THE INTERNET AS AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL IN ESOL WRITING INSTRUCTION

A thesis submitted to the faculty of
San Francisco State University
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the
degree

Master of Arts
in
English: English as a Foreign/Second Language

by
Karla Frizler
San Francisco, California
December, 1995

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler. Reprinting of this thesis in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


To cite information from this paper, please follow the APA standard for WWW documents as shown below:

Frizler, K. [a.k.a. Frizzy] (1995, December 6). The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction. Master's thesis, San Francisco State University [WWW document]. URL http://www.oocities.com/robofriz@sbcglobal.net/frizume/thesis/

ABSTRACT:

Research in the area of computer-mediated communication (CMC) has shown that using technology can provide students with a sense of empowerment and development of communicative abilities. However, little research has been done on the effects of using tech nology in teaching English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) in particular. Through the case study of an online ESOL composition course, this thesis qualitatively explores the potential impacts of one application of CMC--the Internet--on university-l evel ESOL composition students and instructors. Based on the findings, conclusions are drawn and recommendations made for maximizing the educational benefits, and minimizing the limitations, of using the Internet in the ESOL writing classroom to develop the confidence and writing ability of students.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank the following people whose support throughout this project has been invaluable to me: Mark Warschauer, Julie Falsetti, Greg Younger, Margaret Grant, Sterling Shanks, Claudia Frank, David Winet, Lisa Heyer, David Hemphill, H. Douglas Brown, Jagdish Jain, Thomas Goldstein, Ricard Santiago Torcal, Thomas Bonk, Gerald Eisman, Eric Klavins, Mary Hudson, Nancy McDermid, Tom Guynes, DJ Beech, Ron Corio, Susan Gaer, Jennifer Allen, Yoshimasa Awaji, Mitch Levine, and everyone in Academic Com puting at San Francisco State University. Special thanks to the subscribers of NETEACH-L, TESL-L and TESLCA-L, my friends and colleagues at schMOOze University, and my real-life friends and family, especially my co-workers at Slim's, my roommate, and my Mom & Dad.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter One: Introduction (16K)
Purpose of the study
Justification
Definition of technical terms used in study
Thesis outline


Chapter Two: Literature Review (29K)
Review of published literature and online discussion
Summary of review


Chapter Three: Procedures (32K)
Population and sample
Instrumentation
Validity
Limitations
Data collection and analysis


Chapter Four: Findings (23K)
Students' perceptions
Instructor's perceptions


Chapter Five: Discussion and Teaching Implications (54K)
Discussion
Classroom and teaching implications
Practical considerations before teaching online


Chapter Six: Conclusion and Suggestions for Further Research (12K)


References


Appendices
Appendix 1: Course Outline - FUN 101
Appendix 2: Sample Essay Assignment - FUN 101
Appendix 3: Call For Students - FUN 101
Appendix 4: Interview Questions - FUN 101
Appendix 5: Sample of MOO Screen Without Visual Client


Please send praises, comments or corrections to the researcher (Karla Frizler) via e-mail: kfriz@sbcglobal.net. Thank you for your interest!

Since December 6, 1995,

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CHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION


From: The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction, by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net)

DESCRIPTION OF GENERAL AREA OF INTEREST

If asked to define and describe a college classroom, many instructors and students would likely describe it as a physical space (a room) with four walls, located in a building on a campus. The room is filled with desks and chairs which face a chalkboard (or each other), and there is an overhead projector screen or a map rolled up and stored on the wall, above the chalkboard. In this room you find a teacher, a group of students, and perhaps a teaching assistant, all of whom interact instantaneously, in r eal time.

Until recently, this description would, for the most part, be considered acceptable when explaining the concept of a "classroom." However, use of the traditional classroom (as I will refer to the above description throughout this study) is no longer the only option for teaching and learning. With technology, and the computer in particular, becoming integral parts of most facets of our lives in the late 20th century, the virtual classroom is on its way to becoming a viable option for the facilitat ion of learning. [NOTE: In the context of this study, the term "virtual" refers to the computer-related definition of `that which is created through the imagination,' and not the more literal definition of `unreal'].

To describe the virtual college classroom, however, there is no established protocol, no background schema, which helps us paint a mental image of what that classroom looks like. In fact, the virtual classroom is one that teachers and students create spe cifically to suit their own purposes and needs, and can change from one semester to the next, or even one class session to the next. Created through text (expanding to audio and video in the near future) stored on a computer server, a virtual classroom c ould be located on Mars, or on a beach in Greece, or in an online campus, simulating a traditional classroom.

It may contain desks and chairs, and have a chalkboard on the wall, and it may not. Virtual classrooms, of course, have teachers, but they may or may not be in the same space with their students at the same time. Communication between teachers and stude nts can take place either asynchronously (at different times), synchronously (at the same time), or both.

Ideally, the purpose of both the traditional and virtual classrooms is to provide a space in which the facilitation of learning, and learning itself, can take place. If we accept that the role of the classroom, whether traditional or virtual, is to offer students an environment in which to learn, then we instructors must ask ourselves how we can best utilize both environments for the benefit of our students.

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

This qualitative study explores the benefits and limitations of teaching university-level English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) online, via the Internet, offering suggestions for integrating the Internet into the ESOL classroom and vice versa, as the case may be.

Through the case study of an online composition class taught to international students of English as a foreign language (EFL), this researcher examines the technical and pedagogical aspects of facilitating a virtual EFL composition class. The technical c onsiderations deal with how virtual courses can be conducted, which leads to an exploration of why the virtual classroom is beneficial for university-level ESOL composition students in particular.

The overall intention of this research paper is to provide ESOL writing instructors with a framework in which to begin creating new curricula or integrating the Internet into their existing curricula, utilizing it not only as a means of classroom facilita tion, but also as a teaching and learning tool in and of itself.

JUSTIFICATION

As we move closer to the 21st century and further into the Information Age, technology is having an impact on society unparalleled since the Industrial Revolution. In fact, the potential impact of one form of modern technology--the Internet--has been lik ened to that of the printing press 500 years ago (Crawford, 1995; Hemphill, 1995).

While access to and interest in the Internet grow, traditional concepts of work, home, human relationships and education are being dissected and revised as we move into a paradigm shift across all facets of life. Employees now telecommute to work, consum ers shop without leaving their homes, friends call each other through the computer instead of the telephone, and students have greater opportunities for taking college or university courses online.

As a result of the widespread effects of technology throughout the world, it is no surprise that university-level educators are being challenged to rethink and revise their approaches and goals in teaching in order to effectively prepare students for what will be expected of them in the "real world." Black (1995) summarizes well the importance of using computers as educational tools: "Students like working on computers and the use of real data is highly motivational. It adds a relevance to their work a nd is a skill they will need as they move into the workplaces of the 21st century." Because the way in which we retrieve and interpret information is changing and evolving, so must the education which prepares students to successfully accomplish these ta sks.

In the state of California, K-12 teachers are now being required to have not only technical but pedagogical proficiency in the use of computers in the classroom, without which they will be denied teaching credentials (new teachers) or lose their jobs (cur rently-credentialed teachers). As described in Governor Wilson's recent report on information technology (1995), by the Fall of 1997, new teachers will only be certified if they meet "rigorous standards for teacher competency in computer-based applicatio ns and their effective use in the classroom."

In addition, the Governor has called for the implementation of in-service training for already-credentialed teachers. In order for these teachers to remain in the California public school system past the year 2000, they must also be able to meet the stan dards mentioned above, and described in greater detail in the following excerpt from the Governor's report:

Technology should be used across the curriculum to facilitate a student-centered learning environment. This will require that computers, communications networking, and multimedia equipment be fully integrated into California's schools so t hat they are available when and where they are needed to improve learning. This will provide tools for effectively presenting course materials, as well as resources for helping students learn how to access, analyze, and interpret information, and how to c ommunicate their findings (Wilson, 1995).

Now, if our K-12 teachers, and thus students, are not only learning about but utilizing technology in the classroom, then it is logical to expect that educators at the university level should be able to build upon what these students have already learned. Though many of us teaching today grew up and were educated without the luxury of computers, this is not reflective of the experience of new generations of students, many of whom have no concept of a world without computers. In order to help them develo p and build upon the skills that they will need to survive and succeed in today's world, we must include technology in our teaching across the curriculum.

Moreover, universities such as Harvard now require students to possess personal computers in order to be accepted into a degree program. Even the Cal State University system in California is in the process of developing a similar requirement which would necessitate that students not only possess computers, but know how to use them as tools to help further their educations.

In addition to practical matters such as preparing students in general for academic study and the workplace of the future, the virtual classroom is also beneficial for learners of English in particular. With an estimated 80-85% of information on the Inte rnet appearing in English, and much of the documentation for computer software and hardware distributed internationally in English, non-native speakers are motivated to learn English if they want to use these resources (Torcal).

Furthermore, distance education over the Internet makes learning English as a foreign or second language more accessible for both local and international learners, including those who:

--adapted from Winet (8/11/95)

If we accept that educational technology can be beneficial for our ESOL students, then the next logical step is to determine how and why to incorporate it into our existing classrooms, creating new curricula (or adapting existing curricula) which best uti lize technology, such as the Internet, as an educational tool.

This study can help ESOL writing instructors, at the university level in particular, focus their efforts and objectives in curriculum design and development involving use of the Internet as an educational tool. In addition, this research can guide instru ctors toward the best methods through which they themselves should learn about the integration of technology and language-teaching pedagogy to implement the Internet to its fullest potential in their ESOL composition classrooms, maximizing the benefits an d minimizing the limitations for students and themselves as well.

DEFINITIONS OF TECHNICAL TERMS USED IN THIS STUDY

General familiarity with the following terms will help readers follow references to specific functions of the Internet throughout this paper. Meanings will become clearer through examples of their application.

Bulletin Board/Conference (BBS):
Users post asynchronous messages to be read and responded to by a larger group of people. Responses are connected by subject matter, and can be read one after the other. Can be public (open to any Internet user) or private (open only to members of a particular group, e.g. a class).

Discussion List/Listserv:
Through e-mail, participants form groups to discuss (asynchronously) topics related to particular themes. Users send to one address an e-mail message which is distributed to all subscribers of that list.

Electronic Mail (e-mail):
Users send and receive individual written messages. It is the online equivalent of sending a letter through the regular mail (though much faster). This type of communication is asynchronous, as the writer and reader do not need to be online at the s ame time. In fact, it takes several minutes (at least) for an e-mail message to be delivered.

File-Transfer Protocol (ftp):
Function through which users can transfer files from their Internet accounts to their computer hard drives (or a floppy disk), and vice versa. For example, ftp allows users to write a document (e.g. an e-mail message) with a word processor and then u pload (transfer) it to the Internet. Users can also do the reverse, downloading information directly from the Internet to a computer hard drive or floppy disk.

MOO (MUD--multi-user dimension, object-oriented):
Text-based virtual reality environment through which participants communicate synchronously, in real time, using text to describe their characters and surroundings, plus navigate through their environment.

Telnet:
User connects from own server to others (e.g. libraries, museums or universities), many of which provide access to documents or software available for downloading (through `ftp,' see above).

World Wide Web (WWW):
A worldwide `library' of pages of text, graphics, audio and video connected through keyword links. Through WWW, users can view documents, and then connect to other related documents anywhere in the world by clicking the mouse on a word or phrase.

THESIS OUTLINE

This qualitative report is written as a reflection on a case study in which the Internet was used to conduct a virtual university-level composition course in English as a foreign language (EFL). However, a major goal of this project is to explore pot ential applications of the Internet in all ESOL writing classes (not just English as a foreign language). To help ESOL instructors make the connections between my findings and suggestions and their language classrooms, following this introduction, I have organized the results of my research as follows.

In Chapter Two, I will provide a review of the existing published literature and current online discussion on the virtual classroom and its connection to teaching ESOL. In addition, I will summarize current online projects designed to help improve ESOL students' confidence and writing ability in English.

Chapter Three details the methodology of the case study upon which this research is based. This chapter contains detailed information about the sample and population of the study, as well as descriptions of the data collect ion and analysis procedures.

In Chapter Four, the focus is on the findings from the case study, a description of the unique benefits and limitations of teaching and learning English online, taking into account both the students' and the instructor's per spectives.

Chapter Five provides a detailed discussion of what I learned as an ESOL composition teacher during and upon reflection of the case study, as well as an exploration of the potential applications of the findings in Chapter Fo ur to other ESOL classroom situations.

Finally, Chapter Six offers a summary of the benefits of the virtual classroom for ESOL writing students, projects a paradigm shift in education involving the Internet, and recommends further exploration in a variety of rela ted areas by future educational researchers in second language acquisition and educational technology.

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this chapter in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW


From: The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction, by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net)

INTRODUCTION

The concept of distance education (students taking courses via technology from remote locations) at the university level is not a new one; in fact, instruction across much of the curriculum has been available via modem and public access television for yea rs now. However, distance education in ESOL has not traditionally been a viable option, as tools were not previously available to do more than deliver information (Berge & Collins, 1995). Thanks to increasing opportunities for interaction on the Interne t, it is becoming possible to not only transmit instruction, but facilitate communicative and collaborative learning for our language students at a distance.

Though the Internet has existed for nearly twenty-five years, only recently has its surge of mainstream popularity (and, thus, increased access) motivated researchers to begin exploring its educational value. ESOL teachers worldwide, myself included, are conducting classroom research by using the Internet as a teaching tool in language classes. As we analyze and publish the results of this current classroom research, more information will become available to help other ESOL instructors make informed dec isions about how and why to use the Internet to teach English.

While we wait patiently for the latest research results, articles and books already published provide some idea of both the benefits and limitations of integrating the Internet into existing ESOL curricula. In the meantime, suffice it to say that the bod y of published material which currently exists on the subject of using the Internet in the ESOL classroom is sparse at best. In fact, I found approximately 75% of the information for this thesis, beyond my direct experience, through online discussion lis ts and their archives, newsgroups, the World Wide Web, and e-mail communication and MOO discussions with international colleagues.

In many ways, these forms of information retrieval were much more beneficial to me than documents published in print, as I could more easily ask questions of the author of an e-mail message than the author of a book. Moreover, I could conduct my research at any time of the day or night, and not just when the library was open. Furthermore, doing research on line saved me a great deal of money I would have spent making copies of library books or articles.

Because there is little information available on the advantages and disadvantages of using the Internet to teach ESOL, this is an important area which needs further research. As my personal and professional interests are in the area of university-level E SOL writing instruction, I have conducted my research specifically in this area, though the literature reviewed for this paper (which includes material both in print, i.e. books, journal articles, etc., and online, i.e. discussion lists, newsgroups, perso nal communication with other ESOL instructors) covers a broad, yet related, area of discussion topics:

REVIEW OF PUBLISHED LITERATURE AND CURRENT ONLINE DISCUSSION

The Virtual/Online Classroom

Much of the current debate in educational technology across all disciplines is whether or not the virtual classroom will or should replace the traditional classroom completely. In fact, some educators believe that an upheaval of the current educational s ystem is not only likely, but necessary. According to Perelman (1995):

Schools are training people for the wrong jobs. And the more dramatically the economy changes in the Information Age, the worse the mismatch will be. What's needed are methods of delivering learning more cheaply, and with more relevance to the working world. Computer-based multimedia and telelearning systems are already proving more efficient than the conventional teacher in a classroom.

Though most of Perelman's extreme opinions are unsubstantiated by facts, Doheny-Farina (1995) offers support for one of his more reasonable claims--that economics will necessitate the need for the completely virtual classroom in the not-so-distant future. "Distance education will become the norm, the least expensive way to deliver the education product, while face-to-face teaching will be so expensive that it will become something only for the well-to-do."

Doheny-Farina addresses the fact that there is, as of yet, no empirical proof which demonstrates that the virtual classroom indeed costs less or enhances the learning process in any way. Nevertheless, he continues to assert, "Whether or not these enterpr ises are effective, they will continue to expand until most of the children in the world who have access to education will be educated via virtual schools."

A key point brought up by Doheny-Farina and others is the issue of students' access to technology and, thus, education. Smith (1995) claims that with the support of government and big business, cross-cultural access and distribution of information will b ecome so easy that "education will change from the traditional teacher/classroom environment to a virtual classroom with no walls."

Though some educators such as Perelman (1995) make unwarranted claims that the potential for the virtual classroom to replace the traditional one (and traditional teachers) exists, others support the notion that teachers are necessary for the successful f acilitation of learning, regardless of whether than education takes place in a traditional or virtual setting. In fact, these researchers claim that whether traditional or virtual, classes need teachers, as learners need guidance based on analysis of the ir individual styles, abilities and learning strategies. "Computers alone," claims Cameron (1995), "will never replace the need for the human instructor. Only an actual instructor can teach students to utilize computer-based tools to further their educa tional goals."

Indeed, it is not the teacher who must be replaced, but rather the outdated teaching philosophies and approaches some continue to employ. The classroom of the past is in many ways no longer applicable to the world in which we are attempting to prepare ou r students to function (Kemp, 1994; Berge & Collins, 1995).

