Do languages affect the effectiveness of using World Wide Web resources for learning?
Submitted to: First Conference to Promote Teaching and Learning (paper presentations)
Eugenia M. W. Ng
Department of Science
The Hong Kong Institute of Education
10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, N.T.
Tel: (852) 2948-7645
Fax: (852) 2948-7676
Information Technology, in particular the use of the World Wide Web (web) in teaching, has become one of the hottest issues in education. However, a large percentage of the material in websites is written in English, with the result that some Hong Kong students express difficulties in understanding their content. In an attempt to overcome these difficulties, the author and her colleagues in the Department of Science, the Hong Kong Institute of Education, were awarded a Teaching Development Grant (HKIEd direct allocation) to develop learning materials in Chinese on the web.
The objectives of this study were to evaluate 1) the effectiveness of web-based learning; 2) the effects of language; and 3) the value of a tailor-made web site. The participants were pre-service student teachers studying at the HKIEd taking Computer Literacy (Information Technology) as one of their electives. Two groups of students participated in a series of three studies, each group consisting of six students. Each study consisted of: 1) a pre-test; 2) searching and learning; and 3) a post-test. Questions in the pre-tests were asked again in the post-tests so that students understood well what to search for during the searching and learning sessions and it was also easier to establish the usefulness of the searching and learning exercises. Furthermore, the language barrier was minimised as the questions asked were bilingual, i.e. there was an English and a Chinese version of each question.
In order to study the effectiveness of web-based learning, Group 1 students searched information from printed materials whilst Group 2 students searched information from the web in the first study, their activities being reversed for the third study. Both groups searched for information using the web in the second study. To study the impact of language, students were free to search for information either in English or in Chinese in the first study, but were confined to English in the second study and confined to Chinese in the third study. The effectiveness of a tailor-made web site (first study) was compared with the results of second and third studies using non-tailor-made web sites. Findings of pre-tests and post-tests will be discussed, and attention will be paid to the results obtained when searching for English and Chinese materials using the web. The implications of teaching classes using web materials and the usefulness of building a tailor-made web site will also be discussed.