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

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/

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

ESL Teachers’ Self-efficacy toward Pedagogical Use of Digital Technologies: An Exploratory Case Study in the Ontario Context

Chen, Aide, “ESL Teachers’ Self-efficacy toward Pedagogical Use of Digital Technologies: An Exploratory Case Study in the Ontario Context” (2019). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6422. https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/etd/6422

 

A small-scale study exploring  how  some EAP instructors  in Ontario  perceive their own abilities in using digital technologies in daily life and in their teaching practice and how such perceptions influence their use of technology in the classroom.  Using surveys and semi-structured interviews, the researcher focused on the role of teacher self-efficacy, defined as,  “people’s beliefs of the extent to which they are able to accomplish certain behaviors”(p.14) to explore  why and how these instructors were actually using technology in their classroom and the challenges they encountered, both in using technological tools and in effectively integrating technology in teaching.

Based on the findings the researcher proposes the need for further research on the role of  teacher self-efficacy, and on professional development which focuses on combining training on specific technology tools with pedagogy.  As  participants in the study noted, “teachers should have backup plans, even for presentations. It requires abilities to improvise. It may be unfair to say that technology itself poses this challenge. The actualized technology use is dependent on how flexible we are. You need to be able to develop your skills and make wise use of it.” (p.43)  and, “we need to carefully plan technology-enhanced teaching practices rather than just using them for the sake of being fashionable” (p.52).

Retrievable from:

https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=8849&context=etd

Intelligent assistants in language learning: friends or foes?

Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2019). Intelligent assistants in language learning: friends or foes?. In Proceedings of World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning 2019 (pp. 127-131). 

This brief glimpse into the future by Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, a leading thinker and research  in the field of Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL), provides an up to the minute overview  of an emerging learning landscape in which the potential of Intelligent Assistants ( for example Siri, Alexa and Cortana) have the potential  to support informal language learning both inside and outside the classroom. The author reminds us that many language learners now have ready access to Intelligent Assistants on their smartphones and wearable devices. She discusses the implications, both positive and negative, and the  challenges resulting from   the increasing use of these tools  particularly in relation to teacher roles and pedagogy. Finally she points to the need for the mobile language research community to examine the complex issues that may well arise as this technology develops and becomes widely available.

Retrievable from: https://www.learntechlib.org/p/210611/

 

 

 

Empowering English Language Learners through Digital Literacies: Research, Complexities, and Implications

 

Chang,Y., Wang, L. & Eagle, J. (2019). Empowering English Language Learners through Digital Literacies: Research, Complexities, and Implications. Media and Communication. Vol 7(2).128-136.

This article provides an accessible overview of issues related to the digital literacies of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the U.S. The article highlights issues that are of increasing importance for adult settlement language learning in Canada and includes a description of evolving definitions of digital literacies and fluency and a short review of literature focusing on language teaching practices that support the development of digital literacies.
The authors argue that digital literacies and digital fluency can support language learner autonomy and provide authentic language learning experiences that meaningfully reflect the daily lives of the learners. The inclusion of digital literacies as part of the language learning process in the language classroom not only provides opportunities for authentic learning in the classroom but also supports learners to extend their language learning beyond the classroom. Furthermore, in an increasingly digitized society, digital literacies are essential for employment and ongoing learning and communication in day-to-day life. In order to effectively incorporate digital literacies as part of language teaching practice the authors highlight the need to support language instructors to engage in ongoing professional development in relation to the use of digital tools for teaching and learning.

Retrievable from:

https://www.cogitatiopress.com/mediaandcommunication/article/view/191

 

Creating a Technology-Rich English Language Learning Environment

M.W. Marek and W-C.V. Wu, (2018). “Creating a Technology-Rich English Learning Environment” In Second Handbook of English Language Teaching. Edited by Xuesong Gao.  Springer International Publishing, 2019.