Because change in educational paradigms does not occur overnight, some educators and researchers have discovered a common ground--integrating and combining the traditional and virtual classrooms. By bringing elements of technology such as the Internet in to the traditional classroom, students get the best of both worlds. On the one hand, they have access to vast amounts of timely information, as well as opportunities for authentic communication for real purposes with Internet users worldwide. On the oth er hand, they can also have the social aspects of the traditional classroom some enjoy, meeting with their instructor and peers in person, in the same physical space. As Kilian (1994) explains:

Online courses are an important development in distance education, but they're not going to make [traditional] classrooms obsolete. [They] won't save money or provide a "secret weapon" for troubled schools. If anything, they're much more labour-intensive than [traditional] classroom teaching. Whatever the subject, they require strong skills in writing and course design.

But they will offer new opportunities to many students, and they may even create a kind of tutorial intimacy that most students and teachers have never known. The online medium is not only feasible, it creates the potential for literally world-wide mark ets--for teaching students anywhere in the world. The implications are considerable.

Regardless of whether the virtual classroom replaces or supplements the traditional classroom, there are opportunities that virtual learning affords which are worth exploring in ESOL teaching. According to Berge & Collins (1995), computer-mediated commun ication (CMC), and specifically the online classroom, offers opportunities for the following:

Benefits of online teaching and learning over traditional classroom instruction are numerous, and well-summarized by Smith (1995) in describing Houston Community College System's highly successful distance education via modem program. As compared to equi valent traditional courses offered offline, the following are the perceived advantages of the online program:

  1. Immediacy -- especially compared to print-based correspondence courses.
  2. Sense of group identity -- the computer system became a meeting place for students.
  3. Improved dialogue -- students correspond more than in traditional classroom setting.
  4. Improved instructor control -- the computer system can log activities.
  5. Active learning -- student participation improved.

Though these benefits sound appealing, educational experts warn that the virtual classroom is not for everyone. Learning and teaching online require great tolerance of ambiguity and chaos (Warschauer, Turbee & Roberts, 1994). In addition, students with low proficiency in keyboarding, reading and writing might find it difficult to remain motivated, perceiving the virtual classroom as a hindrance to learning more than a benefit (Hiltz, 1990). On the other hand, Hiltz maintains:

For those with high levels of motivation, adequate reading and writing skills, and access to a computer, the virtual classroom is likely both to improve access to learning opportunities and to provide a better learning environment than the traditional college classroom.

Though not appropriate for all students and teachers, the virtual classroom does provide opportunities for student-centered, collaborative, and task-based learning, as well as motivation to explore previously uncharted educational territory. Regardless o f learners' and instructors' preferences, however, the future of education may not offer a choice about whether or not to teach and learn online.

ESOL Language Learning Theories and the Philosophies of the Internet

Raimes (1983) has described the existing paradigm of teaching language as one which:

How, then, does the Internet support this paradigm of the student-centered, communicative and collaborative classroom?

In general, to use the Internet is to communicate (Anderson, 1995). The main purpose of the Internet is to connect people all over the world to share information, experiences, and opinions. Because the Internet is a natural resource (i.e. not a textbook created for the purpose of teaching a language), it contains real language. As students navigate their way around the primarily text-based Internet, they must read and write in English, which helps them acquire the language (Falsetti, 1995). Furthermo re, various functions of the Internet appeal to different learners' styles. For example, students who are motivated by working independently, or who are visual learners, might benefit more from using the World Wide Web, while students who like to interac t and work in collaboration with others would more likely benefit from using MOO.

On the Internet, students and teachers can communicate with individuals and groups, talk in real time, and retrieve information and resources (Warschauer, 1995). The emphasis is on people working together in collaboration rather than in competition with each other. By helping each other, we expand our own realm of knowledge in the process. Internet users store information on Web pages so that it is easily accessible (and downloadable) by others. Participants in on-line discussion lists share informati on and ideas with each other, including lesson plans, activity suggestions and tips on getting started using various Internet functions.

Berge & Collins (1995) further emphasize the collaborative and communicative nature of the Internet:

As an agent for socialization and collaboration, the networked computer has an even greater potential in education than does the stand-alone, knowledge-server type of computer. The active environment of social learning provided by a compu ter with access to local, national, and international networks increases interaction and communication among students, their teachers, peers, parents, and other members of the world community.

In addition to sharing information and resources, there is a general sense that it is important to help others who are new to online environments, rather than judge them negatively for not having prior knowledge of Internet functions and awareness on neti quette (online manners). This supportive environment can be especially helpful in empowering ESOL students, as they will feel comfortable asking questions or taking risks with their language use.

Through computer networks such as the Internet, connecting students and teachers internationally, students gain social skills which increase their empowerment in the classroom. Furthermore, networking fosters autonomy, equality and learning skills among ESOL learners (Warschauer, Turbee & Roberts, 1994).

Crawford (1995) claims that the Internet will have a direct effect on the way we teach our students, especially if our global goal is to prepare them for life outside the classroom:

The networking culture that will find its way into all schools (if they are to survive) requires participants to be more than just consumers of information and knowledge. They must also becomes contributors as well . . . Our kids will bec ome actively involved in research, synthesis and presentation of knowledge rather than passive observers of it.

Furthermore, some researchers describe a shift from a teaching environment to a learning environment in which students are taught through the Internet "to become lifelong learners by helping them locate the resources to continue learning [outside the clas sroom]" (Berge & Collins, 1995).

Overall, the Internet promotes philosophies of shared resources and knowledge, plus active involvement in the learning process. Indeed, this rich resource lends itself naturally to being an effective teaching and learning tool for the student-centered, c ommunicative and collaborative ESOL classroom.

Connecting ESOL Writing and the Internet

Through on-line discussion lists, many ESOL instructors tout the benefits of using the Internet in their classes, though there is little empirical evidence to support these claims. Of course, so much of what happens in the writing classroom is not provab le. As Kemp (1994) notes, "More often than we realize, we change what we do in the humanities because of our enthusiasms, not because somebody has proved something."

Nevertheless, much of the published qualitative classroom research which does exist on this topic shows that Internet-related language-learning activities can be beneficial to ESOL students, as "the most timid language students can come alive while creati ng meaningful communication" (Kroonenberg, 1994/1995). Through the Internet, students write to communicate with a variety of people for authentic purposes. Therefore, students are motivated to write for a broad audience which extends beyond the classroo m, and not just compose assignments for the teacher (Berge & Collins, 1995). The following example of such motivation to write was posted to NETEACH-L by an ESL instructor:

Last semester I had a student from Albania who was quite homesick. Once he had an e-mail account, I introduced him to Usenet News, and he linked up with a newsgroup discussing Albanian history, culture, etc. The coordinator of our open l ab told me that the student practically LIVED in the lab after that, sending e-mail messages, reading the news, etc. You can imagine how this young man blossomed, especially in writing English, but also in his ability to read and enjoy the language. In fact, the first time he EVER asked for editing help with his writing was when he wanted to send his first posting to the newsgroup. (I think I have finally discovered how to teach students the concept of "audience"!) (Rippberger, 7/18/95)

This example demonstrates not only the student's improvement in his ability to write in English, but also an increase in his motivation and connection to content which is meaningful to him.


Individual Classroom Projects

During the past year, I have participated in several online discussion groups, and have read postings from fellow subscribers detailing how they use the Internet in their ESOL writing courses, and what they perceive to be the benefits and drawbacks for th eir students (Aghbar, 11/14/95; Corio, 11/15/95; Lepintre, 11/16/95; Lou, 9/22/95, Opp-Beckman, 11/13/95; Shetzer, 11/14/95; Spelman, 9/22/95; Turner, 11/1/95; Vilmi, 11/14/95; Whittaker, 11/26/95; Winet, 2/16/95). These international ESOL writing teache rs have been experimenting with such innovative online classroom activities and projects as:

Creative writing (Opp-Beckman)
Dialogue journals (Aghbar)
Electronic penpals (Lou, Spelman, Whittaker)
Interclass discussion groups on parallel readings (Corio)
Student publishing (Frizler, Lepeintre, Shetzer, Turner, Vilmi)
Research projects (Vilmi, Winet)

In response to my recent posting on NETEACH-L, international ESOL instructors described what they perceived to be the benefits for their students in using the Internet in their writing courses. The Internet offers opportunities for interactivity, especia lly with students in other parts of the world, which results in increased cultural awareness (Vilmi). Also, in searching for and retrieving information from the Internet, students have greater interaction with the course materials, providing them with a sense of ownership (Shetzer), as well as enjoyment of the course content (Opp-Beckman). Furthermore, opportunities for online publication give students motivation to write for authentic audiences with real purposes (Opp-Beckman, Vilmi).

Success in any of these online activities then gives students the confidence to try more complex writing activities (Opp-Beckman, Vilmi). As Vilmi summarizes, "The students learn an enormous amount content-wise and cultural-wise, as well as language-wise , plus they all learn how to use new technology."

As with any teaching tool, along with the benefits come some drawbacks as well. The teachers mentioned time requirements in learning new ways to give feedback online (Whittaker), teaching software programs to students (Opp-Beckman), and facilitating and participating in online projects which are just getting started (Vilmi). Shetzer also warns that some activities can provide interaction between the student and text (or computer), but not necessarily between students themselves.

Nevertheless, though these teachers address concerns based on their experiences using the Internet in the classroom, they all convey a sense that the advantages of using the Internet as an educational tool far outweigh the disadvantages.


International Online Projects

In addition to individual class projects, several online projects and sites have been created to help students worldwide who want to practice and develop their writing skills in English. One example is the set of nine ESL/EFL Student Discussion Lists cre ated and facilitated by an international group of ESOL instructors (Holliday, Robb, Warschauer, & Turbee, 1995).

The Student Lists were established in February 1994 to provide a forum for cross-cultural discussion and writing practice for college, university and adult students in English language programs around the world. There are currently nine st udent lists, but more may be added as the demand for them becomes evident:

CHAT-SL General Discussion List (Low level)
DISCUSS-SL General Discussion List (High level)
BUSINESS-SL Discussion List on Business and Economics
ENGL-SL Discussion List on Learning English
EVENT-SL Discussion List on Current Events
MOVIE-SL Discussion List on the Cinema
MUSIC-SL Discussion List on Music
SCITECH-SL Discussion List on Science, Technology & Computers
SPORT-SL Discussion List on Sports

--from EFL/ESL Student Discussion Lists announcement

Through these lists, students can practice communicating in written English via e-mail to discuss with international peers specific topics of common interest, on lists such as MUSIC-SL or SPORT-SL, or have general discussion about any topic which comes up , on lists CHAT-SL and DISCUSS-SL.

Another online project designed to help international ESOL students practice writing in English in a meaningful and communicative way is schMOOze University, a MOO designed by ESL Instructor Julie Falsetti, alo ng with colleagues Eric Schweitzer and Jon Wanderer, with second language learners in mind (Falsetti, 1995). SchMOOze University is a virtual community filled with characters, rooms (such as dorm rooms, offices, a cafeteria, a library and classrooms), an d language learning tools. At schMOOze, students navigate their way around through text. In order to move, play games (such as Scrabble or Hangman), or communicate with others, they are dependent on the English language. Students also use text in Engli sh to describe themselves and their surroundings.

In addition, schMOOze provides participants with access to an online dictionary, Usenet feed, gopher, e-mail, and a grammar maze, through which users are propelled forward by recognizing proper usage of English grammar. Teachers can also hold class discu ssions at schMOOze, in a classroom where only those on the roster are admitted into the room (Falsetti, 1995).

The Helsinki University of Technology Virtual Language Centre (HUT VLC) is another virtual environment, similar in many ways to schMOOze, is currently being developed by ESL Lecturer Ruth Vilmi for use by ESOL students worldwide. As described by the proj ect manager:

The aim of HUT Virtual Language Centre is to create software for language learning, but goes beyond the normal approach in some aspects. The VLC is a [virtual reality] environment, where students can meet and interact with each other. As the VLC is situated on the Internet, people from around the world can participate, without the need to ever physically meet each other.

The VLC is in its early prototype stage, but is already in active use. This autumn the HUT language centre organised an international course that used the VLC as one means of communication. The participants came from Finland, Korea, USA, Japan and Egypt (Sars, 11/28/95)

Online resources for ESOL instructors and students are continually in the process of being developed, which is part of the excitement and motivation throughout the field in utilizing the Internet as an educational tool.


Possible Limitations

Because the ability to express oneself in writing is a crucial aspect of using the Internet, some researchers propose that this puts students who lack interest or skill in writing at a disadvantage (Berge & Collins, 1995; Lundstrom, 1995). Lundstrom also points out that the quality of English found on the Internet is often non-conventional, and may actually hinder students in their progress toward communicating in person with native speakers of English (Lundstrom, 1995).

Another factor which affects the ESOL-Internet classroom is that of social interaction. While many students enjoy the creative and imaginatively social aspects of the Internet, some students may prefer to be in a traditional classroom, watching and liste ning to a teacher and peers in person (Berge & Collins, 1995). Other drawbacks include technical problems such as lost files or forgotten passwords. However, these issues can usually be remedied by the instructor or lab personnel (Kroonenberg, 1994/1995 ).

SUMMARY OF REVIEW

In general, the research published thus far emphasizes the positive aspects of using the Internet as an educational tool in the ESOL writing classroom. Students become empowered because they develop self-discipline and confidence though increased respons ibility for their own learning processes (Berge & Collins, 1995; Warschauer, Turbee & Roberts, 1994). In addition, they are judged by what they say, not what they look or sound like, which can also give them a great sense of confidence when communicating in the target language.

On the other hand, a major issue impeding the introduction and use of technology in the ESOL classroom is when and how to teach our students keyboarding and basic computer skills (Hiltz, 1990). Moreover, questions about the necessity of the human teacher make some educators hesitant to accept the online classroom as a sole option for instruction.

Though some extremists, like Perelman (1995) claim that traditional teachers and classrooms will eventually be replaced by computers, my impression, from reading the existing literature, discussing the topic with other instructors and students, and my own experiences, is that most view technology as a tool, and not as a substitute facilitator of learning. Indeed, most educators and students, myself included, seem to agree that human beings are necessary to teach, regardless of the tools they employ.

Overall, though researchers are thorough in their examination of potential drawbacks when introducing technology to the ESOL classroom, most point out that the benefits far outweigh any limitations.

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this chapter in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


CHAPTER 3: PROCEDURES


From: The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction, by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net)

OVERVIEW

In June 1995, I opened the doors of Frizzy University Network (FUN), a friendly online environment in which non-native speakers of English living outside of English-speaking countries could improve their ability and confidence in writing in English. Futu re plans for FUN include grammar workshops, individualized tutoring and a variety of non-traditional writing courses, including Creative Writing for ESOL students.

Over an eight-week period during Summer 1995, I taught the first online EFL composition class through FUN. FUN 101, a free, non-credit, university-level course which took place from June 5 through July 28, 1995, was conducted entirely online, via the Int ernet, through e-mail, a MOO, and a home page on the World Wide Web. [see Appendix 1 for Course Outline]

The class itself never met synchronously, but I met with each of the students individually, in real time, for essay conferences and less formal meetings during regularly-scheduled office hours. In addition, the students interacted with each other via e-m ail, discussing topics and exchanging essays for peer review.

Though the students participating in FUN 101 did not receive university credit, I did give them feedback on their writing based on the following grading scale:

8) = excellent, professional and of the highest standard
:) = above average, superior quality
:| = fulfills assignment criteria to a satisfactory standard
:( = unsatisfactory work; please resubmit after conference with instructor
8( = unacceptable work; not passing

The theme of the course--"English Composition Through Intercultural Understanding"--focused on the similarities between people across cultures. For this eight-week course, the students wrote four essays, and were required to read three articles, essays o r poems in preparation for writing each essay. [see Appendix 2 for sample essay topic] The readings came from magazines, newspapers and books. In addition, students were exposed to prewriting activities such as brainstorming and looping, as well as pee r reading, and occasionally completed grammar lessons based on the readings, or specific issues in their own writing. Other than the peer review of essays, most of the students' work was done on an individual basis, and not in pairs or groups.

My goals for the FUN 101 students were threefold. By the end of the eight-week course, I had hoped that they would be able to:

  1. write with a clear point, purpose and audience in mind;
  2. gain an understanding of other cultures; and
  3. utilize educational resources on the Internet for ESOL students .

FUN 101 was divided into four sections, each requiring three readings and one essay related to a topic within the general theme of "Intercultural Understanding." The course started with the broad topic of stereotypes, then moved into comparisons of work and leisure time in different cultures. The third section focused on relationships between family members, friends and co-workers, and the last part of the class was devoted to exploring the role of the individual within cultures.

I distributed introductory materials (course outline, time zone chart, list of course participant names and e-mail addresses) to the students via an alias, which replicates a discussion list. Creating an alias is like creating a private list. I inputted the e-mail addresses of everyone in FUN 101 into a file in my home directory. Then, my server created an alias, an e-mail address, which would point to that file; therefore, it was only necessary to address an e-mail message to a single address, but it was distributed to all FUN 101 students.

After the first day of the course, most assignments and course materials were distributed via e-mail on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. [Toward the end of the course, students retrieved some of their assignments via the FUN web page.] Because the students and I were in eight different time zones, meeting in real time was not a possibility. Instead, the students set their own attendance schedule, logging on everyday, or once or twice a week, completing and submitting all assignments for the w eek no later than Fridays at noon (California time).

