For many people, an essential component of learning is ‘community’. That’s certainly the case for John Green, who presented a talk at TEDxIndianapolis entitled ‘The nerd’s guide to learning everything online‘. He describes how YouTube videos have enabled him to engage in a learning community, which has encouraged him ‘to continue to be a learner even in my adulthood, so that I no longer feel like learning is something reserved for the young’. Watch the full video below, if you’re interested in following up on those ideas.

When teachers engage their students in online learning, it’s important that they too think about how they can foster a learning community. Students need to build up a sense of community in the virtual space that the teacher nominates, in order to get the most out of the learning experience. That’s why the main aim of this first post is just for us to get to know 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.


70 thoughts on “A fresh start: building an online community

  1. Hi this is Winnie! I am not a technology geek and I have always had a hard time to master a new digital device/ tool. When I first got my iPhone, I turned on the front camera and Facetime with my friend for an hour without acknowledging it at all.
    In this course, I would like to see how social media affects our language use. I would like to see the new invented words arise from in internet.

    • Social media has definitely affected how people communicate with one another. The language may become simpler. For instance, I observe that people tend to drop out “subjects” in a sentence and use more abbreviations within a small/close group.

    • Winnie, I think you will become a future social linguist as the questions are all related to that~

      What you are asking is a big issue, that I don’t think a single msg can answer that.

      However, I just discovered that my behaviours or my language use here have already changed due to the monitor of the teachers and classmates.

      …I usu leave lame messages ungrammatically in other platforms, but I dare not do it here. 😛

    • Social media has changed our views and affect our language use. For instance, we use “hahahaha” or “kekekeke” to represent words like “giggle”.

      Letter homophones like LOL, BTM are very good examples that show how we expressed ourselves.

      Social media has helped people to link together easier but meanwhile, it kept people apart, It is something that you love and hate at the same time.

  2. With new technology, we can easily get access to everything you are interested and we find those who share the same interest.
    In China now, many online teaching systems are emerging now. However, most of these teaching models are just”now bottle with old wine”. Teachers teach what they usually do in real life but through Internet. So how can teachers really apply new literacies into language teaching effectively and efficiently and how to balance the role of new literacies and traditional teaching method are problems to consider.

  3. I am Carrie, a part-time local student in this programme and a full time teacher in a post-secondary school. it’s nice meeting you all here. I love photography and traveling.

    1) I recalled a lesson I had with my students when I first introduced them the use of Google document. At the beginning of the class, I asked them to input their Gmail addresses, then they were asked to do a group writing task on a piece of paper. After discussion, they had to use their mobile phones and tablets to type their work on the same Google document. Most students were new to this tool so they were amazed when they saw every group was typing at the same time! However, some naughty students made use of this advantage and posted some funny pictures alongside with their writings. Nevertheless, the class was really on task and the atmosphere was quite nice throughout the lesson.

    2) In my school, assessments are frequent and teaching schedules are tight, students are tired of endless writing tasks, how can we use digital tools to facilitate learning process and arouse students’ interest in writing at the same time?

  4. 1) One of the interesting experience in learning with new technology is google docs, which were used in our group project last semester. Because google is blocked in mainland China, this is the first time I have had access to this funny and useful on-line editor, with which I can edit word and ppt documents with other group members simultaneously so that we can interact with each other right away and this greatly improve the efficiency of the group work. I really feel the advantage that technology has offered to me.
    2) Can anyone give me some authentic examples of how digital literacies are used with the language pedagogical approaches taught in today’s lesson?

  5. Hi, I’m Kulia. Happy to know each other. (=^ ^=)
    I’m not sure that it is an interesting experience. At the age of 9, I got my first computer, and became addicted to it. The result is that the new computer caused me near sighted then. New technology is convenient and useful in learning but people should learn to control themselves before they use!!!
    I always heard “Web 2.0”, “Web 1.0”, but what are them? And what the differences between them?

    • web 1.0: network–people (Single direction of information
      , the website is can not be edited by, personal blog)
      web 2.0: people–people (just like Facebook or ins, people communicate with each other )

    • Hi Stella – I basically agree with this, except for one thing: you use blogs as an example of web 1.0. Are you sure blogs ‘cannot be edited by users’? 😉

  6. 1. The first time I learned to dub for some English Movies via a newly developed app which is called Quepeiying, and I practiced for an hour to finish my first dubbing, and obviously I was satisfied with my work, yet here came a problem– I had no idea how to publish it or share it with my new friends.

