Saturday, 8 September 2007
This is however not the end of the virtual element of the conference. We will keep the blog alive and hope to see many of you posting your impressions on the topics in the coming weeks. Either after having been in Coleraine in person or attending the events at a distance.
Take care and do keep the discussion going! See you next year in Székesfehérvár!
Peppi & Lesley
Following the Web 2.0 philosophy here is the Powerpoint of my Paper presentation at this conference so everybody (delegates and virtual participants) can view it and leave some comments.
Bernd's point about a new era is definitely true. The somewhat random surfing for information is a fad from the past, technology enhanced learning is more about joint knowledge construction and use of the various media for a purpose.
I definitely agree with Gràinne in that our big challenge at the moment is two-fold: to do methodological explorations to find, develop and come up with new/combined methodologies that will be better suited for our research in our current complex settings. We also need to do serious development in the approach to designs for learning so that they would be manageable but at the same time incorporate a variety of multimodal learning affordances.
Uschi said the word that is the key in all learning: learning has to be meaningful for the learners.
This was a VERY good panel discussion! I am leaving so much of the essence out that you'll simply have to watch the recording if you haven't already done so!
So, the streamed/archive of this presentation is something you really need to see.
Peppi is going to add another comment about the presentation, but I wanted to say a big thank you to Uschi for raising the profile of the use of technology in learning and for being a good friend.
Thank you Uschi.
Now to listen to the presentation and to anticipate the koalas...
Friday, 7 September 2007
Marty quoted Swan, who has written that "if students are exposed only to scripted material, they will learn an impoverished version of the language, and will find it hard to come to terms with genuine discourse when they are exposed to it". Listening exercises are often read aloud from text by actors and are not authentic. So there is a great demand for "real" language to be used in listening exercises.
There have been programs that can slow down sound files, but they have been created for music purposes and mostly don't give good results with speech. A new algorithm has been developed at the DIT for slowing down speech. It looks at the sound pattern and can slow down speech down to 40 % of the original time without the speech sounding too odd (although it sounds a bit sleepy). But at 80 %, even the native speakers consider the quality very good and natural.
According to Marty, the slow-down tool can be used to facilitate the processing and retrieving formulaic sequences and chunks which the native speakers usually speak at a faster rate. This way these highly important elements of fluent speech become more accessible and "learnable" to the students.
Presenter: Todd Kelsey
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a non-profit organisation aiming to help children in the developing (and developed) world gain access to educational materials and to explore, experiment and express themselves. A significant need for a wide range of (free) language learning materials in a variety of languages has been identified.
Todd showed us a prototype of the small, colourful, XO child-friendly laptop which is being developed as part of this project and which it is hoped can be made freely available under the OLPC initiative.
Todd pointed out that the equipment and materials designed for use by children could also be used by adults in developing countries.
Todd is currently looking for partners willing to be involved in this initiative, especially donating content materials to be made available under a Creative Commons Licence.
Further information at:
The session opened with a demonstration of a synchronous session with a number of members of the project in various geographical locations joining us live.
The software used for conferencing is Macromedia Breeze – now Adobe Connect.
Intercultural Competence (IC) and Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) are important features of this project, with trainees being helped to take potential differences into account when planning and delivering their online lessons.
Heike Philp joined us online from Germany, talking about the technological tools used in virtual classrooms: Web conferencing, instant messaging, audio conferencing, whiteboarding, screen sharing and Web touring, etc and how these tools are used.
We were then joined online by Daniela Arghir, who talked about her positive experiences following the LANCELOT course as a trainee. She is a teacher of EFL and Romanian.
This is the project website, where more information can be found and from which the materials will be launched:
The main research questions were to investigate how the environment was used, how students interacted with the environment, and what role GRIM plays in the students' writing. Research data was generated from video recordings, screen recordings, transcriptions, student essays and questionnaire.
In this session Antje Neuoff presented the LOLIPOP project, a Web-based, interactive version of the European Language Portfolio (ELP). The ELP is well established as way for students to record their achievements as language learners, and now there are electronic versions of the ELP. There are several features of the LOLIPOP that make it distinctive, for example the interactive features that enhance the reporting and pedagogical functions. These include a feature that combines the reporting of “can do” statements (based closely on the CEF “can do” statements) with setting objectives for further language and intercultural learning.
