2013/04 – IATEFL Liverpool (PCE)

IATEFL Liverpool: Monday 8th April 2013

LTSIG Pre-conference Event – Technology and Learner Autonomy

The value of learner autonomy in language learning is long-established, and there is now an established relationship between computer assisted language learning (CALL) and learner autonomy (LA), but how have things changed since the digital revolution? To what extent do learners perceive technology as helping with their language studies? How do teachers promote learner autonomy with new media? To what extent do students make use of social networking sites in English? What role do self-access centres play nowadays? What has changed with learners who are learning online? What about mobiles?

In our PCE we looked at what technology can offer when it comes to more autonomous, flexible language learning. Against a background of a massive growth in interest in both digital technology and the need for greater learner autonomy if effective lifelong learning is to become a reality, we explored a variety of themes, including those which have been at the heart of ELT, technology and learner autonomy for some time, and others which involve a newer, more experimental approach.

Session details

Huw Jarvis: From learner autonomy and CALL to Mobile Assisted Language Use (MALU) and e-acquisition

Many of our students are digital residents in that they spend a significant amount of their time accessing and communicating information using a variety of digital devices. Critically, such non-native speakers of English (NNSoE) reside in cyberspace in both their L1 and in their L2 and in doing so they “pick-up” English along the way. In this talk I will draw on a series of studies which examine the ways in which NNSoE make use of technology beyond the classroom in less formal learning contexts and the extent to which such uses are perceived as helping them learn and/or acquire English.

The talk will begin by defining key terms and critiquing long-established views of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and its role in learner autonomy before going on to argue that this is no longer adequate. Critical to this argument will be the significance of NNSoE residing in cyberspace on an anywhere anytime basis with a range of devices, and their use of various programmes, including social media such as Facebook in their daily lives. Studies which combine both quantitative and qualitative techniques point to: a significant role for both L1 and L2 and with it a recognition that unconscious acquisition is as important conscious learning activities. The work reported in this talk, together with work in progress, suggest a need to go beyond traditional views of learner autonomy CALL and to embrace an alternative notion of mobile assisted language use (MALU) which has, it is argued, the capacity to include notions of both e-learning and e-acquisition.

Paul Braddock: The Flipped Classroom

This workshop will attempt to explore the possibilities of the ‘flipped classroom’ in language learning and look at the potential of this relatively new approach to promote greater learner autonomy and personalisation of the learning experience. We will look at some of the key features of the flipped classroom and try to identify the teacher’s role as well explore how far technology has taken us.

In my workshop, I aim to raise debate and discussion around the potential of ‘flipped learning’ as an effective approach in ELT. I will highlight how this approach is currently being implemented by EFL teachers in a variety of contexts and establish some of the core concepts of flipped learning. Using these examples and concepts, I hope to initiate discussion between participants about how effective this approach is at encouraging learner autonomy and how well it matches the ideas we have about effective learning in general.

Having attempted to establish what happens in a ‘good’ language learning environment, I will explore the possibilities of how the flipped classroom can represent a progression towards a ‘coming-of-age’ in the use of web tools for effective language learning; that by employing them as a more unobtrusive and integrated feature of learning outside of the classroom, they can serve to facilitate a more personalised experience within it.

To do this, I will show examples of a how some web tools are used, both inside and outside of the classroom and ask participants to discuss how they may have a positive or negative impact on the key areas of personalisation and learner autonomy when used in the two different contexts (in and out of the classroom).

In this way, I hope to raise awareness of how technology, when used in a flipped learning set-up, can help build learners’ confidence and encourage a more proficient level of communicative competence inside the classroom.

Kristina Smith: Autonomy in Online and Blended Learning

Learner autonomy has been associated with distance learning from the early days of the correspondence course, through courses delivered on the radio and later television, right up to today’s online course fashions: mobile learning and MOOCs. Today’s online course designer has to make decisions about methodology of the course and the activity structures as well as how they will assess learning. There is just so much to choose from…. the variety of media available for instruction (podcasts, video, text, etc.), the balance between collaborative and independent activities, synchronous and asynchronous, the platforms and the different task types we can create may seem overwhelming.

Instead of getting lost in the candy shop, let’s start with first principles, and derive activities and assessment from there. What do we think ‘learner autonomy’ means in an online or blended learning context, why do we want to develop it and how do we develop activities that foster this quality in our course participants?

Joe Dale: Combining hardware, software and mobile technologies to support classroom interaction, participation, distance learning and success : what really happens!

Publishing pupils’ multimedia work to a potentially worldwide audience can motivate children, raise standards in their work, promote creativity and give them a real purpose for their language learning. It can also facilitate assessment for learning opportunities, distance learning, forge international links and celebrate pupil voice. The presentation will showcase some of the innovative ways modern foreign language teachers are harnessing Web 2.0 technologies and iPads popular amongst young people in order to engage them in purposeful and relevant communication with virtual peers around the world and create new opportunities for personalised learning in and out of the classroom.

Round Table: Technology and Learner Autonomy

Summing up of the main themes of the day with Q&A from audience participants

Speaker Biodata

Huw Jarvis is a senior lecturer in TESOL at the University of Salford. He has been at Salford for over 15 years and before that he worked at UMIST (now the University of Manchester) for two years. Prior to this he was a teacher and teacher trainer abroad for over 10 years. During this period he worked in Thailand (with the British Council and AUA), in Kuwait (with the Ministry of Defence) and in Sudan (with the Ministry of Education). He has worked with teachers on short training programmes, consultancies and guest presentations (visiting lectures or conferences) in over 15 countries throughout Asia and Europe. He has published widely in technology and language education and he is the founder and editor of WWW.TESOLacademic.org which disseminates TESOL-based research via free video webcasts and includes contributions from a number of the global leaders in the field. Further details of his work are available from this site.

Paul Braddock is the manager of the British Council’s TeachingEnglish website. He has been working for the British Council in Barcelona for 8 years and was previously a senior teacher at the Barcelona Young Learners centre, where he was responsible for training and development as well as syllabus design. He has been involved in English language teaching and teacher training for over ten years, having previously worked in several countries, including Japan, Hungary and Portugal. He publishes on his own blog at http://bcnpaul1.blogspot.com.es/ and is on Twitter as @bcnpaul1. He has developed his own professional development online game, which aims to guide players through a series of challenges and virtual rooms in order to become more reflective practitioners on a day-to-day basis. He is interested in the development and use of technology in the English language classroom, particularly the ways in which we can exploit different learning spaces to help our students become more autonomous and effective learners.

Kristina Smith has been fascinated by how Internet-based tools allow teachers to connect, share ideas and develop new ways of working with learners ever since she took her first online course in 2007. She currently works at SeltAcademy, where she organises training for English language teachers, kindergarten through high school level, in Turkey and surrounding regions. Before that, she worked with university preparatory programs and she has recently started working with science teachers who teach in English. She is a trainer at Pilgrims in the summer. In her ‘free’ time she lurks on online courses for fun and works on her MEd ICTs in Education at Macquarie University. Find her on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristina123smith and http://www.seltacademy.com.