University of Cambridge

Incorporating Computer Mediated Communication (Cmc) In English Language Teaching

Incorporating Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) in English Language Teaching

Introduction:

The quick development of technology has affected almost every aspect of our lives. It has influenced the efficiency of communication between people as well as the methods of education. The existence of internet, often abbreviated to the Net was and still a revolution in the field of communication and it has recently become an essential element in the field of education. The Net has also become a thriving community with many millions of people exchanging information, ideas and opinions. Hence, for language teachers involved in the communication process on a very basic level, it is the perfect medium. It saves them time and effort and they can quickly and cheaply find almost whatever materials they are looking for. Teachers can also incorporate the use of the Net in their teaching so that they create a motivating atmosphere for their students and they provide them with a special environment where they get connected with their counterparts worldwide.

This paper reports on the importance of integrating new technology by means of using computer-mediated communication (CMC) into classroom instruction. CMC as referred to in this paper is a comprehensive concept that mainly focuses on e-mail, Keypalling and computer conferencing. The paper begins with general discussion of some benefits of using CMC showing examples from previous projects. In the second part, a sample project is proposed to show one possible way of using CMC in language teaching. The last part of the paper gives a rational on the proposed project and reasons for considering the use of Key palling project in the Language Center at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman.

The benefits of using CMC in language teaching and some examples from the previous projects

(CMC) Computer Mediated Communication is defined as human interaction via computer networks and in online environments (Shulman, 2000). It is also an interdisciplinary mix of communication, technology, education, and journalism (ibid). The term (CMC) was first invented and coined by Hitz and Truff (1978) in their study of computer conferencing (Murray, 2000). Since then, the use of CMC has been developing in the field of ESL and EFL and it has become very popular during the 1990s due to the increasing use of the Internet in educational institutions.

Many educators now are making computer networks a part of their students’ learning experience (Bruce, 1991 cited in Liaw, 1998). The computer learning networks are based on several types of computer mediated communication. These can be generally classified into e-mail, synchronous and asynchronous conferencing (Warschauer et. al. 1996; p. 2). Email is considered asynchronous since the recipient doesn’t have to be on-line but can read the message later. In asynchronous conferencing the message is sent from one person to many recipients. There are two types of this; discussion lists which allow one message to be sent to thousands of e-mail addresses; and bulletin boards that allow a message to be posted in a central place where many people can access and read it. In synchronous conferencing, however, the message is sent instantly between one person and a group of people who are all on-line like what happens in the chat rooms.

ESL and EFL teachers have used CMC in many different ways and for many purposes. So many studies and research have acknowledged the use of internet in general and CMC in particular. Therefore, some teachers have implemented CMC projects locally within one group of students or between two groups in the same institution, and some others have chosen to find partners nationally or most popularly internationally. There are lots of sample projects in which CMC was used and proved successful. Looking at some of these projects we can identify some of the major advantages of using CMC with language students. The following are some of the main ones:

1. Developing language skills and critical thinking:

Computer-mediated communication seems to promote the development of language skills. As far as writing is concerned, CMC is particularly important if we are to introduce the students to the writing skill as a process. The traditional classroom environment doesn’t usually allow enough opportunity for students to discuss their written work and give feedback to each other. Computer-mediated discussions, however, provide the students with this opportunity. Leppanen and Kalaja (1995) found that engaging students in on-line discussions on their written assignments improved their written skills. They developed an ability of managing whole meaningful texts and also learned to look at their work from different perspectives. Some other studies found that students work harder when writing to real reader, for example, Fedderholt (2000) and therefore their skills improve dramatically. In another kepalling project initiated by the British Council between primary level pupils from two schools in Singapore and Birmingham, students proved to be more motivated and displayed a positive attitude towards writing (Ho, C.M. 1997). Moreover, analysis of the electronic messages also showed a maturity in pupils’ cognitive development and thinking skills over time in the type of questions posed (ibid). It has also been claimed in another study that kepalling helps to develop general study skills and critical thinking (Roberts, Rice and Thorsheim 1994, cited in Choi and Nesi, 1998).

