My M.A. thesis sample course

Hi everyone, 

I´d like to share with you a sample course I developed with Storyline as part of my thesis to get an M.A. in Applied Linguistics.You´ll notice that it´s very linguistically-oriented because , well, it serves my research purposes  

My dissertation is entitled "Linguistic Modeling of Online Tourist Guides and Computer-based applications" and it presents an in-depth linguistic analysis of 60 online tourist guides in order to (1) identify the general organization of this type of texts, (2) identify sentence patterns which can be considered characteristic of this genre and (3) design a computer- based application to help ESL (English as a Second Language) students write effective tourist guides. 

The course was designed by drawing upon the theoretical assumptions of Systemic Functional Linguistics as well as the linguistic and statistical analysis of the corpus. 

Sample course (Version 2 - Updated September, 17th, 2012)

Important note: The course includes links to three external sources that constitute part of my corpus and have been properly acknowledged in my thesis (Credit: © British Tourist Authority 2003, http://www.visitbritain.com/en/EN/ ). Some sample sentences have been extracted from these links only for research purposes:

http://www.visitbritain.com/en/Destinations-and-Maps/History-and-heritage/Oxford.htm

http://www.visitbritain.com/en/Destinations-and-Maps/Cities-and-towns/Cardiff.htm

http://www.visitbritain.com/en/Destinations-and-Maps/Cities-and-towns/London.htm

Have a great day!

Mayra

27 Replies
Daniel Brigham

Hi, Mayra:

Thanks for sharing, a few suggestions for the future:

1. I jumped write in and read quickly, but given the course material I wasn't totally sure of the topic. Maybe I was moving too quickly, but then again some learners move very quickly. Too quickly, like me.

2. After I finished the first knowlege check, I wasn't totally sure how to proceed. I like the arrow in the lower right, but that didn't do anything. You make want to make the navigation a bit clearer.

3. Tip regarding feedback on select multiple knowlege checks. I suggest putting in the feedback something like "you've either selected an incorrect answer or have not selected all of the correct answers." That way, the learner has a better idea of why they are wrong.

David Anderson

Hey Mayra!

What a cool way to work in Storyline. Does this mean you're officially finished with your program?

You've got some neat concepts going in your course. In particular, the sentence structure example is one I really liked. What a great activity for learning terms, phrases:

The interactive, branching mind map was also a neat idea. I liked the branching topics for visualizing relationships.

Thanks for sharing your project!

Jamie Morgan

I agree with David, some interesting approaches to presenting the topic at hand.

The one suggestion I have for future development is watching what you use for the next arrow. In this project, you literally have to be on the lines of the next arrow to be able to click it. This might be difficult for some to see and they'll assume the button is broken. Might be easier for navigation if the whole square of the next arrow is clickable.

Other than that - good job!

Mayra Aixa Villar

Thanks a lot, David!

Yes, I am "almost" done! Now, I am studying hard because I have to present it next month and if I get a high grade I can apply for a scholarship to pursue a PhD degree. 

I am very glad that you like the activities. I have included theory-grounded explanations for each concept/activity in my thesis so some of them might be a little bit difficult to understand without that proper context. But I wanted to share this project anyway. Hopefully, some community fellows can find some of the ideas useful

Danielle M Villegas

Hola querida--

I did not go through all of it, but there was one feature that I had to mention, because through the parts that I did complete, it was a consistent issue. 

While I understand the need to have the submit button on a given page as the learner can try multiple times to get the information done correctly, once the learner has answered correctly, the submit button should disappear. It was not always intuitive to me to click below to the next button. My natural inclination was to click again on the submit button.  Perhaps when the learner has responded correctly to an exercise, the submit button can change to a "continue" button, which is actually just another next button really, just so the learner can move along.  That feature just stuck out at me a lot. Does that make sense?

Otherwise, I would agree with commentary above, and I'm sure you are still working on it. I love the topic--it made me want to go back and visit the UK again!  

I hope this helps, amiga.

Bruce Graham

Hi,

I will not cover what's been said, it's all good (Navigation is unclear and needs more explanation or simplification), but just a couple of other thoughts:

  • I loved the "map" concept at the start, what a clever (and obvious!) way to introduce a course.
  • When I run the course the word "thesis" appears - a fuller title would make a more compelling browser tab title.
  • I would change "Click here" to "Click the images".
  • I would customise the colour of the "Correct" and "Incorrect" labels on questions.
  • Should "world leading" be "World-leading"?
  • LOVE the use of crumpled-paper texture on the 3 x city graphics.
  • You mention the presentation/description/offer formula, but then immediately (in Review Text 1) show an example which just has Description and Offer. I find this confusing.
  • I am not so keen on the visuals used at the beginning of "Study and Learn", which do not seem congruent with the imagery and styles used up to that point in the course.
  • Like David, I absolutely LOVE the rollover activity to highlight the sentence construction (buttons 1-3), however, I prefer fade to "fly from left" effects where text has to fly in over existing text, (on the 4th button".
  • Top "must do's" exercise seems to have some unusual spacing at first glance, however I am not sure about this one...(extra space before comma after "Cardiff Castle" for example).

Hope some of those points are useful, but overall, a lovely, creative, refreshing and compelling piece of learning. One of the only courses without voiceover that I have truly enjoyed working through in the last couple of years. Well done.

