Now is an exciting part of the semester: we’ve gotten off to a good start and are ready to explore the world of new literacies and language learning. As Graham Stanley points out in his book Language Learning with Technology, for online learning to work effectively, it’s important to build the right kind of supportive learning community. A good learning community is one that has a sense of team spirit, where the participants have a healthy respect for one another and can take up a range of mentoring roles, becoming teachers as well as learners.

That’s why this first post is all about learning more about each other. Please respond to this post by leaving a comment and introducing yourself (whatever you feel comfortable sharing in a public online space like this one). Please relate: 1) one interesting experience that you have had with new technologies; 2) one question about new technologies that you would like to have answered on this course.

After posting your own comment, you can respond to someone else. Do you think that you have the answer to their question? Remember to be constructive in your comments and critique.

66 thoughts on “Getting started: Building a learning community online

  1. 1. I recorded almost lessons last semester, though I seldom reviewed them, I found it very useful. Cause I’m kind of a visual leaner, listening to recording force me to pay attention to what teachers said only, particularly the words that sound unfamiliar to me.
    2. How technology can be used in exam-oriented classes in mainland China ?

    • Your experience reminds me of what I usually do in the past school holidays when I always brought an English vocabulary book back to home but seldom read them.

    • I think your way of recording the lectures is great. Because who knows how much we really get after class. Recording them and reviewing them sometime is a great way to help us memory what we learned!

    • Thanks for this. That’s a really interesting question and the answer probably depends on the context as well as student expectations. Exams tend to focus on ‘traditional’ literacy skills, so technology packages that cater to those skills would probably be appreciated by students. This could include vocabulary learning apps, grammar drill CALL programs, automated writing assessment programs (these can give students feedback on their writing, using artificial intelligence), concordancing tools that help learners to explore language structures and so on.

      George Jiang, who did his PhD at Hong Kong University, has used multimodal composing with exam classes in China and reported positive results. You can read some of his articles, if you like: short one here; longer one here.

      So, just because you have an exam focus, doesn’t mean that you should stick to an old, traditional pedagogy. There are lots of useful technological tools out there to help!

  2. As a big fan of music and basketball, it was excited for me to follow the micro blog and Facebook account of my idols, by which I could not only watch them on TV but also get to know how they practice and get prepared for the performance or games. These new technologies now are bridging the relationships between super stars and fans.
    Questions: Will paper books disappear in the future because of the wide application of E-books?

    • Your interaction with the stars sounds really exciting. It can motivate your stars to keep working, and you get your English improved through the communication. It’s even free-of-charge!

      I don’t think e-books will ever replace paper books. Viewing e-books brings new problems, eg making shortsightedness a more serious issue, and it’s not convenient for people in underdeveloped countries to get access to those books, etc. And some real book lovers resist e-books too!

    • I prefer to read paper books rather than e-books, because I enjoy the pleasure of writing down notes and my thinking freely while reading books. Some books, e.g., literary works and reference books are well worth preserving for a long time, and paper books will be better for preserving. So, I think paper books will not be replaced by e-books.

    • I also love those social media that connect me and my idols, because it lets me feel close to them. Besides, I always read some social news or world events from this kind of platforms.

      Actually, though e-books provide us more convenient ways to read and get information, I don’t think e-books will replace traditional paper works. There are lots of readers who still enjoy reading paper books, like I myself also prefer to read traditional ones. I think there is a direct connection between me and the books, so that I can focus more on the content instead of running through it.

  3. I am Laurel, a girl who is keen on
    baking and interested in teaching.

    Q1: It was my first time that I was intrigued by technology related to my learning experience via the APP named BaiCiZhan to remember vocabularies.

    Q2: How to conduct new technologies in language teaching but not distract students from language learning itself?

    • I used to use BAICIZHAN for a short period of time as well, but I found it tiring to keep your eyes on a electronic screen, but another reason I stopped using was maybe I was not self-disciplined as you.

    • Regarding your question, I think the teacher’s class management ability and conducting the lesson with clear language objectives are the most important.

    • Hi Laurel. A lot of people assume that using technology is going to distract from ‘the real work’ of language learning. I look at it differently – I think technological tools make that work easier and more efficient as well as promoting engagement and motivation. I also think that part of the work of language learning is learning to communicate through digital platforms. It all comes down to how we use the technology.