With regard to reading, the students get enthusiastic to read what their key pals have written for them and hence they develop a sense of reading for interest. Choi 1998, shows that children’s reading skills improved greatly as a result of exchanging e-mails with their key pals. Qualitative studies in several online classrooms have described how students’ reading and writing processes became more collaborative and purposeful as students engage project-oriented research and writing for real audience (Barson et al , 1993, cited in Warschauer 1996).

Several studies also show that students speaking skills improve when engaged with activities based on CMC. Chun (1991) found that computer communication proved itself as a medium for facilitating the acquisition of interactive skills in speaking. Barson et al (1993, cited in Warschauer 1996, p.6) show that when they combined computer communication with a task-based approach to language learning, it did not only enhance interaction via computer but also resulted in a very active verbal collaboration as well.

2. Creating real natural atmosphere for learning the language and increasing  the students’ motivation

One of the very important features of CMC is that it provides the students with authentic opportunities for real natural communication. This authentic sense of language communication requires students not only to read and write, but also to respond to the writing of others, which fosters a sense of personal engagement and discovery essential to successful language learning (Peterson, 1997). Therefore, it creates optimal conditions for learning to read and write, since it provides an authentic audience for written communication. Li (2000; 230) states that: ‘writing via e-mail creates authentic purpose and audience for writing, which are elements often lacking in the traditional writing classes’. Indeed when the student know that what they are writing is going to be read by interested readers,  this gives them motivation not only to write but also to improve their writing so that it will be interesting and understood by their readers. Giving the students the opportunity to practice their language in authentic setting also improves their communication skills. Lin Ho (1997) claims that her students’ communication skills improved as a result of working collaboratively on a project with a class from another country via e-mail. In a similar study, Liaw (1998) noticed good improvement in her students’ communication skills.

Some research suggest that online learning activities are generally quite motivating for language learners, in part because learners feel they are gaining technical skills which will prove beneficial in the future (Warschauer, 1996). Learners are also motivated by the opportunity to work collaboratively in groups and create their own projects that reflect their own interests. Moreover, being involved in some CMC activities like kepalling develops the learners’ sense of awareness of the intercultural concerns, and of their being part of dynamic, international, global community which in turn, motivates them even more and raises their curiosity to know more about the cultures of their key pals.

3. Encouraging students’ autonomy and improving their learning skills

Warschauer (1995, cited in carrier, 1997, p284) claims that one of the benefits of       e-mail is that it empowers students for independent learning. When integrating CMC in language instruction, the teacher is no more the central focus in the learning process. Instead the students themselves become responsible for their learning. Warschauer et al points out that: ‘the opportunity for students to communicate with each other, inside or outside the class, can create a new social dynamic based on student-student collaboration, with the teacher as facilitator. The teacher, therefore, is not seen as the provider of knowledge as it is the case in the traditional setting, but he is helping the students to learn and monitor their learning. In a study conducted by Leppanen and Kalaja (1995), on using computer conferencing for introducing writing as a process, they found that students dominated the discussion and gave each other a great deal of feedback of different kinds (see appendix 1 for sample discussion messages). Paramsks, (1993, cited in Warschauer et al 1996) sees that when the CMC projects are conducted in an international setting, they enhance students’ autonomy even more than when conducted locally.

Lin Ho (1997) and Shulman (2000) reported on two different projects between international groups of students and both of them showed that the students’ autonomy had increased dramatically during the projects. This autonomy that students gain has the potentiality of developing their learning skills and critical learning perspectives. Boirsasky (1990, cited in Warschauer et al 1996, p.2) asserts that using CMC helps students become ‘active learners seeking solutions for their problems’.

