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Presentation on theme: "B UILDING L ANGUAGE L EARNING C OMMUNITIES VIA S TUDENT -D RIVEN V IDEOCONFERENCING & S OCIAL R OBOTICS Lance R. Askildson, PhD Director, Center for the."— Presentation transcript:

1 B UILDING L ANGUAGE L EARNING C OMMUNITIES VIA S TUDENT -D RIVEN V IDEOCONFERENCING & S OCIAL R OBOTICS Lance R. Askildson, PhD Director, Center for the Study of Languages & Cultures Associate Professor of the Practice, Second Language Acquisition University of Notre Dame

2 P RESENTATION OVERVIEW Theoretical and pedagogical impetus Selection criteria for student driven video conferencing solutions for language learning Two pilot projects: design, participants, format Preliminary results and observations Technological and pedagogical limitations Future areas for inquiry and testing Some caveats as well… Pilot study; technical limitations; preliminary results

3 T HEORETICAL & PEDAGOGICAL IMPETUS : F UNDAMENTAL C HALLENGES Significant challenges to CLT in FL contexts (Lightbown 2001) Lack of authenticity to FL practice (Lightbown & Spada, 2009) Lack of oral fluency practicepractical constraints Lack of pragmatic feedbackparticularly expressive Need to negotiate meaning with socio-cultural contexts (Gass & Selinker, 2001; Lantolf, 2000) Overall lack of access to interactions with NSs Thus, lack of cultural content schema for interactions Oftentimes misplaced self-perceptions of proficiency until communicative breakdown occurs Study abroad is often seen as the remedy to these limitations of FL teaching However, study abroad is not feasible for everyone Technology can address many of these issues instead Freed (2007) cites quality of interactions as SA advantage

4 T HEORETICAL & PEDAGOGICAL IMPETUS : S TUDENT -D RIVEN I NTERACTION M ATTERS Student-driven interaction with native speakers is important for acquisitionit is, lest we forget, the intended outcome Opportunities for authentic foreign language interaction increases motivation and engagement via immediacy, integrativeness and instrumentality (Kern & Warshauer, 2000; Dörnyei & Schmidt, 2001; Ushida, 2005) The vast bulk of CMC chat research adds further support to this (See Abrams, 2008) Opportunities for negotiation of meaning to include pragmatic feedback (Lantolf, 2000; Freed, 2004; Sykes, 2005) Opportunities to practice language with a focus on meaning which is often absent in structural FL classroom Opportunities for automaticity practice within authentic interactional constraints (Kormos, 2006) Opportunities for Language Play before, during and after these interactionsrehearsal, online repetition/creative utterances, post-hoc repetitionaccording to both Lantolfs (1997; 2003) private speech and Cooks (2000) interactional models

5 T WO D ISTINCT A PPROACHES TO S TUDENT - D RIVEN I NTERACTION VIA T ECHNOLOGY Internet Window Initiative Internet Window Initiative: Emphasizing new technology allowing for sustained high quality video-audio interactions in a largely unstructured and student-driven format Student-driven videoconferencing stressing video quality Social Robotics Initiative Social Robotics Initiative: Emphasizing new technology allowing for mobile videoconferencing in an unstructured and entirely student-driven format Student-driven videoconferencing stressing free mobility

6 T ECHNOLOGY 1: V IDYO TECHNOLOGY FOR HD BROWSER - BASED VIDEOCONFERENCING High definition videoconferencing technology Requires only a single specialized video router in one location Accessible via a browser-based host Provides scalable coding that allows for improved video quality and lower latency No dedicated networks; reliable transmission; works with Internet2 Consortium Designed for professional corporate videoconferencing and ideal for extended use

7 P ROMOTING S TUDENT -D RIVEN I NTERACTION : T HE C ONCEPT OF THE I NTERNET W INDOW Internet Window as a high-quality & constantly streaming two-way audio and video connection that allows for near real communicationas if speaking through an open window. In many ways, the technology and format of the internet window is a combination of 24-hr streaming webcams and tradition computer mediated videoconferencing Distinct from highly structured and planned instances of videoconferencing, the internet window allows for spontaneous and largely unstructured student-driven interactions

8 V IDYO & THE I NTERNET W INDOW Vidyo allows for the creation of an internet window linking two student spaces nearly anywhere in the world The HD quality of the video-audio allows for significant psychological immediacy and facilitates communication and learning via clear transmission of linguistic articulation points, extralinguistic facial expression & body language Particularly relevant for study abroad prep and reentryalso allows for concurrent feedback Simulates authentic interaction with NSs by allowing students on both sides of the camera to drive interaction for fluency practice

