The Internet for Educator Development
Kagawa Junior College
edited by Daniel J. McIntyre
I have asked Steve McCarty, who recently participated in an electronic
academic conference, to relate his experiences to us in an approachable
way in terms of technical issues. This has been done with a view toward
encouraging branches of JALT to investigate the possibility of organizing
electronic conferences and publications in the future; steps that might
serve to invigorate professional discourse and enhance our standing as an
In the view of this writer, an educator is a teacher and a lifelong learner,
involved in the profession, the community, and the world. The Internet,
connecting computers in a global communications network, opens mind-boggling
possibilities and is already changing many paradigms related to education.
This paper will introduce one of the world's first major academic conferences
held entirely on-line, including a transcribed synchronous multiple user
"MOO" discourse with EFL/ESL educators abroad.
The Teaching in the Community Colleges Listserv (TCC-L), based at Kapiolani
Community College in Hawaii, distributes e-mail messages addressed to the
list to its several hundred members, so asynchronous discussions continue
year-round. To join the discussion list, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
with no subject and the message: subscribe tcc-l first_name last_name.
There was a call for papers for The First Annual TCC-L On-Line Conference
in CALLing Japan,(4 (3), 1995), the newsletter of the JALT CALL N-SIG.
Abstracts for presentation proposals on the conference theme of "Innovative
Instructional Practices" were sent to four vetters by e-mail. Papers
were also submitted by e-mail. Conference Committee members formatted the
papers with HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and started posting them on
the World Wide Web (WWW) from March 25, 1996. To make interactions more
like an in-person conference, a home page which included bio-data and color
photos was created for each presenter. Presenters were able to send their
material by regular mail to be scanned into digital format. From April 2-4
(3-5 in Japan) there were conference events, some posted on the WWW as they
unfolded. About 750 participants registered for the conference, while anyone
with WWW access can also read the conference papers (see url <http://naio.kcc.hawaii.edu/kcc/kccinfo.html>).
There were about 40 TCC-L conference papers. These papers are to be published
in the TCC-L(E)J, an electronic journal that can be accessed via
the WWW or gopher. Conference presenters were of all races, but predominantly
based in the U.S. and other English native-speaking countries. It was a
multidisciplinary conference, yet about a quarter of the papers were on
language teaching. Three presentations were on TEFL, one each from Mexico,
Indonesia, and Japan.
A one-hour synchronous session was scheduled for each presentation and
was hosted by the Daedalus MOO (MultipleUser Domain, Object-Oriented). Participants
with questions and comments met the presenters in cyberspace, and the group
conversations appeared on everyone's computer screens nearly instantaneously
via telnet. The possibilities of this medium have not been lost on L2 teachers,
and Daedalus MOO also hosts a French language domain. While there is much
the L2 teacher needs to learn first, it is even possible to join classes
from other countries in real time.
Here follows part of the trancript of a Daedalus MOO telnet discussion
on TESL/TEFL from 1-2 p.m., Hawaii time on April 4, 1996 (April 5 from 8
am in Japan). The passage is edited slightly for coherence. My interlocutors
were ESL professors in California and Hawaii along with EFL professors in
Mexico and Hong Kong.
*** Connected ***
Travelers' Inn. You are inside a small building used by travelers
. . .
@go Athens Room
You see a conference room with chairs and tables which can be
rearranged as needed. A tape recorder sits on a table . . . .
Dancar, Marsha, Bill Powers, Judi, and John-FR are standing here.
You sense that Judi is looking for you in the Athens Room.
She pages, "Your paper is excellent, one any potential EFL
teacher should have a chance to read."
John-FR asks, "If you are both teaching Japanese students
to speak English, does it make very much difference that one of you is
in Japan and the other [Marsha Chan] is in the US?"
Judi: "From McCarty's paper, I would answer yes, for he is
looking at the constraints of the political system in Japan and its effects
John-FR says, "I expect the students living in the US are
more motivated. How does one overcome the problems of cultural resistance?"
Steve says, "I try to acculturate and not impose Western
John-FR says, "It reminds me of teaching Spanish in England.
