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OLLReN Annual Online Conference: 2019 Annual Conference

2019 Conference Summary

Fostering resilience and perseverance in young learners with game-based learning


Helen Kenyon and Sarah Albrecht

Young learners have a natural aptitude for learning fast and an energy to match! However, this sometimes can be lost when they enter the classroom, especially if they’ve already experienced failure when learning a language. This talk presents findings from a pilot project that used an innovative and immersive computer game, Ruby Rei, to motivate learners using non-traditional methods to harness their out-of-class motivation and to observe the learning that took place.

Helen Kenyon

Helen Kenyon is a Publisher at Cambridge University Press. She has extensive experience in developing a wide range of ELT materials for Second language acquisition with a particular focus on learning and assessment for school-age learners.






Sarah Albrecht

Sarah Albrecht is an Assessment Manager in the New Product Development department at Cambridge Assessment English. She works on innovative, digital projects for young learners, including the games-based learning and assessment product, Fun with Ruby Rei. She is passionate about digital and is currently studying an MSc in Digital Education. Sarah previously managed the Cambridge Assessment English Starters, Movers and Flyers Listening exams, and prior to that worked as a teacher and teacher trainer, supporting English and CLIL teachers in the Madrid area.


Piloting authentic Open Educational Resources (OERs) in language MOOCs


Dr. Maria Perifanou

Offering free Language Education worldwide at a large scale is a big challenge. Nowadays, the look and feel of learning environments, the role of teachers, the nature of the learner and what and how we learn are being transformed. Massive Open Online Language Courses (MOOLCs) isa recent educational phenomenon of online learning that has broken all linguistic barriers promoting linguistic diversity and language learning across the world.  The aim of this paper is to briefly present the main outcomes of the 5 pilot MOOCs that have been developed in the framework of the LangMOOC project which has been co-funded by the European Union under the Erasmus+ KA2: Strategic partnership programme. One of the main aims of the project was to test the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) in language MOOCs. To this end, a collection of language OERs has been created in 5 languages (English, Greek, Italian, German, Norwegian) based on authentic materials which envisaged to help learners practice the four basic language skills. More concretely, each course consisted of 6 lessons of A2 level, according to the Common European Framework of Reference for languages. Moreover, the material of each course was delivered in the mother tongue of the language provided. Furthermore, multiple ICT tools have been used for the creation of the language OERs such as Powtoon, RocketChat, Poodle and Wikis. All participants were invited to answer a questionnaire with the aim to evaluate their learning experience, the language learning platform and OERs. Main results have shown that students liked the introductory and instructional videos, asked for a more active teachers' support, were motivated by the multimedia and interactive material (Powtoon, etc.) and they would have preferred the use of English as a common language for all the courses' instructions.

Dr. Maria Perifanou

Dr. Maria Perifanou is an Italian Lecturer at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and a senior researcher at the Smart and Mobile Learning Environments (SMILE) Lab of the University of Macedonia (GR) in the field of CALL and TEL. Over the last ten years, she has collaborated with various European research institutions on several EU projects having multiple roles i.e. Coordinator of the Open Education Europa Portal, principal investigator of the LangMOOC project, etc. Currently, she works for five EU projects, including the DC4LT and the OPENLangNET Erasmus+ projects, having the roles of projects’ initiator, scientific manager, and senior researcher. 

Language learning in digital contexts: putting the pedagogy first


Delia Kidd

The world of ELT is increasingly concerned with how digital technologies can help language teaching and learning. However, many digital resources leave much to be desired in terms of their value for learning. Taking a less ‘tech centric’ view and drawing from research on second language acquisition, this presentation details a research project that looks at how we can optimise learning in digital contexts. That is, what digital does well and where digital technology truly adds value to English language teaching and learning.

Delia Kidd

Delia Kidd is a Senior ELT Research Manager at Cambridge University Press. She manages research projects relating to second language teaching and learning. She has a background in editorial for primary and secondary materials, as well as several years as a primary and EFL teacher and materials developer in multiple countries including South Africa, South Korea, Italy and the UK.

Increasing students' oral practice through collaborative tasks


Karina Febres

By means of this research I intended to explore the perceptions of a group of students in a fully online Spanish course with the incorporation of collaborative tasks in the course. The research was applied to a group of 30 participants from 5 different language levels. The methodology involved the design of three collaborative tasks according to the participants’ level, and the tools used were a survey, class videos, reflection on task- documents, and an interview at the end. Research question: In what ways did students perceive they benefited more from the collaborative tasks? 

Karina FebresKarina Febres has worked as an English and Spanish teacher for more than 19 years in different institutions in Peru and abroad. She holds a Master's degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and Applied Linguistics from the Universidad Europea del Atlántico. She currently works as an online English tutor and Lead Teacher of a program at Laureate Languages Online. Karina teaches fully online language courses (English and Spanish), and has developed two Action Research projects, both regarding online language learning, which is her main research area.


Technology-enhanced peer feedback in the EAP classroom


Penny Tzanni

This research took place during the 12-week pre-sessional course at the University College London. An advanced level group of Chinese students took part in the study, where certain software was used in order to facilitate peer feedback sessions and make it more effective and interesting to the students. Two applications were mainly used, Padlet and Peergrade in order to train students how to give feedback both in their writing and their classmates’ writing. The main purpose of the study was to test if students can get accustomed to using technology for that purpose and shift away from traditional ways of giving feedback such as handouts or oral instructions from the Teacher. The methodology used was an anonymous questionnaire (10 questions) to measure their perceptions in terms of the process of training how to use those applications and how useful they found the feedback through those applications. The results were significantly positive, showing that students not only managed to learn how to use new applications for peer feedback, but also their motivation and trust were reinforced as these applications made the process of peer feedback anonymous. Anonymity is extremely important for Asian students, especially Chinese who struggle to give objective feedback face to face. This process indicates that more applications should be used in the EAP classroom, despite the time constraints and the pressure of a pre-sessional course. Finally, it is important to train our students on the use of new technology in the classroom, in order to facilitate their implementation and application.

After graduating from the University of Birmingham, Penny Tzanni worked primarily in universities around the world teaching English for Academic Purposes. She has taught in Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and China and is currently working as a Teaching Fellow at University College London, teaching mostly postgraduate students. Her primary research focus is feedback and peer feedback in the EAP classroom.