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Using Social Media to Engage Student Learning in a Chinese Classroom



Claudia Lee







An Action Research Project Submitted for MEDD 8998
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the
Degree of Master of Education







University of Hong Kong
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Table of Contents
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Learning the Chinese Language )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) =
Possible challenges of motivation )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) =
Student Engagement )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) >
Formal and Informal Learning ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) >
Social Networks ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) ?
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Using Edmodo as a learning platform ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) F
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Pre-Survey ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) JK
Assigning Edmodo Tasks ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) JJ
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Student participation )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) J=
Post-survey )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) J=
Student Interview )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) J>
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Students’ liking towards Chinese ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) J>
Student Online Participation )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) J?
Post Student Survey )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) J?
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Task design )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) *J
Participation ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) **
Challenges ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) *4
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For Students )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) *4
For parents: )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) *4
For teachers )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) *9
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Appendix A- Letter Home ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) *?
Appendix B- Informed consent form ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) *C
Appendix D: Pre-Student Survey questions and results )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) *F
Appendix E- Post-survey questions and results )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) 4K
Appendix F- Student interviews ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) 4J
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Abstract

In this action research, the effect of an educational social media platform used
as an informal yet structured learning environment on student motivation and
engagement for learning Chinese was analyzed. Pre- and post-student surveys, student
interviews and participation rate were used to document the process during a 4-week
study period. Students completed four carefully designed tasks that were aimed to
generate interest and stimulate active learning.
In this study, I looked at how the integration of Edmodo in a Grade 3 class at a
dual-language school would impact the students. Engagement is defined as when
students perceive instructions as interesting and worthy of attention, and enjoy the
learning experience or gain rewards from the instruction. My motivation for focusing
on using Edmodo was twofold: as an IT coordinator, I wanted to (i) change students’
attitude towards Chinese learning, and (ii) enhance traditional teaching methods that
are associated with Chinese instructions. The purpose of this paper is to provide
insights into how a social media platform can be employed by teachers at the school
to maximize learning, and inspire teachers to take on different approaches to teaching
languages.
Problem statement

During my first year of working at the Independent Schools Foundation
Academy (ISF Academy) as a Grade 3 homeroom teacher, I often came across
students who complained that “Chinese is boring,” or “I don’t want to do Chinese
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homework.” ISF Academy has a dual language program that integrates Putonghua
and English. Classes are conducted in either language in order to achieve proficiency.
ISF offers a Chinese and English immersion education with a global perspective.
Having studied at a local school in Hong Kong as well as a Chinese language
school in Canada, I understood first hand the arduous nature of learning Chinese.
This includes having to copy countless Chinese characters, recite passages for
dictation, and write pages of weekend journals. As a result, I was fed up well before I
learned to appreciate the value of Chinese. Since I was only responsible for teaching
the English subjects, I could not do much to help the students “enjoy Chinese more”
except to relate to their experience, and reassure them that the effort would be worth it
in the end.
This year, as an information technology (IT) instructor and coach, I had the
opportunity to work with both English and Chinese subject and language teachers. I
realized something could be done to transform students’ Chinese learning experience,
and enhance traditional teaching methods. Technology may be that breakthrough for
students to start embracing Chinese.
Challenges

ISF, like many other schools, offers Chinese instruction in a traditional way.
Typically, the Chinese approach to learning focuses more on memorization,
repetition, dictation and the correction of mistakes. English teachers tend to have a
more constructivist approach to learning that emphasizes on thinking and
understanding. Students during Chinese lessons learn from standard textbook series
in their Putonghua language classes. In a typical lesson, the teacher models the
reading of a passage. Students are asked to read parts of it aloud, participate in class
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discussions, and complete pages in their workbooks for homework. Although
textbooks provide structure and organization in the presentation of information,
students find the content to be dull and uninteresting. Moreover, due to the variation
in students’ language ability with levels that range from fluent Putonghua speakers to
those who can understand little classroom conversation, teachers are challenged to
think of new methods in their approaches to delivering content. Social media is an
enabling technology that can engage student learning in many innovative ways
beyond what textbooks and workbooks can offer.
Research Questions

