Connecting to Puerto Rico through Augmented and Virtual Realities

This is the story about human connections, about caring, about planting seeds of hope, about changing the world.


Chapter 1: Visa Rejections

Denied yet Present at EUROCALL 2017

My UK visa got rejected three times and I could not physically attend EUROCALL2017. I think the world knows about my visa story, but I share the link here again, just in case:

Denied Yet Present at EUROCALL2017: A Memoir


Chapter 2: Helen DeWaard and VC

I got to know Helen DeWaard through Virtually Connecting (VC) through which I could virtually attend the conference.


Chapter 3: Antonio, Alan, and Postcards for Puerto Rico

After the conference, we stayed in touch on Twitter. She mentioned me in a tweet and introduce a a campaign of mailing postcards to Antonio Vantaggiato and his students, devised by Alan Levine, to say unlike Trump about using these hashtags  . You can read more about the details of the campaign here:

El Puente de Puerto Rico: A Bridge of Postcards by Alan Levine


Chapter 4: My Message

I wrote my message and sent it to Antonio and announced it to the world, and encouraged others to join the campaign.


Chapter 5: Connecting to Puerto Rico

Here are the tweets by Antonio and Alan after receiving my message. Antonio’s blogpost made my day:

I got mail from el Puente de Puerto Rico


Chapter 6: Podcast

I’d love to record one live while Alan is in Australia and interview Parisa Mehran, the author of the first postcard to arrive here, which carried the powerful message:

A woman who has to prove her humanity every day.

We want to talk humanity.

And we did and here are the links to the podcasts:

http://blogs.netedu.info/2017/11/15/podcast-puerto-rico-connection/

http://blogs.netedu.info/2017/12/16/prconnection-episode2/


Chapter 7: Elisabeth Fernandes

Elisabeth

Elisabeth is a great friend and I know her through JALT, . I talked to her about the campaign and she suggested that we could introduce it to our Japanese students and make a lesson pan on how to empathize in English.


Chapter 8: How Can I Change the World: Bookmarks for Puerto Rico

We chose bookmarks as an “educational” item on which our students could write encouraging messages in English, and which could then become a keepsake for the Puerto Rican students.

All about me_001

 

Through the use of virtual reality (VR), our students were able to “travel” to Puerto Rico to experience the devastating results of the hurricane. They were also able to explore the campus of the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón through 3D images.

 

Universidad del Sagrado Corazón 360 View


Chapter 9: Reconnecting to Puerto Rico

Here is Antonio present in our classes.

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Chapter 10: We Care About Puerto Rico

 

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We also utilized augmented reality (AR), Blippar, to bring our #care4sagrado message to life.

AR

My English major students also wrote essays about Puerto Rico:

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http://write4change.edublogs.org/2017/12/04/4-we-care-about-puerto-rico-3/

http://write4change.edublogs.org/2017/12/12/4-we-care-about-puerto-rico-3-group-brainstorming/

http://write4change.edublogs.org/2017/12/12/4-we-care-about-puerto-rico-3-group-outlining-collaborative-writing/

 

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Chapter 11: Humanity

Most of the time I have to deal with micro/macroaggressions and reply to questions that they sound like an interrogation, and people even don’t know my name. “Postcards for Puerto Rico” made a bridge and connected me to people who know my name and they don’t ask me questions. They don’t want me to prove my humanity.

Peace

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#MAVRLT Tweet Chat Summary: MAVR and ELT. A match made in Heaven?

MAVRLT

JALT Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Realities in Learning (MAVR) SIG teamed up IATEFL Learning Technologies (LT) SIG for a tweetchat, #MAVRLT, which took place on Sunday, May 13th, 2018, and that was the first #JALTchat.

The participants:

The guiding questions were:

  • What is MAVR and what has it got to do with language teaching?
  • AR, VR, and MR: How are they different?
  • How can we use MAVR to teach languages?
  • What are your MAVR recommended apps/devices?

MAVR and ELT: A Match Made In Heaven?

@SophiaMav started the chat by asking this question:

@Rach_Ribeiro said that we can use MAVR to enhance the experience within the language learning environment. She provided an example:

Let’s say a lesson theme is travelling and as a grammar focus the use of ‘there is , there are’ to describe places. Instead of just looking at photos, the students can actually experience walking on the street of the cities mentioned.

