2013, Volume 4

2013, Volume 4

Welcome to the 2013-14 edition of the eJournal. This edition of the journal is a collage of carefully selected articles from the leading educators of the region who are innovating the teaching and learning space with their smart work and agile approach towards mobile technology adoption and its integration with the curriculum.


Table of Contents

Redefining Mobility: From eLearning to mLearning

Editorial Note

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The definition of mobility is changing: It is no more about owning a mobile device. It is about moving in a mobile-infused ecosystem that comprises highly efficient personal devices, ubiquitous special purpose clouds, lightning-fast internet and ‘Just in Time’ Apps which can be downloaded and used in a matter of seconds. Mobility is bringing disruptive innovations across businesses as well as in Education, transforming classrooms and teaching styles of educators. Most importantly for us, Mobility is engaging the students in the learning process and empowering them to become lifelong learners.

This edition of the journal is a collage of carefully selected articles from the leading educators of the region who are innovating the teaching and learning domain with their smart work and agile approach in technology integration with the curriculum.

Educational Use of Video Games in the ESL Classroom

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With the introduction of the iPad in the classroom many new possibilities on how to actively engage students while they learn English have emerged. Games have always been highly motivating for students and now, with the accessibility of video games on the iPad, teachers have another opportunity to keep their students focused while learning at the same time. However, there are a vast number of games available and it may be difficult to decide which games are suitable. Some with educational value may not be motivating or engaging for the students. Teachers need to find the right balance of entertainment and education. As well, they need to know how to effectively introduce the game so their students can optimise their learning experience. This article reviews several iPad video games in terms of practicality, interest and educational value. It then addresses some of the issues teachers may experience and possible ways to overcome these. It also introduces some activities that could be used to support the learning objectives. Finally, the results of a survey conducted with students before and after using one of the games to determine their effectiveness in learning English and engaging the students is discussed.

Principled Design in Locally-Produced E-Textbooks for Language Learning

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With the advent of free authoring tools like iBooks Author and Inkling Habitat, the creation of digital learning materials for use on tablet devices is easily within the reach of any institution or individual. However, the temptation to package traditional paper-based materials and activities within a shiny new digital cover should be avoided. In fact, the features of locally-produced e-textbooks for language learning, such as targeted input and interactivity, make them ideal for following principles for material writing suggested by subsequent language acquisition-based research. This article will show how in-house course and book design, matched with the capabilities of e-textbooks on tablets, can better match research-based principles for materials development than traditional paper-based global textbooks and thus further subsequent language acquisition for learners. These principles include affective impact, relevance, confidence building, use of authentic texts, and purposeful communication. Thanks to the absence of many of the constraints faced by commercial publishing, locally-produced e-textbooks can incorporate design features that advance these principles within the technologically-integrated environment of tablet devices. In particular, such e-textbooks are well suited to the implementation of Project-Based Language Learning approaches in which learners collaborate in the target language to achieve concrete outcomes that they share in some manner with their peers and instructors. It is hoped that more individual instructors and institutions will be inspired to produce their own e-textbooks targeted for specific contexts and thus enhance the language learning experience for their students.

Designing an Effective Mobile Learning Experience in a Marketing Research Course: Strategies and Applications

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This article highlights the experience of using mobile devices to facilitate and enhance the learning experience of students. Students in a Marketing Research course used their mobile devices to complete a research assignment. Specifically, students used their cellphones, tablets, and laptops to create and deploy online surveys, to gather data, and to formalise results. The experience had a number of positive outcomes. In addition to capturing students’ attention, the use of mobile devices facilitated active learning, sustainability, and student engagement.

