February 26, 2014

My research: Living Social Presence

I normally post in English because of the different people who follow this blog and speak other languages. However, today I'd like to share the result of the work I've been developing (in Brazil) for the last two years: my M.A. thesis.

Why did I decide to study about Social Presence?

Well, I start my thesis telling a story about a period of my life that because health problems I couldn't be in a real classroom in contact with my students. In an attempt to feel useful and share some knowledge with other teachers, I created an online course for EFL teachers and for the first time moderated an online course on my own. With this experience, the virtual learning environment was no longer a cold and impersonal place, but a space where I met people in order to exchange ideas and learn. This is my personal reason for the interest to understand about Social Presence.

What were my objectives?

I wanted to observe and analyze how participants of an online course live Social Presence and some implications of our conceptions of Social Presence to the learning process during the course.

And what is Social Presence?

Although there is no unique definition for this concept, based on my studies, I believe Social Presence is the degree in which you perceive your presence and the presence of others in a virtual interaction and the willingness to develop an interpersonal relationship aiming collaborative learning.

My defense took place this morning and as I promised to share my presentation with the research participants and my friends, here it is. The research was carried out in Brazil in Portuguese, so the slides and the recording are in my mother tongue.

This is a recording I made in order to practise for the defense: (IN PORTUGUESE)

Presença Social from Ana Maria Menezes on Vimeo.

And these are the slides (PREZI) I used for my presentation this morning.

The experience of having my work discussed by Cláudia Hilsdorf and Valeska Soares Souza was pure enjoyment. I have to thank them for the contributions to my work.

If you wish to read the whole paper (in Portuguese), there's a version online at the blog where I've shared my writing since the beginning of the research  http://ufuanamariamenezes.blogspot.com.br  or flipping the pages below. This is the version I handed in for my defense. Please, bear in mind it's not the final version yet.
At Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/209558265/Vivendo-a-Presenca-Social-historias-de-um-curso-online-para-professores-de-Ingles

February 22, 2014

E-course: Mobile Learning EFL

I was planning to propose an e-course for English teachers involving studies related to the use of mobile devices in the EFL classroom when I was contacted by a dear friend, Jennifer Verschoor.

Last year, Jennifer devised and monitored an online course on the same topic and we had been thinking about developing a project together.

Our collaboration in planning this online course has been quite interesting with once-a-week skype meetings, a google docs for our planning and little my little we've put together an online course for Brazilian and Argentine teachers.

This is the poster we've been using to invite participants:
If you're interested in joining us, the enrollment information can be found at the bottom of the online poster.

February 14, 2014

Mobile Activity: Introduce a family member

How can I use the many smartphones in the classroom for a simple and real communicative activity? This post describes a mobile activity I have already tried where basic learners use their own devices to introduce family members to their classmates.

Level: basic
Language Skill: speaking
Topic: members of the family
Device: students' own cell phones
Internet Connection: off

After having learned vocabulary related to family, ask if students have pictures of any family member on their cell phones. Let them browse their photos and tell them if they haven't got a phone that day or a photo, there's no problem.

Once students have selected a photo with one or more family members, model the exchange below with one of the students:

Student A shows the photo: This is my brother.
Student B asks: What's HIS name?
Student A: His name is Maurício.

Ask students to stand up and mingle while they show photos and ask questions. Students who don't have a photo to show, just go round asking questions.

I know this activity is VERY SIMPLE but believe me, I saw some smiles while they interacted with each other.