Exploring innovative assessment methods
Exploring innovative assessment methods

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Exploring innovative assessment methods

3.1 Case study A: pictures and voice

In this case study the teacher is working with children in a primary school setting. The presenter offers examples for use in lessons.

Activity 3 Mobile learning

Timing: Allow approximately 20 minutes

Watch the video from the British Council and consider the following questions:

  1. In relation to formative assessment, what is the advantage of using pictures on a mobile device rather than pictures in a textbook?
  2. What advantage, if any, is provided to the learners if they use their mobile device to record their voices?
  3. What are the benefits of using apps?
Download this video clip.Video player: Video 1
Skip transcript: Video 1

Transcript: Video 1

So M-learning, as it's often called, is mobile learning, which basically means using a mobile phone or whatever device you've got in your pocket as something to encourage learning. There are something like five billion mobile phone connections in the world. So it's getting on for as many connections as people are on the planet-- not quite there yet. But it's something which has huge outreach.
So maybe we think of mobile learning as something better in the richer world, but really, it's something which can have an impact everywhere in the world. Now, I read a statistic the other day which said in Tanzania, 97% of the population has access to a mobile phone one way or another.

[TEXT ON SCREEN: Using photos]


So you can see here, this was somebody from Tibet, and there was a Tibetan house there.


So if they've got pictures in their phones, they can just look at the pictures and show their classmates the pictures, show the teacher the pictures, and talk about what's in the picture, which is far more motivating than looking in a coursebook and discussing the picture of who knows who it is in the model in the coursebook.


He sits next to me.
What's his name?


So if they're actually talking about their family, their friends, maybe if they got pictures from their holidays, they can use those pictures to discuss the holiday they've been on. If you're talking about a picture from a textbook, it's something which is removed from you. So I mean, it's someone you don't know, you don't care about.
If you're talking about somebody that you know, that you love, you care for, then you're much more motivated to talk about them. And because you're much more involved with it, you're producing real language related to you, which is then going to be much more memorable. And also, it gives you more reason to want to talk about it.
So if he wants to talk about it, you're going to want to say things. Maybe your student doesn't know how to say a particular word or a particular idea, but rather than just not bothering because it's a picture in the book that they don't care about, if it's a picture of a real person, they really want to tell their classmates, or they really want to tell the teacher that thing.


What is this of? What is this of?
It's like a-- it's a museum.
[INAUDIBLE] this, I think, the culture.


[TEXT ON SCREEN: Audio recording]

And I give you a very simple activity which really works well, is pretty much every phone, even the cheaper ones, have a voice recorder. You can get them to do a speaking activity and record themselves when they're doing it.


--to planets as our forests and fresh water supplies vanish.
Our planet is [INAUDIBLE].


It can be a monologue. It can be a conversation. They can be reading the script from the book. It can be a pronunciation activity. But they just do it, and they record themselves when they do it. And then they can listen to themselves and listen to each other there and then.


In the past 30 years, we have used nearly 30% of the Earth's natural resources.
In the last 30 years, we have used nearly 30% of the Earth's natural resources.
What do you think? You've heard it.
It's OK.


I mean, that's very easy. Because maybe previously, you had to go, and if the school you worked in had the technology, you had to book computers or voice recorders or tape recorders in the past. But now, everybody's got it in their pocket anyway.
Maybe some people don't know how to do it. You've got to fiddle around a little bit on the menus to find where the voice recorder is, but it takes a couple of minutes. And then there's a bit of real communication between the students and the teacher when you're actually talking about, well, how do you find this voice recorder on the phone? That real communication is very valuable as well.


Obviously, we're at the British Council here. There are some very good British Council apps. There's the Elementary Podcast app, which basically lets the students automatically download Elementary Podcast that they can listen to in their own time, their own convenience.
There's also things like Murphy's, the famous grammar book from-- I think it was Cambridge University Press. That's available as an app for the iPhone, I think it is, which has lots of the grammar-type exercises that you get in the printed book. But it's on your phone, so you can do it when you're on the bus or just got five minutes to kill.
Using technology in the classroom-- it's no different to using a coursebook in the classroom. A coursebook is a resource. You can use it well, you can use it badly. Technology is a resource. You can use it well, or use it badly. But it's there.
And coursebooks, the students have to actually go out and buy them. They bring them for a reason. But the students are bringing this technology anyway, so why not get them to use it?





End transcript: Video 1
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An advantage of using pictures to teach language skills in formative assessment with a mobile device is that it allows the learners greater freedom of movement to learn socially because the device is more easily transportable than most textbooks. Additionally, some devices allow for the images to be manipulated i.e. made larger or smaller.

The voice recording app on a mobile device can allow a learner to provide evidence and practise their language skills. They can then play back the recording and compare their approach with an example and review points such as tone, speed and expression.

The purpose of the class is to help learners articulate their ideas using the English language. Therefore, the purpose of the activities is to help children develop a working knowledge of how to communicate in English. The principle of what is being demonstrated in the video – teaching English Language to non-English Speakers – can be applied to other language learning settings such as teaching French or Spanish to English speakers.

How could you use the activities outlined in this case study to teach primary school children elements of French, German or Spanish?


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