THE IMPACT OF IMPLEMENTING IEARN PROJECTS IN STUDENTS' WRITING ABILITY
Ministry of Education (OMAN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:iEARN (International Education and Resource Network) is a non-profit organization made up of over 30,000 schools and youth organizations in more than 125 countries. iEARN supports teachers and students to work together online using the Internet and other new communications technologies. Over 2,000,000 students each day are engaged in collaborative project work worldwide. All projects in iEARN are designed by teachers and students, and provide powerful examples of how technology can make a difference in teaching and learning. Also, all projects involve a final "product" or exhibition of the learning that has taken place as part of the collaboration. These have included magazines, creative writing anthologies, websites, reports to government officials, arts exhibits, performances, and many more examples of students taking action as part of what they are learning in the classroom. Recently, Ministry of Education in Oman has started to implement some iEARN projects in various elementary and secondary Omani schools. In these iEARN projects, students are supposed to work collaboratively with some other students inside and outside Oman in one topic every month or every semester. My study investigates the impact of implementing iEARN projects in Omani students' writing ability. I used 3 tools to investigate this issue. First, I used questionnaires which is distributed among 50 students from 5 different Omani schools second, I interviewed 10 students to get more qualitative data. about the effects of iEARN projects in their ability to write. Third, I analyzed students' writing before and after participating in iEARN projects. In my study, I found that students' ability to write in English has improved in terms of quality and quantity because of their participation in iEARN projects. This can be due to the fact that students have a purpose to write and communicate with an audience other than their teachers. When talking with individual students about their attitudes toward writing after participating in iEARN projects, most of them said that writing was fun when you get to share it with other classes. They also stated that they enjoyed responding to other students from different countries. Based on the interview, I have noticed that students have been taking writing more seriously. It is no longer difficult as it used to be because they feel as though they are authors who can create and share their writing with others. The quality of writing in iEARN projects is high. Students took time to revise their drafts with their teacher or their partners so their writing became more accurate, thoughtful , descriptive and well planned. Throughout the implantations of this study, I have learned that people, including students in my country, need to be challenged to work outside of their comfort zone in order to grow. Students in my country did grow and became more comfortable and confident with the idea of sharing their writing with different students in the world.
Keywords: iearn, technology, online collaborative projects, writing ability.