This presentation reports on an action research project that led to the development, implementation and assessment of various ICT based language learning activities. The presentation will explain the design and rationale of the activities, and also share data regarding students' perceptions and experiences.
Like in many teaching contexts, the university in which this project was carried out is increasing its focus on blended learning and online courses in order to offer learners more flexibility, cater to different learning styles, and simultaneously improve learners' content knowledge and digital skills. This trend also applies to language courses offered within the Language Centre. With the increase in blended and online courses, there is inevitably an increased need for the use of ICT. However, it is important to use such tools in a way that places emphasis on pedagogy rather than technology itself. In line with this, we introduced various ICT-based activities into the blended and online English courses offered by the Language Centre that we were responsible for. These activities were aimed at (a) offering students a more flexible approach to learning, (b) increasing interaction and engagement with course content, and (c) creating a more peer-supported learning environment that would also offer more opportunity to communicate in the target language. In addition, it was hoped that some of the activities could be used as part of a more holistic measurement of learning outcomes. However, when assessing the efficacy of such ICT-based activities, it is necessary to consider affective issues as well as pedagogical design because learners' perceptions and experiences can affect intrinsic motivation, something that plays a major role in language learning.
This presentation will first describe a number of activities and tasks that were designed to meet the above-mentioned goals. Then, quantitative and qualitative data gained from surveys and interviews will be presented in order to shed light on learners' perceptions of the activities. It is hoped that this presentation will be of interest to a range of language teachers, but especially to those involved in delivering blended or online course.
Natalie Close is a full-time English teacher in the Language Centre of Tampere University. In addition to her work in Finland, Natalie has taught in Thailand, Vietnam and Japan. Natalie holds a number of practical English language teaching qualifications as well as a Master's and PhD in Anthropology. Natalie has taught a broad range of English skills and content course, but currently teaches predominantly EAP classes and English-medium content classes focusing on intercultural communication. Natalie's research interests include technology-enhanced language teaching and learning, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), and English for academic purposes.
Darrell Wilkinson a full-time English teacher in the Language Centre of Tampere University. Before moving to Finland, Darrell taught in Thailand, Vietnam, the U.K., and Japan. Darrell has predominantly taught EAP, business English, and presentation skills, but has also taught courses focussing on SLA and research methods. Darrell holds a range of English teaching qualifications including a Cambridge University CELTA, CETYL, and an MS.Ed.TESOL. Darrell is currently working on his PhD in Applied Linguistics with a specialization in vocabulary acquisition and testing. His other research interests include technology-enhanced language teaching, CLIL, learner autonomy, and teaching to mixed-ability groups.