EuroCALL 2008 Virtual Strand

4th - 6th September 2008 

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Plenary Speakers

Will Mobile Learning Change Language Learning?

Prof. Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, The Open University, UK

4th September 2008, 09:30 - 10:30

The use of mobile phones and other portable devices is beginning to have an impact on how learning takes place in many disciplines and contexts. Learners who are not dependent on access to fixed computers are able to engage in activities that relate more closely to their current surroundings as they move around different locations and interact with objects and people, sometimes crossing the frontier between formal and informal learning. Many exciting projects demonstrate these developments, but what are the implications for language learning? I will explore two perspectives on mobile language learning: top-down (teacher driven) and bottom-up (learner driven). Mobile assisted language learning has a growing body of published research showing how educators have sought to design mobile learning experiences for their students. Less is known about how teachers and learners are using their initiative, their social networks and their personal devices to support language learning, but there is some evidence. By piecing together examples of formally designed mobile learning and examples of informal practices, we can begin to understand the overall picture and attempt to answer the question: Will Mobile Learning Change Language Learning?

Web 2.0 Technologies for Net Native Language Learners: a "social CALL"

Prof. Andrea Kárpáti, Eötvös Lorán University, Faculty of Science, UNESCO Chair for ICT in Education

5th September 2008, 11:00 - 12:00

In order to make the most of social spaces offered by thousands of international communities in the second generation web applications termed Web 2 or Social Web, ICT competences as well as social skills are needed for both teachers and learners. The paper outlines differences in competence structures of Net Natives (who came of age in te 21th century) and the Net Generation of the 1980ies and 1990ies that evolve in response to changes between Web 1 and Web 2 technologies. Virtual educational environments in the age of the Social Web represent a perfect embodiment of the Constructionist paradigm: they offer shared discussion and work spaces instead of presentation tools, coaching utilities instead of help desks, and digital learning resource repositories instead of ready-made learning materials. LeMill, a collaborative platform for teachers, MapIt, the integrated discussion and mind map tool for learners and Shared Space, a virtual working environment for both teachers and learners will be presented to illustrate the interrelated change in educational software design and use. New teaching and learning aids require and at the same time inspire new educational theories. The trialogical learning paradigm that invites all educational stakeholders to work on shared objects of inquiry and development and thus develop epistemic agency will be offered as a foundation for a “Social CALL”.

Language Learning in a Digital World: From Language Laboratory to Parkour Performance

Dr. Patrik Svensson, Director of HUMlab, Umeå University, Sweden

6th September 2008, 09:00 - 10:00

What does it entail for language learning to take place in an increasingly digital world? Starting out from a critical discussion of the ‘digital natives’ that allegedly make up our current and future students, this paper addresses how the digital and language learning interconnect in multiple ways - tool, medium, study object, arena - and how these interrelations shape the kinds of competencies required and expected. It is argued here that it is vital to engage both creatively and critically with new media and digital technology. In the second part of the paper, the idea of emergent arenas and spaces for language learning is developed based on the framework above, and a largely socio-cultural perspective. Several traditional and emergent learning spaces are looked at critically and comparatively, and a range of current examples illustrate the emergence of rich and partly uncontrolled media places and learning spaces. Such examples include a student generated blog opera, a hockey musical and youtubed parkour performances. In conclusion, a set of guidelines for developing new digitally-supported spaces for language learning is proposed.

Online Presentations

Exploring the use of mobile phones in grammar learning

Chuang Fei-Yu, University of Warwick, UK

4th September 2008, 12:30 - 13:15

This study is a further development of our previous project in which we developed a set of online grammar practice for Mandarin-speaking learners of English.  The syllabus was informed by our close analysis of a learner corpus of 50 academic essays produced by Mandarin-speaking EAP (English for Academic Purposes) students.  The online materials were introduced to international students at Warwick University in 2006, and students’ responses to the resource were gathered through interviews and online questionnaires.  The feedback was positive in general.  The students indicated that they really liked the interactivity technology could offer and the flexibility web-based materials could provide.  Using the e-learning resource, they could practise English grammar with immediate feedback and study at their own pace, in their own time.  Interactivity and flexibility were two of the most important factors which made the materials attractive.

As new technologies are emerging, new delivery channels are being explored and experimented. Among them are mobile devices such as mobile phones. These wireless handheld devices can include features such as voice-messaging, SMS text-messaging, Internet access, cameras, and even video-recording. Because of these features, various studies have explored the potential of using mobile phones in language learning. Some have reported that the push aspect of mobile technology (e.g. SMS text-messaging) and scheduled and spaced learning can promote regular study which, in turn, can enhance learning outcomes. Others, however, have pointed out the limitations of mobile phones such as small screen sizes, limited capacity and low audiovisual quality. Slow data entry makes it difficult to deliver interactive materials. Materials for mobile phones need to be designed with all these limitations in mind.

With a view to further enhancing the flexibility of our grammar materials, we decide to adopt the principle of “learning on the move” or mobile learning, and explore delivering our grammar practice through mobile phones, using SMS messaging.  Students are divided into two groups with one group following the traditional way of delivery (i.e. accessing online materials through PCs) and the other using the new way (i.e. regular delivery of materials to mobile phones using SMS). The effectiveness and efficiency of the two ways of learning are then evaluated.  This presentation will report on students’ responses to the two modes of delivery and their learning outcomes from the two different ways of learning.