In the face of a new reality: Exploring undergraduate students’ perceptions of an online exam presentation in an EFL setting during the COVID-19 pandemic (2021-11-30)
This study investigates undergraduate students’ perceptions of the thesis proposal presentation in an online format due to safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifty-five undergraduate students were surveyed regarding their end of course assessment experience, which involved a Skype online presentation, rather than the usual face-to-face presentation. A mixed-method approach using quantitative and qualitative data was employed. The findings report that the students’ average satisfaction based on 8 parameters was 3.97 (out of 5), while their average self-reported satisfaction was 4.2, and their average exam result was 4.07, showing that urgent transition to the new format did not affect their satisfaction or results of the presentation. To minimise the disadvantages of this format, recommendations for teachers and students were offered. The examiners should provide all the students with equal opportunities to display their knowledge and to receive equal feedback; they should keep their cameras on throughout the exam to maintain a connection between the participants; administration staff member should assist the examination board with time management, schedules, and technical issues if required. The students should familiarise themselves with the format and requirements of the oral presentation; check the equipment before the online event and ensure they can use it properly; rehearse the presentation in an online format in front of other people. Skype video conferencing has not been studied in terms of online university assessment. This study shows the potential for this mode of assessment in the future.
Account of a Foretold Death: Analysing the Response to the Pandemic in Spanish Schools (2021-11-30)
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on education, not only due to its dramatic interruption of the school year (2019-2020) but potentially affecting many aspects of teaching in the future. In Spain, in particular, this year’s events have also highlighted the lack of digital resources and preparedness of the schools, which has resulted in some difficulties to adapt to the new circumstances. In this paper, we will start by explaining how digital competence has developed into an indispensable competence for learning in the past decade, which the current global pandemic has highlighted even more. As a consequence of this pandemic, schools and education centres remained closed from March 2020 to the end of the academic year in Spain. This article focuses on the importance of digital competence in language learning and on how it was overlooked in practice. We analyse the immediate response from the Ministry of Education versus how teachers and schools in the Valencian region supported the students during the enforced quarantine in the last trimester of the academic year in primary school. For this, teachers in four schools in Castellon (Valencian region) were interviewed and drawing from their replies, we discuss the reality of the use of technology in primary school in comparison to the national guidelines and frameworks provided so far for educators.
From on-site to online class: the role of mediation in online teaching simulation (2021-11-30)
This paper presents the results of a pilot study that explores the relationship between mediation and teaching simulation activities during a postgraduate course for content and language teachers. A controversial factor of the experiment was the overall lockdown happened in Spain in spring-summer 2020. This situation made lecturers explore an educational innovation by transforming a traditional on-site classroom practice into an online training opportunity. 42 learners of the English language training for content teachers course taught at the Catholic University of Valencia took part in the project. Outcomes display feasibility of the curricular adaptation by providing (1) CLIL teaching simulation planning, (2) teaching simulation assessment sheet and (3) questionnaire responses, all of them closely related to mediation and online education. The analysis of the data collected through the study outcomes yielded extremely positive effects of the methodology used. Therefore, the initial results support the possibility of this curricular update and we recommend to further deepen the connection between mediation, online instruction and CLIL teacher training opportunities by applying the lessons designed in a real school setting.
Metacognitive and Linguistic Skills in COVID Times: Learning Logs in Preservice Teacher Training (2021-11-30)
This paper reports on the implementation of learning logs in the context of preservice teacher training in times of COVID. It has a two-fold aim: first, to analyze whether the learning logs helped in promoting students’ autonomy and self-reflection and second, to observe whether they contribute to the development of their linguistic competence in English as a foreign language. Participants of the study (n= 40) are students of the primary and infant education degrees at a distance university in Spain. At the end of the half term module of the subject Didáctica Avanzada de la Lengua Inglesa, they were given the possibility of completing a learning log choosing L1 or L2 as a vehicular language to record their learning process. Participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire on their experience using the logs, being data analysed through SPSS (n=29). Individual semi-structured interviews were carried out to collect information on those participants who had not completed the learning log (n=11). The findings of the study show that the vast majority of participants agree on the potential of learning logs as a useful tool to keep track of their learning process and to develop metacognitive awareness and linguistic skills.
