In modern methodology of teaching foreign languages a new scientific trend has arisen – computer linguodidactics, which studies the problems of using Internet resources and constructing electronic coursebooks for foreign language teaching.
The circle of domestic specialists working in the field of computer linguodidactics, including the construction of electronic coursebooks is expanding.
Currently used in the practice of teaching English at non-linguistic educational institutions coursebooks go out of date very quickly. They do not reflect indicators of rationality, providing appropriate strategies and techniques for teaching foreign-language communicative competence. For example, in the analyzed coursebooks there is no focus on achieving objective self-control and reflection of learners, which, in our opinion, is extremely important in teaching foreign languages in non-linguistic universities. Self-control and reflection influence students’ awareness of the goals of their learning process and their cognitive actions towards the desired result. It is obvious that they also determine a sufficient degree of cognitive activity in mastering foreign language communicative competence. We also emphasize the insufficient productivity of the proposed tasks, which requires teachers’ additional efforts, for example, when searching for or preparing additional material. This concerns various aspects of productivity: lack of independence, reflection, creativity, reproduction of «ready» knowledge, the indicated characteristics of the coursebooks that we found during the analysis cannot become conditions that transform teaching non-linguistic students communicative competence into an expedient, effective process.
- Materials and methods
The methodological basis for construction of electronic coursebooks is being developed. In preparing our two-level coursebook, we were guided by the general requirements of methodology of teaching foreign languages, guidelines of the textbook theory set forth in the works of modern scholars.
To create a modern coursebook, active integration of knowledge in the field of teaching foreign languages, involving ideas from an ever wider range of related sciences are essential: cultural anthropology and regional studies, sociology and social pedagogy, economics and political science, cognitive science and philosophy of education . In a foreign language coursebook for non-linguistic students, both paper and electronic, all the components of the content of learning should be reflected: language material (organized with due account for its functions in foreign-language communication and rules of operating with it); verbal material (from speech sample to text); spheres of communication, reflecting practical use of a language, including professionally-oriented one; topics, subtopics and communicative situations; system of exercises and assignments to them, as well as tests for self-control; sociocultural information. The content-related plan is one of the main factors that can increase the internal motivation of students.
An electronic coursebook, like a paper coursebook, is defined as a kind of script for the educational process, and if availability of the coursebook allows the learners to dispense with a teacher, then we can consider such a coursebook to be full . The possibility of functioning of the coursebook without a teacher’s assistance is ensured by including in its contents all the necessary reference material, system of exercises with accessible and clearly formulated tasks, a systematic presentation and revision of language material and means for monitoring the performance of assignments. The main tasks that a teacher should solve, according to A.P. Minyar-Belorucheva are confined to the following:
– statement of all that is to be said to learners;
– description of all the actions of a teacher and a student;
– availability of the essential language material, as well as the rules for its use;
– availability of the grammatical satellite with revision of the selected grammatical material and corresponding exercises;
– availability of lexical references;
– availability of general scientific and special scientific limited syntagmatic sequences (Ibid.).
The authors define the distinguishing features of electronic coursebooks and indicate their advantages. Among the most significant are the following distinctive features:
– possibility of including several levels of difficulty in electronic coursebooks;
– availability of variative tasks and control of educational achievements in interactive mode;
– open system of the coursebook, allowing to supplement, correct, modify the educational material in the course of its operation;
– greater visibility (animations, accompanying sound, hyperlinks, picture shots, etc.);
– expanding usage based on rapid and non-expensive increase in circulation or distribution through the network.
V.A. Vul relates to the advantages of the electronic coursebook the following:
– adaptation and optimization of the user interface for individual requirements;
– use of additional, in comparison with print, means of influence on the student;
– methods of constructing a fast and convenient navigation mechanism.
In print textbooks, these characteristics are provided by means of a table of contents, running titles and glossaries, for which one needs to flip through pages. In electronic coursebooks, hyperlinks, frames, or image maps are used to quickly jump to the desired section or fragment and, if necessary, go back. When using network structures, it is possible to discuss the material with other students without leaving the workplace, to provide interactive teamwork between students and coursebook elements . According to O.V. Zimina, electronic coursebooks maximally facilitate understanding and memorization of the most essential information, using computer explanations, involving in the active learning process other than the usual coursebook, the capabilities of the human brain, in particular, auditory and emotional memory .
As for the structure of the electronic coursebook, first of all, it should be said about its hypertext structure. Hypertext systems have become widespread in many areas of science, technology, education, and economics. The term «hypertext» was introduced by Ted Nelson in 1965 . By «hypertext» the author understands a nonsequential write. Typically, the process of writing is performed sequentially for the following two reasons: firstly, because it is derived from speech, which cannot be nonsequential, and, secondly, because books are inconvenient to read otherwise than sequentially. However, thoughts form structures that are not sequential – they are connected by many possible transitions (Ibid.). A.A. Vorozhbitova defines hypertext as a special form of storing and presenting textual information that converts numerous final texts into a single whole and is characterized by the infinity of possible interpretations .
Hypertext system uses electronic and software tools to overcome the limitations of the linear nature of text printed on paper, i.e. represents a non-linear organization of information units that can be represented by text, audio and video information, which opens up unique opportunities for authors of electronic coursebooks. Hypertext information model is recognized as a framework for effective presentation and transfer of knowledge as well as, according to P.A Carlson, it is based on the hypothesis that processing and generation of ideas by the human brain occurs associatively .