Students answered discussion questions on the readings, plus completed several grammar exercises based on the information in the readings. At times, they shared their responses with their classmates via e-mail. Each first essay draft was reviewed by me and by one classmate, then I alone responded to the final essays. Along with comments throughout the essay text, I also attached an evaluation sheet specifically tailored for each essay assignment.

Throughout FUN 101, I held regular office hours, three hours per week, in my online office at schMOOze University. Through this synchronous environment, the students and I were able to hold conferences in writing, in real time. It was like talking direc tly onto the screen. Each student would first send me an essay draft via e-mail so that I would have a chance to read through it before the conference. Then, we would discuss, at schMOOze, their questions about their essay (or their general progress in writing in English).

POPULATION AND SAMPLE

The population of interest to me in my overall research is university-level students learning English as a foreign or second language. From this population, the purposive sample for this particular case study was comprised of computer- and Internet-liter ate, university-level students living in non-English-speaking countries and learning English as a foreign language (EFL). The native countries of FUN 101 students are represented below. [see Figure 1 below]


FIGURE 1 - COUNTRIES REPRESENTED IN STUDENT POPULATION

n = 16

Hong Kong (25%) Czech Republic (6.3%)
Croatia (18.8%) Brazil (6.3%)
Japan (12.5%) Egypt (6.3%)
Finland (6.3%) Indonesia (6.3%)
Republic of Korea (6.3%) Russia (6.3%)


I recruited the students for FUN 101 over the Internet, in three different ways:

  1. by announcing to EFL/ESL instructors on various discussion lists, including TESL-L and INTCOLED, that FUN 101 was being offered. The teachers then passed on the information to their students;
  2. by talking directly with students at schMOOze University;
  3. by communicating via e-mail with students on the EFL/ESL Student Discussion Lists.

The students for this purposive sample were selected after I determined that they were typical members of the computer-literate, university-level, EFL learner community, by means of the following criteria. To participate in FUN 101, students were require d:

I found all of the students for FUN 101 via the Internet. EFL/ESL instructors worldwide passed along to their students the announcement I posted on several discussion lists [see Appendix 3]. In addition, I personally contacted students who were particip ating in schMOOze University and the EFL/ESL Student Discussion Lists after having established a camaraderie with them.


TABLE 1 - STUDENTS ENROLLED IN FUN 101
[note: * indicates students who completed course; real names not used]

NAME AGE NATIVE COUNTRY AND LANGUAGE OTHER LANGS. PREVIOUS ENGLISH COURSES ENGLISH- SPEAKING COUNTRIES LIVED IN INTERNET USE PRIOR TO FUN 101
Antonio* 29 Brazil/
Portuguese
None Private lang.
school/university
None e-mail, gopher,
ftp, telnet, www
Barry 20 Indonesia/
Javanese
Japanese High school,
university
Australia e-mail, www
Bruce* 23 Hong Kong/
Cantonese
None University None e-mail, ftp,
telnet
Edward* 21 China/
Cantonese
None Secondary school None e-mail, gopher,
ftp, telnet, www
Han 22 Rep of Korea/
Korean
None English major at university None e-mail
Ivan 29 Russia/
Russian
Hebrew High school,
private tutor
None e-mail, gopher,
ftp, telnet
Johnny 20 Hong Kong/
Cantonese
Mandarin,
Japanese
Research writing None e-mail, telnet
Kahled 26 Egypt/
Arabic
Gulf dialects British Council
certificate
None e-mail, gopher,
telnet, www
(HTML)
Kiki* 20 Japan/
Japanese
French English major at university USA e-mail, gopher,
MOO, telnet,
www
Mirishka 21 Czech Republic/
Czech
Russian, German English major at university Canada, USA BBS, e-mail, ftp, telnet
Mirjana 29 Finland/
Finnish
Swedish, French, German University USA e-mail, telnet, www
Niko 17 Croatia/
Croatian
German, Russian, Latin Secondary school England e-mail
Takai 32 Japan/
Japanese
None None England, Wales e-mail, gopher, ftp, telnet, tin, www
Vesna* 35 Croatia/
Croatian
French, Italian Primary & secondary school None e-mail, gopher, ftp, telnet, tin, www
Vishnja* 42 Croatia/
Croatian
German, French, Russian, Czech High school/
university
None e-mail, gopher, ftp, IRC, telnet, www
Zhang* 29 Hong Kong/
Cantonese
Mandarin University None e-mail, gopher, ftp, telent www


Students were selected based on their meeting the above-mentioned criteria. In addition, I took into consideration eligible students' representativeness of a wide variety of cultural backgrounds as well as first languages [see Table 1 above].

My goal was to gather a sample of students who had been exposed to writing in English at a beginning-intermediate university level. Requests for admittance to FUN 101 by students at an advanced level of writing in English were denied; however, I have kep t the students' names on file in the event that future FUN courses may be appropriate for them. Also, I wanted students who had some, but not necessarily a lot, of experience using the Internet. The requirement was basic familiarity with and comfort usi ng e-mail, as it was the basis of course facilitation.

INSTRUMENTATION

In order to build validity and triangulation in this qualitative study, I used a variety of data collection instruments, reflecting different perspectives within the same situation.

Throughout FUN 101, I kept a journal of observations and analyzed student writing samples. After the course was over, I then conducted in-depth, one-on-one interviews with each of the students. I also made public, mostly via discussion lists and word of mouth, the address for the FUN web page, soliciting feedback from peers and colleagues. Thus, my findings are based on not only my own observations, but also the input of the students involved in the case study, as well as that of other instructors and colleagues serving as outside observers.

Interviews

To collect data which reflected FUN 101 students' self-perceived confidence and writing ability in English, as well as their opinions on using the Internet to learn English, I conducted semi-structured interviews on line with each FUN 101 student. [see A ppendix 4 for list of interview questions] Because the FUN 101 students were located all over the world, it was impossible to interview the students in person. However, through schMOOze University, it was possible to interview the students on line. The se interviews took place during the last week of FUN 101.

Each student (with the exception of one, who lost his Internet access after FUN 101 ended), met me for an interview on the Internet for at least two hours (Bruce, 7/26/95; Edward, 7/24/95; Kiki, 7/30/95; Vesna, 7/25/95; Vishnja, 7/24/95; Zhang, 7/20/95). During these times, I recorded, with the permission of the students, each of our written conversations. Through my communication software (MacKermit), I was able to log all conversations and save them to my computer hard drive for later retrieval and an alysis. There was no need for transcription, as the lines in a MOO conversation appear on the screen one after the other, in mostly linear fashion, with the name of the speaker appearing at the beginning of each line [see Figure 2 for sample of MOO forma t].

FIGURE 2 - SAMPLE MOO FORMAT*
*Excerpt from FUN 101 student interview

Frizzy = FUN 101 instructor/interviewer
Edward = FUN 101 student

Frizzy asks, "Are there any Internet resources which have helped you improve your writing in English?"
Edward says, "So far, schMOOze and Frizzy University."
Frizzy asks, "How have each of those resources helped you?"
Edward says, "They help me to have an opportunity to practice and learn English writing skills."
Frizzy asks, "Would you recommend using these resources to other students learning English?"
Edward says, "Yes."
Frizzy asks, "Why?"
Edward says, "It is flexible and the students are coming from different places and there is no competition among the students. There is no pressure at all . . . "
Frizzy agrees.

Because the students' and interviewer's words were being transcribed in writing instantaneously, along with the conversation, there was minimal chance of garbled dialogue, or transcription discrepancies, as might be the result of the traditional interview ing technique of audio taping, and later transcribing.

In addition to providing information on the students' own perceptions of their writing ability and confidence, these interviews also served as participatory research in that the students gave me feedback to help improve future FUN courses.

Instructor's Journal

During the inception, planning and facilitation of FUN 101, the instructor/researcher kept notes about experiences, impressions and observations in a journal. Analysis of this source of data reveals technical considerations, pedagogical concerns, and tea cher's perceptions of the changes in the students' ability and confidence in writing in English over the 8-week course period.

Students' Writing

Because the entire course was conducted online, I was able to save all correspondence throughout the course, including teacher-student and student-student notes, homework assignments, peer reading worksheets, essay drafts and final essays with comments. Analysis of this material reflects the students' their attitudes toward using the Internet to learn English, plus their progress in developing their ability and confidence in writing English as well.

Other data collection resources

NETEACH-L
To begin discussion with other ESOL instructors around the world using the Internet in their classes, I created and began facilitating NETEACH-L, an online discussion list, in July 1995. Since then, more than 300 ESOL instructors worldwide have subscribe d and continue to discuss issues related to using the Internet in the ESOL classroom. All of the postings are archived regularly, and accessible for analysis.

TESLCA-L
Through TESLCA-L, an online discussion list which focuses on computer-assisted language learning in the ESL field, I obtained a great deal of technical and pedagogical advice, plus information regarding the attitudes and beliefs of teachers regarding usin g the Internet in their classes.

FUN Web Page
The FUN Web page served as a means of participatory research in that the FUN 101 students explored the sites linked to the page, then gave feedback to their classmates and me. Their feedback will help in the development of web-related assignments for fut ure FUN students. In addition, their feedback will be helpful as the FUN web page continues to develop and evolve as a language-learning resource and educational tool in and of itself.

VALIDITY

Internal Validity

I built the internal validity of this qualitative case study by using multiple methods to examine the data collected. Within this study, I did the following:

  1. Conducted interviews with students;
  2. Kept a journal of observations as both instructor and researcher;
  3. Analyzed student writing samples;
  4. Received input from EFL/ESL instructors worldwide.

This triangulation confirms findings of the impacts of learning English on the Internet on EFL students, from the point of view of not only the observer, but the students and the instructor as well. Through this method, I show both an internal and extern al picture of the FUN 101 experience.

To further build internal validity, the interview questions underwent thorough peer evaluation during a graduate seminar on Educational Research, San Francisco State University, Summer 1995. In addition, I received ongoing feedback on all aspects of my r esearch project from colleagues who were concurrently conducting thesis research of their own (Frank, Goldstein, Shetzer, Younger).

Lastly, the aspect of this study which builds the most internal validity is my direct and continuous involvement with the FUN 101 students. As the instructor of FUN 101, I had an internal view of what took place in this classroom.

External Validity

External validity has been built into this study in several ways. First, I concede that using the Internet is not the only classroom influence which will have an effect on the students. In fact, the teacher, classmates, course materials and other factor s involved all had major impacts on the confidence and writing ability of the students in this study. Therefore, rather than conducting a quantitative study in which the use of the Internet is isolated as an independent variable and prove or disprove its impact on students, this qualitative study accepts that the impacts of Internet use are in relation to the other factors involved concurrently, such as those mentioned above.

Second, I selected the FUN 101 students as representatives of a variety of EFL situations throughout the world. With representation from Europe, Asia, South America and Africa, the findings are applicable to many different EFL teaching/learning situation s in countries worldwide.

Overall, because FUN 101 was comprised of students from a multitude of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, it is realistic to expect that the findings of this study can also be applied to other EFL learning situations. However, future researchers are cautio ned to take into consideration the needs of each individual class, or group of students, when planning an online class.

LIMITATIONS

Loss of Subjects

As with any university-level course, it was possible for FUN 101 students to drop the course on their own during the period in which the researcher was collecting data. In addition, motivation may have been affected by the fact that the students did not receive any university credit for FUN 101, though the workload paralleled a credit course.

The biggest influence in the participation of the students, however, was Internet access. Though I stated that Internet access for the duration of the course was required for registration, I think most students assumed that if they had access at the begi nning of the course, they would have it indefinitely. On the contrary, many students whose academic calendars conflicted with that of FUN 101 lost their access to the Internet and/or computer lab until the next semester, resulting in a substantial number of drops.

One student dropped the course because he was offered a promotion at work requiring a great deal of overtime, and another student left the course after finding out he had to have surgery which would require hospitalization and recuperation over several we eks.

Projecting that some FUN 101 students would inevitably discontinue the course for the above as well as other extenuating reasons, I registered a larger number of students (N=16) than I had hoped to end up with for the course. In the end, seven students c ompleted FUN 101.

Technical Problems

Our main technical setback came four weeks (halfway) into the course, when I discovered that we could not set up a private newsgroup/bulletin board (BBS) as planned. The server on which our BBS was stored required that all students log on from the same s erver, and, as the FUN 101 students were all over the world, each on a different server, this was impossible. In the future, I will request a Usenet newsgroup, which could be accessed by students worldwide. Through this BBS, the students would have cond ucted peer review and class discussions in a more interactive way than through e-mail (the alias) alone.

Other technical difficulties, such as server inactivity, were experienced occasionally, but not frequently, during the course. The most frequent problem of this nature was with two students living in Zagreb, Croatia. Because of the escalating destructio n in their war-torn country, their server connection was often down. However, once an electronic mail message is sent, the message will try to get through to the recipient's mailbox for 5 days before it is returned. Therefore, sometimes the students rec eived their assignments a day or two late, but they did receive them.

In anticipation of problems with the server on which the FUN account resided, I utilized my personal Internet account (located on another server) as a backup for assignment distribution and collection. There were only two instances during the 8-week term in which this backup method was necessary.

Researcher Bias

Because I was the instructor of FUN 101, I had an inside window to the students' classroom experience. However, the possibility exists of researcher bias in reporting findings. To avoid such a situation, I established equal representation of not only my observations, but the perceptions of the students themselves, as well as feedback from other "observing" instructors.

Student Bias

In the case of FUN 101, the students in the sample already had some knowledge of and interest in using the Internet, as they were required to have Internet accounts and basic e-mail experience in order to participate in the class. As not all EFL students have either access to or interest in the Internet, this could potentially skew the findings of this research.

In addition, because I was their instructor as well as their interviewer, it is possible that the FUN 101 students might have been hesitant to criticize the course or my teaching strategies. To address this issue, when I began each interview, I asked the students to be as honest as possible when responding, explaining that honest answers would help me improve my teaching style and curricula, thus benefiting future FUN students.

As a result, the likelihood exists that the students were not biased, but, rather, more open to expressing themselves in this type of interview situation. Because they already knew and felt comfortable discussing their feelings and ideas with me, they we nt into greater detail and depth than I originally anticipated when answering questions. Having known and communicated with me for eight weeks already, the students appeared to be comfortable during their interviews, as we had already established a level of trust.

In addition, the students might have felt more confident about expressing themselves to me during our online interviews because we were not face-to-face, but, rather, communicating under pseudonyms, and in a more anonymous manner than in traditional inter views.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS

I collected the data for this case study through the following instruments:

  1. Interview transcripts
  2. Student writing samples
  3. Researcher/instructor's journal

These sources provided the data necessary for analysis of the thesis research question and subsequent categories of inquiry. In the sections below, each data collection instrument is described in detail, focusing on the data reduction and data analysis s trategies, including a rationale for each.

1. Interview transcripts

The interviews of FUN 101 students, conducted online, in real time, in writing, were reviewed using an open-coding approach. I first read through all of the student interviews, then reread them, the second time organizing the students' responses into com mon categories and subcategories. After this was completed, I compared these new categories to the my original categories of inquiry. This led me to discover which aspects of the research question had been answered, which had not, and which new question s had been brought up by the students themselves during the interview process. This open process was extremely beneficial for this study in particular, as its focus is on the impacts of the Internet on these students. On several occasions, the students brought up points that I had not thought of previously, but then explored withi n the context of this thesis, or, at the very least, will note within the conclusion as suggestions for further study.


2. Student writing samples

In analyzing the writing samples of the students in FUN 101 (including essays, freewrites, discussion questions based on readings, and general student-teacher correspondence), I used a selective-coding approach to interpret the data, based upon my origina l categories of inquiry.

Because there was such a large amount of data (all correspondence throughout the course), to make the most efficient use of time available, I chose a more structured approach to analyzing the students' writing than with analyzing the student interviews. Nevertheless, I remained open to discoveries beyond the categories of inquiry once in the midst of analysis.


3. Instructor's journal

The journal I kept throughout FUN 101 was coded selectively, based on the specific categories of inquiry (and subsequent subcategories). In this journal, I described my observations, concerns, and notes about changes that were indicated for future curric ula for FUN courses.


Through analyzing the student interview transcripts, their writing throughout the course, and my own teaching journal, I was able to see that FUN 101 was a beneficial experience for everyone involved.

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this chapter in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


CHAPTER 4: FINDINGS


From: The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction, by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net)

Below, I summarize the students' responses to my interview questions, and then continue the discussion based on the students' writing and my journal. The following findings reflect the advantages and disadvantages of teaching and learning writing in Engl ish as a foreign language in the completely virtual classroom.

STUDENTS' PERCEPTIONS

During the post-course interviews with the students of FUN 101, I asked them how they felt about their confidence and ability to write in English, and the impacts of the Internet on those perceptions. We also discussed what they felt were the primary adv antages, as well as any disadvantages, of learning English online [see Figure 3 below].