Currently, IT is taught as an isolated subject and not embedded in the English or
Chinese curriculum. As the IT coordinator, I often give suggestions to classroom
teachers on how technology can be integrated into student inquiries, and assist
teachers with the skills to support students in the area of technology. This action
research aims to document the process of implementing social media in the language
classroom, and to seek ways to better work with teachers and students. The following
questions are prompted by this research:
• What impact did Edmodo have on students’ attitude towards Chinese
learning?
• How to manage technology, namely social media platforms to engage
language learning?
• What are some key considerations for students, teachers and parents for social
media to be successful?
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Literature review
Learning the Chinese Language

Chinese is one of the most difficult languages to learn because of the tonal
speaking system and ideograms for its orthographic writing systems. The complex
nature and structure of Chinese, coupled with the traditional language pedagogies
associated with Chinese language teaching could be a factor in determining students’
motivation.
Hu (2010) refers this “Chinese culture of learning” to “a set of expectations,
attitudes, beliefs, values, perceptions, preferences, expectations, behavior that are
characteristic of Chinese society with regard to teaching and learning (p.96).” The
precept that education requires a deep commitment and effort is underpinned with the
importance of reading books (with an emphasis on textbook learning), teachings that
are instructions-dominated and learning strategies that focus on memorizing,
repeating and understanding. Learning is seen as a process of accumulating
knowledge, without putting thoughts into using knowledge for practical purposes and
application. This pedagogy is obviously different from the constructivist approach to
learning, where students are actively involved in a process of meaning and knowledge
construction as opposed to passively receiving information.
Possible challenges of motivation

Students who are not accustomed to this method of Chinese learning often
face challenges in the classroom. They might hold an off standish attitude towards
learning, which affect their classroom experience and achievement. Gardner and
Lambert’s (1959) study found attitude as a second crucial factor of why some students
learn more quickly than others. Students with positive language attitudes generally
exhibit efficient learning and high achievements (as cited in Chen, Wang, Cai, 2010,
(
p.103). It should also be noted that learners’ attitudes also influence their motivations
and orientations. Positive attitudes will likely produce greater enjoyment, desire, and
effort expended in learning the language. As a result, teachers should make a
concerted effort in shaping their students’ motivation to learn Chinese and make any
necessary adjustments to capture their engagement.
Student Engagement

To understand student engagement, it is important to first define what
behaviors contribute to the lack of engagement. For primary school students, this
includes lack of participation, incompletion of homework, distracting others, asking
inappropriate questions and complaining about work. Gareau & Guo (2009) believe
for students to be engaged, it is essential that they perceive instructions as interesting
and worthy of attention, and enjoy the learning experience or gain rewards from the
instruction (as cited in Godzicki, Godzicki, Krofel and Michaels, p.3, 2013).
Technology, specially the use of social media, is a tool that could positively influence
students’ engagement and motivations in learning Chinese.
Formal and Informal Learning

Language learning can occur outside the classroom, unconsciously and
incidentally, through exposure to authentic language input through technology
(Bahrani & Sim, 2012). For this kind of informal learning setting, students are not
involved in repetitions and drills that characterize traditional Chinese classroom
activities as mentioned previously. Such activities are part of formal language
learning which is structured, purposeful, and school-based.
Whether language acquisition takes place in formal or informal settings,
students benefit from the exposure and access to any kind of language input. While
)
schools provide the ideal formal language environment, little emphasis is placed on
the informal cues to language learning. The source of language input for acquiring
languages, particularly in an informal setting, should not be neglected. Also, if
different technological tools are to be used in an informal setting for language
learning, it should be unstructured, unconscious or unpurposeful (Rogers, 2004).
Technology, therefore, can be integrated into the language lessons or be used by
learners outside the classroom for further practice and to complement the taught
element of the course (Barrett & Sharma p.13).
Social Networks

