Our project, Technology for Acquiring Language through Engagement (TALE), focuses on designing a gamified platform to help self-learners acquire foreign language skills, specifically non-native English speakers.
Research question: How might we help intermediate to advanced English learners get more practice speaking their target language with others?
Motivations: Self-learners encounter a number of challenges when attempting to learn a language, including:
Lack of depth in existing free learning materials
Disconnect to native speakers and culture
Struggles with loss of interest or feelings of burnout over time
Difficulties practicing natural conversations
Why gamification? Research has shown that playful environments and gamified approaches can be powerful tools for engaging learners.
Students are expected to learn how to make inferences in the third grade, but few high-quality resources are available to help students master this skill. Frequently it is practiced by giving students pictures and asking them to infer something about the picture (for example, from a photo of children standing in front of bicycles at a beach, a student could infer that it’s summertime, that they are siblings, that they rode their bikes to the beach, etc.). Teachers evaluate the inferences based on whether or not they are plausible, but often students are left to make up a set of disconnected inferences. FossilVR is a novel virtual environment that grounds the skill of making inferences in an authentic context: a paleontological fossil dig.
Students travel through the virtual environment with Dr. Hannah, the lead paleontologist at the site, and dig up fossils, about which they are then asked to make observations and inferences in their field notebook. The notebook contains scaffolds to guide noticing to help students create an argument about the characteristics of the specimen. We hypothesize that this system will increase the quality of inferences made, support argumentation skills, and create a more enjoyable learning experience compared with traditional methods.
Roberts, J., & Leinart, K. (2022) How Big was a Triceratops, Really? Using Augmented Reality to Support Collaborative Reasoning about Scale. In Tissenbaum et al. Learning at the intersection of physical spaces and technology. Symposium to be conducted at the 2022 International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL). Hiroshima, Japan and online.