Social Networking for Language Education and the Making Of

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  • Open Languages Research ForumOpen UniversityApril 29, 2014

    Social Networking for Language Education and the Making Of

    Marie-Nolle Lamy, Open UniveristyKaterina Zourou, Web2Learn

  • Outline of the talkPart 1: What the collection offersmany (too many?) differing approaches to SN for L2 research and teachingyet emergence of common themes and learning/teaching problemsPart 2: The Making of'Concluding remarks

  • a common focus on the empiricala variety of theoretical framesa variety of research methodologiesa variety of conceptions of L2 learninga variety of conceptions of Social NetworkingPart 1: what the collection offers

  • What emerged from the studies?two overarching themes: identity, communitylearning issues: degree and locus of controllearning setting issues: porous walls; assessmentdata collection issues: porous walls (again!); observer bias; ephemeralityPart 1: what the collection offers

  • ParticipantTaskTechnology

  • Part 1: what the collection offersNetworked tasks,teacher- or student-createdInterlinked technologiesCore and other participantsRedefining components

  • Selecting the most suitable chaptersAn invitation-only CfP addressed to CALL researchers with some experience in social media for language learningDeliberate choice of a selective CfP due to the novelty of the concept/lack of empirical data to dateRound 1 of selection based on abstracts (18 submitted)Round 2 based on improved abstracts (6 rejected)Authors (or groups of) acknowledged to submit a full paperRound 3 based on full papers: 8 accepted papers from 11 submittedPart 2: the Making of

  • Reasons for rejecting abstracts and papersVague understanding of the concept of social networking (main reason)Confusion between interaction and social networkingDigital contexts that neither had social media characteristics in themselves (Moodle, virtual worlds, immersive games, online classrooms) nor were shown to have led to networkingLack of evidence-based papers (contributions on the potential of SN in a language learning context)Off-topic contributionsPart 2: the Making of

  • Problems with fine-tuning conceptsSocial networking easily confused with similar concepts such as:TelecollaborationInteraction from a language learning perspectiveInteraction through commonly used digital tools such as Moodle (social networking seen as a form of online communication))Part 2: the Making of

  • Social networking: disambiguating the term3 features of social media set by Tim OReilly and his team (2007):user participation (user engagement in content creation)openness (ability to network with anyone)network effects (viral capacity)Our claim: social networking as an activity encompassing all those featuresO'Reilly, T. (2007). "What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software". Communications & strategies, n65. pp.17-37.Part 2: the Making of

  • Social networking: disambiguating the term (2)Taking social networking in its most informal/less directive definitionEmphasis on:Bottom-up and user-oriented practiceNetworking in informal ways/ less directive ways than in institutional contexts Learning with peers but also with any user across social mediaVS learning settings where interaction, tools and objectives are prescribed by a teacher or CALL researcherInterest in digitally enhanced situations where formal and informal learning occur (OU students attending a language course and communicating also through FB: how social networking affects language learning)Part 2: the Making of

  • Lessons learntMake a CfP as precise as possible. For CfPs containing new concepts: have some critical readers and engage them in a more formalized wayAsk potential authors to accompany the abstract with a footnote explicitly specifying HOW they will address the central topic of CfP. Mention that if this is not made clear, the contribution will be rejected=>frame the process before the first word is written.

    Part 2: the Making of

  • Concluding remarks Doing SNs research through SNs? Publishing options?Tools?Crowdsourcing culture?

  • Marie-Nolle: Katerina: @web2learn_eu and @languages_web2

    SL 1 No need to introduce MNL to this audience. But for those who havent met KZ, here is a brief presentation [KZ to say a few words on PhD Grenoble, role at Luxembourg, and current role, on the lines below].

