THU: An IELTS Task 1 Autonomous Collaborative Personal Learning Environment (Gareth Davies)
Cloud created by:
Dr Simon Ball
2 February 2014
The topic of my presentation will be PLEs (Personal Learning Environments) and how tying together Web 2.0 applications and social networks can engender a potent learning environment within the theme of implementation.
The PLE will facilitate self-directed learning and autonomy in approaching an IELTS Task 1 writing question (provided on a weekly basis) where participants will collaborate to create an answer to a question set in a purpose-designed social network group within Facebook. The PLE will also provide participants who upload their finished work and a video of the process taken with access to peer review, assessment, feedback and afford them the opportunity to reflect on their work before consolidating their skills with a new question.
The PLE and activity will be achieved purely through the use of sites and software that meet the criteria of being being free, accessible, flexible, and easy to use. Simply put, ‘Good enough technology’ (Capps, 2009). These Web 2.0 applications allow participants with access to the internet and the necessary hardware to facilitate their use to interact and collaborate within social media settings to create user-generated output in virtual communities and in doing so break down the traditional divide between environment and learning.
In terms of the more language-centred benefit of the availability of this artefact to the target audience of L2 learners, ‘There is a principle underlying current ELT practice that interaction pushes learners produce more accurate and appropriate language, which itself provides input for other students’ (Hedge, 2000, p.15). Therefore, there is the two-pronged benefit of becoming more accustomed to and competent in approaching the target task as well as the communicative benefit of their having to exercise their expressive and receptive language skills together in a free, and expressive online environment of their own design.
The primary question is can the PLE be as successful as a purpose built virtual learning environment and thus truly democratize the learning process, making available to anyone with an internet connection the same valuable learning environment afforded those with the access and the funds to both institution run VLEs and bricks and mortar establishments such as language schools such as The British Council.
The presentation will be a multimedia presentation including video describing the process, its benefits and, a short video-captured demonstration of participants doing the activity. Participants will be assembled from existing British Council students as well as from social networking sites, and the efficacy of the activity will be gauged by surveying participants according to their thoughts on the PLE’s usability, their engagement, and perceived improvement.