Social networks provide rich opportunities to use language in a targeted,
purposeful way. Social networking sites such as Facebook, My Space and Twitter
allow people to form virtual communities and collaborate with one another. Since
social media are designed to facilitate connectivity and dialogue, it encourages
students to interact with one another and may increase engagement and interest in the
course content (Abe & Jordan, 2013). Schroeder, Minocha & Schneider (2010) state
that social media has the potential to trigger significant educational innovations as
they enable new forms of interactive and collaborative learning (as cited in Abe &
Jordan). In terms of motivational benefits, social media can result in increased effort
since students try harder when they know their work is being published. Receiving
feedback from an audience can also be encouraging for students, and sharing of
information makes students want to share their work and do well at it (Moore, 2013).
Kessler’s (2010) study of students at Lock Haven University shows that the use of
Twitter increased students’ classroom engagement in its control group by two-folds
(as cited in Blazor, 2012, p.1).
*
Moor illustrates some other benefits of using social media that are relevant to this
paper, which include:
! Ease of feedback
! Tracking student learning
! Accessibility off-campus
! Easy submission of student work
! Communication with parents
! Organization
That being said, there are concerns regarding the integration of social networking
into classroom instruction. Those that are more relevant for this paper include:
! cyberbullying
! reduced face-to-face communication
! distraction from school work
Non-commercial education based social networking site emerged in response to
concerns over safety and security issues. Edmodo, a free social media platform,
allows teachers to communicate with students on a platform that is accountable. The
functions and features of Edmodo will be discussed later in this paper.
Significance/Relevance

Beyond a strong academic focus on dual-language competencies, ISF must
realize that in the 21st century knowledge society, educators should not only ensure
that students master their reading, writing and grammar, but also prepare students to
“communicate, think and continue to learn… [to] work productively and effectively
with others through negotiations and compromises (Gardner & Sarason as cited in
Law, Law & Chow, 2002). Innovative practices using information technology at a
+
school have the ability to transform the learning experience of students.
This personal research will provide insights into how a social media platform
such as Edmodo can be extended to English and Chinese teams across all grade levels
as how the curriculum should be facilitated using social media in order to maximize
learning. The results from this action research demonstrate partial evidence of student
engagement.
The Context

A particular class was chosen for the action research because (a) the teacher
was conducive to test out new technologies and (b) students had a positive attitude
towards Chinese learning and included to be more open to new technologies. The
research participants of this study include 19 third grade students at ISF and their
homeroom Chinese teacher. Most students have some interest in learning Chinese
with 85% believing that it is one of their favorite subjects. These students
communicate in Chinese in their daily life with 85% of the students choosing using
Chinese “sometimes” and 5% claim they never speak it outside the classroom. All
parents have at least one who can speak Chinese, and uses it at home with their
children.
Using Edmodo as a learning platform

Edmodo is specifically designed for classroom environment and resembles
Facebook in appearance. However, its secure platform ensures student safety and
privacy since teachers have full management control over their Edmodo page that is
linked with students’ accounts. Some of their key safety features include:
! students must be provided a class group code in order to join
! students can either share their posts with the entire class or privately with the
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teacher, but private conversations between students are not possible
! teachers can monitor messages before they are posted online by receiving
email notifications, and can delete inappropriate content anytime
In addition, Edmodo allows teachers to create groups, assign homework, schedule
quizzes, conduct polls and award badges and students can have access to materials
even after class.
Methodology

Before implementing Edmodo, parents were given an information letter
(Appendix A- Letter Home) the “Informed Consent Form” (Appendix B- consent
form) in order to obtain permission for their child to participate in Edmodo and take
part in the action research project. Parents were also provided the opportunity to ask
questions relating to Edmodo during the parents/teacher conference shortly after the
consent forms were distributed.
After all forms were signed and returned, I spent 40-minutes going over the
rules and expectations when using Edmodo. Students were repeatedly reminded to
stay on topic, proofread their posts, and not to ridicule others online. They were also
told to make an effort to complete all activities although they were not mandatory.
Since the students have participated in English discussion forums before, they
understood the importance of following these guidelines.
Pre-Survey

