The Impacts of Distance Interactivity on Learners' Achievements in Online Mobile Language Learning:

Article (PDF Available) · July 2015with 118 Reads
DOI: 10.4018/ijwltt.2015070102
Abstract
The expansion of technological applications such as computers and mobile phones in the past three decades has impacted our life from different perspectives. Language teaching is no exception and like other fields of study, language teaching has also influenced by new language teaching sources and software. More recently, there has been a passionate debate about the usefulness of the smart-phones for educational purposes and their possible uses in English language instruction; therefore, the present study investigated the impacts of interactivity perceptions on EFL learners' achievements in Online Mobile Language Learning (OMLL) course. To conduct the present study, 68 Iranian intermediate EFL learners were chosen among which 43 participated in Online Mobile Language Learning (OMLL) course and 25 others participated in conventional language classrooms. The results of the study demonstrated that OMLL has significant effects on learners' achievements; however, there are some challenges in conducting online mobile language learning (OMLL) courses in Iranian EFL context.
International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015 19
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
ABSTRACT
The expansion of technological applications such as computers and mobile phones in the
past three decades has impacted our life from different perspectives. Language teaching
is no exception and like other fields of study, language teaching has also influenced by
new language teaching sources and software. More recently, there has been a passion-
ate debate about the usefulness of the smart-phones for educational purposes and their
possible uses in English language instruction; therefore, the present study investigated
the impacts of interactivity perceptions on EFL learners’ achievements in Online Mobile
Language Learning (OMLL) course. To conduct the present study, 68 Iranian intermedi-
ate EFL learners were chosen among which 43 participated in Online Mobile Language
Learning (OMLL) course and 25 others participated in conventional language classrooms.
The results of the study demonstrated that OMLL has significant effects on learners’
achievements; however, there are some challenges in conducting online mobile language
learning (OMLL) courses in Iranian EFL context.
The Impacts of Distance
Interactivity on Learners’
Achievements in Online
Mobile Language Learning:
Social Software and Participatory Learning
Morteza Mellati, Department of English, Islamic Azad University-Qom Branch,
Qom, Iran
Marzieh Khademi, Department of English, Baqer-al-Oloum University, Qom,
Iran
Keywords: Distance Learning, E-Learning, Long-Life Learning, Mobile Learning, Social
Networks, Technology-Based Instruction, Virtual Learning
DOI: 10.4018/ijwltt.2015070102
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
20 International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015
INTRODUCTION
Information and Communication Tech-
nology (ICT) has great impacts on
human life from various perspectives.
People communicate with each other
via new technological devices such as
mobile phones, social networking, tex-
ting via the internet, as well as visiting
various webs without limits. Educa-
tion world is no exception. The use of
ICT in language teaching and learning
might have a positive effect on learners’
academic achievements (Hartoyo, 2009;
Mellati & Khademi, 2014). Employing
technological devices in language learn-
ing improves the quality of education.
Social network is a new and updated
trend in the technology world that has
been referred to networked tools that
allow learners to communicate, interact
and share their ideas and interests with
each other (Aderson, 2010). Social net-
works such as WhatsApp have opened
up new interaction opportunities among
teachers and learners. The use of social
networks is becoming popular in every-
day communication. It is even used for
collaborative learning tasks, especially
in language learning.
Contemporary educational policy,
curriculum designing, and instructional
pedagogy have been profoundly affected
by impressive new global information
and communication technologies (Celce-
Murcia, Brinton, & Snow, 2014). New
modern language competencies include
the ability to collaborate with others on
processes of problem-solving, textual
co-construction, negotiation, and co-
operative production and presentation
even when working in different loca-
tions and connecting only by these new
technologies. Like other fields of study,
language teaching have also influenced
by new language teaching sources and
software. (Chipunza, 2013). They stated
that wireless technologies such as laptop
computers, mobile phones, especially
smart-phones, create a revolution in
education that transform the traditional
classroom-based learning into lifelong
learning. Increasing access to internet
resources, language learners have an
affluence of authentic oral, written,
linguistic corpora and concordant pro-
grams that help them solve their language
problems. Guy (2010) declared that the
field of mobile learning is relentlessly
advancing and there are some research
studies that explore the advances of
mobile technologies in learning environ-
ments unfold on a regular basis and there
have been several attempts to classify
the definitions of mobile learning used
in the literature into a comprehensive
framework, e.g. Traxler (2010) identified
that three categories of mobile learning
have been used in past literature. The first
category was those early approaches to
define mobile learning tended to focus
on the nature of mobile devices, refer-
ring particularly to handheld or palmtop
electronic devices. The next category
exhibited a greater focus on mobility,
but was largely still directed towards
the mobility of the technology. The last
category emphasized the mobility of
the learners and the learning process.
Farley, Murphy, and Rees (2013) stated
that those definitions that incorporate
a description of the technology are in
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015 21
danger of becoming obsolete as mobile
technologies, mobile applications, and
the capabilities of these technologies are
changing in a rapid velocity.
Although previous research studies
pointed out several challenges in adopt-
ing E-learning environments in language
education and in the EFL contexts, it
has also identified numerous advantages
of such technology-based instructions.
Kukulska-Hulme and Shield (2008)
demonstrated that Mobile learning (M-
learning) or Mobile Assisted Language
Learning (MALL) refers to any form of
learning that happens when the learner
is not at a fixed, predetermined loca-
tion. In these kinds of distance learning,
learners take advantage of the learning
opportunities offered by mobile tech-
nologies and are acknowledged as an
interactive type of technology-based in-
struction. The magnificence of this kind
of learning is that learners are actively
involved in learning activities and tasks
by interaction and collaboration using
a smart-mobile phone. In Kukulska-
Hulme’s (2006) words, Mobile Assisted
Language Learning (MALL) illustrated
an approach to language learning that
is enhanced through utilizing a mobile
device. MALL is a subcategory of
both Mobile learning (M-learning) and
Computer-Assisted Language Learning
(CALL). In MALL settings, learners are
able to access language learning materi-
als, and communicate with their teachers
and peers at anytime and anywhere. Hsu,
Wang, and Comac (2008) expressed that
the emergence of the third generation
(3G) of mobile services was a revolu-
tion in language learning and provided
the potential of becoming widely used
effective learning tools. Klopfer, Squire,
and Jenkins (2002) declared five features
of mobile technology that can increase
educational benefits. These five features
that are among the most important ones
are as follows: Portability, social interac-
tivity, context sensitivity, connectivity,
and individuality. Wong (2012) claimed
that the most significant feature of MALL
is that it is instructive and stated that in
a mobile learning context, learners can
take part in the interactive creation or
analysis of internet video clips, or they
can read or respond to blogs with English
language users worldwide who share
their interests and knowledge.
