Educational Affordances of an Asynchronous Online Discussion Forum for Language Learners

Zhong, Q.M. Norton, H. (2018). Educational Affordances of an Asynchronous Online Discussion Forum for Language Learners. TESL-EJ, 22 (3).

This study asks the question, “What affordances does an asynchronous discussion board offer to second language learners ?” It describes some of the potential of this type of discussion, including providing time to reflect and research before responding and providing a non-threatening and collaborative learning environment. Although literature on this topic exists in fields other than second language acquisition, the authors intend for this study to fill the gap  that exists on its beneficial affordances in SLA.  A literature review  is provided on Affordance Theory and the use of asynchronous online discussion.

The authors identify four themes (Co-constructive collaborative e-learning environment, Group affiliations, Critical thinking and Learner autonomy) and sub-themes that emerged from the peer-moderated discussion forum. Although the study took place in a joint business degree articulation  between a New Zealand and Chinese institution, many of the sub-themes would be familiar to settlement language programs, e.g., greet team members by name, apologize, agree and disagree, introduce new or different topics.  The study reports high levels of postings that exceeded course requirements, but suggests further research  with a larger sample size is needed to determine which factors caused the motivation behind this.

Retrievable from

http://tesl-ej.org/pdf/ej87/a1.pdf

 

 

Experimenting with Google Assistant in ESOL Classrooms

A brief post from the Illinois Digital Learning Lab outlining how instructors and ESOL students are experimenting with the use of voice recognition technology, specifically, Google Home Mini. The instructor describes how she and her students are using the device and the potential for such devices to build engagement, and help students in developing language skills such as pronunciation.  The instructor also shares a list of questions that students draw on in working with the device and some issues to consider when planning to introduce voice recognition technology (either voice assistants like Google Home or  smartphone voice assistants  in the language classroom.

Retrievable from:  https://edtech.worlded.org/experimenting-google-assistant-esl-classrooms/

 

Twitter: A Professional Development and Community of Practice Tool for Teachers

Rosell-Aguilar, F., (2018). Twitter: A Professional Development and Community of Practice Tool for Teachers. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. 2018(1), p.6.

This research report begins with a literature review of Twitter for Education, Twitter as a learning environment for teachers and teacher use of hashtags for professional and community development.

The research questions explore who uses a specific hashtag (#MFLtwitterati), whether there is evidence that using Twitter can contribute to Continuous Professional Development and whether the hashtag can be described as a community of practice. The author looked at this specific hashtag, but also mentions  language learning hashtags which may be of more interest to instructors in settlement language learning programs. Language learners use Twitter because they encounter authentic language in tweets, can practise language skills and access resources such as text, audio and video in the target language.

The author concludes with a discussion of the results and notes that the study brought the under-researched issue of mobile learning among teachers to the forefront and demonstrates how teachers are using up to the minute tools like Twitter to take charge of their professional development in the absence of funding for PD in their institutions.

Retrievable from

https://jime.open.ac.uk/article/10.5334/jime.452/

Mobile-based chatting for meaning negotiation in foreign language learning

María Dolores Castrillo, Elena Martín-Monje & Elena Bárcena Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Spain. 10th International Conference Mobile Learning 2014.

This report on a six-week study with 85 volunteers explores the use of WhatsApp, an instant messaging application for smart phones in a second language writing class. The application allows mobile-based chatting and collaboration in the negotiation of meaning in the student volunteers’ exchanges. WhatsApp is a tool the students already used on their phones and allowed the researchers to explore its potential for collaborative language learning for “distance learners on the move”.

The report describes the initial lack of activity on the application and the dramatic change in the quantity of messages within a short time. The researchers provide information on average numbers of messages and patterns of use by day and time. As far as the aim to look at WhatsApp’s usefulness in negotiating meaning, there are numerous extracts that show how students provided feedback to each other and collaborated to clarify and correct each other’s writing. They did this both in relation to the tasks they were working on and to ask each other about syntax, all the while building group solidarity. The study showed that the students, who all spoke the same first language, used the target language almost exclusively in their written exchanges. Some of the other observations include use of paralinguistic features that are available on the application.