The project runs in Moodle. I was particularly impressed by the examples of the resources that are being made available in wide range of languages. Antje showed examples in German of listening, speaking and reading materials, ranging from road signs (for reading at A1 level, I would guess) to a difficult spoken text (presumably around C1 / C2 level). The resources will be freely available and should be extremely useful for teachers and students in upper secondary and higher education.
Although Japanese laws are more complex than American ones, the American laws are also very unclear. It turned out that very few were familiar with the applicable copyright laws. To the crucial question: “When creating CALL materials and being unsure of copyright laws what do you do?” the highest response from most teachers was “Make own decision according to my existing knowledge of the laws”. Second came “investigate on the Internet or in the library”. The conclusion was that it’s confusing as to what is covered under the law.
"All the better to hear you with…” - online listening, the big bad wolf of linguistic abilities or what do students think is going on when listening
The students were given three different on-line listening tasks in Italian with authentic material from the radio (short, ca. two-minute dialogues). In the first task, the students had no transcription of the dialogue, in the second, they had a partial transcription and in the third one, a full transcription.
After finishing the tasks, the students received 5-6 multiple choice questions and evaluative questions on what they did during the task. It was a kind of "think aloud protocol".
From the students' answers it was evident that they had very pragmatic ways of doing the tasks. Anything extraneous seemed to be distracting for them, and these are some of the things they did for making the listening easier: they read questions first; they tried to reduce distractions and noise; they used headphones; they turned up the volume. It was very important for them that they knew what they were supposed to do (importance of clarity). The tasks were done asynchronously, which made students feel more confidend because they could control the audio file very easily (importance of agency).
Having a transcript or not showed no real differences reported by the students in relation to how many times they listened the clip. There were more correct answers in task 3 with the full transcript but task 2 (partial transcript) showed least correct answers, which implies that listening plus another activity like dealing with partial transcription interferes with comprehension of text. Listeners also consulted a dictionary much more when they only had a partial transcription.
From the experiences of this pilot project and the students' answers, here are the best practices for creating listening tasks:
- clear task design
- either no transcription or full transcription to support listening
- built-in student control
- deploy task asynchronously (rather than in lab)
- rudimentary, plain, stripped down material (nothing to distract)
The exchange took place in a dedicated task-based environment with pedagogical goals that support reciprocity in the learning situation. The types of activities include "spot the differences", "draw and quess", and "giving instructions". In the future Christine and her colleagues plan to design more activities and develop the idea of task-design further.
Kent Andersen (Odense technical univeristy) in the audience raised the point of teacher control, as he felt that there still was a bit too much of that. Christine accepted the point but also said that the students seem to forget the teacher's presence very soon. Other points from the audience centred around the goals of this types of activities as they are more focused on imporving fluency than on improving accuracy.
Thursday, 6 September 2007
Before lunch (Thursday) we could hear about a wiki pilot project between Australian and Italian students. The aims were to promote online collaboration and foster development of linguistic skills, explore contemporary youth issues and research intercultural learning online. There were three members of the project: Suzanne Cloke, Matthew Absalom and Andrea Rizzi. The whole project seemed very interesting since the three had adapted different course layout. Even though students were a bit unfamiliar with the technology at first, they were soon engaged in the wiki. Students claimed that their communication and writing skills improved by using it.
One of the issues brought up, the assessment aspect,which has been discussed a few times today is how to assess online collaboration when used in language learning settings. The three project members applied different ways: no assessment (and the students didn’t have any problem of getting interaction going)- some assessment – to full assessment.
Vance Stevens has just pointed out that the virtual presentations are on FRIDAY 7th and SATURDAY 8th (not 8th and 9th as stated on the schedule page until a few minutes ago) September. Please consult the schedule page for the correct dates and times now that we have rectified this error. Thank you for spotting that, Vance.
