Conversation Globe Trekkers
COURSE: ETEC 510 (Core Course), Design of Technology-Supported Learning Environments, Winter 2009, Course Description
TYPE OF ASSIGNMENT: Group
TITLE: Conversation Globe Trekkers
To provide an opportunity to use the theoretical and conceptual scholarship that I was reading as a rich and multifaceted conceptual framework for working on a particular design project. To identify the relevance of a particular set of ideas – e.g., about how objects are designed, how people learn, what kinds of learning spaces support meaningful engagements in knowledge-building, the affordances of social networking and collaborative learning – and to engage in a time-limited design practice that is informed by scholarship.
Early on in ETEC 510, we were asked to introduce ourselves and express our teaching interests. Based on this feedback, we were able to form groups for our Education by Design: Collaborative Group Assignments. I found myself in a group with Patricia Neves, Massimo Rocchetta and Brian Barkhurst, other teachers who had an interest in second language acquisition. Together, we created Conversation Globe Trekkers (CGT), a technology-enhanced language project designed to assist educators in enhancing the Spanish oral proficiency skills of their students. We elected to use PBworks (formerly PBwiki) to host our project. PBworks is a wiki platform and that suited the goals of our project, as teachers and students would be logging in to the site, posting recorded conversations and editing vocabulary lists.
The purpose of the project is to:
- promote student-to-student interaction in Spanish on a variety of real-life topics;
- foster greater global awareness by partnering students from different nations;
- increase students’ technology-oriented, job readiness skills; and
- enhance students’ fluency, accuracy, and self-confidence in spoken Spanish.
To accomplish these goals, students are paired with a conversation partner abroad to collaborate in creating speaking portfolios on topics relevant to their lives. Teachers are able to access students’ portfolios, provide valuable feedback, and facilitate student learning. The language portfolios also allow students to observe their own language progress over time, enhance their sense of accomplishment and self-confidence, and provide a tangible piece of evidence to showcase to their parents and/or guardians. In essence, the overarching goal of CGT is to facilitate the development and publication of student-produced, oral language portfolios for K-12 teachers of Spanish and enhance students’ fluency in a second language.
Although all of our group members had an interest in second language acquisition, I was the only one who did not speak Spanish. None of the other group members spoke French, so we decided to go with Spanish. As such, my role was project manager and I took care of uploading and organizing our content on our site. I was also responsible for creating our “How to” document, which is available on the front page of the site.
Looking back on the project now, I believe that it is a good start towards a very relevant idea. Having more knowledge now of various Web 2.0 tools, I would endeavour to include more of them to add to the interactivity of the site. For example, a tool such as Voki would be ideal to have students create their own personal avatar and introduction in the target language. Each student could then publish their Voki to the wiki.
- 7.2 Optimize relevance, value, and authenticity
- 8.3 Foster collaboration and community
- 8.4 Increase mastery-oriented feedback
A project such as Conversation Globe Trekkers provides the opportunity for students around the globe to communicate and learn a new language. Using technology to communicate with native speakers of the target language makes learning a second language very authentic. As a French Immersion teacher, it can be difficult at times to explain to young students the merit of learning another language when there is no immediate context for it. By communicating with an online community, students will recognize the value and relevance of being able to communicate in more than one language and will receive valuable feedback. Furthermore, a project such as Conversation Globe Trekkers promotes digital and global citizenship.