Teaching in Covid-19 Times: Challenges, innovations, solutions, and opportunities

Cummings,J., Sturm,M., Lawrence,G., Avram, A. & McBride, R. (2021).
Teaching in Covid-19 Times: Challenges, innovations, solutions, and opportunities. TESL Contact, 47,1(2021):21-35

This article from TESL Ontario’s Contact Magazine discusses the issues language teachers have faced globally and in Canada because of school closures and lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than presenting only challenges, the authors report on innovations, solutions and opportunities that have arisen during this time. A case study of a LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) educator showcases their principled approach to enhance student engagement in an online environment. The article ends with recommendations to leverage the benefits of teaching and learning online, including effective technology-mediated teacher education.

Retrievable from:

http://contact.teslontario.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Cummings-et-al.-2021.pdf

Countering Digital Disinformation

Light, J., Auer, M. WebSafe: Tools for Newcomers to Counter Digital Disinformation. TESL Contact, 47,1(2021):13-20

The March 2021 issue of TESL Ontario Contact Magazine reports on a number of topics of interest to the bibliography. One of them, WebSafe: Tools for Newcomers to Counter Digital Disinformation, describes a set of practical learning resources, one 50 projects funded to counter online disinformation by the Government of Canada since January 2020. The other projects are listed here.

Another of the 50 projects, from United Cultures of Canada Association, is an educational booklet that looks at three kinds of information with examples from COVID-19: Disinformation, Misinformation and True Information.

The topic of digital disinformation is being explored worldwide, including this conceptual paper  that focuses on the context of asylum seekers. It contains a literature review on the information practices of asylum seekers and provides insight into the kinds of misinformation and inadequate information they encounter. The authors propose a Social Information Perception Model to show what people may identify as accurate information, misinformation or disinformation.

Retrievable from:

http://contact.teslontario.org/

The What, Why, Who and How of Blended Learning for Adult Basic Skills Learners

Rosen, D., Vanek, J. The What, Why, Who and How of Blended Learning for Adult Basic Skills Learners. New York, New Readers Press, 2020.

This publication offers a practical and Clear Language guide to the implementation of a Blended Learning model in adult education programs. The guide is addressed to educators, program coordinators and curriculum developers. The guide was developed in the United States where adult basic education programs include language programs for immigrants, e.g., ESL, ESOL and ELL.  There are specific examples for blended language learning throughout the guide.

This useful guide is divided into 9 sections: 

Introduction – a general description of the contents. 

What is blended learning? –  a definition and explanation of blended learning in the context of adult learning. 

Why use a blended learning approach? – a comprehensive discussion and explanation of the features and benefits of blended learning. 

Getting Started – a clear explanation of the issues to be considered when planning the implementation of a blended learning approach. 

What does blended learning look like – a set of case studies from a range of programs in the U.S., describing the experiences of instructors and learning in working with blended learning. 

What online resources work with blended learning? –  strategies to locate and use online resources in a blended learning environment. 

What are some common challenges in implementing blended learning? – a discussion, based on interactions with instructors and observation of blended learning in adult learning settings, of the challenges faced by instructors, coordinators and learners in implementing blended learning. 

Conclusion – a short summary of the contents of the guide. 

Appendices – lists of online resources for further reading and exploration. 

Retrievable from: https://www.newreaderspress.com/filebin/pdf/ProLiteracy_BlendedLearningGuide_2020-11.pdf

A New Pedagogy Is Emerging… and Online Learning Is a Key Contributing Factor

A New Pedagogy is Emerging… and online learning is a key contributing factor. Teach Online.ca (blog),Contact North, August 4, 2020.

After the COVID-19 pandemic led to enormous numbers of students being involved in remote learning beginning in 2020, this post from Contact North asks a number of questions: What does engaged learning look like in this new environment? How can online learning produce outstanding learning experiences? It discusses what adult educators in many types of settings have found during the pandemic: that it is not practical or efficient to try to teach online the way they had in person. The authors present some of the solutions educators have identified. Although the post describes changes for post-secondary students, adult language-learning students and teachers will find the descriptions and definitions of seven key developments, three emerging teaching trends and examples of innovations relevant as well. There is a link to Contact North’s Pockets of Innovations Series that looks at what educators are doing in Ontario, across Canada and internationally. The questions at the end of the post will help readers reflect on changes they have already made to their teaching, the questions learners may be asking, and the technologies that are available to them.