Defining literacy, for Peppi, the idea of multiliteracies is important; designing for learning, using these designs with students to develop the designs. Muticulturality is also important. We have a multitude of lenses through which to look at what happens in and outside school - formally and informally. Anothear important issue was how well students were given ownership of authorship.
Peppi then went on to describe the project she's currently involved with. She's been trying to see how strategica and pedagogical levels meet. She recognises a division between both these and between teaching practice and local cultures. The project collected features that would be part of a good learning environment.
- access/authorship/ownership framework
- The activities and texts should be meaningful to learners, having meaning outside school.
- informal settings should merge with the formal setting
The project started with a large survey (Peppi talked about this today). The next phase is to gather qualitative data from learners and teachers.
The two research questions Peppi explored here were:
- what literacy practices d6 learners and teachers engage in both inside and outside school?
- what kind of learning environments exist and are created in schools
The findings suggest that the skills learnt in schools are not necessarily the skills learners need in their life outside school. There is a mismatch between learners' and teachers' perceptions about the use of the Web in the classroom. Peppi pointed out that out of school, teachers use the Web for quick searches for e.g. train timetables, online banking etc, while students use online communities most.
Although Peppi agrees that to be a good teacher it isn't necessary to join online communities, but it is alarming that in the survey, teachers not only didn't know about life online, but they didn't want to know about it.
In conclusion, there are different in and out of school views of reading and writing; teachers' and students' views, attitudes and use of the Web is very different and we need to take a different approach to teacher training to address this.
There were many questions at the end of this presentation, mostly asking about the data in more detail. Peppi wanted me to challenge her, but, in fact, I totally agree with her on this one! So, maybe someone else will put forward a challenge here?
Find out more at http://www.jyu.fi/tolp
Podcast 1: http://www.eurocall2007.com/virtual/archive/vs01.mp3
Podcast 2: http://www.eurocall2007.com/virtual/archive/vs02.mp3
She discussed the various variables of autonomy: confidence in lang learning abilities, learnt beliefs/educational history... (and that is how far I got before the slide disappeared... :( )
Her study has both qualitative and quantitive elements. In the quantative stages she has carried out a survey study where she was exploring autonomy in a blended learning course. The concept of autonomy was broken down into following constructs:
- active approach
- organised approach
- use of need learning strategies
---- The report from this session is a bit jumpy and sporadic, sorry about that. It would be great if Ruth would have a moment to fill in the bits I've missed here :) ----
Sake introduced us to the Taal Vaardig (ready-for-languages) project at this university. The main idea of the project is to strengthen the collaboration btw lang departments and the lang centre, to develop the staff development schemes in language pedagogy, and to promote learning modes that support the development of learner autonomy.
Change is a slow process, but it is possible. Right?
Journal of the European Association
for Computer Assisted Language Learning
Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL)
Submission deadline: 31 January 2008
Mobile phones, handheld computers and personal audio and video players are understood to have great potential in supporting new ways of teaching and learning. As ownership of these mobile devices increases and access to wireless networks develops, the use of such devices to support language learning becomes ever more feasible.
Until relatively recently, MALL activities very much mirrored early CALL activities. Electronic quizzes, grammar drills and vocabulary lists dominated. In the space of two or three years, however, MALL has become more disparate, expanding from a purely teacher-learner, text-based model to one that supports multimedia, collaborative listening and speaking activities and allows learners to co-construct knowledge to solve problems and fill information gaps.
In such a rapidly evolving environment, there is a need for research, both theoretical and applied, on how this new resource can be integrated into the language-learning environment.
This issue of ReCALL will include articles (between 5,000-7,000 words) which address aspects of the integration of MALL activities into language learning and teaching. Topics may include those listed below, but articles on other aspects of MALL and language learning, teaching and teacher education are also welcome.
- Theoretical issues relating to the role of MALL in language learning
- Empirical studies of the effectiveness of using MALL in language learning
- Methodological issues in MALL and language learning
- The role of mobile devices in supporting independent language learning
- MALL in language teacher education
Articles should be submitted electronically to June Thompson, email@example.com, by 31st January 2008, in accordance with the documentation at http://www.eurocall-languages.org/recall/contribnotes.html.
