Learning English for a Specific Purpose

There is a lot of technology out there that ESL teachers like to incorporate into their classrooms as a way to help engage and educate their students, but there are a few things to take into consideration before incorporating new technology into an ESL classroom.

The first question to ask, “was this technology specifically created for ESL”? Chances are, the answer to this question is no. There is not a lot of technology out there that is specifically designed for ESL classrooms (in-person or online). This poses a few problems for ESL teachers. For one, the teachers have to figure out how to incorporate the technology in a way that not only engages their students, but also how to get their students to understand the purpose of using the technology. Meaning, if the students cannot see an immediate return on investment or benefit, they simply will not engage with the technology.

The second question to ask, “does this technology have a specific purpose in the ESL classroom, or is it just an ancillary after-thought within the curriculum/syllabus”? There is an age-old rule throughout the ESL community with regard to the use of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), “never put technology in the classroom simply for the sake of putting technology in the classroom.” Some ESL teachers often incorporate technology into the classroom simply for the sake of trying to engage and educate their students, but they often fail to consider that most technology is not specifically designed for ESL, and therefore can be more of a hindrance rather than a benefit. After a while, the focus is on the technology rather than the learning. To this end, when the technology does not maximize the learning experience… students become bored and disengaged. In all fairness, most younger students can figure out how to use the technology with minimal English language capability, but they need to understand “why” they are using the technology in the first place. Meaning, the students need to be able to correlate the ESL language class to a future endeavor (e.g. a job, a career, higher education, et cetera). In the end, if ESL students cannot see the purpose of technology, as it pertains to their specific life and career goals, they will not get the most out of the training.

At Creative Veteran Productions (CVP), we consider all aspects of ESL training, which is why we focus on the “purpose” of ESL and the “end-needs” of the students. Our English for a Specific Purpose (ESP) training solution addresses the students’ concern of an “immediate return on investment.” We understand that ESL information must not only be relevant and contextual, but also be delivered in a way that allows students to apply the information and skills immediately; practical, active application ensures the highest degree of language retention. To do this, our ESP gaming concept provides a crucial ingredient into the overall paradigm; it entertains! Our triune learning paradigm utilizes the “Entertain, Engage, Educate” concept because we understand that training must Entertain in order to Engage the new learners of today and tomorrow. Meaning, in order to Educate, the materials must be Engaging. And, in order to be Engaging, the materials must be Entertaining. To be Entertaining, the materials must be Active.

By incorporating this approach into our Instructional Systems Design (ISD) process, we are able to develop ESP training that answers both of the two questions above. Yes, this technology we specifically designed for ESL training, and it is used for a Specific Purpose – it provides immediate performance capabilities specifically designed to promote ESL within a skill set. Here is a brief look inside our gaming concept “English for a Specific Purpose (ESP) Learning Game – Construction Series: Framing.”

This ESP gaming concept not only incorporates active learning in a virtual environment, but it ties a specific skill set to the purpose of learning English. This helps engage the learner because it offers real life application to a future job or career (in this case, construction), which makes the learning practical and contextual.

Our team is very excited about bringing something new to the language learning community. To find out more about, contact our sales team and see how our ESP solution can help maximize your students’ classroom performance.

“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”

~ Confucius, circa 450BC

Applied Virtual Reality

On November 28th, CVP demoed what we call Applied VR at the I/ITSEC conference in Orlando, FL. Our demo showcased the potential Virtual Reality can have when applied to immersive training. However, we think Virtual Reality is only half the story, we believe that Augmented Reality or better yet, Mixed Reality, has just as much of an important role to play in the future of immersive training.

Today, we received our #HoloLens Development Kit from Microsoft and are very excited to start exploring the edges of what is possible in Mixed Reality. How can Mixed Reality be applied to Serious Gaming for the purposes of creating meaningful immersive learning experiences?

Over the past few years the ever-growing Virtual Reality community has focused on immersing you into a Virtual World. We believe it is time to take the immersive learning story further by also making your physical environment the canvas for your immersive training. That’s the promise of Mixed Reality… your world, augmented. In keeping with our core philosophy to Entertain – Engage – Educate, and in looking at the future of “Mixed Reality at World Scale”, we think the time is now for immersive Mixed Reality training.

Virtual and Mixed Reality allows us to remove the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds. They allow us the freedom to create applied immersive learning experiences that immerse and engage the learner, in a way that can drive training retention and accelerate learning.

