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Context & Connections: Designing a Vocab App

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  • 1. SCARLET: SCAffolding Rich Learning Experiences through Technology
    Context & Connections: Designing a Vocab App
    Joshua Underwood
    Rose Luckin, Niall Winters
  • 2. Contextas personal narrative
    “Context is dynamic and associated with connections between people, things, locations and events in a narrative that is driven by people’s intentionality and motivations. Technology can help to make these connections in an operational sense. People can help to make these connections have meaning for a learner” (Luckin 2010, p.18)
    But it is the learner that makes the connections and the way they do this is dependent on their interpretation of the stimuli and help offered – a learner’s context is personal and situated in an individual history of interactions with resource ecologies
    What methods are appropriate for understanding individual context?
  • 3. Methodological Challenges
    Access to:
    • Events that are widely distributed across lifetimes - “ethical and practical issues get in the way of analysing” the “fragmented conversations” (p. 30) learners have across distributed media, settings and times (Kukulska-Hulme 2007, p.30).
    • 4. Subjective experience – “Understanding the perceived experience of learning in, about, through, and despite context may allows us to design technology that is more sensitive to the unfolding needs and intentions of the learner” (Sharples 2011).
    Some opportunities:
    • Participatory methods give learners (& researchers/designers) voice
    • 5. Narrative helps reveal how connections are made across…?
    • 6. Auto-ethnography gives access to individual motivations, interpretations, perspectives…?
  • Using the EoR to re-design contexts for vocabulary learning
    3 overlapping cycles through the EoR framework:
    1) Map context – understand ZAA
    2) Analyse relationships – towards ZPA
    3) Identify/implement adjustments & scaffolds to help learners make appropriate connections
    Cycle A – Interviews, narrative accounts of successful vocabulary learning and responses to design suggestions (15 participants)
    Cycle B – Autoethnography – how can I use phone & software to support my vocabulary learning? (1 participant for 1 year+)
    Cycle C – Technology probe (phone + miLexicon software) & participatory re-design (6 participants for between 1 and 6 months – on-going)
  • 7. Cycle A: Learning from narrative accounts
    An advanced learner of English watching aDVDat homehearsa word, he has a feel for what it meansbut no idea how to spell it and consequent difficulties looking it up. Later he brings an English speaking friend home, shows her the clip and asks her to identify the word, She says its ‘”awkward” and spells it for him and they talk about it. Later he looks it up in a bilingual dictionary.
    A learner of English hears the TV commentator say something like "... he's at sixes and sevens”. She’s never heard that expression before. Her interest is piqued, she asks a friend about the expression. He says it's not an expression he would use. She moves her ring from her right hand to her left hand, a strategy she has developed to help remind her to look things up. Later at home, she looks up the expression in her dictionary.
    A learner of English watches CNN every morning for business news. He notices the unfamiliar phrase ‘pave the way’ in the scrolling text. He thinks he understands but notes it down to check in a dictionary. Days later, talking to an English-speaking friend he tries to use the expression. Initially, the friend is confused and this leads to the friend correcting his pronunciation
    For example analysis of a vocab learning narrative see -Retelling Stories: Setting Learner Narratives in Resource Ecologies, In: Proceedings CSCL 2011 p.611-615
  • 8. Cycle A: Resources, Filters & Contingencies
    Learners use a variety of social and technological resources to help them understand meaning, use and representations (written & spoken) of language
    Different learners have different access to/preferences for resources and this varies across settings, surrounding activity and current aims
    Vocabulary learning is contingent on encounters with appropriate stimuli, noticing opportunities, motivation, availability of resources, ability to link experiences across time and locations and sustain inquiry
    Learning vocabulary can be a process of linking situated (social) experiences with opportunities for reflection, (personal & collaborative) inquiry and abstraction – making connections between word senses & meanings (Vygotsky 1986)
  • 9. Signs
    Friends
    Google
    Conversations
    Dictionaries
    TV
    Blogs
    Books
    Pronunciation tools
    Radio
    Songs
    +
    Announcements
    Examples
    Teachers
    Language classes
    Native Speakers
    Thesaurus
    Reading, etc…
    Etc…
    How can mobile phones & software help me betterconnectmy experiences, my PLE & my mental lexiconacross settings & episodes?
