Computer-assisted Language Learning and Media Selection

This blog was originally posted on the AACE Review (Rogers, 2018).

Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is the interactive use of technology to foster second language acquisition by providing meaningful opportunities to practice a language in environments beyond that which is available in the confines of a classroom. It began with the stimulus-response of programmed instruction in the 1960s with the programmed logic for automatic teaching operations’ (PLATO) Latin courses for K-16. Nowadays, it’s based on the communicative approach to second language acquisition (SLA) with authentic communication derived from meaningful activities beyond academia.  Basically, the use of technology to practice a language in realistic contexts. Of note, non-language related computer learning, in general, is referred to as computer-mediated learning or computer-assisted instruction.

Computer-based or mobile applications of videogames are one type of CALL media. For example, Trace Effects is a videogame developed by the U.S. Department of State for juvenile English language learners to teach language skills and American Culture abroad. It’s a comprehensive language program based on the communicative approach to language learning (Rogers, 2014).  It also has a mobile application called Trace Word Soup for vocabulary development. CALL is not only about videogames. It also includes web-conferencing or other collaborative tools (e.g., blogs, podcasts, Minecraft) in which a person practices learning a language skill (reading, writing, grammar, or speaking) or combination of skills with the assistance of technology while engaging with others in the target language.

The Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Association has a CALL Interest Section that is very active. In fact, their annual, all-volunteer, free Electronic Village Online (EVO) workshop sessions begin January 14th and run for five weeks. See EVO’s 2018 workshop offerings to learn more.  I’m the technologist I am today because of the professional development I received from the EVO workshops and self-proclaimed ‘Webheads’. For example, I learned how to script and film movies in SecondLife and prepare an ESL lesson on the machinima (machine made cinema) production. Other professional associations that focus on CALL include EUROCALL and the Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO.org).

How do you select the right media for CALL for your students, context, and content? Chapelle (2001) developed the following media selection criteria for CALL: language learning potential, learner fit, meaning focus, authenticity, positive feedback, and practicality.  Jamieson, Chapelle, and Preiss (2005) modified these criteria by replacing positive feedback with a positive impact. I would include both positive/negative feedback from the computer interactions, as well as its positive impacts. The following excerpt from my SLA dissertation study describes the videogame EverQuest II’s (EQII) potential for CALL based on Chapelle’s (2001) media criteria: (Rogers, 2017, pp. 3-9)

  • Language learning potential–Provides text-based and/or live chats with native English speakers, model language from non-player characters (NPCs); written support of all communication in chat logs and speech bubbles (See Figure 1); animated environment to explore, raid, craft a profession, and experience player versus player or solo encounters in battlegrounds or world events; and audible alerts, meters, and signage enhance understanding;

  • Learner fit–Current literature indicates promise for massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) for educational purposes; EQII is rated T for Teen (ESRB, 2016) for a more approachable theme; scaffolded introduction to each player’s role;
  • Authenticity–Provides 5000 creatures to encounter on 8000 quests for situated learning encounters with NPCs and gamers; the possibility of failure (See Figure 2); capability to build your own virtual identity (See blogger’s gamer identity in Figure 3);

  • Meaning focus–Role-play takes on the meaning of several narratives on various kingdoms; encounters provide salutations, skirmishes, and humor (See Figure 4); NPCs provide quests, which serve as a cueing system;

  • Positive feedback–Provides level-up announcements, tokens for continuance in gameplay, game currency for quest completion (See Figure 5), praise from quest handlers upon completion, and rewards for being courageous; and

Figure 5. Quest reward, EverQuest® II screenshot image © 2004-2015 Daybreak Game Company LLC

  • Practicality–Provides free play; available online for ease of access anytime; tutorials available in-game (See Figure 6 for guide) and online hint books, websites, and community boards; in-game user-friendly tips and error messages provide instant feedback.`

References

Chapelle, C. A. (2001). Computer applications in second language acquisition: Foundations for teaching, testing, and research. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Entertainment Software Rating Board. (2016). ESRB ratings. New York, NY: Entertainment Software Association. Retrieved from https://www.everquest2.com/news/february-2016-producers-letter-holly

