A computer network, and especially the Internet, is a tool or facility for electronic communication between any two or more devices. Communication is the capability of living beings to exchange messages with other living beings by using some system. Most common are eyes, ears, taste, smell and feeling. Communicative abilities are necessary for everyday life. Without these abilities, a living being is isolated from other people, on its own, cannot regenerate and will die. Communication is therefore, a basic tool to survive. Communication is a primary tool for learning. By seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, etc. a living being can manage itself, to survive. The human being is the superb example of learning by communication, because the human being is not only able to remember its experiences, but also to combine and reuse its experiences to new insight, skills and knowledge. And these qualities will affect then the human behavior.
INTERNET AS A TOOL FOR TEACHING LITERATURE
Internet can be used for many purposes, but using internet as a learning tool will really help students of literature or any other subject. The main thing which students will learn from Internet is clear understanding and objectives. Internet is necessary because literature students should be sure about what information, they are getting in the class, after class students can further explore the topic studied in the class room.
The internet will allow literature students to communicate with each other about ideas, thoughts or any assignment, even if they are sitting at their home. Students can also remain in touch the teacher through the internet, and they discuss their problems with the teacher over the internet, without waiting for next day. These days many schools are connected with each other and the world outside and are no more isolated, students can now produce work, which will receive a global audience. The immediacy, speed, and interactivity of the Internet seem to be a great motivational factor for literature students.
It is comparatively difficult to locate good resources that match the listening and talking strands in the upper stages of the primary school. There are other many helpful opportunities on the Internet for learning, which go some way towards meeting the attainment targets.
As many school and college teachers have already revealed, the very nature of working in a group at a computer does, indeed, initiate helpful and meaniThe (software supports synchronous internet-based discussions) Internet also supports various synchronous discussion methods. Video-conferencing through the internet, that has been successfully used in the past at many schools, is a method where remote computers can be linked and allow participants to talk and view to, each other in the classroom. With the help of this technology, teachers can conduct guest speaker sessions for literature students. Internet relay chat software, such as NetMeeting, allow users to form discussion groups for synchronous chats. Students can make their own private discussion group to discuss their problem related to literature with other students, in this way student can greatly improve their educational abilities. Through careful planning, these two methods of communication could in fact meet the entire requirements for listening and talking.
The learning has proven to be more meaningful to students as it is a ‘real’ situation and students can be engaged and involved in discussions with peers and experts from across the world.
There can be no doubt and no objection that the skills associated with reading still need to be taught to literature students. However, the Internet does have sufficient resources that can be used successfully to practice these reading skills within the literature subject in the high schools and college. In fact, with the careful selection, all the reading strands can be met through using Internet resources e.g. particular student’s literature sites, reading and sending e-mail messages, scanning contributions to discussion groups and reading on-line newspapers(SOED, 1991) National Guidelines on English Language. Such resources are already being used to complement the useful printed resources already in use in all schools and colleges.
Multimedia and internet technology allows students at any education level to participate actively in the experience of learning in literature area. Multimedia and internet based software stimulates all the learning methods by offering information through pictures, voice narration, written text, sound, full motion video clips and animations.
The Internet technology can help literature teachers develop interactive, creative teaching tools that present information in all the ways students really learned and thinks. Internet technology links information from various locations and sources through "buttons" which provide access to information in all media at one single place and allow students to interact and learn continually.
Instead of viewing a video in a conventional linear or reading a document, interactive multimedia encourages the literature students to pursue links from one topic to another, following a distinctively personal trail through the information. The Internet has deleterious and positive effects. We need to recognize those. Literature Students who have teachers fluent in Information Literacy and Information Technology have a major advantage in developing their own Information Technology and Information Literacy fluency (Sehmel, H.2002).
