Saturday, 23 August 2014

The closing ceremony! (Not streamed live but recorded for later viewing)

And now we have started!

1) A look back at the conference by Steven T., Josef C. and Ana G.

Steve was especially impressed by the approach most people had for technology: not only looking at the technologies per se but actually placing them in the wider context of supporting and doing learning. Ana in turn emphasised how important this conference is for us to together think and develop more rigorous ways of researching and developing CALL further together. She doubted that our universities don't always understand the value and importance of these face-to-face encounters.  Like the previous commentators, Josef showed his appreciation for the organisers for a great conference.  He also agreed with previous comments that the focus was on pedagogy and task-design instead of a certain technology. Words like meaninfulnes, usefulness and playfulness were mentioned in connection with the task. What he called for was a more focus on the media choices - why we use certain technologies for certain purposes. He also doubted that we use certain hype terms (e.g. 21st century learning) without really defining and discussing them in more detail.

2) The poster awards:

3) Thank you's!

The conference helpers -
Marjolijn Verspoor,
Estelle Meima,
Shanti van Leeuwen,
Sake Jager and
Mariska Pater (Conference Bureau)

June Thompson will retire from being the editor of ReCALL and was thanked with a very loud applause.

4) Next year PADOVA! (26-29, August, 2015)

The closing is about the start!

We are all set to start the closing - This has been an awesome conference!

Keynote 3: John de Jong - Innovative Items: Measuring Something More or Different

John de Jong starts with a short introduction to language testing. Paper-based tests lack the immediate response/award/feedback factor that we know from for example gaming machines or tablet technology and which can be achieved using machine testing.

Automated essay scoring tends to be mistrusted, the general view being that machines cannot be taught to interpret meaning. However, de Jong takes us through recent developments that seem to show that IEA (intelligent essay assessor) can do just that: a machine learning to score like human markers by measuring different aspects of the responses collected from a large body of text input. Such scoring uses latent semantic analysis to score content Latent semantic analysis (LSA) is based on the machine reading vast amounts of texts, learning what words mean and how they relate to each other, ie it learns the concepts, rather than just the vocabulary resulting in the creation of a semantic space. The following slide summarises the concept:

In terms of reliability and validity LSA has been tested on millions of essays and its scoring vis-a vis a human rater compares well to human raters vis-a-vis human raters. De Jong goes on to say that such automatic processes are already being used frequently, for example in Interwiki bots, an automated system that immediately takes off text written into Wikipedia that is not relevant to the area in question. Associated Press agency has also started using software that will automatically generate thousands of financial reports without the need for reporters. The presentation then turned to the challenges in assessing 21. century skills, and the following slides summarise the most salient points:

De Jong gives further application examples of the machine, such as oral exams. Here, the machine acts as interlocutor, always adapting to the level of the student. For De Jong, standardisation of oral exams is not really possible when using human interlocutor because of different affective factors. Using machine interlocuteurs would ensure that each students is tested against the same interlocuteur/rater. A further area for machine application for de Jong are tandem programmes, i.e. the machine can becomes a partner in collaborative projects. In closing, de Jong urges us to think about further possibilities of integrating technologies into our work, as well as exploring the idea of how the role of the teacher might be changing in the future.

3rd Keynote John de Jong - Innovative items - measuring something more or different

The live stream is available at

Mei Lin and her colleagues on Collaborative inquiry

In their project Mei and her colleagues want to engage the learners with the written word and deal with the ambiguity through addressing a question that has no single correct answer.

As the technology to support this, they use the Tabletops and with the Mysteries approach to do this (see pics below)

They used the Thinking Skills framework (Moseley et al., 2004) that has been created earlier (see pic below).

Data analysis was carried out in an interdisciplinary team
- moment to moment multimodal interaction
- function of talk and higher order thinking
- affordances of technology

Two lenses on collaborative interaction: sense-making and shared understanding - organisational structure: turn-taking, sequental organisation development of shared understanding

Their sequencing framework can be seen in the picture:


Here a picture of the students working at the tabletop:

Mei Lin is more than happy to explain their project in more detail or plan a cooperation project together with you. You can contact her at:

Friday, 22 August 2014

First two keynotes already available online!