There have been many research stud-
ies that were conducted on the applica-
tions of mobile phones and the potential
of mobile devices for language learning
environments in language learning and
teaching in different contexts (Stock-
well, 2007); however, there have been de-
batable claims about the effectiveness of
smart-phones for educational purposes
and their possible uses in English lan-
guage instruction (Zurita & Nussbaum,
2007; Yang et al., 2013). Iran is one of
the world’s developing countries with a
vast population. Whereas the developed
countries like USA, Japan, and Australia
are now using a variety of technologies
to provide learning inputs and to train
the teachers, E-learning and M-learning
are truly absent in Iran language learning
contexts and only very few universities
support E-learning. The massive cost
of electronic devices, lack of ubiqui-
tous availability of internet in Iranian
contexts, and especially lack of skilled
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
22 International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015
teachers, distance learning or E-learning
environments cannot be established in
Iran generally. Against all these difficul-
ties, the expansion of mobile service
leads to the rapid growth of mobile users
in this decade. Within a very short time,
the number of mobile users expanded to
a large extent. The country is connected
to information and communication at a
large extent with the increasing expan-
sion of mobile use. Moreover, the learn-
ers are frequent users of mobile phones
and familiar with the mobile devices;
this is true for the learners of both urban
and rural places. Accordingly, it will be
plausible to use mobile phone as a tool
for learning, especially for language
learning. Language learners use the
mobile phone in their daily life – both
as learners and as ordinary citizens.
They use their phones usually for com-
municating with the parents, friends and
teachers and recreational purposes rather
than learning English. They also send
SMS, take photos, enjoy music, play
games and can browse the Internet. This
Internet connection with a mobile phone
offers fantastic opportunities to use this
device as a tool to learn foreign language
more effectively. Powerful features
and functions of mobile devices offer
smart-phone users such as teachers and
instructional designers great potential
and feasibility for educational use, es-
pecially in the M-learning that will give
people from diverse fields a new way to
learn; therefore, the main purpose of this
study is to provide a better understanding
of the characteristics of mobile learning
in the context of distance education and
persuade instructional designers and in-
dividual learners continue to incorporate
mobile technologies into their teaching
and learning efficiently and pursue their
educational purposes in the pedagogical
framework of M-learning.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Mobile Learning or Mobile
Assisted Language
Learning (MALL)
With the blooming of the digital age in
1990s, teachers were among the first
that found creative and innovative ways
to teach through integrating digital
technologies such as Internet and other
similar digital technologies like E-mail,
Web quest, instant messaging, and
Web-based groups in their classrooms
(Bachmair, Pachler, and Cook, 2009).
The advances in technology and wireless
networking expanded the opportunities
of utilizing mobile phones in educa-
tional environments. Mobile phones
and similar technologies suggest com-
municative language practice, access to
authentic content, and task completion
(Chinney, 2006). A review of the litera-
ture has revealed that many researchers
have highlighted the advantages of
technology-based learning, especially
mobile learning that is also called M-
learning in the field of English language
teaching. In fact, M-learning deals with
concepts such as spontaneous, informal,
pervasive, private, context-aware, and
portable learning environments (Traxler,
2010). Bachmair et al. (2009) defined
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015 23
M-learning as the process of coming
to know and the ability to operate suc-
cessfully in modern and ever changing
learning contexts and to know how to
utilize modern technological devices.
These devices have generated a branch of
studies that relates to language learning
and mobile technologies that are called
Mobile Assisted Language Learning
(MALL).
MALL allows learners to access
learning materials and information
from anywhere and at anytime. Due to
the wireless technology, smart-phones
can be used both for formal and infor-
mal language settings where learners
can access additional and personalized
learning materials from the Internet.
Indeed, learners do not have to wait for
a certain time to learn or go to a certain
place to learn what is prescribed to them
(Ally, 2009). Smart-phones are excellent
tools to assist learners to learn English
vocabulary more effectively (Gao, Luo,
& Zhang, 2012; Lu, 2008; Looi et al.,
2011). Smart-phones are effective, espe-
cially for synchronous and asynchronous
learning environments and for promoting
learners’ listening and speaking skills
(Kukulska-Hulme & Shield, 2008; Chin-
nery, 2006). They asserted that most
mobile devices support collaborative
speaking and listening activities success-
fully. Similarly, Chang (2010) declared
that technologies and mobile devices
facilitate the development of collabora-
tive learning environments. Shen et al.
(2009) maintained that the opportuni-
ties that these devices offer to learners
engaged them enthusiastically in the
English language process. They added
that social networking services such as
mobile devices are high-quality means
of enhancing learners’ communicative
competence.
Mobile phones are wi dely used
among young people for two important
reasons: first, they are much cheaper and
more available than other devices such
as laptops and palmtops; second, they
not only support the transmission and
delivery of multimedia materials, but
also support discussion and discourse,
real-time communication, synchronous
and asynchronous environments, audio
capability, text and multimedia inputs;
therefore, stakeholders and curriculum
designers seek to use them in educa-
tional environments (Kress & Pachler,
2007; Kukulska-Hulme & Shield, 2008;
Traxler, 2010). These kinds of tools can
be best put into practice in language
teaching and learning contexts. For
example, mobile phones can be used
to send educational materials and con-
tents to learners via Internet or in the
simplest one in Short Massage Services
(SMS) (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010; Lu,
2008; Looi et al., 2011). In contrast,
some researchers contended that in an
effective language setting, the emphasis
should be on language learners, because
employing such a novel and unproven
technology in learning environments is a
real waste of time and money than save
them (Colpaert, 2004; Beatty, 2003).