9 I NTERNET W INDOW P ILOT S TUDY : D EVELOPMENT University of Notre DameCenter for the Study of Languages & Cultures (CSLC) Internet Window placed in multimedia room in CSLC on 24 iMacopen to all students Project began as a part of larger initiative to augment opportunities for oral language practice Initially faculty-driven pedagogical need starting with Wimba that grew into a research initiative Tried structured 1-on-1 videoconferencing via Skype but sometimes poor quality/reliability frustrating Partnered with Notre Dame IT video team Examined Access Grid techs like Polycom & Webex but chose Vidyo as best tech for point-point connect

10 P ILOT S TUDY : P ARTICIPANTS & F ORMAT Initially intended to partner with study abroad affiliate in France, but lack of appropriate student space and collaborators prevented this Instead, partnered with a university in Madrid Two ND Spanish classes (N=34) were assigned to spend minimum of one hour each weekother students using the CSLC could also participate One Madrid-based EFL class (N=15) was assigned to 30 min per dayinternet window placed in student lounge area on 20 iMac Both internet window points were hosted in locations open to larger student public Internet Window was hosted by Internet2 Consortium for trial purposes; limited to 3 weeks

11 P ILOT S TUDY : D ATA C OLLECTION Participants directed to spend their allotted time in front of the window and interact as they chose This unstructured format was deliberately chosen in order to facilitate an ethnographic approachi.e. we didnt actually know what to expect Over three weeks, participants at both institutions kept weekly journals describing and reflecting on these interactions In addition, six observations of internet window interactions were conducted (only on the ND side) during the three week period At the end of the pilot study, participants were asked to respond to a brief questionnaire

12 P ILOT S TUDY : J OURNALING R ESULTS Using a qualitative data reduction and display protocol by Miles & Huberman (1994), the following trends were identified in ND participant journals: Participants loved the windowin fact, they are upset that we stopped it after three weeks Participants indicated that most of their interactional time was spent trying to understand cultural references or explaining their own references E.g. Dorm rivalry and football pep rallies Participants were surprised by the poor communicative competence they held; comp-perf gap Participants felt that their oral language skills significantly improved; several indicated that they had never spoken so much in Spanish

13 JOURNAL RESULTS CONTINUED… In a variety of ways, participants indicated their surprise at the complexity of forms of politeness, address (Tu-Usted), register, etc. Many participants wanted to talk about their interactions in class; many came to their teacher with questions Many participants stayed in front of the window longer than they were required Many participants wanted to stay in touch with students that they met via the window; some exchanged contact information

14 O BSERVATIONAL D ATA Participant interactions were observed six times over 3 weeks via an observational protocol. The following behavioral trends were noted: Participants spent a significant amount of time negotiating meaning; breakdowns in communication were common and Spanish interlocutors frequently resorted to English to clarify ND participants showed a willingness to code-switch when they did not know a word in order to maintain utterance fluency; Spanish participants often stopped utterances to look-up words or request peer help Humor played an important role in all interactions; extralinguistic signals and body language were extremely important in communicating functions and stages of speech acts, aiding interpretation

15 OBSERVATIONAL DATA CONTINUED… Although it was never explicitly required, all participants made significant efforts to speak at least 50% of the time in the target language Rather speaking in their respective target languagesas some faculty expectedparticipants took turns speaking entirely in English or Spanish The language type would usually continued until a breakdown in communication required a change Students clearly enjoyed their sessions; several of them appeared to lose track of timea level of extreme engagement Vie (2007) calls flow and relates to ideal states of learning

16 P ILOT S TUDY : S URVEY D ATA Following the three week internet window pilot, students were asked to complete a brief questionnaire of Likert & Open-ended questions The majority of responses provided additional confirmation of previously stated findings: Showed communicative gap & lack of pragmatic knowledge Promoted significant and effective oral language practice HD video format demonstrated significant immediacy Some students who had been involved with a written & oral ePen-Pal project the semester prior mentioned how much better and real the internet window was More than half of participants indicated that they student- driven and unstructured format was significantly responsible for their high level of engagement

17 SURVEY DATA CONTINUED… Although most participants enjoyed the student- driven format of the project, many also expressed a want for the experiences to be incorporated into the classroom curriculum All students indicated that they enjoyed the experience and would repeat it; 4.7 / 5

18 P ILOT S TUDY : C ONCLUSIONS The internet window concept has significant potential as an engaging and near authentic form of oral language practice outside of class Interacting with native speakers in such a student- driven format raises awareness of communicative competences and sociolinguistic pragmatics Also shows gap between self-perceived fluency and actual communicative fluency Student-driven interactions provide ample opportunities for negotiation of meaningand thus consciousness-raisingin a meaningful context This promotes interlanguage development while also honing discourse strategiesboth linguistic & extraling

19 CONCLUSIONS CONTINUED… The HD Video format appears to add immediacy and engagement to the interactions A large majority of participants used the word real or lifelike to describe what they liked about their sessions There was a clear disconnect between the internet window sessions and the classroom courseworkthis may be deeper than simple integration issues This issue requires significant study

