HomeDigital technology & MultimediaTeaching with Web 2.0 Tools (Part 1)

Teaching with Web 2.0 Tools (Part 1)




Educational-Computer-Games-For-KidsMagali Trapero Turrent is an ELT Editor at Oxford University Press, Mexico. She is the author of several series published by OUP as well as a teacher and former OUP Educational Services teacher trainer. In her post, she shares her ideas for using Web 2.0 tools to develop learner’s language skills.

Having the opportunity to expand the horizon of my traditional EFL classroom has been just as exciting for me as for my students. However, I must admit that, as a digital immigrant, it was not simple at the beginning. It took many hours of focused as well as playful hours of dedicated inquiry to find the link between the learning goals of a CLIL lesson and the potentiality of different Web 2.0 tools to support them. I also had to determine how much scaffolding learners would need before engaging in web-based activities and how to integrate elements of the outside world that could enrich our lessons.

In preparing a science lesson, for example, the integration of international celebrations, such as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Health Day or the United Nations Observances, can bring the real world into the classroom. This, along with Web 2.0 tools, becomes a way of integrating the world of our learners with the real world—right there in our classrooms or as a home-school link.

Using Voice Thread for speaking activities

tools1tools2The typical classroom has learners that gladly engage in communicative activities and those that, given the chance, will avoid the task altogether. Creating speaking activities in Voice Thread, besides adding novelty and variety to lessons, can provide a formative assessment record. Voice Thread is a user-friendly tool that can integrate audio, video, images, text, documents and presentations—providing a multisensory, non-threatening environment where collaborative learning can flourish, even for learners that would otherwise not take part in communicative activities. Voice thread can be accessed using tablets, computers and mobile devices.

Once you have made a decision about the speaking function to focus on (performance, transaction or interaction) and given the language support needed by your learners, you can upload models for the speaking activity directly into your Voice Thread page for your students to view prior to doing the task.

In setting up activities, give learners an opportunity to personalize their experience. After all, that is what students do in the real world through social media, such as Facebook.

The following example presents materials for a science lesson. In the exploration stage of the lesson, learners can talk about what they think a healthy meal is. In a Voice Thread activity, learners can do the following using computers, tablets or their smart phones:

  • Take pictures and create a healthy food poster to present in the recording.
  • Make a video of healthy foods found in vending machines while they narrate.
  • Take selfies next to healthy food street stands and describe why it is healthy.
  • Make a video of their favorite home-made healthy meal and talk about it.
  • Take a picture of their refrigerator and describe its contents.

Additionally, students can ask questions based on classmates presentations or add information to a previously posted presentation before they move into the next stage of the lesson.

As learners get more knowledge on the topic—healthy food, in this example—they can then work with information from international organizations, such as the World health Organization, to learn more about healthy or unhealthy food and its impact on other communities throughout the world.

Using again the science example, and to celebrate International Health Day 2015, a question is added to the activity to activate students’ previous knowledge on food safety—the focus of the celebration. Students proceed to record their current knowledge. Examples of activities that can be created in Voice Thread to activate previous knowledge are the following:

  • Create a cloud with the words you associate with food safety and explain to your classmates the ones you think are the most important.
  • Record an acrostic poem using food safety.
  • In pairs, create a video for a community announcement on what you think food safety is.

tools4tools3 These activities, of course, can be adapted for other core subjects. The advantage of creating speaking activities in Voice Thread is that you can choose the type of speaking function to focus on (performance, transaction or interaction) and monitor each learners’ skill development as well accuracy issues that may arise. It also provides you and your learners with a form of digital portfolio or formative assessment record. Furthermore, it gives learners a reason to communicate in English in a way that it is used in the real world—as much of today’s communication happens through the use of digital tools.

In the next article in this series, we will explore the use of Web 2.0 tools for listening activities.

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  1. Magali, – hi!
    Great post – thx!
    As a reminder to self, I’ve just made a 5-slide voicethread using food pictures, re World Health Day (coming up 7April, I see!). I hadnt used Voicethread for ages, but was encouraged to find that it is quick and easy to use. (I thought about adding the link here, but that would be a bit cheeky!)
    Good to know it’s also available on a smart phone. I hadnt realised.
    I confess I havent used Voicethread in the classroom yet, but must give it a try. I like your ideas for doing this. Great for encouraging interactivity, and it seems you’ve achieved a lot with it.
    Will look forward to your next post on listening!
    Thanks – and all the best,
    Rachel, Budapest

    • Hi Rachel,

      I’m very happy to learn that you found the article helpful. Please share with us your ideas. I truly look forward to hearing from you and learning about how your learners respond to activities that use Web 2.0 tools. Thank you, Rachel, for Reading our articles!

      All the best,

      Magali Trapero Turrent, Mexico

  2. Very nice idea. For those without a budget, you could do something very similar using Instragram/Vine and hashtags. The students would need to set up accounts and then add an assigned hashtag to each of their posts. For example, you might tell the students: Take a short video of a food each day. Post it on Instagram and make sure to include “#MrSchaarsClass”. You also have to comment on at least one of your classmate’s posts every day.


    • Thank you, Jeremy, for reading the article and for sharing your ideas with us!


      Magali Trapero

  3. I enjoyed going through your voice thread approach to creating interaction between the teacher and the learners. I am used to teaching with images that carry stories–emotional, entertainment etc.
    My francophone students bring their own pictures into mine and evolves moments to broaden their vocabulary, use of English etc!

    • Thank you, Sam-Ackah Odeyemi, for reading the article and sharing your ideas with us!


      Magali Trapero

  4. […] native », je ne suis pas née avec un Ipad dans mon berceau, je suis une « digital immigrant » paraît-il. Alors, avant, pour aller « en ligne » il y avait  le modem qui se connectait […]

  5. Reblogged this on Karin S. Saputra and commented:
    Yeah, VoiceThread!

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