1.3 Judging the appropriate use of new kinds of texts.
When we use computer technology to make and access texts, we operate unchanging social contexts. E-mail, discussion groups and chat rooms create qualitatively different contexts for communication. Teachers often comment that the kinds of relationships they and their students establish through these kinds of channels are unlike others they are familiar with. For example, with no status cues such as paper quality, handwriting or letterhead, e-mail is potentially a great leveler. While this has possible advantages, we also need to establish new ways of judging authenticity and credibility. As the clamor for better Netiquette suggests, there is a need for everyone to make judgments about the appropriate use of new texts. Students need to weigh up the relative advantages of e-mail, letter, fax or phone call in any particular situation as all will become increasingly available.
Other questions arise, such as:
What is appropriate information to include on a personal home page?
What are the pros and pitfalls of computer chat?
If e-mailing someone we don't know, what is an appropriate tone to use?
Does layout matter?
What are the social and personal implications of not having access to computertechnology to communicate?
1.4Critically reading and viewing computer-based texts.
While teachers have been busy learning to use computer technology, the emphasishas understandably been on practical applications rather than critical analysis.Now that critical literacy is recognized as a significant part of English, teachers are starting to develop a critical approach to computer technology. The same kinds of questions that we ask of other texts canbe asked:
Who is privileged in this text?
Who might this text exclude or marginalize?
What attitudes and values are implied in this text?
Just as students increase their personal power when they improve their traditional literacy skills, they also gain significant social power through competent, critically aware use of new communication technology. English teachers are in a powerful position to help students develop this new dimension of literacy.
1.5 Issues involved in using computer technology in your classroom
Developing a whole school approach. This involves considering how students will be taught basic skills; what kinds of priority will be given to students in accessing computers; security and privacy implications of the use of computer technology; intranet development and use.
The teaching strategies needed to accommodate the computers. As students' access to information improves so that they can go beyond what the teacher or school provide, and can locate information much closer to its source, the relationship between teacher and student inevitably changes. Some students may have a much stronger practical knowledge base and operational understandingof computer technology than their teacher does. Recognizing this, we need to work out how to acknowledge and use their skills and bring our own teaching expertise and critical awareness to bear in choosing appropriate ways of working with computers. Questions arise such as: Can we use peer-tutoring to help students develop basic skills? How are computers best used within a writing program? What is the most time-effective way to use computers for research?
Where to place the computers in the school/classroom. Where do they need to go to become a natural part of learning programs, and not an add-on? How can we ensure the most effective access to computer technology by the greatest number of students?
The technical assistance needed. What happens in the event of a breakdown? Who will help you to trouble-shoot? What kinds of routines might help to minimize technical difficulties and keep the learning program going smoothly when they inevitably occur?
Classroom dynamics. How do we ensure that students use the computers in a collaborative way? What balance of computer and other activities is appropriate at any one time to keep the class communicating and functioning well?
Skills, attitudes and knowledge of computers and computing. What kind of PD is needed and what is the best way to get it? How do we help students to develop the specific skills needed in English, such as effective use of spell-checking programs and critical viewing skills?
Moral, ethical and equity questions. When the Internet opens up information resources far beyond the schools' own, how do we ensure that students are protected from exploitation but not limited? What kinds of ethical questions do we need to investigate with students?
1.6 Making the most of the computers available
Most teachers find themselves in something like one of the scenarios presented in the table below. The suggestions given for each might help you to make the most of available resources.
No available computers
One computer inthe class
Two or more inthe class
A room full of computers tobook into
Use other forms of technology such as video cameras, still cameras, OHPs, sound recording, game machines, etc.
As digital technology becomes standard, the skills and knowledge will overlap considerably
Encourage home computer use for publishing or research to move students into areas other than games. If students have to get information, make computer-accessed information one of the options.
Keep a record chart of computer use - recording the type of use (game, word processing, CD, e-mail...
Use the computer to promote collaboration - writing, research, games etc
Have a computer specific task in all activities
Encourage use of the full range of computer facilitiesModel the use - show that you use the computer for productive reasons - such as work required sheets, getting information and making signs
Organize group activities around the computer. For example, if you have your students creating picture books - one group could create an electronic picture book using power point.
In contract work, make one or some of the activities ones which can only be completed using the computer
Assign specific activities to each computer. One could be for internet, one for word-processing, one for multi-media, one for games. Use should be charted.
Get onside with the IT manager at your school - you could find that they are flexible in allowing students from your class to work in with their class
Have a booking sheet for the room
Use the room to introduce the whole class to skills, knowledge or software/hardware
Arrange shorter and more specific tasks if access is limited. It would not be useful for a student to start extended word -processing if the class can only get to the room once a week
1.7 Technology and Assessment
Technology can be used in all areas of English. Activities are limited by the imagination of the teacher and cross all language modes and strands. There are very few of the English outcomes that exclude the use of technology.
TLOs, KINOs and Learning Area outcomes are available on SACs via the Student Assessment Module (SAM)
1.8 Examples of English profile outcomes that could be assessed through technology:
1.1 Produces written symbols with the intention of conveying an idea or message
4.5 Uses writing to develop familiar ideas, events and information
3.9 Writes sustained texts characterized by complexity of purpose and subject matter and a need for formality in language and construction
1.2 Recognize that written language is used by people to convey meaning to others
4.6 Adjusts writing to take account of aspects of context, purpose and audience
3.10 Selects text type, subject matter and language to suit a specific audience and purpose
Linguistic structures and features
1.3 Demonstrates emerging awareness of how to use conventional written symbols for expressing ideas and information
4.7 Controls most distinguishing linguistic structures and features of basic text types such as stories, procedures, reports and arguments
3.11 Controls spelling, syntax and text structures to meet the demands of most expository and imaginative writing.
1.4 Experiments and practices ways of representing ideas and information using written symbols
4.8 a When prompted, uses a range of strategies for planning, reviewing and proofreading own writing4.8b Uses a multi-strategy approach to spelling
3.12 Critically evaluates others' written texts and uses this knowledge to reflect on and improve own