A Call for the human feel in today’s increasingly blended world.

Geoff Lawrence. (2014, May). A Call for the human feel in today’s increasingly blended world. Contact Magazine Special Research Symposium Issue, 40(2), 128–141.

The author presents research on the reported benefits of using Technology-mediated language learning for both instructors and learners, as well as the importance of instructional design on meeting learner outcomes. He then examines the potential for adult non-credit ESL programs in Ontario from results of a multi-phased feasibility study. The findings indicate that the majority of ESL instructors continue to use primarily a face- to-face approach in their teaching. After describing the barriers to use, he also discusses an emerging theme: the crucial role of social interaction and the need for teacher-mediated learning. This was described by one participant as keeping “the human feel” in the learning environment and emphasized the importance of the teacher in the learning process. Some instructors warned about the isolating nature of self-directed technology environments. In the section “The Blended Solution”, the author lists some of the advantages to this approach identified by study participants. He also notes that by itself, a blended approach will not address concerns about isolation; this depends on both the pedagogy and the instructor. Lawrence goes on to highlight the need for strategic, interactive program design.

Retrievable from: http://www.teslontario.net/uploads/publications/researchsymposium/ResearchSymposium2014.pdf

Understanding innovation in English language education: Contexts and issues

Murray, Denise E. & MaryAnn Christison.  (2012). Understanding innovation in English language education: Contexts and issues. In Managing Change in English Language Teaching: Lessons from Experience (pp. 61–74). London: British Council

This book looks at the changing role of English in the world. It provides 21 case studies from innovative international English Language Training Projects. The book addresses issues surrounding the internationalization of English. Although it is not about settlement issues, its inclusion of a blended learning project does make it meaningful for the bibliography and in many language programs, innovative projects today do involve the integration of technology.

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Digital Mindsets: Teachers’ Technology Use in Personal Life and Teaching.

Tour, Ekaterina (2015). Digital Mindsets: Teachers’ Technology Use in Personal Life and Teaching. Language Learning & Technology, 19(3), 124–139.

This study looks at the relationships between teachers’ everyday and professional uses of technology and explores the assumptions that lie behind their practices. The findings of the study identify the impact of teachers’ digital mindsets and assumptions on the potential they see for digital technologies. The author reports on other studies that explore teachers’ personal experiences with digital technologies to see what they might reveal about what prevents teachers from seeing the learning potential of technologies, and making connections between their working use and their personal use. The study looks at how differently study participants considered seven interrelated affordances of digital technologies and whether they recognized their potential. The author concludes that professional development and learning needs to take into account teachers’ everyday practices, experiences and digital mindsets as well as provide opportunities for critical reflection about them.

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Teaching Presence in Online Course for Part-time Undergraduates

Baker. Credence (2010). Teaching Presence in Online Course for Part-time Undergraduates. The Journal of Educators Online, 7(1).

This paper begins by noting that researchers have moved from establishing the notion that there is no significant difference between face-to-face and online learning to extending research to empirically validate best practices in online learning thus providing more effective online courses and taking advantage of the unique features of the online environment. Instructors in blended courses do have the opportunity to establish positive teaching presence and immediacy in the face-to-face component of their courses, but these two practices may have implications for learner motivation, active learning and participation and achievement of outcomes in the online portion. The author refers to other research that notes that instructors can convey “visibility” with regularly scheduled interactions, inform students of their availability, provide feedback that is consistent and meaningful, be present as an effective moderator in discussions and use their content background to reactivate discussions that languish. The study results provide interesting distinctions between the effects of instructor presence and instructor immediacy on student behaviour and outcomes.

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Blended Language Learning: An Effective Solution but not Without Its Challenges

Christopher P. Johnson, D. M. (2014). Blended Language Learning: An Effective Solution but not Without Its Challenges. Higher Learning Research Communications, 4(3), 23–41.

This study explores conclusions from its first phase and identifies effective and appropriate best practice blended learning models. The study reflects changes in demands on and attitudes of students and teachers resulting from the introduction of technology into instructional styles, methodologies, and approaches. Some of the teachers in the study have become confident that the technology is not meant to replace them in the classroom and have begun to see it as a support for them. There is an emphasis on making the best use of classroom time, rather than trying to teach all requirements of courses in the classroom. The study also looks at the personal capacity required for students to take on a more autonomous role in a blended environment and discusses the importance of motivation, confidence and active participation. The authors state that the time and effort that university students spend gaining skills in EFL have critical impact on their success in learning the language. The same seems to be true for adult immigrants in settlement language programs.
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Virtual Education in ELL – Opportunities, Challenges and Potential

Bow Valley College. (2015). Virtual Education in ELL – Opportunities, Challenges and Potential (p. 66). Calgary, AB: Bow Valley College.

