Insights into the web based English learning projects
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №9 - 2017
Frolova Natalia, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia
Frolov Evgeniy, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia
Implementation of various information communication technologies
into educational process is complex and challenging thought it is very
beneficial. When integrated into the learning process web tools are becoming
essential modern professionals’ learning tools. They assist traditional
education, accelerate exchange of urgent information and provide free flow of
feedback. However there are some issues that are controversial and slow down
their use in teaching practice.
The main purpose of this article is to offer the way to enhance the
process of Academic English language learning by implementing Web 2.0 tools
which will allow blended learning in peer to peer or teacher to student
collaboration. Improving the writing skills and acquiring English in the
experimental groups the students are to use LMS, Wiki and SNS as means to prove
the following hypothesis. Hypothesis: if the project of Web based learning is a
success it will result in closer teacher-to student and peer-to peer cooperation,
better AE results. In order to achieve the purpose the set of goals was set:
1. To create a platform for cooperation on the basis of LMS, wiki
site and SNS.
2. To provide the theoretical and empirical analysis of the project
3. To use the qualitative and quantitative methods of approving of
4. To provide students’ and teachers’ feedback on this innovative
5. To single out advantages and pitfalls if any.
While creating the web based Academic English Writing project, the
possibility for massive education across borders and time zones has been taken
into account when the students have the opportunity to share educational and
cultural information and work under the project simultaneously via wiki, LMS
and SNS tools, which have a clear and user-friendly interface and free of
In general, it is promising as having the great potential as
educational and peer to peer collaboration incentives. The leaders of the
project accomplishing the role of a moderator will assign responsibilities
among the participants of a project team, appoint the students’
responsibilities, and monitor the implementation of the project and meeting the
2. BLENDED LEARNING IMPLEMENTATION IN NRU HSE
Once the educational information is transferred by means of
information communication technologies we may come across electronic learning.
E-learning makes use of various electronic technologies, forms and components
as its primary means of learning and teaching (Rosen-berg, 2001; Swan, Bowman
& Holmes, 2003). Currently, educators across all fields use online training
to teach in every sphere of competence forming and leading universities
incorporate ICT into teaching process in higher education.
The National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU
HSE) along with solid Russian universities has launched the pilot project of
the Open University has various information and communication technologies in
use by means of wiki sites, e-learning environment (LMS), and learners’ groups
in social networks, webinars, gamification, MOOCs etc.
According to classification of e-learning based on the amount of
time the students spend on line (in percentage) for educational purposes (Smith
& Kurthen, 2007) Web Technology (only fragmentary), Blended learning (
45% of e-learning and 55% of face to face one), Hybrid learning (45-80% on
line) and E-learning (more than 80% in real time on the network) we are
inclined to think that the authority of HSE follows the blended learning
ICT provides several advantages from the point of view of a teacher.
In other words ICT encourages socialization, sharing, creativity, authenticity
and collaboration (Peachey, 2014). Arranging teacher-student collaboration by
means of ICT is fruitful.
It helps deliver information and flip the class providing an easy
access to the materials and possibility to store them. Provided the permition
is given anyone may share the plans, slides, e-versions of elaborations.
While caring out this project fourth generation evaluation
principles were used (Mason, J., 2002). The semi-structured techniques and methods
including focus groups (groups of students of various ages and teaching staff
discussions), individual interviews were held and opinion polls were carried
out to assess the common trends and views on the use of web tools in teaching
Along with qualitative some techniques of quantitative research of
collecting numerical data to can be transformed into usable statistics were put
into practice. It was used to quantify attitudes and project participants’
opinions to uncover general patterns, which can be relevant to efficiency of
web tools use in teaching Academic English for writing purposes. Quantitative
data collection methods included various forms of surveys – on-line surveys,
paper surveys, face-to-face interviews; Google forms polls and systematic
4. TEACHING ACADEMIC ENGLISH WRINING BY WEB 2.0 TOOLS
4.1 LMS projects
In order to arrange effective teacher-student collaboration outside
the classrooms LMS platform was used to implement common projects aiming at
helping students in foreign language learning activities. To master the
technique the students will have to acquire team work skills.
While creating a new group project no matter whether it is a
scientific or business project students have the opportunity to share information
on the project through internal program’s functions. They can fix tasks for the
participants monitor the stages of performing operations keep the deadlines
with the final stages. Such programs of project management as Project
Management, Smart Extranet, Live Project, Work section etc. have a clear and
easy-to-use interface, free of charge use, broad functionality. In general,
they are promising as they have a great potential as a tool for simulating of
project management. These programs allow the administrator to assign
responsibilities among the participants of a project team, to appoint the
persons responsible for certain operations, monitor the implementation of the
An innovative teaching English language as a foreign language
technique under the title of Smart Project Learning was launched in the
National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) via learning
management system (LMS). It was carried out in a form of blended teaching of
Business English subject (10804-BE 3rd year) and was divided into 4 subprojects.
The first one took the period from September to November 2013. It
was devoted to academic writing. The students were taught to deal with
paragraphing. They practiced writing abstracts starting with a definite topic
sentence or finishing up with the one. They had drills on finding sequences of
thoughts and logic. They tried their hand in making introduction, main body and
the conclusion. It may seem simple but turned up to be the great challenge.
The second subproject was to provide incentives to use critical
thinking. It lasted from November to December 2013. The students were given the
list of the famous people’s quotations and the task was to speculate upon it.
The challenge was to express the opinion via LMS using evidence and both for
and against arguments.
The third subproject (from January to February 2014) was devoted to
joint projects of the students. Referring to the abstract written by the
previous student the assignment was to enlarge piece of writing and incorporate
the passage of your own. It involved creativity and knowledge of academic
writing issues. The special concern was to maintain the appropriate register.