    2 The project-based learning approach actually is very practical and meaningful for both teaching and learning. In mainland China, there are various projects designed by different institutions to help English learners. Let’s say the Summer Camp for oral English improvement, short-term study abroad while traveling, interest-oriented class yet focused on English acquisition and so on. So I would agree with your idea that Project-based learning aims for all-level learners, and this approach can be applied in class, out of class, or extra-curriculum club. The key problem of this approach is how to manage members in an appropriate projects so that they can benefit from this approach.

    • Quepeiying! I love it too! It makes me feel that I am the professional actor and experience the producing of films. I would try many times to imitate the original tone and speed. It is really helpful!

  7. Hi there, this is Tiffany.
    1)Recently, I have run across a very interesting app called Tandem that I’d like to share with you guys. It is exactly the same as what we have learned about tandem approach. On this app, you can set the language you speak and the language you want to practice. The app will show randomly a bunch of person that suit to your setting. You can text or video with them. And the person on this app is of high quality. You can meet with interesting person.
    2)In this course, I want to learn more technologies that can be used to language learning and teaching apart from the ordinary ones like recorder, wiki etc.

    • Your recommendation is so good to me. The tandem approach is new to me and I’d like to have a try and meet someone interesting. Communication is very necessary in our English learning.

  8. Hello~ My name is Zita When I attended an online course, I found a classmate from the same university with me. Then we share some experience about the course we learned. I made a real friend from virtual environment, and this is interesting.

    Compared with traditional way of teaching, teaching with new technology may disturb students’ concentration to some extent. For instance, I will do something else when I study online, because I am using a devices which can also play video games or enjoy movies. How can we solve this situation?

    • Personally, the best way to solve you problem is to enhance students’ ability of self-control and maybe you can make your class more interesting so as to attract students’ attention and therefore, they may be not devoted to their own stuff but just focus on your class instead.

    • The online world is really a small world and it can connect people who may not have any relationships in the real world. As for the distraction problems, I think many people have this problem. You need to exercise your ability of self-controlling.

  9. This is yajing and I come from Northern part of China. So adaptation to the chilling weather here may take some time, maybe till the end of the winter? I guess.
    Blog of any computer has encryption function and it can be activated as well as shut down as you want. Unfortunately, once I forgot to close it and the dialogue between me and my friend went public. Though it was not that private which was casual chitchat, it can be scary as long as I think of it afterwards.
    I am wondering is there any new and striking part of new technologies that I have not explored or known yet, apart from posting pictures, writing articles or adding comments etc.

    • Hello, Yajing. I think I have same worry with you, the side effect of the internet might be the reveal of the personal privacy. Not only because you might forget to close your website, but other means that your information can be released. So, we have to be careful and try to give too much personal information and secrets online and learn how to protect ourselves and our friends. Knowing some laws about this fields will be useful.

    • Knowing how to manage and protect your data in the digital environment is an important digital literacy. This plays a role in how you interact in online environments, and so, some would say, is an important element of learning to communicate in the 21st century. How does this affect English language teaching?

  10. I think it is good to be one of the members in a particular online community since you can find the one who gets the same feeling with you. I used to use an IELTS App where you can find partners to practice speaking, made your composition corrected, share the information of IELTS Test and even spill out your anxious feelings. I think those new technologies are good tools and tutors for language learning, but the problem is that how could teacher embed those new technologies into the time-limited class? And how to make those technologies effective and efficient?

  11. Hi! I am Stella, you guys always call me Shanshan. Loving making friends and traveling.
    1.When I was teaching students I often used a website called quizlet. Teacher typed in all the words or phrases in a certain unit, then the website select some word randomly and give students a quiz online, students also can download the quiz. If the students do not pass the quiz, they can retake a quiz and the most interesting part is, students won’t meet the same choices.
    2. Sometimes students would distracted by the Internet. As a teacher, how to balance the pros and cons.

    • Hi Stella! Love travelling here too!
      I am interested in the website quizlet, and I think its helpful for teachers. As for your question, I think internet has unavoidable cons in learning and teaching process, teachers can just play a role of supervisor.

