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





Defining Essential Digital Skills in the Canadian Workplace

Chinien, Chris, and France Boutin. (2011). Defining Essential Digital Skills in the Canadian Workplace: Final Report. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

This study reports on a proposed digital skill framework for Canadian workers. The proposed framework includes four skills clusters, three of which are foundational skills, technical digital skills and digital information processing skills. This report is of interest because it provides information about the types of skills adult learners who attend settlement language training will be expected to be able to demonstrate in the workplace. The report points out that prosperity from the digital economy will not depend only on specialists and advanced users of digital technology, but on general workers as well. This has resulted in an increased interest for all workers to possess essential digital skills for both technical systems skills and for everyday tasks so that they can work efficiently and effectively. At the time of the writing of the report, there was no consensus on a definition of digital literacy, as indicated in a chart of definitions of concepts, but attempts were being made to standardize, these while maintaining some adaptability to reflect emerging technologies, in the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S and through UNESCO’s member states. The report provides short reviews of the digital literacy frameworks in each of these jurisdictions and goes on to propose such a framework for Canada.

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Understanding the Digital Capacity of Newcomer Settlement Organizations

Understanding the Digital Capacity of Newcomer Settlement Organizations

Open North presented this webinar on the responses from surveys sent to 657 Canadian Service Provider Organizations delivering Settlement services through IRCC’s Settlement Program. IRCC defines Digital Capacity as “the ability to use digital tools within an organization to enhance service delivery, communication, and coordination. The digital capacity of an organization may be the function of skills and training (e.g., staff digital literacy), infrastructure (e.g., accessible internet, mobile hardware), applications (e.g., software, cloud computing) and processes (e.g, data analytics, data management, social media use).”

The slides from the presentation are available on the site along with recordings of both the French and English presentations.

The research objectives of the study are as follows:
1. Gain a deeper understanding of the digital capacity and needs of service provider organizations (SPOs) that serve newcomers in Canada

2. Help to inform and recommend options for future consideration to support the digital capacity of the settlement sector

3. Help to fill a gap in evidence significant to policy development in the digital capacity area

4. Support improvements to digital capacity among SPOs

Retrievable recording of webinar: http://www.amssa.org/resources/videos/other-video-resources/understanding-the-digital-capacity-of-newcomer-settlement-organizations/

Fast Forward: An Analysis of Online and Distance Education Language Training.

Kelly, M., Kennell, T., McBride, R., & Sturm, M. (2007). Fast Forward: An Analysis of Online and Distance Education Language Training – Settlement at Work. New Media Language Training.

This research report provides a review and analysis of online and distance education language training in Canada, as of 2007. The report also provides a set of recommendations for the implementation of online and distance education language training, including the need for increased access to online and blended learning opportunities, the need to address integrating culture in language learning, the need to provide robust learner orientation and professional development for instructors, ongoing and multi-modal communications, technical support and the development of a centralized repository of learning objects.

Retrievable from: http://wiki.settlementatwork.org/index.php?title=Fast_Forward:_An_Analysis_of_Online_and_Distance_Education_Language_Training


ESOL and EFL: An unhelpful distinction?

Williams, E., & Williams, A. (2007). ESOL and EFL: An unhelpful distinction?

This review of the current state of ESOL in the UK and brief historical overview of the development of ESOL and EFL, outlines the distinctions between these two terms and points to the need for convergence and/or integration of ESOL and EFL to meet the current needs of students in the UK. The report also provides an outline of the authors’ understanding of ESOL provision in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, tracing the historical, policy-related and ideological strands in each country that led to the current model of provision.

Retrievable from: https://esol.britishcouncil.org/content/policy-and-research/policy/uk/esol-and-efl-unhelpful-distinction





Exploring the Feasibility of E-Learning in Ontario ESL Programs.

Lawrence, G. et al (2014). Exploring the Feasibility of E-Learning in Ontario ESL Programs. Contact, 40(1), 12-18.

A report of a study in Ontario examining the feasibility of integrating e-learning in Adult ESL programs. This multi-phase research study included a comprehensive review of global trends in e-learning in ESL and an extensive online survey and focus group consultation with ESL students, instructors and program administrators. The researchers also conducted a review of how ESL programs are currently using e-learning. The research findings show that a blended learning approach is favoured by a majority of the stakeholders. Those surveyed reported that they recognize and are enthusiastic about the potential of a blended learning approach to expand and extend learning opportunities. However, as with similar studies, respondents identified a range of issues and challenges related to technology infrastructure, connectivity and technology support, as well as the need for appropriate training and professional development and the need to ensure that students have the necessary computer skills. These issues must be addressed for the successful implementation of a blended learning approach.

