Open Participatory Web Publishing


In this article we will first contrast the concept of closed environments and practices to open participatory Web publishing in the present educational context. We will then argue that working in the latter asks for a change in the focus/perspective of how the language is learnt/taught. Finally, we will draw attention to some of the most common issues interaction in open environments brings up . Specific examples will be given of how some of the applications currently available online have been used during conventional language courses to facilitate independent language learning.

Closed X Open

Interaction in the target language has traditionally been teacher controlled, course book based, constrained by classroom time and limited either to the physical or virtual classroom (LMS).
Today, the Web, social tools and the convergence of different digital media have brought about more opportunities for learners and educators throughout the world to connect, exchange information, socialize and practise the target language in other contexts than those offered by the educational institution.

This exposure and mobility, the blend of formal and informal learning along with multimedia resources and social networking, challenge us to re-think our basic assumptions about conventional classroom delivery and the traditional concept of e-learning.

The way our learners are exposed to the English language nowadays is quite different from the way we used to be some years ago.
Nowadays, blogs and other internet based social platforms and tools have opened the possibility for language learners not only to have access to authentic material but also engage actively with different people according to their interests, create their own media and take ownership of their learning.

We learn in chunks and we learn at any place and any time. Students learn with ipods; they listen on their way to school. This learning takes place in different places and different places. When I look at my students, their attention span is very short. Their attention span is quite limited. They have to experience a lot of activities; the activities have to be very interactive. They learn in small chunks. This is important to note when we think about today's education.

This is an indication that learners do not only want to participate in socialization that takes place in a classroom but also extend their social environments into the virtual world where their participation takes on different forms of multimodal expression (e.g., video, text, image). Because today's students actively strive to be part of such environments, educators should utilize this potential power of social environments to facilitate learning.Some popular social environments for informal interaction include MySpace or Facebook.

Students often prefer virtual social environments because their participation can encompass various multimodalities. These students express themselves not only with text but also with video, pictures, images, etc. This is very interesting because this is quite new from what we've had so far. We have students who express themselves with making videos.
We have to acknowledge that and take this into consideration when we design our curriculum.

I also believe that students learn through interaction with others. Students engage in language learning through social interaction. I learned English in Canada where I associated with a lot of people and having a lot of social interaction. Vygotsky has talked about it; his ideas on sociocultural learning are very valid, especially now.

What is very important when we think about including technology into curriculum is. There is so much socialization going online. Our students need to be prepare to deal with that. There are so many intercultural exchanges happening online and students speaking with different accents.

We teach our students how to interact online, how to look for information, how to digest the information, and how to deal with that information. This is more than just literacy; it is multiliteracies. If we don't take it into the account, we don't allow our students to build on their capital.

The classroom - Open Up the Classroom
The whole idea is to open up the classroom.

The challenges that I face with my students are that my students believe that learning takes place between 9 am and 1 pm in a classroom environment.

Many students come from very traditional learning environments. My idea is to produce a very dynamic and powerful learning environment in which my students can interact. In order to do that, I try to use as many tools as possible so that my students can build an online portfolio using all kinds of tools.

I take my students to the lab but I also give them a lot of assignments that support their learning in class. I do that because I believe it is very important to encourage .... and creativity. We often forget about creativity and that language learning can be incidental while doing something that is interesting. Allow them to be creative and allow them to make mistakes.

The education in the 21st century. We see a lot of social networks popping up everywhere.

These students do not only face linguistic problems but also other skills because they will be interacting with other Canadian students.

We are looking at multiliteracies. It's not only about linguistics but other skills as well.

Also, the idea of being an autonomous learner; one that can explore the language.

You need to become independent and autonomous. They need to be able to look for things and be able to deal with these resources.


Discourse analysis, as described by Michael McCarthy “is ... fundamentally concerned with language and the contexts of its use.” Teachers should look at grammar and other aspects of language within a larger context of discourse.

Ruth Wajryb states that "as they learn, students make many and varied and constantly changing hypotheses about language. These involve the learner in active decision-making about the target language. ... The hypotheses are tested out and the results of each test - the feedback - are processed by the learner who then adjusts a current hypothesis to accommodate the new data received. As a consequence, learning means constant flux: the language of the learner is always changing and this very instability is a sign of progress."

David Nunan sees "second language acquisition more like a garden growing than building a wall. From such a perspective, learners do not learn one thing perfectly, one item at a time, but numerous things simultaneously (and imperfectly). The linguistic flowers do not all appear at the same time, nor do they all grow at the same rate. Some even appear to wilt, for a time, before renewing their growth."




Theoretical Part: Patricia

What is learning? How do we learn?

Blogs and Other Social Tools

Learning a language needs to happen in an authentic context with authentic tasks in a project-based approach. You can't just throw students into the online environment and tell them to talk or interact. They need to have a purpose and a goal.

When a student joins a social environment online and discover that there is somebody else who has the same interests. This is very empowering.


McCarthy, M. 1997 Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers. Cambridge University Press: p.10
Wajnryb, R. 1990. Grammar Dictation. Oxford: Oxford University Press: p. 11.
Nunan, D. 1998 ‘Teaching grammar in context’. ELT Journal 52/2: p.102.