Enhancing Digital Literacies for Language Learning and Teaching

Partner Institutions

Project Lead: University of Limerick

Project Partners: Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, Limerick Institute of Technology, Mary Immaculate College, National University of Ireland, Galway

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Abstract

The urgent need to address the national language skills’ shortage has been highlighted in numerous arenas (e.g. 2011 Forfás Report “Guidance for Higher Education Providers on Current and Future Skills Needs of Enterprise”). In the context of the need for a continued economic recovery, language skills and proficiency are essential. Against this backdrop, and the need for more flexible support to language learners during various transition periods, this project aims to develop a digital interactive resource centre for languages. It will be of use as a significant student support mechanism, and also as an online learning tool for a number of different purposes. Within the scope of this project the target groups include higher education (HE) first year students, study abroad students, and language teachers, with resources also being of interest and benefit to others.

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Primary Contact(s)


w_rms_blob_common-1Dr Fiona Farr

University of Limerick

Tel: +353 61 202 980

Email: fiona.farr@ul.ie

Detailed Proposal

The urgent need to address the national language skills’ shortage has been highlighted in numerous arenas (e.g. 2011 Forfás Report “Guidance for Higher Education Providers on Current and Future Skills Needs of Enterprise”). In the context of the need for a continued economic recovery, language skills and proficiency are essential. Against this backdrop, and the need for more flexible support to language learners during various transition periods, this project aims to develop a digital interactive resource centre for languages. It will be of use as a significant student support mechanism, and also as an online learning tool for a number of different purposes. Within the scope of this project the target groups include higher education (HE) first year students, study abroad students, and language teachers, with resources also being of interest and benefit to others.

Research which the project partners have conducted over the past year has identified a number of key areas where online flexible support is best focused. Based on these findings and expertise within the group, the aim of the project is to develop online resources and activities in three broad areas:
A. Digital Literacies for Language Development: for example, privacy, copyright, register, online communities, netiquette, online identity, boundaries, plagiarism. This will work within the National Framework for Digital Skills being developed by the All Aboard Project
B. Language Learning Strategies and Practices: for example, oral and other skills, intercultural competence, lexis and grammar, register and domains of use, use of digital resources including CALL resources
C. Transitions to Third Level Language Learning Environments: for example, expectations, autonomy, self-directed learning, resilience, motivation, time management, confidence, affective issues. The portal will be freely available and scalable for use in other contexts. The contents and activities will afford integration into many programmes currently on offer in HE

At present there is no on-line resource for language learners which does what the proposed portal aims to do. There are many useful resources, mostly with a specific content focus and which are generic in terms of the target audience. The project team is fully aware of these resources and in many cases have been involved in their development. It is our strong contention that impact will be achieved because the outputs of this project will be valuable, motivating, relevant and completely integrated into curricula. The project is unique and adds value in the following ways in an Irish HE context:

– It is strongly contextualised within the Irish HE sector, yet draws on international best practice and research

– It caters for a range of different languages including foreign languages, Irish, and English as an additional language. It also features a localisation element for the Irish language

– It will be fully integrated into language curricula within the institutions, and involves a redefinition of formal programme learning outcomes for language degrees

– The focus is on learning to learn different aspects of a language, with exemplars, rather than a language course. It curates a range of existing resources to make them easily accessible to third level language learners especially those new to the field

– The portal is unique in its structure and configuration, and can be accessed in a number of different ways by students and teachers, for example, in a linear way by level/course, by language topic, by strategic requirement, by scenario identification, or entirely randomly

– It has a holistic design configured around cognitive, metacognitive and practical concepts rather than by language, with task-based activities drawing on the languages being acquired. It will guide learners from autonomy to agency, and to becoming a member of language learning communities

– It includes teacher development resources and tasks around the same concepts as those for students. It will support language teachers so that they can assist their learners in the three areas identified

– It provides for the creation and maintenance of a national community of practice (in-service and pre-service language teachers) The project consortium, with six partner institutions, already accounts for a very large proportion of languages disciplines at national level, achieving significant impact. In addition, each partner commits to promoting implementation in affiliated or associated institutions (for example, St. Patricks, Dromcondra, Galway Mayo IT, IT Tallagh and Blanchardstown as part of TU4Dublin) and in other HEIs in their regional contexts, with the Munster partners working directly with Waterford and the south-east The team also commits to working with professional bodies and networks, (for example, the English Language Secondary Teachers’ Association, VEC Educational centres and networks, Irish language networks, Post-primary Languages Initiative, One Voice for Languages, Association du Français Appliqué, Irish Association for Applied Linguistics, Service de Coopération et d’Action Culturelle). Employer and employee networks will also be used for dissemination through institutional careers divisions, career guidance teachers’ network, and teacher associations and unions

This proposal, led by UL, will be implemented through 7 work packages, and overseen by UL’s Dean of Teaching and Learning, Dr Fiona Farr. The lead contacts from each institution, and the relevant Heads of Department are listed here:

Institution Plenary Group Member Head of Department/School
DCU Dr Françoise Blin Prof. Dorothy Kenny
DIT Odette Gabaudan Dr Siobhan Ni Laoire
LIT Dr Caitríona Ní Chasaide Eoghan Sadlier
MIC Dr Anne O’Keeffe Máire Ní Neachtain
NUIG Dr Laura McLoughlin Dr Kate Quinn
UL Dr Liam Murray Dr Cinta Ramblado

Each partner institution will contribute to the implementation and coordination of the work packages as follows:
Work package and coordination Timeframe Details:
1.Educational Development: Technology (Project Co-ordination) (UL) Jan 2016 – June 2017 Operation and co-ordination, and working with each of the partners.
2. Research and Evaluation (UL) Jan 2016 – June 2016
April 2017 – May 2017 Research with target users and final evaluation of the portal.
3. Digital Literacies for Language Development (DCU) Jan 2016 – June 2017 Design, develop, and pilot a digital literacies toolkit for language learning in line with the All Aboard National Framework for Digital Skills
4. Language Learning Skills and Practices (NUIG) Jan 2016 – June 2017 Curate existing OERs and where necessary create new materials for the four intralingual skills, as well as domains of use.
5. Transitions to third level language learning environments (UL) Jan 2016 – June 2017 Curate and create, materials to enhance the transition to language learning in HE.
6. Localisation Pilot Project (NUIG) Jan 2017 – June 2017 Localise the project website into Irish with a view to creating a template for possible further use with other languages.
7. Technical Design and Development (UL) Jan 2017 – June 2017 Develop the technical aspects around the portal and the contents from WPs 3, 4, and 5.