  12. Hi, everyone. This is Fiona from HK. I like travelling and learning languages.
    1) Once I attended a Music teaching workshop, which introduced the use of iPad and different apps to create music in the classroom. In the workshop we sang some songs (from the textbook) together, accompanied by the music we created using the app ‘Garage-band’ in the iPad.
    Some of us played the chords of digital guitars by just wiping the screen of the iPad. Some of us played the drums. It’s funny that we were not just playing music using the iPad, but also forming a band using the digital tools.

    In the workshop, the speaker played the following link which really impressed me.
    Go watch it. It’s fun!

    2) What are the useful ‘app’s that we can use in a language classroom? How can we use them?

  13. 1. This is Chloe. One interesting experience with new technologies is the use of Google Drive with my teammates last semester. Actually Google is forbidden in mainland of China, so I never used Google Drive before. For one course project last semester, our group chose Google Drive to share and update information, and I found it convenient and easily operated. Others can see the revision the monment one makes a few changes. I feel it is quite useful to our learning.
    2. the new technologies give a hit to the traditional langauge, for some special expressions for internet conmmunication have developed. How these new expressions affect our learning of language.

    • I strongly agree with your idea on Google Drive. It is an excellent tool for group work. It would be great if mainland China did not forbid it. Thus, students in mainland China can benefit from it as well.

  14. Hello, everyone, I’m Lexie.
    1. My sharing experience with new technologies is that a website we used in the last semester on the literature class. The After a discussion section, students will work as groups and write down their ideas in the same room of this online website, and then all the ideas will be shown anonymously, with each group gets an letter from A-Z. And then the teacher can start the voting function, everybody in the class can vote for the answer or the idea that he or she thinks is good. Through the voting process, students get to reading each ideas from their classmates and get to do the critical evaluation by themselves, they can sharing and learning in the same time, which I think it is quite useful and interesting.
    2. Question: How to balance technology use? I mean, the technology can’t be used all the time and how to do the best choice to decide when to use technology.

    • I found interesting as well. It can be anonymous at first and choose the argument which you really like!

    • I also agree with the idea that the Secretive is amazing. It provides us with a platform to show our opinions and to vote for what we really support.
      I also feel doubtful about the question that you asked. And one more thing I want to add is that, if teachers are the only users of technology in class, it will be too teacher-centered. However, if every student acquires the right to operate all by themselves, I am afraid the use of technology will be a distraction of the class, whatever the age and stage of the students.

  15. Hey this is Viela. One of my interesting experience on using the technology is that I have made an e-book with my group members which was called ‘The Dual-consciousness research in human mind’. We used a sound recorder to record our voice tracks on reading several pages on the e-book out loud and a tool called ‘e-book creator’ on the internet then we combined both of them to make our e-book successfully. In fact, it is a new way to present our essay on this project. Also we used iMovie to make a trailer for our e-book, which contained some horror pictures about vampire and hysteria things. The terrified music sound and photos created a kind of thrilling feeling. We were proud of that product at that time actually, so funny. LOL

    Since the technology has been a part of teaching, how should the teachers use it more effectively from the practical perspective?

    • I like the e-book your group created last sem! It is super cool! XD I enjoy to listen to you guys’ voices though I missed some of the content.

  16. I was impressed by an assignment concerning to flash fiction learning. As the form of groups, students were requested to find one flash fiction they were interested in and to post it on Canvas;then individually, everyone had to choose one to leave their own comments. This assignments offered me the opportunity to enjoy various fictions and share my own point of views with my peers.

    The question I would like to raise is that how to make new technologies practical in the class.

  17. People are using nicknames online. Therefore, it could be hard to tell one person from the other when they are sharing the same nicknames. There was a time that I would like to chat with my roommate Cindy after our graduation from senior high school so I added her QQ. We had chatted for nearly one year. However, I accidentally found out that she was not my roommate Cindy one day. She was the other Cindy in my class. It was quiet interesting although embarrassed. ^-^

    • Interesting story. And it is quite common that people tend to be a different person when they are online.

    • I agree with you. It is a fact that different people may use the same nicknames as well as the same avatar online. If there are the same or similar nicknames or avatars in our chat list, we need to be careful when replay their massages online in case of confusions.