FIGURE 3: SUMMARY OF FUN 101 STUDENT INTERVIEWS

STUDENTS' PERCEIVED BENEFITS OF USING INTERNET TO LEARN ENGLISH

N = 6

Use natural English (6)
Improve overall writing ability (5)
Exposure to natural English (5)
Necessity to think in English (5)
Intercultural interaction (5)
Timely reader response (4)
Learning beyond classroom (3)
Exposure to process writing (3)
Freedom of expression (3)
Learn new vocabulary, grammar & idiomatic phrases (3)


As Figure 3, above, demonstrates, all of the students interviewed (six out of seven who completed the course) agree that the most important benefit of learning English online is the opportunity for using natural language (i.e. not just "textbook" language ). In addition, most FUN 101 students feel that their overall writing ability has improved since they began using the Internet, some claiming that any exposure to natural language is beneficial for language learners (Kiki; Zhang). As Zhang explained:

In my experience, we learn formal English in Hong Kong. The English you don't hear people talk or write in daily life. On the other hand, we've a greater variety of materials in Internet. From very serious articles in philosophy to foul languages. From dirty jokes to hot debates in nuclear tests. It feels to me that they are living English, not just English on the books.

Zhang clearly emphasizes the desire to be exposed to English as native speakers actually use it. This is especially important for students learning English as a foreign language, as their exposure to natural language might be limited or, in some cases, n on-existent. Along the same lines, several students also mentioned that the Internet (e.g. the FUN Web page) provides opportunity for practicing or being exposed to English beyond the classroom (Bruce, Kiki, Zhang).

Another important discovery of the FUN 101 students is that using English for authentic communicative purposes helps them develop their ability to think in their target language. "For me," says Kiki, "the most important thing was being given some issues that make me think deeply. FUN gave me a chance to think, and organize my thinking in English."

During the interviews, most students also mentioned intercultural interaction as a major benefit of learning to write online. As Zhang comments, "It is amazing to read essays of your classmates on the other side of the earth." Vishnja adds that small, i solated countries, such as her native Croatia, can feel connected to the outside world through communication over the Internet. In fact, at different times during the course, both Vishnja and Vesna told me that it was motivational to them knowing there w as a group of people all around the world connected to them during a time of political upheaval and social unrest. They felt inspired by their intercultural connections.

Furthermore, evidence of the benefit of intercultural awareness through the Internet can be found in one excerpt from a FUN 101 student's essay on combating cultural stereotypes:

Stereotypes help to create unsure feelings between people too. They deny each person's genuineness, originality and personal value. It is very dangerous to make a generalisation about a nation, or even a person, on basis of one or two inci dents. Someone had asked me through Internet if every Czech was blond. I had to laugh for just a small percentage of Czechs are blond. That person made a judgment according to our tennis players that (by coincident) are all blond. (Mirishka)

In this example, Mirishka shows how people can use the Internet to educate themselves and others about people and cultures outside of their native surroundings in order to prevent the perpetuation of false stereotypes.

When asked what they learned about writing in English through FUN 101, some students felt that their use of vocabulary, grammar and idiomatic phrases improved (Edward, Kiki, Vishnja, Zhang). In addition, Vishnja claims that through FUN 101 and other onli ne resources she has learned "how to communicate" in writing in English, in an environment which encourages free and open expression. "The proof of it," she says, "is maybe the realization of our FUN 101 class."

Indeed, in many foreign countries, educational systems are in place which encourage students to look to their teachers as all-knowing, and the source of all inspiration for learning, rather than looking within themselves. Students mentioned to me through out FUN 101 that they were surprised, but pleased, with the process approach to learning writing in English. One student had never been asked to give subjective opinions in a paper before, but rather facts (Bruce). Others had only taken writing courses which focused on grammar, rather than content (Vesna, Vishnja), and were motivated by my attention to their ideas.

Throughout the course, and during their interviews, though the students focused mainly on the positive aspects of using the Internet to learn English, most of the students were concerned that using the Internet requires a moderate command of the English l anguage, which is something that not all EFL students possess. Though this might provide motivation for some students to learn English in the first place (i.e. to be able to use the Internet), some beginning learners might not be able to keep up as much as advanced learners once on the Internet. As Bruce pointed out, "You must know English before you use the Internet! For FUN 101 all discussions deal with writing. A student with below standard language level, he will get lost."

Other FUN 101 students added that in order for the online learning experience to be successful, students must be able to decipher standard or conventional English from Cyber-English, as well as information which is well-written and accurate from that whic h is poorly-written and inaccurate (Vesna, Zhang).

Overall, my impression from the FUN 101 student interviews is that these learners found the Internet to be a valuable tool in learning English, but not the only way to learn English. As Zhang pointed out, the Internet should be used as an auxiliary tool, but not as the sole means of learning a language.

INSTRUCTOR'S PERCEPTIONS

Additional Benefits Of The Virtual Classroom

In examining my FUN 101 teaching journal, as well as reviewing the students' assignments and correspondence, I discovered the following benefits for students of learning ESOL writing online (in addition to those which the students addressed in their inter views).


Motivation to write with authentic communicative purposes for real audiences

In sifting through the many pages of students' writing, I discovered instances when students explicitly expressed an interest in writing to their peers. On the third day of FUN 101, after having read e-mail postings from the other students, Ivan made his first contribution to the class discussion:

Hello everybody, Does anybody have a feeling, that our discussion grows more and more philosophical? When I looked at this subject, my first thought was "Damn me, if I can handle it without a week's thinking, collecting facts and arguments and final writing some hundred p ages". Than I gave a new look at it and decided to make an attempt. The text below is a fruit of this attempt (I do not complain, I am just excited ! :) )

Not only was this student motivated to join his intercultural peers by adding to their existing discussion, he was inspired by the subject matter to think.

I witnessed this kind of excitement in many students, as reflected in the following journal entry:

I don't know if it's the topic, the excitement of being online, or a combination of the two, but the class dynamic is really strong already. After only one week of classes, the students are very motivated to write and ask each other quest ions about their postings. The discussion list was a good idea, I think, and one which will hopefully give the students a sense of class interaction throughout the course. (Frizler, 6/10/95)

Perhaps it was the excitement of being part of a pioneering class in language learning, or the opportunity to interact with international peers, sharing and learning at the same time. Also, the only means through which these students could communicate wa s through writing to each other, as they never met in person. Whatever their inspiration, these students were motivated to participate in the class, and it showed in their writing.


Opportunity to learn when inspired

In the traditional classroom, courses take place at specified times and days. If a student does not feel well, or is not focused on the subject of the course at the time when it is offered, there is little he can do other than miss the class. However, t he student may feel better, or more focused later in the day. Virtual classes provide students with more flexibility and more control over when and how they will study. This is especially helpful to students who have full-time jobs or who like to study at odd hours.

With the virtual classroom (except for specific times which might be arranged for MOO meetings), students can log on when they feel inspired, and not when the class is scheduled. For example, if a student wants to practice his English at 2:00 a.m., he ca n do so at schMOOze, as students and instructors all over the world participate, so there is almost always someone logged on. In addition, teachers can post assignments at 3:00 a.m. or 3 p.m, as long as they reach the students by the specified date/time they have set forth. Along the same lines, students can download assignments early in the morning or late in the evening, as long as they complete the work by the deadline set by the course instructor.

Online classes provide increased flexibility in not only time, but space as well. In addition to working at odd hours, students and teachers alike might prefer working at home rather than in an overcrowded or uncomfortable traditional classroom. Moreove r, students and teachers can do their teaching and/or learning in whichever clothes they feel most comfortable--even in pajamas!


Increased student responsibility for learning

Students who are required to participate in their own generation of knowledge, retrieval of course materials, or creation of materials for publication are naturally more responsible for their own path of learning. This is especially important for student s who feel as though they do not quite `fit' the education they are receiving. They can take their education into their own hands and adjust it for their own learning purposes.

Furthermore, participation on the Internet is viewed by its users as a two-way street. As Vishnja describes in her essay on restoring racial harmony:

An active tradition of the Internet and all other computer networks is that each individual will give back time, information and effort to the Net. In mass media, the vast majority of participants are passive recipients, in electronic med ia the vast majority of participants are active creators.

Thus, students using the Internet are not simply being filled with information by their instructors, but they are actively creating their own knowledge and sharing with others as well.


Anonymity

On the Internet, students have the option of using pseudonyms, which results in increased student openness and expressiveness. In fact, one-third of the students in FUN 101 opted to use pseudonyms during the course rather than their real names.

This can especially be beneficial for ESOL students afraid of losing face if they make mistakes. If they make errors under their pseudonyms and not their real names, they might not feel as badly about it. This is especially true for students using MOO, as Falsetti (1995) describes so well:

One does not `lose face' so easily on a MOO since one has no face to lose. Because the other people with you on the MOO only know what you choose to tell them, not understanding something which was said or making a grammar error does not produce the same `sense of shame' that face-to-face encounters so often do . . . Since the interlocutors may never meet in real life, the demands of social self-preservation are much less inhibiting.

Students are more likely to take risks in their use of a second language without the pressure of having to protect themselves from ridicule or embarrassment.


Removal of cultural, racial and sexual barriers

On the Internet, the focus is on what is being communicated, as opposed to age, race, ethnic background, gender or sexual orientation. Also, students are less likely to be intimidated or daunted by the loudmouth in class (i.e. the person who always speak s up before anyone else gets a chance to). If an online student does not want to read another student's posting, it is possible to skip over it, or in e-mail delete it. This can be very empowering for students who would normally be apprehensive about pa rticipating in a traditional classroom with such a person (Hiltz 1990).

Students can also learn without the sense of peer pressure which is so prevalent in many traditional classrooms. According to one FUN 101 student, the online course "is flexible and the students are coming from different places and there is no competitio n among the students. There is no pressure at all. They will not be afraid to express their ideas as they cannot see each other and they will not be shy" (Edward, 1995).

Limitations Of The Virtual ESOL Writing Classroom


Opportunity for plagiarism

As with any writing course, there is the possibility of students copying the work of others, or having others do their writing for them. In fact, some claim that online courses provide increased opportunity for plagiarism, as teachers might never even me et the students in person, or see for themselves that the students are doing their own work (Winet). However, this relates back to the notion of students claiming more responsibility for their own learning. The assumption is, of course, that students wh o truly want to learn will do their own work.


Lack of spontaneity

In the virtual classroom, lessons must be planned very well and in advance (in enough time to distribute to students via e-mail or markup in HTML), whereas in the traditional setting, a teacher can be walking down the hall, run into another teacher who ju st had a successful lesson, take one of her handouts and copy it, then use it for her class moments later.

This could potentially happen online if both teachers were online and one could e-mail a lesson to another teacher or that teacher could download it herself from a Web page. When a colleague recently led a successful lesson using WWW in her writing class , she stored the lesson itself on her Web page, then e-mailed me to let me know it was there, so that I could review it, or even use it in my own class. This all transpired within an hour or so of having used the lesson in her class (Shetzer). However, the more likely experience is that a teacher might find a lesson plan or materials on line to use when preparing in advance for a class, but not necessarily at the last minute.


Feeling of isolation

As the instructor of FUN 101, I felt very isolated, as I worked by myself, without the support of fellow staff or faculty. In fact, I was the only employee of FUN! However, I think this could be remedied if an online instructor were an integral part of an ESL department at a university. Regardless of whether classes are conducted online or in the traditional classroom setting, teachers need connections to each other.

My solution to this problem was to become connected with ESL teachers all over the world, via discussion lists such as TESL-L and NETEACH-L, and through schMOOze University. Surrounding myself with virtual comrades gave me the encouragement and support I needed to try out my ideas which were not understood or regarded by many in my real-life surroundings.


Technical problems which slow down the whole class

When some students do not receive their assignments on time (due to server inactivity, usually), it can throw off the entire class dynamic. For example, if instructors ask students to conduct peer review, but the students do not receive each others' essa ys, it could push back the schedule of the entire course. There is really no way to avoid such problems, and they must be dealt with as they arise.


Exposure to poorly written English

It is no secret that most anyone who has an Internet account and Web access can store information on the World Wide Web. As a result of this freedom of expression (which is the foundation of the Internet), a sizable amount of information found on line is disorganized and poorly written. However, rather than protect our language learners from such atrocities (note that we would also have to prevent our students from watching films, listening to song lyrics, or having conversations with native speakers), we can use this as an opportunity to help students discover for themselves proper and improper usage of English, and empower them to be better communicators themselves by learning the difference.


Self-discipline and self-motivation necessary

Although students and teachers alike can determine their own schedule for posting and submitting assignments, etc., this does not ensure that they will live up to their agreements.

It would be very easy to simply not log on one day, if a student did not feel like doing any work. However, this might only be the case with non-credit courses. FUN 101 students were free not to participate because they were all volunteers who were not receiving any credit for the course.


Limited availability of resources

This is perhaps one of the biggest challenges that instructors and students alike will face. In fact, some opponents of educational technology focus on the fact that Internet is not accessible to all people, everywhere in the world. On the other hand, n either is an education in a traditional setting. In some respects, a virtual classroom might be more accessible to certain students than a traditional class (e.g. students with disabilities).


Physical reactions to overuse of computer

One major limitation of the virtual classroom is the strain on one's eyes, back, neck, and overall body (lack of exercise!). However, if one gets a headache from staring at the computer screen for too long, that person can get up and walk around, go outs ide and jog for half an hour, or do any number of active things. The online learner is not bound to remain in front of the computer for any specified amount of time, whereas the traditional classroom requires that students sit down in a chair (usually ol d and uncomfortable) for a pre-determined amount of time, and in a space not necessarily conducive for the student's learning style.

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this chapter in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION & TEACHING IMPLICATIONS


From: The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction, by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net)

DISCUSSION

In this chapter, I will discuss how the Internet provides learning opportunities for ESOL writing students, and what this means for instructors, and for the field of ESOL writing instruction in general. I have made many discoveries through leading FUN 1 01, as well as participating in the following online projects for ESOL students and teachers over the past year:

However, before I begin discussing specific discoveries I have made as during the past year of using the Internet for educational purposes, I would like to address some common misconceptions about using the Internet as an educational tool.

Dispelling Myths

Myth #1: Teaching Online Saves Time And Money

Though conducting courses online (distributing and collecting students' assignments) can be cost-effective and save time, learning how to utilize the Internet for educational purposes can be time consuming and costly for many instructors. Without adminis trative support, including lightened course loads and paid training many instructors interested in teaching online are expected to learn about the Internet on their own time, and at their own expense.

My own situation is a good example of the time and money required when getting started on the Internet. When I decided to write my thesis on using the Internet to teach ESOL writing, I had only used e-mail, discussion lists and `talk,' and had been onlin e for only four months. Most of my time spent on the Internet up to that point had been for personal reasons, including practicing my Spanish.

I was aware that the World Wide Web, gopher, file-transfer protocol (ftp), and other Internet functions existed, but, to that point, had no motivation to learn how to use them myself. However, once I began doing research, I discovered they could all play important roles in leading an online course via the Internet. As a result, I spent an average of 4-6 hours online per day for the first six months of my research project getting up to speed, technically speaking, and learning how to use as many Internet functions as possible.

It was necessary for me to upgrade my computer and purchase a modem in order to teach FUN 101 from home, rather than at a computer lab on campus. Luckily, all of the software I needed in order to facilitate FUN 101 was available online, at no charge to e ducators, via anonymous ftp, or through the Academic Computing Services department at my university.

To learn about how to use various functions of the Internet, and the software and hardware required, I attended free workshops sponsored by the Academic Computing (AC) Services department at San Francisco State University, and supplemented these mini-cour ses with daily questions for the AC staff, delivered in person, or by phone or e-mail. In addition to this invaluable resource, I also read books and articles on using the Internet (many of which I downloaded from the Internet itself), asked questions on discussion lists, attended seminars (a major expense for a graduate student without departmental support) and asked friends both on- and off-line for advice.

Because there was no training available within my Master's program on integrating technology into the ESOL classroom, I self-trained for several hours per day, over approximately six months. However, other teachers may have outside commitments and respon sibilities which prevent them from devoting the same amount of time to such training.

All teachers interested in using the Internet as an educational tool must expect to spend some time in training. Using the Internet, or any form of technology, in the classroom requires not only technical training, but pedagogical training as well, if th e integration is to be effective and beneficial for students and teachers alike.

Nevertheless, an introduction to online teaching and learning need not be as scattered as mine was. At the time I began conducting my research, there was very little information available within my Master's program regarding using the Internet as an educ ational tool or conducting a virtual ESOL class. In fact, any information I did discover was by word of mouth; that is, a professor casually mentioning one resource or another. Thus, I had to piece together information wherever I could find it.

However, with the recent surge in the commercial popularity of and expanding access to the Internet, more people have become interested in using this resource, whether it be for personal or professional reasons. As a result, I have seen an increased inte rest in using the Internet within my Master's program (i.e. for graduate research, or for communication between faculty members), though I have yet to see more than one instructor in the department who uses the Internet as an educational tool in an ESOL c omposition classroom. Perhaps as teachers and educators become more aware of the benefits for their students of using the Internet as an educational tool, funding will subsequently be made available for teacher training in this area.

At this time, though the Internet is gaining respect as an educational tool, many teachers are still expected to learn about it on their own time, and at their own expense. In addition, if training is available, it might not be focused on using the Inter net for language teaching, but, rather on the technical side of using the Internet in general.

