Intellectual Companion Tutor Mobile Application for English Learning

UDC 372.8
Publication date: 19.03.2017
International Journal of Professional Science № 3-2017

Intellectual Companion Tutor Mobile Application for English Learning

Kuzminova Margarita Vladimirovna
Ph.D. student, senior instructor, Foreign Languages Department
Kaluga State University named after K.E. Tsiolkovskiy
Abstract: In the article the necessity of computer-, Internet- and mobile learning is discussed. The reasons for CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning) and MALL (Mobile-Assisted Language Learning) integration in the educational process are also given. Different approaches to the technology of mobile education and Internet-based education are presented and some of them are briefly described. The article also explores the reasons for game-based mobile applications as a part of mobile learning and gives the description of such an application for professional language learning. The study is based on the open learner model and the game worked out by Taiwanese IT specialists and implies other strategies worked out by different lecturers, instructors and scientists. Brief characteristics of a mobile application for medical students are theoretically described. And thus, the conclusion id made that the usage of a smartphone can incorporate references to Internet resources beside using its built-in options in the process of language learning
Keywords: MALL, CALL, game-based mobile application, language learning, mobile learning

  1. Introduction

Technology has always been present in the educational process. However recently with the fastest development of computer science and in the context of the society conversion into the informational one educative technologies have undergone changes. Nowadays we are facing the knowledge and information era of almost all the processes in our every-day life. Thus the two concepts are becoming highly valuable for a contemporary employee. The moving of the occupational sites from “the factory to the office” implicates a prospective labor unit to possess high level of digital literacy skill [1: 6]. New concepts and approaches are mostly based on the computer-, Internet- and mobile-assisted learning.  All these leads to informatization of education, which means the new demands to a competent graduate such as highly appreciated on the labor market skills of getting, processing and usage of information [2].

  1. Materials and methods

The aforementioned factors entailed the new educational paradigm which is called “new” literacy [3], or called by some scientist “digital literacy” [4] or “electronic literacy” [5].

Mark Warschauer [5] in his research writes that “the technological, economic, and social transformations of the digital era pose three important literacy and learning challenges that can be summarized as past/future, home/school, and rich/poor”. Thus, the first correlation deals with the differences between the former accent on texts reading and translating and contemporary needs in digital literacy and interaction with participants from all over the world. The second correlation refers to the gap between the media-rich and autonomous literacy experiences that many children enjoy at home and the often more restrictive literacy practices they engage in at school [6]. And the third one refers to the differences in the possibilities of the children from high and low socioeconomic status families, moreover that this implies the higher value of and higher salary for the well-digital educated, giving them the possibilities of getting better positions, and simultaneously reducing payment for unskilled jobs.

In this context, the educational technologies must adapt to the students’ demands and stay ahead their experience, but not behind.
Firstly, computer-assisted learning is a real support not only for a subject competence formation but for IT integration into the learning process thus simultaneously developing them.

As for English language learning (ELL), all the four skills (reading, listening, writing and speaking) may be formed in computer-assisted language learning [1, 7, 8, 9, 10]. The same is with Internet tools. Educators have studied benefits and challenges of introducing social nets like Facebook [11, 12] and Twitter [13], social networking sites [14], Google tools [15]. For example, García states that blogging has the potential for collaborative and autonomous work outside the classroom [FB plataforma]. Moreover, other Internet-based technologies have become widespread in teaching English. Aydin [16] in his research argues that the use of blogs in ELL “plays an important role in developing learners’ interaction, competencies and communications in the target language [16: 252]. Other scientists emphasize the function of blogging as improvement of reading and writing skills, grammar and vocabulary [17, 18, 19, 20]. Sysoev [21] explores the nature and benefits of podcasts in the learning process. He also describes the stages of students work with podcasts and their own podcasts creation. The more profitable podcasts are for listening and speaking skills development, as well as IT skills. [22] combine podcasts and videos into videocasts. Their research focuses on the alternative ways to make lessons more dynamic. The questionnaire given to students after working with videocasts showed that they felt more active and more motivated.

Still the technology of mobile education is being studied more now: that is the use of any portable device in education, such as tablets and PDA. With the smartphones entering our lives the focus of mobile learning has shifted to investigating mobile phones abilities and overall mobile applications designing that are widely used in tourism, banking as well as education. Bachore [23] describes merits and demerits of Mobile-assisted Language Learning (MALL). Biel [24] explores the ways to use smartphones built-in functions that can be useful in learning, mostly camera and dictaphone. Liu, M., Navarrete, C. C., Maradiegue, E. & Wivagg, J. [25] interviewed teachers in their research which finally showed that the following options were mostly used in the classroom: calculator, calendar, accessing Internet, maps, music and podcasts, and checking weather. As for media creation voice recorder, notes, still camera and video camera were also involved in the learning process.  The usage of other applications is rather rare, still scientist speaking about MALL describe already designed existing mobile applications for educational purposes [25, 26]. Often they are just resources such as dictionaries, translation tools, flash cards application, etc. Kapranchicova [27] combines MALL with Internet technologies and explores their benefits in developing the four skills of ELL.

  1. Results and discussion.

At this stage the application itself should be described. The graphic imaging of a learner model depends on the learners’ age and in case with students it varies from major to major. For schoolchildren pet, could be taken. The benefits of a companion pet as an open learner model were described by Chen, Chou, Deng and Chan [28]. They thoroughly explored all the components of a model and gave the objectives of this model functioning. They described a dog as a which is to be nurtured thus getting the awareness of individual progress. Moreover, a group pet (“Our-Pet”) was introduced which added an element of competition and made students motivated and responsible for their individual learning strategies.

Another game-based example was provided by J.Ch. Yang, K.H. Chien, T.Ch. Liu [29]. In this game students taking care of a cyber-dog learn to use electric appliances consequently trying to preserve the dog’s life. Their success or faults are reflected by the dog’s emotions and health. Here we have a good example of combining the two functions of a specially designed mobile application: learning and assessment. In case with students and ELL an application combining a learner open model and dame-based learning may be introduced. It can be show on an example for medical students learning English.

An open learner model is a human, who is just starting a career of a doctor. This character can be drawn using CorelDraw or Maya (for 3D figures) software. The students during mini-games incorporated into the application can earn coins and then buy uniform and equipment. Or they may choose learning option and having passed a number of lessons get a professional certificate. The aim is to get a professional model well and up-to-date equipped and qualified. Mini-games can be programmed for iOS and Android or may contain only the instructions involving side resources or additional activities aside from application: find information, collect bibliography, record and audio/video. These additional activities are assessed by the teacher who after that gives an individual code for completing the game.

  1. Conclusion

Mobile learning is not restricted to the built-in options of a smartphone or other portable device; it may include Internet tools or other applications for educational purposes. A well-programmed and designed mobile application can combine learning and assessment functions, making students more self-aware about their success. Game-based applications also contribute greatly into students’ motivation and responsibility for their educative actions.


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