Social Learning and
Social Networks
Another significant feature of modern
technologies is their evolutionary role
in social networking. Social networking
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
24 International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015
sites like Facebook, twitter, and mobile
social networks such as WhatsApp,
Viber, and Line attract and support
networks of people and facilitate con-
nections between them. Gee (2004)
called these social network contexts as
affinity spaces, where learners acquire
both social and communicative skills.
While developing a range of digital lit-
eracy in these spaces, the youth involve
in informal learning activities, creative
and expressive forms of behavior, and
seek new identities.
Effective use of social networking
and media technologies provide extraor-
dinary opportunities for course designers
and instructors to interject emotions in
the online learning environments, thus
providing learning opportunities for
learners to make emotional connections
with classmates just as they do in the
real time out of the classrooms (Richard
& Haya, 2009). Obviously, the key to a
successful online learning course is to
help learners find innovative ways to
establish strong relationships with their
peers and teachers, although simultane-
ously meeting their technology-based
learning styles (Kirschner & Karpinski,
2010). These social media tools create
a constructivist learning environment
which allows learners to construct in-
terpretations of their data and utilize
their individual life experience while
working as a part of a collaborative team
(McLoughlin & Lee, 2007). Learners
can use social networking to create their
own learning and social communities
and their new identities (Richard &
Haya, 2009). These online, social, and
self-directed learning settings provide
resources that enhance learners’ en-
gagement in the course. There are many
social media tools that can be integrated
into the curriculum to support learning
and provide innovative and effective
directions for content delivery in both
synchronous and asynchronous language
learning environments (Klamma et al.,
2007). At the core of this new wave of
social media tools in the present study
is WhatsApp mobile software.
The review of the literature con-
cerned with mobile learning has shown
that little has been written on the pos-
sibility of employing smart-phones to
enhance EFL learners’ idioms and col-
locations. The current study reported
the findings of a study conducted on 43
learners enrolled in the Online Mobile
Language Learning (OMLL) course
compa red with 25 others who par-
ticipated in the conventional language
classrooms in some language institutes
in Iran; therefore, the present study in-
vestigated the impacts of OMLL course
on learners’ achievements. Along with
the discussion of the potential benefits,
the study also discussed the challenges
of utilizing WhatsApp in EFL learning
contexts. Considering the above men-
tioned statements, the following research
question had raised in the current study.
RQ: Does participating in OMLL course
have any effect on the retention of
idioms and collocations of Iranian
Intermediate EFL learners?
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015 25
METHODOLOGY
Participants
Sixty eight female learners from Iranian
intermediate EFL contexts were selected
as the participants of the present study.
They enrolled in a conversation course
(Top Notch 3). All of the participants
accepted to participate in the study vol-
untarily. They all were informed about
the nature of the study from the begin-
ning and that they were ensured that their
identity to the survey would be held in
strict confidence and also were allowed
to withdraw their contributions at any
time without penalty. All the participants
(N= 68), aged 18 to 35, attended four
separated classes taught by four teach-
ers. Two classes (N= 25) were chosen
as the control groups and the two others
(N= 43) as the experimental groups. The
results of TOEFL test at the onset of the
study demonstrated that participants
in all experimental and control groups
were similar in language proficiency. In
control groups, teachers taught idioms
and collocations similar to most conven-
tional language classrooms. Learners in
experimental groups had participated in
OMLL course.
Description of the Course
The Online Mobile Language Learn-
ing (OMLL) course was designed for
intermediate educators who wish to de-
velop their language proficiency through
computer-mediated communication. The
OMLL course ran using the WhatsApp
mobile application. There were 43 learn-
ers in this course. All were based in Iran
with 20 based in Qom province and 23
in Shiraz. Nine members of the course
had access to the Internet only at their
homes while the others had access both
at home and at work. The OMLL course
lasted one month and the learners were
taught via the WhatsApp mobile applica-
tion. The course was divided into two
main stages: Stage 1: Familiarization
with the course and its instruction, Stage
2: Using WhatsApp mobile application
for Learning language in an ICT learn-
ing context. In these two groups: one
from Qom and one from Shiraz, learners
received one track of VOA English in a
minute along with two collocations in an
online session. Every track of English
in a minute introduced one idiom in
a minute. Learners could ask to com-
municate through WhatsApp to work
out on specific questions about online
course design as well as its contents.
Unstructured collaborative learning
began with learners sharing any diffi-
culties that they were having in getting
online and continued through all the
stages of the course. The course chair,
Marzieh Khademi, described one of her
objectives of the course as creating a
learning community. In such a learning
community, learners are liable to learn
as much from one another as from course
materials or from the interjections of a
tutor. The main aim of the OMLL course
specified in the course guide was that
learners should, by the end of the course,
use and reproduce sentences with the
idioms and the collocations that learned
in the online training course.
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
26 International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015
Instrumentations
To determine the effects of OMLL on
learners’ language proficiency, the fol-
lowing instruments were employed in
the present study.
Whatsapp Application
WhatsApp instant messaging is a cross-
platform smart-phone messenger that
helps users network socially in real
time. WhatsApp provides online users
the ability to send and receive a variety
of media such as images, videos and
audio media messages (Albergotti,
MacMillan & Rusli, Evelyn, 2014).
WhatsApp instant messaging handles
ten billion messages per day (Olanof,
2012). It has over 450 million monthly
active users. Additionally, 700 million
photos are shared daily, and 10 billion
messages are also shared daily (Parmy,
2013). The WhatsApp platform has the
following collaborative features:
Provides online learners with the
ability to exchange text messages,
images, videos, and voice notes to
their social network or group and
contacts;
Provides learners or teachers with the
ability to create a group that supports
the social interactions. Members can
engage in discussion forums;
WhatsApp Messenger provides the
ability for learners to send messages
without limits;
Learners using WhatsApp through a
variety of mobile devices, such as
smart-phones, tablets, and so on can
message one another through texts,
images, videos, and so on (Sushma,
2012).
Researchers-Made Idioms
and Collocations Test
A test was developed from Collocations
in Use (McCarthy & O’Dell, 2002) text
book and English in a Minute videos
(from VOA learning English series) by
the researchers to determine the learners’
idiom and collocation competence at the
outset and after treatment of this pretest-
posttest study. This researchers-made
course-based test contained 30 items;
thirty multiple choice questions similar
to the content of the text book and the
learning English program (10 idioms and
20 collocations). This test was reviewed
by three experts in the field and then
was piloted with 20 learners of similar
test-takers. Cronbach’s Alpha formula
for multiple choice items was employed;
the results showed a reliability index of
.824 (r= .824).
