Join me at MSERA 2015!

Photo of Sandra Annette Rogers

Join me in Lafayette, LA this November 4-6th for the Mid-South Educational Research Associations (MSERA) 2015 annual meeting.  Click this link to see the full conference schedule.  For more information on the MSERA, visit their Website.  The cool thing about this conference is that everybody brings their paper and not just the PowerPoint slides to handout to attendees. I ended up with tons of great research papers to read afterwards!

I’ll be making two presentations on gaming. Here’s my schedule:

Learning2gether with Dawn Bikowski discussing gaming and language learning

Thanks to Vance Stevens and Dawn Bikowski for putting together this learning event.

Learning2gether

Download mp3 here: http://learning2getherdotnet.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/2014aug31dawnbikowski-64k.mp3

On Sun Aug 31 Learning2gether was honored to meet with Dawn Bikowski discussing gaming and language learning

Dawn discussed projects she’s working on for teacher training by putting digital gaming into her MA teacher training courses, including pedagogical grammar and teaching reading & writing. She also talked about her experiences as lead author of the teacher’s manual for the digital game Trace Effects, which she did for the U.S. Department of State.

http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/12/k-12/u-s-state-department-launches-online-game-to-aid-english-learners/

Dawn mentioned using Aurasma with teacher trainees in her discussion with us. On YouTube you can see many examples of what Aurasma does; e.g., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBKy-hSedg8 and she explained in greater detail in her talk at the CALL-IS and IATEFL LTSIG webinar on Gaming and Gamification on Jun 14 this year, where she spent 10 minutes talking about Aurasma and how she uses it to help teachers experience games.

TESOL CALL-IS Keynote, Dawn Bikowski
Training Teachers to Think in Games

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Trace Effects Video Game for Learning English as a Foreign Language

Trace and other characters in the game called Trace Effects
Source: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State

 

What is it?

Trace Effects  is an educational 3-D multimedia interactive video game that can be played individually off-line from a DVD or online individually or with a group.  There’s also a complimentary mobile app called Trace Word Soup, which is a vocabulary game. Trace Effects was designed for English language learners (ELLs) ages 12-16 by the United States Department of State (DOS), Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

What does it teach?

The game teaches American English and culture in the context of a student entering a university setting for the first time.  For example, Trace, the main character, navigates the campus in search of the student information center to obtain his student identification card in order to access certain buildings and ultimately progress to the next level of play. This game (and all of its supporting material) is part of an outreach program of the Office of English Language Programs and the American English resource center, which supports the efforts of the Regional English Language Officers (RELOs) worldwide.  RELOs work directly with English language specialists to promote American culture and English language learning activities in public and private schools abroad.

What learning principles and practices is it based on?

I was able to interview key stakeholders about the game’s program theory.  Based on their comments and my review of the game and existing documents, I concluded that Trace Effects is based on the following major concepts: cognitivism, constructivism, the communicative approach to language acquisition, the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Technology Standards Framework, and gaming as an instructional strategy.  Moreover, the DOS’s vision (pillars) factor into the game.  The following DOS pillars are embedded in the levels/lessons of the game: entrepreneurship, community activism, empowering women, science and innovation, environmental conservation, and conflict resolution.

Who is the target audience?

The game was designed specifically for secondary school students in various nations who are involved in the English Access Micro-scholarship Program.  This is one of the State Department’s outreach efforts to provide English language skills to talented 13-20 year-olds from economically disadvantaged sectors of the world through after school classes.  The purpose is to provide an opportunity for participants to improve their English skills to increase their chances of better employment and/or entrance into post-secondary schools. For example, Access participants may compete for, and participate in, future exchanges and study in the United States. 

How will one know if users improved their English language ability and/or learned about American culture by using the game?  

In the Trace Effects’ teacher manual, teachers are encouraged to assess students before and after so many hours of playtime (pretest/posttest).  There are numerous extension activities in the teacher’s manual to assess learning (alternative assessments).  For example, the student worksheets associated with each chapter allow teachers to monitor student learning.  Students can monitor their own learning through the passive game feedback of points, redirects, and level achievement (self-regulation).  Students share their progress on an electronic log with their teacher.  There are competitions held worldwide for the record of highest scorer.  Stakeholders reported that educators could conduct action research to compare a control group that does not play the game with that of the treatment group that does.  Another  idea is using think-alouds for qualitative research—taking notes on what students report on while playing the game (phenomenology).

How can I access this game for my students?

Visit the US DOS website to play the game and download the manual.  If you teach English abroad, contact your local RELO for access to the Trace Effects DVD and supporting material to use in your classroom.  Click here to learn how to download the Trace Word Soup app.

To learn about the program theory behind the game, see my logic model of Trace Effects.

Your blogger,

Sandra Rogers

P.S. A special thanks to the US DOS Office of English Language Programs for the use of this image.

Reference

Rogers, S. (2014). Program Theory Logic Model of Trace Effects Video Game. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2014 (pp. 1662-1674). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Logic Model of Trace Effects

Rogers, S. (2014). Program Theory Logic Model of Trace Effects Video Game. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2014 (pp. 1662-1674). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Gaming as an Instructional Strategy for Language Learning

Icon of game consul

What empirical evidence exists as to the efficacy of gaming as an instructional strategy? More specifically, how can massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORGs) be used to learn a second language? Gaming provides situated learning of content in a problem-based learning (PBL) format (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989). Therefore, language learning games are generally created with an adventure, problem-solving scenario. For example, Trace Effects, a 3-D multimedia interactive video game, was designed specifically for English language learners (ELLs) ages 12-16 by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It’s an adventure game where the protagonist goes through the task of trying to get enrolled in an American university and become familiar with its surrounding community/city. The various levels of the game take you to different American communities (e.g., New Orleans) for rich situated learning among the varied cultural settings. PBL provides meaningful learning, resulting in deeper understandings and longer retention (Hung, Bailey, & Jonassen, 2003).  PBL in simulated environments offers a variety of language-based scenarios with nonplaying characters providing model language support for vocabulary and grammar development. Prior to Trace Effects (2012), there were very few effective games created specifically for ELLs. Therefore, research focused on the use of existing commercial simulated games combined with language support material to determine if gaming was an effective strategy for language learning.

In such a study, it was found that MMORGs combined with second language acquisition theory aided student learning of languages (Rankin, Gold, & Gooch, 2006). Four intermediate and advanced level, college-aged ELLs played with playing and nonplaying characters on Ever Quest 2 (EQ2), a commercial adventure game not specifically created for ELLs. EQ2 provides opportunities for the characters to speak; nonplaying characters verbalize the rules and alerts to players. In this  study, they questioned whether EQ2 would aid ELLs and how; they also wanted to find out if there was sufficient support for ELLs within the game. Students played the game four hours a week for four weeks. The researchers analyzed their game log scripts for vocabulary for testing purposes. No supporting English language material was used with the game. Overall, solely from interacting with nonplaying characters,  participants increased their English language vocabulary by 40%. The nonplaying characters provided support by modeling language; in fact, the more they modeled, the higher the accuracy in vocabulary meaning. Rankin et al. did not gather data on vocabulary acquisition with the playing characters. The authors acknowledged their small sample size and called for more investigations of this type given the positive outcomes.