4. Promoting equality among learners and increasing their participation

In the traditional classroom, many social and personal inequalities effect students’ participation and overall production. There are groups of hesitant students, shy students, and weaker ones who avoid interaction in the class in order not to loose face. CMC, however, has the advantage of overcoming these inequalities through the anonymity afforded by electronic discussions and exchanges. It also reduces static social context clues related to race, handicap etc. (Sproull and Kiesler  1991, cited in Warschauer et all 1996, p.5), it reduces dynamic social context cues such as hesitation (Finholt et all 1986, cited in Warschauer et al 1996, p.6), and it allows students to contribute at their own time and pace (Selfe and Myre 1991, cited in Warschauer et al, 1996, p.6). CMC also tends to feature more balanced participation than face-to-face conversation, with less dominance by outspoken individuals.

Findings of some studies suggest that CMC can be a useful tool for encouraging greater participation of quiet or shy students and for creating alternatives to the traditional “IRF” discourse pattern which dominates most classrooms (Warschauer, 2001). Many other classroom studies have found that students’ participation and written output increased in electronic discussions. Shulman (2000) shows that students who were quiet and reluctant to participate in class were the most active participants in the internet project. Similarly, Hartman et al, 1991(cited in Warschauer 1996, p.6) found that less able and weaker writing students not only communicated more during electronic discussions, they also offered very useful comments to peers and end up producing better papers.

On the other hand though, the CMC can result in some other kinds of inequalities and we, as teachers, should not underestimate their negative effects. Students with dominant personality traits, more computer knowledge, or even better typing skills may take advantage of networks power to control discussions (Warschauer et all p. 1996.p.8). Here comes the role of the teacher to monitor and direct the students’ performance in a way that promotes cooperation rather than competition.

Implementing the project:


1. Pedagogical Implications

There are some pedagogical implications that should be taken into consideration in order to ensure the success of the project. As an example for these implications, teachers who are running the project should know well their fellow colleagues as collaborators in the project and the differing backgrounds of their schools and pupil profiles (Ho, C.M. 1997).This will help a lot in laying the foundation necessary for building up ties for their respective students in the two Universities. Another implication is that teachers in both Universities should clearly work out the specific objectives of the course in order to prevent any overlap of study in the research to be carried out and also clarify how the final outcomes will benefit the pupils in both Universities (ibid). Not only teachers should be aware of the objectives of the course; students need to understand theses objectives as well in order to be fully motivated and involved in the course which will lead them to appreciate the course even more. The students should also be informed about the procedures of implementing the course which in turn, guides and makes clear to them how much time and effort are required at each stage of the project (ibid).

2. Preparing the students:

The students of the two classes are given lessons of how to collect information by the means of questionnaires and interviews and this will be done during the first week (look at Appendix 1 for more information about the timetable of the project).  The two teachers decide on the preparation lessons so that both classes are introduced to similar methods of collecting information. The students are also given an introduction about the purpose and objectives of the projects and asked for suggestions. A pre-planned preparation is needed to ensure the success of the project. In this stage, aspects like desk arrangements, teambuilding activities, fulfilling individual roles to meet group goals and timed task should be taken into consideration (Greenfield, Roseanne. 2003).

3. The organization of the class

Each class is divided into four groups so as to facilitate group work and assign different tasks for each group when working on the tasks. There should also be a representative/spokesman for each group who will be responsible for his group and make sure that the work is done on time so as not to cause any inconvenience or difficulties for the key pal partner group. The class configuration will vary each time as to suite the requirements of the activities or tasks being worked on.

4. Group work within each class:

In the first lesson, the teachers of both classes explain the overall project to their students and present the aims and objectives to them so that they are clear about the benefits of the project. The class work starts by introducing the students to different ways of collecting information like questionnaires and interviews. Then, both classes are divided into groups of four and each group should appoint a spokesman or a leader. The teachers explain to the students what they are required to do and teach them how to form appropriate questions to be included in their questionnaires and interviews. Then, the students in each group are asked to prepare a sample questionnaire for certain topics. The groups in both classes are asked to prepare a letter to their counterparts in the other class. In this letter, they should include some background information on the University, course, the students..etc in order to create a kind of rapport with their key pal group partner in the other class.

