I am here using the five stages 1. Access & Motivation, 2. Socialisation, 3. Information exchange (Collaboration), 4. Knowledge construction, 5. Development; there seems to be some variations regarding stages 3–4 depending on the source.
Access and motivation
The first stage consists
- on the one hand of ensuring that learners have access to information and learning platforms, gathering the students’ pre-existing motivation or trying to motivate them regarding the curriculum.
- on the other to make them feel welcome in the learning activity with the teacher as host.
For CORALL, this should mainly be taken care of in the Pre-session, where the learner interacts one-to-one with a computer-animated tutor in a web-browser on a personal laptop. To complete the first stage, the tutor should hence: a) be social and welcoming (not only task-oriented); b) give clear information about the content and goals of the practise (pre-, collaborative, post- sessions); and c) promote motivation by stressing the real-life authentic tasks used.
It is further important that the web-browser application running the tutoring session should be easily accessed across different platforms and that technical support information is available for potential problems with e.g., microphone connection, type and settings.
In the Collaborative session, the robot tutor should clearly explain the goal of the task, the functioning of the interaction board, and the different roles of the learners and robot in the setting.
Socialisation / Culture building
The second stage in the model consists of ensuring that the learners get to know each other, both in terms of social team building and in terms of getting to know the other participants’ background knowledge and skills. In CORALL, the interaction between the learners is during short practice sessions, and there is hence limited time to build social bonds between the two learners, but it nevertheless appears important to have a short socialisation introduction, in which the learners and the robot give short presentations of themselves. Depending on the task to be performed, this information exchange could also be incorporated in the collaborative task, to incrementally increase the learners’ knowledge of each other.
A take-home message from the Five stage model is that the robot tutor should act as host during the socialisation phase, trying to encourage the learners to start interacting with one another.
Information exchange / Collaboration
The information exchange stage is very clearly focused in the Collaborative session, where tasks are solved, information is transferred between learners and between teacher and learners. As intended in the model, the robot tutor will act as facilitator and knowledge source, regarding task information and linguistic questions (e.g., supporting with implicit feedback suggestions on vocabulary). Also as advised by the model, tasks will initially be very structured, and the tutor will encourage participation by both learners and will ask questions to promote interaction.
The goal of the knowledge construction stage is that learners should become more independent in that they are active in reflecting on the subject material and connect experiences to higher-level modelling. The teacher should encourage the self-reflection, ask questions and facilitate open activities.
In CORALL, this should happen in the post-session, where the computer-animated tutor presents remedial exercises and feedback for linguistic problems that the learner has displayed during the collaborative session.
The take-home message from e.g. Salmon (and also from Van Merriënboer & Kirschner, 2007, among others) is that it is important that this stage includes and encourages the learner’s self-reflection and self-assessment to foster an active knowledge construction. The learner should hence be engaged in tasks such as actively rephrasing linguistically incorrect utterances and reflect upon how successful the task collaboration was.
The last stage is the meta-cognitive stage, in which learners get an understanding of their own learning and knowledge, and become more driving, leading the discussions and taking responsibility for transferring their skills to new areas.
The way that I understand this in the CORALL setting, this applies to the iterative process of the learning set-up: once a learner has gone through the pre-, collaboration- and post-sessions, (s)he starts again with a pre-session, or alternatively goes directly to a new collaboration session. What this implies is that the practice in the following pre-session and the robots interaction strategy in the next collaborative session should be adapted to the fact that the learner has progressed and is hopefully ready to be more active in the learning process and in the interaction, and that the tutor could hence be more passive to allow the learner to control the practice and lead the task solving more. This is handled by the Learner model, which is updated based on the skills that the learner has acquired and the interaction displayed.
Applying the Five stage model to the CORALL training did mostly merely corroborate didactic design choices already made (but this check against a standard model is in itself valuable), but some new insights were also gained regarding aspects that need to be taken into account when designing the learning activity chain.
- Van Merriënboer, J.J.G., & Kirschner, P.A. (2007). Ten steps to complex learning: A systematic approach to four-component instructional design. London: Lawrence Erlbaum
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Would you like to help us get started?
As a second language learner (in particular if you are or have been learning Swedish), what authentic tasks do you feel would be (or would have been, if you are thinking about your own past experiences) relevant to practise the second language on?
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The tasks should be suitable for beginner to intermediate level of learning Swedish, but feel free to suggest whatever comes to mind.