Undoubtedly, virtual reality has been one of the most discussed topics between educators since the past year. Multiple applications try to exploit its characteristics in order to enhance students’ learning process.
VirtualSpeech is an application which through scenarios and a wide range of language situations, aims to use the virtual reality to teach foreign languages. Besides English the user can choose between the following languages: French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Chinese. Russian, Japanese, Italian and Korean are soon to be released.
Originally the app was developed to help people learn English through simulations of the English culture and landmarks. The idea behind this was to create a more exciting way of learning in a virtual environment. Research shows that visual representations help in maintaining information and learning new vocabulary (Jones, 2010). In addition the use of images helps in making abstract ideas more specific to students.
Below are listed the categories that the user can pick from.
Experience Culture: Virtual Reality (VR) is the possible solution for creating genuine language learning environments in EFL countries for a variety of reasons. The most beneficial part of using VR is the creation of those situations that simulate the physical environment through digital representation (Chen & Chen, 2016). London, Cotswolds, Warwick, Cornwall and many other British places are available to visit.
Vocabulary: The user is asked to locate various objects in beautiful and well-designed rooms. Despite the fact that we really liked this option it should be mentioned that the free version of the app includes only room.
Audiobook Chapters: The user can choose to listen to renowned books such as Treasure Island or Alice in the Wonderland. Of course, it would be an addition if moving or static images could be added as to enhance the student's involvement.
Basic Tenses: The player interacts with different shapes and objects trying to put them in order while creating sentences. Each object represents a single word. At the moment the user can choose from Present Simple, Past Simple and Future Simple.
Numbers: A realistic space ship simulation game in which the player tries to maneuver his spacecraft to the right number. It's not just a language learning game, but it certainly enriches the whole experience.
Roleplaying Speeches: It is a fact that through virtual reality it is possible to simulate situations that would be either too expensive or unfeasible to perform (Dávideková, et al., 2017). On this axis the user can simulate a speech, an interview, make a reservation for a hotel etc. It is a fact that there is no feedback based on what is said, but this may have had dubious results and would certainly require some financial consideration such as the purchase of the application.
Rewards and statistics: Finally, it is possible to record some of the user's achievements which are earned after completing certain activities.
Language VR will help teach English language and culture by providing photorealistic virtual reality environments to students to talk, listen, interact, and ultimately play.
The application is fully compatible with Google Cardboard and is available for Android, IOS, and GearVR devices. You can find out more here https://virtualspeech.com/
Chen, X. and Chen, M. (2016). The Application of Virtual Reality Technology in the EFL Learning Environment in China. Proceedings of the 2016 International Conference on Sensor Network and Computer Engineering.
Dávideková, M., Mjartan, M. and Greguš, M. (2017). Use of Virtual Reality in Education of Employees in Slovakia. Computer Science, 113, pp. 253-260.
Jones, A.D. (2010). Science through photography. Science through photography. Science and Children, 47 (5), 26-30.
Google Expeditions is a virtual-reality teaching tool. It gives students an opportunity to explore a variety of amazing environments and areas that they may never have the chance to visit in person. You can swim with sharks, visit outer space, walk through a museum, and more without leaving the classroom.
There are over 500 Expeditions trips available at the moment. Everything from the Great Wall of China, to the Buckingham Palace, and even the outer space are available as destinations for your students. Each Expedition is a 360-degree experience that allows students travel to an amazing place while being guided by a teacher.
To join an expedition, each participant needs a Wi-Fi-connected tablet or smartphone. Teachers choose the content that they want to show to the devices connected on the same Wi-Fi network and can pause, play, or change what students see.
Virtual reality provides an interactive, immersive experience. Instead of sitting passively, students stand up. Instead of looking at one aspect of an image, they literally turn their heads and move their eyes to view angles of a scenery. Instead of remaining aware of their classroom environment, they are immersed inside of a virtual reality setting.
How to use in classroom?
Teachers can use Expeditions to supplement their current curriculum with VR field trips.
The teacher’s role is to ask questions, pinpoint important things on the tour, etc. Giving time for students to explore each scene first and then highlighting points of interest can help enliven the content for your students. It is also worth mentioning that extensive support materials are provided for each scene, such as leveled questions and pre-determined points of interest.
