EUROCALL 2014

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Context-aware writing support for SNS: Connecting formal and informal learning

Recent discussion of learning design has emphasized the importance of informal learning, the need to build bridges between this type of situated learning happening in our learners' everyday interactions on the one and formal learning in educational institutions on the other side - and the potential of mobile devices in addressing this challenge.
The authors of this paper have proposed a language learning environment that tried to connect classroom learning (of German in Japan) with learners' real life experiences abroad, in which smartphones detected the learners' location and supplied them with multimedia content matching their real-time communicative situation. The authors found though that learners rather tended to use these learning resources for preparatory or retrospective learning, rather than as support for on the spot interaction.
Based on these observations, and on considerations about the potential of social media as a space for informal language learning, the authors modified the design of the learning environment: the learners are now supported when writing an SNS post about their everyday experiences abroad. Help is offered based on the smartphone photos uploaded to the system, which uses the geopositional data to analyse the type of place or situation the learners might want to write about, and support the writing process by offering help in the form of vocabulary, expressions and/or model texts.
This learning environment was designed for learners of German (on CEFR level A2) at a Japanese University, who take part in a short-term language course in a German speaking country. It provides them with input (partially courseware/partially based on texts written by peers) to create a space in which they feel comfortable enough to use the target language in an activity that plays an important part in their everyday lifes - a posting on a social network, thus creating an opportunity for situated learning of writing. The decision to shift from speaking support to writing support was backed up by results of a survey amongst the target group, which showed that writing on SNS was an actitvity that our students engaged in very regularly, and that a number of advanced learners also used German in their postings on SNS. Thus we could assume that this learning environment would connect well with our learners' habits and needs.
The paper presents an outline of the theoretical background and didactic design of the learning environment, a report about a trial implementation and an insight into the evaluation of this project.

Author(s):

Ikumi Waragai    
Faculty of Policy Management
Keio University
Japan

Dr. Ikumi Waragai is Professor at Keio University (Japan). She received her Ph.D. from Bonn University on the topic of “Biblical Analogies in the work of Büchner - Religious Language as instrument of social criticism“ (1996). Further activities include translations (e.g. libretti), co-operation with the composer Hans Werner Henze etc. She has been engaged in the development of digital language learning environments for more than a decade.

Shuichi Kurabayashi    
Faculty of Environment and Information
Keio University
Japan

Dr. Shuichi Kurabayashi is Assistant Professor at Keio University. His research and teaching interests include multimedia systems, cloud computing systems, big data analysis and visualization.

Tatsuya Ohta    
Faculty of Foreign Studies
Nanzan University
Japan

Tatsuya Ohta is Associate Professor at Nanzan University in Nagoya (Japan). He researches into cognitive processes in second language writing, development of language learning environments, and second language teacher development. He was Associate Professor at Keio University until 2009 and is now Visiting Researcher of Keio Research Institute at SFC.

Marco Raindl    
Faculty of Policy Management
Keio University
Japan

Marco Raindl is Visiting Lecturer at Keio University (Japan). His research addresses learning design and classroom interaction. He also engages himself in teacher development and the production of learning materials (textbooks, radio).

Yasushi Kiyoki    
Faculty of Environment and Information
Keio University
Japan

Dr. Yasushi Kiyoki is Professor at Keio University. His research addresses multidatabase systems, knowledge base systems, semantic associative processing, and multimedia database systems. He serves as the editor-in-chief on Information Modelling and Knowledge Bases (IOS Press).

Hideyuki Tokuda    
Faculty of Environment and Information
Keio University
Japan

Dr. Hideyuki Tokuda is Professor at Keio University. His research and teaching interests include ubiquitous computing systems, decentralized autonomous systems, embedded systems, sensor networks, and smart spaces. Over recent years, he organized many international conferences and workshops in ubiquitous and pervasive computing community.

 

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