Retrievable from: http://www.teslontario.net/uploads/publications/contact/ContactSpring2014.pdf

Realizing the Full Potential of Blended Learning.

Realizing the Full Potential of Blended Learning. (2012). Center for Digital Education.

This brief strategy paper from the Center for Digital Education, a US research and advisory institute focused on K-12 and higher education technology trends and policies reports on a survey of blended learning initiatives and trends in the higher education sector. Although the paper does not address blended learning in the language learning sector it does provide a useful overview of the rapidly developing trend towards blended learning, the implications of that trend, the potential benefits of blended learning, particularly in relation to increased student engagement, and the ongoing need to further clarify the concept of blended learning and its concomitant parts so that instructors can better understand its potential.

Retrievable from: http://echo360.com/sites/default/files/CDE12%20STRATEGY%20Echo360-V.pdf

Reducing Costs through Online Learning: Five Proven Strategies from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.

Contact North. (2013). Reducing Costs through Online Learning: Five Proven Strategies from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.

A companion document to Online Learning as a Possible Cost Saving Measure: What Canadian Researchers Tell Us, this report outlines five successful cost-saving strategies related to online learning within the post-secondary and higher-education sectors. Although the focus of the report is on cost-containment or cost reduction through online learning within larger institutions, these strategies, particularly with regard to improved teaching and learning efficiency and cost reduction in the areas of development and support, through the use of shared services are relevant to language training programs at every level.

Retrievable from: http://teachonline.ca/online-learning-news-may-8-2013


Online Learning as a Possible Cost Saving Measure: What Canadian Researchers Tell Us.

Contact North. (2014). Online Learning as a Possible Cost Saving Measure: What Canadian Researchers Tell Us.

A review of Canadian research, in the form of web-available reports, articles, blogs, and case studies, focused on the cost-effectiveness of online learning in the post-secondary education sector. The review identifies recurring themes in the literature, including the need to measure the costs of classroom delivery in order to develop viable comparative studies and the need to connect cost-effectiveness or cost savings with quality of content and delivery as the development of high-quality online learning can require considerable investment. According to the review there is a scarcity of research and data related to costs and the cost-effectiveness of online learning.

Retrievable from: http://teachonline.ca/tools-trends/assessing-online-learning-costs-and-savings/online-learning-possible-cost-saving-measure-what-canadian-researchers-tell-us


How to Make the Most of Blended Learning.

Contact North. (2014). How to Make the Most of Blended Learning.

This is a concise review of the benefits and challenges of using blended learning in the community college sector in Ontario. Benefits identified include increased flexibility, enhanced student engagement and relative cost savings. Challenges include learner and instructor preparedness, and the need for careful instructional design. The document also provides links to information about how blended learning is being used in several community colleges in the province. Although the information is intended for the postsecondary sector, the discussion of the benefits and challenges of blended learning is particularly relevant to the settlement language community.

Retrievable from: http://teachonline.ca/tools-trends/blended-learning-successful-design-delivery-and-student-engagement/how-make-most-blended-learning

Language Learning & Technology: 20th Anniversary Special Issue

Volume 20 Number 2 (June 2016)

This special anniversary issue of the Journal used a crowdsourcing and survey approach to determine the content of this special issue. there are four review articles, including one that provides examples of how Second language acquisition and CALL have been explored during the last 20 years. Seven commentaries appear from scholars whose articles received the most citations over the life of the journal.


The Bewildering Language of Online Learning

The Bewildering Language of Online Learning? (2016, March 10).

This short article provides a timely and clear attempt at an explanation and definition of a range of terms and concepts in common use in the area of online and flexible teaching and learning. It offers a very handy and accessible guide to the key terms or jargon in this field and also offers links to real-world examples of terms such as “flipped classroom” and “gamification”.

Retrievable from:  http://teachonline.ca/tools-trends/how-use-technology-effectively/bewildering-language-online-learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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CALL—Past, Present and Future.

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

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

Cost: USD $19.95

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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.

Retrievable From: http://www.independentlearning.org/uploads/100836/ILA2007_036.pdf

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.

Retrievable From:http://www.calpro-online.org/documents/100924DistanceEducationProof.pdf

Defining Blended Learning

Friesen, N. (2012, August). Defining Blended Learning. Learningspaces.org. Blog.

The author provides a history of the changing meaning of the term “blended learning” along with the ambiguity of its meaning until the publication of Bonk’s (2006) Handbook of Blended Learning. He also puts forward a number of blended learning models and creates a decision tree to determine if a given course is blended or not. The report would be interesting to anyone exploring the components that could be involved in implementing a course in blended learning.

Retrievable From: http://learningspaces.org/papers/Defining_Blended_Learning_NF.pdf