Retrievable from: https://teachonline.ca/tools-trends/how-teach-online-student-success/new-pedagogy-emerging-and-online-learning-key-contributing-factor

Engagement, Technology, and Language Tasks: Optimizing Student Learning

Egbert, J.(2020). Engagement, Technology, and Language Tasks: Optimizing Student Learning. International Journal of TESOL Studies, 2 (4) 110-118.  

This paper presents six engagement facilitators that promote increased learner achievement and demonstrates how technology can be used to help with implementing the facilitators. Two examples of these facilitators are authenticity, i.e., that the task is relevant to learners’ lives; and the level of difficulty or challenge in a task, i.e., the perception that a task is doable but requires some effort. The author elaborates on each one of these. A model of language task engagement is accompanied by the suggestion that instructors start with one or more of the facilitators in their planning. The author also provides suggestions for creating tasks and using the facilitators in classroom settings.

Retrievable from: https://www.tesolunion.org/journal/details/info/8NzcudYWRh/Engagement,-Technology,-and-Language-Tasks:-Optimizing-Student-Learning

Broadening Perspectives on CALL Teacher Education: From Technocentrism to Integration

Asiri, A., Rajeh, H. S., Panday-Shukla, P., & Yu, Y. (2021). Broadening perspectives on CALL teacher education: From technocentrism to integration. Teaching English as a Second Language Electronic Journal (TESL-EJ), 24(4). 

This paper looks at four approaches that provide teachers with strategies that prepare them to emphasize language and content, to work on the 21st century skills their learners need and to use technologies in diverse contexts and with diverse learners. The paper is clear that training on software or specific technologies is not always what teachers need or can use in their classrooms.

The authors present four strategies:

  1. Content curation
  2. Educational escape rooms
  3. Flipped instruction
  4. Informal blended learning

Each strategy is described in detail, followed by a class scenario; a list of benefits to learners and language learning; a list of benefits to language teachers and teaching; and a summary.

Retrievable from: https://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume24/ej96/ej96a8/

A person-centred approach to L2 learners’ informal mobile language learning

Peng, H., Sake,J., Lowie, W. (2021). A person-centred approach to L2 learners informal mobile language learning. Computer Assisted Language Learning. [Published Online January 2021]

The study investigated the informal mobile language learning activities of the students, using a person-centred approach which the authors define as an  approach which “…views each individual as a functioning whole, with interwoven components jointly contributing to the process of individual development”: (p.5) The components include individual learning behaviours, motivation, emotion and learning context. This approach, rather than viewing the components as separate variables, seeks to view them as interrelated and as pointing to a learning pattern.

Cluster analysis of the data from a questionnaire resulted in the identification of 6 types of learners each with what the researchers describe as “a distinct package of motivational, emotional and linguistic interaction. The “learner types” ranged from those who spent little or no time on language learning outside the classroom to those who made extensive use of mobile technologies for informal language learning.   

Although this article reports on the methodology and results of a study conducted with 240 English language students in a Chinese university, the methodology used and the findings, will be of interest to researchers and language instructors in a variety of language learning contexts.  The article provides an accessible explanation of the person-centred approach and its potential to help to develop a clearer and finer-grained understanding of the complexities and possibilities of mobile language learning.

In addition, the use of a person-centred approach has the potential to support instructors in the design of tailored instruction and scaffolding at all learning levels  to better enable students to make productive use of self-directed, informal mobile language learning.

Retrievable from:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09588221.2020.1868532

Developing a Badge System for a Community ESL Class Based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks

McCollum, R.M., Tornar Reed, E. (2020). Developing a Badge System for a Community ESL class based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Special Issue: 23, 2(2020):228-236.

This interesting article describes how instructors in a community-based ESL program in Utah developed a badge and checklist system, using the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) to enable students and instructors to measure and track language proficiency development for individual students.  The system was implemented to address some of the challenges of providing ESL instruction in a multi-level classroom, particularly in relation to motivation and regular attendance.

The authors provide an overview of a badge system, in which badges can be digital or physical, and its potential to support learner motivation and self-assessment, as well as providing a practical assessment tool for instructors. They also provide a clear description of the methodology used to implement the badge and checklist system and an account of learner and instructor feedback following implementation. Finally, they offer recommendations for the implementation of a badge and checklist system, based on their own experiences and suggestions for further research in the area.