Though I devoted quite a bit of time and money to self training, in retrospect I think it was all worth it. I have grown to believe, along with many others, that the Internet will have an impact on education and written communication during the Informati on Age in much the same way the printing press did during the Industrial Revolution (Hemphill, 1995; Anderson, 1995).

Myth #2: Teachers Are Afraid Of Computers

Through my communication with ESOL instructors throughout this research project, I have come into contact with only one teacher who was literally fearful of the computer itself--my student teaching advisor. After discovering this, I have since helped her to learn about the computer, and how she can use it to best serve her needs as a language teacher, and am proud to say she is no longer terrified of the mouse or any other part of the computer.

In fact, from most of the feedback I have received from other ESOL instructors over the past year, I have discovered that they are indeed interested in learning about the educational applications of the Internet and other forms of technology, but they sim ply do not have the time nor money of their own to spend on training.

In addition, because the realm of the Internet is so vast, many teachers (and students) do not know where to begin looking for online resources and information. This is why I created a Web page for ESOL students and inst ructors to use as a focused and specific resource when getting started on the Internet. In fact, several teachers have used the page not only as a starting point for their students, but as a springboard for teacher training (Goldstein; Newson; Spelman), plus as a resource during seminar and conference presentations and demonstrations (Frizler; Winet; Younger; Zimmerman).

Because using the Internet may be not only a technical challenge for teachers, but a pedagogical one as well, Cameron (1994) claims, "The appropriate time and resources must be allotted to promote understanding of the technology to the educators themselve s, through seminars, workshops, and tutorials." Once this is achieved, I believe many teachers who currently do not use computers as part of the language teaching curriculum will begin integrating this technology into their courses.

Myth #3: Computers Will Replace Teachers

Though there are educators who make strong claims that the virtual classroom will eventually replace the traditional classroom completely (Doheny-Farina, 1994; Perelman, 1995; Smith, 1995), few would argue that virtual classrooms do not need teachers.

Of course, we have all seen instances in which computers have replaced human beings. Remember going to drive-up tellers at the bank? The ATM replaced them a long time ago, but did not replace the teller completely. If you have questions or concerns tha t the ATM cannot help you with, you can go inside the bank and talk with a human being. Thus, human beings were not replaced; rather, their function was changed.

This analogy holds true for educators as well. There are software programs which can respond to students in very general ways, but no machine can replace a human being leading a class, whether it be a traditional or virtual one. Computers cannot interpr et feelings, emotions, spontaneous reactions or unusual questions from students. I have yet to see a computer which can think on its feet. In fact, if a computer is confused or baffled, it will most likely freeze!

Moreover, students need an inventive and knowledgeable leader who can create a learning environment which is most conducive to each particular group of students, which, as we all know, varies from semester to semester, or even section to section. Compute r programs do not take into consideration individual students' characteristics, learning styles or abilities. In addition, a computer cannot adjust a lesson based on the emotional state of an individual or group of students on any given day.

Without the guidance of a teacher, and specific, learner-centered activities, computers will do little to help students learn English. As a result, though the roles of teachers in the classroom may change, the need for teachers will not (Berge & Collins, 1995).

Myth #4: Getting Students Online Equals Teaching

According to Magoto (1995), "the most common Internet (CALL?) teacher pitfall [is] just turning students loose with no clear language task in mind. I learned this one the hard way. Through my experience of teaching an online course on the Internet, I re alized that it is not enough to simply get students using the Internet, or to expose them to online resources. As with any language teaching tool, teachers must have clear, well-focused teaching (and not just technical) objectives and goals for each assi gnment. Furthermore, it is important to make these goals clear to the students from the beginning of a task.

In order to gain the most benefits from using the Internet in the ESOL classroom, students need to be aware of the connection between using the technology and learning English. Teachers should make clear their reasons for teaching the technology, and how it will help the students in learning a language. For example, explain to students why you are taking them to schMOOze University as part of their course curriculum (e.g. to write for communicative purposes, or to learn about turn taking in conversation ), leading them through with specifically-focused activities, rather than simply dropping them off and hoping they will gain something from the experience.

As Berge & Collins (1995) state, "The integrated use of technology offers many educational opportunities and possibilities when driven by sound visions of learning." Therefore, to be an effective educational tool, technology must have a strong pedagogica l foundation.

CLASSROOM AND TEACHING IMPLICATIONS

Now that I have addressed some common misconceptions about teaching online in general, I would like to specifically discuss what I feel are the most important outcomes of having taught a virtual ESOL composition course and participating in various additio nal online projects in ESOL education. Through my own observations, as well as feedback from students and other instructors, I will explore my discoveries about using the Internet to teach ESOL writing online, and examine how these findings can be adapte d for other ESOL classroom settings.

Interactivity among students is the key to a successful online writing class.

While interviewing each of the FUN 101 students, a single theme kept reappearing--the students would have preferred more interactivity between themselves. As Bruce suggests, "Personally, I think the lectures and the reading materials can be sent to stude nts by e-mail, but the discussion part must be held by real time chatting/talking because it gives the instant response and elaboration."

Based on their feedback and my own reflections, I have determined that it is indeed possible for students and teachers to interact online, even if this did not occur during FUN 101. In future online courses, I will make MOO an integral part of the learni ng process. In fact, I think MOO is essential to the interactiveness of an online course.


MOOs provide the widest range of opportunities for interactivity between students in online writing classes.

Through a MOO, class sessions can be held in which the teacher and students meet in real time, as they would in a traditional classroom setting. Teachers can also hold online office hours and conduct writing conferences in a MOO environment. Furthermore , through MOOs teachers can establish connections with like-minded instructors all over the world.

The MOO can also be an extension of a course, or a way for students to become familiar with the Internet and thinking in English before taking an online class. As a FUN 101 student, explained:

It takes a lot of skills to be in schMOOze. I have to speak English, type fast, be friendly . . . I can talk to many people with different values and interests in all over the world. That also make me think. And I can learn many new wor ds and phrases.

I think people here is very nice and friendly. They don't complain if I ask too many grammar questions. I can watch what the other people [who have the same questions] answer.

I will tell [other students] just go to schMOOze and talk to as many people possible. When you get used to it, ask Frizzy if you can take her class. (Kiki)

I think Kiki makes some important points here, one of which is that students need to be introduced to this new learning tool at a pace with which they will feel comfortable. Perhaps bringing students first to the relaxed and friendly environment such as schMOOze can help prepare them for the online classroom. Another possibility is to have students become familiar with MOO, then take a class which is conducted via MOO.

The MOO experience has been likened to stepping into a foreign country where you know some of the language, but are not yet familiar with its unique customs (Turbee, 1994; Younger, 1995). Turbee (1994) succinctly and creatively describes in a posting to the discussion list TCHR-SL one's first impression of the MOO experience:

One could say that going to a MOO is like going to a foreign country where a creole of your own language is spoken. Imagine going to Jamaica, for instance.

You go to the country, and there are people there, but they're doing things you don't understand. You can hear them speaking, but you don't know what they're accomplishing with their speech. You hear your own language, such as in the conversations that are held, but you need to be able to speak the creole (MOO programming language) in order to make anything happen. You need to learn the vocabulary.

You also experience culture shock. Each MOO has its own culture. If you stay long enough you can begin to understand it. If it frightens or confuses you too much, you either go back home, or you go to another MOO whose culture is easier for you to assi milate.

As Turbee emphasizes, MOO might not be the best educational tool for all students or instructors, as some will prefer to use other learning and teaching tools with which they feel more comfortable. However, though potentially time-consuming and challengi ng at first, for those who become familiar with the MOO environment, it can be a very rewarding experience.


The World Wide Web in and of itself is not interactive, though what students do with it can be.

In reading back through the teaching journal I kept throughout FUN 101, I remembered that the class dynamic and overall motivation of the students shifted considerably after I introduced them to the FUN Web page. I was using the page for distribution of assignments, but not for interactive classroom projects or activities, as is evidenced in the following journal entry:

This week I introduced students to the FUN Web page, asking them to begin retrieving their assignments themselves directly from the page [rather than automatically via e-mail]. Though it has been easier for me to distribute assignments th is way (I haven't had to deal with returned messages from servers having technical problems, etc.), this has not been as successful for the students as I had anticipated.

The whole feeling of class camaraderie has changed. Students have not been posting to the discussion list, and have not shared with each other sites they've explored from the Web page. In one week, it feels as if they've gone from being a class working together and sharing ideas to a group of individuals working independently. I'm beginning to realize that just putting students on WWW isn't enough. They need focused tasks to help them best utilize the Web.

Thus, teachers must create interactive activities which involve WWW. For example, can also work in pairs or groups to do research projects via WWW. Students working collaboratively on WWW research projects could meet in a MOO setting, or they could comm unicate via e-mail, to discuss their projects.

Students can also work collaboratively to create and publish class web pages. Through the creation process, they can explore WWW, finding models for their own page and sharing their discoveries with their classmates.

ESOL students must understand the difference between standard English and cyber-English.

One of the most prevalent concerns about having ESOL students participate in online chatting, whether it be via MOO, IRC or talk, is that students will be exposed to language which is not traditionally acceptable in written English (Lundstrom, 1995). Thi s is an extremely valid concern, and one which must be addressed by ESOL instructors who use these functions of the Internet in their classes.

Students need to learn the difference between traditionally-acceptable written English and that which they will find online. By providing our students with the knowledge that this type of language exists before they actually see it, we empower our studen ts to be able to function within the Internet community.

Cyber-English is steadily becoming a dialect of English used within the particular Internet communities to express non-verbal gestures, actions or thoughts in text. In online conversations or messages, one is likely to find many of the following elements of cyber-English:

smileys: :-) (happy face) or :-( (sad face)

asterisks: Are you *sure* about that? (adds emphasis in the same manner as bold or italic)

all caps: Did you HEAR me? (conveys shouting)

phrasal abbreviations: BTW for `by the way;' BRB for `be right back;' IMHO for `in my humble opinion.'

It is important for teachers to address the issue of cyber-English so that students know when to use it appropriately (online), but that it is not yet acceptable for use in traditional writing in English. However, as the Internet community grows and evol ves, this form of English may blend into what we currently consider to be standard. As one FUN 101 student who has spent a great deal of time on IRC suggests:

The problem is what might happen to standard language after spreading through this Internet filter. It is going to become poor . . . and replace phrases and expressions which language already has.

The only weapon you could use against "damage" it could make is to use Internet to learn real English, not just cyber English . . . I am afraid that it should be more places like Frizzy University Network (FUN) where somebody qualified and responsible cou ld teach you to use language properly. Otherwise, Internet could really `"infect" English. This is becoming some quasi-language. (Vesna)

As instructors of English, we need to consider that throughout history languages have evolved and changed. For example, over time, gender has been eliminated from the English noun system. Does this mean that there is something wrong with the English we speak and write nowadays? Not necessarily, though it is different in many ways than the language our ancestors used even 100 years ago.

We must remember that what is considered to be standard English today will be the old English of tomorrow. In fact, if the Internet infiltrates the lives of those in the Information Age as many predict it will, teaching our students cyber-English might a ctually put them at an advantage in schooling, the workplace, and life in general.

Teachers using Internet as an educational tool must keep pedagogical goals in focus.

As with any tools a teacher brings to the classroom, use of the Internet must have a pedagogical focus that is clear not only to the instructor, but the students as well. Otherwise, students are likely to get caught up in the technological aspect of an a ctivity, losing sight of their language learning goals (Shetzer, 1995).

One example comes to mind from a class I recently led in which a group of pre-university ESOL students collaboratively created a Web page for the intensive English language program in which they were enrolled. Rather than focus the course on learning HTM L (hypertext markup language) simply for mechanical reasons, I had the students learn the coding language inductively, figuring out much of it on their own, and emphasizing the critical thinking aspect of using this new and unusual language. The students could then focus the majority of their time and energy on what they were going to put on the web page rather than how they were going to do it.

Using the Internet to teach ESOL requires changes in teachers' roles, approaches, and attitudes toward teaching.

In order to be effective in the virtual classroom, teachers must be willing to put aside their own egos, remove themselves from the classroom limelight, and place the focus of the class on the students. While the student-centered classroom has grown as an abstract concept in popular pedagogical theory, the reality is that many traditional classrooms still focus on the teacher. However, teaching online brings with it an underlying assumption or belief that the more students do for themselves, the more l earning will take place (Hiltz, 1990; Berge & Collins, 1995; Warschauer, Turbee & Roberts, 1994). That is why the very nature of the Internet is conducive to student-centered learning and subsequent empowerment.

Along these same lines, the virtual teacher-student relationship in the virtual classroom is more balanced than the traditional hierarchy in which teachers are all-knowing and students turn to them as experts. Kilian (1994) further describes this benefit of online learning:

The medium . . . can foster a surprisingly close relationship between teacher and student. A detailed written comment somehow carries more authority and impact than spoken remarks do. Some students are eager to start a real dialogue, sharpening their writing skills still further as they argue their points.

Furthermore, teachers of online classes must be willing to take risks. At the present time, the Internet has no protocol for use as an educational tool. To some teachers, this is part of its appeal. To others, it can be quite disconcerting. Part of an y teacher's lesson should include a backup or `plan B' in case one avenue does not work (e.g. students cannot connect to Web site due to heavy traffic).


Teacher training on using the Internet must include new pedagogy as well as technology.

Teaching instructors how to use the functions of the Internet is not enough to prepare them for using it as an educational tool. In order to successfully bring the Internet into the classroom (or the classroom onto the Internet) requires training in not only the mechanics of how to use the technology, but the philosophies of how and why to teach with it as well.

While current pedagogical theory encourages the student-centered classroom, the virtual learning experience necessitates it. Depending on how the online course is structured (i.e. conducted asynchronously, via e-mail or WWW, or synchronously, via MOO), i t is likely that students will bear the brunt of responsibility for their own learning. If a virtual class is non-credit and/or designed so that students do not interact with each other, and primarily self-learn, deadlines might not be an issue. In fact , students can work at their own natural pace, and learn as they feel inspired.

On the other hand, if the class is collaborative, or being taken for credit, students will indeed interact with one another, and deadlines become very important, as students who fall behind may negatively impact the class dynamic and the project itself.

Moreover, the Internet lends itself naturally to collaborative, communicative and task-based classes (which are, of course, student-centered). Teachers who have been leading teacher-fronted, non-communicative classes will have to rethink their approaches .

Internet functions can be used not only as means of classroom facilitation, but also as language learning tools in and of themselves.

Online courses can be conducted in many ways, depending on the pedagogical goals of the instructor, availability of Internet resources, and level of students' proficiency in both English and computers. In the following section, I will explore the benefit s and limitations of using each of the Internet functions as they apply to FUN 101, and in ESOL writing instruction in general.

Electronic mail (e-mail)


Benefits:
increased student control of / contribution to communication
elimination of time and distance constraints
shift in authority from teacher to student
can reach many students at one time, with ease
saves paper
immediacy of response (student doesn't have to wait for a class session to have a question answered)


Limitations
asynchronous interaction (not real time)
delays in distribution of messages
volume of information can be overwhelming for students
lack of opportunity for immediate negotiation of meaning can result in flaming


In addition to distributing and collecting assignments, e-mail can be used for activities and projects such as writing dialogue journals, online publishing of electronic newsletters or magazines, electronic penpals, and communication between teachers and students (and between students themselves) outside of class time. In a recent posting to NETEACH-L, an ESL writing instructor describes how she uses e-mail to extend communication with her students beyond the classroom:

The most advantageous effect [of using e-mail] has been that if I forget to give the students an important message in class, I can still do so after class, including assignments due and important notices for them from the administration. They can also se nd me questions about how to solve various problems or to improve their grade at their convenience, not necessarily having to set up an inconvenient office hour to do so. (Whittaker, 11/26/95)

According to FUN 101 student Zhang, "It's amazing to know your teacher's response so quickly." Commenting on the further benefits of teacher-student communication online, Warschauer (1995) adds that timely teacher response is not the only advantage. "Pr oviding your students with your e-mail address is a way of `leveling the playing field' and overcoming the language and status difficulties ESL students often have in communicating with their teachers." Students become empowered to ask questions of their instructors when they feel more secure about the method through which they are asking these questions.

In addition to the practical aspects of using the e-mail function of the Internet, through e-mail communication students gain writing, reading and critical thinking skills, as described by Kroonenberg (1994/1995):

In addition to developing writing skills, e-mail activities further develop students' reading comprehension and thinking skills.

Students always know who the audience is and the purpose for each entry. They are eager to communicate their thoughts in comprehensible language, knowing that what they write will be read by their classmates and me. Students are also clearly interested in reading, understanding, and responding comprehensibly to what their classmates have to say.

The awareness of audience mentioned by Kroonenberg was exemplified by one FUN 101 student in particular. Vishnja (1995) explained that using e-mail helped her feel more confident about her writing in English because she was getting responses to her writi ng, indicating that she was understood. "Before [FUN 101] I never post to the newsgroups, but after your course, I will. :) Earlier I was not sure that I can write something understandable, but you were reading it and I always get your answer."