Students see their own culture as more important. But does not the language
impose those [Western paradigms]?"
(part of a Daedalus MOO Athens Room session captured electronically by
Each MOO "room" has a description to create a shared ambience.
Even so, the low-context environment can be disorienting, as the medium
tends to overwhelm the message at first. And yet a substantive discussion
could be discerned, an international comparison of TESL-TEFL situations.
Each participant was actually operating a computer in Austin, Texas by remote
control (TELNET), creating the virtual reality of seven people standing
in a conference room.
Organizational and Technical Considerations
A discussion list or listserv, a mostly automated program in a host computer
or server, creates an electronic network which is, moreover, a discourse
community for people anywhere in the world with an e-mail address and an
interest in the topic of discussion. As examples, Chubu University hosts
, for discussions of FLT in Japan, yet L2 teachers abroad do join
in. Provided one has a computer that has Japanese language capability, a
teacher anywhere could also subscribe to at Chubu and participate
in discussions of Internet applications to TEFL. Send e-mail to <majordomo@ clc.hyper.chubu.ac.jp>
with just the message subscribe jaltcall (or subscribe net-lang). San Francisco
State University hosts a very helpful network on L2 teaching via the Internet:
send e-mail to <email@example.com>
with the command subscribe neteach-l .
Organizations like NETEACH-L and TCC-L (Teaching in the Community Colleges)
further receive permission from educational MOOs for list members to participate
in regular real time discussions, giving the discourse community further
opportunities for the meeting of minds. They also start separate mailing
lists for those more deeply involved, such as officers or organizers of
their annual conferences.
Participants in the TCC-L on-line conference filled out an evaluation
form either by regular e-mail or via the Web by just clicking on the form
at a certain WWW address. As with much of the conference interaction, via
an Internet browsing program such as Netscape, clicking on highlighted words
transported us via HyperText to the evaluation form or other links. While
the one-hour MOO sessions were relatively long for questions and comments
on presentations, messages to a new discussion list continued the commentary
and evaluation process for a time after the conference as well. These messages
and some transcribed MOO discussions were also posted on the WWW. In these
media, a consensus was reached to expand TCC-L scope and internationalize
the 1997 conference with the theme: "The Post-Secondary Teaching Profession
in the Community and the World."
The TCC-L conference organizers further secured our use of a new Webbed
MOO or "WOO" at California State University. Participants were
granted passwords and a construction quota to build home rooms, as it were,
in cyberspace, places where we could create a textual ambience and actually
meet peoplečor bring our EFL classes. The ambience can be read either in
the room via telnet or by peering in through the Web. The text is programmed
in ways explained by help documents in the MOO, and it can be edited through
the Web without having to bother with HTML formatting. Each object constructed
in the MOO, including one's own description, automatically has its equivalent
home page on the WWW.
While it is inevitable that JALT will delve into these possibilities
to further overcome spatial distances, one cautionary note is that money
is being spent and not made by these electronic conferences and publications.
Chapters may have the wherewithal but are geographically based, whereas
N-SIGs, formed to overcome geography, would have to further rely on the
resources of members and their institutions.
Nevertheless, for educator development, the number of electronic journals
and conferences is growing exponentially, and many teachers will chafe until
suitable hardware and software is available at their institutions. For one
of the greatest revolutions in the history of education has already begun.
Steve McCarty, Professor at Kagawa Junior College,
is on the Advisory Board of the Teaching in the Community Colleges Listserv
and is a Contributing Editor of the Asia-Pacific Exchange Electronic Journal.
He presented at the June, 1996 Knowledge and Discourse Conference at the
University of Hong Kong (see WWW URL <http://www.hku.hk/engctr/home.html>). In JALT since
1983, he has been President of the Matsuyama and Kagawa Chapters, Bilingualism
N-SIG Chair, and National N-SIG Representative.
Steve McCarty can be contacted at: 3717-33 Kokubunji, Kagawa. 769-01.
Fax: (w) 0877-49-5252. e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
copyright © 1996 by thee author.
Document URL: http://www.jalt-publications.org/tlt/files/96/sept/internet.html
Last modified: September 29, 1996
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