New trends in integrating EFL CALL, E-Learning and Online Education
Dr. Saad Abdul Majeed Saleh
Academic Supervisor – Education Expert
Cite this paper:
Saleh, Saad Abdul Majeed (2012). New trends in integrating EFL CALL, E-Learning and Online Education. Second Symposium on English Language Teaching in KSA: Realities and Challenges. 17-19 Jumada Al-Awwal 1433 A.H. 9-11 April 2012 Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
EFL teachers endeavour to seek ways to make different tools available for students to be involved in their learning. CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning) has played a vital role in the language learning context, whether the synchronous (in real time) mode or asynchronous (delivered time) one. New tools such as mobile phones, podcasts, and social networking have emerged in the field to have their effect on the learning mode. Online learning has proved to be a vital for increasing learners’ motivation and satisfaction.
Keywords: CALL and Online learning, Mobile Assisted Language Learning, EFL Blended Learning, Socila Networking for EFL/ESL learners
Researchers have previously stressed the role of online negotiations of meaning via computer-mediated communication (CMC), intercultural communicative competence, and electronic literacy and identity (Blake, 2007). There has been growing interest in this technology; however, research in this area has been limited. This paper will discuss the new tools available to enhance CALL and Online learning. Among those: Mobile Assisted Language Learning, Podcasts in second /language Acquisition) research, EFL Blended Learning, and Social networking for EFL/ESL. The use of these devices and tools can open a new world of potentials for individual student and groups to be engaged in language activities in the classroom and outside. These activities can help feel more comfortable utilizing new devices, computers and the Internet, and support them to share better means to express themselves. But such multimedia practices need to be evaluated in order to see their efficacy.
What do EFL students need?
- Lots of practice to use English, especially orally. Let students speak in the classroom and teach them where to come across opportunities to practice speaking English outside of class, and give them confidence for doing so.
- Exposure to living English. Never lead your students to believe that English is a set of rules and words to learn by heart. It is the living animate creation of cultures and communities around the world. Try to do whatever you can to uncover this depth. Non-traditional teaching materials, pen-pals, and the field trips are good ways to make English come alive for the students.
- Reasons to learn English, and motivation to fuse with it. English can be theoretical when you’re growing up in a far way village. Try to know about each student’s other passions and bind English into them. There are a lot of English communities online and off that it’s possible to find a tie-in for almost any other area of interest. Social networks are powerful tools. (Bell, 2011).
Online learning as a type of collaborative learning can improve the cognitive activity of students (Hartup, 1992) and increase learners’ motivation and satisfaction (Ushioda, 1996), as well as the enthusiasm of students through the achievement of goals as a group (Nichols & Miller, 1994).
MALL: Mobile Assisted Language Learning
Mobile devices by used as effective instructional/learning tools. Mobile learning relates to “the possibilities opened up by portable, lightweight devices that are … small enough to fit in a pocket or the palm of one’s hand. Typical examples are mobile phones, palmtops, smart phones and PDAs; Tablet PCs, laptop computers and personal media players” (Kukulska-Hulme and Traxler, 2005).
The Characteristics of Mobile Learning are:
- ubiquitous (everywhere, anytime),
- pervasive (an abundance of networked mobile and embedded devices), and
- Ambient (completely around us, learning enhanced buildings and networks, wireless cities) (Kukulska-Hulme and Traxler, 2005).
Are mobile phones convenient teaching/learning tools?
Thornton and Houser (2005) point out that such tools:
- could help email English vocabulary lessons at timed intervals to the mobile phones of 44 Japanese university students, students receive mobile email lessons,
- 71% of the subjects preferred received lessons on mobile phones rather than PCs,
- 93% of the subjects felt that the mobile phone is a valuable teaching/learning tool.
In their study about “A Mobile-Device-Supported Peer-Assisted Learning System for Collaborative Early EFL Reading” Lan, Sung, and Chang (2007) indicated that “the use of mobile devices in collaborative EFL reading activities reduces the stress experienced by students and facilitates student collaboration. [The] use of these devices also opens a new world of possibilities where students can individually engage in EFL reading activities anywhere and at any time with the assistance of learning support and real-time feedback.” The study also gives evidence that “a mobile device-supported EFL reading program is an emerging portable and potential solution that can provide students with adaptable and ubiquitous support for collaborative EFL reading activities at virtually any place and time.”
Podcast is defined as "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or related program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player" (New Oxford American Dictionary, 2006). What is a podcast? Podcasting was originally a contracting form of the terms 'Programming on Demand' and '(broad) casting'.
Kenneth Beare (2001) points out that “Podcasting is especially interesting for English learners as it provides a means for students to get access to "authentic" listening sources about almost any subject that may concern them.” Instructors can make use of such advantages to provide their students with listening comprehension exercises and help generate conversation based on students' reaction to podcasts. Each student can be provided with diverse listening materials.
