A thoughtful article on how SLA software should be evaluated for its fitness for purpose. Does the technology facilitate learning? How would you measure this? The following list – a work in progress by Scott Thornbury – is very helpful.
- ADAPTIVITY: Does the software assume that learning is linear, incremental, uniform, predictable and intentional? Or does it accommodate the often recursive, stochastic, incidental, and idiosyncratic nature of learning, e.g. by revisiting material, by adapting to the user’s learning history, by allowing the users to set their own learning paths and goals?
- COMPLEXITY: Does the software address the complexity of language, including its multiple interrelated sub-systems (e.g. grammar, lexis, phonology, discourse, pragmatics)?
- INPUT: Is material provided for reading and/or listening, and is this input rich, comprehensible, and engaging? Are there means by which the input can be made more comprehensible? And is there a lot of input (so as to optimize the chances of repeated encounters with language items, and of incidental learning)?
- FOCUS ON FORM: Are there mechanisms whereby the user’s attention is directed to features of the input and/or mechanisms that the user can enlist to make features of the input salient?
- OUTPUT: Are there opportunities for language production? Are there means whereby the user is pushed to produce language at or even beyond his/her current level of competence?
- FEEDBACK: Does the user get focused feedback on their comprehension and production, including feedback on error?
- INTERACTION: Is there provision for the user to collaborate and interact with other users (whether other learners or proficient speakers) in the target language?
- CHUNKS: Does the software encourage/facilitate the acquisition and use of formulaic language?
- PERSONALIZATION: Does the software encourage the user to form strong personal associations with the material?
- INVESTMENT: Is the software sufficiently engaging/motivating to increase the likelihood of sustained and repeated use?
Read the full article here: http://eltjam.com/how-could-sla-research-inform-edtech/