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  4. SALSA: Sensors and Apps for Languages in Smart Areas

SALSA: Sensors and Apps for Languages in Smart Areas

Project website:

What research questions the project addresses, aims & themes

  • Understanding how a smart city might support second language learners with their language learning and social integration goals (e.g. studying, gaining employment, administrative tasks, social integration).
  • Testing of beacon-based solution to challenge of providing highly contextual language learning support in specific and highly defined localities: a challenge for current GPS-based services.
  • Understanding how English language learners use networked mobile devices to support their contextual language learning in resolving everyday needs while out and about in Milton Keynes.

How the research questions are addressed by the project (methodology and activity/environment)

  • Interviews with ESOL learners currently studying or working in Milton Keynes
  • Interviews and participatory design approach to be undertaken with ESOL teachers
  • Laboratory and field testing of beacons to understand their efficacy in triggering location-based learning activities
  • Deployment of beacons in relevant locations around Milton Keynes
  • User testing of beacons and interviews to understand users’ perceptions of the approach

Current activities

  • Development and distribution of survey to participants
  • Finalising ethics clearance for activities
  • Development of mobile learning app
  • Testing and configuration of Bluetooth beacons to trigger app
  • Conference paper writing
  • Identifying participants to test services
  • Identifying local partners for locating beacons around Milton Keynes

Findings and outputs

  • Currently writing technical paper comparing performance of various Bluetooth beacons
  • Developing understanding of needs of ESOL learners and teachers in Milton Keynes

Project impact

  • Capacity building for future IET mobile language learning and location-based learning projects: current development of ALFIE (Action Learning For Inclusion and Employability) funding bid in IET led by Agnes Kukulska-Hulme
  • Presented at British Council Newton Al-Farabi Partnership Programme workshop: “Implementing mobile learning in Kazakhstan” held at Almaty Management University, Almaty, Kazakhstan 11-13 Feb 2015.

 Publications (and ORO feed)

  • Conference paper submitted to Communities and Technologies 2015
  • Symposium contribution to EUROCALL2015

People involved

Mark Gaved, Alice Peasgood (consultant), Richard Greenwood, Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Eileen Scanlon, Ann Jones, Kevin McLeod, Peter Devine

Project partners and links

Close liaison with MK:Smart Project

Collaboration with local organisations


SALSA is funded by The Open University’s PVC RSQ internal funds for smart cities research.

Start Date and duration

01/10/2014 – 31/07/2015 (10 months)

Research & Innovation