Arquivo | maio, 2013

Blended learning is not all they say it is

3 maio
Image courtesy of [Salvatore Vuono] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [Salvatore Vuono] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the 21st century, with the popularization of the internet, online learning has grown as an educational option. Academic institutions from all over the world have online programs, and as technology improves, so does the possibilities for education. Despite the common belief that blended learning is more effective than traditional learning, there is no actual proof that e-learning is indeed better. I agree that blended learning provides some positive effect on learning, but not to the point where it becomes more effective than the traditional method.

Actually, Bowen, Chingos, Lack and Nygren’s research (2012) shows that the results of both approaches are essentially the same, even with the flexibility of online training. Their research measured the learning outcomes of randomly assigned students on both online and traditional courses and found no significant differences between them. Furthermore, Shawna Strickland’s research revealed that students in “hybrid classrooms are more frequently confused regarding course requirements” (ScienceDaily, par. 5), which shows one of this method’s weakness.

            Apart from the arguments presented in the two researches, I may add that without the professor’s face-to-face evaluation of discipline and focus, both essential for learning success, and his ability to push his alumni, the students’ motivation may decrease, leading to frustration and possibly dropping out of the course altogether. This is an important fact to be considered before taking the budget from face-to-face class and using it to invest in a type of learning that might fail.

On the other hand, as stated beforehand, ever since the popularization of the internet in the early 2000s, thanks to the price reduction of personal computers and internet-accessing gadgets, the middle class gained access to a new world of easily attainable information. This fact led to the common belief that this technology can be used in every aspect of life, including learning. Nevertheless, online learning is not as inclusive as believed, because even though the prices of internet and related gadgets have decreased, the larger portion of society still lives without such privileges. Considering that humanity spent centuries to have a non-elitist education, it would be a regression to depend on restricted resources.

Learning is a long-term commitment that requires patience and perseverance to fully grasp the knowledge. All points considered, it is reasonable to assume that blended learning does provide some positive effects on learning, but not to the scale where it becomes more effective than the traditional method.

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Bowen, William; Chingos, Matthew; Lack, Kelly and Nygren, Thomas. “Interactive Learning Online at Public Universities: Evidence from Randomized Trials”. Ithaka S+R, May 22 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2013 <http://www.sr.ithaka.org/research-publications/interactive-learning-online-public-universities-evidence-randomized-trials&gt;.

University of Missouri-Columbia. “Effectiveness Of Traditional And Blended Learning Environments.” ScienceDaily, 22 Sep. 2008. Web. 20 Apr. 2013. < http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080922155902.htm&gt;

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Anúncios

Subtitles

3 maio
Image courtesy of [digidreamgrafix] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [digidreamgrafix] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Linguists say that it makes a great difference in the learning process of another language to be surrounded by its sound. My father knows that, and when I was eight, he started bothering me with his “you must watch movies without subtitles if you want to truly learn English” speech. As any child this age, I could not argue against my parent, so I felt obliged to find an English movie without subtitles to watch. Today I see this was a terrible idea and I know that there are some points to be considered before putting a beginner student through such a test, especially because a person needs to be ready for this experience, which makes it essential to evaluate personal barriers before testing someone’s skills.

            My first difficulty was choosing the movie. There were many options – none for children – and nobody was there to help me. Of course, I could have asked the librarian to help me, but I would have had to get out of my comfort zone and admit I was lost. In a perfect scenario, I would have had help and guidance to find an interesting movie that I had seen before and therefore knew the plot. Unfortunately, this did not happen and I ended up with the VHS with the pretty pictures in black and white.

            It only took a couple of minutes after the movie started for me to realize I would have a bigger challenge than I initially thought. I was staring in confusion at dramatic gobbledygook and, no matter how hard I tried, understanding was impossible. Added to the fact that I did not have ability to recognize the words I knew from normal speed speech, the lack of accent knowledge completely threw me off.

            I didn’t want my father saying that I had given up so soon, so I went back to the library and chose the same movie with subtitles for the hearing impaired. At that time, I was a slow reader. Consequently, instead of helping me understand the scene, the subtitles only made me stuck. Moreover, I still didn’t have vocabulary to comprehend a complete sentence, which stimulated me to create a game that entertained me for some minutes: find a word that I knew. After I got completely bored by that incomprehensible story, I decided to rely on the context and facial expressions, but that didn’t last long either, and I ended up never finishing that movie.

            Every once in a while I like to remember this story because it shows how much I’ve grown as an English speaker. Nowadays I understand the importance of being ready to have a new experience and I am positive that it is essential to evaluate personal barriers before testing someone’s skills.

What are the advantages of being bilingual in today’s society?

2 maio
Image courtesy of [Nujalee] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [Nujalee] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A new cellphone, better than last year’s obsolete grotesque thing, is introduced to us every spring and the common thought that it is an obligation to buy this marvelous device like none before just shows how our priorities have changed through the decades. The development of this little ringing object, that now runs our lives, is one of the technological breakthroughs that we can say is responsible for the shrinking of the Earth, alongside the internet, of course. Now that we can know what is happening at the other side of the world, as far as it may be, at the very same time that it is happening, it is clear that the advantages of being bilingual are real.

            Speaking another language can open many doors if you want to change jobs or be promoted, since being bilingual is a quality that not everybody has. Many corporations would rather employ a person with a multi-cultural experience because they have a tendency to be more adaptable and better in teamwork. Besides that, depending on where you work or want to work, speaking a different language may be essential for a certain position at the firm.

            The facility to communicate and relate with other individuals promoted by a second language is usually proved when travelling to other countries. Bilingual people tend to make friends more easily than people who can’t speak another language due the fact that they are able to communicate and express exactly what they want. Withal, language learning tends to initiate cultural understanding, leading to better first contact with people from other countries – since there will be familiarity with social boundaries and the local notion of respect.

The fact is, if you want to discover the world and its great cultures, you should start by learning another language. English is as good a choice as any, because its use is widespread across the globe. Nevertheless, you can always go with the classical ones, such as French, Spanish or Japanese – it all depends on your goal.

Being bilingual is a great idea whether you are thinking of traveling, upgrading your curriculum or making new friends from different cultures. So if you have a chance to learn another language, go for it and enjoy its many advantages!

Cover letter

1 maio
photo credit: e_walk via photopin cc

photo credit: e_walk via photopin cc

This is my TDC portfolio. Here you will find three final drafts of the five pieces I’ve produced this bimester. They may not be the best essays, but they are mine and I’m proud of my work. The second one is definitely my favorite.

I’ve always thought I was good at writing. Maybe everybody thinks that, or I’m just one of those full-of-themselves people. Anyway, I’ve always liked my writing and when I heard this bimester was going to be all about writing, I though “piece of cake”. I didn’t consider that it’s been years since the last time I had to write for real – not my journal, not a story, but an essay – a conventional, academic, full of rules essay.

I can’t say that this semester was only about remembering what should be done, that would be unfair. To tell you the truth, this semester was more about thinking of education, in every aspect, than anything else.

One very important thing that I have learned with Isabella, the teacher, was how to correct your students’ essays. Before this course, I confess, I was insecure about what to say and how I should approach my students about both positive and needing-work aspects. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert now, but I am clearly more confident about it.