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EDUC5252M: Learning with virtual worlds

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Anna Kavvadia

on 31 March 2013

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Transcript of EDUC5252M: Learning with virtual worlds

Part 1: Reflection Part 2: Analysis EDUC 5252M: Learning with Virtual Worlds
"Learning with ICT, a reflective account" Anna Kavvadia
Student Number: 200596762
Word Count: 5,619 Introduction Conclusion References Programming Collaboration Modeling, Simulations and Games Adaptive Tutoring Systems a)Μy experience with Quizlet
The Quizlet software (www.quizlet.com) is an example of an Intelligent Tutoring System. This means that the computer poses questions, corrects them and gives feedback to the users.
I tried to learn basic German vocabulary using this software. My background knowledge includes basic vocabulary as well as an idea of the structure of the language. However, I cannot speak fluently and I face difficulties in participating in a conversation. Computer Mediated Communication a)My experience with A.L.I.C.E.
Up until now, I thought that computer-mediated-communication (CMC) is linked to software programs such as MSN messenger, Facebook page or twitter. In other words, I thought that computer is only the tool which facilitates the communication between distant users. In this module, other types of CMC were presented, which involved human-computer interaction. Thus, I decided to explore the chatbots. As I was not familiar with this, I tried to find a definition. According to www.chatbot.org, “A chatbot is an artificial person, animal or other creature which holds conversations with humans”. I chose to interact with the A.L.I.C.E. chatbot, which can be found on this link: http://www.pandorabots.com/pandora/talk?botid=f5d922d97e345aa1. Collaboration a)My experience with Popplet
Our group consisted of three members, a positive fact in my opinion, as there were enough people to contribute to the discussion but not too many, to cause frustration. We decided to use Popplet (www.popplet.com) for creating our mind-map about Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences (Smith 2002, 2008). This software has the option of sharing your Popplet with other people and allow them to edit it. So, I started a mind-map and invite the other members to contribute.
As Popplet does not have a tool for communication, we used the Facebook page to talk about this task. An advantage of using technology than meetings face-to-face was that the chat logs were available to everyone even though some members were not online at the time of the discussions.
At the beginning, we decided that the comments on each intelligence should be available as notes (Figure 16). In this way, the mind-map would not have been confusing and tiring. But when we exported it, the notes were not available, thus we had to edit it and the result was a rather complex map (Figure 17).

b)Using the software
I had not used Popplet before, but I did not face difficulties. I just spent some time to explore it before working on our task. It is user friendly and the vivid colours make the maps look attractive. There are also some options such as inserting images or videos but there was no need for using them for this task.

c)My learning
From this task, I think I learned many things. First of all, I became familiar with Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences especially through our discussion about it. Secondly, I figured out how to create mind-maps, which is an easy way to present the key points of a text. Moreover, this task helped me to realise the advantages and the disadvantages of group work.

