EDUTAINMENT TECHNOLOGIES IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING AT UNIVERSITY
EDUTAINMENT TECHNOLOGIES IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING AT UNIVERSITY
The article studies the use of edutainment technologies for foreign languages teaching. Particular attention is paid to the web quest technology as a type of edutainment. Their key features are discussed and investigated. The authors offer recommendations for integrating these technologies in foreign language teaching. Educational and entertainment technologies have a rich potential for foreign language teaching as they develop research skills and “soft” skills necessary for the future professionals. Moreover, web quest is focused on the effective formation of an integral system of universal knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as the experience of independent activity and personal responsibility of students.
Nowadays, the world is developing dynamically. The 21st century made the humanity face a great challenge – COVID-19. Many business sectors, enterprises, as well as the education system at all levels had to switch to a distance format. However, it is worth mentioning that the higher school has managed to build a full-fledged online learning system based on the e-learning technologies, which open up unlimited opportunities for both teachers and students. The changes we observe touch upon the technologies, teaching methods and approaches to learning as well.
The learning process is accompanied by a rapid increase of information flows, which need to be processed very quickly; otherwise the information becomes outdated and loses its relevance. But there is less time for receiving, processing and absorbing it. Due to the digitization of the society, there is a strong demand in application of new innovative and creative teaching tools that can contribute to the effective foreign language teaching. It has to be stated that the use of interactive tools and information and communication technologies in foreign language teaching allows students to be more involved in the learning process, hence these learning technologies are definitely promising, which determines the relevance of this research. They help to develop the intellectual and creative abilities of students, contribute to increasing the motivation of students in the educational process, and activate soft skills needed for successful candidates on the labour market.
Improving the productive and receptive skills is one of the most important factors in acquiring language awareness in foreign language teaching. The development of communicative competence plays a fundamental role, since the latter embodies other types of competencies. So modern teachers strive to make learning process active through interactive teaching. Thus, the person being taught becomes creative and relates current information to past experiences to solve the problem or find an answer to a question asked.
The widespread use of games, the development of the Internet and the need to create attractive educational practices have led to the emergence of edutainment as a new form of education and professional training. Most teachers see the potential of this form in expanding the possibilities of traditional learning, but some researchers view this phenomenon as an opportunity to change the entire educational paradigm, where the emphasis will be put on social interactive learning, rather than teacher-supported learning and self-learning.
2. Methods and principles
The following methods are applied in the study: analysis of modern scientific and methodological literature on the research problem; development of a set of web-quests; observation of the effectiveness of students' work and pedagogical testing.
3. Main results
Edutainment is a hybrid term of English origin (edutainment). It was coined by merging two English words: education and entertainment. The term edutainment was first introduced by The Walt Disney Company, which used it in relation to its series “Real Adventures”. But the technology itself was not new. During the World War II, an animated series “Private Snafu” was released in the USA, in which the audience was informed about the necessary security measures in wartime thanks to the hero-soldier who gets into various situations. In the 1970s in the US and the UK, the principles of the new technology have been transferred to the field of healthcare. Through “non-boring”, visual stories among the population, explanatory work on the dangers of drugs, the destructive consequences of AIDS, etc. was carried out.
In the foreign scientific and pedagogical literature, special attention is paid to the study of the pedagogical features of the edutainment technology. Almost all foreign researchers underline the creation of an entertainment and educational environment that contributes to the maximum realization of all the possibilities of modern education as a characteristic feature of the Edutainment technology. The analysis of English-language scientific works shows that today edutainment is a global innovative phenomenon in education and the broad scientific field of pedagogical studies: D. Buckingham, M. Scanlon, L. Fisher (UK); Sh.Diary, R. Guy, G. Marquis, R. Lynch-Arroyo, J. Asing-Cashman (USA), R. Donovan (Australia), M. Addis (Italy), J. Nemec (Czech Republic). Review of the Russian scientific literature devoted to the phenomenon Edutainment, covers the works of N. A. Kobzeva (TPU), V. T. Olekhnovich, (SFU), Kondrashova I. V.( SUSU), Gnatyuk O. A. (RSPU named after Herzen), Rassadina S. A. (St. Petersburg State University), Guremina N. V. (FEFU) and other authors study this phenomenon and implement into the educational process.
The main purpose of edutainment is to transfer knowledge and experience. Edutainment, as a way to activate cognitive activity, covers knowledge from Pedagogy, Psychology, Didactics, teaching methods and computer science . Edutainment is based on several psychological theories, namely:
1) the probability model of conscious information processing by R. Petty and J. Cacioppo;
2) the mechanism of exteriorization of individual experience by T. Rimkuvene;
3) the theory of vitagenic learning by A. S. Belkin;
4) the theory of social learning by A. Bandura.
