Towards design patterns and a pattern language for CALL design

Year: 2018

Author: Sun, Susan Y. H.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The ever-advancing digital technology (in particular, the information and communication technologies, and social media) in the past two to three decades has resulted in a deeply technology-entrenched educational landscape. Learners have become more autonomous and are having greater control over choices of what, why, how, where and when they learn. This has not only resulted in significant pedagogical shifts (e.g. from teacher-centred to learner-centred), but also the re-thinking of and re-designing for contemporary learning context and experience. Learning design is gradually being recognized as a joint adventure by all its stakeholders – the professional designers, teachers, learners and researchers, architects, online developers and so on. There is a real demand for design approaches which could enable and support conversations among all participants in the design process and help people understand and take more control in educational design.
This study introduces the idea of educational design patterns and pattern languages from the field of learning design. It attempts to connect epistemic/task design of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) to the pattern-based approach, which is a design paradigm responding to the changed contemporary learning context. The pattern-based approach aims to communicate design ideas and experience with various participants in the learning process. Its designers and practitioners share a strong desire to not ‘re-invent the wheel’. They do this by systematically capturing, codifying design experiences and making good designs explicit, comprehensible and sharable in and across disciplines, and beyond. Drawing on the approach, this study examines several cases of task design found in the CALL literature and two others from a fully online language (Mandarin) course. It provides an analysis of the cases and evaluation of potential advantages/benefits of adopting a pattern-based approach in CALL design. The purpose is to explore and extend the already well researched field of CALL task design (e.g. technology-mediated task-based language teaching, various frameworks for task description, specification and sequencing) to include design patterns and a pattern language. This study also aims to propose an initial set of design patterns for CALL before it concludes with ideas for future work.