A Pre-survey was conducted prior to launching Edmodo to find out students’
linguistic background, attitude towards the Chinese language and usage of Chinese at
home. The results from this survey were later compared with the post survey in order
to identify students whose attitude might have been influenced by the use of Edmodo.
##
As their IT teacher, I administered the Pre-survey to 19 students during the pre-
documentation period with full participation. The survey was created on a Google
form and was conducted in the computer lab during their regular IT class. The results
were saved automatically on a Google spreadsheet.
The pre-survey questions were:
1. My parents speak Chinese at home.
2. When I speak to friends outside of school, I speak Chinese.
3. I speak Chinese outside of school.
4. My friends outside of school are mainly Chinese speaking.
5. When I use Chinese outside of school, it is related to school topics.
6. I like reading Chinese books or other materials outside of school.
7. I like writing Chinese during my free time.
8. I think learning Chinese is cool.
9. Chinese class is one of my favorite subjects.
10. I feel using Chinese is going to be useful in my life.
11. It is easier to express myself in Chinese than English.
The responses for the first three and the forth question included Sometimes, All the
Time, Never, and the rest of the questions included the responses Yes, No and Maybe.
For the full version of the questionnaire and results, refer to Appendix D: Pre-survey
questions and results.
Assigning Edmodo Tasks

During the one month research period, Edmodo tasks consisted of four main activities
that were designed by the IT and Chinese teacher to generate interest and stimulate
active learning. The Chinese teacher introduced the task in their regular Chinese class
on Monday and expected students to complete them by the following Monday.
#$
During the week, the IT teacher also reminded students to ask questions if they
encountered any technical difficulties. The four Edmodo tasks are described below:
Chinese riddles activity. Students were asked to use words or pictures to design a
riddle for their classmates and have them guess the Chinese character. This task was
an attempt for students to create original posts on Edmodo, as well as respond to
others and therefore, all posts and responses were made visible to members.

Collaborative story activity. In this activity, the Chinese teacher began a story
entitled “An Incredible Day” to which students must continue to elaborate on. Some
guidelines included using complete sentences, correct punctuation, be interesting and
creative, and possess the student’s original work. Just like the first task, all posts
were made visible to everyone in order to foster collaboration.
#%


Sentence Writing. This assignment was formatted as a “Quiz” on Edmodo that
allows teachers to create online quizzes and receive and provide instant feedback or
results. For this particular quiz, students were asked to write original sentences using
the structure “sometimes…” “Because of…” and “…or…” The question was scored
out of one. This quiz was an attempt to prepare students for the upcoming assessment
in a more interesting way using technology.

#&

“Tell me about your favorite person” speaking activity. For this task, students
were first asked to click onto a link to an audio recording on www.vocaroo.com,
where the Chinese teacher spoke about her favorite person. Students were then asked
to do a trial recording in their IT class to make sure they were able to use Vocaroo.
They were then required to speak about their own favorite person, giving some
reasons and background information on their choice.

For this task, students were first asked to click on a link to an audio recording
on www.vocaroo.com where the Chinese teacher spoke about her favorite person.
Students were then asked to do a trial recording in their IT class to make sure they
were able to use Vocaroo. They were then required to speak about their own favorite
person, giving some reasons and background information on their choice.
#'
Data collection
Student participation

A tally chart illustrates the student participation for each task and their
response levels. For Task 1, the columns are divided into students who had original
posts and those who responded to others because the students had the option of
creating riddles or answering them.

Post-survey
A post survey was administered after Task 4 was completed in order to find out
student’s thoughts on using Edmodo in their Chinese classroom. All students in the
class completed the survey during their regular IT class using a link directed to the
Google form. There were a total of 3 opened ended questions (Questions 3,4 and 6),
and 5 close-ended questions as listed below (See Appendix E- Post-survey questions
and results):
1. How often did you check your Edmodo account?
2. How much did you enjoy the Edmodo tasks?
3. How did you feel when someone responded to you on Edmodo?
4. How did you feel when reading your classmates’ posts?
5. Did Edmodo help you practice Chinese?
6. How did Edmodo help you practice Chinese?
7. How useful did you find other students’ and your teacher’s feedback?
#(
8. Do you think your class should continue to use Edmodo to learn Chinese?
Student Interview

