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Enhancing Online Communities with Voice and Webcams

A TESOL Online Academy session
October 27 to November 23, 2003

Workshop Leader: Vance Stevens, Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates:
Our YahooGroup:

Portal: Meet the participants | See where we are in relation to one another's time zones | Session overview | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Scheduled meetings | Further study

Participants in this course are invited to evaluate it:

Participant Profiles

Facilitator: Vance Ananthi Laine Linda Luis Peter Wayne Assisting: Buthaina Assisting: Dafne Helpdesk: Venny Assisting: Maria

Meet Ananthi

Ananthi Samikannu

I originally come from Singapore but am now living in the most livable city in the world, Melbourne, Australia. I work for the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (RMIT) and am both an EAP and IT (Applications) teacher. I absolutely love my job and having some of the most talented and dedicated collegues and students makes it all worthwhile, everyday. I'm looking forward to meeting all of you and hope that by the start of our next semester, I can introduce new ideas and concepts to our own IT program. By the way, if you are wondering why i keep using Chillie (e-mail and Blogger), its because I have a beautiful 6 year old Cocker Spaniel called Chillie Padi (hottest chilli pepper) who I love to bits.

Meet Laine

Helaine Marshall
Director, TESOL Programs
Westchester Graduate Campus
Long Island University

Current Position: Helaine directs the language teacher education programs at a small suburban New York graduate campus. There are programs in ESOL, Bilingual Education, and Foreign Language, mostly designed for K-12 instruction, that is Kindergarten (5 year-olds) through high school (18 year-olds).

Technology: One of her current grants calls for incorporation of technology in both teacher education and direct language instruction, so she seeks opportunities to increase her knowledge and skills related to instructional technology. She is working on her first website and just purchased a web cam.

Career: Over her 30 years in the ESL field, Helaine has worked with a variety of populations and in a range of contexts. Among them: Hmong students in Wisconsin; content-based instruction in physics and engineering in Boston; generation 1.5 students at a community college in NY; and adult literacy students. Her research has focused on: (1) pedagogic grammar -- the present perfect; fragments & run-ons; and (2) 2nd language learner profiles -- learning paradigm for students from oral culture; linguistic profile of academic writing for generation 1.5 students.

Personal: turtles; Fritos corn chips; yoga; the Supremes; French

Meet Linda

Linda Berton
Columbus, OH

I teach ESL at Columbus State Community College. Our students are mostly immigrants and refugees. Luis Latoja is my colleague here in the Modern Languages Department. I am a low tech person who is very interested in the implications of using computers for language learning. With the help of another TESOL course, How to Teach Online, I am slowly climbing out of the abyss of technological ignorance. I know it will be long journey, but I love to travel! I'm looking forward to learning a lot in this course.

Meet Luis

Luis Latoja
Pataskala, OH

I was born in Chile but have been living in the States since 1981. I have two Masters of Arts degrees and I have been a professor in Spanish at Columbus State Community College since 1988. I was in charge of the teledistance program (also called video-based teaching/learning) from 1991 up to this past Summer 2003. We have discontinued that track, although during Spring and Summer quarters this year I started developing a "hybrid" online 104 level (using Blackboard) to gain experience and practice since starting Winter quarter 2004 I will be offering an entirely online Spanish 104 level.

I am interested in exploring speaking techniques for those online students to try to match what is done in the traditional classroom setting so my online students will also have a chance of practicing their speaking skills if they cannot make it to campus. If am successful in 104, we may offer online Spanish courses for levels 101 through 103 also. The main idea is to try to match the requirements in proficiency our "classroom" students need to accomplish, that is, besides reading, writing, and listening, our online students should also have the chance to practice speaking. Online teaching/learning is growing rapidly at Columbus State Community College and I do not see why the Modern Languages Deparetment cannot offer courses of such nature also. Currently I am using Blackboard at school with my 101 and 102 levels just for posting syllabus, course material, and test content. But I would like to do more.

I also freelance as a translator/editor/proofer of English K-12 textbooks (Science, Math, Algebra, Social Strudies and some technical language) into Spanish.

Various Interests: Foreign Language Testing, Travelling (when I can), Gardening, some cooking, and reading.

Meet Peter

Peter Murphy

Peter Murphy teaches in the Foundation Studies course at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia; basically, this involves delivering an EAP course to international students (predominantly Asian) around the 18 - 23 age group. He started a masters of education this year, with a possible research project looking at the pedagogy of online gaming.

Meet Wayne

Wayne Sumida
Oyama-shi, Tochigi, JAPAN

My name is Wayne Sumida. If you look at the photo, that's me on the right. My daughter is in the center, and my wife is on the left. We are at Tokyo DisneySea. I am originally from Hawaii, which is just a tiny piece of land in that blue ocean. I have been living in Japan for about 17 years, and am a teacher at a university. I look forward to working with you all!