To get started, teachers need a tablet to guide while students need a virtual reality box (the so-called 3d glasses) as well as a smartphone. Each device needs to pre-install the Expeditions application and be connected to the same WI-FI with the teacher's tablet.
Regarding the VR devices a good choice would be to pick the cheap but solid Google Carboard that can be found online around 20$.
It is certainly a tool that would help boosting the students’ engagement in classroom while at the same time helping them gain a better understanding of the lesson.
Traditional school is perceived to be ineffective and boring by many students while most schools are facing significant problems finding methods to motivate the learners (Lee & Hammer, 2011). On the other hand, the characteristics of the game, electronic or not, provide effective means of enhancing students' motivation, allowing them to experience activities with a high degree of interaction (Squire, 2005).
The term gamification is commonly used to describe the process of importing game mechanisms into situations that were not originally intended for a game (Sahin, Karadag, Bozkurt, Dogan, Kilinic, Ugur, Gumus & Guler, 2017). In contrast to gaming-based learning, which is essentially the incorporation of video games in the classroom, whether designed for educational purposes, the so-called serious games, or commercial games with an educational value (Squire, 2005), the gamification process does not aim to design a whole new game but rather to use the mechanisms that bind it so as to encourage and reward behaviors that promote learning and good social interactions (Fu Rude, I., Tomozei, C., & Köse, 2017; Yuan, 2017). Gamification can be found in a variety of fields, from organizations and companies to schools, but the concept is thriving in applications that are designed to operate on the Internet (Sanchez, Young & Jouneau-Sion, Caroline, 2017).
Gamification allows teachers to put learners as active participants in the educational process through the enhancement of interest they demonstrate, ultimately leading to increased engagement with the subject (Kapp, 2012; Furdu, I., Tomozei, C., & Köse, 2017). Regarding the motivation of people in engaging in an activity, it plays a crucial role since it contributes to the achievement of learning and preservation of knowledge over time (Sahin et.al, 2017). A study by Turan, Avinc, Kara, and Goktas (2016) advocates this view, highlighting the element of improved performance in learning objectives in a team that used game elements, compared to a group taught in the traditional way of teaching.
The typical features of a game based learning environment include the use of video game devices such as missions, levels, badges, point system, leaderboards, avatars, virtual goods and progress bars (Deterding , Sicart, Nacke, O'Hara & Dixon, 2011; Yuan, 2017). Missions, as well as the levels that are the basic features of games, link the theory to practice and provide students a picture of their skill, allowing them to move to higher levels after they have first mastered the previous ones (Stott & Neustaedter, 2013). What is important is the existence of mechanisms that promote competition, as competition with other participants influences the way experience is experienced in a game system, reinforcing the motivation to engage through the element of challenge (Griffiths, 2002; Glover , 2013). Besides, it should not be forgotten that for the successful assimilation of information and knowledge, motivation is a key factor, since without its existence, learning may face serious problems (Gee, 2003). According to a survey of (Sahin et al., 2017), the existence of leaderboards led the participants to wish to participate more in the game, as it enhanced the sense of competition, simultaneously leading them to a continuous effort to rise to a higher position in the board. The virtual prizes are also useful as they support user’s motives, feedback and reflection as they provide a picture of its level, thus strengthen self-regulating learning (Glover, 2013; Yuan, 2017). Finally, progress bars are in addition to feedback a guidance to the user about what needs to be done to achieve improvement and progress (Glover, 2013).
Deterding, S., Sicart, M., Nacke, L., O’Hara, K. & Dixon, D. (2011). Gamification: Using game design elements in non-gaming contexts. Paper presented at the 2011 Annual Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 66. 2425-2428. 10.1145/1979742.1979575.
Furdu, I., Tomozei, C., & Köse, U. (2017). Pros and Cons Gamification and Gaming in Classroom. BRAIN: Broad Research In Artificial Intelligence & Neuroscience, 8(2), 56-62.
Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy? New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Glover, I. (2013). Play As You Learn: Gamification as a Technique for Motivating Learners. In J. Herrington, A. Couros & V. Irvine (Eds.), Paper presented at EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology 2013 (pp. 1999-2008). Waynesville, NC: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).
Griffiths, M.D. (2002). The educational benefits of videogames Education and Health, 20, 47-51.
Kapp, K. M. (2012). Games, Gamification, and the quest for learner engagement. T+D, 66(6), 64-68.
Lee, J., & Hammer, J. (2011). Gamification in education: What, how, why bother? Academic Exchange Quarterly, 15(2), 146.
Şahin, Y. L., Karadağ, N., Bozkurt, A., Doğan, E., Kılınç, H., Uğur, S., & ... Güler, C. (2017). The Use of Gamification in Distance Education: A Web-Based Gamified Quiz Application. Turkish Online Journal Of Qualitative Inquiry, 8(4), 372-395. doi:10.17569/tojqi.329742
Sanchez, E., Young, S., & Jouneau-Sion, C. (2017). Classcraft: From Gamification to Ludicization of Classroom Management. Education And Information Technologies, 22(2), 497-513
Squire, K. (2005). Changing the Game: What Happens when Video Games Enter the Classroom? Innovate: Journal Of Online Education, 1(6)
Stott, A. & Neustaedter, C.(2013). Analysis of Gamification in Education. (Technical Report 2013- 0422-01) (p. 8). Surrey, BC, Canada: Connections Lab, Simon Fraser University. Ανακτήθηκε Νοέμβριος 9, 2017 από http://clab.iat.sfu.ca/pubs/Stott-Gamification.pdf
Yuan, A. C. H. (2017). A Critique and Defense of Gamification. Journal Of Interactive Online Learning, 15(1), 57-72.
Νearpod is an extremely powerful presentation tool. It allows teachers to create digital lesson plans, share it with students during class, and track individual progress. Lessons are comprised of teacher-created slides that can include text, video, images, websites, questions, quizzes, polls, and assignments. Teachers can use Nearpod effectively in the classroom to support student learning in a variety of ways. Give students opportunities for interaction and immediate feedback by having them draw on a map, respond to a poll question, post to a collaboration board, or take a multiple-choice quiz. Besides, teachers can incoroprate virtual reality trips and 360° views into their slides using the build-in capabilities the Nearpod offers. By watching videos and reviewing notes students can review the key concepts of the lesson. In addition they are able to follow the lesson on their own devices at their own pace or teachers can lead a synchronized session where students can follow the lesson in real-time. This way the learners become active participants in their education while teachers get valuable feedback on student learning.
Nearpod augments the normal PowerPoint experience. Τhe presentation experience is enhanced by administering formative assessments to students as they work and allowing the teacher to monitor students as they take notes, draw or map concepts, answer quizzes and more. This is formal learning that uses the traditional classroom model and elevates it to include more interactive elements.
How to use:
To use this tool, the teacher must visit the Nearpod website and register.The teacher can either create the lesson from scratch or import an already made presentation in PowerPoint and then add the elements to enhance it. When satisfied with the created lesson, teachers can choose if they are going to lead the lesson or if students will complete the lesson individually. If they are going to complete it together, students will need to log onto the lesson by entering the lesson plan’s pin into the Nearpod app or website. If this option is selected, teachers will have the ability to monitor their students’ computer screens once they are logged in, which means whatever is shown on the teacher’s screen is also shown on the students’ screen. If students complete the lesson independently, they will be able to work on their own pace. If teachers include different activities and assessments, they will be able to view student achievement and work as students progress through the lesson. Teachers will be able to see student progress by clicking the group icon on the top left of the screen.
Side note: Not all the content on Nearpod is free. A teacher may have to purchase a subscription to access all the content. However, the educator can still make and use a custom lesson with the students for free but some of the options are limited. Also, teachers are encouraged to use the “Explore” option to view lessons made by colleagues and then use them or modify them for their own needs.
According to Gee's evaluation criteria (2003), educational video games must be pedagogically driven and appropriate to promote learning. These criteria refer to the motivation given to the student when using the application or game, the potential problems he / she will be faced with and his / her level of interactivity.