d)Thoughts and Feelings
Although the article was not complex and the software was easy to use, the task was more time-consuming than it might have been if we had to work on it individually. In group works, you have to wait until the rest of the group agrees or comments on your suggestions before you actually take a decision. On the other hand, the discussion about the content of the article was productive, we shared our thoughts and ideas about it and we decided together on the content and the appearance of the mind-map. When you start, 48 Flash cards are presented only with the meaning in English, without information about the pronunciation or any examples. However, you can listen to the words. All terms are listed in a table below the flash cards; the list can be printed or copied. You listen to a word as many times as you want and you can even choose the pace (slow-fast) or the word appears on the screen. Then, you have to type the word or phrase in English. As the goal is to learn German, I did not find this exercise very helpful. If you make a spelling mistake, the software spells the English word correctly or shows where the mistake is and then you have to type it again (Video 1). Although I knew the words, sometimes I made mistakes such as omitting a full stop or pressing the space-bar twice, which cost me marks. In my opinion, these mistakes are not as important as a completely wrong spelling of a word but the software treats them the same. At the end, a report appears which informs you about your progress (Figure 2). Speller This was the most difficult part, for me! The layout was confusing me and I did not know what to do. Soon, a hint appeared which was quite helpful (Figure 3). Learn The goal is to translate the English word that you listen in German and then type it. I used most of the times the “give up button”: the English and the German phrase appeared (you always have the audio option) and then you are asked to copy it so as to learn it (Figure 4). Even though I did remember the German word, I could not spell it correctly, that is why my score was rather low. In the Test section, you can choose the type of exercise you want to include. The options are true/false, multiple choice, translate the phrases in English, matching phrases. I tried all the exercises and I scored 90 %! Apart from the percentage and the grade, the software gives feedback and corrects the mistakes (Figure 5). Test The software has also two games. In the Scatter, you have to match the German phrases with their English translation. When you finish, the software gives your score but you can try it again in order to beat the time. I found it easy and a bit boring, but I cannot say the same for the Space Race game! The goal is to type the translation of the scrolling words really fast. Unfortunately, in most cases I made silly mistakes such as typos; as a result my score was low. b) Using the software
The software is well designed and easy to navigate. I figured out immediately the functions of each tool, thus I did not spend time on learning how to use the software but I was quickly concentrated on language learning.
As it is mentioned previously, in some cases, I was confused of what should do, but the pop-up hints were explicit. When necessary, the software provided the unique German letters such as ö ; so there was no need of installing the German language in my computer (Figure 6). c)My learning
I have already known the majority of the words, but I do not think my level was improved. The exercises are like a revision of basic German words. It is true that my spelling is better now, but I still cannot spell many words or even remember the new words I learned. In fact, I did not learn the new words but I learn to match them visually with their meaning. This is the reason why I had lower scores in translation exercises than in multiple choice or matching ones.

d)Thoughts and Feelings
Generally speaking, this software is a good practice for foreign language learners as it gives instant feedback and spelling information but it is not enough. Personally speaking, I found it difficult to memorize the words without a context or use them in a real conversation. I started talking to her and she answered me just like a friendly person (Figure 7). Furthermore, she seemed to understand emoticons, which I found particular impressive, as it is a common way of expressing feelings and attitudes when using technology (Figure 8). However, our conversation as a whole was not so successful. Many times I had to start the conversation from the beginning as she gave me strange or unexpected answers (Figures 9 & 10). c)My learning
As English is not my first language, talking to A.L.I.C.E. was a good practice for me. Although we did not use complex language, I spent some time to check for any spelling or syntax mistakes before sending the text. Compared to other types of CMC such as Adobe Connect, which was used for the online sessions of this module, I feel that chatbots is a more relaxed and easier way of getting used to CMC. In our online sessions, sometimes I felt anxious of reading what other participants had written and simultaneously writing my comments. When you talk to a chatbot you have time to think of your contributions. The conversation is strictly organized: each one takes turn only when the other has finished.

d)Thoughts and Feelings
What I learned by talking to this chatbot is that it is almost impossible to predict the questions and the answers a human is able to give. If the interaction with a chatbot is limited to specific customer services, it may be effective. For example, I had a look to the chatbot called Amy in this website http://help.talktalk.co.uk/app/hub/tv/ (Figure 11). Compared to A.L.I.C.E., Amy seems more natural; she is a beautiful, well-dressed female avatar who even blinks her eyes, when you type a question! The topic of this assignment is about learning with ICT. More specifically, this assignment consists of two parts. The first part is a reflective account of my experience with five software programs, which were part of the curriculum of the module EDUC5252M. The rationale of each program is different, as the user explores different functions of computers and technology.
More specifically, I will comment on my learning with an Intelligent Tutoring System called Quizlet. Then, I will share my thoughts about a chatbot called A.L.I.C.E. Furthermore, I will reflect on my experience of working collaboratively using the Facebook page and creating a mind-map using the Popplet software. Finally, after trying to create a drawing and a short video by using LOGO and Scratch programming languages respectively, I will describe how I learned to do these projects. Figure 1 Video 1 Figure 2 Figure 5 Figure 3 Figure 4 Figure 6 Figure 7 Figure 9 Figure 10 Figure 11 Figure 16 Figure 17 a)My experience with Scratch
I had never used Scratch before, so I spent some time exploring the website http://scratch.mit.edu/ .The shared videos available online (Figure 18) inspired me to explore more this software.
I usually work more efficiently if I have a plan or goal in my mind, so firstly I thought about the “story” I wanted to create. Due to time limit, I inserted an image for the background and then I designed the cat's costume. I just copied the commands for its dance but I added the commands for rotation and colour (Figure 19). Up until now, I have not used more advanced commands such as variables or operators. The video is available here (Video 2 ) or through this link: http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/Anna_lotr/3015959 . Up until now I have not used the commands such as variables or operators.