Procedures
To check learners’ competency in idiom
and collocation at the outset of the study,
the researchers administered a research-
ers-made test as pretest. The treatment
lasted one month, three sessions per
week for conventional control groups and
everyday online sessions (OMLL) for ex-
perimental groups. In the control group,
like an ordinary conversation classroom,
learners had a topic to speak about as
well as two idioms and four collocations.
Both control groups and experimental
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015 27
groups received thirty idioms and sixty
collocations during the courses. The
experimental groups had the basic re-
quirements of participating in an OMLL
course, such as smart phones, WhatsApp
application, and internet access. Before
initiating the course, teachers delivered
learners the required rules about how to
work with WhatsApp application and
how to assess each other, and provided
feedback through clear examples. They
were allowed to check online sources
such as online dictionaries and online
grammar sources to find examples of
those idioms and collocations’ usage. In
the experimental group, the participants
shared their ideas and sentences via
WhatsApp software in a synchronous
learning environment. With practice,
learners assessed each other consistently
and fairly. They discussed about choos-
ing the right word, or sentence structure
in the OMLL course. The same idioms
and collocations were presented to both
experimental and control groups; that
is, the content of all four groups were
the same. After the treatment, as the last
phase of the study, the same researchers-
made test was administered as posttest
to determine the effect of this study’s
special treatment.
RESULTS AND
DISCUSSIONS
To determine the impacts of OMLL
course on learners’ achievement, the
researchers conducted this quasi-ex-
perimental research and the results of
quantitative results are represented as
shown in Table 1.
The results of table 1 represent that
there was an enhancement in learners’
scores during conventional language
classrooms. The mean and standard
deviation of pretest (M= 11.60, SD=
2.0817) are different from posttest (M=
11.80, SD= 1.9311) that confirm the
above mentioned claim. These values
show minor differences between tests’
scores in two administrations. To ensure
whether these values were statisti-
cally true between the two groups, a
paired-sample t-test was employed,
(see Table 2).
A paired-samples t-test was con-
ducted to evaluate the impacts of the
intervention on learners’ scores on the
participation in OMLL course. There
was a statistically significant increase
in test scores from Time 1 (M= 11.60,
SD= 2.0817) to Time 2 {M= 11.80,
SD= 1.9311, t (24) = -2.619, p <.015
Table 1. Descriptive statistics of conventional groups
Paired Samples Statistics
Mean N Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
Pair 1 Pretest 11.60 25 2.0817 .4163
Posttest 11.80 25 1.9311 .3862
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
28 International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015
(two-tailed) for control or conventional
groups. The mean increase in test scores
was 0.20 with a 95% confidence interval,
ranging from -.3576 to -.0424. The eta
squared statistic (0.22) indicated a large
effect size.
The results of Table 3 compared the
scores of the experimental groups in
pretest and posttest and represented that
there was a significant increase in learn-
ers’ scores after participating in OMLL
course. The mean and standard deviation
of pretest (M= 11.42, SD= 2.542) are
different from posttest (M= 14.49, SD=
2.114) that confirm the above mentioned
claim. These values show a significant
difference between tests’ scores in two
administrations. To ensure whether these
values were statistically true between
the two groups, a paired-sample t-test
was employed, (see Table 4).
A paired-samples t-test was con-
ducted to evaluate the impacts of the
intervention on learners’ scores on the
participation in OMLL course. There
was a statistically significant increase
Table 2. Results of paired-sample t-Test for conventional group
Paired Differences
t df Sig.
(2-Tailed)
Mean Std.
Deviation
Std. Error
Mean
95% Confidence Interval
of the Difference
Lower Upper
Pair 1 Pretest -
Posttest -.2000 .3819 .0764 -.3576 -.0424 -2.619 24 .015*
Note: * is significant at the 0.05
Table 3. Descriptive statistics of OMLL course
Paired Samples Statistics
Mean N Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
Pair 1 Pretest 11.42 43 2.542 .388
Posttest 14.49 43 2.114 .322
Table 4. Results of paired-sample t-Test for OMLL course
Paired Differences
t df Sig.
(2-Tailed)
Mean Std.
Deviation
Std. Error
Mean
95% Confidence
Interval of the
Difference
Lower Upper
Pair 1 Pretest -
Posttest -3.070 1.553 .237 -3.548 -2.592 -12.962 42 .000*
Note: * is significant at the 0.05
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015 29
in test scores of those learners that had
participated in OMLL from Time 1 (M=
11.42, SD= 2.542) to Time 2 {M= 14.49,
SD= 2.114, t (42) = -12.962, p <.000
(two-tailed). The mean increase in test
scores was 3.07 with a 95% confidence
interval, ranging from -3.548 to -2.592.
The eta squared statistic (0.80) indicated
a very large effect size.
Based on the obtained results of this
study, the learners who participated in
OMLL course could significantly outper-
form the ones in conventional or control
groups; therefore, OMLL has a signifi-
cant effect on the retention of idioms and
collocations among Iranian intermediate
EFL learners as it was evidently shown
in their posttest scores. The findings of
the present study may have some sug-
gestions for policy makers, stakeholders,
and English teachers. OMLL can be a
complementary teaching tool that pro-
poses learners and teachers respectively
multitudinous learning and teaching op-
portunities. OMLL encourages learning
experiences outside of formal education;
that is the learning process takes place
away from the classroom environment
while the learners are involved with their
daily activities. The results of this study
demonstrated the usefulness of What-
sApp social networking in comparison
with conventional learning classrooms.
The mobile learning technologies help
learners to create learning communities
that are able to construct knowledge
easily and to share it with other mem-
bers. In addition to the social interac-
tion between learners in such social
networks, the interactions of learners
with their online teachers should not
be overlooked. The online teachers fa-
cilitate effective learning. OMLL allows
the users to send and receive messages
synchronously and asynchronously;
besides, it is simplistic, intuitive, and
very easy to use. Learning is becoming
more personal and also sociable that
enables collaborative, networked and
portable processes. Moreover, learning
is becoming ubiquitous and different
types of learning happen outside of the
classroom through social cooperation
and collaboration between learners to
improve construction and sharing of
language content and knowledge. What-
sApp platform facilitates easy and quick
transference of links to study materials.