Johnny Grammar's Word Challenge is an application suitable for Android and IOS devices. It is really beneficial for students who learn English and want to improve their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. The aim of the game is to answer as many correct questions as possible within a minute, with the user receiving badges depending on his performance (Grammar Guru, Word Wizard and Supreme Speller badges). By winning badges the player is placed on a leaderboard competing with other players worldwide.
There are three levels of difficulty (easy, medium and hard) depending on the level of questions asked. In the vocabulary category there are 10 sub-categories related to food, travels, idioms, movies, hobbies etc. In the grammar category there are 12 sub-categories related to intentions, irregular verbs, auxiliary verbs, etc.
After completing quizzes, the application offers feedback so the user can evaluate the answers given. In fact, through this gamification process, the user indirectly aims at improving the cognitive knowledge’s capacity as this improvement will also lead to a better placement in the ranking board.
Assessing the "Johnny Grammar's Word Challenge" application with Gee's criteria for mobilizing the student, this game is structured in such a way that it makes the user feel that his action have a meaning (Gee, 2004). Problems in the application are well organized as there is a scaling difficulty so the learner can easily start from the lowest level of difficulty and reach the highest, making the challenges easily manageable (Gee, 2004). Another advantage is the immediate feedback given as the student quickly acquires an image of his level and knowledge. This is a valid update on the processes that should or have been applied, which serves in understanding and building new knowledge. After all it is widely known that people learn skills, strategies and ideas better when they see how they fit into a more general frame which is meaningful for them. In fact, every experience is reinforced when we understand how it fits into a more important set.
Gee, J.P. (2004). Learning by design: Games as learning machines. Interactive Educational Multimedia, (8), 15-23.
Socrative is a tool primarily designed to evaluate the learner. The application (response system) allows the educator to create several kinds of quizzes: Multiple Choice, Right or Wrong, Brief Response, etc. Those quizzes are accessible by the tutor who has access to view the responses of each student (Kokina, & Juras, 2017). There is also another option called “Exit Ticket”, which provides a direct insight into the students' understanding of the main points of the course. (Tretinjak, Bednjanec & Tretinjak, 2015).
Socrative is also a tool of gamification since it is a virtual environment which is full of challenges that pupils have to respond to. Unlike other applications it doesn’t embed a reward system but through its leaderboard option students can recognize their weaknesses and improve their knowledge. After a quiz is done, the teacher receives a report which records individual performance. Then the educator can share this report with the learners and process the results of their responses.
An other useful option is the “Space Race”. When using the “Space race” option, the answers are given by groups of students, thus enriching the group-work spirit and the element of competition between the different teams. As stated in an article by Ferrándiz, Puentes, Moreno, & Flores, (2016), Socrative allows group collaboration and competition. As a result the students become more motivated compared to the usual quizzes.
All in all, it can be said that the use of Socrative in class strengthens the metacognitive processes of learners while promoting learning at the same time.
Kokina, J., & Juras, P. E. (2017). Using Socrative to Enhance Instruction in an Accounting Classroom. Journal Of Emerging Technologies In Accounting, 14(1), 85-97. doi:10.2308/jeta-51700
Tretinjak, M. F., Bednjanec, A., & Tretinjak, M. (2015). Interactive teaching with Socrative. 2015 38Th International Convention On Information & Communication Technology, Electronics & Microelectronics (MIPRO), 848.
Ferrándiz, E., Puentes, C., Moreno, P. J., & Flores, E. (2016). engaging and assessing students through their electronic devices and real time quizzes. Multidisciplinary Journal for Education, Social and Technological Sciences, 3(2), 173-184.
QuizUp is an application designed for IOS and Android devices where two compete in a quiz. This means that there is a need for an internet connection throughout the game. Initially, the user creates his or her own account, uploads an image that differentiates him from the other contestants and selects the categories of interest, thus giving the necessary meaning to the game.