Then, the teachers should inform each group about the kind of tasks they are supposed to deal with. After the group work is divided, the students start working in their respective groups. As the students will need to look for information about different facilities available in their Universities (like food and bank facilities), they have to meet and work outside the class to discuss their work and make it ready to present in the next session.

In the next session, the students put together the different parts of the whole work. First, they discuss and give feedback on each other’s work, then they organize the layout of they have done. Before sending the final work to the partner class, they show it to the teacher for comments.

More information about the kinds of activities (details on weekly tasks) that would be included in the project is available in the project timetable (Appendix 1).

Rationale:

1. Why conduct the project within Oman?

One of the main obstacles of carrying out key palling projects is finding a partner class. The differences in timetables, educational system, holidays, interest and other problematic issues make it very difficult and often frustrating for any teacher to find a matching class for his group of students. In this project proposal, I managed to find a colleague teacher from a private University in Oman (Called Sohar University) to participate in the project. I have chosen to conduct the project in Oman because it has almost the same benefits for the students of a project in which the other key pal partner is from another country. I am aware that carrying out this project with a class from another country would have provided my students with a new cultural experience and would have broaden their awareness of the life style and educational system of that country. However, still in my context, both classes do not know each other and there are cultural and traditional differences between each and every region in Oman which allows each of the classes to be aware of each others’ way of living, traditions and differences. Moreover, the students of both classes belong to same level of English (intermediate) and they study the same subjects which allow the two teachers to create materials and exercises that serve their students’ needs and at the same time go along with the educational standards issued by the authorities in both Universities. Another reason for conducting the project with an Oman class partner is that students in both classes share a similar background about some common issues related to business in Oman which allows the two teachers to base some of their tasks and examples on the information the students already have.

2. Why is the project integrated within the overall course?

This keypalling project is designed so as to be integrated into an English for Business course and not as separated activity. The decision of getting it integrated in this way is based on some evidence from studies and projects previously conducted. Bruce Roberts, one of the coordinator of International Email Classroom Connection states:

There is a significant difference in educational outcome depending on whether a teacher chooses to incorporate email classroom connections as (1) an ADD-ON process, like one would include a guest speaker, or (2) an INTEGRATED process, in the way one would include a new textbook. The email classroom connection seems sufficiently complex and time consuming that if there are goals beyond merely having each student send a letter to a person at a distant school, the ADD-ON approach can lead to frustration and less-than-expected academic results–the necessary time and resources come from other things that also need to be done. On the other hand, when the email classroom connection processes are truly integrated into the ongoing structure of homework and student classroom interaction, then the results can be educationally transforming. (Warschauer, 1995, p. 95)

What is mentioned above highlights that a keypalling project will likely be most successful when it reflects in-depth planning and integration into the overall course being taught. It also shows that a keypalling project fits especially well with structured, project-based approach which allows learners to engage in increasingly complex tasks throughout a course.

The integration of the keypalling project is achieved through its objectives and through the involvement of students in a variety of tasks and activities in the project. The objectives of the project are chosen so that they match and serve the general aims of the English for Business course. They aim at increasing students’ motivation, promoting autonomy and equality among the students, introducing the students to the skill of writing as a process, and preparing the students for using language for authentic purposes similar to those which exist in the target situation where the students will work after graduation. All of these are important elements in the English for Business course. The timetable shows that the students in each class get involved in lots of classroom discussion and group work. This involves the teacher to monitor, coordinate and offer help when needed by the students. Before the students start the project tasks, the teachers give the students lessons related to the tasks required by the project. Teachers’ involvement is considered to be very vital for the success of this project and without their guidance and the student-centered activities; computers will do little to help students learn English (Berge and Collins 1995, cited in Gitsaki and Taylor, 1999, p. 48).

