HASALD: Learner autonomy and the role of technology


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This is a presentation given to the Hong Kong Association of Self-Access and Learner Development. It describes an implementation of project-based learning using digital video in a course in English for Science at a Hong Kong university. More details of the project can be found at: http://www1.english.cityu.edu.hk/acadlit

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  • This aim of this project was to engage science students in the making of scientific documentaries as part of a digital video project.
  • The course we focused on is an English language course for BCH and maths students, which focuses on disciplinary English in scientific contexts - e.g. how to present (both orally and in writing) a scientific report with a typical IMRD structure and what lexical and grammatical resources to draw on for different parts of such a report.
  • To serve these aims, the course was structured around an English for Science project, which engaged students in conducting a simple, quasi-scientific investigation, involving the formulation of a hypothesis, carrying out of an experimental procedure, recording of data, presentation and discussion of findings. Students worked in groups to carry out the experiment and orally present their findings, and then worked individually to write up the same experiment as a kind of scientific report.
  • In their private lives, students' experience of reading and writing is increasingly moving away from traditional conceptions of literacy, towards new literacy practices which emphasize multimedia and participation in globalized online communities. As teachers of English literacy, how do we prepare students for this multimodal and participatory world? Academic faculty in the BCH department point out that students need assistance with their spoken English, especially when giving presentations, but at the same time, the development of spoken language competence requires sustained effort. How can we motivate students to reflect on and improve their spoken language abilities? In order to respond to these questions, we extended the existing project-based learning methodology used on the course. This was done by changing the oral presentation in the course from a typical classroom oral presentation (i.e. with PPT etc) to a more innovative, and some would say, more current form: a multimedia scientific documentary, which used video to document the English for Science project and its experiment.
  • This was supported by a number of technological tools: [Insert Figure 1 from Fostering Autonomy paper about here] For different stages of the project, students used different technological tools to carry out the project, e.g. the Internet for gathering and evaluating information, DV cameras and editing tools for shooting and editing, YouTube channel and blog for sharing their videos with the rest of the class. All of these different stages were also scaffolded by in-class activities, and we closely monitored students' progress on what was a very complex project. Thus students were given deadlines to meet (week 4 data collection done, week 5 script done), and were encouraged to think about their collaboration in terms of the different specialist roles that they could adopt (e.g. researcher, script-writer, director, editor). Importantly, all students were required to perform the role of a presenter in the video, meaning that all students were forced to practice presentation skills, the main aim of the assignment.
  • I am just going to focus on a few key findings here, from questionnaire and from focus group
  • HASALD: Learner autonomy and the role of technology