Jamieson, J., Chapelle, C., & Preiss, S. (2005). CALL evaluation by developers, a teacher, and students. CALICO Journal, 23(1), 93-138. Retrieved from http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1045&context=engl_pubs

Rogers, S. (2014). Program theory logic model of Trace Effects video game. Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, 1662-1674. Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Rogers, S. A. (2017). A MMORPG with language learning strategic activities to improve English grammar, listening, reading, and vocabulary (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 10265484)

Case Study: Saudi English Language Learners’ Gameplay

My Schedule for SITE 2014 in Jacksonville, FL

Photo of Sandra Annette Rogers
Find me at the conference and say hello!

Four of my proposals were accepted for presentation at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) International Conference in Jacksonville, FL.  I’d love to connect with any of my readers who are also going to SITE. This will be my first time to attend SITE.  I’ll be attending all the presentations on gaming.

Here’s my current schedule for the conference: (All times are Eastern Standard Time.)

1. Poster Session: The Electronic Village Online, An Open-source, International Collaboration for Professional Development,  March 19, 2014 at 5:30-7:00 P.M.

2. Roundtable: How to Make Your Online Course More Accessible, March 20, 2014 at 11:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M.

3.Brief Paper: Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games for Language Learning, March 20, 2014 at 3:20-3:40 P.M.

4. Brief Paper: Effective Online Communication in Higher Education, March 21, 2014 at 11:55 A.M to 12:15 P.M.

I hope to see you there!

P.S. Here’s my Padlet wall with all my activities: http://padlet.com/wall/SITE2014

SecondLife: Advantages and Disadvantages for Education

Profile picture of the author's avatar, Sand Guardian
My SecondLife avatar, Sand Guardian

The following personal reflection on the educational advantages and disadvantages to SecondLife (SL) is based on a single user’s online experience. In the era of massively multiplayer role-playing games where participants interact in-world in groups (study hall, computer lab, or arcade) as well as online, the following advantages could increase and the disadvantages could decrease.

DISADVANTAGES

Disadvantages to SL include the requirements for high-end technical hardware and software and potential lack of the universal design for learning. Because SL requires a certain bandwidth capability and computer graphic cards for participation, it will create a barrier for some students.

Second, SL requires learning by trial and error that hinges on the motivation and personality of a learner. I’m an adventurer type (global learner), so I don’t mind trying and failing. However, from experience as an educator, not all students have the same will or ease. For instance, an analytical learner would need lots of demonstration videos and the rules prior to login. Therefore, learning preferences should be considered in multiuser virtual environments (MUVEs).

I’m unsure if all SL venues provide alternative text, but I did see a lot of instructions provided at the locations I visited. For example, on a dance floor, a floating ball provided instructions to click the ball and a menu of dance moves appeared. I’d hope that the JAWS (Job Aid With Speech) screen reader would be able to read it for persons requiring that accommodation. I haven’t done any research on the accessibility of SL specifically.

ADVANTAGES

Conversely, the advantages for SL and other MUVEs are tremendous. Some benefits include accessibility for persons otherwise unable to participate fully in the real world. The affordances lend themselves to learning various content in authentic environments and provide the opportunity to unite people. SL provides the following multimodal means of representation: text chat, language translations, audio, written descriptions of venues, and remote-controlled avatars.

The affordance of trying new skills in a simulated environment, especially if that skill may be a dangerous one in real life, is a great advantage. For example, in the Health Workforce Australia document (Walsh, 2010), the use of MUVEs was proposed as instrumental for education in dentistry:

“A virtual world which is used at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry exposes students to exercises in diagnosing complicated problems, which in turn eliminates the use of live patients in a risky environment. Such VW are especially useful during the first half of the curriculum when students are inexperienced in patient
care (p. 15).”

SL provides unique and varied opportunities for gatherings. For example, the Veterans Administration set up an office where veterans can visit and learn about their benefits in SL. Another example is how IBM uses SL to meet virtually with its administrators worldwide. IBM said this environment was much more appealing than teleconferences between boardrooms. I’m a positive thinker, so I believe the opportunities are endless as long as you have the necessary equipment, MUVE skill set, and motivation. For more information, read my previous post on the use of SL for educational purposes.