Who wants to lean English online for free? (2021-11-30)
This article delves into the demographics of users enrolled in two LMOOCs offered by Spain’s National Distance Education University (UNED). It was motivated by the need to find out more about those people who see MOOCs as an opportunity to learn English in Spain, as this knowledge would help LMOOC designers develop courses that are more appealing to prospective learners, and thus fight low completion rate which is one of the main drawbacks of MOOCs. In addition, as the world battles against the COVID-19 pandemic looking for alternative learning approaches is unavoidable, therefore studying MOOC user demographics could ultimately help educational authorities know the impact of the courses and enable the courses to reach a wider audience. The data collected between 2016 and 2020 using a questionnaire that participants had to complete upon registration revealed that most of them were mid-life adults who held a university degree. In addition, our findings seemed to indicate that female learners are more likely to take the courses than their male counterparts.
A Telecollaboration Project on Giving Online Peer Feedback: Implementing a Trans-Atlantic Virtual Exchange During A Pandemic (2021-11-30)
Telecollaboration, also called virtual exchange or online intercultural exchange, is a form of collaborative learning whereby language learners in different locations engage in computer-mediated communication to complete tasks online. There is ample evidence that telecollaboration promotes the acquisition of language skills, intercultural competence, and digital literacies. The present article describes a pilot telecollaboration project based on the facilitated dialogue model involving four institutions—two in Europe and two in the United States—that was designed to prepare students for the experience of giving online peer feedback on collaborative writing assignments. Initially conceived as a routine trans-Atlantic virtual exchange, new challenges and opportunities emerged as a result of the switch to emergency e-learning and remote teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to negotiating divergent needs and expectations across classes and institutions (e.g., different course syllabi and academic calendars) and in addition to managing intercultural communication and online interactions, course instructors and online facilitators soon found themselves dealing with unexpected difficulties, such as the fatigue and digital overwhelm associated with the emergency switch to remote teaching and learning. Our experience, however, demonstrates the adaptability and sustainability of carefully planned telecollaboration projects, even in the face of a global pandemic which shuttered academic institutions and entire nations. Our experience also reveals the potential to exploit virtual exchange to develop learning strategies—such as methods for giving and receiving peer feedback—and meta-awareness of how language is used in the real-world, such as the importance of online etiquette and the implications of English as a lingua franca.
Pre-service English Language Teachers’ Perceptions on Emergency Remote Teaching (2021-11-30)
Education has been offered in the form of Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) worldwide since March 2020 due to the spread of Covid-19. This compulsory transition has often been marked by disregard of the technological infrastructure of educational institutions, digital literacy skills of teachers and students and their access to technology. While a growing body of research informs about challenges faced in ERT, further studies are needed to arrive at validated conclusions to inform formal language teaching and learning delivered in virtual environments. Against this backdrop, this qualitative study aimed at exploring the perceptions of a group of 67 pre-service English language teachers on ERT practices at a Turkish state university. Data were collected through an interview form developed by the researchers and a focus group interview, and analysed inductively with content analysis. The results show the participants not only report a variety of challenges related to the perceived ineffectiveness of learning, technical insufficiency, and inappropriateness of the learning environment but acknowledge contributions to their personal and academic development as studying under ERT conditions improves their digital literacy and study skills. Additionally, ERT is considered flexible, time-saving, and favourable for learners who feel more confident in virtual classrooms, and some participants consider it an opportunity for self-actualisation. Nonetheless, the majority favours face-to-face education over virtual education appreciating the enhanced effectiveness of in-class education. The study emphasises the need to support learners and teachers by offering opportunities to share experiences gained in ERT and providing guidance and strategies on how to organise learning and teaching. Moreover, schools, policy makers and governmental authorities need to provide ERT-tailored programmes and an infrastructure in terms of technical equipment to meet the requirements of education delivered in ERT and to arrange conditions for effective language learning in virtual environments.
The language of Russian fake stories: A corpus-based study of the topical change in the viral disinformation spread during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (2021-11-30)
The spread of disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic is largely associated with social media and online messengers. Viral disinformation disseminated in 2020–2021 was related to a wide range of topics that caused panic among people. Many false narratives emerged and attracted public interest over time, which mainly reflected the general public’s utmost belief in these topics. Text mining can be used to analyze the frequencies of keywords and topic-related vocabulary in order to track the changing focus of the public concerning online disinformation. In this paper, we present the results of a corpus-based study of Russian viral fake stories circulating during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. We propose a method for analyzing the central topics and dynamics of topical change in the context of the Russian COVID-19-fake story. In order to accomplish this objective, we make use of a set of tools to extract keywords, count their frequencies and analyze corresponding contexts. We apply these tools to the compiled specialized diachronic corpus of Russian viral false COVID-19-related stories. The obtained data is evaluated to determine the dynamic of topical shifts by tracking the changes in keyword frequencies as well as the use of other high-frequency corpus words.