Guiding Students Through the Web
A Collaborative Web-based Project Developing Students'
Autonomy and Life-long Learning Skills
by Natalie Cigankova
3. Review writing (off-line)
organise their notes into review drafts according to the
plan provided by the teacher. They can also compare the
information from the website with the textbook or other
resources. Students should realise that they are responsible
for the accuracy of the information on the website if
they recommend it to other students. They should mention
the mistakes in their reviews.
compare/contrast the text with the information in the
textbooks and with other Web and library resources. They
can also group the websites they visit according to some
criteria (e.g. assumed readership, clarity, etc.). Students
decide whether to recommend the website to other students
or not. They should explain their decision and point to
the mistakes and inaccurate information.
exchange the drafts with their group mates for peer feedback.
They should find what they like the best in the review,
and what is not clear for them and should be rewritten.
feedback. Discussion on the presentation guidelines. Students
decide whether the reviews should be presented in paper
form for publishing in a book or in electronic form for
second drafts, which can be sent by e-mail to the peers
for feedback if students continue writing at home.
and peer editing of the reviews. Discussion on the organisation
of the book or a website for publishing the reviews.
plan can be used with students of different levels of language
and computer literacy skills. The teacher can further tailor
it to accommodate the particular students' needs in the particular
situations. Students' comments are collected and published
in a self-published book to guide the next generation of students
through the Web, so that they, in their turn, could contribute
to the project and update the information in the Internet
Guide for Writing Students.
of the students evaluated the website review writing as a
useful learning activity in their reflective essays and post-class
interviews. The results of the formal assessment at the end
of the term demonstrated a growth in the quality of students'
writing in the target group, participating in the project,
in comparison with the control group. However, the results
of formal testing cannot reflect much more valuable outcomes,
such as growing students' interest, confidence, and independence
in learning. The analysis of students' reflective essays and
post-class interviews generally support the results of yearly
students' opinion surveys, showing an amazing change in the
attitude toward the subject (from 70% negative and very negative
towards 67% positive and very positive) and growth in students'
confidence in writing, although such a change in students'
attitudes could be explained by the excitement from the novelty
of the Internet. Nevertheless, the experience of almost four
years of using the activity allows me to conclude that in
this case the difference between students' wants and their
needs is very small.
over the project, students practice the following valuable
language and writing skills
Students read authentic texts, take notes, and rewrite their
reviews several times to achieve the publishable quality.
Information management skills
Students learn to cope with too much information on the website,
to choose the relevant and to skip irrelevant information.
Critical thinking skills
Students learn to evaluate relevant information, to compare
and synthesise the information from different sources.
Time management skills
Students learn to use the Internet to complete a concrete
task in a limited period of time.
Interpersonal communication skills
Students learn to work in collaboration to achieve the best
Life-long learning skills
Students learn to understand their learning needs and preferences
and how to satisfy them; they learn how to find on-line resources
for further independent learning.
The skills that students obtain participating in the project
can be transferred to other subjects, improving the overall
quality of students' learning.
possible drawbacks of the web-based project should be mentioned
the anxiety of teachers and learners caused by the use of
technology, the necessity of teaching computer literacy skills
at the lesson, and a slow Internet connection or computer
failure during the class. The teacher can reduce the negative
effect by filling the website loading time with useful activities,
e.g. giving the instruction on paper or organising short discussions
on the students' experience of the Internet.
highly positive results of the project allow the author to
recommend this form of instruction as one that is useful,
comparatively easy to organise, and highly stimulating.
1. Dudeney, G. (2000). The Internet and the Language Classroom
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
2. Jones, C. (1986). "It's not so much the program, more
what you do with it: the importance of methodology in CALL"
3. Sercu, L and E. Peters (2002). "Learning e-learning
- a comprehensive investigation of course developers' and
language teacher trainees' views regarding the usefulness
and effectiveness of a multimedia self-tuition course"
In: ReCALL Vol.14, Part 1 (pp.32-46). UK: Cambridge University
4. Sperling, D. (1999). Sperling's Internet Activity Workbook.
Prentice Hall Regents
5. Teeler, D. and P. Gray (2000). How to use the Internet
6. Wenden, A. (1991). Learner Strategies for Learner Autonomy:
Planning and implementing learner training for language learners
Prentice Hall International
The following websites provide the information on website
Cigankova teaches Academic Writing and Grammar,
Applied Communication, Methodology of Teaching EFL Writing,
and The Internet for ELT courses at the University of
Latvia in Riga, Latvia. She holds an MA in English Philology
from the University of Latvia and is currently working
over the Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics in the field of
CALL/WELL and computer applications for linguistic distance
interests are concerned with second/foreign language
acquisition in the computer environment, computer discourse
and computer mediated communication for language teaching.
Natalie is now engaged in a new E-university project
creating web-based courses for linguistic education
on the WebCT platform.
can be contaced at:University of Latvia Visvalza iela
4a, LV-1050 Riga, Latvia
Tel: +371 7034811
Fax: +371 7034813
E-mail address: email@example.com
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