E-mail, through which students receive responses to their writing, is a great introduction to the concept of writing for a real audience with purposes extending beyond writing for a grade. One example comes to mind in which a student on the EFL/ESL Discu ssion List MUSIC-SL posted a message about his favorite band, Metallica. I happened to be online when he posted, and was interested in finding out more about what it was that he liked about that band. I responded by sending him a note asking some questi ons. He wrote back again right away telling me how excited his class and teacher were to see him get a response so quickly, and that he was amazed that a `little bug' like himself on the Internet could get a response from a native speaker!

MOO

Earlier in this chapter, I described in how using MOO as a tool in the ESOL classroom in the best way to achieve online interactivity among students which parallels or improves upon that which is found in the traditional language classroom. Moreover, MOO s provide additional benefits for ESOL writing students, which I will explore in greater detail here.


Benefits:
synchronous communication (real time)
opportunity for interaction among students
text-based, language-dependent environment (Falsetti)
thinking in target language
negotiation of meaning
anonymity
opportunity to practice English outside of classroom
practice reading/writing while communicating
fosters sense of community, belongingness and equality (Warschauer, Turbee & Roberts)
express non-verbal gestures
share thoughts
relaxed environment
can log conversations
provides office space for part-time teaching staff without access to traditional office
student ownership of learning materials (room, character, etc.)
creative outlet


Limitations:
lag (frozen screen during communication)
requires moderate typing speed
visual client recommended
anti-MOO policies of school computer lab administrators
non-ESL specific MOOs might be too culturally loaded (Falsetti)


There are many ways that students and instructors can utilize MOO as an educational tool, but as Warschauer (1995) states:

The most obvious use of real-time electronic discussion is for the teaching of writing. Students in general, particularly second languages students, often have a great fear of expressing their ideas in writing. To help overcome this fear and give their students as much writing practice as possible, some composition teachers conduct almost all of their course through electronic discussion. They find that the more students write, the more comfortable they get with it--especially because t heir writing occurs in such a powerful communicative context. Every word they put down is not for the purpose of being corrected by their teacher, but rather for the purpose of sharing ideas with their classmates.

The MOO environment provides an audience, context and purpose for writing, while at the same time supplying motivation to get students writing in the first place--communication.

From my own experiences at schMOOze, and the feedback of the FUN 101 students, I think the most important skills which students develop at schMOOze are thinking in English and negotiating meaning. When communicating through e-mail, if the recipient of a message does not understand a portion of that message, a request for clarification must be sent to the original sender. Then, the recipient must wait for a response to that message, and so on.

At schMOOze, if a student does not understand what another student has said, it is possible to request immediate clarification, then proceed with the conversation. An example of such negotiation of meaning occurred during my interview with Zhang:

Zhang [Guest] asks, "I see. Are you in San Francisco? Is it very hot there?"
Frizzy says, "NO! It is freezing here. :("
Frizzy shivers.
Frizzy watches the fog roll by her window.
Frizzy wishes the sun would come out.
Zhang [Guest] asks, "Is your house near a pond? Is the fog green or grey?"
Frizzy exclaims, "SF is surrounded by the ocean on 3 sides. The fog is most definitely gray!"
Zhang [Guest] says, "I'm sorry. I thought it was frog :-("
Frizzy smiles.
Frizzy would rather see a frog than fog! :)

In this example, the student determines from the context of the conversation that he is using the wrong vocabulary word for his meaning to be clear to the listener/reader. Because we were communicating synchronously, he and I instantly negotiated the mea ning of what was said, clarifying his intent within seconds. If this had taken place via e-mail, it could have taken hours or even days to correct this minor discrepancy in meaning.

Before taking ESOL students to schMOOze, there are several important things to consider:

A visual client, such as TinyFugue, is software which splits the user's screen so that what he is typing does not get scrambled with what others are saying. [see Appendix 5 for comparison of screens with and without visual client] At institutions where use of MOOs or MUDs is supported, a visual client might be stored on a central server. However, because many systems operators view MOOs only as games, and not as educational tools, the use of MOOs is sometimes discouraged, if not banned completely (Fal setti, 1995).

In my experience using the MOO for meetings with students, the biggest drawback is an occasional freezing of the screen during conversation known within the MOO community as "lag." When a player lags, he can send out messages to others in the room (e.g. tell them that he is lagging), but cannot see their messages on the screen. Once the period of lag expires (usually no more than one or two minutes), the player who has been lagging will see on his screen all messages from other players that were exchang ed while he was out of commission.

Lag can be a bit frustrating at times, especially if a teacher is trying to have a conference with a student or lead a class discussion. Indeed, students should be aware of the existence of lag and how to deal with it.

Another MOO-related issue that teachers need to address is the use of cyber-English, which is filled with abbreviations, anacronyms, and textual representations of non-verbal gestures.

Before addressing any of these issues, however, it is important to talk with the operator or facilitator of the computer lab you plan to use and find out what the lab policy is on using MOOs or MUDs for educational purposes. Because of their traditional history as being completely social, and of no particular educational benefit, some lab operators refuse to allow MOO or MUD use on their servers (Falsetti, 1995; Gardner, 1995).

World Wide Web (WWW)


Benefits:
real world examples of integrated knowledge
rich source of authentic language & culture material (Magoto)
collaborative learning
retrieval of timely and abundant information
appeals to learners with visual/tactile learning styles
opportunity to write with real purpose for real audience
builds critical thinking skills
need to skim & scan through vast amounts of information
opportunity for online publishing


Limitations:
WWW itself does not promote interactivity between students
difficult to read/navigate without graphical browser
need to learn computer language to create pages
slow connections to pages & links if Internet traffic high


Although WWW itself is not interactive, activities that lead students to learn via the Web can be. ESOL teachers can utilize Web sites in the classroom not only as sources of information and task-based reading, but also to spark in-class discussion (Mago to, 1995).

Furthermore, students can build their skimming and scanning skills through scavenger hunts on the Web, and develop their critical thinking skills by sifting through and gathering information from Web pages for research projects. In addition, WWW can also serve as an introduction for students to multimedia--the collaboration of text, images, audio and video--which is becoming an increasingly integral part of communication in the Information Age.

Perhaps the most innovative and empowering use of WWW in the ESOL classroom is for student publishing. Writing for publication on the Web provides the opportunity for a communicative, collaborative, student-centered and task-based classroom.

In working with a group of pre-university students on a collaborative Web page for their intensive English language program, I discovered that students can be very motivated by having a real audience and an authentic purpose for writing. In determining w hat information will appear on their page, students are highly aware of the audience for whom they are providing this information. When peer reading, they ask each other questions about the applicability of information to their audience. As a result, st udents' confidence and interest in writing rises, as of one of the Web workshop students explains:

Nobody can be indifferent from the Internet anymore. Making home page in the Internet gave me confidence to do something (generally, and especially in the Internet). I'm considering about changing my dream to do something using computer network.

Student writers given the opportunity to communicate authentically with their readers are motivated to write with greater enthusiasm and clarity than when writing only for an audience of one--the teacher. In addition, they can also see the applications o f working on global writing, which extends their learning beyond the classroom itself and out into the "real world."

In addition to conducting classes, teachers can use the Internet for communication and collaboration with fellow educators worldwide.

Were it not for e-mail and MOO connections to other ESOL instructors and graduate students with similar interests in using the Internet to teach ESOL writing, I might not have pursued the creation of FUN and completion of my thesis.

Because I received only minimal support in my real-life surroundings for my ideas and projects, I was fortunately pointed in the direction of what turned out to be two invaluable resources for me in conducting the research for this paper: TESL-L and schM OOze University. Through both of these online resources, I discovered that I was not alone in seeing the value of the Internet for learners of English.

However, the discussions taking place on TESL-L, and even TESLCA-L--its branch devoted to computer-assisted language learning--did not always focus on using the Internet. Thus, I created, along with an online colleague, Ron Corio, a list specifically foc using on how and why ESOL teachers worldwide are using the Internet in their ESOL classes. Frequently, I receive postings such as the one below from teachers subscribed to NETEACH-L who share with me how much they value this connection to like-minded ins tructors:

I've been meaning to write for awhile to you and Ron to say "thanks" for starting this list. It has been so nice to have a group of people interested in the web and ESL. Too often when I start to talk to colleagues here at my university, eyes glaze over when I mention home pages, links, web browsers, search engines, etc. Few people know what I'm talking about and fewer can bounce ideas around with me. I have really enjoyed having NETEACH to read, write to, and learn from. Thanks for a ll the hard work you and Ron have put into this list! (Moody)

Any time of the day or night I could contact others in real time or via e-mail who would either help me explore my ideas, answer my questions, or suggest resources for reference (e.g. books, articles). I once posted a request on TESLCA-L for bibliographi es relating ESOL and technology, and received three different thesis bibliographies totaling more than 100 references, all within twenty-four hours!

MOOs can also be beneficial means of communication for teachers who feel isolated in their teaching interests. Through MOOs, they can make connections and talk in real time with like-minded instructors worldwide. For example, after getting to know me at schMOOze, and learning about my projects and teaching philosophies, an ESOL instructor set me up with a job interview. In addition, I also collaborated at schMOOze on a submission for publication with a colleague that I had met for the first time on my discussion list, NETEACH-L. We were able to log our conversations and use those notes when revising our drafts.

Furthermore, teachers can also communicate and collaborate through sites on the World Wide Web. As one instructor wrote to me after discovering the FUN Web page of resources in ESOL:

I have found your page very welcoming and comprehensive. It is very time-sparing. Instead of hunting around the Internet for sites that I have heard of/not heard of; instead of looking up URL's which I can't find or have mis-typed, I can g o to one source (I always get through) and access everything else from there. I use the sites for the usual collection of reasons, to keep abreast of relevant developments, to look for materials, references and classroom ideas. Working through your page h elps to offset the typical isolation that I feel as an individual teacher closeted in my lecture room with "my" students and puts me in contact with the international band of TEFL/TESL teachers and lecturers (Newson, 11/1/95).

Indeed, much of the appeal of using the Internet in ESOL is not only for the benefit of our students, but also for our own evolvement and growth as teaching professionals. By developing strong connections with colleagues worldwide, we inevitably help our students, as we become open to sharing and trying new ideas for the classroom.

Distributing course materials over the Internet can save time, money and paper.

Storing course materials and assignments on a web page or distributing them via e-mail allows students to retrieve them at their convenience. In the traditional classroom setting, if a student does not come to class, a teacher must either meet him outsid e of class to give him the materials he missed or remember to bring one session's work to the next (along with the handouts for that session as well). Online distribution places more responsibility on the student.

Simply because the students retrieve materials in electronic form, this does not mean that paper is not involved, as the students may decide to print an assignment or materials once retrieved or downloaded. Thus, the expense (paper, ink) shifts from the instructor or department to the students themselves, which is something to be considered when determining tuition and fees for virtual classes.

Teachers who must pay for their own photocopying, or who have stringent limits on the copies they can make (not uncommon in today's world of severe budget cuts in education), will undoubtedly find paperless distribution to be a great benefit of online tea ching. The following posting on Educom, a bi-weekly electronic newsletter on educational technology, expresses well where paperless distribution is headed:

Professors increasingly are bypassing the copy machine and posting course syllabi and other materials directly onto the Web for downloading by their students. This new strategy allows teachers to offer more current information and facilit ates mid-course changes if necessary. Some report that their students spend more time surfing through the information, and point out that high-tech materials presentation ties right in with the expectations of the video generation.

Still, many have voiced concern over potential copyright violations and worry that their online activities might get their schools in trouble. "Professors are probably one by one violating copyright laws," says Educom VP Carol Twigg, who predicts that th ese issues will be resolved before too long. "The next generation of faculty are going to do this naturally." [Chronicle of Higher Education, 3 Nov 95, A27] (Educom, 11/6/95)

In addition to copyright laws, another consideration for instructors interested in storing assignments on a Web page is the special coding required. In order for text documents to be viewed on WWW, they must first be coded, or marked up, with a unique se ries of codes, in a language known as HTML (hypertext markup language). Teachers may not have the initial time, energy or resources to learn HTML, and, thus, may prefer distributing their course material by hand.

However, there is an abundance of online training guides and documents through which teachers can self train. In addition, through Netscape (by choosing "View" and then "Source") anyone can see the markup or coding of a page. Though it is considered bad netiquette to steal someone else's work, it is acceptable to copy and paste someone's formatting, later adjusting it to your own page's needs.

Also, HTML editors are available through which a user can simply point and click, and the HTML marking appears. With this software, HTML coding of a basic page of text probably takes less time than waiting in line for the copier at the English Department . Teachers should also keep in mind that they have enough storage space in their Internet accounts to store a home page and its links.

Though special markup is required for WWW pages, teachers can upload and distribute assignments via e-mail without special coding. If the teacher and students involved will all be using the same type of computer and software (including e-mail program), documents can be uploading with formatting (e.g. a document created in MS Word for Windows on the PC can be uploaded, distributed to students via e-mail, then downloaded by students using MS Word for Windows on a PC).

If the students and teacher are not all using the same type of computer and software, the teacher and students must then transfer documents using straight ASCII (no formatting) via e-mail. [This is how document transfer was conducted in FUN 101.]

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE TEACHING ONLINE

For a virtual class to run smoothly, teachers and students should have the following:

  1. technical resource person
  2. visual client for MOO
  3. One (1) megabyte of online storage space for students, and two (2) megabytes for teacher (more may be necessary for both if creating and storing web pages)

As a backup, I downloaded all FUN 101 work to my hard drive throughout the course; however, I often found it helpful to have students' writing stored in my e-mail account for quick reference, though this required storage space.

In addition, there are many other issues to be considered when planning to teach an online ESOL course.

Time zones

One of the major issues during FUN 101 in trying to coordinate an interactive class discussion was that of time zones. The students in FUN 101 and I were spread out across eight different time zones. So, I would have to post an assignment (via e-mail) a t 4:00 p.m. on Sunday in order to reach all students by 10:00 a.m. on Monday. Depending on the course syllabus and when assignments are distributed and collected, time zones may or may not be a major issue.

Student access to Internet

Online instructors will want to consider how, where, and when students will be accessing the Internet. Will they have access from home, via modem? Will they be using the computer labs on campus?

An issue for one-third of the students in FUN 101 was that they lost their Internet access when their semesters ended in their native countries. The students all assumed that if they had Internet access when they began my class, that meant that they coul d use their accounts indefinitely. On the contrary, when students' semesters ended, many of them subsequently lost their Internet privileges.

Prior student knowledge of Internet functions

The basic skill students will need prior to taking an online course is using e-mail. Beyond that, it is up to instructors to decide which additional Internet functions students should be familiar with before taking an online course, or they will teach th e students within the course.

Use of the Internet

An important consideration during the planning stages of an online class is whether to use the Internet as a means of facilitating the class itself, and/or as an educational tool in its own right.

Student participation

Online teachers will experience the same types of issues as traditional teachers when dealing with students who drop their courses. This is especially true for non-credit courses, such as FUN 101. In fact, it is easier for students to drop an online cou rse because they can just close their e-mail account, or throw away unwanted messages. There is no requirement that they inform the teacher, or even discuss their situation with the teacher. On the other hand, students who continue to participate in non -credit online courses are usually very motivated and inspiring to work with.

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this chapter in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


Internet/ESOL Writing Instruction: Conclusion

CHAPTER SIX: CONCLUSION & SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

For the first time in the history of ESOL writing instruction, a course was conducted via the Internet, connecting students all over the world to improve their ability and confidence in writing in English. The potential impacts of my experience are impor tant in the field of ESOL instruction, opening up opportunities for international teachers and students alike.

Through FUN 101, I learned a great deal about the technical and pedagogical aspects of teaching an online ESOL composition course, and utilizing the Internet as a powerful language teaching and learning tool. As the students of FUN 101 all agreed, intera ctivity between the students is the key to the success of an online course (or any language class for that matter). In future courses, I will increase the use of schMOOze for class discussions, and will also assign projects which students can work on col laboratively, either through schMOOze, e-mail or a newsgroup (conference), or the World Wide Web.

In the future I plan to integrate technology into the classroom, as well as the classroom onto the Internet. Many educators predict the eventual extinction of the traditional classroom, but I do not think it will happen. As with any teaching tool or ins trument, we do not simply accept it in and of itself as the end all to be all. In fact, it is advisable to utilize as many different teaching tools in the classroom as possible, appealing to a wide variety of learners' and teachers' styles, abilities, in terests, and strategies. Using the Internet as a tool in the ESOL writing classroom does not presume forfeiting established teaching and learning tools which have helped students in the past.

Rather, the Internet can add to and improve upon what ESOL teachers have been doing for years now--teaching writing in a student-centered, communicative and collaborative classroom environment. Whether learning takes place completely online or in a tradi tional setting in combination with the virtual, students can extend their learning beyond what the traditional classroom offers for the improvement of their ability and confidence to write and communicate in English. Indeed, the Internet provides ESOL st udents with opportunities for:

Furthermore, using various functions of the Internet, such as e-mail, MOO and the World Wide Web, can help ESOL students further develop their skills in reading (including skimming and scanning), writing for specific purposes and audiences, and, most of a ll, critical thinking. Moreover, students enjoy being a part of the newly-developing Internet community.