Bruce

Mayra Aixa Villar

@Phil : Thank you! Yes, I am working to improve the navigation and I am using hotspots and states. The learners will also be able to go directly to the next challenge/section when they have successfully answered the questions, following Danielle´s suggestion. They can always go back to check the "writing tips" or their location in the course if they haven´t done so before submitting their answers. I have also resized the project and some of the icons so they all perfectly fit on the screen. 

@Carla : Hi! My M.A. Program is on Applied Linguistics. Within the field of the Applied Linguistics, there´s a subfield called Computer Assisted Language Learning (C.A.L.L), after taking my courses and doing my research I decided that I wanted to develop a computer-based application to teach writing skills to ESL students. And Storyline just made that possible!

Hope this helps, Carla. My email is mayra.aixa.villar@gmail.com in case you have more questions. 

@Bruce : I have always looked up to your work so when I read your feedback, I was speechless Thank you for taking the time to go over the course! I will consider all the comments I got and post a second (improved) version later today. This has been a very valuable learning experience for me!

Steve Lee

Hi Mayra,

I think this is an awesome course for this field. I work in language learning too and am just getting started with Storyline. I think you've created a really engaging piece that learners will respond to very well, with some really thoughtful language learning ideas too such using a corpus and linking to real world documents, as well as creating great ideas like the mind map and the roll over slide for sentence structure.The latter I think works really well for noticing skills, and I think it would also be great to give the learners an opportunity to identify some of the rollover features in another slide which has the same content type, potentially using hotspots.

Good luck with your thesis grades, the more ideas like this the better. Language learners are crying out for personal learning, and I think this type of project gives the learner the opportunity to work at their own pace with the teacher as facilitator.

Awesome work! So nice to know that others are using Storyline in this way, it gives me hope that I'm on the right path, so thanks for that too.

Mayra Aixa Villar

WOW, Steve! Thank you!

Your comments are really encouraging. I have spent a couple of years researching into best practices for ESL and linguistic modelling of texts, so the fact that a language teacher finds this approach interesting and useful makes the effort worthwhile

Please, feel free to contact me via email if you want to exchange more ideas that can be applied to our field. 

Steve Lee

It's just so nice to see storyline being used for language purposes, and with the amazing support on these forums I think the marrying of design principles for learning from Storyline users with language learning principles from applied linguistics can really begin to benefit learners, particularly in the mobile personal learning world we are entering rapidly. 

Lovely to meet a fellow linguistic storyline creator! I'm just learning storyline, slowly I must say, and hope desperately that my employers purchase it so I can create materials of real use to learners. With this forum and the support as well as the softwares obvious potential I am really hopeful storyline will be in my armoury! 

Mayra Aixa Villar

Everything is possible w/Storyline. I have tried different tools in the last few years and I even made some attempts to develop this course before. But, the first time I used Storyline all the ideas started to flow so naturally. Thanks to the amazing community, as you have pointed out, I was able to complete this course in a week and it was my second project w/Storyline!

One of the main points of my dissertation is that language teaching processes need to be adapted to 21st century students, on one hand, and on the hand, need to equip the students with the right set of skills and resources to successfully perform a communicative task by using the target language. Many traditional ESL textbooks fail to do this. For this reason, teachers should develop more engaging, creative and effective activities to accompany students during their learning process.  

Nice to meet you too, Steve!

Mayra Aixa Villar

After getting extraordinary support and insightful feedback from this great community, I developed the second (improved) version of my thesis project (which you can find here )

Navigation issues have been solved and I added all the details you suggested. I decided to keep the navigation style though, since my goal is to give learners more freedom to explore the course content. The learners can go back and forth and they will never miss any relevant piece of information because no matter which path they take or what resources they explore, they will always find a summary of the important points at the end of each section. 

Well, that´s all for now. A big THANKS to all of you for helping me grow as a professional!  

Daniel Brigham

Daniel Brigham said:

Hi, Mayra:

Thanks for sharing, a few suggestions for the future:

1. I jumped write in and read quickly, but given the course material I wasn't totally sure of the topic. Maybe I was moving too quickly, but then again some learners move very quickly. Too quickly, like me.

2. After I finished the first knowlege check, I wasn't totally sure how to proceed. I like the arrow in the lower right, but that didn't do anything. You make want to make the navigation a bit clearer.

3. Tip regarding feedback on select multiple knowlege checks. I suggest putting in the feedback something like "you've either selected an incorrect answer or have not selected all of the correct answers." That way, the learner has a better idea of why they are wrong.


Hi, Mayra:

I forgot to mention (how typically human of me, I know) that I like the metaphor of a map. Right off the bat, people will be sort of intrigued by that structure, I think. Perhaps you do this, but it allows one to bring up related ideas--e.g, directions, distance from a goal, getting lost, finding your way. Thanks for posting. It takes some guts, but you always, always learn. Best of luck, Daniel

Mayra Aixa Villar

You are very kind, Daniel. Thank you!

When I worked as an English teacher,  I taught mainly young students who were active game players and therefore, were eager to explore and learn at their own pace when studying with computer-based activities. So, I thought it would be cool to apply some principles of game-based and activity-based learning like simple but attractive media, free navigation, plenty of interactivity as opposed to lots of text (within the course) and immediate feedback. 

All the best for you too!

Showemimo Adebare

Mayra,

            Great work. I will also like to share a project i am working on. Though, I just developed the protoype but is for children at primary school to learn about number and develop skills in using mouse. This is a link to the project prototype ......http://dl.dropbox.com/u/63597029/SmartLearn/story.html

 Once again, great work. I will look at the your work closely and make feedback.

Thanks everyone