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How do you know if your Ludic Language Pedagogy is “MMM… delicious” or not? Stick some research thermometers in it! Let’s talk about what to use and how to use them. #2950
This workshop will provide you with a variety of research approaches, methodologies and instruments to help you understand the effect that your teaching with games is having on your students and their learning. Together, first, we’ll look at some typical (now stale) game-based language teaching projects and pull out and examine the thermometer(s) that were used. We’ll scowl angrily and “tut-tut” condescendingly at all the vocabulary tests and surveys about motivation or opinions from students and teachers. Next, we’ll gleefully break out the really cool research projects and research thermometers that we will borrow from the Ludic Language Pedagogy community kitchen. We’ll all “ooo and aah” at the mounds of shiny stuff: concept maps, gameplay transcriptions, debriefing sequences, stimulated recall protocols, student-created “best play” videos, evidence-driven reflections, textual and media analysis, ethnographic gameplay fieldnotes, transfer tasks, carefully chosen/created tests, open-ended interviews, and whatever else we can grab before the conference. You’ll receive on-the-spot training about how each gadget works (what questions it can answer and how best to use it) and learn how to stick a bunch of these things all over and in your Ludic Language Pedagogy (before, during, after, post) in order to clearly and comfortably get a hi-definition image of what effect your methods, materials and mediation (MMM!) have on your students and their learning. You’ll leave the talk/workshop with as many thermometers as you can cram into your inventory, and be ready to go back to your classroom. You will be able to use these tools to evaluate how well your own LLP is cooking and to make minor tweaks to it (iterate! try your recipe again!) the next time around (ala “good teaching” or action research) and you’ll be able to use the information and skills to more formally research your teaching and submit your projects to conferences and journals interested in teaching with games (*cough* https://llpjournal.org/ *cough*).
Self Access Learning and Minecraft: Student Perceptions #3094
Minecraft is an interactive virtual sandbox that came out in 2011. Despite its age, its popularity has continued to rise. The authors have created a Minecraft server for their students at a private Japanese university. This university puts great effort into its English Self Access Center (SALC), offering a variety of options for students to practice their English and focus on their skills or learning goals. In an effort to expand the offerings of this SALC, the two authors introduced a Minecraft server with an “English Please” mentality, not forcing any language usage but encouraging English usage when students felt comfortable to do so. During this phase of the project, the authors focused on the student perceptions of Minecraft after introducing a persistent survival mode option as well as a creative mode option to coincide with other themed events such as Halloween and Christmas. Initially, 130 students surveyed indicated an interest in participating in a Minecraft server set up and run by the SALC. Of those students, 28 joined a discussion forum (Microsoft Teams), and roughly 20 have logged into the server at least one time during the three months of the first phase. At the completion of phase one, the authors surveyed the students electronically for their impressions of the server. Questions centered around the reasons for joining or not joining the server after stating interest in the initial survey, ways to improve the experience, and gaining an understanding of student expectations for the Minecraft server community. These insights from the surveys in addition to the interactions and observations of the authors have led to changes in how they will implement Phase 2.
Gamifying Task-Based Learning to Further Support L2 Acquisition and Motivation #2927
This presentation explores the application of gamification to task-based learning. Specifically, the presentation looks at how tasks can be re-imagined as game-like quests. The use of quests in an educational setting is referred to as quest-based learning (QBL) (Haskell, 2012). QBL can be a stand-alone pedagogical approach, or it can be part of a gamified class, interconnected with other gamification components such as leaderboards, points, levels, badges, and a narrative (Sheldon, 2011). The presentation details how quests should be designed to achieve specific EFL-related goals related to language acquisition. Research findings are presented to support the discussion.
Using Free Online Technology to Improve English Ability: Extensive Reading through MReader to Encourage Autonomous Learning #3068
Teaching reading to students as a second or foreign language can be a challenge for teachers as many students tend to find reading itself a dull and boring activity; however, reading also has many benefits that aid students in developing their overall English ability. This paper investigates how extensive reading (ER) with the free online application of MReader benefits students in reading and other English language skills. Through a quantitative survey and two reading-speed tests conducted over a period of one academic year, the findings show that the students improved in their reading speed, and felt improvement in their overall English ability including vocabulary, speaking, and confidence. The findings show that through ER and MReader, students can gain motivation and become autonomous learners outside the classroom. This paper also introduces ways for teachers and schools to implement reading programs into already established academic programs without interruption or burden through online technology.