@teacherphili then mentioned that because it is up for debate, and he asked, “Are MAVR and ELT really a match made in heaven?” @Rach_Ribeiro replied, when MAVR is timely used and not overused, then MAVR and ELT are a match made in heaven. @ParisaMehran said that yes, if the devices are affordable and smaller. @Paul_Driver stated that there are lots of snippets about the technology; however, little said about theory or pedagogical implications. @ChrisRHastings added that he thinks we are at the stage where we all understand the obvious potential, but optimal pedagogies and applications are less clear. He also said that he thinks MAVR is great at tapping into that visual side of language learning and making input delivered through the medium very compelling.

@Rach_Ribeiro remarked that ELT teachers in general know that there is a potential but it is (unfortunately) mostly related to entertainment the way I see it, teachers who have been integrating some sort of VR and AR should share their real case studies. Also, sepending on the day and on how tired students are it does make a difference and changes the vibe of the class. She also emphasized that VR or AR it should be used for no longer than 5 minutes, because the aim is that this VR experience is a start to conversational activities, regardless of the level. Moreover, there is the concern of not getting students dizzy because people react differently to being in a VR environment.

@MehrasaAlizadeh said that entertainment or better say “edutainment” is a merit rather than a drawback especially in low-motivation contexts like Japan. @teacherphili then mentioned that so MAVR is used in Japan because it is more motivational – does that applying to learning a language, too? @MehrasaAlizadeh replied, in my experience, learners get more engaged in language learning activities with the use of MAVR tools such as BlippAR and Google Cardboard. Of course, not all learners but the majority I have worked with said so.

@mothralad said the immersiveness is such a huge advantage: The feeling of actually occupying a space. What @heikephilp likes about VR is that there is no keyboard which is great to encourage speaking, and @SophiaMav had these question for @heikephilp: “Speaking with whom though? Can students speak when wearing the headset – I mean, no eye contact and that does not make the experience a bit lonely? less interactive?”

Here are the answers:

  • @heikephilpThere are a number of social VR worlds only for high end headsets: Sansar, high fidelity, vtime, social vr, altspaces all have as feature voice over IP.
  • @Rach_RibeiroWhile ‘visiting’ a location they can be paired up with another student who is not using the VR set and describe what they see or answer the questions the other st asks. With YLE I ask one question only during the ‘journey’.
  • @oyajimboWith a headset on, you need a guide, i.e., your partner with different information and you cannot read the book. You can see but at the same time ‘blind’. Have to talk!
  • @Eric_Hawkinson: See social VR like Altspace or Facebook Social VR – basicly chatrooms for embodied avatars.
  • @mothraladIn the classroom, breaks in a VR activity where students discuss the content eye to eye can be helpful, then go back in. It’s also helpful for reducing eye strain.

@oyajimbo believed that MAVR is being tried in Japan because the tech is here and connectivity is not an issue and students sometimes need a cattleprodding to get going. @ParisaMehran added that the “wow moments” change the mood of our classrooms. The students come out of their seats and start walking (instead of sleeping). @SophiaMav then asked, “Don’t we need more than the wow factor when it comes to learning a language?” @ParisaMehran replied that she sometimes uses MAVR just to motivate and engage, because it works in Japan. @Eric_Hawkinson argued that wow is fleeting, especially when the content is not relevant and interesting, even in VR.

@SophiaMav pointed out that motivation is a significant factor in language learning. So can we say that MAVR pedagogy’s premises lie in motivation and immersion with regard to language learning? @ChrisRHastings said that not only motivation, but as a way to make input more comprehensible and memorable. @ParisaMehran tried to connect project based learning and TBLT to MAVR. But yes, motivation motivates her to use MAVR.

When @Rach_Ribeiro‘s A1 adult learners ‘visited’ London using VR it was memorable and she could see that her students had never traveled abroad. So, VR brings the understanding closer to you.

@heikephilp said that she is surprised that the extensive research on language learning in virtual worlds seem overlooked. Lots of research has shown the great benefits of real time communication at a distance and the lowering of effective filter. She also added that it seems to her that everyone jumps on a trend without looking at past and if you look at what VR is intended to be, it is certainly not 360° photo for a cardboard like device. It is much more. @SophiaMav then asked, “But where is the distance? We talked about real class environments here. Isn’t there a clear difference between MAVR and Virtual worlds – apart from the obvious similarities?” @ChrisRHastings argued that the VR in MAVR is more concerned with highly immersive headset-based VR, rather than simply any computer-generated 3D virtual environment.

@teacherphili then asked, “Is there a minimum age of students you would use VR in the classroom?” While @oyajimbo believed that he does not use with young learners as it can be addictive very quickly, @ParisaMehran pointed out that young learners are “digital natives” and are already addicted.

@SophiaMav said that all this sounds very promising. But how can we tackle the issue of VR equipment being so unaffordable? Aren’t prices prohibitive for the average classroom/ teacher/ institution?