Click here to read more about the differences between virtual, augmented and mixed reality

The Genesis and Future of 3D Serious Gaming

In order to get the most out of your company’s training budget, it is important to understand the starting point and evolution of 3D Serious Gaming from where it started, to where it is today, and where the future might take us.

clipart_imagesAs training and education began progressing into the digital realm, we first saw “gameful design” come onto the scene as a way to break up the monotony of the otherwise flat-delivery of information. Two-dimensional (2D) clip art, cartoons and rudimentary animations made the delivery of dry material more palatable, but it lacked any form of interaction by the learner. While it did change the way we approached training, it was simply a more creative and fun way to package and deliver passive learning materials.

In the evolutionary process, “gamification” began to set the stage for active participation in a virtual environment. This new style of training started to engage learners with fun and interactive features to help them better focus on the tedious material that was being presented. These “Gaming Elements” consisted of point-based and badging systems that allowed progression during a training session and even offered a hierarchy of merit for those that outperformed their peers (leaderboards). The gamification of training provided unofficial competition between employees and began to place greater emphasis on skills gamificationperformance and achievement during a training session. Badging and leaderboards gave visual representations of skills accomplishment and knowledge gained. Eventually, simple gamification of training content evolved into Serious Gaming, and the training and education industry began to completely change the way we viewed computer-based learning. As technology has become less expensive and more accessible, we have finally entered into the world of 3D Serious Gaming and Virtual Reality wherein learning is only limited by the imagination of what is possible.

With the future of 3D Serious Gaming upon us, and with so many options available, what sets one platform apart from another? For some, it lies within the realistic graphic design. For others, it is the “wow factor”. For Creative Veteran Productions (CVP), it comes down to packaging all of the above and applying the three basic principle of our core philosophy: Entertain. Engage. Educate. Having seen the early stages of computer-based training and having eagerly participated in its transformation into the world of 3D Serious Gaming and Virtual Reality, CVP has consistently maintained its focus on designing, developing and delivering training products that Entertain and Engage learners in order to Educate them on the topics and skills they need to acquire. We focus on both the Instructional System Design elements and the kinesthetic learning aspect in order to provide a powerful platform that delivers active and innovative ways to conduct training. At CVP, we not only believe in the possibilities of what training can become, we bring those possibilities to life and turn them into a Virtual Reality.

Experience the future of Serious Gaming today! http://www.creativevet.com/

 

“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”                                           

– Confucius, circa 450 BC

The Kinesthetics of 3D Serious Gaming

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn began promoting changes in basic assumptions and fundamental principles within the scientific community; today, this approach is known as a paradigm shift. Likewise, as advent technology continually revolutionizes the way human beings interact and learn, it is paramount to understand paradigm shifts as they apply to training and education.

The axioms of education lie within the fundamental principles of constructivism and constructionism wherein students create knowledge structures through progressive internalization of actions in which they consciously engage and reach their own respective cognitive potentials at their own relative pace. However, these axioms are predicated on the corollary of balance between academic pragmatics and performance application opportunities. In traditional classroom environments, read podium style instruction, it is difficult to give actual meaning to intangible concepts without correlating them to practical application practices. Meaning, active, hands-on application of knowledge provides experiential learning opportunities that support the fundamental principles of constructivism and constructionism, as well as reinforce intangible academic concepts that are delivered as passive information.

As technology becomes more democratized and accessible, it is possible to overlook the fact that computers are machines, not pedagogical methods. Specifically, new technology, such as 3D Serious Gaming and similar Virtual Training methodologies, is often met with confusion as how to apply it to time-honored pedagogical practices. In this regard, CVP assumes the next paradigm shift is upon us and we are taking the opportunity to demonstrate how these new technologies can enhance traditional learning and teaching methodologies.

In keeping with active learning principles (kinesthetic learning), Virtual Training, whether synchronous or asynchronous, provides a planned series of actions or events to invite the participant to process, apply, interact and share experiences as part of the learning process. As we continue to recondition existing technology to make it more efficient and flexible, we observe that participants, when they are involved in their learning rather than being passive observers, are more likely to master the information or concepts presented, apply them to their practice, and retain the information more efficiently. This is because our processes and platforms place less emphasis on transmitting information and more emphasis on developing participant skills via practical, relevant, real-world application (e.g. digital experiential learning).

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Participant conducting medical training on CVPP’s Virtual Reality training system.

With the democratization of 3D Serious Gaming and Virtual Training technology, CVP is able to redefine the traditional classroom by providing active, kinesthetic learning without limitations. In our active Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), teachers and students are not limited to the constraints of what can be accomplished within the physical confines of a classroom. This is because teachers are able to provide simultaneous academic and performance-based synchronous instruction, and students are able to garner instantaneous connections to intangible and abstract concepts.