Assessing the Effectiveness of Watching Gameplay for Language Learning Purposes #3040
Digital Game-based Language Learning (DGBLL) is a branch of Computer-assisted Language Learning (CALL) that involves playing digital games to learn a language, utilizing various game elements inducive to motivation and learning. The field has two areas of focus: Off-the-shelf (OTS) games, also known as non-serious games, are created solely for entertainment, while serious games are developed with education in mind. Many studies have indicated the positive effects of DGBLL applications. Nevertheless, DeHaan, Reed, and Kuwada (2010) found that interactivity, the control of gameplay through controllers, negatively influenced vocabulary learning because of its added mental requirements. Conversely, participants who watched gameplay had better vocabulary retention. Several studies have further addressed the influence of game interactivity and learning but predominantly consist of serious games developed by educators; only a few related studies involve OTS games. Thus, the potential of watching OTS gameplay for language learning purposes remains underexplored. Watching gameplay is similar to other forms of media learning but has several exploitable advantages. Namely, the popularity of online streaming sites has recently seen exponential growth, with championships boasting viewership that rivals major television networks. And in many cases, people watch games more often than they play them. An additional advantage is the interaction potential that streaming offers with viewers and streamers, which can foster communicative opportunities. Numerous studies have addressed this new trend but have mainly focused on social phenomena rather than education. Therefore, this presentation addresses the language learning potential of watching OTS gameplay by introducing an ongoing project that seeks to answer the following questions: First, does the lack of game interaction in OTS games lead to higher measurable vocabulary achievement? This question addresses the linguistic effectiveness of watching gameplay versus playing games. Second, what are learners’ perceptions and attitudes towards watching OTS gameplay for language-learning purposes, and how does watching gameplay or playing games affect perceived effectiveness, motivation, and willingness to adopt game-based language learning? This question evaluates overall implementation feasibility for practical applications. An overview of related research will first be provided to point out areas of deficiency and opportunity. Next, the details and progress of a pilot study will be discussed, which involves an experiment between players and watchers. Data collection entails mixed-methods, including vocabulary acquisition tests and closed and open-ended questionnaires measuring mental effort, perceived effectiveness, and motivation. The presentation will conclude with an overview of the next steps in the project and the potential implications for DGBLL research.
Learning games as tools for learning and assessment in higher education #3043
This paper reports results from a study which employed and evaluated the use of a digital Escape room game as a learning and assessment tool in English linguistics courses in Norway. Students in Norway usually have high communicative competence in English. However, students who enroll in English programs often struggle to understand linguistic terminology and many fall behind during the first weeks, which makes it difficult to follow the more advanced lectures later in the semester. Research on motivation shows that learners with higher levels of intrinsic motivation, specifically when they experience competence, autonomy, and relatedness, perform better, and playing games as part of the learning process can contribute to students' motivation and their willingness to invest time in their own learning. To test this premise, the author has developed and tested a digital Escape room game targeting English morphosyntax and phonetics using Active Presenter software. The game was played by six student groups (n=110) under several conditions (as a learning task or an assessment task, in groups or individually, in class or at home). The participating students were invited to an anonymous online survey (answered by n=75) which mapped the time spent, gaming experience, success rate, and attitudes towards games used as learning and assessment tools. The results show that the students invested the most time and reported the highest gains in the high-stakes condition (assessment task). However, a high degree of communication among students was reported regardless of whether they were asked to work individually or in groups. It is thus concluded that a game of this type is more suitable for formative assessment where the desired outcome of the assessment is increased learning than for summative assessment or final evaluation in a higher education course or a study program.
Tackling linguistic difficulty through serious games #3073
The difficulty and complexity of language features (such as orthographic forms, grammar structures, or morphosyntactic units, etc.) for second language learners has attracted considerable theoretical and empirical research attention in recent years (Palotti, 2014; Housen & Simoens, 2016; Bulté & Housen, 2018). Understanding the relative difficulty of language features is important to determine whether simple or difficult features should be the focus of instruction, and whether particular instructional approaches are more effective for simple or difficult features. Until now some of the best indicators of feature difficulty are the judgments of experts (e.g. teachers) and perceptions of students (Housen, 2014). With the rise of digital learning methods, such as digital game-based language learning tools, vast amounts of data are being generated by learners as they attempt to learn second and foreign languages - for example how many errors are made and how much time is taken as each of the thousands of players strives for language mastery. These data can be analysed statistically to determine more objectively which language features are difficult for learners to grasp.
