AAAL 2024: Invited Colloquium

Wilga Rivers language pedagogy colloquium by CALICO: Language pedagogies and disruptive technologies


Mathias Schulze, San Diego State University

Colloquium Abstract

Digital technologies are quasi ubiquitous. We interact with expansive and powerful server networks and their apps, services, data, and information daily. We use computers and mobile devices for work and chores, entertainment and creativity, and general interaction and verbal communication. Especially after the teleworking and remote teaching-and-learning in the long context of pandemic-related public-health measures, digital technologies have entered the mainstream also of language education. For the last 40 years, CALICO - the North American organization for the (applied-linguistics) research on computer-assisted language learning - has observed, critically analyzed, and enthusiastically furthered the use of digital technologies in language education to innovate language pedagogy, facilitate access to (language) education, and broaden and deepen learner engagement. At times, there are (productive) tensions between the development of pedagogy and of technology. In this colloquium, we are highlighting recent societal and technological phenomena such as artificial intelligence tools and services and mobile devices. In the first part, we identify and discuss activities involving technology that are beneficial to language learning (Tanaka-Ellis) and look at recent chatbot technology through the lens of multilingual practices and the open nature of language resources (Link). The second pair of presentations discuss the pedagogies and teacher beliefs for using technologies to bridge in-class and out-of-class language learning (Lai) and for encouraging learners to make the most of their individual ecologies to prepare them for learning beyond formal language education (Stockwell). The Wilga Rivers Colloquium by CALICO consists of two times two presentations of 20 minutes each. Each duo of presentations is followed by a 15-minute discussion engaging the audience and the five panelists.

Bridging In-class and out-of-class language learning with technology
Chun Lai, University of Hong Kong

Abstract:  Language learning involves the accumulation of experiences across varied settings (Benson, 2011). Learners’ self-initiated construction and monitoring of learning experiences beyond the classroom is thus essential. This is where technology plays significant roles as it provides the learning spaces, venues, and tools for such experiences (Luckin, 2010; Lai, 2018). Out-of-class learning contributes differentially from, and in some cases even greater than, in-class learning experience to language development (Cole & Vanderplank, 2016; Peters, 2018). Research has found learners’ out-of-class experience is related to their in-class learning (Lamb & Arisandy, 2020), and language learners are actively utilizing technological resources to complement in-class learning (Kashiwa & Benson, 2018; Lai, 2015). How teachers respond to the potential connection between the two is less explored. Some researchers have examined teachers’ perception and reported a certain level of their awareness of the relevance of students’ out-of-class experience to their teaching practices and of the necessity of bridging in-class and out-of-class learning (Toffoli & Sockett, 2015; Schurz & Sundqvist, 2022). However, how their perception shapes their teaching practices is unknown. This study examines a group of university English language teachers’ sense making of the relationship between in-class teaching and students’ out-of-class learning and how different sense-making shapes their teaching practices. A qualitative-quantitative sequential design has been adopted. An interview study with ten EFL university teachers is used to conceptualize the nature of teachers’ perception and its impact on their bridging teaching practices. A subsequent survey of about 300 EFL university teachers is used to test the conceptual model and reveal the nature of teachers’ bridging activities and how their bridging activities associate with their perception of the connection between in-class and out-of-class learning. The findings shed light on teacher professional development initiatives in bridging in-class and out-of-class learning.

Could convenience stifle the process of foreign-language learning?

Nobue Tanaka-Ellis, Tokai University

Abstract:  Levy (1997) argued already that the discipline of language education with technology reflects the available technology. In the past few decades, we have witnessed the advancement and acceptance of technology into foreign-language learning and teaching. The recent pandemic, however, accelerated the uptake of technology into language education in a somewhat peculiar way as a form of emergency remote teaching. More recently, the rise of artificial intelligence tools, such as ChatGPT, is causing fervent discussions among educators about its implications for learning (e.g., Kohnke et al., 2023). While our lives are increasingly convenient due to the availability of affordable technology, education providers are always behind with the pace of technological development in terms of policymaking and the application of emerging technologies. Some scholars argue that humans are cognitive misers and that individuals make decisions on actions based on the cost of time (Gray et al., 2006) and cognitive effort (Botvinick & Braver, 2015). On the other hand, learning occurs when tasks are cognitively demanding. According to Schoenfeld (2014, 2023), the five dimensions of powerful classrooms are: The Content; Cognitive Demand; Equitable Access to Content; Agency, Ownership, and Identity; and Formative Assessment. Students learn best when they have room for growth with support and work on moderate to demanding tasks. As researchers of language education with technology, we are challenged by the situation where we are required to swiftly determine the kind of technology that enhances learning and its application of it. Interestingly, Mueller and Oppenheimer’s (2014) study comparing the effect of notetaking of a lecture by handwriting and typing suggested that handwriting was superior in both factual-recall and conceptual-application questions. Then, to what extent do we need to identify the actions or activities involving technology that are beneficial to language learning?

