OU blog

Personal Blogs

Picture of Belinda Clements

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

Visible to anyone in the world
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.


Keywords

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


References

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.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

Comments

New comment

The use of mobile/smartphones in a classroom situation seems often to be a rather personal choice. I wondered if WSE, engaging in a large number of countries, found any pattern emerging in terms of which world zones found mobile tech a positive supportive choice. Perhaps that was used to advantage in the 'community of practice'.
Picture of Simon Ball

Conference Questions

Hi Bindi

Here are the questions and comments from your conference presentation - please respond in whatever way you wish!

Best wishes
Simon

  • So much available on smart phones., great for adults. however, some schools are now banning smart phones.
  • reminds me of there being great resources out there on youtube but youtube often blocked in schools
  • I think it is different for adult learners. I understand why schools ban smartphones but i think they are a brilliant resource
  • I recall playing a game on a playstation where we all put an app on our phone and played a game on the screen - I thought at the time that this could easily become a great school activity
  • and anything which can help to navigate the resources out there great. 
  • Is the different access to the internet the issue in China? Or different phone operating systems?
  • it seems a good idea for any use X tech in the classroom for teachers to reflect on what they are using it for / trying to achieve / do differently etc because there's no one size fits all approach?
  • Is it difficult to get time to set this up, are you given support by the Wall St school
  • What barriers did you have to combine business / vs open nature of resource?
  • LinkedIn is fine in China. Most Chinese and expats in China use WeChat (WeiXin)
  • Great scope for ESOL learners to continue language in between sessions. 
  • do you get a sense the  teachers will engage - ? 
  • I have found that use of social media encourages greater openness to smartphone use.  No engagement with social media seems to promote, and support, suspicion. Pity.
  • I wonder if it's a case of 'build it' (great mobile friendly teaching tools) and 'they will come'
  • great mobile friendly teaching tools need to properly promoted, so many people assume that all you have to do is put it out there and it will get attention.



Picture of Simon Ball

H818 Presentation Star

Congratulations Bindi!
Your presentation at the H818 Online Conference 2020 has been voted by audience members as one of the most effective presentations, and you are one of the winners of this year's Presentation Star awards!
You may download your award certificate from https://drive.google.com/open?id=1CMIBkfpTX9CMmJJ7tpCr-1D-YDdg3wKD

Well done and many Congratulations!

Simon Ball
H818 Conference Organiser

Picture of Belinda Clements

Response to Conference Questions

Thank you so much for all your questions and suggestions, and apologies for the delay in replying. Here are some responses. I tried to group them to give a more coherent response to all the comments - If I've missed yours please do respond in a comment to explain your question/comment more fully and I'll get back to you.

  • So much available on smart phones., great for adults. however, some schools are now banning smart phones.
  • I think it is different for adult learners. I understand why schools ban smartphones but i think they are a brilliant resource
  • reminds me of there being great resources out there on youtube but youtube often blocked in schools
One of the barriers I'm seeing coming through on the survey I'm running with teachers is that some schools ban smartphone use - I made sure on the survey I asked whether the teacher taught children or adults (or both). Interestingly in this case teachers say that they still use mobiles out of class.


  • Is the different access to the internet the issue in China? Or different phone operating systems?
  • LinkedIn is fine in China. Most Chinese and expats in China use WeChat (WeiXin)

The training has focused on using ubiquitous tools on smartphones (such as recording, search engine, etc.). Specific apps or websites we recommended (such as Kahoot!) were pre-tested to check they work in China. 

  • it seems a good idea for any use X tech in the classroom for teachers to reflect on what they are using it for / trying to achieve / do differently etc because there's no one size fits all approach?
  • I wonder if it's a case of 'build it' (great mobile friendly teaching tools) and 'they will come'
  • great mobile friendly teaching tools need to properly promoted, so many people assume that all you have to do is put it out there and it will get attention.
The heart of the training was a framework to get teachers to reflect on why they were using smartphone devices - not just using technology 'for the sake of it'. This helps teachers to work out whether these are 'great teaching tools' or not for them. The LinkedIn group is then being created so that specific ideas and experiences can be shared among teachers. 

  • Is it difficult to get time to set this up, are you given support by the Wall St school
  • What barriers did you have to combine business / vs open nature of resource?
Yes, I had a lot of support from Wall Street English, as this was part of a wider project to provide training and resources for teachers when planning classes. As this is a commercial business the training was clearly not going to be provided openly. However by sharing insights and ideas online, this bridges the gap between using and giving back to the pool of open resources.

  • do you get a sense the  teachers will engage - ? 
If this question refers to the training, then yes. We've already had a lot of feedback from teachers who have said that they are using smartphone devices more/more effectively in the classroom. If this refers to the survey I'm running, then I already have over 180 responses, which is a fantastic response! I'll be working with some other H818 students to analyse this data and publish some insights and reflections in a blogpost. 

Thanks so much everyone for your comments and questions!

Bindi


Picture of Belinda Clements

Personal Choice of using smartphones


The use of mobile/smartphones in a classroom situation seems often to be a rather personal choice. I wondered if WSE, engaging in a large number of countries, found any pattern emerging in terms of which world zones found mobile tech a positive supportive choice. Perhaps that was used to advantage in the 'community of practice'.

Thanks for your comment - so far we are at the pilot stage, so have not rolled this out to more than 3 countries. However I am running a survey (outside of WSE) with people responding from many countries, so when I get data back from there I will share.