Note. This is part two in a series on SL.

P.S. I participated in a SecondLife project for my doctoral internship. I learned to film episodes in SL to create machinima (machine created cinema). See the blog post. 

Use of SecondLife for Educational Purposes

Avatar sitting on a crescent moon
I’m over the moon for SecondLife!

SecondLife (SL) could be used in numerous ways to promote student learning. For example, a quick screencast of an avatar presenting the topic would be a great way to gain the learner’s attention. Perhaps the screencast could serve as an advance organizer with an abstract of the content to be presented related to the past unit content. Last semester, I used SL as a backdrop for creating a mini-introduction to a lesson for the USAonline Student Orientation course. This was a less expensive way to gain attention than the fee-based avatars like SitePal.

Secondly, SL is a great format for second language learning. The multi-modal environment allows for rich language experiences. For example, learners have the text-chat and voice option; they have destinations already set up for social interactions; and instructors can set up student-created projects in a designated sandbox. A unique project that the Electronic Village Online (EVO) workshop participants created in SL were machinimas. These are movies made in SL. They even had an awards show as a culminating event. SL is definitely where movie magic can happen to transform users into a fantasy world with outrageous outfits, superhuman abilities, and all sorts of real and unreal critters.

Lastly, I think the richness of the visual graphics and affordances of the movement allow for some great opportunities for storytelling. It dawned on me when I looked at the photos of me on the moon, that I could use these photos to create a children’s story in ebook format. I’ve taken courses on how to write children’s stories and have several completed ones. However, I don’t know how to illustrate them nor do I have the money to hire someone to do it. I plan to publish one on an app in Google Drive called BookieJar. I think I might try to set-up some photos in SL that go along with my story line. I just need to find out the legal issues of using photos taken in other people’s sims (simulated environments).

I am aware that there is a dark side to SL. As with any open source, multi-user platform, educators need to be vigilant of students in virtual environments. One teacher provided a safe virtual platform by using a sim-on-a-stick. This refers to an educational SL version that can be downloaded to computers without going to the public site.  The teacher built  (or added to an existing sim) a simulated trip to mars for his elementary students. The teacher filmed the in-world and real world experience for the girls. It’s awesome!  View his video to see how the students helped each other and used a how-to guide: external link: http://metatek.blogspot.com.au/2010/03/opensim-mars-simulation.html.

Note: This is the first in a series about SL.

Contributors to my PLN for Computer-assisted Language Learning (CALL)

Dear Readers,
This is a partial and random list of educators I follow in my personal learning network (PLN).  Some folks are new to my network, while others I have known for some time.  Of course, these are mainly virtual acquaintances only, as I only get to see some of these professionals if we both attend a TESOL convention or other live event.  I used this style of a blog post on my nonprofit blog and really liked how it looked.  I hope you do, too.  If you don’t know these folks, find them on Twitter!  You can find me @teacherrogers. I listed these educators in my PLN titled the Online Educator, which feeds my Twitter-based newspaper on Paper.li: http://paper.li/teacherrogers/1301595898#.

Freelance Educational Consultant, Award Winning Writer and Course Designer, Specialist Technology Trainer, Blogger, Conference Speaker, Lecturer in Media & Tech

Business English trainer based in Erfurt. Fascinated by how English brings our world ever closer together.

ELT educator and magician in affective language learning with young learners. Storyteller, puppeteer, and frog collector.

ISTE’s Mobile Learning SIG, Mobile Learning Devices (MLDs)

curriculum design, instructional design, elearning, computer assisted language learning, corporate and blended learning development. (Moodle LMS, TESOL, TESL)

Autonomous ‘Personal Learning Networks’ for Language Teachers. An EU funded project.

ESL Teacher, Webhead, Mum….. I would love to change the world, but I can only change myself. But I CAN influence people around me by what I choose to do.

Podcasting Evo Session 2012 provides basic training in the production and publishing of digital media files (podcasts) and its use in the ESL/EFL classroom.

