Community Building Tools for Online Language Learning

A presentation by Vance Stevens, Amideast UAE/MLI Project

TESOL Arabia, Abu Dhabi

February 24, 2000, Zayad University, Abu Dhabi

Vance's website:

This handout at


This session intends to cover, in a brief hour, 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 this session

ICQ installed

3 ICQ accounts were set up and installed on 3 laptops with dialup connections. The instructor is using his own ICQ number 2774215:

ICQ Name










Email accounts set up and registered with egroups

3 Email accounts were set up at hotmail.

An egroup was set up via Called zu2000tesol, it is reachable at

The three email accounts were subscribed to the egroup

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

The hotmail and egroups accts were all visited, to clear all the subscription offers at both sites.

Passwords for the hotmail and egroups accounts were all set the same (an egroup name is the subscribing email address, and the egroup site is accessible by means of the name and password)

Hotmail and Egroups acct numbers

Passwords (for hotmail and egroup accts)






The following programs were installed on 4 computers:

ICQ from

The Palace from (we had trouble downloading the latest and are using a 1997 client installation)

Two browsers, Netscape and IE. Of the two, IE is likely the most current.

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

Guests invited

Finally, I invited the teachers and students of the online class Writing for Webheads to join us.

As we get underway

What we will try to do in this session:

Three members of the audience will emulate a class of students.

The "students" can log on to their email accounts. They should have messages waiting from their egroup. They can dash off replies to their egroup.

The student can visit and log in giving their email address and password. They can ENTER the chat.

The students will now visit the Palace. We will try for on port 9998. Once there, let's meet in the Kiosk (if lost: Options / Goto Room / Kiosk 130)

The students can then attempt to meet at the text chat room, and the voice chat room at

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

Other things we can do:

You can browse around the Writing for Webheads site at to get some idea of how the class is conducted.

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

We should by now have achieved a certain sublime state of pandemonium tempered with an impression of edification, at which point we can disband.