Tuesday, June 04, 2019

My Take on the JALT CALL Conference (June 1, 2019)

I presented at the JALT CALL Conference on June 1, 2019 with 4 teacher-colleagues from Bangkok. I presented how we customized Wordpress to serve as a Lesson Study App and its positive and negative aspects. The APP is used to facilitate student-teacher development and knowledge generation of teaching methodology. My colleagues presented about their experiences using the APP. We use this APP for a teaching internship done by my university in Thailand.

A grand total of two people 😞 attended our presentation. This was disappointing, but I understood the reason why. The majority of the presentations at JALT CALL seemed to be about online apps or activities that people could immediately make use of. I think that what I am doing is original, but only a wordpress expert would leave my presentation with something they could soon use. Perhaps, my presentation is best for the WordPress conferences.

Despite this, the conference itself and even the presentation were worthwhile. The presentation was a chance for me to consolidate everything my colleague (Simon) and I have done to convert Wordpress to a Lesson Study App. It was also a good chance for me to get on the same page with my colleagues from Thailand. I realize that it is now time to write up what we have done, I am hopeful that it will be useful to somebody and somewhere.

The conference exposed me to tons and tons of online tools for research and learning which I will summarize below. It was so exciting to know about all the options out there but overwhelming. Through experience, I have learned that adopting online education tools is a gradual process. First, you need to figure out what it can do, then you need to figure out whether the tools' features can help you accomplish your classroom learning objectives, lastly, you need to implement it. During the implementation stage, as my understanding of what the technology improves, both my teaching procedures and the way I use the tool change so that they begin to match each other. this process can last up to a year or more for me.

Having said all that, here are the exciting new tools I learned about at the conference.   

Research tools
Youtube studio can be used for free to transcribe interviews. I do not think it could be used for classroom interactions which has too much background noise, but the accuracy rate (which I cannot remember) seems to be equivalent to the software which costs money. If I had know about this when doing my PhD research, I probably could have saved a lot of time.

Learning Management Systems (LMS)
Before, I had primarily been familiar with Moodle, which is free, but an institution has to install it on their server, which requires time and money. Google classroom 
and Schoolology are free and all the data is stored on their cloud so one does not have to worry about server management. However, to use Google classroom your institution has to register its domain with them, which could be challenging bureaucratically. It seems that with Schoolology, individual teachers can use it easily. Also, it seems to be designed for students to use on their phones, which means you do not need a computer room. Supposedly, Moodle now offers a cloud service. I think these cloud services could potentially save time and money, but is it safe to entrust all your data to a third party?

Online Language Learning Tools
The keynote speech by Dr. Evgeny Chukharev-Hudilainen was very entertaining. He introduced his own language learning program, Linguatorium, which he says is supported by psycholinguistic research and empirically proven to work. However, it costs students a little bit of money. He had some interesting things to say about Duolinguo, which my son uses to study Chinese. I am also waiting for Duolingo to come out with the Thai or Burmese language. However, he said that Duolingo, to his knowledge, is neither based on the science of language learning nor has it been empirically tested. However, it remains very popular.

Dr. Hiroaki Ogata  gave a plenary on Learning analytics, discussing how software can be used to analyze and inform the teacher about a students' informal and formal classroom learning. The presentation was a little over my head, but the appeal of using technology to understand how each student is grasping with classroom learning is appealing.

Lastly, I saw Ms. Lorna Layantes Beduya present about using Metaverse in language classes. Metaverse is hard to describe but it looks to me to be kind of like an interactive trivia application that students can make to teach each other about a topic. For example, in my international understanding class, I could probably use Metaverse for students' country presentations.