After presenting a theoretical framework about the potential of technology use in language classrooms, this chapter provides a step by step approach to making decisions about which technology resources to use within the language learning context. It addresses the need for teachers to have a starting point in their course development and demonstrates how to ensure that using more technology is not an end in itself, but rather that the use of technology surrounds students, enhances active learning experiences and enables students to achieve learning outcomes.

Within this chapter, the authors address a number of issues that need to be considered during the planning stage: familiarity with a tool rather than the novelty of a tool; the importance of activities using technology to be essential to the curriculum; the areas within the learning environment the teacher has control over and those s/he doesn’t; and the impact of relevant technology on learner motivation,  confidence and achievement.

Retrievable from: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/978-3-319-58542-0_39-1.pdf

Second Handbook of English Language Teaching is retrievable from: https://link.springer.com/referencework/10.1007/978-3-319-58542-0?page=1#toc

Building Relationships and Increasing Engagement in the Virtual Classroom

Martin. J. (2019). Building Relationships and Increasing Engagement in the Virtual Classroom. Journal of Educators Online, 16 (1), 232-238.

One of the challenges of teaching in an online environment is how to address the sense of disconnection and isolation that many online students report, and which tends to be de-motivating and to undermine engagement in learning.

How can instructors build relationships with students and foster a sense of community which supports student engagement in an online environment? This article provides quite simple and practical strategies using digital technology tools and simple videos to help to bridge the “social gap” in online learning environments.  The author describes how instructors can use screen recording, videoconferencing software and social media platforms to connect with students in a more personal and immediate way.  These tools can also be used to provide personalized feedback to encourage engagement and to enable students to connect with one another, to share photos, interests and ideas , and so reducing isolation and increasing engagement.

Retrievable from: https://www.thejeo.com/archive/2019_16_1/martin

Blended Learning in English Teaching and Learning: A Review of the Current Literature

Albiladi, W., & Alshareef, K. (2019). Blended learning in English Teaching and Learning: A Review of the Current Literature. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 10 (2), 232-238.

This paper provides a review of research related to the use of blended learning in English as a second/foreign language context. As part of the review, the authors cite two studies that identify sets of challenges to using a blended learning approach. The studies will be of interest to language professionals despite not being language-related. In Bonk and Graham’s Handbook of Blended Learning, they include cultural adaptation as an issue. They relate this to the materials that are used in the mode of delivery and also their relation to the students’ culture.

Riel, J., Lawless, K. A., & Brown, S. W. (2016)’s Listening to the teachers: Using weekly online teacher logs for ROPD to identify teachers’ persistent challenges when implementing a blended learning curriculum reports on Responsive online professional development for well-supported middle school teachers implementing a social studies curriculum. The issues identified in the teachers’ learning logs are also relevant to instructors working in settlement language programs as is the notion of providing responsive professional development. This report provides insight into the importance of teachers’ understanding of the pedagogy embedded in learning tools and the knowledge and confidence to implement and use them in their classrooms.

 

 

 

http://academypublication.com/ojs/index.php/jltr/article/viewFile/jltr1002232238/1831

Blended Learning Adoption in an ESL Context: Obstacles and Guidelines

Shebansky, W. (2018). Blended Learning Adoption in an ESL Context: Obstacles and Guidelines. TESL Canada Journal, 35(1), 52 – 77.

This report looks at the factors that influence adult ESL instructor opinions about implementation and use of blended learning in a federally-funded Canadian LINC program(Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) (24 instructors), in an ESL program in a mid-sized Canadian community college (5 instructors) and in an EFL program in a large Korean university (19 instructors).

The author acknowledges that digital tools are available and accessible, but are not being widely used to implement Blended Learning.

He references several conceptual frameworks and extends two that are used in higher education to a part-time LINC context to inform and guide his investigation into the low rate of technology adoption at his LINC program.