The report details the changes in the teacher’s role from being the main corrector of written errors to one of guide to the various topics to be discussed and types of discourse. She did more eliciting of awareness of language than correction of student mistakes.

Retrievable from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED557212

Smartphones and language learning

Godwin-Jones, R. (2017). Smartphones and language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 21(2), 3–17.

According to the 2016 General Social Survey[1] from Statistics Canada 71% of the population own a Smartphone. We carry these powerful little devices with us everywhere even in our classrooms. The ubiquity of the Smartphone begs the question of how they could be used to support and extend language learning.

This timely article offers an overview of, and provides a useful base of information about the potential of Smartphones for language learning. The author contends that smartphones have the potential to support students in more effectively integrating their language learning in the classroom and the incidental language learning that they may engage in using mobile devices. One major challenge relating to the use of smartphones and mobile devices in the language learning environment is how to support students to develop skills and knowledge to enable them to become informed and engaged online learners.

The author surveys recent research in Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) and makes the case for the need for further research to examine the actual use of mobile devices by students outside of the classroom. Such research would support a better understanding of how these devices can be effectively deployed in the language classroom to support informal and ongoing learning and the development of critical digital skills.

 

[i] (2016). Statistics Canada. General Social Survey.

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2017032-eng.htm

Retrievable from: http://llt.msu.edu/issues/june2017/emerging.pdf

 

 

 

 

The Cambridge Guide to Blended Learning for Language Teaching

The Cambridge Guide to Blended Learning for Language Teaching. Edited by Michael McCarthy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK. 2016.

This book is divided into five sections: Connecting (including Second Language Acquisition) Theories and Blended Learning, Implications for Teaching, Rethinking Learner Interaction, Case Studies and the Future of Blended Learning.

One of the case studies describes a language teacher education program that gradually transitioned from a traditional format to a blended one and moved from a behaviourist model to a more constructivist one in the process.

Available for purchase ($70.00 CDN) from Cambridge University Press.

Using action research to explore technology in language teaching: international perspectives

Burns, A. & Kurtoğlu-Hooton, N. Using action research to explore technology in language teaching: international perspectives. British Council. (2016).

This publication is an extensive report of a virtual action research project undertaken by the British Council in 2015-16. The project was designed to introduce international language teachers to action research, to investigate the teachers’ experience of an action research approach, and to collect and disseminate insights for the effective use of technology based on the action research projects undertaken by the teachers.
In all, 12 English language teachers, with the support of academic researchers conducted small action research projects examining the use of specific technology tools in their programs and classrooms. Each of the participants produced research summaries outlining their experiences. These are included in the report.
Although the focus of this project is English language teaching internationally, it provides an interesting model for virtual action research on technology use for language teaching that could be applied in settlement language programs. Such a virtual action research project could support valuable collaborative learning and information sharing for language instructors.

Retrievable from: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/28313%20ELTRA%20Report%20WEB.PDF

Digital Literacies in Foreign and Second Language Education

CALICO Monograph Series Volume 12. (2014). Digital Literacies in Foreign and Second Language Education.

This volume from CALICO is made up of 12 chapters that look at digital literacy in language learning from many different perspectives. Among others, there is a challenge to Prensky’s characterization of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, a description of a survey-driven study of the use of digital tools for language teaching and learning, a framework that proposes how to close the digital divide, and an exploration of the affordances of digital social reading using the example of an open source tool called eComma. In this last example, in chapter 9, author Carl Blyth looks at some of the ways that e-readers can enable users to annotate a text and share their annotations with others. This new practice, called digital social reading, is similar to the way that readers of print text can write in the margins or meet as a book club to share their thoughts. Blyth presents and then addresses some of the opposition to this practice using examples from four case studies.

Retrievable from: https://calico.org/bookfiles/pdfs/DigitalLiteracies.pdf

Technology and the Four Skills

Blake, R. (2016). Technology and the four skills. Language Learning & Technology, 20(2), 129-142.

The report looks at technology-mediated task-based language learning’s ability to integrate the four skills while recognizing that evaluation of language proficiency has not reached the same level of complexity and  continues to evaluate the four skills in isolation.

