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Belinda Clements

The Story of Sharing Stuff: Building a network for sharing open educational resources for using smartphones in the language classroom

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Edited by Belinda Clements, Saturday, 18 Jan 2020, 16:12

H818 'The Networked Practitioner' Conference 

Monday 17th February 2020, 20.00-20.15

Research has shown that mobile assisted language learning (MALL) is effective for improving learner engagement (Carrier and Nye 2017, Chou et. al 2017, de Groot 2017), and recent years have witnessed an increase in the use of students’ smartphone devices in the English Language Teaching (ELT) classroom (Burston 2015). Smartphones allow access to almost unlimited authentic language input, and provide opportunities for ‘encouraging learner autonomy and involvement in the learning task (Cojocnean 2017 p57). They can be used in class for a wide range of activities, such as web searches, games, and creative tasks that use functions such as video recording and cloud-based collaborative software (see inter alia Peachey 2019).

However, despite a range of freely available resources for teachers (e.g. Cambridge English 2019), teachers require training in order to use smartphones more effectively in the classroom (Ally et al. 2014). Many teachers simply feel ‘confused and often overwhelmed by the options available for incorporating technology into their lessons’ and lack guidance for best language teaching practices (Carrier and Nye 2017 p216). Having the technology in the hands of learners challenges traditional ‘teacher-frontal’ models of teaching, replacing this with ‘with a peer-to-peer […] interaction that is guided […] by a teacher’ (Carrier 2017 p5). This can be especially challenging for teachers in ‘educational cultures where teachers are traditionally dominant’ (Carrier and Nye 2017 p208). 

This presentation showcases a number of learning activities developed to provide a blended training solution for the network of English language teachers who teach adults at one of 420+ Wall Street English (WSE) centres in 28 countries. A survey carried out in 2018-19 with 171 teachers from the network found that 48% of respondents never use mobile devices in class, although only 17% disagreed that smartphone use increases student engagement. 50% of teachers surveyed said they would use smartphones more often if provided with training and activity ideas.

A central aim of the WSE training solution is for teachers to be aware of available technologies, and to carefully consider the pedagogical design of activities using these technologies through using a reflective framework. Importantly, the training includes sharing with teachers freely available online resources using existing social media channels, and curating this content by creating an open online repository of ideas for teachers. It is also crucial to provide opportunities for teachers to share and reflect on their practices (Burston 2015, Cambridge English 2019). An online ‘community of practice’ (see Wenger 1998) is therefore being developed by creating a LinkedIn group where ideas and resources can be shared and reflected on. This presentation will present the open online resource for teachers, and will report on the experience of creating an online network and encouraging the reflective use of open educational resources. This presentation will be of interest to anyone concerned with teacher training, the implementation of open learning, and developing online networks for reflective teaching practice.


English Language Teaching (ELT), Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL), Open Educational Resources (OER), Teacher Training, Communities of Practice.


Ally, M., Grimus, M. and Ebner, M. (2014) ‘Preparing teachers for a mobile world, to improve access to education’, Prospects, vol. 44 no. 1, pp 43-59 [online]. Available at https://link-springer-com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/article/10.1007/s11125-014-9293-2 (last accessed 27 November 2019). 

Burston, J. (2015) ‘The Future of Foreign Language Instructional Technology: BYOD MALL’ . The EUROCALL Review, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp 3-9 [online]. Available at https://www.abaenglish.com/es/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/07/Eurocall_Review_App_ABA.pdf (last accessed 27 November 2019). 

Cambridge English (2019) The Digital Teacher: Digital Framework for Teachers [online]. Available at https://thedigitalteacher.com/framework  (last accessed 27 November 2019). 

Carrier, M. (2017) ‘Introduction to Digital Learning’ in M. Carrier, R. Damerow, and K. Bailey (eds.) Digital Language Learning and Teaching: Research, Theory and Practice. London, Routledge, pp 1-10. 

Carrier, M. and Nye, A. (2017) ‘Empowering Teachers for the Digital Future: What Do 21st-Century Teachers Need?’ in M. Carrier, R. Damerow, and K. Bailey (eds.) Digital Language Learning and Teaching: Research, Theory and Practice. London, Routledge, pp 208-221. 

Chou, P.N., Chang, C.C., Lin, C.H. (2017) ‘BYOD or not: A comparison of two assessment strategies for student learning’ Computers in Human Behaviour, Vol. 74, pp 63-71 [online] Available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2017.04.024 (last accessed 3 January 2020).

Cojocnean (2017) ‘Mobile Learning in the Foreign Language Classroom – Challenges and Opportunities’ Journal of Pedagogy, 2017(1), pp 59-72 [online]. Available at http://revped.ise.ro/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/2017.-1.-59-72.-Cojocnean-D..pdf (last accessed 3 January 2020).

de Groot, F (2017) ‘Tracing the Potential of Out-of-Class Digitally Mediated Language Learning Practice Back to the Classroom: A Nexus of Practice Perspective’ in M. Carrier, R. Damerow, and K. Bailey (eds.)Digital Language Learning and Teaching: Research, Theory and Practice. London, Routledge, pp 25-37. 

Peachey, N. (2019) Digital Tools for Teachers [online] Peachey Publications. Available at http://peacheypublications.com/books/digital-tools-for-teachers (last accessed 27 November 2019). 

Wenger , E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning , Meaning and Identity, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

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