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The internet has become the centre of life in the contemporary world. Therefore, it is no wonder that even the education system has taken up this technology to create digital libraries. As a teacher teaching in the UAE for primary stage in IT and English, I feel that there is a need to for me to embrace this technology further and create a subject (English and IT) digital library that serve as a link between me and my students.
This will enable to upload relevant and important learning materials to my students. It will also be a channel through which assignments will be sent and received. Through the digital library, the students will have absolute access to every material that I will be using. This paper therefore seeks to explain how I am going to achieve this through designing digital libraries for the two subjects.
This digital library will have the name, “Linguistic Online Library”. This online library for English will target the students that I teach, and other students who wish to engage in online learning. Since I am a primary stage teacher, the digital library will be simple and easy to use and understand but with features aimed at enhancing efficiency.
The digital library will serve to provide the students with as many resources as possible that introduce them to Basic English learning skills. However, since it will also target other users who wish to access the library. There is a criterion that will be used for accessibility purposes.
Students will not be charged to access the library and will be allowed to use only one IP address to access the library. This is meant to inhibit unauthorized access to the library. The library aims at providing users with as much information as possible by collecting as many English resources as possible and presenting them to the users.
The website portal will have objects that will direct the students to the various destinations. By way of example, there will be objects directing students to the resources themselves, discussion forums, and support desk. The digital library will include very important links leading to intended destined webpages like that describing the purpose of the digital library.
This is very important and digital libraries like the MERLOT Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (2012) include such an object. Just like Merlot’s home page, the Linguistic Online Library will have a very detailed home page that will be the centre of everything.
This is because it will present the viewer with all the links, objects and repositories leading to various destinations. The home page will be designed to include various sections that include: log in, list of the different kinds of reading materials available such short stories, articles, books, and biographies, search, tutorials, video lessons, support and the copyright details.
The organization of a website is very important therefore organization will be essential here. The reading resources will be arranged based on type. Once the user clicks on the object resources, it will open another page asking them if they wish to select an article, book, magazine, newspaper, or encyclopaedia. Once the user chooses a type of resource that he or she wishes to retrieve, a search option will follow.
The search option will be highly defined to enable the user limit the number of results. If there is a book that the user wants but fails to get, there is will a feedback session for them to say which additional resources they wish included in the library.
The digital library will have two user interfaces. One will be for the user and the other for the librarians and system administrators. The interface will enable the user to navigate through the home page and make his or her selection.
The digital library will be designed in a manner that minimizes errors when searching for information, and executes commands within the shortest time possible to ensure optimal utilization by the user. The library’s website will be designed in a way that will be easy to use for beginners but also manageable for non-beginners (Li & Furht, 2000).
The video lessons are meant to create a practical experience to the students. The video repository will lead to a list of videos based on the purpose of the video. There will be basic videos on listening skills, and speaking skills. To cater for the diversified needs of users, there will also videos on forums, interviews, motivational speeches, and debates.
The time for most of these videos will be limited to five minutes to avoid boring the user while the interviews and debates will take longer durations of time, like 30 minutes. There will be a board for discussions (class and social) where participants will give their ideas pertaining to the topic in question.
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Use of Technology
The computer is the main type of technology that has had greater impact on education. However, other types of technologies like video-taping, taking photographs and radio are simplified modes of technology that also supplement the learning process. As of now, I have not come across a website that exclusively places focus on a particular subject. However, the use of technology has been greatly encouraged.
The capitalist world has resulted in a social change where individuals spend most of their time on computers browsing the internet to explore various events around the world. Therefore, the time to socialize with other people is hardly available and therefore the use of technology to create forums for discussion especially in an English class is very important. English is an art that requires people to brainstorm and share ideas.
Computers have been regarded as important supplemental teaching tools that assist English learners to gain valuable experiences. Verbal communication is the basic step when learning English and the computer is designed in a way to do that. There are computer books that allow students to engage in gain interaction skills.
This is because the computer guides students on how to read these books and in a group session, the students are able to share their opinions with each other and improve their language skills (Liaw, 1997). The use of computers in this case therefore indicates their usefulness in facilitating and supplementing verbal interaction with other students (Ybarra & Green, 2003).
Computers have proved effective in promoting vocabulary knowledge by providing a rich contextual environment to the students (Kang & Dennis, 1995). This was after Kang and Dennis (1995) made an observation of the use of computer in promoting vocabulary development.
Based on three study groups of students for definitions, context, and picture, the group context group was reported to have the greatest retention capacity and was associated with a long-term recall of vocabulary and not short term. This is because the other groups had done outdone the context group at the initial stage.
Technology can be used to make the reading experience of English learners better. Much older students would find it bizarre if they were to be given simple reading texts/primary content books to read. Computers however, make the experience interesting and enable the students to give in to reading such texts.
Case and Truscott (1999) report that students are able to improve their sight word vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency by use of computers. Computers also have computer based reading instructions that give prompt feedback on performance.
This enables the learners to improve on their interaction with texts, to be able to pay attention to minor deals that can be easily overlooked, and to enhance independence by gaining confidence in their ability to read.
