ΠΡΟΤΑΣΗ ΕΡΕΥΝΑΣ ΠΕΔΙΟΥ/ΚΑΙΝΟΤΟΜΟ ΠΡΟΓΡΑΜΜΑ
Εκπαιδευτικοί: Ταξίδης Χρήστος (ΠΕ70), Κνάβας Οδυσσέας (ΠΕ70), Νεοφώτιστος Βασίλης (ΠΕ20), Ζαπουνίδης Θωμάς (ΠΕ06), Ζιάκα Ιωάννα (ΠΕ06)
ΘΕΜΑ: «Εκμάθηση ξένης γλώσσας και επιστημονικός γραμματισμός σε τρισδιάστατο περιβάλλον»
ΣΥΝΤΟΜΗ ΠΕΡΙΓΡΑΦΗ: (στόχοι, μεθοδολογία, αξιολόγηση)
We are proposing the use of OpenSimulator platform, a MUVE, free and open source, for the teaching of English to 5th grade learners in a Greek primary school. The originality of our project lies in the choice of context – a primary school in Greece where MUVE has never been used before. To our knowledge, the use of MUVE for the teaching of subjects has always been carried out in learners’ native language. In our study, MUVE will be used for the teaching of English. This will allow us to examine the impact of the same virtual environment on learners’ both scientific literacy and foreign language skills and thus explore the usability of MUVEs in content-based education contexts.
Our research aims to determine if the use of MUVEs can provide 5th grade learners with engaging, meaningful learning experiences that will promote (a) their scientific literacy, (b) their English language skills, and (c) their social interaction skills. This is the first time MUVEs are going to be used in a Greek school.
Two 5th grade classes of 20 students each (11-12 years old) will participate in this study. One class will be the experimental group (EG) and the other the control group (CG).
The Virtual World, based on OpenSimulator platform, has been developed by Arvanitis and Panagiotidis (2010) at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. It is an open source, multi-platform, multi-user 3D environment that can be used to create and simulate immersive virtual spaces, environments, and worlds. Similar to the web servers that power the World Wide Web, OpenSim is a new kind of 3D internet server that combines the richness of the “flat” web with advanced simulation technology to create a seamless digital version of the real world – a world where you can create anything you can imagine, teach a class in an environment you design, or even fly to work instead of driving. You can meet with distant colleagues and students “face-to-face” through digital avatars, collaborate on a project as if you were in the same location, or develop a project plan together in real time.
Users connect to the virtual environment with a software client over the internet to enter the virtual space and interact with the 3D environment with a keyboard and mouse or other similar input devices.
The user is represented by a digital avatar that can walk, run, or fly through the environment and interact with objects there much as we do in the physical world.
OpenSim includes a built-in physics module and other Artificial Intelligence (AI) modules that allow the simulations and environments created to be as realistic and life-like or as abstract as desired. Digital assets are created and modeled using either the tools built into the software client, or using industry standard modeling and graphic design programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Maya, etc.
– Will the use of English (L2) for interaction, negotiation of meaning and problem solving significantly improve the CG and EG learners’ foreign language proficiency? Will there be any significant differences between the two groups?
– Will the EG learners’ immersion in the virtual environment have any significant effect on the development of their scientific literacy when compared to the control group?
– What kind of communication strategies do EG learners employ when interacting – both orally and in writing – within the virtual environment?
Prior to the research, a period of about a month is considered necessary for the training of the teachers and learners involved in the program and the preparation of the virtual world. During this month, a team of teachers will collaborate in order to build didactic scenarios which students will be asked to work with. Scenarios will be designed in English and built on the basis of the ‘Guidelines for Nature Of Science Introduction in Scientific literacy’ (G.N.O.S.I.S.) model (Seroglou & Aduriz-Bravo, 2007). The model will allow us to evaluate the scenarios with respect to their cognitive, affective and metacognitive dimensions. During the same period, the EG will be trained on the use of avatars and space/objects and of resources available. The EG learners will meet in the virtual environment for two periods per week for a period of seven months in order to complete tasks based on the scenarios designed. The CG will follow a paper-based curriculum and will be taught the same content and skills as the EG during the same period of time without the use of computers, via a social constructivist-based pedagogy. Lessons in the CG class will also be conducted in English.
Research methods and data collection instruments
Results will be measured both qualitatively and quantitatively. Qualitative data will include observation reports that will be designed in order to observe and record EG students’ interactional patterns and choices during communication with their peers. This will allow us to study the development of learners’ interaction skills and communication strategies throughout the duration of the program. Additionally, there will be recording of the chat, whenever students opt to use this tool, for the investigation of the use of communication strategies, turn taking and appropriate rhetorical devices. Regarding the quantitative data, an English language test will be taken by both groups prior to the study and after its completion (pre-test and post-test), in order (a) to compare the development of their L2 proficiency level, and (b) to examine the impact of the project on the EG learners’ L2 proficiency development. Finally, a test will be designed, based on the scenarios used, in order to measure the effect of MUVE’s on the development of EG learners’ scientific literacy. The same test will be given to both EG and CG learners in order to compare results. Associate Professor Marina Mattheoudakis, the principal investigator, will act as the link between the researchers and the school teachers involved in the project. She will monitor the research and will supervise the design, piloting and distribution of tests, the data collection and research analysis. Associate Professors Panagiotis Arvanitis and Panagiotis Panagiotidis will be the Co-Principal investigators of the project. They have developed a virtual world using the OpenSim platform and they will be responsible for the expansion, management and continuous maintenance of the world and the design of special activities using its capabilities.
The outcome of the project will need to be evaluated by an external assessor. We suggest that this be carried out by an American educator, experienced in the relevant field, and more particularly, in the use of MUVEs in the teaching of Science at primary education. The evaluation criteria will include (a) learners’ progress in the comprehension and use of English, (b) the development of their scientific literacy, and (c) the development of their interaction and communication skills.