The Dutch are effective! The first two recordings are already available for online viewing:

1st keynote - Carol A. Chapel: Arguments for Technology and Language Learning?

2nd keynote - Bart Rienties:  (in)formal learning and social interactions...?!

R Vurdien: social networking:developing intercultural competence and fostering autonomous learning

The presentation reported on a study that was based on 2 focus groups, one in Mauritius and Spain, made up of university students and involving out of class activity. The research questions underlying the study looked at what students can learn about each others culture, and does online learning foster learner autonomy. There were 24 students in total, with C1 (Spaniards) and C2 level (Mauritians) in English, respectively. Tasks were assigned every 2 weeks, asking students to post on their blogs covering areas such as university education gastronomy, lifestyle etc. The final two tasks involved students interviewing each other across the two groups, as well as making short videos. Sample interview questions asked by participants in their interviews included questions on architecture, health, politics and research.

The study adopted a qualitative approach, using questionnaires at the beginning and the end as well as an interview at end of the study. Findings suggest that in general students had enhanced their knowledge of the other countries, and interestingly, when asked to assess the cultural similarities and differences they observed, the Spaniards reported more similarities, e.g. in in habits and lifestyle, while the Mauritian found more differences, e.g. in outlook and opportunities. Likewise, the Mauritian students thought the interaction had helped building friendships with the other cultural groups, while the Spaniards didn't consider the study long enough to allow for friendship to form. The study concluded that there was an increase in motivation due to the dynamic online nature of the interaction. The data further showed that the interaction enhanced the students' understanding of the other culture, and pertinent collaborative tasks encouraged them to interact, share information and think critically.

Meima & van Engen on the MAGICC project (

Modularising Multilingual and multicultural academic communication competence for BA and MA level is a Life Long Learning EU project developing learning outcomes for HE language courses. It conceptualises and describes competences for multicultural and multilingual work life and attempts at harmonising the assessment criteria that can be employed for teaching and learning. One of the outcomes is also an academic eportfolio the students can use to show their competences for future employers.

R. O'Dowd: Learning as they go" :in service teachers learning to collaborate

Robert O'Dowd on teacher competences for carrying out telecollaboration. There are some 40 competencies which raises the question how to teach teachers in a one-off workshop on to acquire the competencies needed for a successful telecollaboration (see O'Dowd 2013). When interviewing 4 novice teachers based in Argentina, USA and USA, Robert realised that all four had completely different issues that needed addressing, ranging from institutional issues to technological issues. No two exchanges are ever the same, so toil address this issue, the INTENT project is hoping to run a project which will take account of the need for teachers to become part of communities of practice through "critical friends groups" and "peer coaching". Teachers learn best when engaged in the activity.

How can this then be embedded into teacher training? The proposed project seeks to put together a training course that includes information on the educational cultures of partner institutions, and invites experienced colleagues to make guest appearances and share their knowledge with the trainee telecollaborators. It further hopes to give trainees the opportunity to read about previous exchanges in the form of case studies, and engage teachers in simulations of TC exchanges or mentor them through their first exchanges.

2nd Keynote Bart Rienties

Please, join us for the live stream of today's keynote:

A highly interactive start to the keynote as Bart had the audience interpret analytics relating to the world cup performance of Robin van Persia, demonstrating the limitations of learning analytics. He talked of the need to distinguish between learner data and learning data before introducing a number of studies around learning analytics. One such study involved pre-sessional students on an economics degree that were assigned to study groups for 4 months. Results showed that the students learned more outside their assigned groups rather than inside these groups. So, if 80% of learning occurs outside their "classroom" how can we encourage informal learning, and how can we capture this learning in learning analytics?

A further development of the study looking at the VLA data showed that the predictive power of VLE data alone is very low, whereas using all data for six performance measures yields a far greater prediction accuracy. Using such data allows for example for early and targeted interventions with struggling students. Questions for Eurocall to consider are what VLE metrics should mew use, what do students learn from peers? When should the teacher intervene and how could we use smart(er) metrics of emotions and learning patterns? Bart's closing remark to his very entertaining and inforrmative talk was that learning analytics has lots of potential, but still offers more questions than answers. (By Oranna)