The students in the current study are all deaf (in the social meaning of the word, Elina correct me if I am wrong, will you?) and the course set-up had been designed to accomodate for their needs. The study is an ethnographic study where Elina is heavily involved in the activities she is researching. The course itself was a 2-wk crash course in Moodle with six participants. It is a real challenge to plan a course for the deaf students as their language backgrounds can be very varied (native sign language speakers, hard of hearing, native Finnish, etc.) and the content to be taught is challenging too: how to teach the spoken element as the students can never hear it (and have most likely never heard it) as you cannot really use the written format to model the spoken one.
Preliminary conclusions at this stage are that access to different varieties of language is of great importance as these students don't necessarily have access to that in the school context. Another thing to consider is that should international signing be included in the teaching as it would have added value to the students? Courses like these seem to empower the students to discover new ways of learning and using the language in their own lives.
The study itself centered around the following questions: How did the students make use of the tools in the wiki and how did they benefit from the feedback (or did they)? The assumpton had been that students would be investing a lot of time on their own pages in Wiki, but in fact most of the action took place in the interactive spaces such as the discussion forum. 9 groups out of 28 made real use of the wiki, which was a bit of a disappointment. It is likely to be due to the fact that this part of the course wasn't assessed.
Linda and Sylvi, please add things I've missed or misunderstood :)
You might find the following references interesting. These were mentioned as background reading for the study:
Egbert, J.L. (2005). CALL research perspectives.
Leung, C. (2006). Convivial communication: recontextualising communicative competence
“Online and blended approaches to foreign language education: exploring the role of the teacher”.
The speakers are:
1. Melinda Dooly & Carmen Ellermann (the EC-funded MICaLL project)
2. Carolin Fuchs (a project related to the use of ICT in secondary schools in Germany)
3. Anthony Fitzpatrick (the EC-funded EUROVOLT project – Vocationally Oriented Language Teaching)
The session is exploring the role of teachers in these new contexts and how they adapt to integrating online components into their teaching.
More to follow...
He's raising very interesting questions about whether Web 2.0 is really new, focussing on the Mitmach (participatory) Web.
I'm sure others will blog the content of the presntation much more coherently than I can, so I'm going to reflect here on the fact that it's fascinating to find how difficult it is to blog a presentation rather that to take notes on it. Not the same thing at all! Live blogging is much more difficult than uploading after the event - no time to edit, for instance. Does this mean that blogs should be relegated to being reflective tools? I'd be interested to hear your views on that.
Now, I'm going to turn my full attention to this extremely interesting and engaging presentation. If you haven't been watching live, I'd urge you to access the streamed version when it's available - you're going to enjoy it and find it really motivating!
Don't forget that all the presentations will be archived, so if you miss them - or if you want to watch again - you'll be able to do so.
Wednesday, 5 September 2007
The Diamond. The Show & Tell booths were side by side around the room, and it was very easy to move from one presentation to another. Also, the presently on-going programme was shown on a big screen, and it was easy to find what you wanted to hear.
The sessions also finished on time - thanks to the efficient reminder system, I thought. Actually, it was probably either the fire or burglar alarm. But it finished the first presentations conveniently at 17:55.
I must say that for me it was very difficult to concentrate on the presentations as
the noise from other presentations and people moving about in the central area really
disturbed me. And there were surprisingly few people attending - especially in the beginning. Is it because people were still arriving or were they perhaps having a short rest after the workshops and before the evening's cocktail party?
It is very good that new ideas are tried in Eurocall conferences, but these kinds of "fair-like" Show & Tell sessions still need some development for the next conference.
Here are some of the presentations I heard:
Kent Andersen talked about the POOLS project, which is developing teacher training courses based on pools of materials for nine languages. The Pools people believe in "copyleft", which means that everything they have done and put on their web pages is freely usable and editable by anyone - provided that the new material is also kept copyleft.
You can download many things from the POOLS site, use and re-use and work on them (but remember the "copyleft" principle!). There are e.g. courseware manuals, also on methodology.