20 P ILOT S TUDY : L IMITATIONS Very brief and select group of students Ethnographic approach limits interpretation and generalizability No measure of language gains beyond self-perception No connection to study abroad participants/outcomes No data was collected among informal participants (i.e. drop-ins) even though this happened with some frequency & was encouraged A number of technical issues caused difficulties on the Spanish-side (primarily CPU usage) and disrupted several sessions; Coordination also caused difficulty The cost of implementing a full scale project includes the Vidyo router (~ $8k) and relatively new CPUs and videocards

21 T ECHNOLOGY 2: S OCIAL R OBOTICS Rovio the Language Learning Robot A wifi conrolled robot equipped with a high-quality webcam and two-way mic and speaker system Rovio can be controlled/moved anywhere in the world via wifi Highly flexible movement and camera angle Can be used to communicate in a uniquely student-driven manner both literally and figuratively

22 P ILOT S TUDY 2: L IMITED T ESTING Limited testing and scope due to novel technology Due to the technological novelties of Rovioand the need to have direct control over movement commands through the wifi systema number of IRB, infosec and technological hurdles have made this project difficult Intention to hold several weeks of unstructured testing between students in Anger, France and students in the CSLC was transformed into a single 2 hour session A brief proof of concept was conducted this summer An interlocutor in Anger, France successfully communicated with a French language student in the CSLC via Rovio Both image and sound quality were better than expected

23 R OVIO P ROOF OF C ONCEPT T ESTING *Microphone reverberation due to lack of headset use

24 R OVIO P ILOT T EST : F ORMAT Two NS French students in Anger, France took turns controlling Rovio in the CSLC space 14 students from a 2 nd year ND French class were invited to attend French conversation tables in the CSLC Students in the CSLC practiced speaking French with each otherdistributed around a number of language booths and spoke with their French counterparts in Anger when Rovio moved to their tables Rovio was also moved into the hallway at one point and startled some students not involved with the study Data collection for this limited test included direct observation, a brief survey among participating ND students and a brief interview via Rovio with participating Anger students

25 R OVIO P ILOT T EST : O BSERVATIONS Observations demonstrated a number of similarities to the Internet Window pilot Humor played an important role in all interactionssuffice it to say, many students needed several minutes to come to terms with a talking robot that spoke French to them Amazingly, students stayed in the target language at all times. There was some minor code-switching and a few cases of students stopping interactions to ask nearby students for unknown vocabulary Student affectafter the initial shock of the interactional formatwas extremely low and it was clear that everyone found the interactions both novel and enjoyable At several points, students needed to move down to the floor and speak directly into Rovio to be understood; this is likely both a mic sensitivity AND comprehensibility issue

26 R OVIO P ILOT T EST : S URVEY R ESULTS ND Student Surveys indicated a number of expected and surprising student perceptions All students indicated that this encounter was the first time they had ever spoken French with a native speaking peer A number of students indicated that they were uncomfortable at first because they could not see their interlocutor but she could see them Nearly all students indicated that the encounter was not simply novel and fun, but also a learning experience; several students indicated that it helped them to better gauge their comprehensibility All but one student indicated that they would like to participate in such an encounter again All students indicated that they would like to be the one controlling such a device in Franceseveral asked when this might become available More than half of students selected Rovios mobility as the most important part of this new interactional technology

27 R OVIO P ILOT T EST : I NTERVIEW R ESULTS The French students had only a few things to add about their participation They both agreed that it was an extremely novel and enjoyable interaction They were both surprised that the ND students could understand them so well and that they could understand the ND students with little interference They both understood how it could be good practice for the ND studentsthough their own attempt to speak English with someone in the hallway did not succeed very well They had technological concerns about interacting while moving Rovio and the audio quality when students were far from the robot One of the students noted that Rovios ability to move around freely made the interaction far more real than a previous videoconferencing session with CSLC

28 R OVIO P ILOT T EST : C ONCLUSIONS The technology works as intended and allows for meaningful interaction with native speakers The affective and communicative benefits of Rovio are interesting but the ability to move about and initiate interactions in a manner similar to authentic communication is rather groundbreaking Although significantly more research is certainly needed in order to properly evaluate the usefulness of Rovio for foreign language learning, these initial findings are very promising

29 F UTURE I NQUIRIES : B OTH S TUDIES Significantly more research is needed to evaluate both of these new technologies and their place within language teaching In particular, a task-based approach to such interactions should be investigatedwithout reducing the student-driven nature of these interactions Any evaluation of these technologies should demonstrate clear learning gains in light of the financial and resource costs involved

30 THANK YOU FOR LISTENING… Questions? Please email if you have questions, comments or would like a copy of this presentation:


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