b)Using the software
The installation was easy as there is a Windows and a Linux (Ubuntu) version. I read the tutorial and at the beginning I just followed the guidelines in order to make the cat dance. The tutorial helped me to understand the rationale behind this software; the commands are linked together just like the pieces of a puzzle (Figure 19).

c)My learning
After using the Scratch, I thought that programming is not so difficult as it may seem; in fact it may be an enjoyable experience! Apart from learning how to use the available tools, I learned to use my basic math knowledge in order to create something visible. Although at school mathematics seemed an abstract subject, in Scratch every change in numbers has different consequences on the final video. Generally speaking, Scratch helps the users to use their imagination and to be more creative as they try to develop a story.

d) Thoughts and Feelings
As in LOGO, you have to design each step carefully in order to create something bigger. The main difference between the two is that the commands in LOGO are more abstract (only abbreviations and numbers) whereas in Scratch, language is used to a larger extend. In this way, it is easy to guess the functionality of each command, so there is almost no need for manual or help! It is worth mentioning that the commands are translated in many languages, including Greek. Thus, it is a user friendly and pleasant environment for basic programming. Figure 19 Figure 18 Figure 8 The second part of this assignment focuses on the Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) which were presented in this module. Considering that ITSs were developed based on the main ideas of behaviorism, I will try to describe what I learned using Quizlet and analyse how the learning occurred in terms of this learning theory. I will also try to identify the positive features of this program which facilitated my learning as well as the factors that hindered it. b)Using the software
Although it seems easy to use the software- you just type whatever you want- in fact I spent much time to find the “right” questions. I had always in my mind that this is just a machine and, to be honest, I could not find the practical (even educational) purpose of the chatbots.
For programmers, it is challenging to invent a machine which talks like a human being but it seems really difficult given that not much progress has been made up until now. a)My experience with LOGO
As I did not have experience with LOGO before, at the beginning, I could not understand and draw anything! Then I watched some tutorials on YouTube in order to get a clearer idea. When I realised the philosophy behind this program, I really enjoyed it. I did not managed to create something extraordinary, but I made progress. I chose a ready-made Logo project (a Christmas tree) and I tried to recreate it, without looking at the commands. My first attempt was not so successful: the tree was too small, the leaves were not symmetrical at all and the trunk was not connected with the rest of the tree (Figure 12)! After searching what went wrong, I changed some commands and my second attempt seemed better (Figure 13), although some parts of the tree are still asymmetrical. Figure 12 Figure 13 b)Using the software
I tried the iPad version (LogoDraw), which seems to be more user-friendly than the Windows one. You do not have to type or remember anything as the commands are available on a table (Figure 14). The help support is brief but explicit; it gave me an idea about what the LOGO is. There is also a table with the commands and their meaning (Figure 15). When you finish your drawing, you can save or print it. Figure 14 Figure 15 c)My learning
My first impression was that it has nothing to do with maths but in fact you need to remember the length of lines or the degrees of an angle in order to create a symmetrical shape. Practicing with LOGO was more a good revision of my basic math knowledge rather than drawing! After a while, I learned the commands by heart and I could move on faster. d)Thoughts and Feelings
I found particularly interesting that some things that we take for granted when, for example, we write with pencil, the computer does not; you have to explain everything. That is why I usually forgot to use the command Pen Up/ Pen Down. However, this is a basic principle in programming: in case you forget a full stop or a question mark or a command, the program does not work. From this aspect, , using LOGO helps you to understand and learn the basic ideas of programming. Video 2 As Yazdani (1987) notes the first Intelligent Tutoring Systems were developed based on the learning theory called Behaviorism.

Behaviorism: the theory
Behaviorism was a dominant learning theory especially in the USA, during the decades 1940 and 1950 (Kati 1992; Lightbown and Spada 2006). One of the most influential supporter of this theory was the psychologist B. F. Skinner. In his book called Verbal Behavior (1957), he supported the idea that language is a set of expressions which are retrieved when the corresponding circumstances occur (Kati 1992).

