“Moodle and Collaborative Learning in the ESL Classroom ... ??Moodle and Collaborative Learning in the ESL Classroom” ... How does moodle promote collaborative work and language learning in the classroom?

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<ul><li><p> Moodle and Collaborative Learning in the ESL Classroom </p><p> Cecilia Ikeguchi, Ph.D. </p><p> Tsukuba Gakuin University </p><p> ABSTRACT: </p><p> As computers have become </p><p>increasingly common in language </p><p>education, progressive teachers of ESL </p><p>have taken advantage of available </p><p>technology to promote student autonomy, </p><p>to promote culture and language and an </p><p>anytime-anywhere learning. (Mougalian </p><p>&amp; Salazar, 2005). The Moodle, </p><p>considered one type of Course </p><p>Management System (Al-Jarf, 2005), </p><p>allows teachers to put their courses </p><p>online easily. Because of its ease in </p><p>usage, downloading, modifying and </p><p>distribution, the Moodle has also been </p><p>known to be teacher and student friendly. </p><p>This research aims to find answers to the </p><p>following questions. (1) What is the </p><p>pedagogical theory behind Moodle? (2) </p><p>What is the rationale behind this </p><p>electronic syllabus? (3) How does </p><p>Moodle promote collaborative work in </p><p>the classroom? </p><p> Moodle and ESL instruction </p><p> Computer assisted instruction </p><p>has been one of the most explosive areas </p><p>in applied linguistics especially in the last </p><p>two decades. Tremendous amount of </p><p>research on the application of technology </p><p>on language teaching and learning has </p><p>kept up with the rapid development in </p><p>computer hardware and software. Many </p><p>results were enthusiastic; but others were </p><p>skeptic. </p><p> In the ESL classroom on the </p><p>other hand, as computers have become </p><p>widely available to language teachers </p><p>since the 1980's (Chapelle, 2001), </p><p>progressive teachers of ESL have taken </p><p>advantage of available software </p><p>technology to promote student autonomy, </p><p>to promote culture and language and an </p><p>anytime-anywhere learning. (Mougalian </p><p>&amp; Salazar, 2005). </p><p> Among the most recent </p><p>application of technology in language </p><p>instruction are the Course Management </p><p>Systems, also called CMS, and the </p><p>Virtual Learning Environments (VLE). </p><p>These allow teachers to transfer </p><p>documents and messages, and put their </p><p>course online. </p><p> What is the role of Moodle in </p><p>second language learning as well as in </p><p>the advancement of technology in </p><p>the classroom? This paper explores </p><p>moodle applications and implications. </p><p>This research aims to find answers to the </p><p>following questions. (1) What is moodle? </p><p>What are the pedagogical assumptions </p></li><li><p>behind the use of this electronic syllabus? </p><p>(2) What are the features and strengths of </p><p>moodle and its application? (3) How does </p><p>moodle promote collaborative work and </p><p>language learning in the classroom? </p><p> Moodle &amp; its pedagogical </p><p>assumptions </p><p> Moodle, originally an acronym </p><p>for Object-oriented Dynamic Learning </p><p>Environment, has been considered as one </p><p>of the newest types of Course </p><p>Management Systems (Al-Jarf, 2005) that </p><p>allows teachers to put their courses online </p><p>easily. Because of its ease in usage, </p><p>downloading, modifying and distribution, </p><p>the Moodle has been known to be teacher </p><p>and student friendly. As an open source </p><p>software Moodle offers the following </p><p>advantages: it is efficient; it is low cost; it </p><p>is highly reliable, and it can be </p><p>customized. For details, refer to Joe Row, </p><p>2005. </p><p> Dougiamas, the original maker </p><p>of moodle, relates the concept of this </p><p>software to the principles of </p><p>constructivism. The notion of </p><p>constructivism asserts that people </p><p>actively construct new knowledge as they </p><p>interact with their environment. </p><p>Furthermore, he describes six concepts </p><p>or faces of constructivism that help </p><p>people understand the uses of this system, </p><p>two of which are relevant and will be </p><p>mentioned here: constructionism and </p><p>social constructivism. The principle of </p><p>constructionism maintains that learning is </p><p>effectively when the student creates or </p><p>constructs something for others. </p><p>Meanwhile, social constructivism refers </p><p>to the social world that surround a learner. </p><p>This includes people that directly affect </p><p>him: teachers, friends, students, as well </p><p>the larger community. It also asserts that </p><p>when students create something for </p><p>others, they are involved in a </p><p>collaborative endeavor. </p><p> Features and strengths of moodle </p><p> and its application? </p><p>This section explains the </p><p>features of Moodle environment that </p><p>support the conditions of L2 learning as </p><p>described below. Over the years, moodle </p><p>has evolved in a number of ways that </p><p>makes it more powerful for the teacher's </p><p>record-keeping, as well as its power to </p><p>engage the students for more interactive </p><p>exercises. </p><p>In the classroom, it is used to </p><p>give quizzes, check student </p><p>understanding of content or supply </p><p>information to other useful links and </p><p>resources. It includes several features </p><p>such as class schedule, class assignment, </p><p>participant profiles, chats, email lessons, </p><p>and even workshops (Mougalian &amp; </p><p>Salazar, 2001). </p><p> In his article Moodle Online </p><p>Classroom, Weiskopf describes details </p><p>of moodle applications as a way of </p></li><li><p>creating online learning communities </p><p>and for supporting face-to-face learning. </p><p>Among the powerful tools described </p><p>in the essay are online exercises, digital </p><p>assignments, electronic journals and </p><p>online discussion through forums </p><p>module. Dialogues and chat rooms have </p><p>also been described as effective </p><p>learning tools that support in-class </p><p>instruction. </p><p> In a similar vein, Mougalian and </p><p>Salazar demonstrate actual moodle </p><p>classroom applications as follows. </p><p>Focusing on Moodle environment called </p><p>chats, forums, wikis, and workshops </p><p>Mougalian and Salazar assert that </p><p>workshops enable students to work </p><p>collaboratively. </p><p>The workshops, which include </p><p>an adaptable rubric, allow students </p><p> to engage in peer feedback as </p><p> well as self-assessment </p><p>M. &amp; S. discuss how wikis, </p><p>forums, and chats serve as useful </p><p>platforms for brainstorming, discussions, </p><p>and debates. Chats in particular, seem to </p><p>be the favorite of students. Testimonies of </p><p>teachers using moodle indicate that the </p><p>chat module gives opportunities for shy </p><p>students to express themselves. Students </p><p>who find it hard to speak in front of the </p><p>class, post several quality articles on the </p><p>chat. Furthermore, on the teachers side, </p><p>there is a platform for creating and </p><p>delivering lessons, which the students can </p><p>access independently, or in groups. As a </p><p>result the platform encourages ways by </p><p>which students can connect with other </p><p>people and other useful information even </p><p>outside of the classroom. </p><p>In the following section, this </p><p>paper will describe the extent to which </p><p>Moodle encourages collaborative effort </p><p>between teacher and students, and among </p><p>students themselves through hands-on </p><p>online interaction. </p><p>In an online collaborative setting, </p><p>as the moddle, students are able to </p><p>explore and engage in hands-on activities, </p><p>and strengthen their understanding of </p><p>concepts and processes (Chapelle, 1998). </p><p> Moodle and cooperative work </p><p> in language learning </p><p> According to the constructivist </p><p>philosophy, learning occurs as a </p><p>reflection of the experiences we construct </p><p>about the world around us. An analysis </p><p>of the social constructivist philosophy </p><p>shows that while moodle in the classroom </p><p>allows for a student-centered </p><p>environment where learners are able to </p><p>work independently. It also allows </p><p>students to reflect on their own work and </p><p>on the work of other students by staying </p><p>connected to a group of learners who can </p><p>share ideas and reflect on each others </p><p>work (Dougiamas, 1998). </p><p>In a collaborative learning </p></li><li><p>situation, the students strengthen </p><p>understanding of the concepts learned in </p><p>class by engaging in several hands-on </p><p>activities and by and exploring through </p><p>online activities. Normandie (2001 ) calls </p><p>this a process of connecting students to </p><p>other peers, to the teacher, to a bigger </p><p>community of learners. </p><p>The following section of this </p><p>paper will demonstrate how moodle </p><p>principle relates to CALL learning and </p><p>communication. According to Chappelle </p><p>(1997), the primary goal of implementing </p><p>CALL into a language classroom is to </p><p>provide a communicative context and to </p><p>encourage social interaction among the </p><p>students. Multimedia CALL materials </p><p>can be constructed to support the </p><p>linguistic conditions Chapelle describes </p><p>below: </p><p>1. The linguistic </p><p>characteristics of target </p><p>language input need to be </p><p>made salient. </p><p>2. Learners should receive </p><p>help in comprehending </p><p>semantic and syntactic </p><p>aspects of linguistic input. </p><p>3. Learners need to have </p><p>opportunities to produce </p><p>target language output. </p><p>4. Learners need to notice </p><p>errors in their own output. </p><p>5. Learners need to correct their </p><p>linguistic output. </p><p>6. Learners need to engage in </p><p>target language interaction </p><p>whose structure can be </p><p>modified for negotiation of </p><p>meaning. </p><p>7. Learners should engage in </p><p>L2 tasks designed to </p><p>maximize opportunities </p><p> CONCLUSION: </p><p> This paper has described how the </p><p>theoretical assumptions behind the use </p><p>of moodle and how they relate to the </p><p>principles of language learning at a </p><p>distance. Furthermore, by analyzing </p><p>previous research on Moodle use in the </p><p>classroom, this paper supports the view </p><p>that this new type of course </p><p>management system opens vast </p><p>opportunities for the development of the </p><p>four language skills. Lastly and most </p><p>importantly this paper has </p><p>demonstrated how Moodle provides a </p><p>communicative context and how it </p><p>encourages social interaction in and </p><p>outside of the classroom . </p><p> REFERENCES: </p><p>C. Chapelle. Language Learning and </p><p>Technology. Vol. 2, No. 1, July 1998, pp. </p><p>22-34 </p><p> C. Chapelle. Computer Applications in </p><p>Second Language Acquisition. </p><p>Cambridge University Press, 2001. </p><p>C. Mougalian, &amp; Salazar, A. Moodle, the </p></li><li><p>electronic syllabus, lends itself to Pro Call. </p><p>CALLme. Retrieved, February, 2010. </p><p>M. Dougiamas, M. (1998). A Journey </p><p>into Constructivism. Retrieved January, </p><p>2010. </p><p>J. Rowe, 2005. Building Educational </p><p>websites with Moodle, CompuMentor. </p><p>Retrieved March, 2010. </p><p> S. Normandie. Global School: Online </p><p>Collaborations in the ECE Classroom. </p><p>Retrieved February 6, 2010. </p></li></ul>