The final post on this topic is about the first attempt to actually create a storyboard for the collaborative task.

The overall storyboard, with a pre-, collaborative, and post-session is already known (c.f Exploring the borders of technology-enhanced collaborative learning: the CORALL project), but when it comes to the actual task that the two learners and the robot are to collaborate on, it becomes less clear what a relevant task for learners of Swedish actually is. I therefore launched a one-question survey (please take it, it is still open!). From the initial answers, it can first of all be concluded that what is perceived as relevant is very different from person to person: whereas one respondent requested very specific practise of professional terminology, other suggestions are much “simpler” and more leisure-oriented, such as discussing which movie the pair of learners should go to.

A first conclusion is hence that the practice should ideally be flexible, with a repertoire of different tasks, of which the most suitable one is chosen for the student pair.

To set up the storyboard for one collaborative interaction, I combine the suggestions from two respondents, where one suggested talking about the weather, as “this is the favourite pastime of Swedes, the weather being much more extreme and varying than in [the home country]” and another would have wanted help understanding what on earth the list of required outdoor clothes for the pre-school children means.

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The background is that toddler parents are given a list of clothes that should be brought to kindergarten for outdoor activities:

Höstväder med kyla och regn / Vinterväder med kyla och snö

Fodrade galonbyxor och fodrad regnjacka; Fodrade regnvantar; Fodrade gummistövlar; Varm overall; Varma vantar; Fleecetröja; Varma vinterstövlar; Halskrage”

Based on this, I have created a task suitable for parents with small children, somewhat inspired by the NASA survival on the moon exercise.

Pre-session: Parent peers playing pairing

The computer-animated character, another parent from your child’s kindergarten, presents the one-to-one preparatory task (in Swedish, as for the remainder of the interaction below; however for the benefit of non-Swedish speakers, quotes are given in English below): They have both received a list of clothes that should be brought to kindergarten, and they need to together understand what each item is and what it is used for.

This is done using a simple game setting with:

  1. Cards with the names of the items
  2. Cards with pictures of the items
  3. Acoustic cards, which gives a description (in Swedish) of the items and what they are used for

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The game of course consists of the learner and robot collaborating to match the correct triads of name–picture–description, while talking about the items and how to match them. The intended learning outcomes are that the learner should:

  1. Learn the names of the items and how to pronounce them
  2. Have an understanding of what they are used for
  3. Practise talking about the items and when they are used

Collaborative session: The November challenge

img_0604The collaborative session is a new game, which introduces the weather report for the week on the interactive screen, and optionally different complications.

The players/learners/”parents” task is to decide what outdoor clothes their (Furhat robot) child should wear for kindergarten today, depending on the challenging and changing November weather.

The Swedish-speaking child (in the story; turning to Swedish is an intentional strategy of the child when there is a risk of conflict with the parents, as the child’s higher proficiency in Swedish means that it often gets the upper hand) will need to be convinced that it should wear the appropriate clothes for the given weather: children dislike the cumbersome – and extremely warm, when you are putting them on indoors – winter clothes in general, and all pvc-coated fabric in particular. The parents therefore need to provide very strong arguments about why the selected clothes must be worn, given the weather.

Scores are given for selecting the correct clothes for today’s weather, and for being able to convince the child.

Game-play features include increased difficulty of convincing the protesting child, and finding alternative clothing choices because some of the most appropriate ones are a) too disgustingly dirty after yesterday’s play; b) still wet after being washed for the reason given in a); or c) lost somewhere in the kindergarten’s huge pile of clothes that had not been properly marked with the child’s name.

Post-session: kindergarten teacher-parent talk

In the post-session, a computer-animated kindergarten teacher discusses the problem that the child does not want to wear suitable outdoor clothes for the November weather. The teacher wonders how the parents talk with the child at home about what clothes to wear for what weather, what the difficulties are in talking with the child, and how it could be facilitated.

The pedagogical idea of the post-session is that the learner/”parent”

  • gets the opportunity to reflect on how the collaborative session went and describe what was difficult in the interaction and/or the linguistic curriculum.
  • will receive additional practice on the vocabulary, pronunciation, expressions that the system has identified as difficult for him/her, as the robot “teacher” will steer the discussion to talk more about these particular items or eliciting renewed learner attempts at the problematic expressions.

This session follows the reflective cycle learning paradigm (Gibbs, 1988), in which the tutor and learner discuss the six steps “What happened in the interaction?”, “What were you thinking and feeling?”, “What was good or bad?”, “How can you analyse the situation?”, “What else could you have done?”, “When you are to talk with your child again, what will you do?”

Finding this task irrelevant for you?

Suggest another one, using the one-question survey!

References

  • Gibbs (1988) Learning by doing : a guide to teaching and learning methods. London: FEU.

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