Retrievable from:

https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/CJAL/article/view/30438

Building the porous classroom: An expanded model for blended language learning

Godwin-Jones, R. (2020). Building the porous classroom: An expanded model for blended language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 24(3), 1–18.

This thought-provoking article by the noted scholar Robert Godwin-Jones explores and discusses the concept of the “porous classroom” as a model of blended language learning. The author argues that such a model, open to the local community and combining digital technologies, teacher presence and a focus on intercultural understanding and social justice, has the potential to provide students with truly inclusive and transformative learning experiences. The article includes a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the use of LMS ( Learning Management Systems) and commercial publisher sites in the language classroom, and the potential for the use of existing or instructor developed OER ( Open Educational Resources) to support authentic language learning grounded in the actual learning needs and interests of students. Finally, the author argues for the critical importance of the instructor in supporting and guiding students to develop their capacity as autonomous learners, and in encouraging connection to the world outside of the classroom as part of their learning experience.

Retrievable from: https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/44731/24_03_10125-44731.pdf

Teaching languages online: Professional vision in the making

Meskill, C., Anthony, N. & Sadykova, G. (2020). Teaching languages online: Professional vision in the making. Language Learning & Technology, 24(3), 160–175.

This study is based on 174 surveys from practicing language educators and interviews with nine respondents, to find out more about how they see their work, noting that as educators have moved from traditional classrooms, their roles and practices have adapted to the new environments often within cultures increasingly shaped by social media. The authors emphasize the importance of teacher accounts like these in order to see connections between theory, knowledge and practice.

Following short summaries of the nine interviewees’ experience and attitudes towards online teaching, the authors report on both survey respondents’ and interviewees’ foundational stances and qualities and give examples of those from the interviews as well as from the surveys. The study then looks at attitudes to online teaching and what it demands and provides; it also describes the amount of flexibility required to achieve what is needed for effective language teaching and learning.

Retrievable from:

https://www.lltjournal.org/item/3168

Technology-mediated task-based language teaching: A qualitative research synthesis

Chong S.W., & Reinders H. (2020). Technology-mediated task-based language teaching: A qualitative research synthesis. Language Learning & Technology, 24(3), 70–86.

This report synthesizes data from 16 (14 of the 16 focus on ESL or EFL studies) research studies that examined technology-mediated task-based language teaching, in second and foreign language classrooms between 2002 and 2017. Results of a literature search using identified keywords on digital libraries, major refereed journals and the World Wide Web; and a reference list that identifies the 16 research studies are provided in addition to the descriptions of the findings of each research study. The findings are presented as five affordances noted across the studies, e.g., Facilitating Collaborations, Interactions, and Communications.

Retrievable from:

https://www.lltjournal.org/item/3162

Planned online language education versus crisis-prompted online language teaching: Lessons for the future

Gacs, A., Goertler, S., Spasova, S. (2020). Planned online language education versus crisis-prompted online language teaching: Lessons for the future. Foreign Language Annals, 53(2), 380-92.

This timely article is intended to provide language teachers with “a roadmap for planning, implementing, and evaluating online education in ideal and in crisis contexts”(p.381).

The authors provide a thorough review of the processes of planning, preparation, design, implementation and evaluation of online language education under normal circumstances, and of the adjustments that must be made when teachers are asked to rapidly adapt to a crisis situation such as remote teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For example, the authors identify and describe the key components of a plan for emergency remote teaching. Firstly, a review of the existing curriculum to identify course components that cannot be delivered remotely and which will have to be, at least temporarily, removed. Secondly, an assessment to identify the actual needs of instructors and students in relation to technology, including hardware, connectivity and access. Finally, a plan for effective communication, to enable and support students to become engaged in remote learning.

Retrievable from:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/flan.12460

Microteaching in Isolation: Fostering Autonomy and Learner Engagement through VoiceThread

Bodis, A., Reed, M., Kharchenko,Y. (2020). Microteaching in Isolation: Fostering Autonomy and Learner Engagement through Voice Thread. International Journal of TESOL Studies, 2(3), 1-12 Foreign Language Annals, 53(2), 320-32.

The focus of this article is a TESOL training program at Macquarie University in Australia. Due to the restrictions imposed at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis the program needed to move rapidly to an online environment.