Chatters provided the following answers:

  • @gegnagoyaIt depends on what you want to do. Google Cardboards can go as low as 500 or 600 yen, but if you want very immersive VR programs, it will be a while before the cost comes down, unfortunately.
  • @ChrisRHastingsStudents already own part of the hardware component, smartphones, and headsets can cost from as little as $10.
  • @gegnagoyaWith university students a BYOD policy usually works since they mostly own smartphones. If you provide the headsets as the instructor, the overall cost can remain quite low.
  • @SophiaMavWith BOYD policies though students – especially young learners and teens need digcit skills otherwise they may get very distracted – by using their devices for other reasons than learning.

What Is MAVR?

@Eric_Hawkinson raised the following question:

@ParisaMehran said, to her, MAVR is an extension but to make it more popular, we need to have specific research groups. She also mentioned that she has good examples of AR (e.g., Pokémon Go) and VR (e.g., Google Cardboard) but not of MR. She added that an example of MR can be Magic Leap but why it is considered as mixed reality is not clear to her. @heikephilp stated that Magic leap has produced a simple device that can be clipped on a cardboard to create hands without controllers.

@teacherphili asked, “Anyone got a good example / demo of Magic Leap?” He wanted to know how ‘mixed’ it is. @Eric_Hawkinson said that Magic Leap has been very closed about demos. “I personally am very suspicious of the videos they have released. But they got $$$”.

@heikephilp argued that we have had immersive learning since early Second Life times and it was not adopted. Not even a headset needed and Second Life was popular in 2006-2008.

@Eric_Hawkinson asked for the definition of CALL or MALL and @SophiaMav provided the following definition:

Back in 1997 Levy defined it as “the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning” but of course there are more recent definitions.

@Eric_Hawkinson stated that if you were to follow the logic, you could replace computer in this definition with augmented and virtual technology, but it would not be accurate. In his opinion, this evolution has become more than about the technology. Eric has been focusing on how human interaction with this new media is different.


Research on MAVR

The following question was posed by @SophiaMav about the research done on MAVR: 

@mothralad said that the research on MAVR is still at its early stages. Together with his colleague, @ChrisRHastings, they have preliminary data that study abroad students can benefit from VR training before they depart. But we need to dig deeper with even more subjects.

@MehrasaAlizadeh shared more data on the impact of AR in an EFL class: Learning by design: Bringing poster carousels to life through augmented reality in a blended English course


MAVR Recommended Tools/Apps

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Photo shared by @Eric_Hawkinson 

  • Google Cardboard
  • GoPRO Camera
  • Theta Camera
  • Metaverse
  • Minecraft
  • ARientation
  • HTCVive
  • OculusRift
  • Google Expeditions
  • BlippAR
  • Zappar
  • HP Reveal
  • Aurasma
  • Flight Radar 24
  • Star Walk
  • Google Street View
  • YouTube VR

@SophiaMav asked, “How many of each do we need for a class of say 20 students? One for each student or can they share?” @Rach_Ribeiro replied, I teach 20 students per group and two Google Cardboard boxes are enough as we should use the rotation technique where the groups have different assignments and one of them is the use of Google Cardboard boxes.

@heikephilp said that as a great example for AR is Google lens which uses image recognition and Google search. Great for learning vocabulary. Go to market and point your mobile at fruit.

According to @ChrisRHastings, Google Expeditions is the most practical tool so far for teaching language in content-based classes. @Rach_Ribeiro then explained how to incorporate it into the classroom:

Expeditions has been greatly improved and now it is open to everyone. I’d like to highlight that there are 360º videos on YouTube that can be used as well. Last week, I took a group of 22 6 year-old Young Learners A1 to ‘visit’ Hamleys the toyshop and name the toys. While ‘visiting’ the shop, I asked each one of them: What can you see? They used the words they had previously learned: Teddy bear, action figure, doll, car.

@MehrasaAlizadeh added that with the newly released Google VR Tour Creator, the potentials for student-generated content are expanding more than ever before.


How Can We Use MAVR to Teach Languages?

@ParisaMehran stated that she uses VR as empathy machines to raise social and cultural awareness and promote social justice.

@Rach_Ribeiro said, it reminded me of a similar experience: A year ago the lesson for a group of C1 students was natural disasters and I used Google Cardboard box so my students could ‘visit’ a location in the US during a hurricane. Somebody had used a Gopro to film.

@Eric_Hawkinson also mentioned that others in JALT MAVR SIG have been working with AR and VR to give perceptive and raise empathy (#RefugeesWelcome).