Abu Dhabi Men’s College Independent Learning Centre: Reflections on 10 years of innovation

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In this article, the authors trace the progress from the initial creation of the Independent Learning Centre (ILC) at Abu Dhabi Men’s College (ADMC) in the United Arab Emirates to some of the multiple functions that the ILC fulἀls at the present time, focusing on student participation that leads to student autonomy. Initially, we will look at how the physical space of the ILC guided and directed the production of online materials. We then look at the online materials created as a logical extension of the ILC learning environment with particular reference to Arab-Emirati students, as well as the integration of the ILC online material into class curricula that the students were, and are, undertaking. Finally, we will look at one teacher’s overall experience of involving students in the ILC as part of their learning process. We will highlight the methodology of introducing the students to these computer-based materials, how students responded to the physical space of a new learning environment, to new materials and to the online access and evaluation of the material. The results of surveys looking at student responses to the use of the ILC materials will be analysed and the history of these materials will be examined as part of the recommendation that such resources need constant updating, and refinement.

A Flipped Approach to Vocabulary Teaching in HCT Dubai Colleges Foundations Level 03: Utilising Spaced Repetition for Consolidation

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Flipping the classroom involves students doing what would have traditionally been done in class at home, prior to the lesson, and then doing the homework in class time. New technologies allow educators to create feature-rich video and audio content, tailor-made for their students, which those students can view at home as many times as they like before coming to class. In class, the teacher should now have more time to devote to activities that practise the concepts introduced in the flipped portion of the lesson. The Centre for Applied Learning and Multimedia (CALM) Department at HCT Dubai Colleges, in collaboration with the Foundations Department, has produced short video modules to pre-teach the target vocabulary for Level 03 designed to be used in a flipped classroom scenario. Finally, spaced repetition is used to consolidate the vocabulary and ensure that it moves from short-term to long-term memory. Spaced repetition is a learning technique that uses increasing periods of time between reviews of material. The full programme has been piloted with one Level 03 class at Dubai Women’s College. This paper will describe in full the pilot programme, including feedback from the pilot staff member and his students.

A Delphi Method Study on Triggering Transactional Distance to Improve Students’ Learning: the Instructor’s Rubric 1.1

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The 21st century ushered in change with the increased use of technology in educational delivery methods and opened doors for a new generation of students. While the debate over pedagogy, content design and overall effectiveness of this delivery format continues, scholars have not attended to the lessons of earlier theorists. This study examined a foundational theory of distance education; transactional distance (TD) and the potential to increase academic learning via sets of parameters instigated by the instructor. These sets of variables are described in the Instructor’s Engagement Rubric 1.0, which was created through this study following a three-round investigation of current and anticipated behaviours discovered in this study and accomplished in accordance with the research methodologies of the Delphi Method. The responses to this Delphi study produced the following results: a) The technological tools in the transactional distance classroom are being used in a variety of manners and with little consistency as to a desired outcome; b) There is inconsistency with the identification of the role of the instructor in a TD classroom; c) The data also indicated that there are certain combinations of tools and purposeful interactions that can create an improved learning environment for the student. These data produced the Instructor’s Engagement Rubric 1.0 (IER 1.0), which is now available for use.

Evaluating Institutional ePortfolio Options: A Process-Driven Approach

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Portfolios can increase learning engagement and continuity between courses, as well as providing evidence of competencies for career development. An institutionally supported ePortfolio system can promote a consistent and transparent process for learners and enable more collaborative development among faculty. It can supply rich data to inform programme development, and evidence of competencies for accreditation. In selecting ePortfolio platforms and tools, care must be taken to ensure that the technologies offer sufficient usability; flexibility in the management and presentation of content; integration with existing technologies; and access to the portfolio for graduates entering the workforce. In this article several key aspects of ePortfolios are highlighted that should be considered in developing an institutional ePortfolio process. A model rubric is identiἀed that could support evaluation of portfolios beyond the programme level. Finally, technical aspects of ePortfolio systems and tools are explored, and possible approaches are suggested.

Screencasting: Informing Students, Shaping Instruction

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Screencasting technology has significantly impacted the field of education as an effective, easy-to-use technology for delivering direct instruction in a mobile learning environment. However, this technology can have a deeper impact on the learning process. After discussing the basics of screencasting and its role as a tool for flipped instruction, the author will discuss how screencasting can be used as a formative assessment tool for both reading and writing.