Moreover, we also understand the time-limiting factors that prevent full participant attendance in a virtual, synchronous training session, which is why our platform also offers an asynchronous solution for participants to conduct training in an independent capacity by allowing them to interact with Non-Player Characters (NPCs) at times that are conducive to their busy schedules. We accomplish this by incorporating testing dynamics and scaffolding principles into a given session that only allow participants to advance after meeting predefined thresholds of comprehension and understanding of the subject matter material. Meaning, in an asynchronous session that is absent a teacher or instructor who would traditionally guide a participant to meet objectives, our Virtual Training platform ensures the participant follows a logical flow of study in order to meet objectives in the same manner as if it were a live session with a teacher and other participants.

In the end, our Virtual Training solution ties in the aspects of kinesthetic learning, constructivism and constructionism while changing the paradigm of how we approach standard training and education. By redefining to conceptual notion of the classroom, we are able to help businesses deliver new information to their younger employees by offering a digital perspective that connects with the way the rising generation learns.


“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”                                           

– Confucius, circa 450 BC


Experience the future of Serious Gaming today! http://www.creativevet.com/

Is Your Business Ready for the Future?

The next generation of Americans are beginning to reshape the face of the workplace as we know it, and businesses that want to remain on the leading edge of success need to understand how to not only integrate this population into their work environment, but also how to train them to perform functions that ensure growth and success in their respective industries. Richard Fry, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center and an expert on school and college enrollment in the US, states that by 2020, the rising generation will comprise 50% of the work force (2015). In this regard, businesses must adapt their training strategies to support a generation with an affinity towards the digital world. This rising generation has ambitious career aspirations and want to bring their knowledge of new technologies into a 21st century workplace. In fact, this is the first time in history wherein young adults are entering the labor market with a far better grasp of key business tools than the senior managers who will be hiring them into entry-level positions.

Having grown up with global connection to the world around them through smartphones, tablets, laptops and social media, Virtual Training is becoming the new industry standard for how businesses deliver training to their younger employees. Whether by interactive 2D webinars or kinesthetic Virtual Reality 3D Serious Games, businesses are starting to understand that the future of yesterday is here upon us. For some, they fear the unknown, and a great deal of employers and senior management professionals believe they are at a disadvantage because they fear the price tag for revamping their training programs to accommodate this next generation of worker will be costly, time-intensive and negatively impact productivity. Because training is an investment in the future of a given business, decision-makers need to be able to tie a return on investment to the money they spend to train their employees.

The good news is that advent processes are democratizing the technology needed to modernize their respective training programs. By reconditioning existing technology to make it more efficient and flexible, the process of bringing their legacy training programs into the 21st century becomes more cost effective than originally anticipated, which allows them to scale their training as their companies grows.

Creative Veteran Productions understands this requirement for the rising generation, which is why we design, develop, and deliver scalable Virtual Training to meet the most basic to most advanced needs of a company while ensuring the process remains cost effective as a company expands its training program.

Experience the future of Serious Gaming today! http://www.creativevet.com/


Fry, Richard (2015, May 11). Millennials Surpass Gen Xers as the Largest Generation in U.S. Labor Force. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/


The Role of Serious Gaming in Secondary Language Acquisition/Learning

As a foreign language educator who holds an almost unwavering approach to traditional classroom learning, I often question the direction of today’s educational methodologies and wonder if they are doing more damage than good. When we, as foreign language educators, find new technology we immediately look at how we can integrate that technology into the classroom, but we often overlook the intricate details that matter most.

  • Was this technology designed for the purpose I am going to use it?
  • What are the limiting factors that will make this technology irrelevant after a few weeks/months/years?
  • What is the return on educational investment for trying to convince others to integrate this technology into the mainstream organization?
  • Will this technology teach students poor study skills?

These are very important questions to ask, and even more important considering Millennials, persons born within the two decades before the turn of the 21st century, will soon make up fifty percent (50%) of the global working age population… and they grew up refining the use of technology as part of their core physiological development skills. As these Millennials continue to enter the workforce and climb their respective corporate ladders, it is apparent there is absolutely no way around incorporating technology into the “classroom”, especially when that technology can make Secondary Language Acquisition/Learning (SLA/L) training more relevant, immersive and cost effective.