3. Why is the project conducted in a group-to-group basis?

There are some important reasons why I have chosen to conduct the project in a group-to-group basis. First of all, there are so many problems that are more likely to occur in e-mail exchange project when it is conducted in a student-to-student basis. One of the most common problems is ‘lack of response’ either because of the sudden absence of one of the students or because a student might not be motivated enough by his/her keypal partner. It is also very difficult for a teacher to monitor the work and to offer the same amount of help and advice when the project is done on a student-to-student basis. On the other hand, the previously mentioned problems could be easily avoided when the students are working collaboratively as a class or as groups. Secondly, this project is the first of its kind to be conducted at the Language Centre and therefore, I have decided to start with a less demanding version of it (group-to-group). Once the project has been done and has proven successful, more complex versions will be applied. I have also chosen the group basis because the authority of the Language Centre encourages all the teachers to promote and enhance the group work in their classes. Also, the efficiency of the facilities provided by the Language Centre has not been tested in such a project before, so conducting the project in a group to group basis will give a good opportunity to test them and at the same time it would be easier to handle problems if any of them occur than if the project was done on a student-to-student basis.

4. The Content

From my experience as a teacher and in almost all the classes I taught, I have noticed that students are very much interested in computers and internet and they are highly motivated to work with any project as far as it is related to the internet use. The materials of this project have been developed so as to serve the students needs and to attract them to some new aspects of using the internet in education. Incorporating such materials in the project will encourage the students to learn on their own whenever they use the internet outside the classroom. The Materials have also been designed to raise the students’ motivation to writing by giving them opportunities to write for authentic purposes and real audience. Moreover, the materials promote the idea of writing as a process in that students build their writing step by step making use of the comments and suggestions made by their keypal partners. Also, the materials used in the project and the strategies used to carry out the activities are very much similar to those the students will use in the target working context after graduation. More importantly, the materials help the students to apply their study area knowledge in selecting and organizing the necessary information. They will be working on specific and controlled topics rather than general ones. This reduces the chance of the students copying already-existing information.

5. How the students are assessed?

The students are assessed and given a grade on their performance in the project. The ‘10%’ grade seems fair considering the students work on the several writing and speaking tasks during the project. The project plan shows two methods of assessment. By the first one, sending copies of their work to the teacher, the teacher is able to assess the student’s awareness of the different tasks of the project and how much he/she got involved with them. Moreover, the teacher is able to make a judgment on whether the students’ writing skill has improved or not. On the other hand, the presentations assess the students’ speaking skills. Each student should have taken part in the discussions, weather as a class or in the groups, and by the end; they should have developed some confidence to speak.

6. The strengths of the project

Although this project is going to be carried out and organized between two universities within Oman which might looks like a disadvantage, it is actually one of the strong features of the project. Teachers will have more chances to contact each others by phone or to arrange a meeting in which they organize all the important issues related to the project. They could also do that throughout the project to make sure that everything is fine with both classes and even to suggest changes or new tasks which is really difficult to be done if the project was to be conducted with a class from outside Oman. Moreover, students share a common background and they study the same subjects and this could be made use of by the teachers when planning for tasks or providing examples. More than this is that students might develop friendship with their keypal partners and continue to exchange ideas and plans even after the project finishes which will in turn, contribute to the improvement of their language and their ability to socialize with others using the language. Another important aspect of this project is that it is integrated into the overall English for Business course which makes the students more committed to its tasks. The project also involves much classroom discussion and encourages groups to work independently from the teacher which is again fostering the students’ autonomy and independent learning skills. A third feature of strength, in my opinion, is that the project is conducted in a group-to-group basis, as mentioned above, which could also be a positive characteristic of the project considering its context. The content of the project is another aspect of strength in that it has been chosen to serve the students needs, suite the authority standards, create a real authentic learning environment for the students and to provide the students with  learning situations very much similar to what they will have in their target working contexts after graduation.