Meet Buth

Buthaina Othman
Click here to meet her.

Buth is assisting with the course. She is an EFL teacher at the Language Center of Kuwait University. Here is her informative introduction:

This message is to report to you breifly on my onging learning experience with webheads, since I joined the communities of practice, (CoP), Webheads in Action, (WiA),in Feb. 2002. I, frankly, consider myself one of the lucky teachers to have found an invaluable and great source of knowledge in WiA, especially that I am a novice teacher. I started my teaching career in 2001, when I was really thirsty for knowledge and tips on many areas in the profession. With the knowledge I gained from Webheads, I feel that I have completed a MS degree in CALL and E-learning and E-Teaching. With Webheads,I managed:

  1. to develop and improve a home page, built for the use of my students, duirng my Master program at the Unversity at Albany, (SUNY), NY, in 1999. Please, have a look at my home page before and after I joined Webheads, at
  2. to understand the concept behind the "theory" of using synchronous & asynchronous CMC tools, and how to implement it inside an EFL computer lab. Please, have a look at the following Text-Chat Projects, with Webheads in Action:
    a. Project(1): A Webhead in Action, chat with my students, at URL:
    b. Project(2): 3 Webheads in Action, chat with my students, at
    c. Project(3): Inviting a Webhead to exchange emails with my students at a Yahoo group, at
  3. to learn how to use voice with my students in various ways. Please, have a look at the following voice-activities, created for the use of my students:
    a. Voice-Activity (1), at
    b. Voice-Activity(2), at
  4. to learn more about collaboration and cooperation in online communities, and how to use these methods with my students online, inside a computer lab and a f2f classroom. Please, check out an example of WiA collaboration & cooperation, at
  5. to learn more about the importance of using voice and webcams in e-learning and e-teaching. Please, check out how Webheads use voice-webcam-text chat tools at
  6. to experience webcasting,which is a wonderful way to communicate online, using voice and text chat, included in a CMC tool. Please, check out this Webcasting, session, at

As you can see, these are just some of the things I learned at Webheads in Action. I learned most of the above skills by actually doing them, following a mani principle of the constructive approach, which I strongly support, as many other Webheads.

Finally, if you want to experiment with any of the CMC tools, including voice and webcam,with your students or by yourself, I will be more than happy to assist you.

Best wishes, Buth

Meet Dafne

Dafne Gonzales
Click here to meet Daf

Dafne is, like Buth, a member of the community of practice Webheads in Action, and she will be a strong addition to this group not only to answer some of your questions from the perspective of another just recently (self-)trained online afficianado, but also as a proponent of introspection into how your own experiences online can 'inform' your classroom (and blended learning) practices. Here's her message:

First, I would like to thank Vance for inviting me to join this group. I feel honored and hope that I can contribute and learn with the interaction in the group.

I have been reading the messages, and they have taken me back to January 2002 when I joined Webheads in Action as a newbie. I have been an EFL/ESP teacher for 30 years, but I had never gotten involved with e-learning, but I decided to do so for my doctoral dissertation, with no background in the area. You can learn about my feelings back in 2002, at this page I created after joining Webheads:

I could write a whole book about my journey with Webheads, but I will just start by saying that after being with Webheads from January to March 2002, I was able to design and moderate my first online course for architecture students, and since then, I have not stopped teaching students online, designing units, training teachers, and I keep learning from and with fellow webheads. One of my first online lessons was prepared for an online event at Tapped In, it was about preparing paella (I am in Spain, but I am from Venezuela) you can see it here: As Buth has pointed out, we have been participating in different online events with other webheads, and sometimes these presentations have combined f2f with online presenters. As a consequence of my involvement with webheads and e-learning, I have been interested, and have explored the use of chat in education, you can read an article which was just published in the IATEFL Poland online Journal where I describe a taxonomy of educational chat I have created:

Someone asked for the reasons to join a community. I have some answers to this question on a page for f2f presentation about Webheads, in Cordoba, Spain, with webheads online from all over the world. I described what we do with different CMC tools, I hope you get an idea of the collaborative work we have been doing when you read this page:

I could go on and on, but I think this is more than enough for a first message.

Looking forward to chatting with you,

Bfn, Dafne

Meet Venny

Venny Su

Venny has offered to assist members of this group (and anyone in the world, actually) with getting their voice and webams working.

Hi online friends, It's my pleasure to join you, and I hope that we can have a great time in the group. If you want to test any online platforms, tools or softwares, don't hesitate to invite me.