When the Edmodo intervention was over, Max, Katrina and Eric were chosen
for the interview based on their participation and attitude. A range of values were
obtained from these three uniquely distinct sample groups: (a) Max – where his
participation remained low throughout (b) Katrina – a converter where her
participation went from low to high and (c) Eric – where his participation went
remained consistently high throughout he task and to understand the underlying
reasons of their participation. The overall aim of the interview was to find out the
impact of Edmodo on engagement and motivation.
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Data Analysis
Students’ liking towards Chinese

After analyzing the results from the pre-survey, it was found that 80% of the
class thinks learning Chinese is cool and that it is their favorite subject. A majority of
the students hold a positive attitude towards Chinese learning. For instance, 11 out of
19 students believe learning Chinese is “going to be useful in life” and 12 students
find it easier to express themselves in Chinese. The class uses Chinese frequently in
their daily lives outside of school either with friends, parents or for school work. A
little more than half the class dislike writing Chinese during their free time and there
#)
are a few individuals who appear to find Chinese difficult based on their responses
(See Appendix F- Student interviews)
Student Online Participation

Table 1 on the next page shows the number of times students contributed to
each of the activities that went on for seven days before the next activity was posted.
In the first task , the Chinese riddles activity, students were not restricted to
the number of posts, and there were a total number 151 posts on Edmodo. Eric was
the most active participant as he contributed a total of 45 times, the majority of the
original posts and responses. There were a few who contributed a fair amount while
there were four (Nathaniel, Sophie, Kathie, Max) who did not participate at all.
The second task was a collaborative story that began as a topic thread posted
by the teacher. Students could post as many times as they wanted, and as a result,
Eric, for example, contributed 15 times to the story. A total of 11 out of 19 students
took part in the task. Eight students did not submit their work.
As mentioned earlier, the third task was done in a “Quiz” format and
therefore, each student was only allowed to submit one response. 15 students
completed on time with 4 students submitting late.
In the final task, which was also set up as a “Quiz” as well, 12 out of 19
students finished their assignment.
Post-survey

The results form the post student survey indicated that all except one student
enjoyed Edmodo. 52% of the class liked it a lot, 43% somewhat liked it, and 9%
#*
Table 1
#+
liked it a little. All the students who received responses on Edmodo felt
positive about the experience and used the words “good,” “happy,” “excited,
“surprised” to describe their feelings. They felt equally “happy”, “excited” “curious”
and “good” when reading their classmates’ posts. 11 out of the 19 students described
enjoying using Edmodo to practice Chinese“ a lot,” 10 students somewhat” and 2
students ” a little”. When asked how Edmodo helped them learn Chinese, they gave
responses such as the different activities helped them with vocabulary and they got to
practice their speaking, listening and writing. All 19 students thought the class should
continue using Edmodo in the future.
!"#$%&" (&"%)*+%,
Max Tsai was selected for an interview based on his low participation and
negative attitude towards learning Chinese. The main reason for his inactive
participation on Edmodo was that he sometimes couldn’t think of what to write, and
he was also afraid his classmates would “disagree” or tease him after he posted a
comment. Max also stated that his father sometimes didn’t allow him to use the
computer. Although he felt that he was “more brave in class”, he still preferred using
Edmodo at home rather than at school where he would not need permissions from his
parents to use the computer.
Eric was chosen for an interview based on his high participation and positive
attitude towards learning Chinese. Edmodo kept him engaged throughout the four
weeks. He enjoyed Edmodo because he could share his Chinese riddles online and
test his knowledge when completing his assignments. He felt Edmodo helped him
improve his Chinese because he had to make decisions on the Chinese characters
when typing, and during the first Chinese riddles activity, he had to think deeply
$"
about the Chinese character’s structure when creating when solving others’ riddles.
Eric described the riddles and speaking as his two favorite activities on Edmodo.
Last, Katrina was interviewed because although she didn’t think Chinese to be
“cool”, she moderately participated on Edmodo. She enjoyed using Edmodo because
she got to use the computer, and she liked using it to “communicate with different
friends, students and classmates”. Her favorite activity was the Chinese riddles, and
she thought Edmodo helped her because of the “cool” assignments her teacher posted,
which allowed her to “find out much more Chinese than before”
Discussions

Before I implemented Edmodo, I began with the following questions:
! What effect did Edmodo have on students’ attitude towards Chinese learning?
! How to manage technology, namely social media platform to engage
language learning?