The fourth subproject dealt with making students’ presentations. It
began in April and finished in May 2014. The students used visual aid to make
the presentations vivid and impressive.
Project learning is a way to achieve a didactic purpose through
detailed development of a problem, which should be completed by a real,
tangible practical result, drawn up in accordance with the rules of an academic
Smart project learning is a form of active learning. The heading of
the project has symbolic meaning. It combines active learning concept and
computer assisted learning. It is smart due to the use of ICT in education and
project learning in its essence. The substantial novelty consists in
conjunction of blended and project learning techniques.
4.2 Wiki project
Writing projects in English develops students’ research and
exploratory skills inspired by cognitive motives and interests. The task of a
teacher is to form the environment which will provide necessary conditions for
creativity. The issue that requires to be considered in project learning is the
development of critical thinking. Students are given the ability to enquire
knowledge in order to navigate in the educational space independently.
In 2016 in order to support the Academic English, writing for the
fourth year students in particular, an educational site, which contains several
pages on project proposals, on peer reviews, on presentations and manuals and
tutorials on successful writing production, was created which both students and
teachers could use at convenient time for educational information search or
peer assessment (https: // sites.google.com/ site/ academic writingprojectproposal)
The exam results of the groups taking part in the experiment have
justified the hypnoses that web tools can optimize the process of education and
that Wiki enables project-based learning in real time, when all participants
distantly can cooperate in teamwork. Wiki spaces allow both formal and informal
communication in different role models and dimensions like (a student- a
student, a student -a teacher, a teacher- student groups).
Project based learning via wiki sites highlights the idea of
students’ collaboration and cooperation during the learning process. It creates
favourable environment for the development of their various qualities.
Necessary autonomy and initiative in education is evoked. It motivates to develop
personality and the ability of team work along with responsibility for the
4.3 Education while collaborating via Social net sites
The term "social network" used to denote a web of
relationships or social interaction in small groups by social philosophers of
XIX-XX centuries (Moreno, 1932; Radcliffe-Browne, 1952). After many decades a
new understanding of social networks appeared. Nowadays it is perceived as a
communication via social network sites (SNS).
Social networks (“Facebook”, “Linkedin” and others) are so popular
among teenagers and youngsters that they are threatening to replace real
communication for many children and adults because of the enormous user
friendliness and availability. Moreover, it provides a number of advantages
over personal contact.
The findings of the survey conducted among the students of the 1-4
courses of the department of mathematics and soft engineering.
The respondents including 120 people have given the priority to the
national social net site VKontakte. The most popular social nets among the
students of the observed group are VKontakte (75%), Facebook (15%), Instagram
and reddit.com per (2,5%), Twitter (1%), Googlet (1%), Prinstagram (1%),
Imessage (1%) Researchgate (1%).
As we can see from the results of the survey the widest used sns are
international such as Facebook or Instagram. But there are Russian ones such as
VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Moj mir etc.
The bigger part of the respondents (75%) is symbolized by the lower
level, the second level is occupied by 20% of the respondents meaning that they
spend 10 hours and less on social networking, the upper level belongs to 5% who
are most passionate and durable users of SNS.
Thus, the statistics show that SNS are very popular among the
students of Russian university. They use social networking in daily activity.
The purpose can be private or educational. While socializing with a teacher in
SNS students are more open-minded and relaxed. SNS creates positive educational
environment and inspires more than traditional command and control link with a
teacher in the classroom.
5. CONCLUSION AND THE FINDINGS OF THE RESEARCH
According to the conducted analyses of the results of using LMS,
Wiki site and SNS in teaching Academic Writing to university students the hypothesis
of the efficiency of web tools support of the English course has been proven.
Thought there was some criticism in the respondents’ answers showing that not
all professional teachers are very optimistic about web tools and
implementation of blended-learning, primarily elderly ones usually resist to
create web based English courses, usually due to the lack of ICT knowledge or
computer skills, considering the whole idea of distant education unreasonable
and impractical. The comment by a 61 year old English teacher «What is the use
of these technologies? I can do without them, by means of face to face session
and working at the blackboard».
Coming to the students’ feedback one focuses on benefits mostly such
as the following:
• blended – learning proves to be more individualized letting use
the appropriate pace and time frames;
• cost - effective and time saving as it allows to reduce or
eliminate travel costs and commuting time;
• unlike classroom training, which requires the presence of trainers
each and every time the course is supposed to be delivered;
• web platform on the basis of wiki or LMS can be developed once and
used multiple times for the training requirements of various audiences
• easy access to all the materials which are open to various groups
of English language learners due the advent of authoring tools;
• universal coverage and possibility to be applicable worldwide.
In this way web based learning is significantly advantageous
compared to the classroom Academic English learning only. The table given below
provides official statistical prove for the efficiency of teacher-student
collaboration outside the classroom by means of web tools in particular.
(Official statistics from the NRU HSE site on Dr Frolova’s work with students
https: // www. hse.ru/user/#tab-main)
Table 1. The
students’ feedback on rating of teacher-student extracurricular collaboration
and personal relations
Thus, the statistics has proven the positive students’ feedback on
incorporation of web based course of Academic English for writing purposes,
which led to creation of a platform for teacher-to students and peer to peer
cooperation on the basis of LMS, wiki site and SNS groups. As the result, the
efficiency of the given project has been approved by both the theoretical and
empirical data collected by means of the qualitative and quantitative methods
of collecting students’ and teachers’ feedback on this innovative cooperation.
Consequently, it is a promising area of research and calls for further surveys
to be done.
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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №9 - 2017