The high availability of teachers to the
learners’ questions can potentially en-
hance the learning process. WhatsApp
enables learning beyond the classroom’s
borders. On WhatsApp platform, learn-
ers get to go over the material again at
home and return to the classroom with
additional knowledge. The teachers feel
that their presence gives the students a
sense of security. They have someone
of whom they can ask questions, they
don’t feel alone. Even the shy learners
can see other learners’ questions and
enjoy the answers shared with everyone.
In brief, these kinds of teaching enhance
communicative competence in learning
environments. Besides, forms of deliv-
ery for CLT or communication-driven
learning tasks increasingly include both
in-class and out-of-class online programs
involving websites, internet-based proj-
ect works, emails, chats, blogs, podcasts,
and electronic portfolios. New online
tools and devices (e.g., smart-phones)
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
30 International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015
become more widely available and more
versatile, new possibilities will exist for
learners to access and produce language
in innovative ways online.
Moreover, live tutoring systems and
other social networking tools enable lan-
guage learners to practice using language
with others around the world. Indeed, the
internet, WhatsApp, and other digital
tools provide endless possibilities for
teachers and learners to connect with
other L2 language users for a variety of
meaningful purposes. Online discussion
forums and distance learning such as
OMLL, furthermore, are increasingly
part of language courses and other aca-
demic courses as well, providing learners
with alternative means of participating in
and contributing to discussions outside
the classroom. Learners and classes in
different locations can meet online via
email, Skype, or other programs through
formal or informal class exchanges or
partnerships. Teachers and learners in
more self-directed learning contexts
must carefully select sites, activities, and
texts to ensure that they are appropriate
for the cognitive, social, and linguistic
levels of their learners. However, de-
velopments in digital information and
communication technologies offer learn-
ers almost limitless access to language
input, interaction, and output, and offer
real purposes for communication. Like
other innovations, the actual learning,
skills, and forms of participation should
be monitored carefully to ensure that they
are compatible with learning objectives
of the learners and the programs. That is,
novel interaction formats may initially
engage learners’ interests, but soon dis-
appear if the content is unsubstantial and
motivation is not in meaningful ways.
In addition to its advantages, using
WhatsApp platform in the language
classroom has faced learners with some
learning challenges. The main challenge
is the fact that not all learners possess a
Smart-phone or the required application.
Next, it is possible that some teachers and
learners been swamped with too many
messages, in a way that bother and annoy
them, especially if they have more than
one group or groups that are bigger than
20 learners; it is really time-consuming.
Or teachers were bothered by the late
hours in which the messages are sent.
Beyond the learners’ high expectations
of teacher’s availability, teachers are
exposed to the personal lives of their
learners and find themselves witnessing
conversations that are not compatible
with the educational path. Finally, learn-
ers tend to use less formal language, even
when the subject at hand is academic;
teachers wondered by their learners’
manner of expression.
CONCLUSION
The present study investigated the im-
pacts of interactivity perceptions on EFL
learners’ achievements in online mobile
language learning (OMLL) course. The
obtained results were demonstrated that
the learners who participated in OMLL
course could significantly outperform
the ones in conventional or control
groups; therefore, OMLL has a signifi-
cant effect on the retention of idioms and
collocations among Iranian intermediate
EFL learners as it was evidently shown
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015 31
in their posttest scores. Examining the
educational aspects of WhatsApp has
demonstrated a variety of benefits. The
open style discussions in such learning
environments enable the teachers to get
to know their learners in depth and to
create a positive atmosphere and a sense
of belonging. Nevertheless, challenges
such as the demand for constant avail-
ability, informal language and behavior
and witnessing the learners’ private
world, may cause adults feel uncomfort-
able. It is also worth taking into account
this important point that operating such a
kind of learning and establishing a group
requires the teachers to invest additional
time beyond their regular work hours.
Stakeholders and policy makers should
consider these issues that require special
attention and special tools to assist teach-
ers to cope, feel more comfortable, and
become more efficient and less burdened
in these teaching styles.
The findings of the present study con-
firmed the findings of previous research
studies that the advances in technology
and wireless networking expanded the
opportunities of utilizing mobile phones
in educational environments. Mobile
phones and similar technologies sug-
gest communicative language practice,
access to authentic content, and task
completion (Chinney, 2006); M-learning
deals with concepts such as spontaneous,
informal, pervasive, private, context-
aware, and portable learning environ-
ments (Traxler, 2010); Smart-phones
are excellent tools to assist learners to
learn English language more effectively
(Gao, Luo, & Zhang, 2012; Lu, 2008;
Looi et al., 2011); Smart-phones are ef-
fective especially for synchronous and
asynchronous learning environments
and for promoting learners’ listening
and speaking skills (Kukulska-Hulme
& Shield, 2008); technologies and mo-
bile devices facilitate the development
of collaborative learning environments
Chang (2010); the opportunities that
these devices offer learners, engage them
enthusiastically in the English language
process Shen et al. (2009). The findings
of the current study were in contrast with
Colpaert (2004) and Beatty (2003) who
contend that in an effective language
setting, the emphasis should be on
language learners, because employing
such a novel and unproven technology
in learning environments is a real waste
of time and money than save them.
From the preceding discussions, it
is evidently clear that; whatsapp can be
an effective learning tool for learners in
institutions in Iran. This stems from the
fact that, it can enhance the performance
of language learners if used positively.
With that, it makes communication
easier and faster, thereby enhancing
effective flow of information and idea
sharing among them. However, if used
negatively it has adverse impacts on
the performance of learners. Among the
negative impacts that have identified
include the following: it takes much of
the learners’ study time, destroys learn-
ersgrammar and spellings, leads to lack
of concentration during lectures and
difficulty in balancing online activities
and academic preparation.
Social networking devices and soft-
ware provide abundant opportunities to
take the social interaction to deeper lev-
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
32 International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015
els and concentrate on learning styles that
are rooted in modern digital technolo-
gies. It is time to reform our perception
of instructional design and investigate
new content delivery options to support
both the asynchronous and synchronous
educational tasks that most benefit the
expectations of today’s learners; there-
fore, course designers and teachers
should consider new social networking
technologies and integrate them into the
curriculums and adopt them into learn-
ing style of the online course design.