      Pen, paper, and writing are all technologies too. When they came into being, they were also controversial. For example, the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates criticized writing because he thought that people would overrely on it and their memories would become poor. Meanwhile, writing has developed into a very effective tool for learning.

      In your own experience, if one is using technology for learning, in what way does that distract from learning? What do you think could be done about these issues?

  4. Hi, I am Camie. 1) I used to have a comic blog more than 10 years ago as my critique on social issues in Hong Kong: But as there were not many views or comments, I stopped posting after several entries.

    2) What is the best way to react to cyberbullying, such as in the case of receiving loads of mean feedback from others?

    • It’s very surprised to hear that you have maintained a comic blog before, which sounds pretty cool and unique. Actually, cyberbullying has been discussed a lot these years due to the rapid development of mass media and social networking platform, like facebook, instagram and Weibo in mainland China. We have to admit that these platforms give the public more opportunities to speak their voice out. However, some news without enough investigation or fake reports might be more easily repost sometimes, causing a few serious social issues.

  5. Hi everybody, I am Grace, I seldom share information online, because I am afraid that my privacy will be stolen by others. One interesting experience that I used new technology was that I utilized one IELTS App named Xiaozhao Education to help me prepare for the IELTS examination, it helped me a lot, since there were lots of materials and tactics that were helpful. So, what other technologies that may help my teaching career in the future?

    • I know there is an APP named Zuoyebang, which can let teachers assign homework and modify students’ homework online. If a teacher uses this kind of APP, the workload of the him/her will be reduced since he/she can just look at the result of the students on the mobile phone instead of marking all the assignment by himself/herself. I think that is a good way to save your time for other meaningful teaching tasks.

    • In Hong Kong, BBC Learning English and the British Council learning websites are very popular. There are many video clips teaching advanced vocabulary, social issues, workplace communication and so on. They integrate the four language skills as well. As their quality is high, many students are willing to use them outside class.

  6. My name is Vicky. During the process of learning English, one thing leaves me deep impression is the electric dictionaries are widely used. When we started to learn English at age 7, we consulted very thick paper dictionaries, which were time-consuming.
    The question that I would like to know is how to take advantages of new technologies to facilitate language learning and teaching instead of changing paper mode to technology mode?

    • I’m totally agree with you that nowadays the electric dictionaries are widely use and it is very convient for us.

    • Electronic dictionaries are very popular in my class. But the drawback is the students always play games via their devices. I think it is a big headache because I don’t know how to avoid this problem.

    • Hi Eric. This is a tough problem. Nowadays teachers have so much competition. We have to work so much harder to give students something ‘better’ to engage with. Perhaps we need to introduce a ‘screens away’ or ‘lids down’ or ‘eyes up’ rule, so the teacher can call attention to themselves when needed and away from the devices. If you’re using technology in class, you’ll need to explain carefully to students how you expect it to be used. What do you think?

  7. Hi, I am Joan, a girl who has used wechat for over four years.Wechat is a tool for me to mark down some important or interesting moments in my life.
    How can moblie apps facilitate students in learning English is what I am curious about.

    • When it comes to the mobile apps, the first thing in my mind is its convenience. it enables students to learn English everywhere in anytime. Also, various kinds of language learning apps can help students find the one most suitable for them.

  8. Hi everyone, I would like to share my experience of using the Google Drive. There is a function here which enables everyone on the same group to edit the same document at the same time. It is the first time I experienced such new technology and it did impress me so much. It is effecient and labour-saving, unless someone deletes what you are working on.

    The question is that when teaching with new technology, shall we introduce the new ones or start from the commonly used ones or do both?

    • As long as the technology that the teacher introduces to the class is not too difficult to use, and will motivate students to learn, whether it involves new skills / sites does not matter much in my opinion.

  9. My name is Julie
    The app Boxfish is the technology I used one or two years ago when I was working in a secondary school. Boxfish enables students to learn English after class by using their portal devices, either on their phones or iPads. There are a wide range of interesting tasks for student to learn English, they can repeat, fill in the blanks in games, watch authentic English videos and communicate with native speakers via the app if they want to. The most intriguing thing is that students can receive the result in the form of stars, the more stars they get the better the gifts from the app company will be.
    My question is what are the most appropriate technologies for teenage students to cultivate learner autonomy?

    • Thank your for your sharing. I think the app you use is very effective and obviously students are motivated to learn in order to score higher. but there is still a loophole because the situation whether they are going to do so is not controllable.

