1 Aoyama Gakuin University (JAPAN)
2 The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) (JAPAN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 3050-3056
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.0650
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
AI smart speakers can be experienced efficiently and smoothly using hand-held devices, which can enhance the construction of broader learning environments and viewpoints (Kepuska & Bohouta, 2018). AI and mobile technologies have succeeded in transforming learning methodologies such as blended learning (BL) which combines traditional face-to-face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities, resulting in a more integrated approach to language learning. The focus of the first case study was on improving 21st-century learning skills for developing intercultural awareness of Japanese undergraduates. The participants were 23 AGU students who studied English over an eight-month period with the assistance of AI smart speakers and documented their experiences using their smartphones. Students delivered presentations of their impressions of the BL-training program, with the results indicating the training had a positive effect on improving their English and intercultural communication skills. Pretest and posttest TOEIC scores were used to assess the overall effectiveness of the BL-learning program in both case studies. TOEIC score gains indicated the BL program incorporating the AI speakers improved the students’ overall English skills. Moreover, a post-training survey revealed students were impressed with the AI speakers to improve English skills, which also impacted their perspectives on how to study English and provided contextualization and socialization to their learning through the interactive and meaningful context of the training. The second case study was implemented online from May 2020 to January 2021 using Zoom, Facebook, Line, Messenger, and Moodle. The online lessons were conducted with AGU students and National University of Singapore (NUS) students using the following pedagogy: FL (Flipped learning), DBL (Challenge-based learning), TBL (Task-based learning), PBL (Problem-solving learning), and COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning). The pedagogical training focused on helping students to find solutions to the many issues now being faced by humanity in the 21st century. Throughout the online program, training in higher order thinking skills was emphasized. The third case study was conducted for eight weeks from October 2020 to November 2020. 19 AGU students and 19 NUS students participated in a joint seminar which was conducted using Zoom. In both case studies, students delivered final presentations which were evaluated using the PeerEval software. The students benefited from the language and cultural exchanges and provided positive feedback about the 8-week virtual seminar. Results revealed students enjoyed the online classes and felt they were beneficial in terms of effective use of time, location, and easy access to teachers and students.

Other key results:
(1) 70% of students felt the online classes improved their speaking skills;
(2) 80% felt the international exchange with NUS students positively impacted their intercultural communication skills;
(3) 65% felt PeerEval was effective;
(4) the longer students participated in the online classes, and the more they expect to use virtual reality in the future (t(124)=10.46, p<.001).

Whereas students preferred the online English classes, they used the internet in Japanese outside of class. These results suggest COIL can provide students with many opportunities to use English on a regular basis.
Flipped Learning, COVID-19, 21st century skills, COIL.