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH IN USING THE INTERNET IN THE ESOL CLASSROOM

Throughout the process of conducting research for this project, several themes emerged repeatedly. From the feedback I have received at conferences, during casual in-person discussion, and on line (through discussion lists and personal communication), on e of the major concerns of ESOL instructors is the time required to train some students in basic keyboarding and computer skills in order to be able to participate in online activities. Future research will be helpful in determining the ideal role of ESO L teachers in this area (Should we be expected to teach computer language, too?), and making recommendations on who should be facilitating our students' learning of how to use a computer. This is an area which warrants research in not only ESOL, but acro ss the curriculum, as computer skills will benefit students in all university-level courses, and not just English.

Another consideration is that of establishing Internet access for language learners in rural, remote or impoverished locations. Is practical to think that the Internet will provide education to people who currently do not have the means or money to atten d traditional colleges or universities? Though it is possible, is it likely? Research would be highly valued which examines the potential costs and time required for establishing technical connections in this area. Also worthy of consideration are the time and resources necessary for training teachers and students how to use the technology, not only technically, but pedagogically as well.

Lastly, and perhaps most important to our field, is the exigency for ESOL instructors in various settings throughout the field to begin integrating suggestions based on my research and that of others. Thus, even though my results are based on an EFL teac hing experience, these findings are applicable to a variety of classroom situations.

Indeed, as ESOL teachers around the world experiment with the Internet as a teaching and learning tool, and share their results on discussion lists, or in trade journals, magazines and books, we will all benefit and become empowered as instructors working to best prepare our students for a future of lifelong learning and success in the real world.

CONCLUSION

The virtual classroom is indeed a reality, and will become increasingly important as education moves into the 21st Century. However, though the possibility exists for the replacement of the traditional classroom with the virtual, based on my research, I do not think this would be beneficial for all students or teachers.

Granted, for the students mentioned in the introduction to this thesis (i.e. those for whom the virtual classroom makes education accessible), learning online may be their only option for furthering their education. However, that is exactly what the enti rely virtual classroom should be--an option. There is little concrete proof available which shows that students learn more (or more effectively) when taking courses completely on line.

However, researchers have shown that, when used as a teaching tool to supplement the traditional classroom, elements of the virtual classroom can indeed be beneficial to both students and teachers. In fact, as the world around us evolves technologically, learning online may better prepare our students for the thinking and tasks they will be expected to accomplish not only in the work place, but across all aspects of their lives.

What I have discovered through my own research is that there are benefits to teaching and learning online as well as in traditional settings. Rather than choose one over the other, I recommend combining the best aspects of each in order to create a setti ng which is most conducive for students learning how to think and write as they will be expected to do not only in academia, but in the outside world as well.

Learning to navigate the Internet and sift through and decipher large amounts of information with speed and accuracy will prepare students for the challenges they will face as society delves deeper into the Information Age. It is especially helpful for s tudents to develop thinking skills inside the classroom which parallel those commonly used outside the classroom. As Kemp (1994) asserts:

Now the search for academic proof has shifted to the use of computers in classrooms and in instruction, as if instructional activities are qualitatively different from occupational activities. "Granted that almost everyone who needs to wri te uses a computer to write"-- the argument goes-- "but that doesn't mean that computers have a place in the classroom." The implication here is that writing instruction doesn't involve writing, that whatever it is we do in the classroom, it is qualitativ ely different from whatever it is that people do when they actually write in life. This doesn't make sense to me.

By exposing our students to resources such as the World Wide Web, which functions much in the same way as people think (i.e. in non-linear fashion), we are providing our students with an education that will prepare them for the kinds of thinking and writi ng they will be expected to do once out of the shelter of our classrooms.

As the Internet affects our lives across all disciplines, those who can write and think quickly and critically will be the ones who are ultimately successful in what is the goal for most human beings--to communicate (Anderson, 1995). However, those who d o not possess fluency in the use of computers and writing will be considered by academic standards to be uneducated, and will likely fall behind not only on college campuses, but in their work places as well.

Moreover, as intercultural connections in academia and the work place increase, it is especially important for ESOL students to gain skills in writing for not only one person (a teacher), but for global audiences, which is possible through the Internet. What's more, the Internet supplies a multitude of purposes for writing, which provides the ESOL instructor with many ideas for lessons (some of which have already been tested and posted online by other teachers).

At the present time, the virtual ESOL writing classroom has no established protocol, so it is up to those of us currently experimenting with this alternative to traditional teaching to bear the responsibility and duty of sharing what we learn with others. As a community of instructors, many of whom feel stifled by traditionally-accepted teaching methods in ESOL writing (i.e. writing essays) and a lack of application to the `real world' (i.e. writing for the teacher only), we are in a position to work col laboratively, discovering and developing what the protocol for teaching ESOL online should be.

Teachers who accept this challenge with enthusiasm and positivity will not only be at the forefront of historical change, will but also have a creative outlet in which to explore new and inventive ideas for teaching language, thus helping to develop a new paradigm in education.

Because the Internet removes barriers of color, race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability and other attributes which people use against each other in everyday life, I find it difficult, if not impossible, to understand how anyone in the field of ESOL instr uction could see the Internet as anything but educational.

It is time that educators and administrators accept the influence and impact of computers on life as we know it. Once we concede that some past approaches to education which still remain in place are no longer applicable to the world in which we are p reparing our students to function today, we can then work together to effectively utilize the tools at our disposal, such as the Internet, and offer our ESOL students the education they deserve and crave.


CHAPTER SIX: CONCLUSION & SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

For the first time in the history of ESOL writing instruction, a course was conducted via the Internet, connecting students all over the world to improve their ability and confidence in writing in English. The potential impacts of my experience are impor tant in the field of ESOL instruction, opening up opportunities for international teachers and students alike.

Through FUN 101, I learned a great deal about the technical and pedagogical aspects of teaching an online ESOL composition course, and utilizing the Internet as a powerful language teaching and learning tool. As the students of FUN 101 all agreed, intera ctivity between the students is the key to the success of an online course (or any language class for that matter). In future courses, I will increase the use of schMOOze for class discussions, and will also assign projects which students can work on col laboratively, either through schMOOze, e-mail or a newsgroup (conference), or the World Wide Web.

In the future I plan to integrate technology into the classroom, as well as the classroom onto the Internet. Many educators predict the eventual extinction of the traditional classroom, but I do not think it will happen. As with any teaching tool or ins trument, we do not simply accept it in and of itself as the end all to be all. In fact, it is advisable to utilize as many different teaching tools in the classroom as possible, appealing to a wide variety of learners' and teachers' styles, abilities, in terests, and strategies. Using the Internet as a tool in the ESOL writing classroom does not presume forfeiting established teaching and learning tools which have helped students in the past.

Rather, the Internet can add to and improve upon what ESOL teachers have been doing for years now--teaching writing in a student-centered, communicative and collaborative classroom environment. Whether learning takes place completely online or in a tradi tional setting in combination with the virtual, students can extend their learning beyond what the traditional classroom offers for the improvement of their ability and confidence to write and communicate in English. Indeed, the Internet provides ESOL st udents with opportunities for:

Furthermore, using various functions of the Internet, such as e-mail, MOO and the World Wide Web, can help ESOL students further develop their skills in reading (including skimming and scanning), writing for specific purposes and audiences, and, most of a ll, critical thinking. Moreover, students enjoy being a part of the newly-developing Internet community.

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH IN USING THE INTERNET IN THE ESOL CLASSROOM

Throughout the process of conducting research for this project, several themes emerged repeatedly. From the feedback I have received at conferences, during casual in-person discussion, and on line (through discussion lists and personal communication), on e of the major concerns of ESOL instructors is the time required to train some students in basic keyboarding and computer skills in order to be able to participate in online activities. Future research will be helpful in determining the ideal role of ESO L teachers in this area (Should we be expected to teach computer language, too?), and making recommendations on who should be facilitating our students' learning of how to use a computer. This is an area which warrants research in not only ESOL, but acro ss the curriculum, as computer skills will benefit students in all university-level courses, and not just English.

Another consideration is that of establishing Internet access for language learners in rural, remote or impoverished locations. Is practical to think that the Internet will provide education to people who currently do not have the means or money to atten d traditional colleges or universities? Though it is possible, is it likely? Research would be highly valued which examines the potential costs and time required for establishing technical connections in this area. Also worthy of consideration are the time and resources necessary for training teachers and students how to use the technology, not only technically, but pedagogically as well.

Lastly, and perhaps most important to our field, is the exigency for ESOL instructors in various settings throughout the field to begin integrating suggestions based on my research and that of others. Thus, even though my results are based on an EFL teac hing experience, these findings are applicable to a variety of classroom situations.

Indeed, as ESOL teachers around the world experiment with the Internet as a teaching and learning tool, and share their results on discussion lists, or in trade journals, magazines and books, we will all benefit and become empowered as instructors working to best prepare our students for a future of lifelong learning and success in the real world.

CONCLUSION

The virtual classroom is indeed a reality, and will become increasingly important as education moves into the 21st Century. However, though the possibility exists for the replacement of the traditional classroom with the virtual, based on my research, I do not think this would be beneficial for all students or teachers.

Granted, for the students mentioned in the introduction to this thesis (i.e. those for whom the virtual classroom makes education accessible), learning online may be their only option for furthering their education. However, that is exactly what the enti rely virtual classroom should be--an option. There is little concrete proof available which shows that students learn more (or more effectively) when taking courses completely on line.

However, researchers have shown that, when used as a teaching tool to supplement the traditional classroom, elements of the virtual classroom can indeed be beneficial to both students and teachers. In fact, as the world around us evolves technologically, learning online may better prepare our students for the thinking and tasks they will be expected to accomplish not only in the work place, but across all aspects of their lives.

What I have discovered through my own research is that there are benefits to teaching and learning online as well as in traditional settings. Rather than choose one over the other, I recommend combining the best aspects of each in order to create a setti ng which is most conducive for students learning how to think and write as they will be expected to do not only in academia, but in the outside world as well.

Learning to navigate the Internet and sift through and decipher large amounts of information with speed and accuracy will prepare students for the challenges they will face as society delves deeper into the Information Age. It is especially helpful for s tudents to develop thinking skills inside the classroom which parallel those commonly used outside the classroom. As Kemp (1994) asserts:

Now the search for academic proof has shifted to the use of computers in classrooms and in instruction, as if instructional activities are qualitatively different from occupational activities. "Granted that almost everyone who needs to wri te uses a computer to write"-- the argument goes-- "but that doesn't mean that computers have a place in the classroom." The implication here is that writing instruction doesn't involve writing, that whatever it is we do in the classroom, it is qualitativ ely different from whatever it is that people do when they actually write in life. This doesn't make sense to me.

By exposing our students to resources such as the World Wide Web, which functions much in the same way as people think (i.e. in non-linear fashion), we are providing our students with an education that will prepare them for the kinds of thinking and writi ng they will be expected to do once out of the shelter of our classrooms.

As the Internet affects our lives across all disciplines, those who can write and think quickly and critically will be the ones who are ultimately successful in what is the goal for most human beings--to communicate (Anderson, 1995). However, those who d o not possess fluency in the use of computers and writing will be considered by academic standards to be uneducated, and will likely fall behind not only on college campuses, but in their work places as well.

Moreover, as intercultural connections in academia and the work place increase, it is especially important for ESOL students to gain skills in writing for not only one person (a teacher), but for global audiences, which is possible through the Internet. What's more, the Internet supplies a multitude of purposes for writing, which provides the ESOL instructor with many ideas for lessons (some of which have already been tested and posted online by other teachers).

At the present time, the virtual ESOL writing classroom has no established protocol, so it is up to those of us currently experimenting with this alternative to traditional teaching to bear the responsibility and duty of sharing what we learn with others. As a community of instructors, many of whom feel stifled by traditionally-accepted teaching methods in ESOL writing (i.e. writing essays) and a lack of application to the `real world' (i.e. writing for the teacher only), we are in a position to work col laboratively, discovering and developing what the protocol for teaching ESOL online should be.

Teachers who accept this challenge with enthusiasm and positivity will not only be at the forefront of historical change, will but also have a creative outlet in which to explore new and inventive ideas for teaching language, thus helping to develop a new paradigm in education.

Because the Internet removes barriers of color, race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability and other attributes which people use against each other in everyday life, I find it difficult, if not impossible, to understand how anyone in the field of ESOL instr uction could see the Internet as anything but educational.

It is time that educators and administrators accept the influence and impact of computers on life as we know it. Once we concede that some past approaches to education which still remain in place are no longer applicable to the world in which we are p reparing our students to function today, we can then work together to effectively utilize the tools at our disposal, such as the Internet, and offer our ESOL students the education they deserve and crave.

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this chapter in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


Internet/ESOL Writing Instruction: References

REFERENCES


From: The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction, by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net)

PRINT

Aiken, M. & Hawley, D. (1995). Designing an electronic classroom for large college courses. _Technological Horizons in Education (T.H.E.) Journal,_ 23:2, September 1995, 76-77.

Asimov, N. (1995). Cyber prep schools on the Internet. _San Francisco Chronicle,_ September 18, 1995, page A1.

Barson, J., Frommer, J., & Schwartz, M. (1993) Foreign language learning using email in a task-oriented perspective: Interuniversity experiments in communication and collaboration. _Journal of Science Education and Technology,_ 4(2), 565-584.

Berge, Z. & Collins, M. (1995) _Computer-mediated communication and the online classroom in distance learning._ Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Black, L., Klingenstien, K., & Songer, N. (1995). Observations from the Boulder Valley Internet project. _Technological Horizons in Education (T.H.E.) Journal,_ 22:10 & 22:11, May & June 1995, 75-80 & 54-57.

Ellsworth, J. (1994) _Education on the Internet._ Sams Publishing; Indianapolis, IN.

Forrest, T. (1993). Technology and the language classroom: Available technology. _TESOL Quarterly,_ 27:2, Summer 1993, 316-318.

Goodwin, A.A., Hamrick, J. & Steward, T. (1993). Instructional delivery via electronic mail. _TESOL Journal,_ 3(1), 24-27.

Handa, C. Ed. (1990) _Computers and community: Teaching composition in the twenty-first century._ Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook.

Hiltz, S.R. (1990). Collaborative learning: The virtual classroom approach. _Technological Horizons in Education (T.H.E.) Journal,_ 17:10, June 1990, 59-65.

Hiltz, S.R. (1986). The virtual classroom: Using computer-mediated communication for university teaching. _Journal of Communication,_ 36:2, 95-104.

Kroonenberg, N. (1994/1995). Developing communicative and thinking skills via electronic mail. _TESOL Journal,_ 4(2), 24-27.

Levine, J. R. & Baroudi, C. (1994) _The Internet for dummies,_ 2nd Edition. IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. Foster City, CA.

Magoto, J. (1995). From the nets: World Wide Web and ESL. _CAELL Journal,_ 5:4, 21-26.

Perelman, L., in Goodman, H. (1995). Schools becoming obsolete? _Los Angeles Times,_ July 1995.

Raimes, A. (1983). _Techniques in teaching writing._ Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Warschauer, M., Turbee, L. & Roberts, B. (1994). _Computer learning networks and student empowerment._ (Research note #10). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii, Second Language Teaching & Curriculum Center.

Warschauer, M. (1995). _E-mail for English teaching._ Alexandria, Virginia: TESOL Publications, Inc.

Warschauer, M. (in press--December 1995). _Virtual connections: Online activities and projects for networking language learners._ Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Williams, B. (1995). _The Internet for teachers._ Foster City, California: IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.

Wrigley, H. (1993). Ways of using technology in language and literacy teaching. _TESOL Quarterly,_ 27:2, Summer 1993, 318-322.

ONLINE

The following World Wide Web URL citation format is based on the proposed standard for referencing online documents in scientific publications, as set forth by the American Psychological Associ ation. Because I communicated numerous times with people via e-mail and real-time discussion (both on and off line), I noted in the thesis text any names & dates of e-mail messages which were directly quoted. Otherwise, those I communicated with are lis ted under "Personal Communication."

Anderson, C. (1995) The accidental superhighway. _The Economist_, July 1, 1995 [WWW document]. URL http://www.economist.com/

Bowers, R. (1995). Curso de Informatica: 1995 [WWW document]. URL http://www.cibnor.conacyt.mx/posgrado/course.html

Cameron, S. (1994). Technology in the classroom: Proceed with caution. _Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine,_ 1:3, July 1, 1994, 9 [WWW document]. URL http://www.rpi.edu/~decemj/cmc/m ag/archive.html

Cole, S. (1993). _Research on the Internet._ Unpublished thesis, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Ontario, Canada [WWW document]. URL http://ericir.syr.edu

Crawford, J. (1995). _Renaissance two: Second coming of the printing press?_ Unpublished essay, Wayne-Finger Lakes Teacher Resource Center, 9/12/95 [e-mail document]. jcc@aruba.nysaes.cornell.edu

Crispen, P. (1995). Internet Roadmap Series [WWW document]. URL http://142.13.17.4/~ennsnr/Resources/Roadmap/Welcome.html

Cyber High School. (1995). [WWW document]. URL http://www.webcom.com/~cyberhi

Doheny-Farina, S. (1994). The virtualization of local life: A tale of two teachers. _Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine,_ 1:8, December 1, 1994, 12 [WWW document]. URL http://www.rpi .edu/~decemj/cmc/mag/archive.html

Educom Update. (1994-1995). Twice-a-month electronic summary of organizational news and events. To subscribe to the Update: send a message to: and in the body of the message type: subscribe update FirstName LastName.