Conclusion

@SophiaMav concluded the chat by asking this question: “So, can we say that we can see the potential in language learning but more research – including action research – is needed? Research that will explore the pedagogy of MAVR in language learning and possibly link to CALL and MALL?

Here are the answers:

  • @ParisaMehranYes, I think so. And I’d like to see more MAVR based lesson plans. I as a teacher need to know how to integrate MAVR into my classes.
  • @ChrisRHastingsSome rigorous longitudinal studies would be nice. Also, theory to link MAVR to key existing ideas in SLA.
  • @alsayeghazizI’ve been using a lot on VR games lately and looking for a possibility of going beyond flipped classroom teaching/learning. There are some issues that I do believe that needs to be looked at. Such as, nausea, full isolation, learners experience, etc.
  •  @Rach_RibeiroDefinitely more action research and case studies , Twitter chats and more sharing!

Here are the links that were shared during the chat:


If you have classroom experiences with MAVR or know other MAVR tools, please leave a comment.

Thanks for reading.

Peace

MAVR Presence at JALT2017

Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Realities (MAVR) (1)

Photo created by Canva

JALT MAVR SIG had (1) its first forum, MAVR SIG Showcase: Research, Projects, and Demos, (2) MAVR​ ​SIG​ ​Table, (3) Partnership​ ​Booth, and (4) After​ ​Party​ ​Gaming.

 

MAVR SIG Showcase: Research, Projects, and Demos

Digital content and the internet jumped into our pockets with smartphones. Now digital content is jumping back out of our pockets through mixed, augmented, and virtual realities. The MAVR team presented on different research topics and demoed some MAVR projects.

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Here are my slides on “A Virtual Trip to the Unseen Iran”

 

MAVR​ ​SIG​ ​Table

We had a table in the SIG room and introduced our research group and projects.

MAVR Flyer (A4)_001

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Partnership​ ​Booth

Cengage Learning partnered with us to create an AR experience to showcase their
TED textbook line. You can find your pics here: 

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After​ ​Party​ ​Gaming

We rented a space, had a few drinks, and played some VR/AR games.

FB 360 Photo

Below are the highlights from MAVR presence at #JALT2017 – Included are our SIG Table, our SIG Forum, Poster and Oral Presentations, and our partnership with Nat Geo Learning (video created by Eric).

OUGEO Presence at JALT2017

Tech Resources from Osaka University Global English Online (OUGEO)

Photo created by Canva

Mehrasa and I had two poster presentations on our joint PhD project at JALT2017.

1. Multimodal e-Feedback in an Online English Course

As online English courses are growing in popularity exponentially in higher education, providing electronic feedback is also gaining currency, as students might feel disconnected, unengaged, and unsupported if they are not provided with effective feedback. The provision of electronic feedback can be enhanced through multimodality, particularly in asynchronous online environments. There are also a number of factors such as social presence and collaboration which are related to feedback effectiveness.

In this study, we explored the use of online interaction platforms available on Blackboard Learn and web-based tools such as VideoNot.es to provide multimodal electronic feedback in an online course of English for General Academic Purposes (EGAP), entitled Osaka University Global English Online (OUGEO). Additionally, we examined how Japanese learners of English perceive the multimodal electronic feedback they have received on their online writing and speaking tasks. We also investigated the perceived usefulness of the provided feedback in relation to learner collaboration and sense of presence in the online course. To collect data, we asked the participants to respond to a set of surveys and open-ended questions.

The findings indicated that the majority of students valued the multimodality of the feedback on their productive tasks. Furthermore, the students’ perception of social presence and collaboration was found to be related to their perception of feedback usefulness. Finally, we discussed the practical implications for providing effective online multimodal feedback as well as further facilitating collaborative online environments.

2. Developing a Blended Course: Why Quality Matters

In this poster presentation, we reported on the development, implementation, and evaluation phases of a blended course of English for general academic purposes targeting second-year undergraduate Japanese students at Osaka University. In general, the course aimed to develop students’ practical English skills to help them advance to higher levels of conversational and academic English up to B2 and C1 levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

The basic Successive Approximation Model proposed by Allen (2012) informed the design and development of the online course. In order to ensure course quality from the outset, we used the Quality Matters® Higher Education Rubric (Fifth Edition) as the major reference. The pedagogical practices within this fifteen-week course hinge on recent approaches in ELT, e.g., project-based language learning. As part of the evaluation process, we measured the students’ perception on the usefulness of the course quantitatively and qualitatively through an attitudinal survey instrument and open ended reflection questions. Furthermore, to deploy learning analytics, we analyzed the data generated by the learning management system Blackboard Learn, also known as CLE (Collaboration and Learning Environment) to further delve into students’ performance, track their progress, and provide insights into ways to improve it. Eventually, to examine learner achievement and the fulfillment of learning outcomes, we also examined the students’ scores on the placement test, weekly assigned tasks, as well as quizzes and the final exam.