  18. Hi, this is Yiyi. I want to share with you about my experience about google slides. When I was an undergraduate, I used microsoft powerpoint as the tool to do group presentation project. Every group member needed to do their own parts seperately, and we integrated all the parts into a final version. It was quite difficult to do the job since everyone had different formats, fonts, etc. After I used the google slides, I found it was very convenient, and everyone could edit the slides online at the same time, which made it more efficient to do group project. I like it sooo much!

    And I got the question that how can we make language learning class more interesting by using digital technologies?

  19. Hahahahahaha….
    This is Uki~
    One interesting experience that I have had with new technologies might be…I used to send message to the wrong person via Wechat…while sometimes it receives very interesting response from others.

    I would like to know more about the pedagogical approaches that could be applied in in-class activities…

  20. 1) It was about 15 years ago, my parents bought me the first computer at home. It was the period of time that computer was not a popular technology in everyone’s home. So I and my brother, who is 6-year younger than me, always strove with each other for the computer, on which we could play the interesting computer games, and we even fought with each other about the restricted time to play respectively. What more interesting was that we even put a clock before the computer screen to alarm that time was out and next one should come.
    2) Q: Is it reasonable to apply the online courses in nowadays universities’ education?

    • I think your experience with computer was very interesting. I was also addicted to computer when my parents bought me one at home. After spending the whole day playing computer games and looking at other websites, my eyes were quite painful!

    • I think in Mainlind China, applying online courses in universities is feasible because the real teaching practice is very similar to the online teaching, where teachers give a lecture on the stage and students listen quielty without much participation. But in this case, I am afraid that many university teachers would lose their jobs, haha…

  21. This is Corrine. I find it comfortable to share a public online space as we can express our ideas freely without any embarrass caused by face-to-face chat. I think blog is amazing as it is a place where I can record my life by posting kind of diary with photos.
    I would like to know some better ways to monitor those digital approach used in language course.

  22. I would like to recommend an interesting app for language learning. It is a audiobook app, LanRenTingShu. Through the app, you could listen to some stories, news, novels, speeches, or even some jokes. Specific practice is set for English learning and other languages learning. Here is the link:

    Question: When we talk about new technologies, interaction and participation of learners are emphasized. So some teaching styles, like mooc or online public courses, seem to focus on information providing. a little interaction and participation?

  23. Hi, I am Carrie. I think one interesting thing about the new technology is that the Internet has offered us many platforms to share our interests and ideas. I usually search on the Internet to find some new fields that I’ve never cared about before, such as planting, drawing and cooking, etc. The Internet has unfolded many new worlds in front of me.
    In this course I hope to learn more about how information technology functions in our life and language learning.

    • Yeah! I agree with you. I don’t know if you use instagram. I recommend you an account: LILTINGFOODDIARY which is set up by two taipei girls. They share a lot of food pictures and introduce many healthy diets. Hope you enjoy it!

  24. One interesting experience that I have had with new technologies is using Socrative in class. As group discussion is a popular activity in class, teachers need students to share their opinions after exchanging ideas. It is a fact that not all the gruops have the opportunity to make a statement because of the time limitation. However, by using the Socartive the teachers can provide the students with a platform to share their ideas on line and also create a vote to see the opinion with most support.

  25. ¡Hola! This is Leslie. The avatar I used is a mascot from a town of Japan named Kumamoto-Ken. His name is Kumamon.

    One interesting experience that I have had with new technologies is the animation video I made with my group mates for the creation project of Western Canon(EN6508). First, We used Moovly, an online website to create animated videos and presentations, and Pages to create some short clips based on different themes. Then, we used Quick Time Player to record these clips and put them together by using the app iMove.

    My question is that how to make a balance between the traditional way of teaching/learning and teaching/learning with new technologies.

    • I was totally impressed by your group’s animation video, it was so cute and innovative. Also, I really like the sound tracks in the video. You guys are brilliant.

  26. Hi all this is Joey.

    Personally I didn’t have much interesting experience with new technologies in learning. In my secondary school life, I was always asked to complete reading exercises online, which irritated me a lot. It is because it had no difference with not using technology. If there were more interactive activities, I am sure I would have enjoyed that.

    In this course, I would like to know how technology and language are closely related. It would also be nice if I could learn how to make use of technologies to teach effectively.