This 2015 report focuses on issues of learner isolation and instructional distance in an online workforce-related course for newcomers to Canada (CLB 7 or higher). The literature review investigates the notion of learner isolation, a common problem in online courses, which can lead to frustration, decreased motivation and withdrawal from online courses. The report proposes mitigating strategies to develop social presence in online language courses. The report goes into detail about the importance of instructor presence online e.g., instructor bios, photos, frequent videos, frequent news and quick replies to participants; as well as one-on-one contact between instructors and learners. It cites other research that defines social presence as the ability for learners to connect with other participants as “real people”, despite not being in the same physical environment with them. Although this report is based on applied research in an online course, it echoes participants’ comments in Lawrence’s report about the need for a “human feel” (see Geoff Lawrence. (2014, May). A Call for the human feel in today’s increasingly blended world later in this bibliography).

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Mobile pedagogy for English language teaching: a guide for teachers

Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes, Lucy Norris and  Jim Donohue. (2015). Mobile pedagogy for English language teaching: a guide for teachers. British Council.

This research-based guide is based on an Open University research project conducted in 2013-14 and focusing on English for Speakers of Other languages (ESOL) and English for Academic Purposes (EAP). The authors contend that in order to realize the potential of mobile technologies for language teaching and learning it is important to remember that MALL is not just the transfer of existing learning materials to a mobile device but involves a complete re-conceptualization of such materials. They further underline that while mobile devices provide the opportunity for self-directed learning and support greater learner autonomy, the role of the instructor remains critical. In that context the researchers developed a pedagogical framework to support instruction using mobile technologies. They offer two examples of how the framework could be used, for a lesson about job applications and for an instructor to personalize generic learning materials. They also provide a list of practical lesson and home learning ideas and a list of further readings, applications and links.

Retrievable from: https://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/attachments/e485_mobile_pedagogy_for_elt_final_v2.pdf

An absolutely riveting online course: Nine principles for excellence in web-based teaching.

Henry, J. M. (2008). An absolutely riveting online course: Nine principles for excellence in web-based teaching. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 34(1).

Although this article was written in 2008, it addresses some realistic, longstanding and important issues in adult learning programs that incorporate technology. The authors answer the question, “What would you do if I asked you to develop an absolutely riveting online course?”. They cover excellence in creating and delivering online courses; they include information to ensure sound pedagogy, create an effective and engaging learning environment, generate meaningful learning experiences and promote high student satisfaction. One of the key ideas they put forward is that technology should not stand in the way of the student’s focus on the course itself. They present interesting examples of how things sometimes go wrong and how to take advantage of what the online world has to offer. They make suggestions about the kinds of supports students will need to be successful in a program that is partly online.

Retrievable From: https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/cjlt/index.php/cjlt/article/view/26431/19613

Call for autonomy, competence and relatedness: Motivating language learning environments in Web 2.0

CALL for autonomy, competence and relatedness: Motivating language learning environments in Web 2.0.

Alm, A., (2006). CALL for autonomy, competence and relatedness: Motivating language learning environments in Web 2.0. The JALT CALL Journal, 2(3), 29–38.

The author looks at Web 2.0 tools in the light of motivational theory and self-determination theory, arguing that internet-based learning environments have to address basic needs of competence, relatedness and autonomy in order to create the conditions in which learners can motivate themselves. Some of the points made are that language learners have basically two communities they need to relate to in order to develop a sense of belonging – one within the class and another the community that speaks the language outside the class; while an in-class evaluation might be necessary for assessment purposes, a comment from a real-life audience is likely to have a stronger motivational impact on the learner. Alm argues that it is the balance between structure and choice that leads to learner autonomy. This article provides examples of practices that improve learner motivation.

Retrievable From: http://journal.jaltcall.org/articles/2_3_Alm.pdf

Web 2.0 and Second Language Learning: What Does the Research Tell Us?

Wang, S., & Vasquez, C. (2012). Web 2.0 and Second Language Learning: What Does the Research Tell Us? CALICO Journal, 29(3), 412–430.