Being tightly connected with education, edutainment rests upon specific pedagogical principles which should be also taken into consideration: the principle of the connection between theory and practice; the principle of consistency; the principle of accessibility; the principle of constructivism. Despite the different interpretations of the integrative concept edutainment, its main characteristics are as follows:
1. The presence of the primary interest of the student leads to his hobby, entertainment and pleasure, and with a pedagogically well-organized educational process, it further leads to the accumulation of knowledge.
2. Wide use of multimedia in the educational process.
3. Informal environment and positive atmosphere in class, elimination of psychological barriers, favorable conditions for the formation of communicative competence.
4. Emphasis on the creative development of the individual, the formation of a personal attitude to what is happening, the accumulation of subjective emotions and individual experience.
5. Popularization of scientific knowledge and educational informing of the audience in a sparing manner and with the most simplified analysis of events, facts, data.
6. The content of the training material is exclusively practice-oriented.
Edutainment technology includes a wide variety of tools aimed at achieving the goal of teaching foreign languages: from different types of hardware (a computer, a desktop) to software (video games, multimedia programs) and media (movies, music, website) which provide entertainment via their creative nature. Classes and events with edutainment technology can be held in any place, where you can get information on any informative topic in a relaxed atmosphere.
A Web Quest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. Currently, there is a large number of interactive platforms that are used at the different lessons to keep the students interested and increase their motivation.
In our research we rely on the interactive platform Padlet, which, having convenient and interesting functionality, allows us to diversify lessons for students and make them more involved in the learning process. Padlet is an example of a logical idea and its technologically advanced implementation. It is intuitively clear and solves practical tasks of visualizing information in various forms of remote work, contributes to the formation and development of computer information and communication technology competencies, expands the opportunities for lessons, developing various types of meta-subject and personal skills of the students, allowing them to be equal participants in the manifestation of creative ideas and creating a common creative educational product. Padlet tools allow students to show their activity by placing images, video projects, reports in the form of attached text files and presentations. There are great opportunities for joint activities of students. That is, the teacher can diversify the forms of feedback with students. And to make an assessment, the teacher can use one of the online test constructors, which he can post in the form of a link on Padlet.
The process of working with a web-quest on Padlet includes three stages: a preparatory stage; a main stage and a final one. Considering these stages, it is worth noting that at the preparatory stage, emphasis is placed on communication and vocabulary, during which the group does brainstorming and lead-in acitivies. Then, students do some drilling activities on Padlet to consolidate the vocabulary. For example, one of the topics of our course is devoted to cybercrime, within the framework of this topic we consider various types of cybercrimes and cybersecurity measures. These questions will be explored using user generated content that contains many authentic real stories in English, as well as tips for data protection and digital literacy. For example, we post on Padlet all the necessary educational materials: words, phrases, clichés, some interesting hashtags related to the topic, texts, as well as a QR code with which students can quickly access the required link, look through it and discuss its content in pairs or in groups.
Guidelines for working with a web-quest on Padlet
1. When developing a web-quest, it is necessary to follow the principle of increasing complexity: from simple tasks to complex ones, from an image to a sign system, from individual work to team work or vice versa (depending on the topic under discussion).
2. To make teaching more efficient, it is necessary to use content that involves various channels of perception: visual, auditory, visual, motor (kinesthetic).
3. The learning process should be built according to the we-learning model based on flexible management, when students independently create tasks, post them on Padlet, fulfill them, assess each other, express arguments etc.
4. For effective independent work of students with a resource, it is worth developing detailed instructions for assignments so that students can clearly understand what is required of them.
5. Before starting the lesson, you must make sure that all students have free access to Padlet.
So, students become more interested and involved if the interactive platform is used at the lesson. Padlet is perfect for storing the materials of various formats: worksheets, videos, links and etc. The best benefit is that the materials are organized in an intuitively understandable way. A web quest is focused on the effective formation of an integral system of universal knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as the experience of independent activity and personal responsibility of students.
Thus, one of the most effective edutainment technologies for foreign language teaching is a web quest. Firstly, it is based on the demonstrative and illustrative principle of teaching, which stimulates the process of cognition on the one hand, and makes finding an answer to the problem entertaining on the other hand. Secondly, it relies on a large number of various sensory channels for absorbing information to be involved, thus simplifying the memorization of new lexical units and increasing language awareness. Thirdly, the information is presented partially and in a structured and logical way with the help of hyperlinks, which form clear logical connections. Finally, the exploratory nature of the web quest technology stimulates the research activity of both teachers and students. Information processing stimulates the development of critical thinking skills, ability to work efficiently both individually and in a team, decision-making skills and strong analytical thinking.