LD SIG Forums 2020

LD SIG Forums 2020

Updated 31 January 2021

LD SIG Forums in 2020

The LD SIG Programme Team organized forums at the following JALT conferences in 2020:

  • JALTCALL 2020 – Online, June 5-7, 2020
  • PanSIG 2020 – Online, June 20-21, 2020
  • JALT2020 – Online, November 16-23, 2020

Many thanks to those who joined us at the Learner Development SIG Forums in 2020.

Below are the abstracts for the forums that took place at the three Learner Development SIG Forums.


(1) JALTCALL 2020

Online: jaltcall2020.eventzil.la (June 5-7)

Sunday, June 7 from 10:00 to 11:10

CALL & Learner Development Forum: Learning Transformations with Schoology, online workbooks, and Google Suites

Forum abstract:

The Learner Development SIG Forum at JALTCALL 2020 is an interactive event featuring Learning Transformations, CALL approaches that are changing the way teachers and learners are focused on learner development. The aim of this forum is to critically explore the practical experiences of both learners and teachers in CALL. This LD Forum consists of 3 presentations. First, Ivan Lombardi will present some of the affordances and challenges of going paperless using the Schoology LMS. In particular, the presentation will focus on transformations in speaking activities, assignment submissions, and online readings. Next, Blair Barr will critically compare two publisher-developed online workbooks with a self-developed workbook using a combination of the Manaba LMS and Google tools. In particular, he will outline the advantages of taking control over the workbook development and how students benefited from this approach. Finally, Rachelle Meilleur and Michael Barr focus on autonomy and identify changes they have witnessed as they have begun the process of implementing activities based on Google Suites. After the presentations, time will be provided for reflection and discussion on key discoveries. At the end of the forum, short written reflections will then be collected to initiate a shared reflective piece for the Learner Development SIG’s newsletter, Learning Learning.

Ivan Lombardi (University of Fukui), How an LMS transforms students’ approaches to learning: An overview

Keywords: Schoology, LMS, progress visualization, blended learning

Five years after adopting Schoology for the first time, this LMS is now a foundation for every course I teach. From EFL classes to specialized content courses, this platform has changed not only my teaching practices but also my students’ approaches to learning. This presentation will be an overview of three “transformations” made possible by Schoology, and what students think of them, based on informal interviews and semester-end feedback. The first change is in progress visualization. This is especially the case in the EFL speaking and public speaking courses I teach, where students use Schoology to record themselves, keep a portfolio of their speaking, and reflect on their performances. The second change is in assignment submissions, and how this transforms the way students receive and implement feedback from the instructor, especially in English composition courses. The third change is in how students approach reading online, and the affordances and challenges of going paperless.

Rachelle Meilleur and Michael Barr (Kyoto University of Foreign Studies), Integrating Google Suites into an Autonomous Learning Project

Keywords: autonomy, CALL, learner development 

Over the past five years, we have been developing an autonomous learning project to help students develop their abilities and skills as language learners. Although some aspects of the project focused on using technology, it has, for the most part, remained a mostly analog exercise. However, over the past year, the goal of our project has been to take advantage of a range of G-Suite applications which are available to all incoming first-year students. Students created study trackers, language learning histories, and shared ‘resources discovery’ materials. We tested and developed collaborative shared documents, sheets, and slides in order to achieve this. While this is a relatively new and ongoing study, lessons learned through this process should be of great interest to educators interested in expanding the reach – and horizons – of their classes and students.

Blair Barr (Tamagawa University, Otsuma Women’s University), Online Workbooks: Doing It Yourself for the Students

Keywords: online workbooks, Manaba, Google Suites

Online workbooks have become increasingly popular with publishers in order to provide teachers online content to supplement textbooks. These online workbooks aim to free teachers from the need to develop extra materials for their classes, and they provide teachers with the ability to browse and choose which activities they would like to assign to their particular classes. However, in practice, these solutions often present a set of problems that teachers cannot manage independently. In addition, students often feel that their access is restricted or that their own best interests are being ignored with a simple solution. In this presentation, the online workbooks provided by two publishing companies will be compared with a workbook developed with testing features of the school’s LMS (Manaba) and supplemented with Google Suites. In particular, the advantages of taking control over the workbook development and the benefits this provides students will be highlighted.


(2) PanSIG 2020

Online: pansig202.eventzil.la (June 20-21)

Saturday, June 20 from 16:45-18:15

Theme: Active Learning

James Underwood (Chuo University), Encouraging Active Learning through the Sustainable Development Goals

Keywords: CLIL, academic literacy, Learner Development, self-directed research

This presentation will report on how the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) can be incorporated into the classroom. Over the course of 5 weeks, students selected a SDG as the focus for a self-directed research project. Each week they researched their SDG and made 2 pages of notes and shared these notes in class. At the end of the project cycle, each student formally presented their findings and lead a discussion on the SDG. After their presentation, they reflected on the development of their content knowledge and language skills.

