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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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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Identifying the Real and Perceived Needs of ESL Adult Learners with Limited or No Literacy in their L1

Thieves. C (2011). Identifying the Real and Perceived Needs of ESL Adult Learners with Limited or No Literacy in their L1 (M.A.). McGill University.

This thesis is a study using a mixed methods research design (pre- and post-class questionnaire, interview and observation data) in a 12-week ESL class to determine the opinions of students in ESL programs in two schools in a large U.S. city in relation to their L1, English and computer literacy needs. Results showed that adults enrolled in the classes considered computer literacy skills as a fundamental tool for survival in a digital society.  The author contends that these results can be used to guide ESL instructors in the modification of curricula and in the incorporation of digital technologies in ESL reading and writing instruction.

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Spotlight on Blended Language Learning: A Frontier Beyond Learner Autonomy and Computer-assisted Language Learning.

Stracke, E. (2007a). Spotlight on Blended Language Learning:  A Frontier Beyond Learner Autonomy and Computer-assisted Language Learning. In Proceedings of the Independent Learning Association 2. Presented at the Independent Learning Centre. : Exploring theory, enhancing practice Japan.

In this conference paper, the author identifies some key elements to consider in the development of successful blended learning initiatives. The identification of these elements is based on an empirical study of blended learning, defined as teaching and learning environments in which technology plays a role, in EFL programs. The author emphasizes the critical importance of allowing sufficient time for instructors and students to adapt to the blended learning environment, the need for technical support, the key role of a sense of community, the importance of the development of high-quality materials as well as potentially disruptive changes of roles. Finally the author argues for further research into the potential of blended learning as a useful means to integrate technology and independent learning in second language teaching and learning.

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Enhancing the Autonomous Use of CALL – A new curriculum model in EFL.

Smith, K., & Craig, H. (2013). Enhancing the Autonomous Use of CALL – A new curriculum model in EFL. Calico Journal.l, 30(2), p-p 252-278.

This action research study evaluates the effectiveness of a CALL Learner Autonomy course in a blended EFL program at a Japanese university. The study looks at a number of reflective tools to help with learners’ motivational setbacks in a CALL environment due to a lack of computer skills or knowledge about how to use websites and software. These included tools to help learners with planning, organizing, tracking and evaluating their autonomous use of CALL resources.  The researchers found that regular and critical learner self-reflection through using these tools was a key factor contributing to a positive shift in study culture. It is included in the bibliography as an example of practices that have been examined to improve learner autonomy.

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Implementing Blended Learning in Foreign Language Education: Reasons and Considerations.

Mondejar, M. (2012). Implementing Blended Learning in Foreign Language Education:  Reasons and Considerations.

This conference paper explores the pros and cons of blended learning in foreign language learning. The presenter argues that BL is a quickly growing approach that allows instructors to provide students with increased flexibility, enhances student engagement, fosters student autonomy and supports collaborative learning. However, in order to be deployed successfully the presenter argues that careful needs analysis of students and careful and thorough course or instructional design are necessary. He also points to the need for further research in the use of blended learning in foreign language learning.

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Assessing computer literacy in adult ESL learners

Meckelborg, A. (2003). Assessing computer literacy in adult ESL learners (M. Ed). University of Alberta.

This thesis documents a relatively early study of instruments to measure computer literacy in a group of adult ESL students. Although there have been many developments in digital technologies over the past ten years and the range and type of skills described in this study are somewhat outdated, the discussion of the design and analysis of the assessment instruments remains of value in relation to assessment in a blended learning context. The assessment instruments piloted and studied as an alternative to a performance measure of computer skills were as follows: a computer experience questionnaire; a vocabulary self-assessment questionnaire; a computer skills self-assessment questionnaire and a written test of knowledge.

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Distance Education and E-Learning: New Options for Adult Basic and English Language Education

Imel, S., & Jacobson, E. (2006). Distance Education and E-Learning: New Options for Adult Basic and English Language Education. California. Department of Education.

A review of Distance Education and E-Learning programs and initiatives in the United States for Adult Basic Education (ABE) and ESL Students. The review cites research on the factors that contribute to successful delivery of Distance Education and E-Learning, and research on the characteristics of successful online students. The review also provides a set of recommendations for successful Distance Education and E-Learning, including screening students to ensure learner capacity and provision of orientation to ensure that students can function in the online environment. They stress the importance of beginning with face-to-face instruction, providing support for students to develop skills in self-direction, maintaining frequent communication, providing technical support, developing learner cohorts and delivering professional development.

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