An experiment conducted to a child by Watson and Rayner (1920), which had the process of stimulus, response, reinforcement showed that the child learned a new behavior (Harmer 2007). Skinner was influenced by this experiment, suggested that language is learned in a similar way. Animals and humans learn to do things by practicing or training which leads to the formation of habits (Mitchell and Myles 2004). Language learning is achieved by obtaining the right habits. Learning First language
Behaviorists supported the idea that children learn their first language by imitation and reinforcement. In other words, they are exposed to various utterances and if they succeed to imitate what they hear, they receive positive reinforcement from their parents which leads to the continuation of this verbal habits. According to this theory, practice and the environment play crucial roles for learning (Kati 1992).

Learning Second language
Concerning second language acquisition, the audiolingual teaching materials developed during the 40’s and 50’s, were based on the main ideas of behaviorism (Lightbown and Spada 2006). The focus was on reproducing and practicing the same patterns. In this way, learners were considered to acquire good habits of the target language (Harmer 2007). More precisely, audiolingualism presented the same language patterns with a substitution of one word and asked the learner to reproduce the utterances as many times as necessary to learn it. According to Harmer (2007), there is another alternative of audiolingualism which is usually called presentation-practice-production. Its procedure is as following: the teacher presents the language patterns that should be learned, the learners do exercises or reproduce slightly differently what the teacher says (practice) and then, they are asked to use the same pattern for another (similar) situation (production). Audiolingualism was based not only on the behaviorism but also on the linguistic theory of structuralism. Structuralists studied the structures of languages and their differences. As Richards and Rodgers (2001) explain

"learning a language, it was assumed, entails mastering the elements or building blocks of the language and learning the rules by which these elements are combined, from phoneme to morpheme to word to phrase to sentence." (Richards and Rodgers 2001: 55).

That is the reason why audiolingual materials are usually structured in stages; at the beginning only simple patterns are presented and when the learner acquires them, he/she moves on to more complex patterns. Behaviorism has received much criticism. As Lightbown and Spada (2006) mentioned children do not acquire language only through imitation and repetition. They are able to produce utterance that they had never hear before or they acquire quickly complex grammar patterns. Chomsky, in his review (1967) underlined that language is a more complex system than it is seen from the behaviorists' perspective. He, also, commented on the ability every native speaker has, meaning the ability to understand and produce countless utterances -even those which he/she has never heard before (Mitchell and Myles 2004). Another drawback of this learning theory is that the learner's role is rather limited. As Richards and Rodgers (2001) mentioned, the only thing learners have to do is to provide a response to the presented stimulus; they cannot take initiatives or control what they learn. Structure of Intelligent Tutoring Systems

