Friday, October 3, 2014

Let's hear it for LLT

Sometimes you just have to remember the good things that are not news, but they keep on going... good!
Language Learning & Technology is one of those good things. Now on Volume 18 - yes, technology in language learning has been studied seriously for at least 18 years - it remains a journal of quality and distinction - and FREE!
Supported by the University of Hawai'i National Foreign Language Resource Center (NFLRC) and the Michigan State University Center for Language Education and Research (CLEAR), LLT recently moved its founding editor Mark Warschauer to the advisory board. He has been replaced by Trudi Heift and Dorothy Chun who was previously assistant editor.
This issue included two articles in particular that caught my eye. Hee-Jung Jung of Chosun University in Gwangju in South Korea set out to discover what might make ubiquitous learning successful. His study identified that the factors of omnipresence, context customization, interactivity, self-directed learning, and perceived enjoyment of technology and the factors of innovation and computer self-efficacy in learners were significant in a student population of 376 learners.
Huifen Lin, of the National Tsing Hua University of Taiwan, carried out a meta-analysis of (quasi-) experimental research studies into the efficacy of computer-mediated communication on language learning. "Results from 59 primary studies show a positive and medium effect from CMC interventions" (from the abstract), with no significant difference between synchronous and asynchronous communications. Interestingly, this result is still tentative due to the typically small number of respondents and participants in the studies under review. Despite at least 18 years of serious research, I think it is still important that we remember that very few substantial studies exist that can reliably make claims about technology in language learning - which is why Jung's article, and many others in LLT, are so important.
That is the thing about LLT - in every issue there are always articles that catch my eye, and add a welcome perspective on the use of technology in language learning. It adds serious, academic research to an area of study that is regularly populated by hope, hype, unreliable studies and blind faith.