However, there are some questionable
notions that should be highlighted in
future research studies; e.g. having ac-
cess to a wealth of resources and new
communication media does not lead to
learning; nor does it constitute pedagogy.
Critics of E-learning often characterize
online classrooms as neutral spaces de-
void of human connection, emotion, or
interaction with instructors or peers. For
future research, it may be more helpful
to examine how learners’ psychological
state influences motivations for the use
of WhatsApp and other social network-
ing technologies.
REFERENCES
Albergotti, R., MacMillan, D., & Rusli,
E. M. (2014). Facebook’s $19 Billion
Deal Sets High Bar. The Wall Street
Journal. pp. A1, A6. Andrew, Nusca.
(2009). Smartphone vs. feature phone
arms race heats up; which did you buy?
ZDNet.
Ally, M. (Ed.). (2009). Mobile learning:
Transforming the delivery of education
and training. Edmonton: AU Press.
Anderson, T. (2010). Social Networking.
In MISHRA S (Ed) Stride Handbook
8- E-Learning. IGNOU. Retrieved on
June 2013 from http://webserver.ignou.
ac.in/institute/STRIDE_Hb8_webCD/
STRIDE_Hb8_index.html
Bachmair, B., Pachler, N., & Cook,
J. (2009). Mobile phone as cultural
resources for learning: an analysis of
educational structures, mobile expertise
and emerging cultural practices. In J.
Bang & Ch. Dalsgaard (Eds.), Media in
the knowledge society: Special Issue of
journal Learning and Media (pp. 1–29).
MedienPädagogik.
Beatty, K. (2003). Teaching and re-
searching computer-assisted language
learning. Essex, England: Pearson
Education Limited.
Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D. M., &
Snow, A. S. (2014). Teaching English
as a second or foreign language (4th
ed.). USA: Heinle & Heinle, Thomson
Learning.
Chang, C.K. (2010). Acceptability of
an asynchronous learning forum on
mobile devices. Behaviour & Infor-
mation Technology, 29(1), 23–33.
doi:10.1080/01441806337
Chinnery, M. G. (2006). Going to the
MALL: Mobile Assisted Language
Learning. Language Learning & Tech-
nology, 1, 9–16.
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015 33
Chipunza, P. R. C. (2013). Using mobile
devices to leverage student access to
collaboratively-generated resources:
A case of WhatsApp instant messaging
at a South African University. Paper
presented at International Conference
on Advanced Information and Com-
munication Technology for Education
(ICAICTE 2013).
Colpaert, J. (2004). From courseware
to coursewear? Computer Assisted
Language Learning, 17(3-4), 261–266.
doi:10.1080/0958822042000319575
Farley, H., Murphy, A., & Rees, Sh.
(2013). Revisiting the definition of
mobile learning. Electric Dreams, Pro-
ceedings of 30th ascilite Conference,
283-287.
Gao, F., Luo, T., & Zhang, K. (2012).
Tweeting for learning: A critical analysis
of research on microblogging in educa-
tion published in 2008–2011. British
Journal of Educational Technology,
43(5), 783–801. doi:10.1111/j.1467-
8535.2012.01357.x
Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language
and learning: A critique of traditional
schooling. New York: Palmgrave-
McMillan.
Guy, R. (2010). Mobile Learning De-
fined. In R. Guy (Ed.), Mobile Learning:
Pilot Projects and Initiatives (pp. 1–8).
California: Informing Science Press.
Hartoyo, M. (2009). ICT: Information
and communication technology in lan-
guage learning. Semarang: Pelita Insani
Printing & Publishing.
Hsu, H. Y., Wang, S. K., & Comac, L.
(2008). Using audioblogs to assist Eng-
lish-language learning: An investigation
into student perception. Computer As-
sisted Language Learning, 21(2), 181–
198. doi:10.1080/09588220801943775
Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010).
Users of the world, unite! the chal-
lenges and opportunities of social me-
dia. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59–68.
doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.09.003
Kirschner, P. A., & Karpinski, A. C.
(2010). Facebook and academic per-
formance. Computers in Human Behav-
ior, 26(6), 1237–1245. doi:10.1016/j.
chb.2010.03.024
Klamma, R., Chatti, M. A., Duval,
E., Hummel, H., Hvannberg, E. H.,
Kravcik, M., & Scott, P. et al. (2007).
Social software for life-long learning.
Journal of Educational Technology &
Society, 10(3), 72–83. http://www.ifets.
info/journals/10_3/6.pdf Retrieved june
13, 2013
Klopfer, E., Squire, K., & Jenkins, H.
(2002). Environmental Detectives: PDAs
as a window into a virtual simulated
world. Proceedings of IEEE Interna-
tional Workshop on Wireless and Mo-
bile Technologies in Education. Vaxjo,
Sweden: IEEE Computer Society, 95-98.
doi:10.1109/WMTE.2002.1039227
Kress, G., & Pachler, N. (2007). Think-
ing about the M in m-learning. In N.
Pachler (Ed.), Mobile learning: Towards
a research agenda (pp. 7–32). London:
Institute of Education.
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
34 International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015
Kukulska- Hulme, A. & Shield, L.
(2008). An overview of mobile as-
sisted language learning: From content
delivery to supported collaboration and
interaction. ReCALL, 20(3), 271–289.
Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2006). Mobile
language learning now and in the future.
In P. Svensson (Ed.), Fr°an vision till
praktik: Spr°akutbildning och Informa-
tionsteknik (From vision to practice:
language learning and IT). Swedish
Net University (N¨atuniversitetet) (pp.
295–310). Sweden.
Looi, C. K., Zhang, B., Chen, W., Seow,
P., Chia, G., Norris, C., & Soloway, E.
(2011). Mobile inquiry learning expe-
rience for primary science students: A
study of learning effectiveness. Jour-
nal of Computer Assisted Learning,
27(3), 269–287. doi:10.1111/j.1365-
2729.2010.00390.x
Lu, M. (2008). Effectiveness of vo-
cabulary learning via mobile phone.