Literature teachers should become Information Technology literate, engage and involve students with real problems found on the internet and they should also engage authentic questions. Preparing literature students to do independent research prepares and helps them for the next higher stages of their lives. “Many educational researchers view the Internet as a valuable source of information that can assist students in the construction of knowledge, increasing their capacity for social interaction and the building of democratically oriented learning communities. They see the Internet promoting inquiry and creativity.” (Leu 1998)
Internet is the most suitable and widely used platform for the implementation of distance learning concept. The ability to provide all available information with a low cost of acquiring such systems is the primary reason for using internet as a learning tool for literature. The major advantages that arise from the use of internet as learning tool for literature are the use of multimedia technology for the presentation of the courses, the use of hypermedia and hypertext, the interactive learning abilities and the wide availability of tools for developing educational applications Rapidly increasing use of Internet technology for learning purpose and the ability to access distant places, make it very efficient for the delivery and implementation of training literature programs. The training through the Internet is a method that, even though cannot achieve closeness in the relationship between trainee and trainer nor can it substitute the traditional form of learning literature, but it has in fact a lot of advantages, particularly when it comes to training high school level literature students.
Internet technology can be used for students who are temporary located at geographically remote places or students who are on leave. Literature Students can get class lectures and related material from school or college website and practice and research it at home. So in this way students would not miss their any class lecture. Internet offer the ability of personalized training, in which student selects the pace and the timing, as well as the depth of the obtained knowledge, in accordance with his or her personal needs and potentials. Internet provides flexibility and speed in the expansion and update of the literature material. Internet does not require any special equipment just a personal computer with multimedia capabilities, a computer modem and access to the Internet network. Use of Internet as a learning tool for literature ensures savings in resources and printed material regarding the development of additional material, particularly when the required knowledge and equipment is available.
Internet learning has the capability to keep part of the most helpful learning features of conventional learning processes, such as and cooperation and communication between the student and the teacher, assignment of tasks and exercises and, as well as interaction among the students, Using internet as learning system for literature does not even require the presence of a teacher during the learning process. Students can get all information by themselves; this will enhance the student’s internet in the subject.
What is this fascination among high school students and teachers with the Internet technology? Why will they ignore all the other resources, such as books and printed articles, at their disposal, determined to find all material on the Internet? Recent researches clearly indicate that ways students are using Internet for effective learning process and to get up-to-date information. While students may be technologically advanced, but they are deficient when it comes to developing efficient research skills and strategies and judging Internet information. So literature students should also be taught through conventional learning methods in addition to Internet.
The Internet technology will continue to have a global appeal for students of all ages and at all levels. We are using the Internet more and more for and communication and commercial purposes. We should teach latest technology using skills to our students, so they can also utilize it. We also need to teach them critical analysis strategies so that they can be able to differentiate between shady and trustworthy sources. This is a skill that needs to be thoroughly taught just as we teach reading, arithmetic and literature (Leu 1998).
METHODOLOGY AND PROCEDURE
At the beginning of the study two English literature (1) classes at the Islamic Azad University (IAU) in Iran, whose field of study was English Literature, were selected. One of them, by chance, was considered as Experimental and the other one as Control group. The students of the experimental group were told that their class won't be held like the previous semester and they should have interaction with their teacher through e-mail. Therefore, they were asked to write their full names and e-mail addresses on a piece of paper and give it back to their teacher.
The students of the experimental group were contacted via their e-mail addresses by their teacher. In the first contact, the teacher explained comprehensively what they were going to do during the semester and a complete instruction was given to them, which is as follow:
Dear Students Hello,
Welcome to your web-based literature class. During this semester we won't have any textbook to study, instead, we are going to learn literature through the online resources available on the web. Every Saturday I'll send you a number of links and your task is to click and follow them. Study the materials available on these web pages.
You are supposed to participate in the mid-term and final exam as determined by the Department. Also you will be given some questions as quizzes before and after the mid-term exam, but they will be sent to you via your emails! You should answer them either based on your own knowledge or by searching the web and finding their answers, and then send them back to me.
Every week on Saturdays teacher sent an email for the students which was accompanied with some links (see appendix 1). Then the students tried to find the linked pages and study them carefully. All the web pages which were sent to the students throughout the study were visited and checked by the teacher before the commencement of the study. If the students faced with a problem they were encouraged to contact with their teacher via e-mail and ask their questions. The whole semester lasted for four months and the students of experimental group were supposed to participate in four exams during the semester. There were two quizzes which were administered before and after the mid-term exam, and one final exam. All these exams and quizzes were the same between the experimental and control groups.
The main purpose of the quizzes was to encourage the students to study the course materials and not to give up their study during the semester; therefore, the scores, i.e. their results were not much significant. As a result, the quizzes of the experimental group were administered online, i.e. the teacher sent the questions of the quizzes, which were four, to the students via their e-mails, and they were required to answer them and re-send them again to the teacher. In the case of mid-term and final exams, both experimental and control groups' students participated in a formal exam administered at the university campus, in the English Department.