It is known that the idea of expanding the traditional notion of text lies in the basis of hypertextual representation of information, by introducing a non-linear text in which cross-links between the selected text fragments (information articles) and rules for the transition from one piece of text information to another are created. If printed books can only present a two-dimensional information flow: linear and hierarchical, hypertext systems contain a network of cross-points (fragments, modules, frames) and the associative links given on them generate a three-dimensional information stretch, which creates an information environment adequate to the deep structure of ideas processed by the human brain .
Hypertext is considered a universal technology, the use of which does not depend on the specificity of the educational area, since it contains practically all the disparate methods of storing and presenting information. Yu. Hartung and E. Breydo identify the most important properties of hypertext: principal possibility of existence only in computer form; nonlinearity; multiplicity of virtual structures; incompleteness; virtualization of information .
Based on the research of hypertext systems, V.L. Epstein came to the conclusion that hypertext systems are systems of anthropocentric type, since the presentation of information and methods of navigation are oriented not to the computer, but to the brain of a person who solves a problem, in this case information is presented in the most effective form, considering not only its nature, but also the individual physiological characteristics of the user .
Hypertext system applied at practical lessons offers students a dynamic system in which there are opportunities to rationally combine students’ classroom and independent work, to provide students with the necessary resource for improving the quality of linguistic competence (phonological, lexical, grammatical), and also to form other components of foreign language communicative competence.
The process of constructing an electronic coursebook is greatly simplified with the advent of specialized programs such as: ToolBook Instructor, MatchWare Mediator, AutoPlay Media Studio and many more. Let’s consider some advantages of the listed programs. ToolBook Instructor is a professional tool for developing and designing e-learning courses, electronic learning materials, simulators, etc., and assessment in on-line mode. ToolBook Instructor has a full-featured scripting language for creating interactive tutorials, built-in tools for recording and editing simulations that provide step-by-step performance of tasks, input of necessary data, filling in blanks, etc. In addition, the program allows one to track user results in accordance with international standards – SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model), AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee) etc.
For multimedia presentations, educational applications based on computer technology and Web-based presentation MatchWare Mediator can be used. The program is focused on creation of Flash-, HTML- and interactive CD-presentations. It is based on the classical scheme of creating presentations, both in the form of one’s own projects, and based on a variety of templates organized as visual effects, which allows to create unique presentations that resemble an interactive video. The presentation can combine text, images, video, sound, animation, interactive elements, variables and input objects that affect the course of demonstration.
Study and analysis of these and other programs made it possible to determine that teachers who do not have a special education in programming should use AutoPlay Media Studio to construct electronic coursebooks, CD DVD business cards, presentations, simple games, electronic photo albums, collections of video files with easy viewing etc. The program allows integrating various types of media, such as images, sounds, (flash-) video and text into a single interlinked presentation of information.
It should be noted that learning programs developed on the basis of AutoPlay Media Studio have a number of advantages, such as:
– more than 865 operations (actions with objects);
– 12 operational actions;
– custom dialog boxes;
– parallel audio channels;
– macro plug-ins support;
– pluggable objects support;
– 21 embedded object;
– customizable application window and object positioning support;
– 2500 pages in one project;
– language identification for multilingual applications;
– timer push button, save functionality function when individual elements fail (Flash), start button, sorting objects by time and size;
– application version identification (dependencies);
– built-in CD/DVD/Blu-Ray recorder.
The use of Autoplay Media Studio does not require special instruction, since it is quite easy-to-use.
As for the evaluation of the electronic coursebooks, the following criteria are highlighted:
– compliance of the content of a coursebooks with the approved curriculum;
– compliance of the volume of material with the set norms;
– compliance of the content of the coursebooks with its form;
– completeness (composition) of a coursebooks;
– up-to-date educational material;
– accepted way of self-testing learners ;
– to be interactive and easy to navigate;
– to provide the potential of changing the trajectory of learning;
– to have hypertext structure of learning material (links to definitions, sequence of steps, interconnection of segments);
– to contain illustrative material;
– to contain various practical and control activities to consolidate knowledge, means of self-control, as well as monitoring and evaluating the knowledge gained (tests, exercises, creative assignments);
– to have a system of links (hyperlinks) to various electronic resources posted on the Internet .
- Results and discussion
The compliance of the electronic coursebook with the above mentioned characteristics and requirements fills it with linguodidactic potential for presentation, automation and application of educational material in the classroom. At the same time, we draw attention to the fact that for an electronic coursebook aimed at teaching foreign language communicative competence, it is not enough to meet only the specified requirements for electronic coursebooks in general. The effectiveness of the educational process in this case is in direct dependency on fundamental methodological categories and awareness of rationality and expediency of methods of activating the mechanisms of foreign language speech activity. The implementation of the provisions of rational methodology in the development of an electronic two-level coursebook becomes a factor in achieving the effectiveness of learning and its rationalization. For example, an electronic coursebook provides objective self-control and reflection, choice of the appropriate individual educational trajectory of study and self-study, regulation of the degree of cognitive activity in mastering foreign language communicative competence, achievement of the necessary degree of productivity of self-study by using an electronic coursebook, efficiency of educational activities, determining the optimal sequence of teaching activities. These characteristics of the use of an electronic coursebook for teaching foreign language communicative competence are correlated with the indicators of rationality, which confirms the expediency of choosing an electronic coursebook as a means of implementing the rational methodology.
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