But, while Millennials will soon make up half of the working age population, what about those that have had to adapt to technology? As a member of the cusp’er generation, meaning I am in between the Baby Boomers/Gen X’ers and the Millennials, I can see the controlling generation slowly making room for the rising generations beneath them. However, how can the controlling generation pass the baton to the rising generation unless they impart their knowledge? And how can they pass along that knowledge unless it is done in a meaningful way that connects with how the younger generations learn?

Because technology moves almost as fast as the genius minds that create it, there is a large gap between “knowledge givers” and “knowledge seekers”. Those who have the knowledge and experience want to pass it along to the knowledge seekers, but technology often inhibits a seamless process because knowledge givers cannot fully relate to the technological medium through which knowledge must be transferred. Point blank, traditional classroom-style SLA/L is simply not compatible with Millennials’ approach to learning, but that is because foreign language training needs to be “active” instead of “passive”, and traditional classroom SLA/L training cannot offer any meaningful level of active immersion. Because our educational system is designed around the physical classroom, we have to find a happy medium through which knowledge and experience can be transferred.

The good news is that advent processes are democratizing the technology needed to modernize the SLA/L classroom, whether physical or virtual. In terms of 3D Serious Gaming, we are now able to use Augmented Reality (AR) in lieu of traditional Virtual Reality (VR), which is the keystone ingredient that is often misunderstood by those of us that had to learn about technology rather than growing up with it.

For years, classrooms have augmented physical, real-world environments with computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, et cetera, and with the decrease in costs of AR, we can now envision merging real and virtual worlds wherein physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time (*see Microsoft Hololens). It is important to note that traditional VR is just now becoming affordable and widely available enough to enter the traditional classroom; however, AR is still in its infancy comparatively. Regardless of current cost and availability, we, as educators, must start to consider what that means for the future of Serious Gaming with regard to SLA/L. In short, training will no longer be limited by the constraints of the physical world. Very soon, we will be able to use the traditional SLA/L classroom in a way that connects with the way Millennials learn, and we will be able to do it in a much more cost effective manner than before.

While we see AR as becoming the norm for training, it doesn’t mean legacy SLA/L training will all of the sudden becomes obsolete. Instead, this is simply a new modality to deliver training. It will make academic and performance SLA/L instruction simultaneous by changing the way we see our physical environment, which will enrich the learning experience for the learners. This is because it will allow traditional SLA/L educators to remain attached to their physical classrooms while also allowing for richer, more in-depth teaching points in a more immersive, interactive and augmented manner. This point notwithstanding, the use of AR technology must be focused and purposeful. Meaning, there must an intentional design and reason for the technology to exist within the SLA/L classroom; it cannot be introduced without any cognitive foresight or anticipatory direction.

Understanding that technology cannot simply replace SLA/L academic classroom instruction, we do see how technology can supplement and vastly improve the practical application portions of career field curricula wherein teachers can assist learners with the hands-on application of a given skill and the technical language needed to master it. For example, Creative Veteran Productions (CVP) has built an English for a Specific Purpose (ESP) training course that uses VocAdemics to address the parallel non-disparateness between academic lexis and occupational vernacular that often hinders SLA/L. Meaning, ESL students become overwhelmed with and fixate on information that has no discernible or connected meaning between the multitude of concepts they are learning (both academic and career technical alike), so they require more “hands-on” skills training to help correlate practical application to academic concepts.

Of particular importance, amongst the foreign-born workers/job-seekers community, there is a lack of functional and job-based technical English language skills, which impacts their ability to fully integrate into the US workforce. In its most basic form, our English for a Specific Purpose (ESP) VocAdemic program allows job-seekers to develop their functional English language skills as well as their technical English language skills while refining the focus to specific trades or skills.

For example, in the construction trades it is important to make sure a “rough opening is plumb, level and square”. However, in mathematics classes, we teach concepts such as vertical, horizontal, parallel and perpendicular; these are the same concepts, but they are the academic lexical versions of their respective “on-the-job, occupational vernacularisms.” There is no direct correlation between the words themselves because we teach them as disparate singular concepts relative to each respective skill set, and, while students understand the use of mathematics in construction, they still view them as completely dissimilar concepts with no discernible relationship.

In this regard, when technology is focused to enhance SLA/L academic objectives through real-time performance interaction in a Virtual Environment, it helps expedite practical fluency and gives relevance to why the learner is participating in the first place. Within the ESL community, it is best summed up through a Confucius saying circa 450 BC, “Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.” By using VR or AR, we can accelerate the correlation of more intangible and abstract concepts, which drastically increases functional fluency.

To learn more about the SLA/L virtual learning concept, please watch the instructional video for our ESP Learning Games Construction Series: Framing.