What effect did Edmodo have on students’ attitude towards Chinese learning?
For students who did not enjoy Chinese to begin with, Edmodo did not play a
significant role in changing their attitude. However, it did help students who like
Chinese as it offered a platform to share their learning and reinforce their learning as
part of their afterschool activity.
A longer observation period would substantiate the results as we would see the
full effects of Edmodo on the students’ motivation. A variety of tasks could then be
tested to gauge which tasks are more effective in engaging students. A homeroom
teacher could also conduct a survey to see what students are interested in, and design
tasks that incorporate some of those topics. In terms of learning abilities, students can
$#
be differentiated by language abilities and motivation levels. Tasks can then be
targeted towards tailoring the various groups.

How to manage technology, namely social media platform, to engage language
learning?
Edmodo was launched in April which was the last quarter of the school
year. Next time, it is probably more appropriate to start using Edmodo earlier so that
(a) students will have more time familiarizing with features on Edmodo, just when
they are familiarizing themselves with their classroom environment and homework
routines. It might be overwhelming to add a technology component early on (b)
teachers and parents can get sufficient training as they need to be an integral
stakeholder in working with their children and sharing in the learning process. For
example, an afterschool workshop could be held for parents on the use of Edmodo as
well as its implications on learning. Educating parents on the positive effect of using
social media in the classroom could possibly encourage students to log in at
home. The parents’ workshop would also be an ideal time to set up parents account,
so they can stay up-to-date with their child’s assignment, participation and feedback
on Edmodo.
Task design

Although Roger (2004) suggested to keep technological tools “unstructured,
unconscious or unpurposeful.” if it was used for language learning, I could not have
allowed an unstructured learning environment on Edmodo because of issues that
parents would raise on the educational benefits of social media. Rather, the tasks that
were introduced were all carefully planned/adjusted by the teachers week-by-week.
We decided to refrain from planning all the activities from the start so that better
$$
considerations could be taken on students’ workload and what they were learning at
school. Also, every task began with instructions, examples and expectations to ensure
students were clear on what to do. We thought this structure worked well since
some tasks required multiple steps.
Since both the Chinese teacher and I believed the parents would be reluctant to let
students log in when there were upcoming tests, we targeted the third (sentence
writing) and fourth task (speaking practice) as preparations for their written and oral
assessments. Students found the sentence-writing task to be more engaging than a
review worksheet since they could type and submit their sentences online. Many
students also enjoyed the speaking practice which could not be accomplished without
the use of technology.
The surveys and interviews both indicated that students generally enjoyed all the
activities, but the most popular one was the Chinese riddles. It was a simple task
which allowed students to express creativity while leveraging their knowledge of
Chinese characters. It was the only task that was not directly related to what the
students were studying in Chinese class, yet it was one with the most participation. It
was an effective activity to get students interested in Edmodo, and similar tasks could
be used periodically used in the future to give students a “break” from their Chinese
workbook practice.
Participation

To encourage participation, the homeroom teacher could better explain the types of
rewards and how to earn them. Perhaps a checklist could be distributed so that students
can keep track of their own participation. Teachers could also create personalized badges
(a feature on Edmodo) to reward students for specific behavior.
$%
Challenges

One challenge encountered on Edmodo was that as students kept posting one after
another, the original task assigned by the teacher became hidden and hard to locate. For
instance, the activity for the first riddles became so popular that they soon occupied most
of the recent posts. It soon became difficult for students to search for the teacher
instructions, and this may have contributed to some students not submitting their
work. Therefore, discussions would be better organized if each of the topics were given
its own thread, separate from other conversations to avoid confusion.
Another challenge was the “over-participation” of certain students that might
discourage others from posting. In the future, students could be reminded that they are
only required to contribute one to five posts per discussion in order to earn a
reward. Some students who are over-achievers won’t have to worry that they are not
contributing enough during online discussions.
Implications and Conclusion
For Students