    • The app you introduced sounds brilliant!

      I recommend BBC Learning English and the British Council learning English website, as they are prestigious, practical, dynamic and quite fun.

    • Hi Julie and thanks for this. A good approach for cultivating learner autonomy, in my view, is project-based learning. In essence, you work on a project with students which can be enhanced by technology. In particular, the project report (video, powerpoint, website, brochure, written report) can be shared over the internet and reach a large audience and this can be very motivating. That leads to lots of opportunities for self-directed learning.

  10. Hi everyone. Im Dallas. When it comes to the new technology applied for language learning, I have some practical suggestions on apps choice for learning English. As an English tutor for senor high school students several years ago, I found it quite difficult to monitor those students who were too lazy to memorize new words. As the requirement for obligatory vocabulary is 3500, it is time consuming and exhausting to urge them to recite every word. Thanks to the app “baicizhan”, which builds up a cycling repetative drilling system for the students to practise, these kids no longer find it boring to do such memory stuff.

    • I have used that APP actually, and it is good for learners to memorize vocabularies. However, I do not know how to use it after learning the words in the APP. Besides, we download video games, which make us distracted easily when we use smartphones. It is really hard to take advantages of technologies only without any drawbacks that bring with.

    • I have the same feeling with Vicky, the drawback of these vocabulary applications is that they only focus on the meaning of the word but ignore its context. And also, most of the time, the apps provide English word and let users choose the correct Chinese translation. But when we use the words, we actually come up with Chinese first and then try to find an English translation. Thus, in real communication, the using frequency of the words learned on apps is not that high. I think these apps help more in reading than daily using of the language.

  11. Good evening, my name is Lux. When I was a college student, I created a homepage which is about football by using Microsoft Frontpage.
    I want to know the disadvantages of the project-based approach you introduced to us in today’s class, thank you.

    • Lux – I’m afraid I’m a bit biased. I can’t imagine a better way of teaching than working on projects and sharing project presentations with an authentic online audience. As you progress through various stages of the project, you can introduce the necessary language skills and strategies to students, who can immediately practise them in a meaningful way. But projects have to be introduced, structured and supported properly, otherwise they will certainly fall apart. Working in teams can be a challenge for students as well.

      What do you think the disadvantages could be?

  12. Hi, I’m Grace Fu, it’s really glad to meet you here. I’m going to be a high school English teacher after my graduation.
    Here what I’d like to share with you is my experience during my undergraduate studies. As an English major student, I need to prepare lots of professional exams, and I found it is very useful for me to enhance my listening skills by listening to news from applications on my mobilephone.
    My question is:There are upsides and downsides of technology , so how can we use the techonology better in language learning?

    • yes we should consider the selfdiscipline of younger aged learners when we try to apply new technology for language teaching.

    • I think discretion and self-discipline come first for learning language with the use of technology. Technology can be either addictive or inconvenient to us. Hence we should learn to control ourselves instead of expecting technology to suit our needs in ideal ways.

  13. Hi, this is Fiona. 1) Some of my foreign friends, who are going to do a exchange-student program in mainland China where Facebook and Instagram would be blocked. , have asked me to teach them to use WeChat and VPN 2) How to balance the relation between tradition literacy practice and new literacy practice ?

  14. I am keen on one Korean talent show named Produce 101, and I used to watch this live show on every Friday night online through a very famous video website.
    My question is since the new technologies have become more and more popular and teaching online has become more acceptable for students and parents, how can we apply certain teaching approaches which are based in classroom settings to the online teaching?

  15. Hi, everyone! I’m Eric, a senior high school English teacher. I’m eager to explore how new technologies can be applied into language teaching. I ever introduced to my students an App, which allows them to be English dubbing speakers for movies or speeches. Later on, I find many of them addicted to the App, which offers precious opportunities to practice their oral English in authentic situations. Now the App also enables us to chat with foreigners visually. When it comes to my question regarding new literacies, I think it is how technologies can be used to improve the learners’ writing abilities and provide them useful feedback.

    • E-learning service providers like MySmartABC hire tutors to mark students’ writing. Many Hong Kong schools subscribe to them.

  16. Hi everyone! I’m Ruby.

    1. A very embarrassing but interesting experience is that last time when I went back to Beijing and had a meal with my friends, I was really shocked by a super convenient payment method using wechat.

