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)

M-J Hamel et al on Using screen capture tools for L2 writing course

Marie-Josée starts by reminding us that
1) the digital technologies represent important new multimodal spaces and resources for L2 students and their instructors and that
2) understanding student's writing behaviours at the computer is a fundamental part of developing the writing pedagogy.
In their 3-year study, the researchers use video screen capture technology (VSC) to understand the processes of writing, to be able to scaffold the students reflection and also give the students opportunities to reflect on their writing process. The research questions are whether the studest find the tools useful and what are the advantages of VSC use in a language writing course: critical reflection, language competence, language autonomy.

The theoretical framework is built on the following:

More information from the presenters. (Quickest way to reach Marie-Josée is via Twitter: @mjhamel20)

Ilona Laakkonen on Personal Learning Environments and Course Design

Ilona Laakkonen presentation was an exploration on how to adapt the ideology of the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) to a higher education language course. First part of the presentation was on defining the concept of PLEs and this posting is on that part. The other parts outlined a HE course where PLE was used throughout and the presenter discussed the methodological aspects of researching learning and PLEs. Finally, focus was put on the development on the digital literacies of the students and the Beetham&Sharpe (2010) development framework. For those of you interested in the idea of PLE, here is one way of looking at the components of PLE as part of formal learning:

In the current study, the idea was to design a continuum of activities that would align with the studies at the university and employ PLEs throughout them. The ideal design would be as follows:

Ask for more information on the concept or on the possible research approaches from the presenter: Ilona Laakkonen, or see at (mostly in Finnish, but go for the Publications section for English content)

Thursday, 21 August 2014

L. Cuesta Medina and P Alvarez Ayure:n Fostering Collaboration in CALL: benefits and challenges of using virtual language resource centres

The presentation discusses a research action pilot project based on a group of 16 teachers on an MA degree in language teaching in Colombia. The creation of virtual language resource centres (VLRC) is a step towards addressing the lack of both printed and digital resources available to the language learner and teacher. Factors taken into account in setting up the VLRCs the matching of the new digital resources to the needs and levels of the students. Amongst the design principles taken into considerations for the creation of the 9 VLRCs were learner centred approach, (which involved training the teachers in giving learning strategy training, LMS and web 2.0 training in order to operate in the new learning environment on their own); distance and online learning instruction as assets to facilitate lifelong learning (Paquette 2000),; contribute to the creation of a sense of a community; constructivist pedagogy. The pilot project saw collaboration between students of different schools in the same city, as well as between students in different parts of the country. The second level of collaboration took place between teachers in different parts of the country, working together to create the VLRCs. The project outcomes highlighted the potential of VLRCs in the process of bridging the digital divide. They further encouraged learner autonomy, facilitated access and use of web 2 tools as well as providing a customised learner experience. However, it also stressed the continued need for staff and student training on the creation/use of VLRCs.

M Hauck and M Kurek: A framework for multiliteracy training in the context of technology enhanced language training

M Hauck and M Kurek on the lack of learners' critical and evaluative skills in regard to online content, and opinion-generating online content and the need for fresh task design to take account of this. The starting point is informed reception at cognitive level, discourse, social and operational level via thoughtful participation through to creative contribution.

Helm: a blip in the landscape: current issues in the design, sustainability and impact of telecollaboration

Francesca Helm on the potential of telecollaboration for the development of not only language skills, but crucially also intercultural experience and 21st century skills. There is a need to move out of CALL and take the telecollaboration message to other disciplines within our institutions and beyond in order to reach a far greater number of students than the relatively few that go abroad. A position paper by the INTENT project will be made available on the Eurocall site.

Ohlsen & van Engen on Different forms of feedback

Ronald Ohlsen and Jeroen van Engen attracted quite an audience to their presentation on "the different forms of feedback for writing and speaking skills in an output-oriented approach". The study in question was about a one-year course of Dutch for a special group of Chinese students of Dutch. The intensive course consisted of 560 contact hours and 570 self-study hours. To support them in showcase their learning, a mobile responsive website was created. The students were guided towards becoming autonomous learners from the beginning and to become aware of what will be expected of them during and at the end of the course. The can-do statements and the CEFR descriptors were used to outline the skill areas and levels targeted.
The assignments were designed to be as meaningful as possible, and both written and spoken language were supported throughout the course. Emphasis was put on learning to give and receive feedback, which may not be a typical activity in the students' home university in China.

The website that was used to showcase the digital artifacts, was created in Drupal (, a opensource CMS. The website was extended with various modules (Media, Soundcloud, Voting, Workbench) to design a workflow management system. The website can be found on and/or you can e-mail us for more information: (Jeroen) / (Ronald)

Graham Davies Keynote: Carol A. Chappell: Arguments for Technology and Language Learning A talk on evaluation as argument. A brief literature review on evaluation, followed by the outlining of 5 types of arguments used to support claims in our area of research: comparisons, authenticity, language, theory and pedagogy Comparisons, authenticity (with reference to literacy), language (DDL), theory and pedagogy. Chappell discusses challenges associated with each type of argument, and points to the need for examining assumptions made implicitly in the arguments/claims we use.

Sauro&Sundmark on fanfiction

Shannon Sauro walks us through an exploration of what fanfiction is about and how to integrate fanfiction (blogs) into the actual classroom context. The context is secondary school and the learners are first year students of teacher education. Exciting work and the authors are more than eager to share their experiences with anyone who is planning using similar methods in their teaching.

Pictures from the conference

All pictures from the conference can be found at:

You will notice the red conference bags in some of the pictures...they are simply awesome! The story behind them is that they are a part of the University of Groningen's 400 year celebrations "For Infinity". Read more at

Welcome to Eurocall 2014

Excellent start to the conference - the welcome reception in the Academiegebouw at the University of Groningen, this year's beautiful conference venue.

The Opening Ceremony and the Graham Davies Keynote by Carol A. Chapelle - streaming available

The conference proper is about to start. Do join us for the opening ceremony followed by the first plenary presentation by Carol A. Chapelle. Live chat during the streamings will be done on Twitter at #Eurocall2014.

Click here for the live streaming. Or here:  if the link doesn't work.