The authors found that much research on Web 2.0 technology and language learning is not clearly grounded in theory and that a number of studies suffer from a set of common methodological limitations. The analysis in the review focuses on 29 empirical studies from 2005-2010. The authors also cite previous reviews of research in earlier periods from 1990-2005. The authors have aimed to include all of the recent relevant literature on using Web 2.0 technologies in L2 learning. The study points to the need for well-constructed empirical research projects.  Among others, their suggestions include projects that don’t look only at technologies, but also at students’ progress and specific language learning outcomes. They also suggest the need for research on how proficiency and/or intercultural competence are affected by using Web 2.0 tools.

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Uses of Technology in Adult ESL Education CAELA: ESL Resources: Collections – Adult ESL Fact sheets. (2002).

This brief fact sheet from 2002 noted how and where technology was beginning to be included in adult ESL programs. Although the examples are modest, the challenges described are still familiar, e.g., the cost of acquiring hardware and software and supporting technology use, matching applications to instructional needs and goals, over-enthusiasm with applications that may not pay back the investment and access to computers and the Internet. The list of best practices includes the need for training for practitioners both in instructional approaches and uses of “hardware”. This last need is addressed in the recently revised TESOL Technology Standards (2011) with the hope that programs that train teachers will recognize that they have an obligation to prepare teacher candidates adequately in technology proficiency for their field and that technology proficiency will be given a high priority in new staff in teacher education programs.

Retrievable From: http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/collections/factsheets.html#tech

Study on the Impact of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and New Media on Language Learning.

Stevens, A., & Shield, L. (2009). Study on the Impact of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and New Media on Language Learning (No. EACEA 2007/09). European Commission. Education and Culture Executive Agency.

A study of the impact of ICT and new media on language learning conducted by the European Commission in 2008/09. The study comprised a comparative study of the potential of ICT and new media in language learning; a quantitative study of their use; a qualitative survey of current trends and a set of case studies illustrating good practice in the use of ICT and new media for language learning.

Retrievable From: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/llp/studies/documents/study_impact_ict_new_media_language_learning/final_report_en.pdf

A closer look at blended learning – parameters for designing a blended learning environment for language teaching and learning.

Neumeier, P. (2005).  A closer look at blended learning – parameters for designing a blended learning environment for language teaching and learning. ReCALL, 17(2), 163–178.

This journal article, written at a time when interest was building in blended learning, despite the fact that there was not a lot of research related to it, is widely cited in the literature. Neumeier provides a framework to address the question about which combination of modes provides the best blended language teaching and learning environment. Her goal is to help practitioners see and understand the complexity of blended learning environments so that they can make good use of blended learning. She provides a clear definition of blended learning and stresses the importance of finding the most effective and efficient combination of face to face and computer-assisted learning for the specific learners, context and objectives. She makes it clear that there is no course design that will work for all situations – neither in the face-to-face component, nor in the computer-assisted component. Neumeier’s six parameters identify the criteria to take into consideration for designing a course or program.

Available for Purchase (USD $30.00) at: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=355476

Blending Learning in a Web 2.0 World: Creating Learning Opportunities for Language Learners.

Marsh, D. (2012). Blending Learning in a Web 2.0 World: Creating Learning Opportunities for Language Learners. Cambridge University Press.

This booklet provides a short history of the term “blended learning” and traces its development from the notion in 2000 of simply supplementing classroom learning with self-study e-learning activities to its use today to mean any combination of different methods of learning, different learning environments and different learning styles. While not focused on ESL, it is a good resource to set the stage while providing practical guides and templates.

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A meta-analysis of effectiveness studies on computer technology-supported language learning.

Grgurovic, M. et al. (2013). A meta-analysis of effectiveness studies on computer technology-supported language learning. ReCALL, 25(2), 164–198.

This article answers the question policy makers and language teachers might ask about what research has shown about the comparison between classes in which CALL is used and those in which computer technology is not used for language learning. In summary, the results of 36 years of research show that computer-assisted language learning is not inferior to traditional classroom teaching. The authors looked at studies that compared the two methods between 1970 and 2006. The studies chosen were winnowed from three electronic databases, a manual search of six journals and an extensive set of criteria that excluded all but 37 of the 200 studies found. One of their findings is that the overwhelming majority of studies were conducted in a higher education setting, with English being the number one language studied. There is no mention of adult settlement language in the list of settings but there was one adult literacy study. This paper underscores the importance of research design and submitting research on topics like Blended Learning in adult settlement programs to databases and journals like the ones included here.

Available for Purchase (USD $30.00) at: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8885216#

Blending technologies in ESL courses: A reflexive enquiry.

