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Evaluation of mobile and communication technologies for language learning

By Mashanum Osman

Abstract

A Master's Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy of Loughborough University.Results from a study by the Ministry of Higher Education in Malaysia indicate that the English language performance of Malaysian university students and graduates is a cause of concern. The National Higher Education Strategic Plan was launched by the Malaysian government in 2007 as a response to the challenges of the education sector that needs to be more internationalised and industry driven. In the strategic plan, the English language is identified as a crucial element in the effort to achieve a developed country status by the year 2020. Therefore, academicians and researchers are actively finding ways to improve students English skills in reading, listening, writing and speaking. \ud \ud Mobile Learning (or m-learning) is a new approach to enhance the learning experience utilising mobile technologies. For example, in order to learn new words the brain requires repeated reminders. The use of mobile devices can help to reinforce the learning process. The use of mobile devices to deliver learning in chunks or nugget sizes, on the move, at any time and anywhere, have shown to engage the learners very effectively in some research projects. \ud \ud Communication technologies such as blogs and Wikis also hold promises for enhancing learning. For instance, writing for a wider audience encourages students' ownership and responsibility. Moreover, comments and feedback from peers can motivate and encourage students. This, in turn, will lead to more active participation. Recognising the potential of these technologies for language learning, the aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of using mobile phones and communication technologies for English language learning with Malaysian students. \ud \ud Two experiments were carried out in this study. The initial pilot experiment was carried out with a small group of students to determine the feasibility of using mobile and communication technologies for language learning for Malaysian students in higher education. The main experiment was conducted after addressing the lessons learned from the initial experiment. An experimental group and a control group from a public higher education institution in Malaysia took part in the study. Quantitative and qualitative data were gathered and analysed. The quantitative results show that the experimental group performed significantly better than the control group in the post written test. The experimental group is in favour of receiving lesson reminders and quizzes that were sent to their mobile phones. However, they did not like receiving messages about web resources. They also did not like reading learning material on a wiki and updating wiki entries.\ud \ud Three themes are derived from the interviews and questionnaires: 1) access, 2) communication, and 3) usability. Access to learning focuses on the ease of use to access learning materials. Students agreed that mobile phones and wikis allowed them to access learning material easily. However, the use of wiki did not engage the students. In terms of communication, lecturers and students can use mobile phone and wiki platforms for communication. However, students were not keen to communicate with the lecturer. As for usability, the students have no problems using a mobile phone but the problem is with the small screen size and it is difficult to type long replies. The students did not want to invest time in learning how to use a wiki as they see it as being irrelevant because they did not want to publish and share their ideas with others.\ud \ud In conclusion, the use of a mobile phone and wiki for language learning is feasible, but further investigation is required regarding student engagement. The lessons learned from this study can help practitioners, in particular those in Malaysia, to adapt their language learning processes when integrating mobile and communication technologies

Topics: Mobile learning, Language learning, Higher education
Publisher: © Mashanum Osman
Year: 2013
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.lboro.ac.uk:2134/12665

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