Thursday 24 August 2017

Eurocall 2017 - blog integrated to the main conference website

Do point your browser to to access the blog for this year's conference. Thank you!

Monday 18 January 2016

The 5 R's of Open Education and Eurocall 2105

Memories of Eurocall 2015 may be distant now. The warmth of the Italian sunshine and our new and old friends companionship lost to the chill of the winter and the demands of a new year. However the ripples remain in cyberspace and when the UK language e-learning community comes together again in a few days at #elearnllas in Southampton we will be returning to share the inspiration provided by Eurocall's keynote speakers. 

The playlist of videos of these presentations provide a helpful snapshot of the conference but also an ongoing source of discussion and debate as our field moves forward. Technology is fast moving and teaching approaches which embrace it's use have not always kept pace. I will be talking to the #elearnllas community about my experiences of developing a virtual learning environment for language teachers and sharing tips which I hope will help them in turn to support their communities as they navigate the digital oceans. 

I will be celebrating the 5 R's of Openness in order to reconnect during this event with the wider language community. My presentation will be multimodal and streamed on the morning of Friday 22nd January so participation at a distance is welcomed. The #elearnllas tag will help you find each other and maybe we can relive some of the warmth of Perugia, popping our heads out of our respective ponds to enjoy the sunshine. Please explore this interactive map of the terrain I will be sharing on Friday. You can even collect an open badge - but more of that on the day!

Saturday 29 August 2015

Post #eurocall2015 reflections on arriving in Padova.

On Tuesday of this week I arrived in Padova. I got off the airport bus and was pleased to recognise a shopping mall I had noticed when researching the area around my hotel on google street view. I stopped for a drink, connected to the free wifi and set about planning my walk to the hotel on my phone. I was surprised when google maps showed a 5 minute walk in the opposite direction to that which I was expecting but it must be right of course! 10 minutes later a kindly receptionist in a different hotel ordered me a taxi to save my sore feet. 

Post conference, I am better able to understand this mundane experience. My faith in my ubiquitous device use and reliance on internet access had prevented my critical use of technology. I should have realised that my device had not updated a real time, location specific map. I had seen a cached map from my earlier planning and used it to dismiss my instinct and better judgement (blisters were an unforeseen, unwelcome consequence). 

The space in our lives where tech and human intersect is a good space for critical thinking. The "seeing double" described by Sian Bayne. Raising awareness of what goes on "under the hood" of the ubiquitous technology that is now just another everyday tool helps us to think critically. Here's one of the 3 such research activities she described in her keynote. 

Entangled fingers (image taken from art installation opposite my hotel - yes I got there in the end!) illustrates our enmeshed lives. Humans are connected, interdependent beings. We inhabit a world where critical post humanism allows us to explore the boundaries between ourselves and our tools. #eurocall2015 brought challenges, stimulation, answers and more importantly questions.

Thursday 27 August 2015

Shaky Internet connection

In case you are waiting for blog post updates, I would recommend Twitter as the primary source of information. The Internet connections in Italy seem a bit unstable so blogging hasn't been an easy task.

We will tweet and will defintely broadcast the keynotes live and hope to offer you a window into the activities via the blog too. The conference is going super and the weather is almost as hot as the Finnish sauna (well, not quite....).

Wednesday 26 August 2015

We are ready to start!

The plenary sessions will be recorded as usual. You will find the live streaming at:

 A handy way for two way participation is Twitter as usual:

Twitter: @EUROCALL2015  Use #EUROCALL2015 in your tweets about the conference.

Hook up and enjoy !!

Sunday 23 August 2015

A new year a new conference - Welcome to Padova!

We are happy to welcome you to the historically interesting, weatherwise pleasant and conferencewise exciting Padova!

Like in the past, we are hoping to offer you a flavour of the conference through this blog by posting short blurbs on the presentations, uploading pictures and more importantly streaming live from the plenaries.

Let's enjoy Eurocall 2015 both on site and at a distance!

 --- Eurocall Excutive committee and the local organisers

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.