Greg Rouault (Hiroshima Shudo University), Applying Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) Science for “Active Learning”

Keywords: materials adaptation, learner engagement, neuroscience

This interactive presentation is based on the research into Mind, Brain, and Education Science (MBE) by Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa (2010a, 2010b, 2014). At the intersection of neuroscience, education, and psychology, MBE presents a scientifically-grounded approach for improved teaching and learner development. Drawing from what is known about the brain while also debunking neuromyths, this workshop introduces 7 neuro-ELT practices adaptable for materials and coursebooks to engage learners and guide active learning across a range of language skills.


(3) JALT2020 


Friday, November 20th, 6:15 PM – 7:45 PM

TLC from LD: Transformative Learning Communities

In this forum, a range of interactive presentations will critically explore the theme of transformative learning communities (TLCs), based on theories of transformative learning where learners reach fundamental shifts in their worldviews and actions through reflection. Presenters will focus on distinct groups of learners (high school students, university students, teachers, teacher trainees, and practitioner-researchers), with forum participants invited to discuss and later share their reflections about TLCs in Learning Learning, the Learner Development SIG’s newsletter.

Andrew Barfield (Chuo University), Oana Cusen (Kwansei Gakuin University), Yuri Imamura (Kanda University of International Studies), Riitta Kelly (University of Jyväskylä, Finland), The multilingual turn for learner development: Exploring response communities

Keywords: response communities, collaboration, narrative inquiry, shared writing

We all share an enthusiasm about researching and understanding issues to do with learner development and multilingualism. Through 2020 and 2021 we are working together as both editors and contributors with a wider group of teacher-researchers in Japan and other countries on a publication project called Engaging with the Multilingual Turn for Learner Development: Practices, Issues, Discourses, and Theorisations. Our aim has been to make this collaborative process supportive and inclusive. We have created multiple small response communities in which contributors may work online with each other by sharing and responding to each other’s inquiry proposals, as well as by discussing their research and writing as it qualitatively develops over time. We see these response communities as providing safe spaces for contributors to explore, question, interact, and write narratively about their learner development inquiries. In this presentation we will share stories of working within such response communities and consider how and to what extent our different understandings of research and writing have been transformed or not, and why.

Malik Amir Feroze (Hiroshima Shudo University), End-of-class feedback for learner agency

Keywords: distance learning, feedback forms, learner agency

Covid-19 has affected students around the world. For freshmen at university, their university life is very different from what they had planned for or imagined. In these unusual times, distance learning and isolated existences may well be transformative experiences for both the teachers as well as the learners, and not necessarily in a positive way. We are no longer face-to-face in a classroom, but it may be more necessary than ever for the learners in our classes to have a voice, and to know that they are heard. In class, end-of-class feedback opportunities were important; now they have, arguably, become essential. The focus of my presentation is an adapted end-of-class feedback form, as a way of promoting learner agency and student awareness of the class as being theirs, not just the teacher’s. These revised feedback forms include free-response questions as well as scaled questions about specific issues.

Aya Hayasaki (Waseda University), Adolescents’ dilemma and transformation through L2 learning in rural Japan

Keywords: Transformative learning theory, sociocultural theory, high school English learners, trajectory equifinality modeling

This study explores the transformational process of perspectives toward the English language and future careers in high school students in southern Kyushu, Japan, through a project-based learning program conducted in English with the support of foreign university students. This study incorporated Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory to investigate what kind of disorienting dilemmas they faced through English language use and encounter with foreign cultures, how perspective shifts occurred, and what social factors contributed to such changes in this context. Data were collected from narrative-oriented interviews, questionnaires, and observation of four students participating in the programme, and analysed using Trajectory Equifinality Approach (TEA, Yasuda & Sato, 2017). This study implies the significance of interactions between sociocultural factors and the person-in-context (Ushioda, 2009) in understanding the transformation of individuals and their learning communities.

Ken Ikeda (Otsuma Women’s University) and Riho Osaki (Otsuma Women’s University), Student Ideas regarding online platforms for learning and writing reports

Keywords: student opinions, Google Docs, report writing, Zoom

This study probes into interactional issues between I and my seminar students using Google Documents (GD) and Zoom to guide their research writing in the form of project reports culminating in their graduation theses. This instructor has been using GD in recent years with students in order to encourage them to write and edit in real time while facilitating communication, an ease which Mudawe (2018) stated when he used this app for graduation research papers with his EFL/ESL students in Saudi Arabia. This instructor will report on the extent accountability has been maintained through GD as the students struggle in this current covid-19 crisis which encompasses their job-hunting, blocked from face-to-face interaction and other real-world concerns in their senior year, with one seminar student presenting her reflections on her experiences.

Jim Ronald (Hiroshima Shudo University), Learner community development with Google Docs

Keywords: cooperative learning, online, learning community, projects

In these times of distance learning, many of the approaches or classroom management strategies we have employed to help the students in our classes to bond and become a cooperative learning community may seem irrelevant or ill-fitted to classes where we are no longer meeting in a classroom. As a result, we are compelled to find, invent, or adapt activities, tools, or strategies for helping learners become a real learning community in these changed circumstances. This contribution to the Learner Development Forum reports on a range of activities or strategies employed to foster a cooperative community of learners, despite their not having met face to face. Specifically, we will focus on the development,  implementation, and evaluation of a number of activities using shared Google Docs for cooperative projects, conducted in pairs, small groups, or as a whole class.