Mobile Learning for Language Learning

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Mobile learning (m-learning) has been discussed for the recent decade. While I was writing my PhD dissertation and at the conferences on the use of technology in language classes, I have seen many articles and presentations on the use of mobile devices in language classes. Although, it seemed like a utopia and too idealistic about 5 or 6 years ago, now it can easily be seen that they are used by the new generation very commonly and there are many applications for education, especially for language learning.

Tomorrow evening, I will be talking about Mobile Learning in for language learning in my Computer Assisted Language Learning course at the university; and I have searched for mobile applications and information about how to use them classes all day long and I am still finding new things just before the course. The most advantageous thing for me about this course is that I can learn many things while teaching. Every tool has many updates or changes and it is great for me to explore these changes.

If the topic is mobile learning, it is inevitable to talk about the applications. Actually, I am using Android operating system on my phone; so I couldn’t find a chance to try some applications which works only on IOS operating system. I visit the Google Play website and search for educational applications. Although there seems to be huge number of applications, you should limit the number of your applications so that you can use them effectively.

We are all using social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In. These applications help us to receive notifications and check all our accounts in one application. In addition to these, news, blog posts and this kind of updated sites need RSS reader; and we receive notifications from these sites. I like Flipboard application for these purposes. You can choose some topics as your interest and you also add your Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can easily follow these accounts through one application.

In addition to this, I also need an extra RSS reader application. I was using Google Reader until Google announced to close this service. Now, I am getting used to Feedly application; however, to be honest, Google Reader was much better. I may get used to this application in time, who knows. Although it is good to check all your social networking applications using only one application, I also prefer to keep their own applications separately. I sometimes prefer to check only Twitter messages in order not to get lost among other tools.

Here are the list of application installed on my mobile phone (I omitted the default applications on my phone in this list):

Youtube: It is quite useful to view Youtube videos without visiting its website on a web browser. With the recent technological developments in mobile phones, it is easy to view videos without interrupting.

TED Talks: I have always followed TED Talks on my computer and it is now available as mobile phone application. I try to watch and share them with my friends as frequently as possible.

Skype – Facebook – Twitter: These are just the mobile versions of computer software or websites. You can do whatever you can on the website using these applications. Since I installed them on my phone, I didn’t need to turn my computer on for just checking my messages.

Instagram: It allows us to share photos and make comments on the photos. You can also create a list of your friends and you can follow their photos. This is just a photo sharing application.

WordPress: As I am using WordPress for blogging and my 200+ students had blogs on WordPress, it is inevitable for me to use WordPress application. You can write posts, see comments, customize your settings and add content to your blog page. If you are blogging, you should install this application.

Merriam Webster and Tureng Dictionaries: I love the former more, but sometimes I also need English-Turkish or Turkish-English dictionary and I installed the latter for that purpose.

In addition to these I also use Aldiko for reading e-books; QR Droid for decoding QR Codes, Teamviewerfor controlling my computer using mobile phone, etc.

And finally games… I cannot think of a mobile phone without games. The following games are installed on my mobile phone: Temple Run – Speedcar – Flick Shoot – Siege Hero. Although games are blocked at our university with McAffee, I strongly believe the benefits of the games; and I will go on playing.

To sum up, the number of application is limitless and you may find a new application everyday. It is better to think about your purposes of using a mobile phone and decide on the applications to install. Then, it takes time to get accustomed to the applications; but this is not a problem. I will leave and go on searching for educational applications at home, and I am sure that I will be able find more applications. I kindly ask for your suggestions, if you would like to contribute to my CALL class.

Dr. Sedat Akayoglu

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Research in Computer Assisted Language Learning

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“What a run, fantastic job so well done, many thanks, John.” — John, Feb 2, 2013

“Just a brief note to say thank you so very much for everything, and I’m so sorry to hear that Tapped In is being shut down. I’d like to especially thank everybody from the help desk. Thank you all very, very much.” — Susan, from Iran, Feb 3, 2013

“To all of you — Jeff, BJB, Dave, and all — my heart is broken! I wish I were rich enough to support TappedIn by myself. You have all done a spectacular job and I will miss you… I’ll have to look elsewhere for what you have provided so beautifully over the years. Thank you, and I wish you all the best in wherever your journey takes you.” — Wendy, March 1, 2013

I have come across these short notes when I tried to log in to Tapped In (http://tappedin.org/), an online platform in which I collected the data for my MA Thesis and on which I had presentations at conferences. In addition to the dozens of presentations on Tapped In, I have also a proceeding titled as “Tapped In: A meeting place for language teachers”. I learned a lot in this platform. We discussed about my MA thesis proposal and I changed the topic upon the suggestions of BjB, Vance, JeffC, David Weskler at least 7-8 years ago. I also met Margaret Doty here and she helped me throughout my studies in both MA and PhD programs. Now, this platform is closed and only seven screenshots remained on the page. If you like, you can visit the page to see how it looked like. In time, they may also disappear.

Of course, Tapped In was very special for me; however, then, I remembered some tools I used for my classes and introduced at seminars enthusiastically. For example, I remember when I found Yackpack. The tool was great and I showed that tool to my colleagues and I also remember asking why we didn’t hold department meetings in this place. I liked that tool that much. I didn’t write an article or proceeding about Yackpack; but I mentioned that tool in a proceeding about PBwiki.

Then, I remembered that PBwiki has changed its name as PBworks (http://www.pbworks.com). They changed their name but I cannot change the title of my presentations entitled “Collaborative Writing through PBwiki” which I presented with Arif hocam at WIAOC in 2007. If someone wants to look through my CV, he might come across many tools which are not available now.

Actually, this is the risky part of studying on computer assisted language learning. You collect data and write an article or proceeding; but, if the tool disappears in time, it might be very confusing for the readers. For example, I collected data in Tapped In for my MA thesis and I shared many links in the appendix of my MA thesis; but they are not available now and most of the links are broken now.

Actually, these changes doesn’t mean that my studies are all junk from now on. Because, science is cumulative and these should be studied as well. For example, there are many studies about using audio cassettes in language teaching during the time when Audio-Lingual Method was popular. Nowadays, the new generation does not have any idea about cassettes; but they were very useful for further research. I may think so. They are only the steps for further research and researchers benefit from the findings of these studies.

However, these changes made me to think I should change my perspective in terms of research in CALL. I should concentrate on more theoretical issues rather than practical Web 2.0 tools. I would like to concentrate on professional development, online teacher education and distance education instead of concentrating on a specific tool. Instead, I am planning to suggest some features of tools. For example, the tools should help the learners to work in collaboration, there should be an interaction in your online classroom, etc. If the audience or the readers ask for a tool, I may give a list of tools that they can use.

Finally, I am talking about CALL from the beginning of this post; but it also changed in some contexts. People prefer to use the acronym SMALL – social media assisted language learning – instead of CALL. I am teaching CALL course and the name of the course is also out-of-date for some people. What a pity!

What do you think about this? Do you also think that I should change the perspectives of my studies?

Dr. Sedat Akayoglu