The research study asks these questions:

  1. Do participants in the study use BL? How is use different across different ESL settings?
  2. What institutional strategy (design-related issues), structure (issues related to facilitation of the BL environment) and support (faculty implementation and maintenance of its BL design) factors most influence whether instructors will adopt BL? Is this different across ESL settings?
  3. Why do those factors affect adoption of BL in a LINC context?

He reports on these factors that influence instructors’ decision whether to adopt blended learning:

  • Ability to quickly upload and download materials
  • Availability of professional development in a face-to-face group or one-on-one
  • Availability of technical support
  • Availability of pedagogical support

He then reports on these findings to explain why this list of factors influenced instructors’ decisions.

Retrievable from

https://teslcanadajournal.ca/index.php/tesl/article/view/1295

Significant Predictors for Effectiveness of Blended Learning In a Language Course

Wichadee, S. (2018) Significant predictors for effectiveness of blended learning in a language course. JALT Call Journal, Vol. 14, (1) 24-42.

Although this research study of 149 (90 female, 59 male) participants took place in an undergraduate university language course, the results are meaningful for adult learners who are in settlement language programs and for those who design blended programs for them as well. After highlighting the characteristics, rationale for and benefits of blended learning, the author goes on to explore satisfaction with the course being studied and participants’ learning performance.

The author identifies digital literacy, workload management, attitudes toward blended learning, online tool quality and face-to-face support to be among the factors identified in literature reviews as those that will have an impact on the effectiveness of blended learning.

The design of the course studied included a face-to-face orientation followed by alternating weeks of face-to-face classroom work and online self-study using online learning platforms. The knowledge gained in online weeks was checked in the face-to-face weeks.

One of the results of the study was that the more these students had positive attitudes towards blended learning, had digital literacy skills and received face-to-face support, the better their learning performance. In this study, workload management and quality of online tools did not affect learning scores. As far as satisfaction with the course, there were two factors that predicted satisfaction: face-to-face support and attitudes towards blended learning.

In the discussion at the end of the report the author provides additional background on how the course was modified for this study and details on students’ attitudes as he reviews how and why face-to-face support and attitudes toward blended learning were predictors of student satisfaction.

 

Retrievable from

“I do which the question”: Students’ innovative use of technology resources in the language classroom

Dooly, M. (2018). “I do which the question”: Students’ innovative use of technology resources in the language classroom. Language Learning & Technology, 22(1), 184–217.

Although this study isn’t about adults in settlement language programs, it contains a number of examples in the Discussion section that are  relevant to any learning situation in which adults are working in groups with technology to learn and practise their communication skills. This study of two middle school classes in Spain and Sweden working together on English language projects using technology provides some good analysis  of what can lead to students branching out on their own instead of following task instructions, not working in the collaborative way the teacher intended because of top-down task instructions, seating arrangements and classroom setup that are frustrating for group work and discussion, being able to wait for others to finish and then copy their answers, and a lack of student accountability for the assignments. The detailed descriptions of the technology used, the project questions asked, the student responses are a fascinating look at a classroom using technology. in addition, the author describes how the students managed to engage in genuine communication between the two classrooms using tools that were outside what were assigned to them.

Retrievable from:  http://www.lltjournal.org/item/3024

Self-directed use of mobile devices for language learning beyond the classroom

 

Lai, C. & Zheng, D. (2017) Self-directed use of mobile devices for language learning beyond the classroom. ReCALL p.1-20

This article is based on a study conducted with language students in a university in Hong Kong, exploring their self-directed use of mobile devices for language learning outside of the classroom. The study revealed that the students used mobile devices to personalize their learning, rather than for communication, and that their use was determined by their own understanding of the affordances of the devices. How the students used mobile devices for language learning was also determined by their habits of use of these devices in their daily lives, and by the types of learning tasks they were engaged in. The authors suggest that these factors, based on a deeper understanding how students use mobile devices, should be considered when designing mobile learning activities. The finding of this study echo those of Trinder, R. (2017). Informal and deliberate learning with new technologies. ELT Journal, 71(4),402-412 (see annotation below) and underline the importance of learning how mobile devices are being used by students in daily life to shape the development of appropriate mobile language learning activities