On the other hand, the students of the control group had their usual and traditional class, and they were supposed to attend the class. In the control group, the teacher introduced one literature book, named as "Literature (1) Structure, Sound, and Sense by Laurence Perrine, Southern Methodist University", which was determined based on the curriculum and the English Language Literature Department. The main focus of the book was on introducing various literary terms such as Euphemism, Free verse, Meter, Rhyme etc. also on providing different short and long stories regarding these terms. Every session teacher worked on one chapter of the book, which was about one literary term and scrutinize the story included in the chapter.
A lot of questions and answers were discussed between teacher and students and finally when teacher got sure that the students completely comprehend the literary term and its relevant story, he finished the class with one or two general questions about what the students have learned during that session.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
Trying to use the Web for teaching is like trying to shoot at a target moving close to the speed of light. The possibilities offered by the medium are changing exponentially, yet the nature of the medium itself, as well as its content, profoundly affects any kinds of pedagogical applications. Another complicating factor is that changes in teaching must necessarily move slowly, testing with different subjects and groups of students.
Having available the most appropriate, convenient and reliable technology (hardware and software) and the necessary technical support may pose the greatest hurdles because they depend on forces beyond faculty control, on institutional decisions which are generally based on financial rather than pedagogical grounds (Ann Woodlief, 1997).
It’s a wonder that any teacher would take all this on, as well as spend the vast amount of time and energy required to become sufficiently computer literate, to develop materials which work most effectively (often different from usual classroom materials), and most important, to examine carefully one’s own pedagogical goals and nurture them in this very different teaching environment.
Yet there are teachers who are doing this, not because they are seduced by the increasing media hype about the Web or by administrators who dream of economies possible in room-free classes, but because they are convinced that networked teaching offers ways for students to learn unparalleled in traditional classroom settings (Ann Woodlief, 1997).
Comparing the statistical results of the two groups, it was revealed that the final achievement scores of the experimental group students outperformed the control group ones. The mean score of the experimental group was calculated as 17.72 (out of 20) while that of the control group was estimated to be 14.48. In addition, the mean score of the mid-term exam had a significant difference. As mentioned in the Methodology and Procedure section, both groups were required to participate in a formal, mid-term exam. Comparing the results of the mid-term exam, it was illustrated that the mean score of experimental group was 7.87 (out of 10), while that of the control group was calculated to be 4.56.
But apart from the statistical results, the current study has had many other descriptive results as well. As reported by the students of the experimental group through the questionnaire which was sent to them, the felt better in working online. In fact, they enjoyed a lot surfing the web and studying the course material online. The findings of the study has also shown that literature can be taught online especially through giving links to students and leave them to do their own learning and be responsible for their own learning. So autonomy of the participants has increased to great extent. This new experience seemed to be both economical and efficient, since both the inferential and descriptive results of the study revealed so.
Through applying this approach a great amount of time was saved both on the part of the students and teacher. Another main outcome of the present study was developing the culture and belief of e-learning specifically web-based learning in the third world countries such as Iran. It also increased the IT, Computer and the Internet literacy of the students a lot. In addition, it introduced the idea of using computer and the internet for the purpose of teaching among the EFL teachers in the context of Iran.
And finally, the significant recommendation which can be done based on the present study is that online materials can be used not only for teaching language skills and components like reading and grammar, but it also can be used for special courses taught at the university level like literature.
Leu, Donald J. (1998): Teaching with the Internet: Lessons from the classroom. Published 1998, 2nd Edition, Christopher-Gordon publishers, USA.
Sehmel, H. (2002). Websites and advocacy campaigns: Decision making, implementation, and audience in an environmental advocacy group’s use of websites as part of its communication campaigns. Business Communication Quarterly, 65, 100-107.
SOED (1991) Curriculum and Assessment in Scotland: National Guidelines, English Language 5-14. SEB (1987) Scottish Certificate of Examination
Woodlief,Ann. 1997.A Community of Learners: Teaching Literature Electronically. <http://www.vcu.edu/engweb>. 6 Aug. 2003.
List of Links (WebPages) given to the participants via the e-mail.
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