Journal of Computer Assisted Learning,
24(6), 515–525. doi:10.1111/j.1365-
2729.2008.00289.x
McCarthy, M., & O’Dell, F. (2002).
English collocations in use. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. (2007). So-
cial software and participatory learning:
Pedagogical choices with technology
affordances in the Web 2.0 era. Paper
presented at the Ascilite Conference
2007, Singapore.
Mellati, M., & Khademi, M. (2014).
Peer Evaluation in CMC Learning
Environment and Writing Skill. Inter-
national Journal of Applied Linguistics
and English Literature, 3(5), 220-228.
doi:10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.3n.5p.220
Olanof, D. (2012). WhatsApp hits new
record with 10 billion total messages in
one day. The Next Web.
Parmy, O. (2013). Teenagers say good-
bye to Facebook and hello to messenger
apps. The Guardian.
Richard, H., & Haya, A. (2009). Ex-
amining student decision to adopt web
2.0 technologies: Theory and empirical
tests. Journal of Computing in Higher
Education, 21(3), 183–198. doi:10.1007/
s12528-009-9023-6
Shen, R., Wang, M., Gao, W., Novak, D.,
& Tang, L. (2009). Mobile learning in
a large blended computer science class-
room: System function, pedagogies, and
their impact on learning. IEEE Trans-
actions on Education, 52(4), 538–546.
doi:10.1109/TE.2008.930794
Stevenson, P. M., & Liu, M. (2012).
Learning a Language with Web 2.0:
Exploring the Use of Social Networking
Features of Foreign Language Learn-
ing Websites. CALICO Journal, 27(2),
233–259. doi:10.11139/cj.27.2.233-259
Stockwell, G. (2007). Vocabulary on the
move: Investigating an intelligent mobile
phone-based vocabulary tutor. Computer
Assisted Language Learning, 4(4), 365–
383. doi:10.1080/09588220701745817
Copyright © 2015, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies, 10(3), 19-35, July-September 2015 35
Sushma, P. (2012). WhatsApp founder to
operators: We’re no SMS- killer, we get
people hooked on data. The Next Web.
Traxler, J. (2010). Distance education
and mobile learning: Catching up, tak-
ing stock. Distance Education, 31(2),
129–138. doi:10.1080/01587919.2010
.503362
Wong, L. H. (2012). A learner-centric
view of mobile seamless learning.
British Journal of Educational Technol-
ogy, 43(1), 19–23. doi:10.1111/j.1467-
8535.2011.01245.x
Yang, Y., Zhang, L., Zeng, J., Pang, X.,
Lai, F., & Rozelle, S. (2013). Computers
and the academic performance of elemen-
tary school-aged girls in China’s poor
communities. Computers & Education,
60(1), 335–346. Retrievedjuly152014.
doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.08.011
Zurita, G., & Nussbaum, M. (2007). A
conceptual framework based on activ-
ity theory for mobile CSCL. British
Journal of Educational Technology,
38(2), 211–235. doi:10.1111/j.1467-
8535.2006.00580.x
Morteza Mellati received his M. A. in TEFL at the English Department, Islamic
Azad University (IAU), Torbat-e-Heydarieh Branch, Iran. His areas of interests
are teacher education, teacher development, ESP, Curriculum design, Technol-
ogy-based instruction, and e-learning. He has presented and published articles
on teachers’beliefs, parent literacy, writing skill, and e-learning. He has other
articles under publication.
Marzieh Khademi received her M. A. in TEFL at the English Department, Islamic
Azad University (IAU), Torbat-e-Heydarieh Branch, Iran. Her areas of interests are
teacher education, learning styles, Technology-based instruction, and e-learning.
She has presented and published articles on learning styles, parent literacy, writ-
ing skill, and e-learning. She has also other articles under publication.
  • ... Today, learners communicate with each other through new technological devices such as mobile phones, social networking, and texting via the Internet ( Abeysekera & Dawson, 2015). Recently, researchers have focused on new apparatuses such as iPad (Wakefield & Smith, 2012), MOOCs (Hew & Cheung, 2014), social networks and applications (Imlawi, Gregg, & Karimi, 2015;Mellati & Khademi, 2015), BYOD (Hung, 2016), and smart-phones (Mellati, Khademi, & Abolhassani, 2018) in language teaching contexts. However, preparation for a technological learning environment requires some fundamentals. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Modern educational technologies might be perceived as practical and sufficient equipment for presenting educational tasks that simulate authentic language use. Through a defined procedure, learning activities can be delivered in the course of technology-based apparatus to change, manipulate, and control learners’ educational environments. Today’s teachers’ challenge has transformed from the best teaching method to the best teaching apparatus. One of the foremost kinds of these potentials is Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). It has received special attention in the recent years derived from Open Educational Resource (OER) movement. To investigate the effectiveness of such programs, this mixed methods and explanatory sequential design study evaluated a MOOC-based educational program in Baqer al-Olum University, Iran. Thirty-eight tertiary learners have participated in the study. Among them 20 learners participated in the MOOC-based educational program and 18 learners participated in a conventional English language class. Pretest/posttest and interview were employed to reach comprehensive data. The findings indicated that MOOC-based educational programs provide remarkable opportunities for language learners. Along with such opportunities, these new technology-based educational apparatuses provide challenges for stakeholders, policy makers, teachers, and learners that might constraint learners’ development in the course of their actions. Discussions and implementations are discussed.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The use of mobile technologies has recently received great attention in language learning. Most research evaluates the effects of employing mobile devices in language learning and explores the design of mobile-learning interventions that can maximize the benefits of new technologies. However, it is still unclear whether the use of mobile devices in language learning is more effective than other instructional approaches. It is also not clear whether the effects of mobile-device use vary in different settings. Our meta-analysis will explore these questions about mobile technology use in language learning. Based on the specific inclusion and exclusion criteria, 22 d-type effect sizes from 20 studies were calculated for the meta-analysis. We adopted the random-effects model, and the estimated average effect was 0.51 (se = 0.10). This is a moderate positive overall effect of using mobile devices on language acquisition and language-learning achievement. Moderator analyses under the mixed-effects model examined six features; effects varied significantly only by test type and source of the study. The overall effect and the effects of these moderators of mobile-device use on achievement in language learning are discussed.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The Letrinhas information system contributes to the improvement of students' reading literacy combining the potential of mobile devices and the specific needs of students and teachers. This information system has emerged within the framework of a partnership established between the Instituto Politécnico de Tomar (IPT) and the Artur Gonçalves Cluster of Schools, in Torres Novas, Portugal. After three years of the creation of the tool and its use in a real learning environment, the evaluation already carried out suggests a high degree of satisfaction on the part of teachers and students, as well as a very positive impact on improving the reading skills of the students involved in the project. The latest version of Letrinhas has new features which lead to the specific challenges and needs of the teachers in the above-mentioned cluster of schools. Being so, in addition to the evaluation and improvement of reading skills, the new version provides features that enable the creation of educational scenarios promoting learning environments that enhance, not only the autonomy of students, but also their motivation.