7. The weaknesses of the project.

Asking the students to work individually would have made it more possible for the teachers to know that students are actually doing what they are supposed to do. Conducting the project in a group-to-group basis however makes that a bit difficult. Teachers would find it easy to know who participates in the class discussion. On the other hand, and since the projects requires the students to work out of the classroom, it would be difficult for the teacher to make sure that all members of a group are actually working unless he asks to see each one’s work every lesson which is time consuming. Another weakness is that students haven’t taken any obvious role in the planning and the designing phases of this project, otherwise, it would have been more effective and appropriate for them.

8. Possible problems

Conducting CMC projects in general and e-mail exchange in particular has some problems in common. It requires a careful pre-plan and a well preparation on the side of students and teachers as well. The following are some examples of the possible problems of e-mail exchange project:

#     Technical problems like those related to the internet (the server could be down), the software and hardware of computers, typing and difficulty accessing equipments (Kung, 2000).

#   Lack of response

#    The partner teacher might not have the same understanding of the nature of the project, and working through differences can cause further delays.

#     Difficulties in scheduling the computer labs and difficulties for the students to find computers outside the classroom to continue their activities.

In order to avoid the previous problems, teachers who are involved in the project should contact each other before the project starts. They should work together to arrange the kind of tasks and activities for the project and to set logical and feasible goals for it. They should cooperate throughout the course and try to make the objectives of the project clear to their students. More importantly, they should agree on a unified method of teaching and on a certain pace so that the two classes are working consistently without any delay. With regard to the technical problems or malfunctions, teachers should establish a connection with high tech experts to support them when any problem exists. The teachers should also arrange the schedule of the computer labs so that students could have the chance to work in these labs after the class time in order to enable them to complete their work. Lack of response could be avoided right from the beginning by encouraging the students to know some background information about their keypal partners so that both classes become more motivated and involved in the project. Also, teachers should advice their students to respect their keypal partners and to try to develop friendship with them.

9. Why should Keypalling projects be considered in language teaching at SQU?

Before I became a teacher at Sultan Qaboos University, I was a student in it and I could see how students are obsessed with technology, computers and internet. As students, we found it very difficult to find vacant computers to work on our assignments though there are so many computer labs in the University. All that because most of the students were wasting their times on the chatting programs and the other useless things on the net. After I became a teacher, I was involved in teaching computer skills to the students of Accounting Diploma and I could see how interested they were in the projects we were working on. I think that introducing the students of the Language Centre to the Kepalling project will not only motivate them and improve their computer skills, but will also change their look at the internet so that it becomes an important supporter to them in their education and learning of English Language. The time they have been wasting in the chatting rooms on the Net could be consumed to work on something more useful and fruitful. Moreover, students will learn how to use the internet to serve their own learning and this will not stop at the end of the project; it will rather continue with them for the rest of their lives. Based on this and on the previously given evidence at the beginning of the paper, the authority of the Language Centre may take further decisions on integrating the keypalling project in the courses they provide.

Conclusion:

“Key pals can be an extremely rewarding experience for your students, but don’t expect everything to go well the first time. Just like any other aspect of your teaching, it will take some experience to discover the best implementation for your own curriculum. Even with first-time glitches, however, you can be sure that it will be an experience that your students will not forget. Don’t be surprised to find some students exchanging snail-mail addresses with their Key pals, turning a virtual friendship into an actual one. It happens!”

Rob, 1996 (cited in Choi and Nesi 1998)

Computer mediated communication has proven successful in so many studies and projects previously conducted in the field of education. Kepalling project as an essential part of CMC does not only motivate students to take part in their language learning process; it also changes their perception of the internet and provides them with ongoing desires to learn as far as they are using the internet. However, conducting such a project needs a very careful plan and a well preparation on the side of teachers and students. I think that it would really be an extremely useful experience to implement and integrate the kepalling project in the overall English courses provided by the Language Centre at SQU since it has got all sorts of facilities and technical support required for the project.