21st Century Digital Citizen living and learning on the web. Mi Identidad con la red de docentes en español – http://puentesalmundo.net

Dr. Nellie Deutsch is an expert on blended and blended online learning and the founder of Integrating Technology for Active Lifelong Learning (IT4ALL).

I am a senior lecturer at the Department of Languages at the British Open University

ESAP teacher; ICT consultant; e-tutor. Interested in reading, learning technologies and functional diversity.

Helping language teachers incorporate technology.

Adult ESOL, ELL, TESOL, idioms, storytelling, poetry, online & blended learning, flowers, art, UU, intercultural, peace, photography, stop bullying, quotes,more

EFL teacher for over 12 years in Spain.

I am a teacher trainer at the Department of English, Faculty of Education, Olomouc, Czech Republic. I specialize in History, Lexicology, Art and ICT for ELT.

Retired EFL teacher. Teacher trainer and e-trainer in Web 2.0 tools. Lifelong learner. Member of the Webheads in Action CoP.

An EFL teacher,teaching all age groups and levels. My main interests are online teaching and learning and enhancing creativity in the language classroom.

CALL Community Newsletter: Making Connections Highlights Members

Sandra has been teaching for 20 years. She’s actively involved with the Electronic Village Online (EVO) and currently serves on the coordination team. You may have read some of her CALL-related blogs on TESOL. She freelances for ETS.org and MuchEnough.com. In addition, Sandra runs a virtual nonprofit to help the unemployed find work on BrokeButNotForLong.org.

Affiliation: Teacherrogers Consulting

Years in the CALLIS: 2 years (2009-2011)

Q: Favorite platform?

A: Well, in the past newsletters this referred to the computer operating system. I use Windows XP, but it’s not really my favorite. As an online teacher, I’d like to add that my favorite learning management system platform is eCollege (Pearson).

Q: For you, what is the one indispensable tool/webpage?

A: That depends on my resources for the project. Camtasia Relay for screencasting with a budget because I can edit and add closed-captioning. Screenr.com for screencasting without a budget―no editing feature so you have to do retakes! Screencasters help you meet the standards for quality online instruction, such as virtual tours, lecture capturing, demonstrations, one-on-one specific help, and student presentations and/or intros.
Q: What is your most unexpected source of information about CALL?

A: I didn’t realize that the CALLIS helped create the Principles and Practices of Online Teaching certificate courses and that some of the CALL members actually teach the classes, too.

Q: What was your favorite CALL creation?

A: I’d have to say my e-portfolio blog that I created in Vance Stevens’ Multiliteracies EVO 2010 session. It has become my go-to place for everything I do―my landing strip! I blog about my trials and errors with integrating technology into education and post all of my projects there.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Besides training moderators as an EVO coordination team member, I’m also mentoring the PLN/PLE moderators for #2012evo. I continue to blog for TESOL, my eportfolio, and my nonprofit. For BrokeButNotForLong, Inc., I’ve decided to migrate all of our content to Google sites like Blogger for Blogging4Broke to save money. We recently received a Google grant for free AdWords, so you should be seeing more of Broke in online searches in a few months. For my own career, I’ve launched Teacherrogers Consulting for Literacy, Language & Social Media Solutions.

Q: What area would you like to see developed/researched?

A: I’ll echo what Andy Bowman said back in 2008: “More computer-like devices created specifically for language learning.” And I want to help create one, so give me a call!

Q: In a sentence, what advice would you give to a newbie starting out in CALL?

A: Take the Electronic Village Online free professional training in January!

Q: What is your funniest CALL-related incident?

A: OK, since Laine (Helaine) Marshall has a good sense of humor, I’d like to describe our first face-to-face encounter. I was running to a session at the TESOL convention in New Orleans when I passed her by. I turned around because I recognized her face from her thumbnail photos on Yahoo IM. She became a great mentor to me during my first attempt at moderating a session for EVO in 2009. However, I wasn’t sure it was her because of her petite stature. Laine had become such a giant in my mind that I didn’t expect her to be so small! I explained this to her, and we both laughed because she didn’t expect me to be so tall.

Link to full article: http://newsmanager.commpartners.com/tesolcallis/issues/2012-03-16/7.html