Podcasts in SLA (Second Language Acquisition) research.
Podcasts as a source of aural input for learners of English have already received some attention among EFL CALL instructors (Diem, 2005; McCarty, 2005; Stanley, 2006).
- Osaka Jogakuin College in Japan, which was the earliest educational institution to provide iPods for its students, was among the first institutions to implement the introduction of portable media devices to learning (McCarty, 2005), and Duke University, in North Carolina (US) had an initiation to provide all students of first-year with iPods. The use of the devices was based on the provision of custom-made materials to their own students (Rosell-Aguilar, 2007).
- Stanley (2006) provides detailed steps for learners to create their own podcasts in English that can encourage them to invite their families and friends to listen to. Such real audience can act as an immense motivation. In order to produce podcasts, students need:
- A means of recording audio in the mp3 file format:
The teacher can do this on a PC equipped with a microphone and speakers. However, if one wants to record students in the classroom, he/she will need a handheld mp3 player with recording facilities.
- Audio editing software:
The program Audacity is a powerful free tool that is popular with a lot of podcasters. Though, one can simply record the show in order, using a tool such as Audacity allows him/her to edit out the mistakes, modify the order of learner, add sound effects, and creating a more professional show.
Anyhow, Audacity is really easy to use.
- A weblog:
This is one podcast's homepage on the Web. Here one can bring out show notes to accompany the podcast.
- An RSS Feed:
What is RSS? RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly altering web content. Many weblogs, news-related sites and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever wants it. A subscription
feed that supports 'enclosures' is available free at Feedburner. It makes it easy to produce the feed that people use to subscribe to podcasts. The feed is generated by ticking checkboxes in a list.
Online EFL Space
Online EFL Space is an empty area on the Internet to store different learning files. There is also availability for students to communicate with other English language speakers all over the world. In such space there are exercises, puzzles, games, and projects to help students practise their English skills, in listening, speaking, reading and writing, with the computer, with their teachers, and with their colleagues and friends. Teachers and learners constitute the Online EFL Space community. Teachers can organize groups of students, track their progress and provide feedback for groups and individuals. Interactive lessons can help learners to self-study.
EFL Blended Learning
Blended learning (b-learning) is a combination of classroom instruction and technology in a bendable approach to learning. Some authors (Reid-Young, 2003; Marsh, McFadden, and Price, 2003) suggested different b-learning models with the aim of improving and saving cost of learning outcomes. Integrating e-learning (with virtual classroom, by telephone or email support) with classroom-based face-to-face environment has different advantages to facilitate group discussions, self-study, interactive learning, and individual language development.
Kaplan, one of the world’s largest private education providers, perceives blended learning as a crucial part of its business strategy:
Our Blended Learning approach to instruction stems from the top practices, research, and experience available in the field of education today. We developed our innovative approach because we know that children learn best when exposed to different methods and approaches to instruction. We offer a unique blend of personal and online instruction. (Source: www.kaplan.com)
The University of Central Florida (UCF) investigated Blended Learning and found that blended courses have the potential to increase student learning while lowering attrition rates, compared to equivalent, fully online courses (Dziuban, Hartman and Moskal, 2004).
Blended learning should be approached not merely as a temporal construct, but rather as a basic redesign of the teaching model with the following characteristics (Dziuban, Hartman and Moskal, 2004):
- a shift from lecture to student-centred instruction in which students become active and interactive learners (this shift should apply to the whole course which includes face-to-face contact sessions);
- Increase in interaction between learner-instructor, learner-learner, learner-content, and learner-outside resources; and
- Formative and summative assessment mechanisms integration for learners and instructor.
Blended Learning Cycle
The learning cycle is divided into two phases:
The First Phase: This phase includes testing, induction and course tailoring to learner’s needs.
(1) Testing: An English placement test is conducted to act as a reliable criterion to place the students according to their English proficiency level. This test is graded out of 100 points which can easily be interpreted. Such tests have to be customized according to the students' level of performance. The test should focus on the skill intended to be tested. The time element should highly be taken into consideration, namely, the test time should be sufficient for the students to answer the test questions in an integrated test including the four language skills. One of the advantages of using the multimedia interactive test is the availability of getting a prompt feedback upon completion of the test. A multimedia interactive test presents an excellent indicator of the improvement ratio of both the student and the teacher as well.
