Milton Keynes field trial: testing an app to improve English language learning and cultural understanding
The“Mobile Assistance for Social Inclusion and Empowerment of Immigrants with Persuasive Learning Technologies and Social Network Services” (MASELTOV) project recognizes the major risks arising from the social exclusion of immigrants from the European information society and identifies the huge potential of mobile services for promoting integration and cultural diversity in Europe. Mobile- anywhere/anytime- assistance is crucial for more efficient and sustainable support of immigrants. Working with partner organisations from across the European Union (EU), the project team, based in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University, has contributed to the development of a set of tools and services that together form the prototype MASELTOV App (MApp). They include language learning, a translation tool, navigation services, a social forum, a game, and a tool to measure progress. The OU team’s focus has been on informal or incidental language learning.
Screenshot showing the MApp interface (English version)
In January-February 2015 the MASELTOV project team ran a 3 week field trial of the prototype in Milton Keynes that focused on how the MApp supports users to improve their English language learning and to develop their understanding of the UK’s cultural context. 17 Spanish speaking participants with a low level of English, who have immigrated to the EU and are now living in Milton Keynes, used the MApp. An initial workshop, delivered in Spanish, was held so that participants could familiarise themselves with an Android smartphone and the MApp functionality, and to build a community of learners before using the MApp in their everyday lives.
Photos taken during preparations for the MApp trial (Copyright to Chris Valentine, The Open University)
Data were gathered via several research methods including questionnaires, logs showing what apps were used (and where and when), social forum postings and post-trial interviews. Interviews illustrate that participants valued the language lessons and feedback demonstrate the benefits of language learning via the MApp, for example: “It is practical, you don’t have to find a place, you can just take the phone out…it’s permanently there”, “I like the tests where you could see if you learnt it or not so if I had made mistakes I could see my errors and go back and read it again” and “if I want to find a job or …need to open a bank account…really useful for people recently arrived”. Using the forum to interact with others was a key theme for many participants and helped to create a sense of community of learners, for example: “If you have a question…you can share it with the other members, chat or write questions you don’t understand”. Weekly usage of the MApp tools is available, and together with the other rich data sources will allow the team to show where and when interactions happened.
Photos taken at the Workshops
For further information about the trial, please contact Jan Jones, MASELTOV Project Manager at the OU (email@example.com) or Agnes Kukulska-Hulme (Principal Investigator and Academic Lead) (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For further information on the MASELTOV project, please see the project website below, or here: http://www.open.ac.uk/iet/main/research-innovation/research-projects/maseltov
Project website: http://www.maseltov.eu/