For students who did not enjoy Chinese to begin with, Edmodo did not play a
significant role in making them participate more. However, it helped students who
like Chinese as it offered a platform to share their learning and reinforce their learning
as part of their after school activity. From the interviews, we learned that for some
students, Edmodo can still be intimidating because they are concerned with getting
teased or ridiculed. More time would be needed to transition to an online
environment where they make full use of its potential for collaboration.
For parents:

Parents will need to understand that Edmodo is a new way of learning which
supplements work done in the classroom. Parents would benefit by being able to share
$&
in their child’s learning and participate in the development process. Moreover, they
would see the power of an online platform where learning can be mobile and
interactive in a non-traditional way.
For teachers

Teachers, who are the key gate-keeepers in the process, can guide the students in
the way they utilize Edmodo. Students clearly enjoy Edmodo because of its
interactive nature of learning, but in order to prevent it from becoming a “chat room”,
teachers need to set clear limitations on what types of conversations are
appropriate. Also, the type of tasks teachers assign seemed to have an influence on
how students view Edmodo as a whole. Therefore, it is important to keep a balance
between an educational task that relates to their studies, and one that is fun and
engaging. Though setting up and fine tuning Edmodo will take time in the short run,
teachers will find it a useful too as it (a) reduces the administration burden of
traditional teaching (b) allows for teachers to focus on priority areas in the classroom
and (c ) allows teachers to customize learning that cater to the students individual
needs and skills sets.
Conclusion

In conclusion, Edmodo offers an excellent way in which teachers can
effectively engage with students in the classroom environment. However, teachers
should not assume that when students post a task on a forum, they are necessarily
engaged. Teachers need to be proactive, see through the inherent qualities of the
students’ work and provide relevant feedback. Similarly, parents and students should
be given training prior to launching Edmodo to overcome any technological
challenges.
$'
References

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Appendices

$)
Appendix A- Letter Home

Dear Parents,

For the remainder of the year, we will be using Edmodo in 3 Zhi as a pilot project.
The goal of the project two fold: (1) to see if it would further encourage students to
use Chinese to express their views on an online platform and (2) to allow students to
share ideas and respect others’ work through constructive peer response. If the
feedback is positive from parents/students, we plan to introduce this to other
classrooms.

For those who may not be aware, Edmodo is a free and secure learning network for
teachers, students, and schools. It provides a safe way for teachers and students to
connect, share content, participate in discussions and receive class information.
Edmodo can also be downloaded on your android or IOS device for easier access.

Unlike other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, Edmodo is a tool strictly
for educational purposes and we will be enforcing the following guidelines:

1. Students will be required to use appropriate grammar instead of texting
language
2. Edmodo does not allow private student-to-student messaging - the site will be
used to discuss school-related content only, and the teacher will monitor all
Edmodo activity
3. No put-downs or sarcasm toward another’s ideas.

Students who violate the guidelines above may face disciplinary action and/or face
losing the privilege of using Edmodo.

As the main purpose is to increase language usage, teachers will purposely be
avoiding making error correction. However, this does not mean that students should
neglect the importance of grammar. We advise students to reflect carefully before
posting their work.

As we would like for the students to take full ownership, we request that parents
purposely refrain from posting questions on their behalf.

I look forward to incorporating the use of technology into our Chinese curriculum. If
you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you,
T.Chui, Ms Williams, Ms Lee

1hls ls your chlld's logln lnformaLlon: ________________



$*
Appendix B- Informed consent form

Informed Consent Form
Authorization for a Minor to Serve as a Research Participant

Dear Parents,

I will be conducting a study in our Information Technology class to determine
whether the use of social media tools and platforms such as Edmodo will help
increase students’ engagement in language learning. I am writing to ask permission
to use the data that I collect from your child during this process. Participation in this
study involves student questionnaires and interviews. You may contact me at any
time regarding your child’s participation. My school email is chtlee@isf.edu.hk. Dr.
Malcolm Pritchard has approved this study.