    Katerina is a Senior Researcher at the Sr-Trndelag University College, Tronheim, Norway on network-based peer learning systems. She also manages the consulting company Web2learn [which] currently manages EU-funded projects in the area of network-based learning and professional training. In the past Katerina worked as post-doctoral researcher in the field of computer supported collaborative language learning at the University of Luxembourg (2008-2012) and at the University Stendhal Grenoble III (2006-2008).

    How we met? First at Grenoble (EPAL), later at Luxembourg (Webinar).

    This talk has 2 purposes. On the one hand it is a description of an edited book we produced in 2013, and on the other it is a narrative about the ups and downs of producing a collected work, hence the Making Of in our title. The rationale for presenting you with this Making Of is that it did, we feel, reveal some interesting things about methodological precautions to be taken when talking to researchers, including experienced ones, about new fields of investigation.

    The idea for a book on Social Networking for Language Education first arose in late 2011, when nothing much had been published on the topic, and it was the brainchild of Katerina, who had already invested time and energy in working with networkers (Luxembourg), and had published on article in ALSIC (in English) about it, where she set out a useful definition of online S.Networking. She approached me, who meanwhile had been intrigued by the behaviour of O.U. students on O.U. forums and on Facebook groups, and wanted to be involved in a more systematic exploration of the topic.SL 2 Talk through SLIDE 2 Our conclusion will not actually be a conclusion but will be open out to questions WE want to ask YOU about networking and research methodologies.

    To start with a review of what the finished collection offers:a common focus on empirical work (which had been a specific requirement in our CfP, so we rejected the several non-evidence-based submissions that we nevertheless received). The material that we accepted was mainly made up of case studies, some of which follow a single learner, others following groups, of about a dozen strong, or of thousands of members) and even included a selfie (or an autoethnographic study, as its authors prefer to call it).a variety of theoretical frames has been used . Here is a quick review: chapter 1 (Reinhardt) adopts the stand point of language socialisation within the individual ecology of one migrant learner. Chapter 2 (Wigham) makes use of interactional SLA, chapter 3 (Lima) adopts a socio-cultural frame, or even a socio-historical cultural frame, chapter 4 (Zourou) uses instrument design theories to explore learner content uptake, chapter 5 (Harrison) is based on a theory of mediation, specifically mediation through peers, chapter 6 (Fuchs) use an instructional design frame, chapter 7 (Liu) opts to concentrate on student perceptions within a language socialisation approach, chapter 8 (Liaw) choses a social semiotic frame and finally , chapter 9 (Gruba) brings in a sociocultural frame to understand assessment. In some chapters, the influence of other disciplines than CALL is acknowledged, for example some authors have drawn inspiration from sociology, Computer-Supported Collaborative learning, semiotics (Systemic Functional Linguistics in particular) and educational technology.

    research methodologies all claim to be mixed but are also different from one contribution to another. Ethnomethodological approaches appeared to be favoured, including observations of different types (longitudinal and - often - multimodal), reflection- and self-report-based procedures including use of narrative frames. A minority of studies had an experimental and quantitative element. conceptualisations of LL were also somewhat different from author to author, with a majority of socio-constructivists and some slightly more behaviouristic inputs. For example measuring learner progress using standard lexical instruments appeared in 3 of the contributions. But most were content for their research to illuminate the contextual complexities of formal-and-informal social learning in SN settings, about which we need to understand much more than we currently do, and stayed away from language acquisition questions. conceptualisations of SN were the most interesting aspect of the diversity we were faced with. Having tried to pin down the construct of SN in our CfP, then having provided contributors with further food for thought in an additional paper (more on this in the Making Of), we found that they were bringing in diverse understandings of SN, from understandings originating in information technology as applied to Business, to different models from the field of telecommunication and information, the field of education management, and from the sociology of education.[refs top p. 198 of the book]What did we find emerged from the research in the end ?considering the thousand flowers blooming in the two previous slides, there was a surprising uniformity in the themes that were drawn chapter after chapter: in order of frequent mention, they are identity and community. Even contributions with a lesser focus on social learning ended up with one or the other of those t