    As is general that we always want to pay the bill when having dinner with friends that you haven’t seen for a long time, I wanted to do that at that day as well. However, the waitress told me that the payment only could be made after we finish the meal. So after we were done I went up to the counter but was told that it had already been paid! I was totally amazed because my friends were with me the whole time. Finally one of my friends told me that they paid through scanning the QR code on the table…and laughed at me.

    2. As more and more new technologies are being introduced into English teaching, how can we ensure the quality and the effectiveness of using them by the students.

    • One way tp solve the problem you mentioned in Q2 is to have schools offering tablets, with only the apps they need to use installed, to the class, rather than asking students to use their own devices.

      Assessment held at the end of the class can also help to ensure students are on task during the lesson.

  17. Actually, I don’t know is it interesting or not, but I think it is kind of great related experience for me. Last year, I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on one specific vocabulary memorizing software, called Shanbay, which I used before to enlarge my vocabulary. With my own experiences and understanding of this software, I applied related theories and knowledge for figuring out the vocabulary learning strategies in this kind of educational app. This experience lets me think much more about the relationship between new technologies and language learning/teaching.

    I would like to know that how to combine the use of new technologies and traditional methods to teach language in an effective and attractive way for students.

    • The reading lesson we saw in week 2 could be one way of doing this. As well as a traditional focus on skills like skimming and scanning for information retrieval, there was a focus on the ‘authenticity’ of the text – how real or fake is it – an important ‘digital literacy’ these days.

  18. I am Boyi, a master student in English Studies. I love watching tutorials makeup videos and other short videos in YouTube. My two favorite youtubers is Tati and Lilly Singh.
    Actually, in mainland China, we do not have the access to YouTube without VPN and VPN is pricey. Therefore, I didn’t get access to the YouTube until I studied in HK. Ever since, I enjoy watching those videos in English, comment on them and discuss the contents with other viewers.
    My question about new technologies is that how can them promote learning efficiency of language and which combinations of those technologies suit better for different levels of students.

    • Hi, Boyi. I think you have come up with a really insightful question about this course. Actually, I am quite interested in that one too. I am also wondering how can teachers improve learners’ learning outcome with the assistance of new technologies. It is very thoughtful of you to think of the fact that some teaching method with new technologies might not suitable for every learners. I totally agree with you that the differences existing among different level of students should be taken into consideration when deciding which pedagogy to use. I believe this is a question worth pondering over. If you have any idea about this issue, I am very willing to invite you to share our thoughts together.

  19. Hi, I’m Kiki He, a girl from Guangdong province studying in CityU of HK. Actually, I began to create my own WeChat Interface last year which contains my personal comments on social issues and literary works (written in Chinese mostly). I update it from time to time if I’m available. I would like to share the two-dimension code but it couldn’t, so if you’re interested in it just contact me in email freely.
    My bachelor major is Educational Technology which is the study to facilitate learning process and resources by technology. So in this course, I hope to figure out the combination of educational technology and language learning deeply.

    • Wow, it is great for you to have your own WeChat interface and keep updating it. Actually, my college roommates and I also created one a few years ago, but we just forgot it and put it away after several weeks. It is a pity for us, I think.

  20. My name is Chen Xinghuan, and I also go by Evelyn. I love playing video games, watching movies or browsing through social networking sites in my spare time. I would like to share one of my learning experience with e-learning website in senior high school. At that time, I have trouble in English listening. That website gives me access to a wide range of authentic resources which allows me to practice my listening. It also provides numerous articles about how to improve listening skills. The website helps me a lot in learning English.
    In this course, I want to know how to improve teaching using new technology .

    • Hello, Evelyn. It seems that we share some common interests. I believe that this course can definitely give us some ideas about different kinds of new technologies. Last week, we learnt about the three computer-assisted language learning: behaviouristic, communicative and integrative. I figure that we should integrate different kinds of teaching approaches and combine suitable technology tools for language teaching.

  21. Hi, this is Lissie.1) I keep a microblog or whe at we called ‘weibo’ on to share my daily life with my friends and people online. Most of my friends have their accounts on Sina and the website may recommend some new friends to me according to my friends’ friend lists. I reconnect with some of my primary school classmate in this way.
    2)The language used online updates so quickly and creates a lot of new words in our life. Many young people prefer to use online language in their life instead of the idioms, which sometimes influence the beauty of the traditional language. So how to balance the online language with the traditional language used in our life?