The purpose of the study is to research the challenges and benefits in using
Edmodo. The study will last until middle of June. During the study, I will collect
various forms of data to determine whether the use of Edmodo is successful. Possible
types of data I will include questionnaires, interviews and observations.
Benefits of participating in this study mainly include the potential use of
Edmodo in the curriculum. I will have sole access to the data collected in this study.
Your child’s participation in this project is strictly confidential.
Use of data from your child is voluntary. You may contact me at any time if
you do not wish to have your child’s data included in the study. I will be happy to
share the data or report findings with the Grade 3 parents community once completed.

Please check the appropriate box below and sign the form:

" I give permission for my child’s data to be used in this study. I understand that I
will receive a signed copy of this consent form. I have read this form and understand
it.

" I do not give permission for my child’s data to be included in this project.



Student’s name Signature of parent/guardian

_______________ _______________



___________________
Date



$+
Appendix D: Pre-Student Survey questions and results






















%"
Appendix E- Post-survey questions and results









































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Appendix F- Student interviews

Eric’s Interview

T: Teacher
S: Eric

T: Hi Eric so I noticed that you are a very active participant on Edmodo, and you also
had a very positive attitude towards learning Chinese. So, I want to ask you, what did
you like about Edmodo?

S: I like that we can share our riddles online, and test our knowledge online, and
improve our Chinese.

T: Good! So, I want to ask you, do you think Edmodo helped you with your
Chinese?

S: It helped me to recognize some special 文字 and 結構, and it helped me in
writing.

T: I see. So you had more practice in writing?

S: Yea

T: Do you usually practice writing Chinese at home?

S: Not really but sometimes in my diary, I write Chinese once.

T: I see. So which of the four tasks was your favorite task? Was it the riddle,
speaking activity, collaborative story, or 寫句子

S: I think I have two.

T: Which two.

S: The riddle activity and the speaking.

T: You enjoyed the speaking one?

S: Yeah on 最喜歡的人

T: OK Thank you. Eric.










%$
Katrina’s Interview

T: Teacher
S: Katrina

T: Ok Katrina, so at first in the survey, you said you didn’t think Chinese is cool,
right? Yes, but then I noticed that you were participating on Edmodo. Okay, so, I
want to ask you, did you like using Edmodo?

S: Yup

T: Why did you like using Edmodo?

S: Because it was using the computer and also, Edmodo is just like the weebly.

T: Oh…so you like using the Weebly

S: can communicate with different friends...or… students and your classmates.

T: So which of the activities did you like the best. Was it the riddle, the story where
you had to keep writing, or is it the sentence one, remember, or the speaking one?

S: I like the riddle the best

T: Ok so the riddle the best. So how did Edmodo help you learn Chinese?

S: Edmodo helped me learn Chinese because the teacher will always put on different
cool…. assignments for us to do and I find out that I find out much more Chinese than
before.

T: Thank you Katrina, that’s all!














%%

Max's Interview

T: Teacher
S: Max Tsai

T: Okay so Max, so I noticed that you didn’t really participate on Edmodo and at the
beginning when we did the survey, you said that you didn’t think learning Chinese is
too cool. So, I want to ask you, and you are not in trouble, I just want to find out the
reasons, why didn’t you do the first three tasks on Edmodo?

S: Cuz I can’t think of ..what I should write...and I think that maybe the other ..my
classmates will disagree with me.

T: So you are a little afraid that your classmates will disagree? And..what would
make you go on Edmodo more next time? What would help? Give the teachers some
suggestions.

S: More brave?

T: So you think you need to be more brave? In class, are you more brave than on
Edmodo? Or are you more brave on Edmodo?

S: In class.

T: You are more brave in class? Okay, so would it be more helpful...

S: Because my dad doesn’t want me to watch the computer for a long time.

T: I see. So would it be more helpful f you did your Edmodo assignments in IT class
or at home or you don’t think there is a difference?

S: I don’t want to do it in class because at school I can’t like...do the Zooburst.

T: So you prefer doing it at home? Okay, thank you Max!