Meet Maria

Maria's Webheads Page

Hello everyone, This is Maria Elena Rendon, in Melbourne, Australia. I just got an invitation from Vance to join this group. I'm very honoured and happy to be able to help and to learn with you. I myself am a learner and am willing to share with you as little as I know, and I want to encourage you to dedicate time to discover by yourselves and with the help of others this fascinating "forest" of online synchronous communications... you won't get lost... just be ready to play around a bit and make sure you rest for a while under each "tree" you find interesting to explore. I love hugging trees! and people of course... hugs, Maria.

Session Overview

Target Audience: All teachers who would like to learn to effectively utilize synchronous and asynchronous communications in teaching online using freely accessible tools from the Internet Level of Instruction: Basic level computer users (familiarity with keyboarding, e-mail, working with files and folders; familiarity with browsing the Internet; a willingness to ask questions and help each other figure it out when stuck) Technology requirements: Internet access and Explorer 6.0, some means of reading/accessing and composing/sending e-mail

Overview: Experience hands-on use of virtual spaces, including chat (text, voice and webcam enhanced), in safe, educator-friendly online environments. Participants receive information on free online computer-mediated communications tools, explore techniques and resources for community-building, learn the most appropriate uses of synchronous and asynchronous communication resources for language learning, and create lesson plans for their students.

In this workshop, you will:

  1. become familiar with easily implemented technologies to enable interactions in text-based chat augmented with voice and webcam;
  2. through interaction with peers, extrapolate to pedagogical advantages of using media-enhanced chat with students;
  3. increase awareness, through community-building techniques, of the effects group solidarity can have on individual student output and improvement. For example, using images and voice on a communal web page helps emulate face-to-face community interaction, facilitating natural communication practice for the learner;
  4. work with peers online to devise chat projects for students that can be implemented on return to work/school.

Scheduled chats

Date Time in GMT Meet ... Where? What?
Saturday, November 8 16:00-17:00 GMT regularly scheduled Webheads chat - Webheads facilitator Maggi Doty would particularly like to meet ESL students at this time.
Sunday, November 9 noon-14:00 GMT Webheads in Action/Writing for Webheads regularly scheduled Sunday noon chat; see for possible chat options.
Tuesday Nov 11 GMT 4 am (not 5am) is 11pm Monday in Ohio & New York - 8 am Tuesday in Abu Dhabi - 1 pm Tuesday in Japan - 3 pm Tuesday in Melbourne
Yahoo Messenger
voice chat with Luis and Linda in Ohio, Laine in New York, Vance in Abu Dhabi, and Maria in Australia
Sunday, November 16 11:00 a.m. GMT

Global Learn Day VII presents its annual non-stop 24 hour event - with stops in 24 time zones. It will also serve to "kickoff" International Education Week Along with other presenters, GLD VII will showcase the ten Founding Members of Friendship Through Education The theme will be Friendship Through Education.

Sunday, November 16 noon-14:00 GMT Webheads in Action/Writing for Webheads regularly scheduled Sunday noon chat will be a continuation of our GLD VII presentation. At some point, Webhead Teresa Almeida d'Eca will present at part of GLD VII. Buth's archive of the event is here:
Tuesday Nov 18   Yahoo Messenger Repeat of voice chat with Luis and Linda in Ohio, Laine in New York, Vance in Abu Dhabi, and Maria in Australia, and hoping to attract Wayne, Peter, and Ananthi
Wednesday Nov 19 GMT 14:30 pm   Laine ran into Dafne online and they agreed to meet at GMT 2:30pm Wednesday to work with web cams. They will meet in tapped in. (it is 9:30 am EST btw). Laine says, "I would like to finally see if my web cam and audio can both work OK."
Sunday Nov 23 noon GMT and This was the last of the regular Sunday sessions to fall in the timeframe for this class. Laine was there with mic and webcam and showed she could webcast with the best of 'em in a new flash webcam chat site that Maria Elena had found. Try it out!

For Further Study

Dafne suggests the next learning experience, Nov 23, 2003

Dear All,

It has been very nice to see the advancement of the members of this group. Unfortunately, I have only been able to interact with Helaine, but hope to be able to chat with others in the near future.

The TESOL Electronic Village Online (Vance is one of the coordinators) will be offering some free 6-week sessions from January to March. As part of this EVOnline event, I, and other webheads (Teresa in Portugal, Sus in Denmark, and Maria in Spain) will be moderating a session entitled "Becoming a Webhead" These are the objectives of the session: "In the course of the 6 weeks, participants will learn collaboratively and hands on to:

Weekly chats, with guest speakers, will be held to discuss content and pre-defined topics, build rapport and create a sense of community.

During the session, participants will get to know what Webheads do, why we do it, and how. They will also be invited to join the Webheads in Action community of practice.