(2) Induction: It is a two-way process that allows the learner to discover the learning environment and the teacher to understand learner’s challenges, needs and fears. Induction is an ongoing process to help the learner to modify his/her learning for more development and the teacher to reflect upon his/her induction for the learner to enhance the learner’s learning experience. E-learning induction can allow EFL learners to take some elements of the Internet learning materials/modules and leave the others in the domain of traditional classroom learning. Induction programmes can be tailored to meet learner’s specific requirements. The learning content provides different features that can be used to ensure that the progress of learner’s learning is tracked and assessed.
Learners can benefit from an induction that:
- Allows them to verify that their chosen learning is appropriate for their needs
- Signposts or direct their attention to other opportunities where appropriate
- Prepares them to get maximum gains from their chosen learning
- Marks out what they can expect from their course
- Provides them with information relevant to their venue, their course, their support needs and possible progression opportunities. (Adapted from: WEA Policies/Learner Support/Learner Induction Policy. www.wea.org.uk)
(3) Tailoring: Teachers tailor the course content to the specific needs of a group of learners. The content could be edited or added to. The tailored content should take into account the different environments of learning, particularly the formative assessment which can promote reciprocally active work-based learning.
The Second Phase: This phase comprises two streams:
didactic and application/practice.
(1) The first stream: Didactic:
- Asynchronous learning does not require the learner and teacher to be on the computer at the same times. It aids learners to enter or leave the learning material whenever they want.
- Learners work at their own rate of performance and at their own convenience.
- Learners can work on their own schedules and submit their assignments for feedback and receive a response by email.
(2) The second stream: Application/practice:
- Learners gain confidence through their participation in different activities such as dynamic interactive games, brainstorming, role-plays, discussion activities, conversation activities, skills workshops, debates and jigsaw tasks.
- Chatting and/or IM (Instant Messaging) can be used as additional modes of communication between the teacher and the learner.
Social learning: Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and Ning
Social learning means that we can make use of our network contacts to communicate with others and access the available information we require. Social learning via the Internet depends on social networking. Teachers all over the world hold virtual office hours on Facebook, Ning, and Twitter. They post assignments and run discussions through ePals and skype.
What is social networking?
Debbie Brixey (Digital Unite, 2011) points out that “Social networking refers to the use of online social networks such as Facebook to communicate with others. A social network includes blogs and other ways to share ideas and text, groups you can join, private messaging, file -or photo- sharing functions and a chat facility. Online social networking sites such as Facebook allow individuals to communicate with others anywhere. They let you contact people with similar interests or relationships and share things with them, including photos, websites, likes and dislikes.”
The social networking user has his/her own profile page and usually has some control over what the page viewers are allowed to see. Page owners can share with others or limit access to their relatives, colleagues, friends or people whom they know.
Computer Mediated Communications (CMC) and social media can help enhance the English language four basic skills of reading, listening, writing and speaking and be included in the syllabuses for learners to use them effectively and functionally with their colleagues and others.
Social interaction, via networks, conforms the dynamics of cooperative participation, and exposure to the target language, where relationships between parties arise to meet mutual needs and learning objectives.
Social networking educational benefits
According to a survey by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) (2011), 50% of teens say they talk to their peers about schoolwork online (IM, blog or social networking sites) or via text message. A larger proportion (60%) indicates that they discuss education-related topics such as college and career planning. According to the survey, 96% of students with access to the Internet build social networks. That more than 50% of these students discuss education is promising for educators. NSBA points out those Social Networking technologies should be adapted for use in the classroom. (National School Boards Association, 2011)
Social networking for EFL/ESL
There are two types of communication: Passive comprehension practice and active practice.
(A) Passive comprehension practice includes (as an example):
- Videos watching on YouTube
- Listening to English language radio stations such as BBC Radio and BBC Learning English.com
- Reading online news sites and magazines
(B) Active comprehension practice:
Currently, learners can communicate with each other through:
- Instant messaging (Chat)
- Bulletin boards (forums)
- Internet telephony (VolP = voice over IP)
- Video conferencing
- Shared online whiteboards
How can teachers and students make use of Facebook?
- Students send their e-mails to their teachers to be able to contact them.
- Teachers post links to files, WebPages, videos via YouTube, and homework assignments for students to do.
- Students use the target language to write to their friends or comment on pictures or friend’s writings.
- Students can talk to each other and other people in English.
Tweet (verb) is (Digital Technology) to post a message on Twitter (Dictionary.com). Twitter is an online social networking service, micro blogging and service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, known as "tweets" (Wikipedia).
Those who want to use Twitter have to understand the definitions and terminology related to such social network:
- Tweet: When a Twitter user posts an update to the account, that sent update is often referred to as a "tweet" and the user is said to have "tweeted". Tweet can be used as a noun, referring to the actual written update, or used as a verb to refer to the act of publishing an update.
