Machine Learning Summer School – Day 3

This week ELTjam are at the ALTA Machine Learning Summer School in Crete and you can read regular updates of what’s happening here on the blog. Today, Day 3, we had an insight into the human element to the Write & Improve product, both in terms of the annotation done to the the text by human annotators, and the insights that teachers can get into their learners’ progress. This post is a summary of the day and a list of questions it would be great if we could collectively answer!

Machine Learning Summer School – Day 2

All this week ELTjam are at the Machine Learning for ELT Conference in Crete. This post looks at the Day 2 action, including more detail on automated error correction techniques, error correction related to content words, the importance of Learner Experience Design (LXD) with all this theory, and finally a look at the Write & Improve product from ALTA.

Things we learned from #iELT17

Things we learned from #iELT17

On the weekend of the 5th/6th May, ELTjam and Oxford TEFL organised the InnovateELT Conference in Barcelona. The theme of the weekend was Power to the Learner and we heard from people across the industry about ways in which we can think more about what learners want and need as they progress on their language-learning journey. By way of a summary, here the ELTjam team share some of their most memorable takeaways from the event and we link to other posts that talk about the conference.

Addressing access to English for refugees and asylum seekers: An interview with Anna Lloyd from Cambridge English Language Assessment

Towards the end of 2016, Cambridge English Language Assessment held the ‘Access to English for Refugees and Asylum Seekers’ conference with Techfugees –  a social enterprise mobilising the international tech community to respond to the refugee crisis. We spoke to Anna Lloyd, Head of Education Technology at Cambridge English Language Assessment and member of the Techfugees Cambridge chapter, about how the partnership came about and what solutions have come out if it so far …

How UX helped me learn English

What if the only way you can learn more about your chosen discipline is through content in a foreign language? Fabricio Teixeira is a UX designer from São Paulo. As he developed his career in UX, he found that the lack of content available in his native language motivated him to learn a new one. We came across Fabricio’s story and asked him to repost it on ELTjam, as we felt it would be relevant for many of you, and we loved the combination of ELT and User Experience.

LX isn’t just UX with an L thrown in!

Zahra Davidson discusses Learner Experience Design (LXD) from her perspective as a designer working in the learning ‘space’. What are the benefits of viewing our work within the specialism of LXD, what are the concerns when direct parallels are drawn between UX and LX practice and what is lost when we assume that LX relates only to digitally delivered learning?

EdTech (‘TICE’) in the French school system

This is the first in a series presenting practices of EdTech around the world. We’re kicking off with a post from Caroline Haurie about the situation in the school system in France, where EdTech is called TICE (technologies de l’information et de la communication à l’école). What’s happening inside French classrooms and what can we learn form another country’s practice?

The future of English language assessment – an interview with Nick Saville of Cambridge English

We spoke to Nick Saville, Director of Research and Thought Leadership at Cambridge English Language Assessment, about the current state of language learning and assessment and what he thinks the future might hold. Nick discusses the shortcomings of the language classroom, and why we might be moving towards the end of the exam as we know it.

The rise of the TEFL YouTubers

Tom Rees, a teacher-turned-YouTuber gives an overview of the YouTube scene in ELT, and shares some examples of channels to check out.

Deconstructing the Duolingo English Test (DET)

The Duolingo English Test has made a bit of a splash over the last year or so. Priced to undercut the likes of TOEFL and IELTS, and claiming to be accurate, secure and ‘scientifically designed’, it has some big-name adopters including Yale, Uber and LinkedIn. In this guest post, Anthony Schmidt puts it through its paces and is left unimpressed. “I went into it very excited and came away with a very bad taste in my mouth.”

Why ELT needs a bot strategy

The capability of bots to perform tasks that were previously the sole domain of human intelligence seems to be growing rapidly – tasks that involve communication, reasoning and analysis. A lot of the noise about bots is just hype and their value is still unproven but, despite that, is there a role for them in ELT? And does that extend beyond their use as a tool to support language learning?

AI: a primer

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.

5 AI products ELT needs to know about

We’ve been touting AI (artificial intelligence) as the Next Big Thing a lot lately, and we’ll be talking about it more over the coming months. In the meantime, here’s an overview of some of the companies and developments we should all be aware of.

Developing an ELT product based on machine learning: Write & Improve

Developing an ELT product based on machine learning: Write & Improve

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.

Your digital product is never finished. (Until it has to be)

We’ve always believed that a digital product is never finished – it should always be evolving and improving in response to user needs and changing technology. But a project we’re currently working on in Brazil has challenged that assumption, and taught us valuable lessons about how working within strict limitations can improve everything you do.

8 ELTjam predictions for 2017

8 ELTjam predictions for 2017

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.