Available for purchase ( $25.00 USD) at:

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/recall/article/selfdirected-use-of-mobile-devices-for-language-learning-beyond-the-classroom/C60A8CE7FA2F2D3CC4548398BDAB828B

 

 

Free Digital Learning Opportunities for Migrants and Refugees

Elizabeth Colucci, Hanne Smidt, Axelle Devaux, Charalambos Vrasidas, Malaz Safarjalani and Jonatan Castaño Muñoz; Free Digital Learning Opportunities for Migrants and Refugees. An Analysis of Current Initiatives and Recommendations for their Further Use. Joint Research Centre (JRC)  Science for Policy Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2017.

This report contains a snapshot of the current (2016) field for free digital learning for migrant/refugee settlement in Europe with a few examples from the Middle East and the Southern Mediterranean. The study’s objective was to assess the extent to which free digital learning is an effective and efficient way to develop needed skills for migrants/refugees. The study includes a literature review, a searchable website, and a SWOT analysis based on interviews with key informants.

One of the findings of the study was that migrants/refugees believe that free digital learning should be a complement to face-to-face formal and informal/non-formal learning. Those who were interested in higher learning saw recognition of credits and degrees as important and were interested in blended learning that involved social interaction.

Retrievable from: https://ec.europa.eu/education/news/20170516-free-digital-learning-opportunities-migrants-and-refugees_en

NMC Horizon Report 2017 Higher Education Edition

New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. Austin, TX.

This  annual report profiles six time-based key trends, significant challenges and important developments related to technology adoption in higher education. The 78-member 2017 Expert Panel includes Canadian representatives from the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Ottawa, Conestoga College and Niagara College.  One of the 10 highlights from the report states that online, mobile and blended learning are “foregone conclusions” necessary for an institution’s survival. This highlight emphasizes the importance of measuring how these approaches affect learning outcomes.

Retrievable from: https://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2017-higher-education-edition/

The Potential of Blended ESOL Courses: Attitudes and Practices among the UK Immigrants

 

Jurate Matulioniene, Boston ESOL Academy, UK; Daiva Pundziuviene Bytautas Magnus University, Lithuania; The Potential of Blended ESOL Courses: Attitudes and Practices Among the UK Immigrants. Sustainable Multilingualism. Volume 10, Issue 1 (May 2017)

This research study looks at a small group of recent immigrants’ experience and attitudes to learning and opportunities and barriers to speaking English in the United Kingdom. The study provides background suggesting that language competences may be an important factor that influences immigrants’ progress in their new country.  Their findings include information on the individuals’ use of information and communication technologies (ICT) on a personal level, at work or for learning. These could include mobile and smart phones, email, digital cameras, scanners, social network etc.

The study examines these immigrants’ willingness to take part in blended language training and the barriers they see to doing that. The study asked if they would be interested in taking part in blended English classes that originated from their home countries, thus providing the support of their first language and at the same time help them keep the connection with their native countries.

They also present important considerations such as ensuring participants in such courses have the  technical proficiency required to participate effectively in a blended course.

Retrievable from: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/sm.2017.10.issue-1/sm-2017-0006/sm-2017-0006.xml

 

NorthStar Digital Literacy Assessment

The NorthStar Digital Literacy Assessment was developed by the St. Paul Public Library and the St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium. Through a set of online and interactive assessments users can identify skill gaps in Basic Computer Use, Internet, Windows Operating System, Email, Word Processing/ Microsoft Word, Spreadsheets/ Excel, and Social Media.

The NorthStar Digital Literacy Assessment is widely used in the U.S.  and by some organizations in Canada and South Africa. As of March 2016, over 150,000 assessments had been completed.  Although the NorthStar Digital Literacy Assessment was developed for the adult basic education community it is appropriate for ESL learners – the developers note that, “A mid-level English-speaking ability is needed to complete the assessments.”