In this study we measure feature difficulty objectively with data coming from a set of 16 minigames from the Horizon 2020 iRead project aimed at developing primary school children’s reading skills through the use of digital minigames and an ereader, both connected to teacher analytics software. Data were obtained from 744 Spanish EFL students playing the minigames a total of 67,623 times using 225 language features across six categories (orthography, phonology, word recognition, morphology, syntax, and morphosyntax). The system automatically logs each game a student plays, as well as their level of success. With the multitude of game logs, the lme4 R package was used to undertake an Item Response Theory based analysis (Kadengye et al., 2014, Debeer et al., 2021) separating student ability level, minigame difficulty, and language feature difficulty. This provides us with an objectively generated list of relative language feature difficulties for this population. Preliminary analysis suggests, for example, that on one end of the scale are adjectives, question words, and phonology of lower frequency consonants (e.g. q, x, j), while on the more difficult end are features such as anaphora, syllabification, and prefixes/suffixes.
Discussion will address the extent to which this bottom-up approach holds promise in our understanding of the difficulty of linguistic features, particularly as more and more data sets like this are generated and explored by CALL researchers.
Setting up a Minecraft Server and Fostering an Online Community #2933
How can I create an engaging online community? How can I increase student use of English outside of the classroom? How can I setup a Minecraft world that students can access from anywhere? At a private Japanese university, the English conversation lounge was moved online due to the pandemic. Many students were hesitant to join online. A possible reason was the lack of activities, leaving the sole focus on speaking. The author considered Minecraft as a solution to encourage students to use English outside of the classroom when everything moved online. However, there were several hurdles that needed to be overcome to accommodate a multi-player online community. Shortly after the server was setup, in-person conversations were once again allowed at the university. The author used the Minecraft Server to support an English community both online and in-person. This presentation introduces the challenges of choosing and setting up a server, advice for those who are interested in starting their own server, and a walk-through of the server that the author chose. The Minecraft server afforded new interactions both in-person and online. The author will detail the advantages and disadvantages of the various multi-player setups and how they change depending on the goal of the educator. Specifically, the author will discuss costs, ease of use, network restrictions, and the cross-compatibility and limitations of using Minecraft Realms, Education Edition, Java, Bedrock, or a hybrid server. The author uses a hybrid Java/Bedrock server.
Applying the Play and Interaction Model to Digital Game Based Learning #3088
Sutton-Smith (1997) presents the idea that play's ideological concept can be both progressive, the stimulus for moral, social, and cognitive development, and frivolous, being idle and rejecting what is considered a social norm of the work ethic. While the educational perspective views play as progressive, there are issues related to measuring it. One such model to measure play in the physical learning environment is the Play Observation Scale (Rubin, 2001). However, this model has limitations when applied to digital worlds such as digital game-based learning (DGBL). For this environment, there is a need to develop a model that will allow educators to understand the relationship between online play and interaction in DGBL. The 11-week study on which this presentation is based will introduce the Play and Interaction Model for DGBL was used to investigate how low-level Japanese English language learners play when completing tasks and interacting over the chat function of the popular game Minecraft. Minecraft was selected for this research as the researcher could create tasks within the game that the students needed to complete through target language interaction. The presentation will show how the model allowed student play to be categorized into three categories; social, cognitive, and non-play, with social play the most common category of play observed. In addition, the presenter will highlight how the types of interactions changed over the 11 weeks as students became more confident with gameplay, their English, and the tasks. The presenter will show through this model that students do not always have to be actively participating in a chat to be learning the target language and interacting with other learners. The presenter will conclude with a discussion on DGBL, the Play and Interaction Model for DGBL its future in the Japanese education system.
