Since 2013, ELTjam has evolved from a blog to a learning agency, but what got us fired up to start in the first place was our interest in tech, startup culture and new ways of working, and how these could be brought into ELT. One example is Agile – the standard way of running software projects and developing tech products – but in our experience still not used much in ELT materials development when done at a large scale. This post is about how we recently used Agile in a large ELT course development project.
“The better we understand learners and their problems, the better our solutions will be.” Nick Robinson, LearnJam co-founder “It’s not the learner’s job to figure out what they want or need.” LearnJam For us, it’s all about getting a clear understanding of our learners’ emotions and taking time to observe their natural behaviour in terms … Read more
Artificial intelligence is a vast, complex and potentially confusing subject. Since we believe it has the potential to transform ELT (and many other aspects of life too, of course), we thought it would be useful to start setting out what AI actually is, and demystifying some of the terminology. It’s a topic we plan to delve into more deeply during 2017, looking at the pros and cons, seeking out and analysing specific examples in the field of languages and sharing our thoughts on what this all means for ELT. But for now, we hope this acts as useful starting point in simply understanding what AI is and how it works.
We believe that artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and natural language processing are going to have a massive impact on ELT, and probably more rapidly than many might expect. A fascinating example of this is a new product from Cambridge called Write & Improve, which aims to provide automated help with writing. Diane Nicholls is one of the team behind the product, and we asked her to tell us more about it. In this in-depth interview, Diane talks about how the system works and, perhaps even more interestingly, how it was developed and what was learned in the process. We think it encapsulates a lot of where ELT is heading – both in what the product itself is trying to do, but also in the way the project has brought together the worlds of ELT, academic research and technology in a way we haven’t seen before.
It’s been a while since we did this, but after a year as … interesting … as 2016, we thought we’d have a go at coming up with some predictions for the year ahead. The rules were simple: two predictions each from me, Nick, Tim and Jo. Then in 12 months, we can all look back and wonder just what we were thinking.
Go Enrol have just completed their second annual survey of English language schools, and shared the highlights with us. They surveyed 46 school directors, principals and marketing managers in schools around the world. The results paint a mixed picture of the industry, with less than half of the schools reporting that they are optimistic about their prospects for the coming year.
When this blog was brand new (nearly two years ago), I stumbled across a post by a French indie app developer called Pierre Abel who was having great success by focussing on educational iPad apps for young learners. As someone who had spent quite a lot of time and effort trying to develop successful ELT apps while working in-house at an ELT publisher, I was interested in how an independent developer had approached it, and whether I could find any useful lessons that ELT app publishers could apply. I thought it would be interesting to see how he’s done since then and whether the same lessons still apply.
We wrote about Pearson’s Catalyst programme a few months ago, and yesterday we met some of the people running it at a workshop event which formed part of the warm-up for this weekend’s Cambridge education Startup Weekend, which we’re helping to organise. In this interview, Pearson’s Debbie Akinpelu tells us what Catalyst is all about.
We’re delighted to welcome Russ Mayne (@ebefl) from the brilliant Evidence Based EFL blog onto ELTjam for his debut post. Russ gave one of the standout talks at this year’s IATEFL conference, and below he reflects on what might happen next … I have been told that my talk ruffled feathers, created waves and put noses … Read more
We think it it’s decision time for the ELT industry: ELT is going to become part of EdTech whether we like it or not, and it’s up to us to decide what we do about it. Are we going to resist EdTech? Are we going to surrender to it? Or are we going to engage … Read more
In our recent series of interviews with adaptive learning powerhouse, Knewton, a number of interesting points were raised by our readers, which we thought were worth exploring further. So, we compiled some of the more challenging questions and David Liu, Knewton’s Chief Operating Officer, sent us his responses.
Guest post by ELT publisher Janet Aitchison, in response to Steve Elsworth’s post, The monetary value of ELT authors.
Not all publishers think there is no place for writers in the digital future. The writers’ role and the means of remuneration will be different from what it was in the heyday of ELT publishing, no doubt, but any publisher worth their salt knows that however clever the software, however many bells and whistles it has, without well-written, motivating, fun content, students will not engage and will therefore not succeed.
If authors are becoming contractors rather than partners, that changes the role of both author and publisher in a big way. But why is it happening, and is it yet reflected in how publishers work?
If the author is no longer a collaborator, then the publisher must take on that role and so in effect become the ‘master’ author to whom they subcontract the details. This would be analogous to those master painters of old who would paint the head and hands of a portrait, leaving the sitter’s clothing and the background details to be filled in by their apprentices.
Can data-driven adaptive learning really work for language learning, a subject that can’t simply be broken down into ‘atoms’ of knowledge that have to be acquired? In the final part of our interview with Knewton, tell us why they think it can work, even if it is more complicated than for a subject like maths.
One of the promises of digital publishing is the ability to improve and update a product on a continual basis. For that to work, you need to know which parts of your course are working well and which are failing to meet their objectives. In part 3 of our interview with Knewton, they explain how they believe data analysis can provide the insights needed to refine and improve ELT courses, going beyond what even the most knowledgeable and experienced author/editor team could do.