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Online Research in ELT: Handout (English UK Conference)

Online Research in ELT: Handout (English UK Conference)

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Published by Martin Sketchley
This is a handout which accompanies the talk given at English UK on 9 November 2013 and is about the use of Online Research in ELT.
This is a handout which accompanies the talk given at English UK on 9 November 2013 and is about the use of Online Research in ELT.

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Published by: Martin Sketchley on Nov 08, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The talk focused primarily on the use of free online software tools to develop and enhance surveys and questionnaires for ELT professionals. Furthermore, the sharing of online surveys via social media websites, such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, is recommended to gain a broader pool of participants. This is based upon personal experience of developing and conducting research in the past.
English UK Annual Teachers’ Conference 2013
Martin Sketchley © 2013
Research or teacher-led action research has always been an activity usually reserved for those, in the opinion of many language teachers or educators, which are pursuing a post-graduate degree. However, it is standard practice for language educators to continuously undertake some form of action research
 it could include monitoring role-play interaction, monitoring the acquisition of language with particular nationalities or reviewing post-lesson feedback from students. All this is a form of action research, yet there are indeed more formal aspects to research. If teachers peruse various articles such as the ELT Journal or IATEFL Voices, there is usually an article related to the findings of a particular study. However, why should teachers undertake research? Borg (2013) suggested that teacher research could support the professional development of the language teacher (p.6) as well as assist in the professionalizing the industry as a whole. However, there is always a tension between the lack of research supported and countered by teachers and the professionalism of the industry - with research being a secluded activity with the only participation from individuals who are naturally predisposed to research. However, the development of Social Media (Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn) has offered further opportunity for English Language Teachers keen to incorporate action research with their current careers. This handbook looks at the uses and exploitation of online and cloud software with the development and execution of surveys in English Language Teaching (henceforth ELT). It is also supplements the talk given at English UK
 Annual Teachers’ Conference 2013 in London on 9
 November 2013.
He is a Young Learner Co-ordinator at LTC Eastbourne as well as a Trustee for English in the Community. He holds an MA in ELT, TEFL-Q qualification, CELTA as well as a TYLEC (young learner certificate). He has been a teacher for 8 years with experience in South East Asia, Eastern Europe and in the UK.
Martin Sketchley © 2013
There are various techniques available for the teacher who is wishing to develop their own form of action research. The traditional applications and approaches available for English language teachers who are incorporating research include:
Classroom observations
Case studies
Surveys & questionnaires
These examples are usually accessible to teachers and in reality teachers are constantly reviewing, reacting and reflecting on their own teaching experiences on a daily basis. However, with the development of technology, we have seen the expansion of online surveys, lessons and interviews being recorded as well as learner diaries being written online via the use of blogging tools or other online software. Naturally, with online research much in its infancy, teachers and researchers require sufficient knowledge how to create and undertake the research necessary for their aims. The focus of this paper looks at the use of online tools to create and undertake online surveys. Nevertheless, what are the primary advantages of online surveys as compared to the traditional paper-based surveys? The advantages of online surveys could include the following:
Participants are anonymous 
: there is greater transparency and honesty with this form of research, rather than surveys being administered in person. This could cause participants answering what the researcher would like to hear
the ‘halo effect’ –
 or deciding to answer what the researcher does not want to hear
the ‘horn effect’. Online tools provide the
participant the autonomy and space to complete with no added pressure as the researcher is not physically present during this process.
Wider international participation 
: the online survey could be emailed for participants to complete at their discretion. This could
generate a ‘viral effect’ whereby participants forward on
the email or link to the survey to other potential participants
 much like when videos or pictures become viral
 and a wider participation is generated. There are other tools available to link with and share online surveys which will be looked at later on.
Easier to read 
: online text is easier to read as this can be magnified on the computer monitor with a few clicks of a mouse.

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