The implementation of electronic European Language Portfolio (eELP) in a university English class and the effect on Learner Autonomy #2924
The research that successful learning can be achieved by self-management skills or high learner autonomy has drawn the attention of many researchers. Due to the development of technology in recent years, the effect of an electronic form of portfolio called e-portfolio towards language learning has been further expected. The purpose of the present study was to investigate how the implementation of e-portfolio can improve the students’ learner autonomy and how the students’ perception on e-portfolio can change over the academic year. The study participants were 37 first-year university students who took a general English course at a private university in Tokyo. The online surveys were administered at the start and end of one academic semester in order to compare the score in their learner autonomy and inspect their perception on e-portfolio. The results showed that the students’ learner autonomy slightly increased while the perception on e-portfolio was overall positive. By being able to manage their own learning, the present study revealed that the use of e-portfolio was substantially helpful for students to become more autonomous in language learning. The findings of the present study could also be applicable to a variety of instructional settings.
Pre-enrollment Online Courses for Incoming University Students #2923
Two pre-enrollment online courses designed for high school students who are about to enter university will be demonstrated: an English course and a Japanese national language (国語) course. Activities within these courses will be shown, which contain important features that support motivation and learning. For example, detailed feedback and hints, variety in learning activities, and multiple opportunities for a learner to answer a question. Created using the Moodle Learning Management System (LMS), these courses utilize the competency-based education features of Moodle, whereby competencies are awarded based on completion of specified learning activities and course completion. Certain elements of gamification have also been added to these courses, whereby badges are awarded to students based on completion of specified learning activities, provided a target score for each of those activities has been achieved. Time permitting, participants will also be shown how the gradebook is set and managed, and how student progress is monitored within these two courses.
Exploring Creative Play in the Classroom: Innovative approaches to Learner Development #2922
This forum will evaluate the educational and linguistic affordances enabled through digital and analog approaches to language learning based on creative activities and creative play.
Creative play is an intrinsically motivated, autonomous, and interactive process that has the potential to develop linguistic and meta-linguistic skills. Presenters will introduce innovative learning practices they have used to encourage learner autonomy and creative play in the language classroom and on learning management systems.
Presenters will outline the broad range of affordances game-based activities enable in language learning, including collaborative creativity, improvisation, risk-taking, and emergent language use. Presenters will introduce multiple perspectives on creative play in the learning process, including teacher and student experiences of play and game-based learning and design.
Presentations will shed new light on the cognitive and social factors that facilitate autonomous modes of creativity and collaboration in the classroom, as well as provide practice-based examples of materials and games used. In the forum, participants will have opportunities to discuss and reflect on their experiences of game-based language learning in pairs and small groups.
Participants will leave with practical examples they can employ in their own language classrooms. They will also gain theoretical insights that help them understand the educational potential of creative play, and build their own playful approaches to language learning in the future.
There Is More to Gaming That Meets the Eye: When Fan Translation of Games Leads to Language Learning #2935
When people think about video gaming, they often picture a gamer playing with one of the multiple genres of video games there exist, including single-player video games or online multiplayer ones. However, there is much more to playing video games that meets the eye. The affordances of digitization have made it easier for gamers to reunite and organize what is known as online affinity groups. Affinity groups are composed of individuals who share some common purpose or interest regarding something or someone they are passionate about as more or less devoted fans. Gamers as fans celebrate their affinity to games and game culture in multiple ways, including language-intensive ways that may be conducive to language learning and development to some extent. One of such ways is fan translation of games, that is, the active interlinguistic translation of games performed by fans. Fan translation can adopt diverse forms but is generally amateur and unpaid. In this talk, I will present three case studies of gamers who, for various reasons, decided to fan translate games for their respective affinity groups and, in one of the cases, for society at large: (1) Link, an English-Catalan fan translator of modern-day games, (2) Selo, an English-Spanish fan translator of retro games, and (3) Luceid, an English-Galician fan translator of retro games, game covers, and cartridges. I will present microanalytic events of their translation process that will try to showcase how these gamers, through fan translation and associated practices like commenting their translations online with fellow gamers, learn language and help others notice interesting interlinguistic features of the languages at play. Fan translation bears implications for language learning. Besides valuing the informal aspects of language learning online activated by fans’ personal investment and identities, unearthing the details of fan translation can help debunk the long-standing myth in formal educational contexts that translation is detrimental to language learning. In that vein, as a language-intensive practice, fan translation can serve as a steppingstone to inspire well-scaffolded initiatives in language education where language learners analyze (and perhaps contribute to) affinity groups and fan practices that run parallel to contemporary digital communication.