August 2015 Workshop
Virtually Enhanced Languages (VEL) takes classroom-based learning beyond the walls of the classroom into exciting new territory. It takes language learning into a virtual world rich with opportunities for meaningful communication and interaction. Ask a local for directions to the farmer’s market and test your comprehension skills as you explore the streets to find it. Bargain for fresh produce at the market then head off to the kitchen of a nearby restaurant to make traditional Chinese dumplings. Talk to a waitress and find out about her family and work. Explore the restaurant and discover new vocabulary, uncover surprising aspects of everyday life in China, and learn some of the intricacies of Chinese business culture. Locate the railway station and buy a ticket to the capital, Beijing. Head in to the local medical clinic and use your language skills to negotiate your way back to good health.
The VEL team has developed the pedagogical and technical resources to bring the above learning scenarios alive in your classroom. These resources are freely available and fully customisable. This workshop is aimed at interested educators who would like to know more about what resources are available, how to access them and how to use them. Internet access at your institution not so good? We’ll show you how to set everything up on a USB stick and run it without the Internet!
Professor Karey Yu-Ju Lan, Director of the TELL Lab at the National Taiwan Normal University and project team member will also be giving a keynote presentation at the workshop on the research carried out by her lab on teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) and language learning in virtual worlds. Professor Lan has published widely in international journals on topics including: the social constructivist approach to web-based EFL learning; embodied cognition and language learning in virtual environments; second language acquisition of Mandarin Chinese vocabulary; pre-service CSL teachers’ field experience in the real and the virtual world.
VEL Team Leader Scott Grant will also be giving a brief presentation on the background to the VEL project and 7 years of hands on experience conducting task-based language learning in the 3D Multiuser Virtual Environment of Chinese Island in Second Life.
Hands on demonstrations of the resources we have developed, where to find them, how to download them, how to set them up at your institution, and how to use them in teaching lead by the VEL team will be the main focus of workshop.
The VEL Team looks forward to seeing you at the workshop. Our goal is to establish long-term working relationships with all educators interested in expanding their teaching and learning repertoire to include task-based language learning in 3D Multiuser Virtual Environments and thus virtually enhance language learning at your home institution.f
For further information on the VEL project and on Chinese Island in Second Life please visit the websites below:
VEL website: http://www.virtuallyenhancedlanguages.com
Chinese Island website: http://www.virtualhanyu.com
Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) 2015 – VEL & Virtual Prato Exhibition
Conference site: http://vwbpe.org/
The VWBPE 2015: Crossroads conference was held over four days from March 18 – 21 (or 19 – 22 in local Australian time). The conference committee pulled together an amazingly packed schedule of presentations, workshops and panel discussions over the four day period. Complementing these activities were the poster exhibitions that provided visitors with the opportunity to learn about a wide range of projects in greater depth.
The conference was opened with a highly anticipated keynote speaker – the CEO of Linden Labs, Ebbe Altberg. This high calibre address (and the Q & A session that followed) really set the tone for the whole conference. As with past years, even for those of us with substantial experience in working with virtual worlds, there is always something new that can be learnt from all of the activities on offer. The conference is also a fantastic opportunity to meet / catch up with other educators working in virtual worlds from around the world. Just at this year’s conference a number of collaborative teaching and research opportunities have presented themselves!
This year Monash Chinese Studies had two exhibits at the conference. With the assistance of the brilliant Steadman Kondor from the Quarry Hill School of Mines and Industries (http://schoolofmines.org/) interactive exhibits were set up for the Virtually Enhanced Languages (VEL) Project and the Virtual Prato Project. Both exhibits were highly interactive and gave visitors from around the world a taste of what they could expect if they visit the full environments.
Here is the video produced for the Ascilite 2104 conference and re-edited for the VWBPE 2105 conference:
Here are some photos of the two Monash exhibits:
Virtually Enhanced Languages
Ascilite 2014 – VEL presentation
On Monday the 24th of November I attended the Ascilite 2014 conference on the beautiful campus of University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand to give a presentation on our Virtually Enhanced Languages project on behalf of the VEL team of Dr Sarah Pasfield-Neotfitou (Japanese Studies, Monash University) , Dr Hui Huang (Chinese Studies, Monash University) , Associate Professor Yu-Ju Lan (Department of Applied Chinese Languages and Culture, National Taiwan Normal University), and Ramona Baumgartner (VEL Project Manager, Monash University).
The theme of the Ascilite 2014 conference was Rhetoric and Reality and our presentation was made in the Sharing Practice stream of the conference. The great thing about the Ascilite conferences is the opportunity to learn about teaching & learning approaches, practices, research and initiatives from academics around Australia and New Zealand, and even from other parts of the world. It is also a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues from other tertiary institutions with who we have regular online contact and frequent collaboration but who we rarely see in person. This year it was tremendously exciting to catch up with colleagues from the Virtual Worlds Working Group and enjoy a lovely Thai meal together. The group has regular monthly inworld meetings in Second Life and OpenSim and a number of us have collaboratively written and presented papers at a range of real life and virtual conferences over the years, but being geographically spread out all over Australia and New Zealand makes the rare real world catch-ups even more exciting.
VEL is an attempt to make some of the rhetoric of the past few years about the advantages of using virtual worlds for educational purposes, and in our case for language and culture education, more of a reality for even more educators by sharing our 6 years of experience designing and implementing lessons in Second Life as well as a range of ready made virtual and pedagogical resources with other educators for free. For more information on the VEL project see:
Below are the PPT slides used during the VEL presentation.
Ascilite 2014 VEL Presentation – V2 (PDF version)