Monday, March 31, 2014

Article Published in ReCALL

It's been a long haul, but finally -- after several years of design, development, assessment, and evaluation -- the experiment results have been published in the ReCALL Journal:

If you are interested and want to read more, you can download a PDF of the paper. Basically, as described in the abstract, the article reports on a mixed-methods study evaluating the use of a three-dimensional digital game-based language learning (3D-DGBLL) environment to teach German two-way prepositions and specialized vocabulary within a simulated real-world context of German recycling and waste management systems. The study assumed that goal-directed player activity in this environment would configure digital narratives, which in turn would help study participants in the experimental group to co-configure story maps for ordering and making sense of the problem spaces encountered in the environment. The study further assumed that these participants would subsequently rely on the story maps to help them structure written L2 narratives describing an imagined personal experience closely resembling the gameplay of the 3D-DGBLL environment. The study found that immersion in the 3D-DGBLL environment influenced the manner in which the second language was invoked in these written narratives: Participants in the experimental group produced narratives containing more textual indicators describing the activity associated with the recycling and waste management systems and the spaces in which these systems are located. Increased usage of these indicators suggest that participants in the experimental group did indeed rely on story maps generated during 3D gameplay to structure their narratives, although stylistic and grammatical features of the narratives suggest, however, that changes could be made to the curricular implementation of the 3D-DGBLL environment. The study also puts forward ideas for instructional best practices based on research findings and suggests future areas of development and investigation.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Away For Much Too Long

It's been several months since posting my last entry and it's time to get back down to business. Reason for my absence has been partly professional, and partly pure digital distraction. Let's start with the last point first. After having played Battlefield 2142 for, oh, a *really* long time, I decided to step up to something a bit newer and finally purchased Battlefield 3. Only for research purposes, I kept telling myself. So, after playing for 71 hours and 39 minutes (not that I'm counting):

and having advanced to the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant, I thought that may I should rededicate myself (and, more importantly, my time) towards building an immersive 3D digital game-based language learning environment for introductory German courses. Getting bigger on the trigger in a virtual world is great, but I think that learning the coding and 3D modeling skills necessary for creating such an environment is also really cool and can be immensely satisfying. Plus they have real-world application. So, for now, perhaps gaming only on the weekends. Purely for research purposes, of course.

My other professional distraction has been a blended learning environment for business German. Specifically, doing an article write-up on how the environment was developed. The article has been fun to write as it required me to do a review of some basic ADDIE instructional design models, including The Systematic Design of Instruction by Dick and Carey, which was the first model I learned. In particular, it was fun to review the required steps involved in performing the goal and to analyze subordinate skills.

For the article, I am focusing on the steps involved in preparing a German-style résumé. The steps for performing the goal include: (Step 1) access the Europass website; (Step 2) launch the Europass software; (Step 3) compose a German-style résumé; (Step 4) save the résumé; and (Step 5) exit the Europass website:

It was deemed unnecessary to design instruction for Steps 1-2 and 4-5 as they deal primarily with the simple navigation of a web-based software interface, which could be easily and quickly demonstrated for students during class. Closer analysis of Step 3, however, revealed the need to identify further substeps necessary to perform the task of composing a German-style résumé. These substeps were identified to be: (Step 3.1) set Europass language to German; (Step 3.2) choose a section of the résumé to complete; (Step 3.4) enter personal information into section; and (Step 3.7) move on to next section of the résumé. It is also important to note that, while composing the résumé, a student will undoubtedly encounter difficulties in language reception or production requiring a decision to be made with regard to alternate goal-directed activities. These decisions were identified to be: (Step 3.3) does the student understand the written German instructions for a section of the résumé?; (Step 3.5) does the student know genre-appropriate vocabulary known to complete a section entry?; and (Step 3.6) can the student produce the correct syntax to complete a section entry in a genre-appropriate manner? Of course, the alternate decision paths revealed further substeps for solving the problems described here. For Step 3.3 only one step was identified: (Step 3.3.1) toggle Europass language to English and/or consult a specialized dictionary. More steps, however, were identified for Step 3.5: (Step 3.5.1) consult a specialized dictionary and/or web-based translation memory (TM) software (e.g., to find translation for English business term; and (Step 3.5.2) enter genre-appropriate German vocabulary. Finally, for Step 3.6, two additional steps were identified: (Step 3.6.1) check formulation against genre-appropriate syntax and/or consult with the instructor; and (Step 3.6.2) make necessary modifications to the section entry. Students performing the module goal would iterate between Step 3.3 and 3.7 until the résumé section is complete.

The analysis of subordinate skills took me a bit longer. hree subordinate skills, consisting of psychomotor skills (PS), intellectual skills (IS), and and verbal information (VI) were identified as being essential for the completion of this step. Students will need to know how to: (PS 1) use a specialized dictionary; (PS 2) utilize the Europass web-based software interface; and (IS 1) evaluate search results for feasibility. These subordinate skills could be further broken down into constituent parts. The ability to utilize the Europass software, for example, is dependent on (PS 2.1) basic Web navigation skills, whereas the ability to evaluate the feasibility of search results depends, among other things, on a knowledge of German (IS 1.1) grammar and (IS 1.2) word classes. Finally, the feasibility of the search results would constantly be evaluated against (VI 1) a knowledge base of already known genre-appropriate German vocabulary:

Anyway, I'm making good progress on the article and hope to have it wrapped up in the coming weeks. Hopefully, once that is done, I will be relatively free of distractions and be able to get back into game design. I'm thinking that, to start off and get back in the swing of things, I will design some 3D models in Blender.