EUROCALL 2014

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The Euroversity Good Practice Framework and its application to minority languages and elder learners

The Euroversity Network project (2011-2014) aims to bring together practitioners of any discipline to develop and run courses in virtual worlds, e.g. Open Sim, Second Life, Minecraft. At the core of the project is a process of course design and development. This network project builds on the outcomes of previous European language projects like NIFLAR and AVALON and reaches out to other ones like iTILT and TILA.

In the initial stages the Euroversity network project used case studies from earlier projects to build a Good Practice Framework (GPF) for course design in virtual worlds; it then used this framework to develop new courses and trial them. The framework was adapted and updated to take on board the evaluation received from running these new courses. Further case studies were then developed.

Two unintended developments have emerged from this process. The first has been insights into the areas of minority languages and the recognition of the affordances and constraints that virtual worlds offer for the teaching of such languages. The second area of application that has surfaced is that of age and disability.

Paper 1 presents the process of creating the GPF itself and the methodology used to evaluate it and demonstrates how the framework was implemented in the new courses in a variety of different situations. We will explore the principles that have been employed to make these courses successful and explore their utility for future users. We will discuss data collected from the evaluation of the courses.

Paper 2 discusses a number of potential and real obstacles for using virtual worlds in minority language teaching and evaluates the GPF from the epistemological point of view of an endangered minority language speaking community. We find that the obstacles experienced by users of computer assisted learning models such as infrastructure or lack of information can, to some extent, be overcome. On the other hand, obstacles experienced by e.g. an indigenous learning community may involve so many compounding factors independent from the educational context that providing a course design or examples of good practice is not enough to attract the community to the virtual learning environment.

Paper 3 explores the opportunities and challenges of designing a virtual social communicative space for language learning for the target group of elderly learners. We apply the Euroversity GPF to inform design considerations. This population segment has a great range of needs and abilities that we distinguish by sub-groups and compare with other segments such as people with disability. Our analysis is informed by an interview with A. Krueger, founder of Virtual Ability Inc. and by observation of Virtual Ability Island (VA) in Second Life. Our analysis concludes with recommendations for design of virtual learning spaces. In particular, we recommend that designs should offer support for the learners to draw on life experiences and to foster a two-way

Author(s):

Gary Motteram    
School of Education
University of Manchester
United Kingdom

Gary Motteram is a long time member of staff at the University of Manchester in the UK where he teaches on courses in language learning and technology. This is also his area of research interest and he has published widely on this topic.

Ton Koenraad    
TELLConsult
Netherlands

Ton Koenraad has worked for most of his professional life in higher education in Holland. He now runs his own consultancy company which focuses on (language) teaching and learning with technology

Kristi Jauregi Ondarra    
Languages, Literature and Communication
University of Utrecht
Netherlands

Hanna Outakoski    
Language Studies
Umea University
Sweden

Judith Molka-Danielsen    
Informatics
Molde University College

Christel Schneider    
CSiTrain
Germany

 

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