Session 8 Focus Tasks
1. Submit your annotated bibliography.
Annotated Bibliography on the use of Gaming to Instruct English Language Learners
I elected to change my research project from the one previously proposed because I was inspired by presentations at a Society for Information Technologists and Teacher Training (SITE) conference that I recently attended. Consequently, this research project will explore gaming and the usefulness of this type of technology in assisting English Language Learners (ELL’s) and others with language difficulties. The literature in this Review: asserts that when students are involved in the world of the games they are able to better understand the context of English words and to grasp the meaning of colloquialisms. Gaming allows learning to occur in a natural, enjoyable way that removes the stigma of being unable to understand certain terms or meanings.
People who are non-native English speakers may have some intimidation about asking for word meanings. They will often try to pretend that they understand. This can be worsened by the intimidation factor that often affects students when they enter an academic library either electronically or in person. The research in the articles described below demonstrates how the collaborative but independent role of the game player assists in improving an understanding of the English language, colloquial expressions, and contextual variants in word or phrase meanings.
This topic is of interest to me because of my experience working with ELL adult learners as an academic librarian. Too often, students would nod to indicate understanding, but when I pressed for some demonstration of understanding there was confusion. I learned how to see when a student was not getting an explanation and how to rephrase or reshape instruction to make it easier for the student. These students particularly struggled with higher education. Online instructors do not have body language or expression to demonstrate a lack of understanding. Because of this, we must use technologies such as gaming to reach these students and to help them communicate effectively at the college level so that they may utilize the appropriate resources that will allow them to be successful in their classes.
Citation, Summary, and Review of Articles
Stanley, G., & Mawer, K. (2008). Language Learners & Computer Games: From “Space Invaders” to “Second Life”. Tesl-Ej, 11(4), ERIC access # EJ898143
Stanley and Mawer (2008) explain the importance of online environments in teaching English to students. They offer specific examples of where teachers can find computer games for free online, ways to use discussion of a game in the classroom by incorporating aspects of a game into more routine assignments. The authors also look at specific types of games and how they may suit differing needs from students. They also look at some of the research that is currently occurring in developing virtual instruction for second language learners and the likelihood that this type of technology will only become more important in the future as an educational resource.
Their research is divided into seven broad areas. Stanley and Mawer explore why language teachers should explore using games to help English Language Learners. This is important because teachers who are already over-burdened in terms of their work-load may be reluctant to explore a technology unless they see the genuine value that it can add to their students understanding of the subject. The authors look at what games are helpful and how to use them effectively. They look at how console games can be used in the classroom or incorporated into classroom lessons.
Stanley and Mawer list online games, how to find them, and how to use them to help students. They explore the enormously popular multiplayer games in which the players choose roles to play within the games. This type of game is particularly useful because there is autonomy in choosing one’s own character. At the same time, the student must work collaboratively in order to do well in the game. Research has indicated that collaborative learning reinforces learning. They explore the idea of virtual worlds with a particular emphasis on Second Life and games that explore alternate realities.
This article proved helpful by giving an overview of the importance of using gaming in the classroom and the types of games that are most useful to educators. It was very specific in how to use gaming and provided many examples of possible assignments and how the teacher could respect a student’s interest in gaming and use that interest to encourage improved learning. The article explains the comfort level that students have with technology and that using this can get the reluctant learner to learn more. It feels like fun instead of work.
This article could have discussed ELL’s in greater detail, but the authors did show how certain assignments can help in recognizing vocabulary, the order of events in stories, and how to fill blanks with logical terms based on the world of the game. It improved my understanding of the need for this type of research and practice in the world of education. The authors also gave many practical suggestions that can only benefit the classroom teacher and that show the value of gaming as an educational tool.
Leppanen, S., & Piirainen-Marsh, A. (2009). Language Policy in the Making: An Analysis of Bilingual Gaming Activities. Language Policy, 8(3), 261-284. ERIC access # EJ850604
Leppanen and Pilrainen-Marsh describe gaming as a “new media setting where the resources of more than one language are deployed to create local meanings and negotiate situated identities” (p. 261, 2009). The authors are focused on the need to combine research and accepted policy on the codification of language with the understanding of language as a socially shared and fluid construct. The authors point out that gaming allows groups of students from one country to play collaboratively with students in other countries. If the common language is English, these students may be better able to make connections between language and context that might not be made without this contact. Leppanen and Pilrainen-Marsh analyzed data drawn from gaming and multi-player gaming websites. They explored the use of language in the context of gaming and found that language learning was frequently transferred and re-utilized to describe similar situations. ELL’s seemed to learn and grasp context effectively in these settings. To illustrate their point, the authors reviewed recordings of Finnish students playing Final Fantasy X in a group setting in which the language used was English. This observation revealed to the authors that when the need to communicate was important to the student, he or she adopted the language more eagerly.
Leppanen and Pilrainen-Marsh found that the internationalization of gaming encourages cultures to combine in both language and understanding. The authors are interested in the impact of technology that is communicative and the effect that this type of connection will have on the evolution of language. They view gaming “as a multifaceted, multilingual sociolinguistic environment which creates particular kinds of affordances for language choice, language use, and learning” (p.264, 2009).