References:

Carrier, Michael. 1997. ELT online: the rise of the Internet. ELT Journal. 51.

Choi, J. and H. Nesi.1998. An account of a pilot key pal project for Korean Children

Barson et al (1993). Foreign language learning using e-mail in a task-oriented perspective: Interuniversity experiments in communication and collaboration. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 4(2), 565-584.

Chun, M. D. 1994. Using computer networking to facilitate the acquisition of interactive competence. System. 22/1. p 18-31

Fedderholdt, K. 2001. An email exchange project between non-native and native speakers of English. ELT Journal 55/3 p. 273-80.

Gitsaki, C. and Taylor, R. 1999. Internet-based activities for ESL classroom. ReCALL. 11/1. p. 47-57

Greenfield, Roseanne. 2003. Collaborative e-mail exchange for teaching secondary esl: a case study in Hong Kong. Language Learning and Technology, Vol. 7, No. 1, January 2003, pp. 46-70

Ho, C.M. 1997. Developing intercultural awareness and writing skills through email exchange. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 12, December 2000.

Jones. J. F. 2000. CALL and the responsibilities of teachers and administrators. ELT Journal. 55/4. p 360-366.

Kung, S. 2002. A framework for successful key-pall programs in language learning. CALL-EJ Online. 3/2

Leppanen, S. and P. Kalaja. 1995. Experimenting with computer conferencing in English for Academic Purposes. ELT Journal. 49/1. p

Li, Y. 2000. Linguistic Characteristics of ESL Writing in task-based e-mail activities. System. 28. p 229-45.

Liaw, M.L. 1998. Using electronic mail for English as a foreign language instruction. System. 26. p 335-51.

Murray, D. E. 2000. Protean communication: the language of computer-mediated communication. TESOL Quarterly. 34/3. p 397-419.

Nagel, P.S. E-mail in the virtual ESL/EFL Classroom. The Internet TESL Journal, 1/7. 1999.

Peterson, M. 1997. Language teaching and networking. System. 25/1. p 29-37.

Roberts, B. Rice, C. and Thorsheim, H. 1994. Education goals. IECC discussion

Shulman, M. 2000. Developing Global connections through computer-mediated communication. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VII, No. 6, June 2001

Warschauer, M. (1995). E-Mail for English teaching. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Publications.

Warschauer, M. (1996). Motivational aspects of using computers for writing and communication. In M. Warschauer (Ed.), Telecollaboration in foreign language learning: Proceedings of the Hawaii’s symposium. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i, Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center.

Warschauer, M., Turbee, L., & Roberts, B. (1996). Computer learning networks and student empowerment. System, 14(1), 1-14.

Warschauer, M. and K. Richard. (eds.) 2000. Network-based Language Teaching: Concepts and Practice.CUP.

Warschauer, M. (2001). Online communication. In R. Carter & D. Nunan (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to teaching English to speakers of other languages (pp. 207-212). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Warschauer, M. and P.F. Whittaker1997. The internet for English Teaching: guidelines for teachers. TESL Reporter. 30/1. pp 27-33.


Appendix (1)

Appendix 2:   B/ Detailed Explanation of some of the lessons

Week Two: Saturday Lesson for SQU Class (Time: 1.30)

1. The teachers in both classes will arrange all the groups so that each group has a partner group in the other class. Each group in SQU class will receive an e-mail from its counterpart in Sohar class. This e-mail will include background information about the students, the university, the subjects, the educational system and the teachers. The aim of this first e-mail is to create a kind of rapport with the other class so that the students are motivated to work with their partner class. It is also meant to help the students in both classes to know some information about their partner class so that they have a kind of background about each other.

2. After receiving this e-mail, the students in SQU class would have some time to talk about their partners in Sohar class. Then, they would compare their own e-mail (the first e-mail they sent to Sohar class) with the first e-mail they have got from Sohar class.