There are a number of categories from which the user can choose, some of them are of educational content and others are simply less connected to the learning process. These categories include topics from history, technology, literature, science, geography, mathematics, business, film, and even video games. The categories are given beautifully and clearly for the user, while the database of available quizzes is huge, with new quizzes being added daily. It is worth mentioning the ability of the user to compete in two types of play modes. The Single Player Game is a mode where the player is playing alone, essentially struggling without an opponent. His goal is to advance as far as he can in the selected category. The second mode is called Random Opponent Game, where the player faces other players from around the world. Both players have to deal with 7 questions, gathering points according to the answer and the speed that the correct answer was given. Winner is the one who has collected the most points during the session.
One of the most important elements that enhance the player's interest is that in QuizUp he participates in a quiz on topics he already knows enough, as opposed to a more classic knowledge game that puts some random questions to the contestants. QuizUp also differs from other similar applications as it allows the player to communicate with his opponents, start debates, follow others, challenge friends, win achievements, and connect their Facebook and Google+ devices. The experience of the user is also enriched by the fact that regular tournaments are offered in the application. Thus, it can be said that it creates an active community of practice by promoting communication and interaction with other people who share common interests, ultimately leading to the establishment of new knowledge. Whenever a user wins a QuizUp, he wins points that are called experience points. The motivation is also increased because of the engagement that is developed through the option of Rankings, which are the game’s leaderboards. There the player is ranked according to the experience points he has collected in each category of interest.
According to researchers (Vandercruysse, Vandewaetere, Cornillie & Clarebout, 2013), the competition cultivated on videogames will then lead to greater enthusiasm, which will ultimately lead to more concentration and desire for improvement in the subject.
After the Quiz is over, the player receives in-depth feedback on his own and his opponent's selections, and in case of a winning outcome, he is rewarded with specific badges that are visible in his profile, thus further enhancing the gaming feature. According to Prensky (2001), uninterrupted feedback provided in a variety of forms rather than one-dimensional is responsible for establishing knowledge in the mind of the user, leading him to alternate his mistaken choices and ultimately to success.
However, a drawback is the existence of Gems and Coins that are either earned through the application or purchased with real money. Those items allow the user to accumulate more experience points or redeem them to be able to participate in some tournaments while having certain advantages compared to other competitors.
The design of the application is surprisingly good. It is bright and colorful but at the same time well-organized and ergonomic. Players will have no problem navigating in the application, finding the topics they like or participating in a game. During the quiz, the screen is properly designed with minimal distractions. The only thing the player can see is the score, questions and answers along with each player's name and profile picture. This helps the player immerse in the game by placing it in a state of flow. As Gee (2008) has highlighted, video games such as QuizUp offer experiences to people in a virtual world using the gameplay mechanics that it integrates to solve problems in an attractive and fun environment.
QuizUp is a great game that is worthwhile recommending to your students to use either at home or in the classroom through appropriate guidance. Besides, people find learning pleasant under the right conditions, which are often not those found in traditional school. As various scholars believe, schools will surely benefit from the use of videogames in the classroom (Gee, 2004). After all games like QuizUp do not give gamers information that is unrelated to their context, but only those that are necessary, while providing purpose in creating the person's participation in social life, through groups that provide meaning to goals, interpretations, practices, explanations, feedback, and the prerequisites for deep learning through experiences (Gee, 2008)
Gee, J. P. (2008). Learning and games. The ecology of games: Connecting youth, games, and learning, 3, 21-40.
Gee, J. P. (2004). Learning by design: Games as learning machines. Interactive Educational Multimedia, (8), 15-23.
Prensky, M. (2001). Fun, play, and games: What makes games engaging? In Digital game-based learning. (pp. 11-16). New York, NY: McGraw Hill
Vandercruysse, S., Vandewaetere, M., Cornillie, F., & Clarebout, G. (2013). Competition and students’ perceptions in a game-based language learning environment. Educational Technology Research and Development, 61(6), 927–950. doi:10.1007/s11423-013-9314-5
Toondoo is an easy-to-use web-based application for creating comic books. That is why it is preferred by educators. It is so easy that even Elementary school children are able to use it without any issues.
Children are asked to imagine and make their own little stories by cultivating their metacognitive skills such as creativity and imagination.
Initially, it is mandatory to select a username and password in order to allow the user to enter the platform. After entering, the user is ready to begin his interaction with the world of Toondoo.
