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Mark Johnstone: scenario (mobile learning and second language vocabulary development)

Mobile Learning for Second Language Vocabulary Development - Yezin’s Engineering Odyssey

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Mark Johnstone
24 January 2013

Yezin’s Engineering Odyssey

Yezin lives in Riyadh and is hoping to study engineering at university. He is in a preparatory year program that includes instruction in English, math and science. Yezin has difficulty reading the articles he is given and is specially worried about the technical vocabulary. 

Yezin’s English teacher suggests that he try using a social-network based glossary application on his phone. First, he scans the article he is reading with his learning set and saves it to text. Then he uses the application to identify several words and enters them into his personal glossary. He tags two words using pre-configured tags and creates his own tag for a third. Using concordance software he finds examples of these new words in the British National Corpus and compares these to his own text. He writes a provisional definition for the word and saves it to his learning space.

Later, Yezin scans another text and finds his previously entered words highlighted in the new text. He remembers two of these but has forgotten what the third one meant. He finds it in his glossary, linked to the text where he tagged it. He looks there and remembers what it means. Yezin is impressed and tells other people in his learning set about the tool. He thinks that if he can get them to work with him, they will all benefit by sharing their personal glossaries.

Using the application, Yezin and his friends have been able to turn an isolated and dull reading task into a social activity. The application not only helps them learn together, but it helps them learn more quickly by connecting prior knowledge to new tasks, and by connecting their individual expertise to that of the group.  They also begin to discover shared areas of interest within their field of study and think they might like to collaborate on other levels too.

Extra content

Complete work up at the GDocs link above. I found the Critical Evaluation section especially beneficial.

Mark Johnstone
09:55 on 24 January 2013

Yishay Mor's Design Scenario Template includes a section about Theoretical and Pedagogical Framework of the scenario.

I thought this was important but did not include it in my scenario since Joshua left it out of his template. I guess it could mystify some people. Funny, I was mystified by the "easy" stuff: goals, settings, objects, actions....

I though it was important though since, as Yishay points out, "The theoretical framework defines the process by which the designer approaches the challenge and the methods by which she evaluates the outcomes," (Mor, Y., Design Scenario Template).

I became very aware of this when writing the critical evaluation of my scenario which draws on both pedagotical and psychological theory. The application is a container for an activity. The activity centers on collaborative learning and is informed by a constructivist approach to learning. That is the pedagogical theory. The task is mundane - learn new vocabulary - but the process eschews traditional brute force of memorization and repetition and rather guides students to investigate context and then to connect new to existing knowledge. It then moves forward to connect new texts into a growing web of words. This invokes another theory of intertextuality. 

I did not plan this consciously. It just emerged because these are ways that I think and work and they seem natural to me. But, of course, what seems natural to me may be very alien, even incomprehensible, to someone else. If I can connect these behaviors to well-known and commonly understood theories, then I believe there will be a greater likelihood that the process I describe will be both recognizealbe and understandable by at least some others.

Mark Johnstone
16:37 on 24 January 2013

Embedded Content


Joshua Underwood
9:34am 28 January 2013

Hi Mark, this is great and I am glad it worked out for you like that with Yishay's guidance.

My intention was that scenarios should start with quickly telling a story from the designer's perspective (I realise that the instructions over-complicated this for many) and that scenarios would later be refiend either by looking more closely at Personas and underlying pedagogic theory (Personas & Force Maps route) and/or by looking more closely at the constraints, times & settings of learning and the ways these impact designs  (Ecology of Resources route). Obviously, a lot of time required to look at both in a detailed way.

Hope future weeks of the MOOC help you bring this idea on...



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