    Sustained Inquiry over settings and episodes using resources for investigating, sharing & making meaning
    Stimuli
    interactions with language in the world
    Capture
  • 10. Cycle B: A personal experience
  • 11. Cycle B: some personal reflections
    Mobile phones, social media and other software certainly can help me connect encounters with language (in context) with opportunities for later inquiry and improve my access to social and other resources (despite context) that can help me make sense of and learn from these experiences (create personal narrative context) – see (Underwood, Luckin & Winters, 2011) for analysis of the kinds of connections
    BUT
    This is highly dependent on personal resources and these vary greatly over time and across settings (e.g. initiative, motivation, energy, effort, opportunities, mood, memory => learner context)
    & my inclination/ability to act is strongly influenced by
    1) Ease and speed of use, 2) prompts to use, 3) structure to help collect & connect language experiences with opportunities for reflection & helpful resources -> these lead to requirements for miLexicon software
  • 12.
  • 13. Cycle C: Participatory Re-design
    6 independent language learners lent phones with miLexicon. Used to support vocabulary learning as they liked over periods of 1 to 6 months.
    Data includes: interviews, software usage history, usage questionnaire, e-mail comments and re-design workshop (on-going).
  • 14. Cycle C: initial thoughts
    miLexicon can prompt and help learners to collect new vocabulary* and make initial inquiries into meaning. All participants reported adopting new vocabulary learning practices (at lest temporarily) and at least one participant continues to use the software on his own phone.
    *Use varies greatly across participants (e.g. < 10 words a month to > 100 words a month) and within participants over time. Amount of use may depend on multiple interacting factors like: opportunity, time available, language competence, location (in culture of target language or not), etc…
    Not all words added to miLexicon end up fully integrated into learners’ mental lexicons (e.g. available for fluent use). But looking through items in miLexicon is usually enough to prompt recall of experience and understanding of meaning
    Users most often do not take full advantage of the potential to connect new vocabulary with: media, examples of use, opportunities to revise and practice (e.g. using social media), etc… Often users stop at checking meaning
  • 15. Future directions: Scaffolding contingent on Learner Context
    • miLexicon provides opportunities for effective self-initiated personal and collaborative vocabulary learning (Adjustments to context in the form of software functions and user interface - static structures which may support scaffolding).
    • 16. However, learners often require more active prompting to exploit these opportunities and make appropriate connections. Such scaffolding might be provided by teachers (e.g. assigning and monitoring tasks using miLexicon and providing help) and/or by adaptive components (e.g. monitoring use and using notifications to prompt users to revisit items and use resources to make appropriate connections).
    • 17. Effective scaffolding requires understanding of task & context as perceived by the learner – Open Leaner Context Models may help learners, collaborators and systems develop shared dynamic understandings of context
  • Reflections on method
    • Narrative accounts highlight features of context the teller considers important and can reveal what connections are made and how these are made across widely distributed (both in time and setting) experiences
    • 18. Autoethnography helps us reflect on and understand the context of our own actions (how and why we make connections) and consequently, possibly better understand the actions of others
    • 19. Explaining & justifying narratives (Mor, 2011) and designs to others may help reveal tacit knowledge & avoid self-indulgence – a recognised risk of autoethnography
  • Thank you :-)
    For more see:
    The EoR Design Framework and Model Wiki
    http://eorframework.pbworks.com
    Luckin, R (2010) Re-designing Learning Contexts, Routledge
    Underwood, J, Luckin, R, Winters, N (2011) miLexicon: Harnessing Resources for Personal and Collaborative Language Inquiry. In Wannemacker, G. Clarebout, P. De Causmaecker (Eds.): ITEC 2010, CCIS 126, pp. 87–98, Springer
    Underwood, J, Luckin, R, Winters, N (2011) Retelling Stories: Setting Learner Narratives in Resource Ecologies. In proceedings of CSCL 2011
    http://goo.gl/XhTwa