Although many models of ITS structure have been proposed (for example, Wenger 1987; Hartley and Sleeman 1973), the main parts of an ITS are described by Mandl and Lesgold (1988) as following: firstly, the expert knowledge component (or the domain); this means that the ITS has the knowledge of a particular topic; secondly, the learner modeling component, which reaches conclusions about the learner's progress; thirdly the tutorial planning component, which “designs and regulates instructional interactions with the learner” (Mandl and Lesgold 1988: viii); finally, the communication component, which is responsible for the feedback the learner receives. Advantages of ITS Although, behaviorism is not a dominant theory any more, ITS are still popular and successful. For example, a research conducted by Chien et al. (2008) showed that ITS had a positive impact on students' learning of Algebraic Expression. A positive characteristic of these programs is that they promote individualised learning. In other words, learners can work independently, at their own pace (Yazdani 1987). Taking into consideration the diversity of classrooms, this feature is particularly helpful as teacher gains extra time to give more explanations to students who face difficulties, without delaying the progress of others. Other important advantages of using ITS for learning are their patience and accuracy (Higgins and Johns 1984). Whereas a teacher, due to tiredness or inattention, may not check a mistake, computers are always accurate in their feedback. Additionally, ITS are available to the users at any time any day of the week; it goes without saying that teachers' schedule cannot be that flexible. In educational ITS, tasks are usually posed with the form of drill and practice, quiz or multiple choice questions. These programs are based on the idea that knowledge is something specific which can be measured (Kemmis et al. 1977 as cited by Higgins and Johns 1984). As Yazdani (1987) mentioned, ITS possess perfectly well the knowledge which is to be taught and they give guidance to the learner in order to reach that knowledge.
Considering that knowledge is presented into stages and the goals are clearly defined, learners dealing with this kind of tasks do not feel anxiety or stress as they may have felt with open-ended questions (Higgins and Johns 1984). When a teacher corrects tests, he/she usually takes into consideration the general level of the classroom or students' profile. Thus, his/her assessment may be more subjective. On the contrary, in ITS, learners' progress is measured objectively, “against an absolute standard” (Higgins and Johns 1984: 37). Consequently, an ITS program reaches its goal when it succeeds in helping the user to go from his/her current level of knowledge to the ideal one. One of the most important features of ITS is that they give immediate feedback and the students (or the teacher) can easily monitor his/her progress. On the other hand, correction of paper-based test can be a tiring and time-consuming task for teachers. As they do not have much time, they usually give their feedback after some days, or a week. This time lapse may be a discouraging factor for learning as students usually do not remember where they had faced difficulties or they just pay attention only to their grades and not to the feedback. These problems are avoided, as in ITS users receive instant feedback. As ITS are improving, researchers are trying to develop more adaptive systems (ATS). These programs adapt their way of presenting the knowledge according to users' level and his/her previous knowledge. Furthermore, researches are conducted to develop ATS which will take into consideration the emotional state of the users (D'Mello 2012; Sarrafzadeh et al. 2008). For example. Sarrafzadeh et al. (2008) proposed a new type of TS, called Affective Tutoring Systems,that detect nonverbal behavior and use this information to individualise interactions with the student” (Sarrafzadeh et al. 2008: 1342). An example of non-traditional ways of using ITS is described by Alcoholado et al. (2012); in their study the students shared a screen but they worked individually on different ITS. Another non-traditional educational use of ITS is when learners are asked to create a simple ITS such as quiz, multiple choice. In this way, the program is the same but the role of students has completely changed (REF) Disadvantages of ITS ITS are based on the concept of training. Training takes place through practice and repetition. If the learner makes a mistake and then try the same question again, he/she will eventually learn the right answer; he/she will obtain the right habit. However, users usually loose their interest when they do repetitive tasks (Higgins and Johns 1984). In order to prevent ITS of becoming boring, many programs-including Quizlet, have adopted features of games. More specifically, scoring is used to monitor learners' progress and it may result in challenging him/her to try again in order to win the computer. Time monitoring is also another way of motivating the learner to try again in order to respond not only correctly but also faster. Another drawback is related to users' role. As the computers poses the questions and assesses the responses, the only task that users have to accomplish is to answer them and wait for the feedback. In the “linear programs”, users do not have control over the way each task is presented (Higgins and Johns 1984).
However, programmers are searching ways to develop more adaptive systems, in which the learner has more control over what is taught and which path is going to take in order to obtain that knowledge. As Ohlsson described it:

“the computer tutor can [...] be programmed to adapt to the student dynamically, during ongoing instruction, at each moment in time providing the kind of instruction that will be most beneficial to the student at that time” (Ohlsson 1987: 203).