* * * * *
Anna Kyppö, a slovak teacher from Finland, talked about her Virtual Slovak course, in which
she has used the mountain and climbing as metaphors for learning Slovak. The course starts from a base camp and goes up to Camp 10.
What is very interesting, is that she has used two students of slovak in the making of the course material. Anna said that every teacher working on an online course or online material, should consult the students from the very beginning. After all, it is the students that the materials we make are meant for. And I quite agree with her!
You can take a look at the Virtual Slovak pages (still an unfinished version) at
* * * * *
Myles O'Brien talked about a Flash-based program called SoundBighter, which he has created
for language teaching. With SoundBighter you can select sections (ten altogether) of a sound
file and play them. The editing data or configuration is stored in a separate text file so
that you can use it later on over the internet or on a local computer.
The program could be used for making listening exercises, e.g. dividing a longer piece into
convenient sections or focusing on important parts.
As everything is based on Flash, all the sound files must be in mp3 format (Flash will only
play mp3s). The program is free for anyone to use online or download at
http://www.mylesobrien.com/sb/ (you can find there everything you need).
I appreciate the effort to accommodate for people in all different time zones, but personally, I find the synchronous meetings with fellow Eurocallers the most rewarding - for a moment they make me forget that I’m not present at the conference. The photos that are uploaded have a similar effect on me, so all you bloggers out there, please post many photos!
All in all, however, the flexibility that the asynchronicity provides does suit me very well this year, since I have other matters to tend to as well. Caring for a baby while trying to chat synchronously is quite a challenge… Let’s just say that it’s fortunate we’re not using audio :-) .
Am doing the virtual strand workshop and just writing my first blog!
Just a thought: a big thank you to all the students who were at the airports, train stations, street corners etc yesterday ready to lend a helping hand with all kinds of info, especially the handy tips re pubs and restaurants in Portstewart (is that how you spell it??) :-))
Have a good conference everyone!
A: My history starts with "The Bushmills Inn sounds wonderful and worth the visit".
B: My history is better than yours. Na na na na na.
B: : -)
A: nice try
B: it only took me 3 attempts to get the icon right...
Here are some captured moments of the workshop
One of the workshop participants said "we expected to carry an in-depth discussion about CALL issues, but ended up with chatting about the greatness of Irish whiskies", but this picture proves that we only had some water in the room and, alas, no whiskey. :-(
Well, here we are in the Virtual Strand workshop, which appears to be going very well.
The Executive Committee have had one busy working day and an excellent meal in The Bushmills Inn, a beautiful old coaching inn in the town where the Bushmills Irish Whiskey Distillery is located. Bushmills is my favourite Irish Whiskey, produced by the oldest distillery in the world, founded 1608.
But we are also here for serious reasons, of course :-)) Over 200 participants from all over the world are arriving in Northern Ireland to take part in this conference on teaching languages with new technologies. We hope that you will join us online and take part in the blog and live chat.
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
We are all set to go!
WELCOME TO EUROCALL 2007 either in person or virtually!
Monday, 3 September 2007
- Agnes Kukulska-Hulme & Lesley Shield, Can mobile devices support collaborative practice in speaking and listening?
- Isabel Pérez Torres, Webquest: a collaborative strategy to teach content and language on the Web
- Vance Stevens, Mastering Competencies for Collaboration and Aggregation in Distributed Learning Networks
Online presentations are usually a little different from face-to-face presentations in that there is generally a lot more audience participation in terms of questions and discussion. So, if you intend to attend one or more of these presentations, please read the paper in advance and be ready to ask questions and/or discuss the content with the authors.
If you can't attend a presentation but would still like to discuss one or more paper, the authors will be opening discussion threads on the Virtual Strand Discussion Group (you'll need to register to take part in the discussion list). Like the papers, you can access the discussion group via the Virtual Strand Website.
So, come prepared with your thoughts, ideas and questions! We're looking forward to some interesting discussions.
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Today, we've added a link to a Yaplet (http://www.yaplet.com) chatroom on each page.
You can find full details on the EuroCALL 2007 Virtual Strand Website's homepage at http://vsportal2007.googlepages.com/home