- Follow: You can either sign up to follow other Twitter users or they can sign up to track you. If you follow someone, it simply signifies that you automatically receive that person's Twitter updates. When that person posts an update on Twitter; it appears on your Twitter homepage instantly. Any updates for all the people you sign up to follow appear in reverse chronological order with the most recent update on top of the page.
- @reply: @reply precedes messages sent from one person to another that are public, i.e. anyone who can follow your Twitter updates can see the @replies that you send or receive, whether or not you are followed or you are following them. Such messages appear on Twitter updates as @username (with "username" replaced by the person's actual username from their Twitter account).
- Direct Message: A direct message is a private message from one Twitter user to another. You are only able to view your direct messages in your direct message Inbox after you log into your account. You are able to send a direct message to Twitter users that you are already following. (Susan Gunelius, About.com Guide)
Kenneth Beare (2012) sees that Twitter has exploded across the Internet and more and more English learners are taking advantage of Twitter to practice their English. Learning English on Twitter is perfect for a few reasons:
- Twitter's 140 character limit makes certain that English is practiced in bite-sized bits.
- Students can find out information about any topic, especially popular culture topics.
- Students can obtain bite-sized tips on English learning via Twitter.
- The time encirclement required is minimal allowing learners to slowly get used to practicing English on a regular basis.
- There is nearly no technological learning curve to using Twitter to learn English.
- Students can make use of Twitter to ask questions and get advice from their followers.
In her post on the basics of blogging, Anne Davis (2005) stresses that students need to learn by exploring what others write, make connections, and endeavour for writing that matters, and she ask questions that make a reader think and want to comment:
"Some of our best classroom discussions emerge from comments we share together. We talk about ones that make us soar, ones that make us pause and rethink and we just enjoy sharing those delightful morsels of learning that occur. You can construct lessons around them. You get a chance to foster higher level thinking on the blogs. They read a comment. Then they may read a comment that comments on the comment. They get lots of short quick practices with writing that is directed to them and therein it is highly relevant. Then they have to construct a combined meaning that comes about
from thinking about what has been written to them in response to what they wrote. It's such a good way to begin the process of teaching reflective thinking. (December 11, 2011)"
Ning (website) refers to an online platform for people to create their own social networks (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). There are over 90,000 social websites on Ning worldwide. Ning is a social integrative platform that helps observe patterns across the entire ecosystem.
Those who join Ning can automatically have a customizable profile page and be able to message and friend each other. They can make use of a combination of features (forums, photos, videos, events, etc.) from an over-growing list of options.
There are different Internet sites that include a tremendously wide-ranging Ning websites to offer a large EFL /ESL community of learners and teachers as well as a whole host of learner resources and classrooms. There are also Ning sites of business and ESP English. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCCT) is a Ning online platform for schools and university teachers of English.
Evaluating EFL/ ESL multimedia
The evaluation requires EFL/ESL multimedia users to take these points into account:
- Navigation facilitated
The learning programme has to be exhibited in a simple interface so as to encourage EFL students to navigate easily paying attention to the content and practice as well.
- Student prior information considered
Background information of the materials and learner’s level has to be taken into account. On the other hand, learners should not exert hard time to understand the concepts. Furthermore, sociocultural knowledge appears to gain paramount importance.
- Student learning needs Satisfied
Learner needs have to be addressed and integrated into the learning context. Flexible delivery related to learner-centred learning allows maximum choices and alternative pathways to cope with learner needs.
- Skills and content integrated
The language skills are to be woven effectively. The layout loom enhances the learning of the content in some hybrid form. Integration of skills can be motivating to learners of all backgrounds and different ages.
- Quality of practice provided
The learning input, processing, and output quality have to account for promoting the development of learner’s ways of learning and thinking.
- Rubrics scoring customized
Many writers argue that it is preferable to prepare rubrics with students prior to asking them to do the task and that offers more authentic, learner-centred and makes powerful authentic assessment practice (Wiggins, 1993; Seeley, 1994; and Stix, 1997).
- Aesthetic principles well thought-out
The charts, pictures, photos, graphs, tables, figures, etc. should appeal to the learner and call for creativity and learning enhancement.
Integrating EFL CALL, E-Learning and Online Education can help both teachers and learners to accommodate various learning needs and offer learners incentives and motivation. In the light of finding new venues for EFL teaching and learning, our physical school and university spaces have to change due to the changing nature of our economic and social lives that are affected by the different rapid development of technologies. In a survey conducted by the English
Professional magazine, that included teachers in over 110 countries to get their opinions on the future of English language teaching, showed that 90% of teachers believe the Internet and technology will grow significantly in the classrooms. In her comment about the survey, Dean (2012) addressing teachers, mentions that “the message for schools seems clear: gear up for exam classes and make sure you are up to date with technology- based resources!”
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