Retrievable from:  https://www.digitalliteracyassessment.org/

Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services and the Role of Nonprofit Service Providers

Shields, John, Julie Drolet & Karla Valenzuela. (2016) Ryerson Centre for Immigration & Settlement. RCIS Working Paper No 2016/1. Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services and the Role of Nonprofit Service Providers: A Cross-national perspective on Trends, Issues and Evidence.

This paper compares the contexts for settlement and integration service delivery and the role of nonprofits in working with government to provide a wider context within which to reflect on the situation in Canada. The paper looks beyond the United States, Australia and New Zealand to UK/England, Ireland, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Italy and Spain. The study provides a number of definitions of settlement and settlement work which help explain the environment in which settlement language training occurs. Government immigrant settlement policies vary depending on the model of integration that operates within each country. Canada’s settlement policies involve formal programs and general policies assisting immigrants. Language training programs are one of these formal programs. In fact, language acquisition is a core area of settlement services for all 13 countries in the study, along with labour market programs. The report provides information about fees, curricula, integration courses, pre-arrival services and settlement plans.

The report provides a wide-ranging discussion of current trends and changes in immigration, newcomer settlement and integration and citizenship in the countries in the study.  One of the trends presented is the increasing role for nonprofit agencies in immigrant settlement and integration and the privatization of some aspects of the settlement service sector.

Retrievable from:

http://www.ryerson.ca/content/dam/rcis/documents/RCIS%20WP%202016_01%20Shields%20et%20al%20final.pdf

 

Becoming Blended: A case study in teacher identity

Renteria Navarro, Victoria. Becoming Blended: A case study in teacher identity. Plymouth St Mark and St John University. British Council ELT Master’s Dissertation Awards: Commendation. (2015-16).

This case study is set in an English Blended Program in Mexico. The author’s aim was to discover how a teacher’s educational and cultural background as well as their experience and knowledge play a role to promote or hinder agency, their capacity to critically shape their responses to problematic situations, such as those they would encounter teaching in a blended language learning program.

The study takes as a given that the internet and web applications have provided options and responsibilities that have seriously influenced teachers’ outlooks, encouraging them to change their practice. This will impact the institutions that provide professional development for teachers. One of the elements the author suggests will help to guide them is teacher identity.

The author provides evidence that experiences in one’s own educational past will have an impact on one’s approach to teaching, e.g., how to be successful teaching in a new blended language learning program with little technological support, how to cope with constantly changing technology, how to work with dependent students, whether to take on a formal or informal guise in the online component, etc.  The author also describes the teachers’ professional development and examines how it has helped each of them to evolve or change their preferred practices in the blended environment. The examples of each teacher’s Moodle pages provide further insight about this dynamic relationship.

Retrievable from: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/attachments/dissertation_for_publication_2016_st_mark_and_st_john_plymouth.pdf

Exploring ESL Students’ Perceptions of Their Digital Reading Skills

Gilbert, J. (2014). Exploring ESL Students’ Perceptions of Their Digital Reading Skills. Ed.D. University of Nottingham.

A doctoral thesis exploring ESL students’ understandings of their own digital reading skills.  The study included  three sources of data: reading workshops created for the participants; interviews with participants; discussions with participants and analysis of participants’ reading journals. The study concludes that while the participants had the capacity to randomly search the internet they lack the information literacy skills to productively research and evaluate information online.  The study also found that the participants’ reading strategies varied when engaging with print and web-based text. Finally the research points to the need to consider teaching digital literacy skills in tandem with language instruction and to provide instructors and instructors-in-training with the means to develop robust digital skills to enable them to support students to develop these skills alongside their language learning.

Retrievable from: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/14080/1/Gilbert_Re-formated_Thesis_Draft.pdf