This research is helpful because it demonstrates that ELL’s are more likely to learn with less difficulty when they learn in fun, goal-oriented sessions. The authors further noted that there is a great deal of repetitive and imitative language used in fan fiction. This allows ELLs to grasp meaning more effectively than they might with other types of material. The writing in a gaming environment is very sensitive to the conventions and accepted understanding of the world being explored or under discussion. This commonality of context gives ELL’s cues that improve their understanding of English. It is very interesting to see how this works to effectively instruct students in language without seeming to be an educational process.
The detailed analysis of the language used in gaming and on fan-sites demonstrated that repetition and transference of words and phrases made a significant difference in students’ ability to work with the language to be successful in the context of the game. The social aspect of gaming and the significant interaction helps students to learn more effectively. This research suggests that language use in gaming will have a significant impact on language and on Ell’s ability to adapt to using a new language.
Salies, T., & Starosky, P. (2008). How a Deaf Boy Gamed His Way to Second-Language Acquisition: Tales of Intersubjectivity. Simulation & Gaming, 39(2), 209-239. ERIC access # EJ847884
Gastao Salies and Starosky showed the development of a deaf ten-year old child who used gaming in clinical settings in order to determine the impact that this would have on his speech development. He was already undergoing speech therapy. They found that gaming did improve his ability to use syntax, to strategize in terms of role placement and story development. The authors attributed some of the positive results to the repetitive nature of language use in gaming. With the child in question they found that his understanding of subjectivity led to his development in a second language. They attributed his greater understanding to the ability of repetition to make language more meaningful and contextually relevant.
The authors make the point that the study of gaming as being useful in second-language learning has been studied for decades. Prior to the emphasis, story games were used that allowed the game player to step outside of his or her world and simulate situations that are also modeled for other students. Board games have a similar effect. The authors refer to Vygotsky’s research in showing that stories help children’s cognitive development. Gaming in all of its formats is simply an extension of traditional games. We can understand their impact based, to some impact, on the research that has been done on cognitive and language development.
Having rules and structure in the game environment appears to be important in allowing the player to create a reality that is tied to the game. This creates an environment where there will be a great deal of repetition of language and action as well as imitation of other player’s strategic moves and language. This type of play helps students in strategizing and thinking through how their language will be perceived. The gamer wants to be accepted socially by the other gamers, so he or she will attempt to stick as far as possible to the rules of the game. The repetitive quality reduces the amount of time spent intellectually processing language and allows the player to become more comfortable using language.
This information is important because it shows that gaming as an educational tool works for ELLs and may also have a positive impact on disabled ELLs. The world of the game allows the player to be whoever he or she wants to be in that moment. This is very appealing to children who often feel insecure. It allows students to test out language in a relatively safe environment. They are able to interact socially and create meaning based on the repetition of actions and words used in the games. This has the potential to be very helpful for ELLs.
Liu, T., & Chu, Y. (2010). Using Ubiquitous Games in an English Listening and Speaking Course: Impact on Learning Outcomes and Motivation. Computers & Education, 55(2), 630-643. ERIC access # EJ884442
This article discusses the use of a particular type of language learning tool called the Handheld English Language Learning Organization (HELLO). The authors found that the use of the ubiquitous tool HELLO helped students in the experimental group to develop higher level language skills. HELLO is not the typical game described previously. It was designed using educational strategies and intended to pull on a variety of tools in order to improve students experience with language.
Liu and Chu conducted a study of 64 junior high school students and three high school teachers. They included a control group and an experimental group in their study. As noted above, the experimental group using HELLO improved in every area as compared to the control group. The evidence indicates that this type of ubiquitous learning is valuable to education and should be studied further.
One surprising conclusion that Liu and Chu found in their study was that students felt that using games alone could not replace traditional educational strategies. They saw it as supplementary. They found the game enjoyable, but wanted the instructor interaction that the classroom experience provided. I did not see this conclusion in other articles that I read, so I was interested to note this conclusion on the part of the authors based on the survey they gave students.
Connolly, T. M., Stansfield, M., & Hainey, T. (2011). An Alternate Reality Game for Language Learning: ARGuing for Multilingual Motivation. Computers & Education, 57(1), 1389-1415. ERIC access # EJ918743
Connolly, Stansfield, and Hainey cite a previous article they had written in 2007 to state that games-based learning “as the use of computer games-based technology…to deliver, support, and enhance teaching, learning, assessment, and evaluation” (2011). They argue that gaming has a powerful impact on digital age students who are accustomed to using technology to learn. They explore the concept of the player’s ability to establish an identity within the game. They acknowledge the opportunity that players have to interact with each other, allowing them the opportunity to hear and integrate feedback. They also conclude that the story line and the decision-making power of individual players allows them to develop logical thinking skills and an understanding of consequences within the context of the game, as well as, a sense of story and narrative. They also refer to the ability of the game to be customized to the player. This is particularly important for ELL students who may need prompts to effectively use the game to improve their English skills and understanding of the context of language in different settings.
