Personally, the on-line class with regard to the lurker report was my first time experiencing the distance learning technology. Therefore I felt it fresh, strange and also excited to make use of Wimba Classroom. However, after sharing our findings together through the Internet, I agreed with Talley’s comment on Wimba Classroom that it can “enable faculty to teach and students to learn via an effective multi-sensory approach on-line” (http://www.wimba.com/products/wimba_classroom/). In addition, I am thinking about its potential application to foreign language teaching and learning so that second language acquisition (SLA) can be more authentic and productive.
What impressed me most is that Wimba Classroom can create a live, virtual classroom environment in which collaborative learning can take place without spatial constraints. Although the instructor and some of my classmates were not physically present, its pedagogical design and practical features allowed for the engagement of everyone to the point that it felt as if we were meeting face-to-face. Specifically, the Wimba Classroom interface consists of five sections: the Content Frame, the Text Chat area,
the Participant area, the Presenter’s Console, and the Media Bar. The instructor was able to upload and display PowerPoint slides in the Content Frame while each student was carrying out his/her presentation by speaking into the microphone. The instructor
was also able to deliver his instructions through the Multi-way audio (voice over IP) to students, and students, on the other hand, can look at PowerPoint slides on the computer screen with the combination of visual and audio information. In addition, the Participant area was essential to the dynamic interaction between the instructor and students. It lists the names of all presenters and participants currently in a presentation. Presenters are listed in bold at the top of the list. The NetStats indicator helped participants check their network status and the Yes/No indicator was convenient for instant polling. The Hand Raising enabled participants to raise their hands in cyberspace according to a sequence if they have questions. The Speaking Privilege indicator let the instructor tailor his instruction to the specific needs of students when they were communicating with peers through the follow-up discussions.After each presenter finished his/her presentation, participants can also provide their feedback efficiently using the Status indicator, especially the emoticons. The Text Chat area ensured that all participants had equal chances to share messages and ideas.
Overall, I think Wimba Classroom is an on-line educational facility that is designed “exclusively for education with features that promote teaching flexibility to achieve diverse instructional goals” (http://www.wimba.com/products/wimba_classroom/). In
the realm of foreign language teaching and learning, it will be especially beneficial for students of a shy disposition since they may feel more comfortable to participate with their classmates in group discussions through textual communications. Moreover,
since distance learning technology can surpass national boundaries and bridge L2 learners with native speakers, especially instructors of native speakers, in foreigncountries where the target language is spoken, the use of it can thus reduce the cost of travelling abroad, enhance authenticity, promote interest and encourage productivity.