The author provides examples of asynchronous and synchronous tools that provide opportunities to move between skills while working on tasks. One example of this is an app that transcribes learners’ speech into the second language; whenever there is an error in the written transcription, the learner knows their pronunciation has deviated from the norm and can analyze the transcription and correct the original utterance so that it transcribes correctly. The author emphasizes the importance of planning activities such as these, including pre-activities, making sure all students know what is expected of them, providing instructions for any digital tools required and balancing conflicting needs where necessary. He also presents some of the concerns about how computers and computer screens affect communications and urges readers to be aware of possible miscommunication that may occur.

Retrievable from: http://llt.msu.edu/issues/june2016/blake.pdf

Information Practices of Immigrants to Canada – A Review of the Literature

Caidi, N., Allard, D., & Dechief, D. (2008). Information Practices of Immigrants to Canada – A Review of the Literature (Research Contract Commissioned by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Metropolis). Faculty of Information Studies University of Toronto.

This review of the literature on the information practices (broadly understood as the information needs and information seeking strategies) of immigrants to Canada focuses on the importance of those practices in reducing the social isolation and exclusion and how lack of access to reliable information can be a barrier to successful integration. In the context of this bibliography the issue is whether digital and information literacy development can be supported in a blended learning environment which would provide newcomers with digital skills and information literacy skills alongside critical language skills.

Retrievable from:

http://www.academia.edu/1288629/Information_Practices_of_Immigrants_to_Canada_A_Review_of_the_Literature

Including Immigrants in Canadian Society: What Role do ICTs Play?

Caidi, N., C., Longford, G., Allard, D., & Dechief, D. (2007). Including Immigrants in Canadian Society: What Role do ICTs Play? – Draft Report (Submission to the Strategic Policy Research Directorate of Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC)). Faculty of Information Studies University of Toronto.

This report examines how and why immigrants to Canada make use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) as they move through the stages of immigration. The focus of the report is the public library sector, since public libraries offer a free and accessible venue for the use of ICTs for information gathering. However, the report points to the need to incorporate ICTs in federally funded Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) training to help immigrants to become more adept at using technologies in the settlement process generally and for employment and integration. In that context the report points to the importance of providing online/blended learning opportunities in settlement language programs as a means to enhance language and ICT skills.

Retrievable from:

http://www.academia.edu/762788/Including_Immigrants_in_Canadian_Society_What_Role_do_ICTs_Play_Draft_Report

Sociocultural Theory, the L2 Writing Process, and Google Drive: Strange Bedfellows?

Sociocultural Theory, the L2 Writing Process,
and Google Drive: Strange Bedfellows?
Nikolay Slavkov
TESL Canada Journal Vol 32, No 2 (2015)
This article provides an overview of sociocultural theory, relates it to the process approach to writing and suggests that Google Drive can be an effective tool to enhance simultaneous engagement of learners and promote learning.   The author notes that word processing software has long been used in the process approach to writing, but that the affordances of Google Drive go beyond what is possible using word processing software alone. He describes Google Drive’s main features and outlines its  affordances for writing instruction. He provides sample course organization templates along with examples of tasks that take advantage of these affordances. These include the ability to create a document, store it, share it dynamically and collaborate in real time with other readers and instructors who can edit and comment on it either synchronously or asynchronously.

Learning to Identify and Actualize Affordances in a New Tool.

Karen J. Haines. (2015). Learning to Identify and Actualize Affordances in a New Tool. Language Learning & Technology, 19(1), 165–180.

This report suggests a reflective process that identifies both the technical features of a tool and its ability to allow learners to achieve their learning goals which may help teachers cope with the increasing number of technologies available. The study defines affordance as the potential that teachers perceive in a technology tool to support activities in their contexts. Other research has noted that teachers may learn how to use a tool, but they may not learn why they might use it. The study looks at the affordances of blogs and wikis and reports on both initial and later perceptions of two teachers as they familiarized themselves with these tools and saw possibilities in their use as they explored them over time. Their learning was based mostly on experimentation in their classrooms along with reading research and good practice about the two tools. The study ends with suggestions for teacher training in situated contexts so that teachers have ample opportunity to use a wide range of tools and be trained to judge their affordances for themselves.

Retrievable from: http://llt.msu.edu/issues/february2015/haines.pdf