To begin with the user has to decide the structure of the comic, which is the desired number of slides and then starts the process of creating the story. The available range of characters is really enormous as the user can choose between men, women, children, birds and animals, athletes, famous faces, black and white figures and others. Next, he chooses the background image from an equally wide variety of sceneries such as exterior or interior spaces, the outer space, nature, abstract patterns, etc.). Then the story is enriched with objects such as trees, exterior or interior elements, sports items and many more. A story, however, to become a real comic needs text. The student can then add his own unique dialogues that enhance the final product. There is the whole pedagogical support as users make their own little adventure. According to the theory of cognitivism, learning is the result of the information processing element that is diffused during the process of creating a story. Within a meaningful environment, the student actively participates in discovery, experience and modeling, using the learning material, having full control over it. This way, this process is also linked with constructivist theories. The user, after completing his work, can either save it to continue it at a next stage or publishes it if he is satisfied with the result. Finally, it is important to mention that the user is able to communicate with other members of the Toondoo community, as the final sketch can be a source of feedback from third-party users.
Teachers can make whole presentations, exercises or comic books and pupils through entertainment to improve their knowledge.
Create your own comics at http://www.toondoo.com/
One of the most popular and well-known tools for learning a language online is Duolingo. Duolingo is completely free, easy to use and makes it a lot of fun the acquisition of a new language. There is a variety of languages you can choose from, including English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, Japanese, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Greek, Ukrainian, Welsh, Hungarian, Swahili, Korean, Romanian, Czech and Chinese.
How does it work?
Duolingo is a great example of a straightforward language app. It’s really simple to use. You set up a profile, choose your target language, set your weekly goals (only if you’re brave enough) and off you go! There is an option to ‘test out a language’ when you begin a new language. You can start with the basics or you can take an ‘entry test’ and let the app determine your fluency level.
Each course in Duolingo is made up of modules. The modules upon completion are grouped to form the student's language level. Duolingo dictates the order in which you need to complete the different modules, with new modules becoming active only once you’ve completed the previous one. This is also the case with individual lessons within each module. For example you have to complete lesson 1 in order to be able to progress to lesson 2, and so on.There are dozens of sets of lessons at Duolingo called Skills. Some of them include the following: Basics, Phrases, Food, Present, Adjectives, Plurals, Family, Questions, Numbers, Household, Colors, Comparison, Qualifiers, Measure, Clothing, Animals, Prepositions, Dates & Time, Nature, and Medical.
At the end of each lesson, you get a progress report that also shows your ‘streak’ – the number of days in a row that you’ve completed.Keep in mind that a user account isn't required to use Duolingo, but it's recommended if you want to keep track of your progress.
The lessons include images, text, and audio, and sometimes has you speak into a microphone (if you have one) to test your speaking and pronunciation skills. New vocabulary is often taught with images, and grammar points are explained in little speech bubbles. There are also listening exercises where you need to type what you hear, and speaking exercises where you say what you hear. Duolingo recognizes that language learners need to be motivated to make sure they come back to the app and engage in some more language fun. Duolingo is a constructivistic tool that uses several different methods to keep you interested but the most useful is the Gamification .The goals a student can choose from range from ‘casual’ to ‘insane’, depending on how serious one is about learning and how quickly one wants to progress. This works well for those who are motivated by the idea of making a ‘formal arrangement’ with the app. The theory of gamification is applied since you get extra points called Lingots every time you complete one of the goals that you or the application has set, thus increasing the motivation of the learner. It can also attract visual learners due to the fact that a lot of the learning that goes on in Duolingo is visual. There are pictures for learning vocabulary, colours that indicate whether you’re right or wrong, and highlighted tapable text for new words or grammar points.
Duolingo is an adaptive web 2.0 meaning that the program adapts to you, it learns what you know by usage and suggests what you should learn next. To achieve that it uses an algorithm that calculates data from articles found on the Internet to automatically build courses, considering it will adapt automatically as the language evolves. Duolingo is available on Personal Computers, Mobile devices (IOS and Android)
The "Civilization" computer game series is a creation of Sid Meier,a well known digital video game producer and creator.