 Online microteaching activities were developed, and a set of asynchronous tasks were developed using Voice Thread, an asynchronous communication platform whereby users can create and upload content, including text, and audio and video presentations. Voice Thread is interactive, enabling instructors and students to add comments and annotations in text, audio, and video.  The article includes a description of each of the two Voice Thread Tasks developed for the course.

The evaluation of the approach demonstrated that students were able to meet the unit learning outcomes.  Furthermore, the approach contributed to their overall learning in relation to feedback, the use of digital technologies for teaching and learning, and to the development of autonomy as students and teachers.  The authors conclude, “We, therefore, recommend the use of VT in a systematic way combined with enabling tasks and supportive teacher presence in and outside face-to-face classes.” (p.100).

Retrievable from:

https://www.tesolunion.org/journal/details/info/0NDkucNzIw/Microteaching-in-Isolation:-Fostering-Autonomy-and-Learner-Engagement-through-VoiceThread

Fostering Teaching Presence through the Synchronous Online Flipped Learning Approach

Marshall, H.W., Kostka,I. (2020) TESL-EJ. 2020, (24) 2.

This article from the TESL Electronic Journal begins with an anecdote from a TESOL webinar. The 36 participants were asked to complete the sentence: Online learning is…

The authors go on to describe an innovative approach to flipped learning that teachers can use to ensure teacher presence in the online settings they find themselves in because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They provide an introduction to the fundamentals of the flipped learning model and explain its relevance to language learners. They emphasize the importance of the Professional Educator‘s role in the approach and teaching presence as one of the interconnected elements that lead to meaningful online learning experiences. The article introduces the SOFLA Framework (Synchronous Online Flipped Learning Approach) and explains how work that is completed independently outside of class fits in an asynchronous space using tools available on the internet, while in-class work takes place in real-time, camera-to-camera, synchronous class sessions. The authors provide a number of examples of the types of work and pre-work that fit into each category.

The authors take pains to explain the teacher’s role in designing the online instruction and monitoring learning outcomes; deciding which work should be designated out-of-class and in-class. Teacher presence is described in both settings with examples of how to engage students and ensure a positive language learning process.

Retrievable from:

http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume24/ej94/ej94int/

Zooming out of the crisis: Language and human collaboration

Guillen, G., Sawin, T., Avineri, N. (2020). Zooming out of the crisis: Language and human Collaboration. Foreign Language Annals, 53(2), 320-328.

This article looks for alternatives to videoconferencing tools for language teachers whose teaching aims include increasing learners’ language proficiency and providing opportunities for real collaboration among learners no matter the crisis that prevents in-class contact. The writers include three types of activities that can be used to accomplish this. They describe antidotes to “Zoom fatigue” and smart phone apps that rely on behaviourist methodology or are limited to flashcard activities. They point readers to apps that allow learners to have learning experiences that include language, culture and technology. Included is a section on “service-learning” that looks at how learners can still participate in a critical way in society even though they have to distance themselves from it.

Retrievable from:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/flan.12459

Metaphors for social media‐enhanced foreign language teaching and learning

Reinhardt, J. (2020). Metaphors for social media-enhanced foreign language teaching and learning. Foreign Language Annals, 53(2), 234-242.

This thought-provoking article proposes a set of new metaphors to better understand how social media can be effectively incorporated to enhance second language teaching and learning. The author provides a review of the established metaphors  of computer as tutor or tool that have been commonly used in traditional computer-assisted language learning  (CALL) and goes on to discuss the need to re-conceptualize metaphors in the age of social media.

The new metaphors proposed, Windows, Mirrors, Doorways and Playgrounds are described in relation to how each can provide learners with authentic learning opportunities. The author provides practical examples of how language instructors can use social media with learners to enable them to gain first hand experience of how native users of a language interact and communicate, to present reflections of themselves in social media, to participate in authentic sharing and distribution of content in social media and to participate in playful interaction with each other.  

Retrievable from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/flan.12462

Student’s evaluation of a classroom bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy

Thomas, S. (2020). Student’s evaluation of a classroom bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. The JALT CALL Journal, 16(1), 29-49.

This article addresses the sometimes contentious issue of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives in which students are encouraged or required to bring their digital devices into the classroom.