    • Your question is unique. I guess we shouldn’t get out of touch with traditional language – and the best way is to keep reading to maintain our exposure. If people only get exposed to online language, it is hard for them to switch back to traditional language flexibly.

    • Hi, Lissie. Your question is interesting, and I think those new words online or buzzwords do exist more in our daily communication, especially for young people. However, educationists and linguists pay great attention on the language teaching in schools, so I think those net words might not replace or change the role of traditional language. They are just a new and attractive sight in human languages.

  22. Hi, I’m Danella. I think sometimes it’s very useful to share something in a public online space. Before I came to HK, I shared my information in my Weibo to find a roommate, and I received many feedbacks only in two hours. Finally, I found the roommate and the following things also go well.
    Question: How to distribute time for primary school students when they are using the new technologies?

    • Hi, Danella, when it comes to teaching primary school students, I think the most important thing is to raise their interest in learning English and keep them motivated. When students use technologies in their spare time, they are easily to get out of control of themselves without instructions, so I think the time should not be too long, otherwise they will easily get boring. And I think that learning in a loose and comfortable situation is far better than learning without efficiency.

  23. I enjoy posting words and pictures in Weibo and reading my friends and some famous persons’ Weibo too. I feel good when I browse in platforms like Weibo. Resently, I follow some bloggers who record videos to teach their follwers to make up. So I think Weibo is a place for me to share and learn.

    My question is what kinds of technologies can be used in the class that contains a large number of students?

    • The school needs to have a large computer room or many tablets for holding technology-enhanced lessons with a large class. Otherwise the teacher can only demonstrate how to use some websites without the students trying during the class.

  24. Hi, I am Eating, a girl who is not so extroverted as the appearance be like…

    In this way, I really enjoy surfing on the internet, using sina microblog, bilibili, wechat to keep in touch with my friends (maybe net friends). I can do it all day and give thumbs up to their friends’ circle. It is surprising that at first I do not trust people on the internet, while as time goes by they may do something moving to me.

    My question is though new media, new literacies narrows down the distance between people, how can we protect our privacy as more and more information uploaded to the internet?

    • I think the best way not to give your privacy away is to assume everything you post can be shared with everyone in the world. For websites that ask for your confidential data, check the security setting of those websites and only use the most reliable ones.

  25. I agree with your opinion. It reminds me that almost all teachers in hongkong have used the videos from YouTube as an example in the class. When teachers want to demonstrate a class vividly, the video can demonstrate a good example. Because the video and music can attract students attention. In my teaching experience, I sometimes use video to assist my teaching experience
    My question is that whether some new technology approaches like videos or music can be used in the class ?how to balance the traditional teaching approaches and new approaches?

  26. I like to play on-line games. I used to teach my student who also likes on-line games the English pronunciation of the game language. We both had a great time learning that!

    How to create on-line community to learn English? I guess blogging is a great way!^*^

  27. Technology-enhanced lessons may end in poorer class discipline, and the equipment often malfunctions. Also, it is difficult for teachers to conduct exam-oriented lessons with technology.

  28. Hi, this is Doreen.
    Actually, I am not a good user in digital literacies. I use a very limited number of social networks, apps or even some portable devices. Yeah, but recently, I found a very useful online word process tool to get the synchronized information from your nearby users while typing, making the reading, editing and sharing simultaneously. I think this is a big hit, and I wish to learn more about this from the New Literacies class if possible.
    Questions: How to incorporate digital literacies in class for students who are more addictive to the tech stuff than the knowledge itself?

  29. Hey, I’m Alice Mao from middle-sized city in the central part of China.

    Speaking of the interesting experience that you have had with new technologies, I want to share something happened when I was a junior student in the university. At that time I participated in the English dubbing competition in the middle of May, therefore, my friend suggested me to download an APP called 英语趣配音(Interesting English Dubbling). In this APP, you can download manifold English short videos cut in the famous movies or dramas as you want, and you may imitate the pronunciations of the characters involved in this video and repeat again and again until you are satisfied with it. Thus I practice a short English video for several times and it helps me to promote my fluency as well as the tone. Eventually I won the second prize in this dubbing competition held by our university.

    As for one question about new technologies, I would like to answer the affordances and constraints of the new technologies related to second language teaching.

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