Falsetti, J. (1995). _What the heck is a MOO and what's the story with all those cows?_ Paper presented at TESOL `95, Long Beach, CA [e-mail document]. jefhc@cunyvm.cuny.edu.

Frizler, K. (1995). Frizzy University Network (FUN) Home Page [WWW document]. URL http://thecity.sfsu.edu/~funweb

Gaer, S. (1995) Visalia Adult School Home Page [WWW document]. URL http://www.otan.dni.us/cdlp/visalia/home.htm

Hlynka, D. & Yeaman, A. (1992). _Postmodern educational technology,_ ERIC digest, EDO-IR-92-5, September 1992 [WWW document]. URL http://ericir.syr.edu

Kemp, F. (1994). The limits of proof in writing instruction. Paper presented at the Conference on College Composition and Communication, Nashville, TN. _Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine_ [WWW document]. URL http://www.rpi.edu/~decemj/cmc/mag/archive.html

Kilian, C. (1994) How an online course works. Toronto Globe and Mail, November issue [e-mail document]. ckilian@hubcap.mlnet.com

Krause, S. (1995). How will this improve writing? Reflections on an exploratory study of online and off-line texts. _Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine,_ 2:5, May 1, 1995, 10 [WWW document]. URL http://www.rpi.edu/~decemj/cmc/mag/archive.html

Langham, D. (1994). The common place MOO: Orality and literacy in virtual reality. _Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine,_ 1:3, July 1, 1994, 7 [WWW document]. URL http://www.rpi.edu/~ decemj/cmc/mag/archive.html

Li, R. (1995) English as a Second Language Home Page [WWW document]. URL http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/edpsy-387/rongchang-li/esl/

Li, R. (1995). EX*CHANGE [WWW document]. URL http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/exchange/

Lundstrom, P. (1995). _Synchronous computer-mediated communication: will internet talkers improve the communicative competence of ESL/EFL students?_ Unpublished Master's thesis, The University of Hawaii, Manoa [FTP document]. ftp.hawaii.edu/outgo ing/phxrsng/masters/paper

McVicker, J. (1995) Ohio University CALL Lab [WWW document]. URL http://www.tcom.ohiou.edu/OU_Language/OU_Language.html

Mills, D. (1995) DEIL LinguaCenter [WWW Document]. URL http://deil.lang.uiuc.edu/lchomepage.html

Moody, S. (1995) Learning English On-line Lab [WWW document]. URL http://www.aec.ukans.edu/leo/

Opp-Beckman, L. (1995). Leslie Opp-Beckman's Homepage for English and Educational Resources [WWW document]. URL http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~leslieob

Passport Virtual Publishing (1995). The ESL Virtual Catalog [WWW document]. URL http://www.pvp.com/esl.htm

Purdue On-line Writing Lab [WWW document]. URL http://owl.trc.purdue.edu/

Robb, T. & Tillyer, A. (1993) _Electronically yours: cross-cultural communication through e-mail penpals._ Presentation at TESOL `93, Atlanta, April 15, 1993 [TESL-L archives]. listserv@cunyvm.cuny.edu

Rogers, J.D. & Kappus, E.M. (1995). The Virtual English Language Center [WWW document]. URL http://www.comenius.com/index.html

Shetzer, H. (1995). Web Resources Page [WWW document]. URL http://www.students.uiuc.edu/~h-shetz/student.html

Smith, R. (1995). Map-extra: Guest Lecture (Role of Internet in future of education). _Patrick Crispen's Internet Roadmap,_ week 6 [WWW document]. URL http://142.13.17.4/~ennsnr/Re sources/Roadmap/Welcome.html

Sokolik, M. (1995). Traveling the Internet: Top 10 stops for ESL/EFL teachers and students, _TESL-EJ,_ 1:3, March 1995 [WWW document]. URL http://www.well.com/www/sokolik/tesl-ej.html

Strangelove, M. (1994) The Internet as a catalyst for a paradigm shift. _Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine,_ 1:8, December 1, 1994, 7 [WWW document]. URL http://www.rpi.edu/~decemj/c mc/mag/archive.html

Tillyer, D.A. (1993) World peace and natural writing through e-mail. _Collegiate Microcomputer,_ May 1993, Volume XI, Number 2, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, IN [TESL-L archives]. listserv@cunyvm.cuny.edu

Turbee, L. (1995). Mundo Hispano [WWW document]. URL http://web.syr.edu/~lmturbee/mundo.html

Vilmi, R. (1995) Helsinki University of Technology (HUT) Email Project [WWW document]. URL http://www.hut.fi/~rvilmi/email-project.html/

Wanderer, J. (1995). schMOOze University [WWW document]. URL http://arthur.rutgers.edu:8888/

White, P. (1994). _Using the Internet,_ TESL-EJ, 1:1, article A-2, April 1994 [WWW document]. URL http://www.well.com/www/sokolik/tesl-ej.html

Wilson, P. (1995). _Getting Results - Report of the Governor's Council on Information Technology._ [WWW document]. URL http://www.ca.gov/gov/gcit/toc.html

PERSONAL COMMUNICATION (including e-mail)

ADDITIONAL ONLINE RESOURCES

MOOs

telnet to:
Diversity University

erau.db.erau.edu 8888
MediaMOO (teachers only)
purple-crayon.media.mit.edu 8888
Mundo Hispano (Spanish)
io.syr.edu 8888
schMOOze University
arthur.rutgers.edu 8888


Discussion Lists

ACW-L (Alliance for Computers and Writing) [listproc@unicorn.acs.ttu.edu] subscribe ACW-L FirstName LastName

EFL/ESL Student Discussion Lists [announce-sl@latrobe.edu.au], send blank e-mail message

INTCOLED (all teachers using Internet in classroom) [listserv@Ist01.Ferris.Edu] SUB INTCOLED

NETEACH-L [listserv@thecity.sfsu.edu], subscribe NETEACH-L FirstName LastName

TESL-L [listserv@cunyvm.cuny.edu], SUB TESL-L FirstName LastName [once subscribed, send "index TESL-L" command to listserv address for complete listing of archives]

TESLCA-L [listserv@cunyvm.cuny.edu], SUB TESLCA-L FirstName LastName [note: you must first be subscribed to TESL-L before you can subscribe to TESLCA-L]

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this chapter in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


APPENDIX 1: COURSE OUTLINE - FUN 101


From: The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction, by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net)
FUN 101, Section 1 (online)
English Composition Through Intercultural Understanding
Summer 1995
Instructor: Karla Frizler
Office: Room 208 (Frizzy's Festive Free-for-all), schMOOze University
Internet address: fun@sfsuvax1.sfsu.edu
Office Hours: (CA time) MWF, 9-10am; most nights 10pm-12am; by appointment

COURSE OBJECTIVES

General:

Specific:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

FUN101 will be divided into four sections, each requiring three readings and one essay related to a topic within the general theme of "Intercultural Understanding." The course may cover such topics as: stereotypes, work and leisure time in different cul tures, relationships between family members, friends and co-workers, and the role of the individual within different cultures.

PROCEDURES:

We will begin the course by using e-mail only to communicate.
To send a message or response to EVERYONE in FUN101, address it to:

fun101@sfsuvax1.sfsu.edu

To submit an assignment or send a message to the INSTRUCTOR only:

fun@sfsuvax1.sfsu.edu

I will provide everyone with a list of all FUN101 participants. I recommend that you put these names and addresses into your e-mail addressbook, as well as the addresses above.

Once we are comfortable with communicating through e-mail, I will introduce different ways we can communicate as a class on the Internet (this may include using a MOO, web page, etc.). By the end of the course, we should be able to meet in real time for a class session!

CONTACTING YOUR INSTRUCTOR:

I am on the Internet a lot, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find me! But if you have something you want to discuss with me, I recommend that you set up an appointment in advance. We can meet in my office at schMOOze University (telnet arthur.rutgers .edu 8888, login as guest) or we can use "talk" to chat.

TEXTS:

All reading material will appear online. Some reading I will send directly to your e-mail account. Other readings will appear in the FUN web page.

Although there are many good reference resources available on the net, I highly recommend a good English-English dictionary in hard copy. My personal preference: _Longman Dictionary of American English_. (1983).

SUBMISSION OF ASSIGNMENTS:

Before you write essays, you will be asked to read articles and respond to discussion questions. I want you to post these responses to the whole group, so we can all read each others' opinions. Then, after submitting your own responses, and reading thos e of others, you can respond to anything that strikes you as interesting.

You will submit your essays electronically by uploading them to the fun@sfsuvax1.sfsu.edu. Review, correction and grading of assignments will be through private feedback from the instructor, plus peer reading at times. All assignments should be in ASCII format (i.e. typed or uploaded directly into your e-mail program), as FUN101 participants are all using different computers, software and e-mail programs.

PARTICIPATION:

You should be prepared to make frequent responses to the work and comments of other students and the instructor. Your participation is what will make this course a success!

You may complete assignments at your own pace, as long as you complete the work for each week by the end of that week. Assignments will be posted on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays of each week. These assignments are all due by Friday at noo n, California time.

If you want to, you can log on once a week and do all of the assignments at one time (as long as you turn them in by Friday at noon). However, I would rather that you work on the assignments daily if possible, or at least every other day. Keeping class discussions going will make the course much more lively! If everyone does their work without interacting with each other, it won't feel like much of a class.

PROFESSIONALISM:

You should be able to display a responsible attitude and behavior: reliability, respect for and cooperation with classmates, willingness to work calmly and courteously under difficult conditions, determination to achieve first-class work while meeting deadlines, respect for equipment and systems, and constructive response to criticism.

Because we will be dealing with personal issues at times, it is important to always respect the opinions of others, regardless of whether or not you agree. Treating a fellow student insensitively is cause for removal from the course. Remember, the course is designed to promote understanding, not reinforce stereotypes.

TECHNICAL SUPPORT:

I highly recommend that each of you find someone at your university or school who will help you if you have technical problems. I will help as much as I can, but I'm not a computer expert. My focus is on teaching English.

EVALUATION PROFILE:

ASSIGNMENTS:
Freewrite:
Response to question related to reading. Focus on ideas, not grammar.

Discussion Questions:
Questions of literal comprehension and understanding based on reading. Focus on ideas.

Notebook entry:
One-two page piece of writing in which you analyze or interpret, in detail, one particular point or aspect of a reading. Again, the focus is still on the ideas, but you should begin proofreading for grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Essay:
A three-five page paper in which you develop a main idea, using supporting details and examples, with a particular audience in mind. Content is still the focus, but you are expected to proofread for grammar, spelling and punctuation.

GRADING SYSTEM: You will not receive a "grade" for this course, but will receive feedback from both your peers and instructor The following is a "scale" by which I will respond to your writing, to give you a sense of where you are in the development of your writing in E nglish.

8) = excellent, professional and of the highest standard
:) = above average, superior quality
:| = fulfills assignment criteria to a satisfactory standard
:( = unsatisfactory work; please resubmit after conference with instructor
8( = unacceptable work; not passing

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this chapter in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


APPENDIX 2: SAMPLE ESSAY ASSIGNMENT - FUN 101


From: The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction, by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net)

Date: Wed, 7 Jun 1995 16:27:51 -0700 (PDT)
From: Frizzy University Network
To: FUN 101 Class
Subject: Re: Assignment #4 (Essay #1)

ASSIGNMENT #4: ESSAY #1 - STEREOTYPES

Over the past week, you have read article with varying points of view on the causes, value and results of cultural stereotypes. In her essay, "Education is the Road to Racial Harmony," Amy Mak claims that the key to overcoming prejudice is education. Wi lliam B. Helmreich, in his article, "Stereotypes Can Be True," says that learning about the origins of stereotypes will pave the way for intercultural understanding.

Imagine you have been hired by the United Nations to combat stereotypes and restore racial harmony throughout the world. Of course, since this is a fantasy, you have an unlimited budget, many staff members, and transportation of your choice (a jet, perha ps?) at your disposal.

In a cohesive and well-developed essay, describe how you would accomplish this task. Be sure to include the following:

I encourage you to refer back to your free writes over the past week, as well as your answers to the discussion questions. All of your previous writing will help you develop your ideas for this essay. If you have trouble coming up with an idea, please c ontact me for an appointment and we can discuss it.

This essay should be the equivalent of 3-5 pages (double-spaced) if it were printed on paper. We will be working on different strategies for revising and proofreading your first draft next week. For the first draft, content is more important than gramma r. For the final draft, you will be expected to proofread for grammar, focusing on subject-verb agreement ("I am," not "I is") and verb tense ("I saved the world yesterday," not "I save the world yesterday").

FIRST DRAFT DUE: Friday, June 9 - 12:00 (California time)

FINAL DRAFT DUE: Friday, June 16 - 12:00 (California time)

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this chapter in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


APPENDIX 3: CALL FOR STUDENTS - FUN 101


From: The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction, by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net)

Date: Fri, 5 May 1995 01:04:13 -0700 (PDT)
From: Karla Frizler (frizzy@mercury.sfsu.edu)
To: (INTCOLED@IST01.FERRIS.EDU)
Subject: Call for students--online writing course

***Please post and/or distribute***

EFL/ESL STUDENTS WANTED FOR PARTICIPATION IN VIRTUAL (ONLINE) WRITING COURSE!

I'm a graduate student at San Francisco State University looking for students to participate in FUN 101, the first course offered through Frizzy University Network (FUN) as part of a thesis project. I'm beginning with one FUNclass, but plan to expand into FUNtutoring, FUNgrammar, and FUNfriends (electronic penpals).

FUN 101, which will take place online 6/5-7/28, is designed to help non-native speakers of English living outside of an English-speaking country improve their writing in English. The theme of the class will be "Intercultural Understanding," focusing on the _similarities_ between people of different cultures. I hope to have students in FUN 101 from all over the world! The students will h ave some sort of writing assignment every day of class (e.g. essays, journal entries, freewriting).

As part of the course, I have set up a bulletin board (BBS) where they candiscuss various topics with their classmates. Also, I will have them interview each other (through e-mail, or talk, or SchMOOze University).

To be eligible to participate in FUN 101, students should:

  1. have taken at least one university-level English writing course.
  2. have Internet access from June 5 through July 28.
  3. be able to devote at least 8-10 hours per week to the course.
  4. feel comfortable using basic e-mail.
  5. have a desire to develop and improve their writing in English.

If you are working with or know of a student who fits the above criteria, please ask him or her to send me an e-mail by Friday, May 12, answering the following questions:

Thank you in advance for your interest and enthusiasm! I look forward to hearing from your students and enrolling them in FUN 101!

Karla Frizler Frizzy University Network (FUN)

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this chapter in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


APPENDIX 4: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS - FUN 101


From: The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction, by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net)

  1. Please describe your ability to write in English.

  2. When do you feel MOST confident about writing in English?

  3. When do you feel LEAST confident about writing in English?

  4. In what ways has the Internet affected your WRITING ABILITY in English?

  5. In what ways has the Internet affected your CONFIDENCE in writing in English?

  6. Describe, if any, the Internet resources which have helped you improve your WRITING ABILITY in English.

  7. If another student asked for your advice on using the Internet to improve his/her writing in English, what would you tell him/her?

  8. Imagine you are the teacher of an English writing course on the Internet. What would you have your students do?

  9. Is there anything else you would like to add regarding using the Internet to learn English?

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this chapter in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.


APPENDIX 5: SAMPLE OF MOO SCREEN WITHOUT VISUAL CLIENT


From: The Internet as an Educational Tool in ESOL Writing Instruction, by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net)

MOO conversation as seen through raw telnet:

to Gregor "How is your thesis coming along?"
Frizzy [to Gregor]: "How is your thesis coming along?"
Gregor [to Frizzy]: It's coming. I wrote some more writing pedagogy stuff
today.
to Gregor "Oh yeah? Did you say anything I should read befoGregor says, "I am g
oing to go to the library after awhile and pick up some re articles Ifound on UNCOVER>.."
. . . tomorrow?
Frizzy [to Gregor]: "Oh yeah? Did you say anything I should read before . . . tomorrow?
Gregor says, "Um...no, nothing earthshattering."

Same MOO conversation as seen through visual client:

Frizzy [to Gregor]: "How is your thesis coming along?"
Gregor [to Frizzy]: "It's coming. I wrote some more writing pedagogy stuff today."
Gregor says, "I am going to go to the library after awhile and pick up some articles I found on UNCOVER."
Frizzy [to Gregor]: "Oh yeah? Did you see anything I should read before tomorrow?"
Gregor says, "Um...no, nothing earthshattering."

Copyright © 12/06/95 by Karla Frizler (kfriz@sbcglobal.net). Reprinting of this document in its complete, unmodified form for strictly non-profit purposes is both authorized and encouraged provided that this copyright is included.

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