When one of my friends who was participating in a language school in Winnipeg introduced ‘Quizlet’ to me in 2015, it was not very well known among teachers in S.Korea(I could easily figure it out by merely searching some contents written in Korean), and I was also unacquainted with it.
At that time, I was teaching English to more than 180 students in the elementary school and was struggling with the unbridgeable gap of vocabulary and grammar skills between them. Thinking that involving students to this web-based program inside and outside the classroom might be a feasible solution, I started to devise a “Vocabulary Enrichment Project” and applied this project for 2 years. I didn’t simply included this app into the classroom. Merging this app with some strategies, I tried to develop a learning environment.
In a nutshell, I found implementing this blended learning strategy in classroom to be effective to students’ learning environment and several tangible outcomes were noticeable.
How I designed the learning environment
Technology is an enabler – it can empower teachers and students to engage in a totally different form of education in the classroom settings. But at the same time, it should be integrated with the adequate contents and pedagogical models. Without such integration, technology will degenerate into fancy gadgets.
There were several points I tried to focus on when designing the project.
The aim of this project was to “Enhance overall student’s vocabulary skills regardless of student’s background – parental socioeconomic status, their prior knowledge”. I tried to keep on eye on this goal through the whole process and reminded this goal (except the parental background part) to the students too. I’ll talk more about this later, but when there seemed to be too much overheated competition among students to even try cheating, I stopped the activity and pointed out the goal of this project again.
Enticing students at an early stage is pretty easy but bringing their motivation consistently is another problem.
I was pretty sure that using mobile devices in learning would draw students attention at first, because using tablet PCs and cellphones in the classroom was itself an exhilarating experience: it has been banned in most classrooms, even just turning it on has been scolded. But I what I wanted was more than just a short glance.
I wanted them to actively engage in the activity for the whole learning pathways with their own intrinsic motivations. On top of it, I wanted to offer them a unique self-learning experience so that it can last for their life long education.
I applied Keller’s ARCS Motivation Model to the activities and process in the project to achieve these objectives. Table below is how I merged ARCS theory to my class
Group & Classroom Checklist
This Checklist was printed in A0 laminated paper and hung in front of the class.
Every other week, on the “Final Check Day“, one student from a group came to the front with the board marker and wrote down their group’s score.