What Are The Implications For Designers Of Language Learning SitesPresentation Transcript
What really makes students like a web site? What are the implications for designers of language learning sites? Jane Hughes, Claire McAvinia, Terry King Department of Education & Professional Development University College London email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Overview of Presentation
ATLAS project (Arousing a Taste for Languages at school)
Description of work done
Findings and possible implications
Discussion and questions
A levels and first degree take-up in MFLs in UK
Good news or bad news?
A level and first degree take-up
Research Questions, Project Aims
ATLAS addresses decline in language study
Focus on school students (14-19)
Research attitudes, perceptions, experiences
Aim to motivate, create interest, enthusiasm
Less widely taught languages = fresh start
Teachers develop with web designer
Language element but not beginners’ courses
Key points: interest, enjoyment, motivation
Outline of Research
Questionnaire 687 14-19 year olds, 9 schools
Covers language learning experience, opinions, perceptions
Asked to identify a web site they liked
Asked to give a reason for liking it
Focus group follow-up (Year 12 and Year 10/11)
Analysis categorised and identified themes
Students and teachers gave feedback on new taster web site
Online (students); face-to-face (teachers)
Anticipated problems with questionnaire
Identifying web sites: not a problem
Joke responses: a small number
Interpreting non-responses: for discussion
Some unspecific praise: “it’s good”
Sometimes needed to refer to the chosen site in order to categorise the reason: “it’s interesting”
Context may have influenced responses
First focus group less successful than second
Search engines – eg. Google, Yahoo
Academic support sites – eg GCSE Bitesize
Enthusiasms – eg. music, sport, ornithology
Heritage – eg Armenian culture, Indian dance
“ Magazine” sites – eg BBC, Urban75
Games – to play and download
Shopping – eg fashion, unusual items
Communication – email, chat, text msgs
Questionnaire: range of sites
Reasons given for liking sites Support for study? Humour?
“ Lots of text” off-putting (unanimous)
It was not quantity but arrangement of text that mattered
small blocks, clearly headlined,separated
students wanted to scan, not read
“ searching” the web page
They liked lots of links
but wanted to know, before clicking on them, what they would find
This may explain why these two sites were nominated, despite having “lots of text” . . .
Focus groups - more detail
Colours and pictures
Students are sensitive readers of these
Eye-catching but “not too in-your-face”
Can colours be patronising?
Cartoons vs photographs? Space ships and monsters?
Simplicity and lack of clutter valued
One reason for liking Google more than Yahoo
Bitesize revision site
“ Things that mess up your eyes”
backgrounds, blinking, flashing
Annoying sounds, or music that can not be turned off
Having to download helper applications
Flash and Acrobat Reader mentioned
“ It doesn’t have to be all flash”
No gimmicks; but how to avoid ‘patronising’ design?
How much material in one place? How best to manage text and links?
Unusual subject matter a strength but could still include music, sport, fashion – how best to present this?
Reflecting teachers’ interests, design ideas
Whether/how to include a gaming aspect?
Would our design align us with particular sites that students liked/disliked?
ATLAS taster site - homepage
Russian taster – homepage
Danish taster - homepage
Russian Alphabet exercise
Hot Potatoes for Danish
Hot Potatoes for Polish
Initial feedback from students
MORE of everything
Interactions, pictures, information
Most liked the look of the site
Colour again was cited often
Most liked the map but not the space round it
Wanted pictures of people
Usability enhancement needed
More obvious links and headings
Possibly site map, drop-down menus
Possible areas for discussion
Web and visual literacy
huge range and changing
How can we take account of the speed of change in this area?
What are student bringing to their reading of web pages?
Is this kind of information something that language teachers need to know?
Or is it up to technical staff or VLE designers to provide templates?
Taster site to be developed further, responding to the feedback from students and teachers
Pilot use in schools, November-December 2003
Complete site in all partner schools, January 2004
Site publicly available
Thanks to the following
All the students who took part in the survey.
The school language teachers who helped with the survey and gave us feedback on the web site.
The UCL language teachers who developed the Taster courses. They are from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, the Department of Scandinavian Studies and the Language Centre.