Preparing for an era of advanced chatbot technology

Stephanie Link, Oklahoma State University

Abstract:  In December 2022, the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot ChatGPT was launched. Judging by discourses in education and the public media, ChatGPT has disrupted the relationship between learning and teaching. The discussion about its implications for the second-language (L2) classroom has revealed radically different perspectives. Some teachers are embracing its affordances; and others are pushing back entirely. For L2 writing, technology has tempted students for decades, offering many opportunities to reduce writing effort while increasing writing quality. However, many have suggested that "digital shortcuts" can undermine academic integrity (Eaton, 2022) and reduce cognitive engagement (Koltovskaia, 2020). Assuming that digital technologies will continue to advance at an exponential speed, what might we as language teachers do to prepare for an era of advanced chatbot technology? Critical to this discussion are the ramifications that ChatGPT can have as the fields of computer assisted language learning (CALL) and second language acquisition (SLA) engage in a social justice turn. This paradigm shift challenges social norms where our worlds are inequitably multilingual and inequitably technologized (Ortega, 2017), resulting in the need for technology to be used in ways that can advance minoritized, underserved populations. This colloquium contribution highlights the main findings from a series of studies on the social impact of ChatGPT. The first outlines the disruptive nature of ChatGPT as shown in a critical discourse analysis of microblogging data. The second summarizes comparative findings from a survey-based study conducted in Bangladesh, Iran, and the United States. The third offers insights on how ChatGPT performs in critical discussions on topics with social relevance. Overall, the findings introduce the recent disruption in chatbot technology through the lens of multilingual practices and ideologies and the open nature of language resources with the intent of centralizing ethical-axiological concerns about for what and whom our research is good.

Mobile devices as a part of the learning ecology beyond formal education

Glenn Stockwell, Waseda University

Abstract:  With mobile phones now in the hands of virtually all learners, it is becoming more difficult to imagine environments that do not include learning through mobile devices in even some small capacity. The interest in mobile learning is reflected in the enormous number of publications in the last 10 to 15 years, but there are still questions about when, how, and why learners will choose to use (or not) mobile devices as a regular part of their learning (Stockwell, 2022). Furthermore, the 'disruptive' nature of mobile devices (see Hampel, 2019) has caused mixed reactions from teachers. Some feel that such devices are a distraction in the classroom, while others see a shifting of responsibility to the learners as a positive that can lead to autonomous behaviors that facilitate learning. The field has developed substantially as research and theory have matured, and the view of mobile learning has moved beyond largely unsubstantiated positivism through to a more balanced perspective that takes both the potential benefits and challenges into consideration. Making the most of learning through mobile learning is dependent upon understanding the expectations of teachers, learners, and administrators, and to capitalize upon the affordances of the device, the learning ecology, and the short-term and long-term goals of the learners. This presentation explores how mobile learning can play a role both inside and outside of the classroom, and the impact that it may have on both formal and informal learning opportunities. It includes a discussion of the shifting roles of teachers and learners, and the implications for designing content, delivery, and assessment. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of some principles of designing for teaching and learning with mobile devices that encourage learners to make the most of their individual ecologies to prepare them for learning beyond formal language education.

Rewilding and desire lines as nexus vectors for pedagogical innovation

Steve Thorne, Portland State University and University of Groningen

Abstract: Language use, second-language development, and technology mediated human activity are complex processes situated in, and in some cases demonstrably interwoven with and catalyzed by, specific material and social contexts. Due to this complexity, world language (L2) education has long attempted to simulate real-world settings in order to address the sense of artificiality can seems endemic to many instructional contexts. In recent decades, there has been growing research and innovation relating to the use of digital technologies and pedagogies that interface formal L2 education with opportunities for interaction and learning that occur primarily or fully outside of classroom contexts (Reinders et al., 2022; Thorne et al., 2009, 2021), with the goal of increasing the ecological validity of both the content and interactional processes of language learning. This presentation describes a 20-year trajectory of research-informed pedagogical innovation using the metaphor of “rewilding.” Similar in some respects to other extramural and language learning beyond the classroom projects, “rewilding” language education (Thorne, Hellermann, & Jakonen, 2021) involves reverse engineering from studies of learning in the wild (Hutchins, 1995; Thorne, 2008, 2010, 2012) in order to augment and restore a diversity of real-world activities and interactional affordances into instructional curricula. The rewilding approach addresses the challenge of how to dynamically integrate formal learning settings with the vibrancy and diversity of linguistic, experiential, and situational contexts out in the world. Included are case studies of design interventions that attempt to rewild instructed language learning. These include use of mobile augmented reality, engagement with online fandom and gaming communities, and use of Large Language Model Artificial Intelligence tools. Together, these projects apply multiple approaches (i.e., sociocultural and activity theory, usage-based linguistics, ethnomethodology, posthumanism), evince social justice commitments, and address foreign, second, and Indigenous language contexts.

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