Connolly, et al look at various games including EverQuest, a multi-player game that can be used to support ELL students, Second Life, which allows for interactive contact and a virtual life, and Tactical Language and Culture Training System, which is used by the government to immerse the participant in the culture and language of a particular country. All of these games have the ability to be useful for ELL instruction. The authors note that EverQuest is preferably to World of Warcraft because EverQuest labels everything in the game making it easier for ELL students to make the connection between the written words and the action taking place in the game.
The authors note the lack of empirical evidence supporting the use of gaming as a resource for ELL students. As the authors express, there needs to be more empirical research and assessment done in this area to demonstrate how these tools can be used successfully and how they can be modified to improve learning more significantly. The authors would like to see more work done with Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) to demonstrate their value and to encourage a multi-lingual society as technology allows people from every country to interact in a manner that has never before been possible.
I see in my work with college students the struggle that ELLs have in trying to adapt not only to scholarly vocabulary but also to the English language that they have understood well enough to work and be productive but that hinders their ability to be successful in academics. If gaming can help these students be more successful academically, then it should be explored on a broad scale so that schools are encouraged to incorporate this technology into their educational system.
2. Discuss your investigation into distribution methods. Name the distribution methods you investigated, how you learned about them and how you might use each one you investigated.
The distribution methods I investigated include Instagram and Haiku Learning.
Instagram has become a heavily used resource in education. I am interested in using it because it can be used for class inspiration, for group projects, and it allows students to spotlight their work and research. I had read about instructors using Instagram. It was also mentioned at a recent educational conference that I attended. I have not used Instagram much thus far, so I am excited to explore the possibilities with this technology. As indicated in the article linked to below, it can be used in a number of ways in the classroom and is a valuable resource. I would have students post visual examples of the resources they found and describe how they went about finding that resource in an information literacy class.
This is a good article on educational uses for Instagram: (http://www.weareteachers.com/blogs/post/2014/08/07/10-ways-to-use-instagram-in-the-classroom).
Haiku Learning (https://www.haikulearning.com/)
I recently saw Haiku used in a presentation and was very impressed. I have not used it myself, but I am looking forward to using it. The three buzzwords that the Haiku people use to describe their products are harmony, simplicity, and community. It allows the user to bring the content to the forefront of the presentation. Haiku is a learning platform. Pricing for Haiku is very reasonable. Teachers may use it for free. Districts are charged a small fee. Haiku is primarily geared toward K-12 teachers. However, I saw it used in a conference presentation and feel that it contains a number of tools that would work well in higher education.
Haiku includes cloud-based content sharing, assessment and feedback tools, mobile apps, and a standards based learning platform. Haiku coordinates well with Google products. Parent accounts are available for free to enhance communication between parents and teacher. Popular tools like badges, e-portfolios, and discussion boards are included. From the end user perspective, the look of Haiku is quite elegant. I am more or less obliged to use blackboard for full class teaching. However, I will happily use Haiku to design my next presentation.
3. Discuss your investigation into sources of information. List the sources you investigated, what you found and how you might make use of them.
Resources I investigated include Merlot and TED.
Multimedia Educational Repository for Learning and On-line Teaching (MERLOT)
Merlot is a resource that essentially vets the many educational resources that are available over the world wide web and allows instructors to add their materials to Merlot to be used by other instructors. There are projects being done across the CSU to add to the information that is available from Merlot. It is popular with members of my department at CSU Bakersfield. Merlot (www.merlot.org) is hosted by the California State University Center for Distributed Learning.
Merlot is intended to review submitted educational resources. An editor oversees different subject areas and ensures that the material is useful and accurate. It can be very helpful for teaching faculty because the resources have been vetted prior to being used in the classroom. It is a good resource for ideas and information as well as resources that can be directly used in the classroom. Merlot is essentially a repository of learning objects. The peer review aspect of Merlot makes it a good and reliable resource for teachers. People are required to set up a Merlot account before posting information. While I trust the editing on this site, I would still personally assess any resources used from this site. I would use Merlot for course materials for my own courses. I would also share the resources available with my peers and students.
Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) (http://www.ted.com/)
TED is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that has the goal of spreading ideas in short (less than eighteen minutes), video talks. TED has selection speciialists who select material that will appear under the TED brand. There is an element of peer-review. TED was originally a conference pertaining to technology, entertainment and design. Currently TED talks cover a wide variety of topics and are heavily used by many instructors that I work with as extensions on lectures and course materials. TED talks are available in more than 100 languages and makes efforts to appeal to a diverse, global audience.
TED has been accused of elitism and political partisanship. They select their TED Talks lineup and also oversee the audience composition at conferences. Their goal according to their website is balance and diversity. I think the listener would have to decide with each talk if bias exists and how that affects the information being given if at all. TED talks are available for free and are a tremendous resource to support global learning. I would use a TED talk in a course to illustrate a concept or idea effectively and to give students access to the expertise of the speaker.