Content for second language acquisition that is co-designed with learners is the ultimate form of personalized second language learning. If teachers truly want to personalize second language learning for students, then they will have to incorporate the learners’ voice, choice, and agency, while promoting co-designs that are beta-tested with end users in mind, for online settings.
Today, learners demand more customization, voice, and practicality from their learning environments (Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson, 2017). Hence, instructors will have to upgrade language learning environments in order to meet the demand of today’s learners. Content creation and calibration for second language learning online cannot be done in a silo. Content that is customized, incorporates the students voice, and is practical for students has to be co-designed with students. Hence, content for second language acquisition that is co-designed with learners is the ultimate form of personalized second language learning.
Why should instructors include learners in the content creation process? First, by including learners in creating content, the learners themselves intrinsically set learning goals for their attainment. In other words, when instructors introduce students to the instructional objectives and learning outcomes for the units and lessons, the students then can determine their own learning because they have been empowered by the instructor to customize and practicalize the content. Plus, students have been allowed to add their voices to the content creation and calibration. This was evident in a KiSwahili course taught online during the fall semester.
Second, by including learners in the creation process, a learning flow that produces deep engagement and learner motivation, can be established. Csikszentmihalyi (1990) argued that “clear goals, individual control, tasks that the individual is capable of successfully completing, and skills that must be learned” is what establishes a flow for deep learning and engagement. When learners co-create content, tasks are designed that are not too challenging or too easy. What is more, students co-design tasks with instructors that align with their personal interests, thus placing them in a flow channel of second language learning. When applied to an online Swahili course, learners co-designed the learning task with the instructor, rather than the instructor determining topics to be covered and presented.
Third, learner voice, choice, and agency are all embedded in co-designed language learning tasks, as these types of task-centered designs highly value empowering learners to make decisions about ends, priorities, and means (Reigeluth, Myers, & Lee, 2017). When students are empowered, then they are more engaged and thereby more capable of attaining their learning goals and the instructor’s teaching objective. In the case of the Swahili course, learners help to co-design tasks that were of great interests, relevant to their needs, aligned with their personal learning goals, and authentic.
In many cases, after instructors have created their online content without student input, they typically test the content in the alpha stage, which is void of the student’s view. For instance, instructors might make sure that the links work, that the dates of content release are correct, and that the aesthetics of the content is appealing. If the content passes the instructor’s alpha test, then it is delivered to the student without any trial run. Some would argue that this is a travesty, as students are being held accountable for learning content that was not given a trial run by the learners. Cars are test driven, wine is taste tested, and movies have trailers, all for the sake of testing the quality or operation of the product. Why then are students not given an opportunity to give their content a trail run?
When instructors allow students to co-design and beta test the online content, learners are able to find bugs and fix them, improve content features, and optimize the distribution of learning, teaching, and assessing (Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson, 2017). “In software development, the beta phase is an accepted, normal, predictable stage of product development” (Gonzalez, 2018). This is not the case in traditional classrooms. Gonzalez (2014) mentioned that “beta is a lifelong commitment to continuous …growth” (para. 4). Hence, shouldn’t instructors adopt beta-testing as a form of continuous professional growth?
After doing some research on this topic, and implementing beta testing in an online Swahili course, I created an instrument that not only supports mega-batching content creation for online second language instruction, it also supports beta testing the online content with learners. For a copy of the instrument, click here. I also created a content rubric checklist for students that can be used for beta-testing second language learning content. This checklist is based on UC Berkeley’s checklist. In sum, if instructors truly want to personalize second language learning for students, then they will not only have to incorporate the learners’ voice, choice, and agency, just the same, instructors will also have to incorporate co-designs that are beta-tested with end users in online settings.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2009). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper [and] Row.
Gonzalez, J. (2014). Teaching in Beta: What We Can learn from Software Developers Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/beta-teaching/ on October 14th, 2018
Reigeluth, C.M., Myers, R. D., Lee, D. (2017). The Learner-Centered Paradigm of Education in Reigeluth, C. M., In Beatty, B. J., & In Myers, R. D. Instructional-design theories and models: Volume IV.
Kalaitzidis, T.J., Litts, B., and Rosenfeld Halverson, E. (2017). Designing Collaborative Production of Digital Media in Reigeluth, C. M., In Beatty, B. J., & In Myers, R. D. Instructional-design theories and models: Volume IV.
This is a very useful paper that will be of great value to professionals across the field. Thinking of a classroom as a service and putting into practice the methodologies of UX will offer insights into prevealant pedagogies and teaching practices.
Conference Category: ALTA
Paper Category: AFL Innovations and Technology
First time presenter: Yes
Technology Needed: MAC Mini Adapter, Multimedia Projector
Institution: Prince George’s Community College
Presentation Type: Individual
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