Developing a Community in Online Language Learning

A presentation by Vance Stevens, Amideast UAE/MLI Project

TESOL Conference 2000, Vancouver

March 15, 2000, 9:30-10:15 a.m.

session #5365, Convention Center Room 3

Vance's website:

This handout is linked from

This handout and the PowerPoint slide show serve as a point of departure for these other sessions:

See the PowerPoint Slide Show


This presentation intends to cover several tools found useful in synchronous mode online language learning. These tools have used to great effect in the online class Writing for Webheads This class, is conducted as a hobby by the presenter in conjunction with two other teachers (Margaret Doty and Michael Coghlan, never met personally). The WFW class has been meeting regularly and developing a strengthening sense of community together continually since 1998.

The following has been prepared to briefly overview and demonstrate the freely downloadable online synchronous communications tools we have used over the past year during the course of this class.

Preparations for class

Student email accounts registered with egroups

An egroup was set up via Called efiwebheads, it is reachable by its members at

Passwords can be obtained for egroup accts by visiting and following simple instructions after clicking on the word: forgot?


Participants in the class install the following programs on their computers:

ICQ from

The Palace from, the Palace user software.

A browser, such as Netscape and IE.

Networds created

To make web access more "friendly" I created "networds" for the following urls:

To make a netword, visit

To use a netword, either go to the url above and enter a netword, or the url above slash netword; e.g.


Netword url

Page description

Realworld url


The main page of Writing for Webheads


The synchronous chat page of Writing for Webheads


The text chat page of Writing for Webheads


The voice chat page of Writing for Webheads


A record of the logs of almost all synchronous chats with Webheads


Meet the students and teachers in the Webheads class; visit their homepages


A welcome to the Webheads class and overview for new and prospective students

 These pages are all mirrored at (to give access to all students in Webheads)

As a synchronous chat class gets underway

At a pre-agreed time (11:30 GMT each Sunday), participants contact each other in this way:

The amazing thing about the first two chat clients is their simplicity of creation.

Things you can do on your own:

You can browse around the Writing for Webheads site at to get some idea of how the class is conducted and what the students have done over time.

You can visit the following urls to try to download the real videos illustrating our attempts to communicate audioVISUALLY via freely available Real products:

Visit the chat rooms and play around meet us or your friends there.

For comments, suggestions, or further information on this page, contact Vance Stevens, page author and webmaster.

Last updated: March 27, 2000