The article reports on a research study investigating student attitudes related to the implementation of a BYOD policy, over the course of two semesters, in a second language classroom in a Japanese university. Findings indicate that students, although initially somewhat hesitant about the use of their own devices in the classroom, ultimately reported that the use of their own devices supported learning and provided them with expanded opportunities to develop their language skills.

In the Covid-19 based current situation it is likely that many language learners are using available devices to continue their learning and becoming more and more accustomed to using their own devices to do so. As a result, there may be some interesting implications for learner expectations of continuing to use their own devices as they return to physical classrooms.  Although the context for this study is an academic setting, it provides useful insights for the second language field in general, highlighting the potential benefits of BYOD in supporting learners to, as the author says, “…develop positive device usage habits to complete clearly structured, well defined classroom tasks”(p.46).

Retrievable from: https://journal.jaltcall.org/storage/articles/JALTCALL%2016-1-29.pdf

Fostering Interaction in Synchronous Online Class Sessions with Foreign Language Learners

Gruber, A. & Bauer, E. (2020). Fostering Interaction in Synchronous Online Class Sessions with Foreign Language Learners. 175-178. (Uploaded to Research Gate by author, June 17th, 2020)

This short article outlines how, in the context of COVID-19 and the urgent need to move instruction online, a second language instructor created an online learning space to support learners in a beginner German language course.

Using Learning Apps, a web 2.0 application, (a review and description of the application is available HERE) that allows for the creation of small interactive learning modules, and Kahoot, a game-based application the instructor is able to quickly develop a fully online language learning environment that enable learner collaboration and interaction. These tools were chosen because they are both free, relatively easy to use and both have robust functionality.

The article also provides recommendations on how to support instructors during this crisis to develop teaching skills and strategies that support synchronous and interactive online language learning.

Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342208277_Fostering_Interaction_in_Synchronous_Online_Class_Sessions_with_Foreign_Language_Learners

Current and Future Directions in TELL

Chun, D.M. (2019). Current and Future Directions in TELL. Educational Technology & Society,  Vol.22(2), pp.14-25.

This  article provides a brief overview of the history, and an in-depth review of likely future trends in technology-enhanced language  learning (TELL).

The author, an experienced teacher and researcher and the Editor in Chief of the journal Language Learning and Technology, suggests that TELL should be understood as Technology Enhanced Languaculture Learning because of a growing emphasis on the link between language and culture.

The article offers an overview of the history of technology-enhanced language learning in four overlapping periods: 1970s-1980s, Structural CALL; 1980s-1990s, Communicative CALL; 2000s, Integrative CALL; 2010s Ecological CALL.

The wide-ranging review of likely future trends in the area of technology-enhanced language learning is based on topics and themes that have appeared in Language Learning and Technology Journal and at TELL conferences throughout the decade of the 2010’s.

The article offers a timely perspective of developments in the use of digital technologies in language learning and a compelling discussion of potential future directions. Upcoming special issues of the journal will focus on pragmatics, big data in language education and research and emerging technologies.

Retrievable from:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N1wWPNx8g0CAHki8s01iGNsgGqZttRyg/view

 

Making the Case for Blended Learning in LINC: A Demonstration Research Project

 

Cummings, J., Sturm, M., & Avram, A. (2020). Making the Case for Blended Learning in LINC: A Demonstration Research Project. TESL Ontario Contact Magazine,  Vol.46 (1), pp.61-76.

This article reports on a demonstration research project that examined the effects of Blended Learning for 45 students,  3 instructors, the program manager and resource support teacher in an established LINC program that has been effectively using a Blended approach since 2012.

The results provide answers to these three  research questions:

  1. What were the effects of the BL approach for the students’ English language learning and for their participation in LINC?
  2. What were the effects of the BL approach for students’ self-efficacy and knowledge for using technology for language learning?
  3. What were the effects of the BL approach for LINC teachers, instruction, and the program?; What effective or “best” practices for BL were demonstrated in this context?

In response to questions at a TESL Ontario Conference presentation, the researchers addressed the challenges of newcomers who are skeptical of blended learning, and of how blended learning can assist newcomers in their real-life settlement journey.

The article concludes by summarizing the benefits demonstrated by the research project for LINC students and by emphasizing the importance of the questions raised about Blended Learning and its implementation by teachers.

Retrievable from:

http://contact.teslontario.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Jill-Cummings-Matthias-Sturm-Augusta-Avram-1.pdf