  27. During my university, I have chatted with different English teachers from Philippines via Skype in order to improve my oral English. It is an amazing experience since I could also learn Philippines culture and share Chinese culture using English. This experience reminds me of a successful case of technology use in Brazil. There is one school in Brazil where students are eager to learn oral English while they have little chance to talk with a native speaker. Meanwhile, in America, there is an Old People’s Home where many old people live and they feel lonely since they have no one to talk with. Therefore, the school in Brazil contacted with the Old People’s Home and started a program that students talk with the old people one to one via the Internet. This program benefits both parties.
    One question for the course: How can teachers minimize the drawbacks of digital use in the classroom?

    • That sounds like a really interesting project. Is there a link to a report or documentary, so that we can find out more information? I’d love to know more. To answer your question, I think we need to know what you think the drawbacks of the use of digital technology in the classroom are.

  28. My friend introduced a website to me many years ago on which she used to practice her English with strangers. The website allows users to talk with and make friends with strangers from all over the world. I think it is a great platform for people to find someone sharing similar interests.
    The question I want to ask is that whether writing blogs can be a great activity in designing text-based learning classroom.

    • I used this website as well couple years ago. The problem is that I found that the purposes of some people chatting in this web is not for practicing English. Some of the chatters even asked for photos of yours, otherwise he/she won’t keep talking with you. And I came across some racism too. Some chatters just don’t reply me after i said I am a Chinese. Therefore I think this web is not that feasible as it sounds like.

  29. Hey, this is Zoe. I’m a full-time student from Xiamen, China. I’m so int singing, travelling and photography.
    I think my interesting experience of using technology is that I once created a website for a flash fiction project by a web named Actually, this project is more like a learning material prepared by the teacher, through which students can appreciate the fiction, while at the same time, they are able to get a more comprehensive understanding of this form of literature and also learn some language knowledge such as vocabulary, discourse markers from the pre- and post- activities designed in the website.
    I would like to know whether the Internet catchwords nowadays would affect our language learning.

  30. Hi, I am Susan! I always think that I am not good at electronic device use. I have had my new MacBook for nearly 3 months, but I only use it for doing assignments at school. I never search for its further and interesting functions. When I accompanied my cousin learning English last summer, I found she was even better than me at playing English-related computer games. Actually, she’s only 9. I have already know the great importance of applying technology to the teaching process, but I think technology may provide more distractions than advantages for students. So, I want to know the potential advantages of technology to students’ learning, especially language learning.

  31. When I was in senior high school, there was once many students got a terrible kind of flu so that we could not have class at school. Therefore we had class at home through a kind of remote educating software. Teachers still taught us in our classroom but there were no students in front of them. Many teachers felt it was very strange. Through the onlline remote educating software, we could communicate and answer questions through camera or microphone.
    I am interested in new technologies and would like to learn more approaches combined by new technologies and traditional teaching.

  32. Hi everyone! Apologies for posting late on this. It’s been interesting knowing more about your experiences through your sharings.

    An interesting experience I had with new technology – well, it did not exactly happen to me, but it’s something happened at home. One day, I saw my dad on his computer, scrolling through pages of emoticon symbols. Knowing him well, I asked, “Dad, do you want to post a smiley face on facebook?” “Yes, but I don’t know how to do it.” he replied. He knew how to do it on his phone because there’s a separate panel for those emoticons, but he was completely clueless when it was on his computer. He didn’t know that as long as you insert a colon and a close bracket, it would automatically generate the smiley icon once you have clicked “post”. It’s small things like this that made me realise how I have taken much knowledge for granted, simply because I have been a frequent user.

    As for the course, I am hoping to get a better idea on how to utilise new technologies to help students be creative learners on-line and off-line.

  33. Hi everyone,
    This is Phoebe. To be honest, I am not a technology geek However, ever since I got a smartphone,. Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram are the things that I would browse everyday (before I sleep and when I opened my eyes on bed). This has undoubtedly changed my lifestyles and habit. With new technologies, life became easier as people can reach you 24/7, but at the same time, it was annoying because you simply get addicted to it.
    I remembered when I first changed my cell to iPhone, I found it really hard to use it, especially for an android user, it took me a month to get used to my new cell phone and I’m still exploring the functions it.
    In this course, I am interested to find out two things: 1. how are we being exploited by new technologies? 2. As a language teacher, how can new technologies help or motivate students to learn effectively, especially in young learners?

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