Gruba, P., Cameron, C., Ng, K. & Wells, M. (2009). Blending technologies in ESL courses: A reflexive enquiry. Presented at the ascilite Conference, Auckland, NZ.

In this presentation from the 2009 ascilite Conference in Auckland NZ, a group of researchers describe their learning as a self-directed “community of innovation” after creating a series of podcasts as a springboard for an action research study to look at issues related to integrating technology in variety of types of ESL classes. The study highlights some of the barriers to integration that have been identified elsewhere:  time, need for professional development and IT support.

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The Evaluation of Computer-Mediated Technology by Second Language Teachers: Collaboration and Interaction in CALL.

del Puerto, F. G., & Gamboa, E. (2009). The Evaluation of Computer-Mediated Technology by Second Language Teachers: Collaboration and Interaction in CALL. Educational Media International, 46(2), 137–152.

In this multi-country European study, language teacher respondents reported that they used computers for personal use more than for teaching. It reveals that despite teachers’ belief that interaction is the most effective method for language learning teachers are more likely to use basic tools to produce grammar exercises and individual work, than to work with computer applications that encourage interaction e.g., forums, text chat, web chat, video chat. New versions of Moodle do provide these types of activities, but there is a need for teachers to be comfortable using them. Del Puerto ends by saying that no matter what new collaborative and interactive elements are developed in platforms like Moodle, teacher training and teachers’ attitudes towards technology will be the most important factor influencing whether they are used in the language classroom. This point is also stated clearly in the TESOL Standards (2011) in the Technology Standards for Language Teachers section. For example, Goal 2: Language teachers integrate pedagogical knowledge and skills with technology to enhance language teaching and learning (p.213).

Available for Purchase (USD $39.00) at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09523980902933268

Normalisation Revisited: The Effective Use of Technology in Language Education.

Bax, S. (2013). Normalisation Revisited: The Effective Use of Technology in Language Education.

This article revisits the issue of the normalisation of technology in language education, defined as the stage at which a technology is used in language education without users being consciously aware of its role as a technology, as an effective element in the language learning process (Bax, 2003). It proposes a methodology to introduce new technologies into language education settings with maximum impact. The article cites some of the researchers who have addressed normalisation in discussions concerning the role of technology in language education. Bax uses the examples of attitudes of “excessive awe” and “exaggerated fear” to emphasize the importance of looking critically at whether any proposed new technology is necessary. He presents elements of effective educational practice and shows how modern technology can help with providing those elements, but emphasizes that learning also requires mediation from teacher experts who will intervene as needed.  This article suggests tools and processes that would be helpful in the area of program readiness.

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CALL—Past, Present and Future.

Bax, S. (2003). CALL—Past, Present and Future. System, 31, 13–28.

This widely-cited article looks at different ways of recording the history of Computer-assisted language learning (CALL), but at the same time explores an ultimate goal for the place of technology in language classrooms. Bax begins by asking where CALL has been, where it is in 2003 and where it is going. In the section of the article about the future of CALL, the author argues that if language programs are to benefit fully from the potential which computers and computer technologies offer, there needs to be a move towards what he calls “normalisation”, which is the situation when these technologies are used daily and as naturally as other resources in the classroom – they are integrated into learning and they are secondary to learning itself. Instructors and managers will be interested in the list of different stages on the road to normalisation. These have been identified in diffusion of innovations research. Many of the suggestions about what is needed to achieve normalisation, e.g., better software, more action research and especially the size, shape and position of the classroom computer are still relevant today.

Cost: USD $19.95

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Did We Forget Someone? Students’ Computer Access and Literacy for CALL.

Winke, P., & Goertler, S. (2008). Did We Forget Someone? Students’ Computer Access and Literacy for CALL. CALICO Journal, 25(3), 482–509.

The authors address the commonly held notion that because of their age, students coming into post-secondary language programs will be able to access computers readily, be computer literate, and have positive attitudes about learning with technology. They state that there is a shortage of research data to support this and that before programs are modified to incorporate technology, for example in a blended language program, learners should be surveyed to determine their access to the appropriate technology and to their interest in using it for language learning. Although some of the age-related assumptions are not relevant to adults in settlement language programs, issues of access to equipment, including hardware like headsets, microphones, web cams, and the Internet as well as the ability to carry out computer tasks, use software and a course management system are nonetheless extremely important. The study reports on findings from the responses of 911 university students’ in EFL classes. The technology survey questions are provided in the appendix and would be an important jumping off point for anyone considering implementing a blended learning settlement language program for adults.

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