Online language learning methods are becoming increasingly popular, but in the long run, digital education cannot happen without teacher support. This is why the Itt és Most Association has developed a niche application in its adult learning partnership.
E-motivation through Nexus – a digital link between language learner and teacher
Nexus: language teachers and students in the online space
"More and more language learners are opting for online applications instead of classroom learning. However, teachers are completely absent from these methods, which is not good for either side. In the long run, students miss the motivator, the helper that the teacher represents. In online learning, there is a lack of personalized encouragement and explanation," said Helga Müller, coordinator of the project. "At the same time, teachers also want to connect with their students in the online space. They are finding it increasingly difficult to find the tools they need to get language learners to stick with learning after the initial enthusiasm. We wanted to create a platform where we could put these two sides side by side."
With this in mind, Nexus was born. The web and mobile application can be connected to existing language teaching software and the teacher can connect to it. It allows the teacher to give the assignment, monitor the progress of their student, and adapt the curriculum accordingly Through Nexus, the teacher can see how much time has been spent on the assignment, who is interested in what, which grammar rules or words go better or worse, and thus can give a personalized set of tasks in the online spaceThis can be done individually or in groups. "In the case of group instruction, the teacher can decide whether to assign the given task to the entire group, or to give some people an extra assignment. There are compulsory and optional tasks. You can tailor your learning to your own learning style, pace, and interests, even if you are in a group programme," Helga explains.
When two worlds meet...
The Empowering Teachers with Technology – Language Teachers in the Digital World project involved Hungarian, British, and Italian partners. The partnership consisted of two main parts: the education team and the IT development team. The former was made up of language teachers, educational and methodological specialists: their task was to combine education with the online environment to create an application where the student feels comfortable, and the teacher has the tools to motivate. The IT staff was responsible for developing the web and mobile application.
"At the beginning of the project, it took quite a lot of our energy to get the team together. Apart from the basic cultural differences and language barriers, we had to deal with two things. On the one hand, teachers and IT developers live in a very different world. They have different priorities and ways of working. On the other hand, the partnership had quite diverse: it included a language school, an NGO, a business, an IT developer... Once we learned how to treat each other, got to know each other's priorities, habits and methods, the work went smoothly."
Despite the bumpy start, the partnership members have learned a lot from the diversity of the team. The staff of the Itt és Most Association were able to learn about a lot of new ways of working and integrate them into the daily life of the organization; representatives of the IT side introduced the team to online solutions and communication platforms.
"We experienced how to work with very different types of people and organizations, with different interests, values, methods and priorities. My advice to those who work with mixed teams is to be open and patient with each other. What I've found is that everyone is very eager to learn from others and it's a pleasure to see that we've managed to get to know each other, get on the same wavelength, and work together on the project," Helga added.
Complex yet user-friendly
Smooth collaboration was a must when developing an application as complex as Nexus. "We aimed to have a simple, easy-to-use interface that a student or teacher sees from the app. However, there is a very serious awareness behind this because it is a whole new way of working if someone wants to learn or teach a language online. To make this easier, we've built in a chat function and more than a hundred short videos to facilitate teaching and learning.
The videos are intended for teachers: they show the features of the app and provide methodological support for online teaching. "We knew that for many teachers, this world was still quite new. They don't really know how to step out of the classroom and move into the digital world, so methodical videos were definitely needed. " At the same time, a set of motivational videos was created, specifically tailored to the needs of the learners. Teachers can recommend these when they see that their student is stuck with grammar or word learning, for example.
Although they had to adapt many things during the implementation of the project due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, it has made the development of the app partly easier. Home schooling brought to the fore the solutions that the team had set out to develop. As a result, thousands of language teachers and students participated in the testing, and hundreds of them have been using the platform intensively ever since.
However, Nexus is not only useful for online learning. "When the teacher brings this app into the classroom students are much more willing and happier to learn. They get a modern, trendy, accessible option instead of the traditional and let's just say boring, textbook, workbook, dictionary, student version."
More cooperation, AI, and support for disadvantaged children
The organization has the long-term plans with Nexus. On the one hand, they want to connect as many language-learning platforms as possible to the app to reach even more people. On the other hand, they also want to explore the possibilities of combining artificial intelligence (AI) with language teaching. Finally, as an NGO, they intend to make online education available to those with fewer opportunities.
"We do a lot to support children with fewer opportunities. Our main goal is to empower them through learning, and Nexus is an obvious solution. We have started a major project where we provide disadvantaged children with a tablet and a language tutor through Nexus.So even children who would otherwise not have access to language learning can overcome their disadvantage."
Values of the project:
The project was implemented by a mixed team of members working with different methods and priorities. The complexity of the partnership has contributed greatly to the creation of an innovative, user-friendly application that makes online language learning more complete in a niche way. Nexus connects language teachers, their students and the tasks of online language learning software in the online space. The app is available for Android, iOS, and web formats.
Organization: Itt és Most Association
Agnes Hargitai | Communication Officer
Tempus Public Foundation | Erasmus+ Programme Directorate
Utolsó módosítás: 2022.11.21.