any computer, your presentation can be embedded in the wiki so it does not take up your computer’s memory. Students can access your presentation any time later on, they can leave there their comments (if that option is allowed by the wiki owner).

I have several wikis that I use for this purpose. I do not allow anybody to join in these wikis, yet they can ask questions or comment on the contents. A lot of extra material and examples related to my teaching is stored in wikis.


2) Private store-place. If you make your wiki private, no-one will be able to see its contents even if they have the URL. So it can become your private online storing space. It can be argued that other tools are designed better for this purpose, e.g. Google docs or Dropbox folders, yet Wikis are very suitable for this as well.


3) Despite it being mentioned last, this is the main purpose and advantage of wikis - the possibility of students to share one common online space. This can be used in many ways, for class projects or all-class writing. Wikis are also a great tool for e-twinning and other international projects.

In last year’s ICT lessons my students collaborated on creating a wiki about our country and they were very pleased to see the site was visited by so many foreign visitors as we placed the flag counter there. Which made them realize how easy it is to share your wiki with their peers abroad.

The link to our wiki is http://czechrepublic.wikispaces.com/

This year we have started working on another project: http://ictmag1.wikispaces.com/

When working on the wiki, the students learnt how to upload pictures and videos to the wiki, and they also practised working with other online Web 2.0 tools like e.g. PhotoPeach for creating beautiful photo albums with captions and music.




Edmodo is a social learning platform for teachers, students and even their parents. It is secure, without ads, and best of all, it is free for teachers, students and all schools. Well, so far it is free, and it seems it will remain free for educational purposes.

You can find it at http://www.edmodo.com/

Edmodo is a platform, where teachers and students can meet, share content like files, links, videos and more, students can send their homework through Edmodo, teachers have them all in one place, can mark them there and see all results of all their students at a glance. Teachers can also set tests, polls, put dates and deadlines in the calendar, send notes and alerts. Students share there links to their blogs, where they comment on obligatory reading for the class, but also links to their products in online tools like Wallwisher, Linoit, VoiceThread, Capzles, etc.


Other online tools


The above mentioned tools are very useful for brain-storming ideas - their advantage is that students can work with them at school but add more ideas at home later on. In Wallwisher  (http://wallwisher.com/) and Linoit (https://linoit.com/) students add sticky notes on a canvas, in VoiceThread (https://voicethread.com/) they can express their ideas through writing, drawing, adding pictures, but they can also record their voice or even record a video of them speaking. The main thing that all these tools have in common is their social character. All students can collaborate on the final product, which encourages team work. They have a lot of fun in the process, which makes them forget that they are in fact doing homework and learning English.


There are many more Web 2.0 tools, these represent just a small sample. You can find more inspiration in the books listed underneath or in Nik Peachy’s blog. If you want to see what tools I recommend to my students, future teachers of English, go to my wikis (URL also underneath).





To conclude, I would like to comment on what I often hear from teachers who come to my ICT seminars. When I ask them at the beginning of the seminar how often they use ICT in their teaching, they admit that they do not have much time for that at school, or that the computer laboratory is always busy. I think that Web 2.0 tools offer a good solution to this problem - our students use computers all the time, they live with them, they are digital natives, as Marc Prensky nicely coined. (2001) So why not make them use computers at home doing class work?







DUDENEY, G. - HOCKLY, N. how to… teach english with technology. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited, 2007.

LEWIS, G. The Internet and Young Learners. Oxford: OUP, 2004.

OBENAUSOVÁ, S. ICT for ELT. [online]. URL: <http://ictforelt.wikispaces.com/>.

OBENAUSOVÁ, S. ICT1 Olomouc. [online]. URL: <http://ict1olomouc.wikispaces.com/>.

PEACHEY, N. Nik's Learning Technology Blog [online]. URL: <http://nikpeachey.blogspot.cz/>.

PEACHEY, N. Nik's QuickShout. Educational Technology and ELT [online]. URL: <http://quickshout.blogspot.cz/>.

PRENSKY, M. Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants [online]. On the Horizon (MCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001) [cit. 2012-09-03]. URL:   <http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky - Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants - Part1.pdf>.

RICHARDSON, W. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press, 2006.

solomon, g.- schrum, l. web 2.0. new tools, new schools. Eugene, Oregon- Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education, 2007.



PhDr. Světlana Obenausová, MLitt, Ph.D.

Katedra anglického jazyka PdF UP

Žižkovo nám. 5

771 40  Olomouc




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