3. In each group, students would have collected some information about different banks and bank facilities using questionnaires, interviews and by gathering some publications from banks (they were asked to prepare this task in the previous lesson and they got a day off to do that). In each group, the students will discuss and analyze their questionnaires and interviews and they will organize the information they have got. After that,  there will be an open discussion in the class in which the representative of each group explains to the other groups the kind of information collected by his/her group.

4. Then, each group will transform its information in either a chart or graph (what best suites their organization). They already know how to do that because all of them took a course about the use of Microsoft Office (including EXCEL, the program used to produce these charts and graphs).

5. After finishing this, each group will show its work to the teacher and will get his comments on what they have done. Each group will send its work including the information, the charts and graphs to their key pal partner group.

Notice:

Throughout the lesson, the teacher will be monitoring the work, offering help and advice when needed, moving around the groups to make sure all the group members are involved in the work. He/she will not try to change the content of what each group has done because the content is meant to be the students’ own ideas and production. He/she is more like a facilitator and a guide in the class rather than as a dictator who imposes his/her ideas and instructions upon the students (He/she would be MORE as a guide on the side rather than as a sage on the stage).

Week Two: Tuesday Lesson for SQU Class (Time: 1.30)

1. Each group in the SQU class will receive a response from their counterparts in Sohar class with some comments and suggestions on the work. Then, the students in each group will discuss together these comments and suggestions and will make whatever change is required on the work.

2. After that, an open discussion will be held and each group will try to explain what they would include in their report. Also, each group will be asked to give more suggestions and opinions to the other groups so that they help each other improving their works.

3. Then, each group prepares a report in which they recommend a certain bank because of the good facilities it provides to its customers. Then, each group sends its report to their counterpart in Sohar class so as to get more comments and suggestions from them.

4. Each group in SQU class will receive the work of their counterparts in Sohar class. They will comment on their work and provide them with some suggestions where needed. Then, they will send these comments and suggestions back to the students in Sohar class.

Week Three: Saturday Lesson for SQU Class (Time: 1.30)

1. Each group will receive its report back with the comments and suggestions made by their counterpart in Sohar class. The students in each group will discuss the suggestions given by their keypal partner and they will make whatever change is needed.

2. A class discussion will be held and each group will be asked to report back to the rest of the groups in the class and to explain what would they include in their final report.

3. The students in each group will make use of the comments and suggestions of their Keypal partner group as well as their colleagues in the same class when preparing the final draft. Finally, they would post the final draft in the discussion forum on the Keypal Website, on the following address:

http://webct.squ.edu.om/SCRIPT/LANC0500Keypals/scripts/serve_home

4. The teacher will introduce the students to the next task and he/she will explain how and what the students are supposed to do and to prepare for the next lesson. He/she will also answer any query made by the students on the new task and he/she would provide them with some advice on how to collect the required information.

Appendix 2:   A/ A sample lesson from the Keypalling project

Week Two: Saturday Lesson for SQU Class (Time: 1.30)

1. You will receive an e-mail from your keypal partner in Sohar class. This e-mail will include background information about your partners and the subjects they are studying, their University, their teachers and the educational system in Sohar University. The aim of this e-mail is to make you familiar with the other class and to help you make friendship with them before you start the actual work.

2. After you receive the e-mail, discuss what your partners have mentioned. Compare the information in the e-mail you have sent to them with the information in the e-mail you have received from them. Are there any differences between the two Universities?

3. Now, try to analyze and discuss the information you have got about the banks and the different facilities they provide (they were asked to prepare this task in the previous lesson and they had one day off to do that). After you finish, tell the other groups in the class about your bank and listen to what they say about their banks. Compare the facilities provided by the different banks.

4. Now, transform the final information you have got into charts or graphs (what best suites your organization of the content).

5. Finally, show your work to the teacher and get some suggestions or comments on your work. Then, send your information and graphs to your keypal partner in Sohar class.

Follow us