 

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OUGEO PRESENCE AT EUROCALL 2017

Learn to appreciate your freedom and respect other people's!

Photo created by Canva

Mehrasa (on site) and I (virtually due to three rounds of visa refusal, and I’ll blog the story and my virtual attendance very soon in detail) had two presentations at EUROCALL 2017.

Our first presentation focused on the iterative stages involved in designing and developing our EGAP (English for General Academic Purposes) blended course offered at Osaka University, titled Osaka University Global English Online (OUGEO), which was implemented in the spring semester of 2017 over a period of fifteen weeks. First, the basic Successive Approximation Model (SAM) was introduced as the guiding instructional design model upon which the course had been created. Afterward, the stages of design and development of the blended course were explicated with a focus upon assessing Japanese students’ English language needs and their e-learning readiness, determining the course overall goals and module learning objectives, optimizing course technologies and the availability of technical support, designing the course syllabus, materials, tasks, and activities, organizing team teaching, as well as managing formative and summative evaluation. Additionally, the way in which the iteration process allowed for the discovery of some possibilities and problems at the early phases of the blended course design and development, and the refinements which were made to benefit from the affordable opportunities and to mitigate the difficulties were discussed. The use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) were also expounded in the light of Copy Right issues, and the authoring tools utilized in digitizing the materials alongside their merits and demerits were described. Finally, the Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric and its effectiveness in raising course quality assurance were reviewed.

Our second presentation was about the results of the use of an AR application, called BlippAR, to augment poster carousel tasks in our blended course. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected through a usage experience questionnaire, an open-ended feedback form, and observations. The implemented AR application was described, and the overall positive user experience was reported, along with displaying the samples of collaborative student-generated AR work. The rewards and challenges of having students design AR content were also discussed. Moreover, the implications of AR for English language teaching and learning, the pedagogical potentials afforded by this technology, and recommendations for further research were provided.

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AR and VR Demo Slam at the University of Fukuchiyama

AR and VR Demo SlamPhoto created by Canva

Mehrasa and I recently joined Eric to help him with the AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) demo slam at the University of Fukuchiyama for Open Campus 2017.

The AR and VR experience area included:

  1. Eric’s ARientation cards (available at here)

Eric has two sets of cards, one is in A4 size and the other in A6.

Students were asked to install BlippAR on their smartphones to be able to scan the A4 size ARientation cards, which were hung on the wall. Some codes were overlayed in an image or video format on the cards to be used to unlock a cipher with mission accomplished signs inside.

Eric also demoed some of the A4 size ARientation cards by using a special camera. A number of the cards were overlayed with some keywords such as change, better world, and tackle inequality, and we took some screenshots while I was trying to scan them.

  1. Google Cardboard, which is a piece of cardboard that turns a smartphone into a VR headset
  2. Cameras to take 360 degree photos
  3. HTC Vive, which is a virtual reality headset developed by HTC and Valve Corporation

Students tried HTC Vive by exploring some Google Earth VR demos, which provided opportunities for practicing English through explaining what they could see in the virtual world.

Eric is thinking of mixing AR and VR for his future projects and demos, and I am very much looking forward to it! 🙂

 

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Blog Post for the IATEFL Learning Technologies Special Interest Group (LTSIG) 

Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Realities (MAVR)

Photo created by Canva

As Aaron Hogan truly tweeted, “Twitter is not going to change your life, but the educators you meet there will!” Recently, I have become active on Twitter and had the chance to get connected to teachers, researchers, and educators from different parts of the world! This is how I got to know Phil Longwell, also known online as ‘Teacher Phili‘. He kindly invited me to write a blog post for the IATEFL Learning Technologies Special Interest Group (LTSIG).

Together with Mehrasa, we wrote a post on Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Realities (MAVR). We first defined MAVR, and then introduced some apps that help teachers bring MAVR to their classrooms. Following that, we shared our experience using BlippAR, an AR application, to augment poster carousel tasks in our blended English course (Osaka University Global English Online). Finally, we introduced the JALT MAVR SIG, which aims at promoting MAVR technologies in teaching and learning, especially in language education.

You can read our blog post, titled “How to Bring Mixed, Augmented & Virtual Reality to Your Classroom”, here.