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Task–based reading activities are of crucial value today, and consequently learners’ proficiency is more important than their abstract knowledge of language rules. It seems that learners’ familiarity with task-based reading activities may increase learners’ proficiency. Therefore, this study investigated the effect of task-based reading activities such as text completion and pupil generated questions on vocabulary learning and retention of Iranian intermediate EFL learners. To conduct the study, three intact classes of learners who had already finished Top Notch Fundamental A and B (Saslow & Ausher, 2011) in previous semesters in an English language institute were selected as the participants of the study. To ensure the homogeneity of the participants, those who got a score between 30-47 from the total score of 60 in OPT were selected as the intermediate level for main participants of the study (N=47). As the data were normally distributed, one way ANOVA and repeated measure ANOVA were employed for the statistical analyses of the study. The findings indicated that using task-based reading activities such as text completion and pupil-generated questions has significant and meaningful impacts on Iranian EFL learners’ vocabulary learning and retention. The implementations of the study are discussed.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Peer evaluation and technology-based instruction as the various domains of language teaching perspectives might affect language development. Group work in a technology-based environment might be more successful when learners are involved in developing the assessment process particularly peer assessment. This study investigated the effectiveness of peer evaluation in technology-based language environment and its effects on English writing ability. To reach this goal, 70 Iranian learners were participated in English language writing context. They were divided into two groups, one group assigned to CMC (Computer-Mediated Communication) language learning context and the other assigned to a traditional learning environment. Both groups were encouraged to evaluate their classmates’ writing tasks. In addition, interviews were conducted with two learners. Comparing these two groups provides comprehensive guidelines for teachers as well as curriculum designers to set adjusted writing language environment for more effective and creative language teaching and learning. E-collaboration classroom tasks have high intrinsic motivation as well as significant effects on learners’ outcomes. Cooperative tasks specifically in technology-based environment lead learners to group working and consequently group learning. Computer-Mediated Communication is meaningful, especially in contexts in which teachers stimulate group work activities.
  • Article
    Why do poor and minority students under-perform in school? Do computer games help or hinder learning? What can new research in psychology teach our educational policy-makers?
  • Article
    Computers play a crucial and rapidly evolving role in education, particularly in the area of language learning. Far from being a tool mimicking a textbook or teacher, Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) has the power to transform language learning through the pioneering application of innovative research and practices.
  • Article
    This paper presents the results of an online survey and a usability test performed on three foreign language learning websites that use Web 2.0 technology. The online sur-vey was conducted to gain an understanding of how current users of language learning websites use them for learning and social purposes. The usability test was conducted to gain an understanding of how potential users would interact with three foreign language learning websites and explore the pedagogical and technical usability of these sites. It is hoped that the results of this exploratory study would provide an insight into how the goals and designs of these websites incorporating Web 2.0 tools fit with the goals and needs of current and potential language learners.
  • Data
    Full-text available
    Mobile learning is increasingly seen as a boon to universities and educators as a means of enabling learning anywhere, anytime and at the convenience of the learner. Even though the field of mobile learning is in its infancy, there is no common understanding of what mobile learning is. Previous attempts at defining mobile learner have either been overly inclusive or exclusive, and have focused on characteristics of the mediating technology, the learner, or the nature of the learning activity. Inspired by Wittgenstein’s theory of family resemblances, this paper explores the attempt to create a new definition of mobile learning that will be dynamic, drawing from a collection of characteristics that may change over time rather than just supplying a single, unchanging definition. The revised definition will be used to support the development of a Mobile Learning Evaluation Framework by clarifying the attributes and features to be included in a robust and flexible definition of mobile learning. The outcome may be of value to researchers in the mobile learning field and educators considering incorporating mobile learning initiatives into current pedagogical strategies.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    This study critically analyzed the current body of published research on microblogging in education (MIE) to build a deep and comprehensive understanding of this increasingly popular phenomenon. Twenty-one studies on MIE in 2008-2011 were selected based on the selection criteria and analyzed to answer the following questions: What types of research have been published on MIE? How was microblogging used for teaching and learning in these studies? What educational benefits did microblogging have on teaching and learning? What suggestions and implications did the current research have for future MIE research and practices? The analysis suggests that microblogging has a potential to encourage participation, engagement, reflective thinking as well as collaborative learning under different learning settings. The quality of research, however, varies greatly, suggesting a need for rigorous research on MIE. The analysis has implications for MIE practices as well as research and development efforts.
  • Article
    Experts agree that computers and computing play an important role in education. Since the 1980s there has been a debate about gender as it relates to computers and education. However, results regarding gender differences concerning computer use in education are not consistent. In particular there is little work done in China on this issue. Therefore, the overall goal of this paper is to demonstrate whether girls and boys can gain equally from computer-based education in China’s elementary schools. To do so we analyze results from three randomized field experiments of a Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) program and One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program. The field experiments are carried out in three kinds of schools: Shannxi rural public schools; Qinghai minority public schools; and Beijing migrant schools. Although CAL and OLPC have been considered cost effective means to improve learning outcomes, it is not known whether the programs impact girls differently than boys. Our analysis shows that, in fact, there were no differences between female and male students in either the improvement in standardized math test scores or Chinese test scores with either the CAL or OLPC programs. Our study suggests that among disadvantaged students in China’s rural areas and migrant communities, there is reason to believe that computer based learning can benefit both girls and boys equally. This finding has possible implications for China’s ongoing efforts to integrate computers and computing technologies into the nation’s underserved schools.