Apps + Homework = MALL

Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL) has seen an explosion in terms of potential due to the introduction of smart phones. Through educational Apps, learners can find rich resources and varied activities in their language learning. I have earlier re-blogged Thiel’s (2014, Jan 24) article and review of Whitby’s (2013) Educating Gen-Wifi book, where instead of resisting smart phones in the classroom, educators are encouraged to actively utilize the potential of having, e.g., interactive encyclopaedias in your pocket. However, educators still have to question whether technology in each case can enhance learning processes in the classroom or not (cf. Leismann, 2014, Apr. 14). MALL should thus be used critically which presupposes thorough planning from the teacher.

Learning a language wherever you are

One of the most recent BBC Click episodes explores the potential of MALL. They present a language learning app called Busuu. This is an app where you can learn 12 languages, and interact with your peers. Duolingo is a similar app, allowing you to connect with your friends. Personally, I have found it motivational to compete with my friends in how much progress a day I am able to complete. And you can learn it wherever you are: on the bus, at the shopping centre, etc.

Coding can be easy and fun

The user interface in computing nowadays is much more simpler and easy to manage than some 15 years ago. Still, learning about codes and scripts in the quest of developing own software or apps is a very useful skill indeed. 2014 is the Year of Code, and Code.org enables learners to engage with problem-solving and code-cracking. Computer-science is hence taught through drag-and-drop programming, making it easy and fun. Still, learners can click and discover the real codes underneath. At Code.org, learners can be taught how to code the immensely popular game Flappy bird. I would assume this would be an enormous motivational factor for students.

In the occassion of ‘the Year of Code’, Silke tells of the ongoing Coding da Vinci project in Germany (Leismann, 2014, Apr. 14). Following the digitizing of many of Germany’s biggest libraries, this fusion of the gaming world and the cultural world seems very beneficial in bringing the high culture down to the public (Ibid.). So, jetzt anmelden, hackers of the open cultural world!

Game-based learning

Christian, has earlier published a post on the game-based learning tool Kahoot (Stranger-Johannessen, 2014 Feb 9). This is yet another form of MALL that has the potential to broaden the scope of the classroom. In Christian’s post, he shows to practical examples from his own testing in classroom to illustrate how motivated students can become in combining games and language learning. Interestingly, a student who rarely speaks in class won the game (!). BBC Click (2014, Mar 21) argues that Kahoot could be a great way of drawing students attention away from Snapchat and Facebook to engage in interactive learning activities.

 

Below you can watch the instructional video from Code.org, showing you how to code your own Flappy bird game:

And here you can enjoy the BBC Click episode:

 

References

BBC (2014, Mar 21). Learning a new language with help from your peers [Online]. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26670624 [Accessed: 09.04.2014].

Leismann, S. (2014, Apr. 14) “Technology is the answer, but what was the question?” [Online]. Available at: http://dasmachteshatdiesommernacht.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/technology-is-the-answer-but-what-was-the-question/ [Accessed: 15.04.2014].

Stranger-Johannessen, C. (2014, Feb 9). The Wonders Of Kahoot [Online]. Available at: http://cstrangerj.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/the-wonders-of-kahoot/ [Accessed: 09.04.2014]

Thiel, P. (2014, Jan 24). Gen Wi-Fi [Online]. Available at: http://teacherintherye.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/gen-wi-fi/ [Accessed: 09.04.2014]

Whitby, G. (2013). Educating Gen Wi-Fi: How We Can Make Schools Relevant for 21st Century Learners. Australia: HarperCollins

4 thoughts on “Apps + Homework = MALL

  1. Hi Kim-Daniel,
    I have just yesterday posted an entry in which I sang the praise of technology which enables people to access knowledge wherever they are and whenever they want expressing the hope that these developments might reach out to people who normally might not be that interested in academic knowledge. I think that language learning apps as you describe them are great opportunities for people who do want to learn new languages and are willing to spend some time on that outside school or universities. But what about people/students who are already in danger of being left behind in school and later on life? Will they grab the opportunities these technologies offer them? Will the new technologies we are introducing to the educational sector bridge the gap between those with great cultural capital and those with less which has repeatedly been claimed as the goal of our educational system (talking about Norway here)? Or will those who are already in the lead will just take off even more leaving the others even further behind?
    You are probably too young to have heard about it, but the reason they introduced Sesame Street in America was that they wanted to support children with difficult backgrounds by introducing school contents to TV entertainment for children. When they researched the influence of the program several years later they found out that the children they had aimed the program at had indeed progressed and had that benefitted from this approach. But so had children who had from the start had better school results and were supported by their home environment. The gap between those two groups had indeed widened because also the kids with more cultural capital had watched Sesame Street and had gotten even more out of it.

    So my question here is whether more technology will really help those students who are in greatest need for help or do they need something else instead or in addition? Not really a question I expect you to answer, just something that was nagging at the back of my head since yesterday.

    Leaving you with these happy thoughts, have a happy Easter holiday.
    Silke

    P.s.: It is snowing in Trondheim!!!

    • Hi Silke,
      I have now successfully updated the post, and added some of your valuable insights to the discussion. It is easy to get carried away by, as you call it, “new and shiny” technology. It can in some cases shadow our own pedagogic reflection. It is hence important to always ask “why” when using MALL in the classroom as with other activities.

      You ask some important question with regard to less able students, and how to bridge the gap. In my experience, more able students will always grab the opportunity for learning and for example apply knowledge acquired in the Norwegian lessons to the RLE, History and Cultural Studies lessons. This is somehow inevitable. But as teachers, we are required by law to adapt the teaching to the student’s individual level and need (Law of Education, 2008). In order to bridge the gap, we should try to also target the teaching to students with less favourable learning conditions and cultural capital.

      I didn’t know about the story behind the introduction of Sesame Street, and I appreciate that you used it as an example. When thinking about it, I learned a lot from Sesame Street myself growing up. Without it, I would most likely be scavenging the streets of Trondheim in the dead of the night (he he).

      Have a lovely Easter! There has been some snow and sleet along the west coast, as well, but I’m sure this too shall pass.
      Kim-Daniel.

      • Hi Kim-Daniel,
        and here was me thinking I am the only one slaving away in the name of science while everybody else was enjoying their holiday sipping cocoa in front of a blazing fire maybe with a cat at their feet. I think this I the first time I have ever been quoted.
        Have a lovely holiday indeed with or without the cat.
        Silke

  2. Pingback: Kahoot follow-up: the students loved it | Kim-Daniel's Digital Didactical Blog

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