A Fruitful Symbiosis: Self-access
learning and research in an online
educational laboratory
Jean-Paul DuQuette
Ritsumeikan...
Introduction to Cypris Chat
• An EFL learning and research community in
Second Life (focusing on oral skills).
• Founded i...
An online community center
• Free access and membership
• Classes and learner-driven events daily
• Welcome area serves as...
The Cypris Model - Learners
• Learners are able to practice their English on
demand and for free. They can socialize with
...
Cypris Model – Tutors (instructors)
• Tutors are generally native or proficient non-
native English speakers. There are cu...
Cypris Model - Researchers
• Half of tutors are also actively doing
educational research in Cypris. Cypris has also
hosted...
The current research:
Initial questions
• Why do learners choose to practice their
English in this unusual context?
• What...
The current research:
Methods: Ethnography
• Participant observation (since its inception in
2008)
• Two-stage interviews ...
If I were a betting man…
• The relaxation of formal teacher-student roles
• The DIY emergent nature of the group
• The ent...
References
• Boellstorff, T. (2008). Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist
Explores the Virtually Human. Princet...
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Jalt 2010 Poster: A Fruitful Symbiosis

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JALT 2010 - Self-access learning: Thinking outside the box - A Fruitful Symbiosis: Self-access learning and research in an online educational laboratory
Part 1 (Poster section)

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Jalt 2010 Poster: A Fruitful Symbiosis

  1. 1. A Fruitful Symbiosis: Self-access learning and research in an online educational laboratory Jean-Paul DuQuette Ritsumeikan University JALT 2010 djgizmoe@hotmail.com
  2. 2. Introduction to Cypris Chat • An EFL learning and research community in Second Life (focusing on oral skills). • Founded in 2008 by Mike McKay. • Active membership floats at around 300. • Members and staff are EFL learners from around the world, as well as language teachers, researchers and interested native speakers.
  3. 3. An online community center • Free access and membership • Classes and learner-driven events daily • Welcome area serves as a chat lobby • Seasonal events and special classes offered • Majority of members from Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America • 24/7 access
  4. 4. The Cypris Model - Learners • Learners are able to practice their English on demand and for free. They can socialize with other members or staff, attend weekly classes and events, play English games, and get connected to other EFL communities in SL. They also organize their own classes and events, and may eventually become on-staff volunteers.
  5. 5. Cypris Model – Tutors (instructors) • Tutors are generally native or proficient non- native English speakers. There are currently six tutors at Cypris offering regular classes; 4 out of 6 of them teach university-level EFL classes in “real life” (RL). Tutors are able to demo RL lessons and gain experience teaching in SL. Cypris tutors routinely bring their RL students into Cypris and Second Life.
  6. 6. Cypris Model - Researchers • Half of tutors are also actively doing educational research in Cypris. Cypris has also hosted several short-term research projects (in press). Research volunteers have access to a wide variety of willing research participants from around the world. This makes it ideal for graduate student researchers unable to find RL participants, as well as researchers hoping to generalize results outside of the Japanese learner context.
  7. 7. The current research: Initial questions • Why do learners choose to practice their English in this unusual context? • What keeps them motivated to participate? • How strong a motivator is the social aspect of Cypris? • Is the affective filter (Kraschen, 1981) lowered by using avatars?
  8. 8. The current research: Methods: Ethnography • Participant observation (since its inception in 2008) • Two-stage interviews (pilot underway) • Focus groups • Documents - teacher lesson plans, staff meeting agendas, participant-driven projects (i.e. Cypris Magazine) • Constructivist bent with member checking • Precedence – Boellstorff, 2008; Pearce, 2009
  9. 9. If I were a betting man… • The relaxation of formal teacher-student roles • The DIY emergent nature of the group • The entertainment value of avatar use • Embodied language use (Pearce, 2009) in an attractive environment • The desire for friendship and socializing • A background familiarity with computers
  10. 10. References • Boellstorff, T. (2008). Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton: Princeton University Press. • Krashen, S. (1981). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. English Language Teaching series. London: Prentice-Hall International (UK) Ltd. 202 pages. • Pearce, C. (2009). Collaboration, Creativity and Learning in a Play Community: A Study of the University of There. Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory. Proceedings of DiGRA 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2010, from Georgia Institute of Technology website: http://lcc.gatech.edu/~cpearce3/PearcePubs/Pearce_DiGRA2009.pdf • --------------(2009). Communities of Play: Emergent Cultures in Multiplayer Games and Virtual Worlds. Massachusetts: The MIT Press. • For more info: http://cyprischat.org/center/ or http://www.cyprissociety.org/
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