The tools described in this section have been used in a variety of ways in classrooms. These tools support opportunities for English language learners to work with others for a wide variety of tasks and collaborations. The use of such technologies can clearly help teachers meet the CALL principles. More important than how they connect learners, however, is why and with whom learners connect.
A chat room is a website that provides a forum for users to communicate in real time (synchronously). It is used for interactive messaging. Special software is not usually needed. Chatting is especially useful for interviews, guest lectures, and discussions in which instructors want everyone to have a chance to participate. Sometimes the conversation scrolls very quickly out of sight, however, and messages are not always in order. Examples include Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, and Skype). There are also 3D chat rooms that can be found in VWs (see chapter 3) such as Second Life and Twinity.
Forums provide asynchronous written conversation. Benefits include allowing students more time to think before they post and posting in themed threads that may be easier to read and follow than chats. Examples include electronic discussion forums often found in courseware packages such as Blackboard and Moodle. Some are also free, such as Canvas, Yahoo, and Google Groups.
A good example of a wiki-based service is Wikipedia. pages can be created and edited by multiple users working collaboratively on a writing project. Writers from around the world can connect to the page and edit it, with changes and writers’ identities (like in Google Docs) being logged. Wiki pages can provide special opportunities for writing tasks requiring a great deal of communication and collaboration. Other good examples of free wiki services are Pbworks and Wikidots.
With so many free online web-building services like Wix, teachers can task students to create a website as a collaborative project. This activity can have students planning, designing, and publishing content while engaged in communication and collaboration at all times. The product, which is an online website, could be particularly motivating for students. Another free web-building website is Weebly.
Check your learning
After reviewing a few of the platforms linked in the reading, select one that sparks your interest. Go to our class Padlet and create a new post the lists the platform, why you chose it, and how you could imagine implementing it in your CALL classroom. Comment on at least one other student’s post – it is OK if you chose the same platform as another student.
Computer Assisted Language Learning. The study of applying digital technology to support teaching and learning of language.
Meaning 'quick,' a wiki is a website that allows collaborative editing of its content and structure by its users.