Much of the content derived from the discussions will be made available through web pages created during the six weeks, and will be kept online for future reference"

You can take a look at the web page we are creating for the session:

We will post the invitation to join this and the other sessions as soon as it is made public.



And a pleasant surprise from Laine, March 2004

Hello All,

When I signed up for this online academy course with TESOL, I promised my institution that I would give a presentation, and the time has come.

On March 22nd there is a Technology Day at Long Island University and faculty who have incorporated technology are asked to share what they have done/learned, etc. My idea is to attempt a live link-up using web cam and audio like we did in the class, along with tapped in and/or yahoo messenger as the conduit to set things up. I have no control of day or time, so here it is:

Monday, March 22nd GMT 14:45 - 15:15

Would anyone be available during that half-hour for a short chat with me? I would want to do a dry run before that to be sure we have a plan. It would be terrific if I could actually set this up and show other faculty. I also plan to show them our yahoo group site, the portal, etc. to give them the idea of establishing an online learning community.

Please respond if you are able and willing. I hope everyone is doing well.

Helaine Marshall (a.k.a "laine")

Vance's reply, March 12, 2004

Hi Laine,

I've just returned from a conference just down the road in Dubai. It's so nice to be back home in tranquil, easy-going Abu Dhabi. Dubai is frenetic and fast-paced, and also expensive to us small-town Abu Dhabians. It's fun to be there a couple of days, but you know how it is to be back home.

Your message came as a bol d'oxygen. The TESOL Academy session that we ran last November was experimental both for TESOL and for Webheads. This was the TESOL Online Academy session Enhancing Online Communities with Voice and Webcams.

From TESOL's point of view, they were marketing a session whose concept was a departure from the normal 'academic' model where knowledge transfer is prescribed through readings followed by response and interaction from all participants. Our session required little reading and was hands on and total immersion, like the Webheads communities we had already formed. But this was a departure for Webheads as well because those communities had come together with people predisposed to our methods and whose expectations are more than met since they pay nothing and receive much more than they bargained for.

The TESOL Academy Enhancing Online Communities with Voice and Webcams session was a departure from both models. It was a bit free-wheeling and unpredictable for a TESOL Academy and it placed a constrictive shrink-wrap on Webheads. One ingredient to community formation is critical mass. That is, if you get a hundred people interested in a community and ten people actually interacting, then another dozen will be enticed on board and you'll end up with a vibrant community where half the participants are 'lurking' but learning from the others. Because of the fees threshold this couldn't happen with the TESOL Academy in question.

Therefore, I myself have been unsure if our session could be measured successful by either standard. We clearly had some in our session who we hope learned from us, but who were for one reason or another unable to participate in our synchronous activities. Then there were Luis and Linda who put in late nights to meet us online, and of course Laine, who managed to keep pace with every step of the program, as you can see from our archive at\academy/eo2003wk5.htm

And now we see that Laine has taken the post-graduate step and proposes to carry her gains in expertise over to others. This to me is sufficient evidence of the success of our session. That is, the session clearly succeeded in setting one teacher on the road to training others, and therefore the training syllabus itself was adequate. I'm sure there are ways it could be improved to make it equally successful for a wider spectrum of our participants, but Laine's success at least provides us with the vital feedback that the program itself contained the ingredients for success with at least one participant in that course.

We also have compelling evidence of our methods being applied successfully in the EVOnline sessions this year, particularly Becoming a Webhead at and . But this session did not have the hindrance of collecting fees. Meanwhile some of us are taking the marketable version to TESOL this year in a 6-hour pre-convention institute: .

Laine's feedback suggests that we have some chance of success in inculcating participants in the upcoming PCI with community forming techniques which they can apply in their own contexts.

Meanwhile, after the above session Laine joined Writing for Webheads (the student community) but did not join Webheads in Action (the community of potential interactants for sessions such as the one she proposes). I have sent her an invitation to join the latter community. And I am sending this message in cc: to

Finally I'm placing this event on my Online Events page at

and I'm updating the Enhancing Online Communities with Voice and Webcams to archive this exchange.

This email clearly is intended for multiple audiences, all of whom are welcome (I'm sure) to join Helaine online Monday, March 22nd 2004 GMT 14:45 - 15:15

To find out how, please send your questions in reply to the list which sent you this message.

All the best,


Laine sums it up in a personal email (permission to quote on request): "I find that I learn many new things each time we interact. You respond with clear, detailed answers that solve my immediate difficulties, freeing me to move forward to yet more discoveries. This mentoring relationship, I believe, is essential to learning something that combines technical knowledge of hardware and software with more abstract aspects of online teaching & learning." Thank YOU Laine (Vance :-)

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Last updated: March 21, 2004 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0

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