Moreover, the assessment method used in ITS focuses more on the quantity of knowledge the learner has obtained rather than the quality or the way he/she has reached this knowledge (Ohlsson 1987). My successful and unsuccessful learning with Quizlet In this part of the assignment, I will try to describe what I have learned while interacting with the Quizlet and how I obtained that knowledge. As it is mentioned in the part 1, I tried to learn basic German vocabulary. Quizlet
Although Quizlet is a new software, founded in 2005 (http://quizlet.com/mission), it belongs to the category of ITS based on the drill and practice paradigm. Its development reflects on the acquisition of knowledge as the theory of behaviorism suggested: the flash cards are presented (stimulus), you can practice by doing the exercises (respond) and then check your progress (feedback) by taking the test, in which the same phrases is asked.
Brusilovsky (2001) pointed out that the traditional hypermedia do not take into consideration each user's needs, level or learning styles. There is no differentiation of the feedback or the next stages according to their performance or needs. As a user of Quizlet, you can create and share your own quiz, tailored to what you want to be taught. However, as a learner, you do not have much freedom and the quizzes are not adapted to each learner's needs and levels. In Quizlet, the user has free access to all available quizzes; it is up to you to decide which quiz matches to your level. Concerning my experience, although I had chosen the correct level, some exercises were too easy for me while others were too difficult. Learning Vocabulary
According to Nation (2001) "knowing a word involves form, meaning and use” (Nation 2001:26). In the flashcards, the German words were written with their meaning in English. Examples were not presented, thus the learning goal was focused only on the first two aspects of the words. However, as the vocabulary was basic, I did not face difficulties in guessing the use of each term.
In order to reflect upon my learning I will distinguish the vocabulary which was supposed to be taught in the following three categories: a)already known words
The first group consists of the words that I had already known, before using Quizlet. That is to say, I knew how to spell them correctly and translate them into English. However, as I have not studied German for a long time, I have forgotten the majority of them. For example, words like ja (=yes), Nein (=no), Hallo (=hello). b)half known words
Words that I only knew what they mean belong to the second category. Even though I was familiar with their meaning, I could not spell them correctly. For example: "Entschuldigung" (=excuse me). c)new words
While watching the flashcards, I found completely new words, which consist the third category. For example, Einverstanden (=agreed). Quizlet helped me to recall the words that I had already known but I did not use them for a long time (first group). This was achieved through the presentation of the flashcards. The fact that I was getting well with exercises like speller or multiple-choice questions as well as the positive feedback that I received boosted my confidence and encouraged me to continue. Concerning the second word group, the negative feedback and the presentation of the correct answer helped me to focus on my mistakes. When I was watching the flashcards for the first time, I paid more attention to the meaning of the words rather than to their spelling; thus I thought that I knew them completely. Then, through practice I learned to spell these words correctly. Moreover, the instant feedback was helpful, as it allowed me to understand quickly my mistake. The game feature of scoring and the absence of meta-linguistic feedback encouraged me to continue “playing”. My unsuccessful learning, which can be defined according to my quiz performance, was linked to the third category: the completely unknown words. A reason why I faced difficulties in learning how to spell them correctly could be that these words had heavy learning burden which means that they contained patterns not familiar in my first language and thus required more effort in order to be learned (Nation 2001: 23). Feedback is considered to be important for the learning process, because the learners have the opportunity to know about their own performance. In this way, they can decide whether they need to change or improve their learning style, make more effort or just continue in the same way (van Duijvenvoorde et al. 2008). Mitrovic et al. (2013) suggested that in ITS giving positive feedback may enhance user's performance more than giving only negative ones. More specifically, there are cases when the learner is not certain about his/her answer or he/she founds the correct answers randomly. In this way, he/she does not actually learn. Providing positive feedback with a brief explanation of the way of thinking or why the other answers are wrong may facilitate learning (Higgins and Johns 1984). When I used Quizlet, in some cases, I did not know the correct answer but I found it randomly. The feedback I got was just a confirmation that this was the correct answer. This may be another reason why I could not actually learn new words.
Although Van den Linden (1993) concluded in her study that too long feedback is not actually consulted by the learners in ITS and thus, it becomes inadequate, in the cases of completely unknown words, the absence of verbal explicit feedback hindered my learning. In Quizlet, the feedback is not verbal but visual: if the answer is correct the word turns to green, if it is wrong the word turns to red. Feedback presented with pictures or pointing is considered to be more “user-friendly” and direct (Mandl and Lesgold 1988). Generally speaking, I found this kind of interaction positive as it was not tiring and confusing. Additionaly, the instant feedback allowed me to move on quickly, which raised my insterest for the excercises. Feedback Although the integration of technology in education is a complex issue and a challenge for educators, they usually focus on their own relation to technology and their teaching methods. However, the main goal for integrating technology is to facilitate and improve students' learning experience. This is the reason why, the most interesting part of this module was that we changed positions and became students again.
From the learner's perspective, through my interaction with different types of software programs, I have reached a positive conclusion about learning with technology. For example, I learned new things on fields unknown to me before, such as Logo and Scratch programming languages and how to work collaboratively using technology. Some software programs were amusing, some other rather boring; but on a whole, this was an interesting and challenging journey.
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Web sites
http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/screen_recorder (for the video creation)
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