Computers have made to be an enjoyable activity that has improved parents’ involvement in their children’s learning. When compared with the traditional style of learning, the use of technology that has rapidly evolved over time to include the computer has transformed the education sector. The use of the camera to take photographs (another type of technology) was initially used to create memory books.
This was later taken over by use of the computer and electronic memory books were created. The computer is an advanced type of technology that allows creativity. This enables the inclusion of sounds, video, photos, and clip arts were included into the book report that was later written (Landerholm, Karr, & Mushi, 2000).
Evaluation of Application Tools
Technology (the computer) is fitted with different tools that make it possible for students to learn and practice English. An example is the grammar drill which enables to practice their English skills by answering some set of questions and their scores calculated. This kind of tool is beneficial in that it allows students to evaluate their language proficiency.
At an individual level, it is more of an instructional device that lacks contextualization hence may not be very effective. However, when used by a group of students, it becomes a guide to better learning and understanding of the English language. This is because the students are able to discuss, interact, and actively work with the language in ways that Yoon does not (Egbert, 2001).
The impact of using this tool can be evaluated by preparing a questionnaire asking students to give their opinions and views regarding the tool. The questionnaire would specifically seek to inquire the ways which the tool impacts on their English skills. Since literature purports that there is a difference when the tool is used by a group of students compared with an individual student, a research would seek to achieve this.
The research would be carried out in two discrete entities. One would assess the impact of the tool on a group of students. The other would evaluate the impact of the tool on individual students. Results from the two studies would be used to determine the study group which the tool had a greater effect on its English skills.
Technology has led to a greater focus on writing skills to enhance communication through the internet (Egbert, 2001). The word processor is the main tool used when writing documents. This tool allows students to write their assignments, reports and projects with ease and without spending much time. Students who wish to publish their texts can do so with the help of publishing packages that form part of the word processor.
This tool enables the student to include diagrams and desired graphics in the document. The word processor also has editing properties that enable students to check for basic grammar mistakes. On the same note, there are tools that are purposely developed to check for grammar issues in word documents.
Such tools ease the laborious and time-consuming burden of reading through a document that may be as long as 100 pages but they do not add value in as far as leaning English is concerned. This is attributed to the fact that the student does not get enough details on why his or her choice of grammar was wrong. Continued proper use of the word processors by students means that they are deemed as essential tools for promoting learning.
In the current world, a lot of communication is through mails and because of this speaking skills dwindle as students engage in less verbal communication compared with written one (Egbert, 2001). Teachers will ask students to write mails to their friends as a practical lesson.
Since it might be impossible to check what each student has done as pertains to this activity, some students may actually write a sentence using the untargeted language.
Such form of an activity is not informative and interactive in any way. On the other hand, the use of email can be used to engage students in an interactive and improved learning experience if they get involved in some sort of puzzle activity that engages those developing the puzzle and those filling it.
According to Egbert (2001), individuals can engage in keypal exchange where they send some researched combined pieces of information by a group of students to be unravelled by their pals in some other location. This uses the email but is more interactive since groups of students engage in extensive research from reference library materials, texts and ideas from each other to understand the information sent and give feedback.
In such a case, the email is a rich learning tool that promotes exchange of ideas across geographical boundaries. Teachers can evaluate the use of the email to promote interactive learning by asking students to write a small report on their use of the email to enhance learning. Each student would state their objectives, whether these objectives were achieved, and how they were achieved—in the event that they were achieved.
If they were not achieved, this would mean that better mechanisms of promoting interactive learning were been sought for.
Technology has enabled students to transfer pictures and photographs that are important when preparing their module assignments to their reports. This is enabled by the use of scanners that are able to copy an image form its hardware from into a soft copy that can be shared and plugged in, in the reports.
The picture or scanned image can be easily edited and improved using the picture manager. The use of these application tools is very beneficial but they require to be used in a manner that promotes effective and interactive English learning.
Case, C. & Truscott, D. (1999). The lure of bells and whistles: Choosing the best software to support reading instruction. Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 15 (4), 361-369.
Kang, S. H. & Dennis, J. R. (1995). The effects of computer-enhanced vocabulary lessons on achievement of ESL grade school children. Computers in the Schools, 11 (3), 25-35.
Egbert, J. (2001). Active learning through computer-advanced activities. Teaching English with Technology: A journal for teachers of English. 1 (3). Web.
Landerholm, E.; Karr, J. & Mushi, S. (2000). A Collaborative Approach to Family Literacy Evaluation Strategies. Early Child Development and Care, 162, 65-79.
Li, X., & Furht, B. (2000). Design and implementation of digital libraries. In B. Furht (Ed.) Handbook of Internet Computing. (pp. 4150450). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Web.
Liaw, M. L. (1997). An analysis of ESL children’s verbal interaction during computer book reading. Computers in the Schools, 13 (3/4), 55-73.
MERLOT Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching. (2012). Web.
Ybarra, R., & Green, T. (2003). Using Technology to Help ESL/EFL Students Develop Language Skills. The Internet TESL Journal, 9(3). Web.