    1. 1. Learner autonomy and the role of technology TDG Project 6000302: Christoph Hafner, Lindsay Miller, Richard Kong, Connie Ng http://www1.english.cityu.edu.hk/acadlit
    2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Background and rationale </li></ul><ul><li>Student video </li></ul><ul><li>Action taken </li></ul><ul><li>Observations </li></ul><ul><li>Reflection </li></ul>
    3. 3. Background and rationale
    4. 4. EN2251: Communication Skills I <ul><li>Discipline-specific English course with students from BCH and MA </li></ul><ul><ul><li>CILO 2: Orally present the theory, method and findings of a quasi-experiment, making effective use of verbal and non-verbal delivery techniques. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CILO 3: Write a scientific report, making effective use of appropriate language, organization and academic referencing conventions </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. English for Science Project <ul><li>RATIONALE </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific presentations and reports (such as lab reports) are frequently based on observations which test a hypothesis. In this project you will make some observations of your own and report them, first in the form of a scientific documentary (Assignment 1), then as a ‘lab report’ to your tutor (Assignment 2). </li></ul>
    6. 6. Rationale for the innovation <ul><li>How can we motivate students to reflect on and improve their spoken English? </li></ul><ul><li>As teachers of English literacy, how do we prepare students to participate in globalized online spaces, which utilize new forms of multimodal representation? </li></ul>
    7. 7. Student video Click here to view video
    8. 8. Action taken
    9. 9. Modify English for Science Project <ul><li>In class presentation > Scientific documentary </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oral presentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multimodal representation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Appropriate communication for a scientific audience </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Technology and support
    11. 11. Observation
    12. 12. Data sources <ul><li>Questionnaire (anonymous, open/closed items) </li></ul><ul><li>Focus group interviews </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students (21) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Programme leaders in BCH, MA (4) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Students’ comments in course weblog </li></ul><ul><li>Student work </li></ul>
    13. 13. Areas of interest <ul><li>Data was coded and organized via MaxQDA: </li></ul><ul><li>Authenticity </li></ul><ul><li>Autonomy </li></ul><ul><li>Creativity </li></ul><ul><li>Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Language Skills </li></ul><ul><li>Motivation </li></ul><ul><li>Multimodality </li></ul><ul><li>Project process </li></ul><ul><li>Suggestions and advice </li></ul><ul><li>Teamwork and collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Time management </li></ul>
    14. 14. Motivation 1 <ul><li>[The most enjoyable thing about the video project is] to learn to make a video, because such work is new to me and I find it interesting to learn it. </li></ul><ul><li>[Questionnaire ID54] </li></ul>
    15. 15. Motivation 2 <ul><li>It's very different than what we’ve done in the past year. We only did presentations and probably like lab projects. This is very different to us. So, it is challenging but I think it's at the same time makes you to be more creative. You can be like add your own creativity into it instead of just reading and writing. </li></ul><ul><li>[Focus group, Jane] </li></ul>
    16. 16. Authenticity of task <ul><li>[The most useful things learned were] the procedures & element to make a documentary. I think as a 21 university graduates, it's better if we have some knowledge of multimedia production. </li></ul><ul><li>[Questionnaire, ID33] </li></ul>
    17. 17. Authenticity of audience: <ul><li>Because—um, a lot of people may read it not just our class-- classmates, so I would do it--I will pay more effort to do it and I also will treat the documentary as a real documentary because it’s just like the documentary done by BBC or some others although the topic is quite simple or quite basic, so I think that. </li></ul><ul><li>[Focus group, Joyce] </li></ul>
    18. 18. Independent learning (practice) <ul><li>I also have record many times as I was responsible for the discussion part and [pause] and every time I record and then I listen to my voice, I just think that my pronunciation, my intonation is not good enough and I try to record it again and again. The process is quite, umm annoy. </li></ul><ul><li>[Focus group, Cath] </li></ul>
    19. 19. Independent learning (resources) <ul><li>That’s [the resource website is] one thing, but most of the time we Google it. </li></ul><ul><li>[Focus group, Terry] </li></ul><ul><li>I would download some software from the internet and just read the instruction, how to use it and try, and trial and error. So this is my way to overcome the technical problem. </li></ul><ul><li>[Focus group, Dan] </li></ul>
    20. 20. Teamwork and managing the learning process <ul><li>From this project, I learned how to know our own strength and weaknesses so that to divide the job or divide different people into doing different kinds of the assignments… So, um, also, I think my group have very good teamwork because, uh, for me, I'm working as for editing and Pat, uh, working as actor and Robert for researching some information and writing the scripts. So I think it’s very effective. </li></ul><ul><li>[Focus group, Vee] </li></ul>
    21. 21. Peer teaching <ul><li>For example, actually the script of the theory part is written by Janet and I’m going to edit it. And if she don’t explain the words to me, what is the theory about, and I must consume so much time on understanding the script… And so, she helped me out. </li></ul><ul><li>[Focus group, Nancy] </li></ul>
    22. 22. Reflection on learning <ul><li>Finally we have finished our filming! I think we all have done well in this project as most of us have never done this before! Watching the documentaries of other team we can know more about the inadequacy in our video. For example, Bob’s group does impress me the most! The filming technique is prefect [sic] and the video shows well balanced in both entertainment and academic aspect. </li></ul><ul><li>[Blog post, Mark, October 19th, 2009 at 7:57 pm] </li></ul>
    23. 23. Way ahead
    24. 24. More sophisticated topics <ul><li>Working with BCH, MA to come up with new topics for different sub-specialties </li></ul><ul><li>Some guiding principles for these topics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easily relatable to students’ worlds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More sophisticated science, but not too sophisticated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Retain the focus on English skills development </li></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Technical support <ul><li>Further develop our resources for students, e.g. with additional instructional screencasts on animation </li></ul>
    26. 26. Further dissemination <ul><li>Please visit our website or get in touch: http://www1.english.cityu.edu.hk/acadlit </li></ul>