Scaling up data-driven learning: Taking instruction online
The use of corpora for the purposes of improving academic writing in the form of data-driven learning (DDL, Johns, 1991) is now thriving, as advances in computer/internet speed, corpus availability, user-friendly corpus query interfaces and data visualisation have come to the fore. However, the majority of studies in this area have been conducted in face-to-face classroom, teacher-led settings, and generally involving fewer than one hundred participants (Boulton & Cobb, 2017). To date, no study has explored DDL provision in an entirely online format (Crosthwaite, 2018).
This paper describes the design and implementation of a purpose-built short private online course (SPOC) on DDL for error correction in academic writing, rolled out to approximately 300 graduate students from 34 countries. The affordances of using a SPOC platform are discussed, namely EdX, for self-guided DDL training involving the BAWE corpus (Alsop & Nesi, 2009) within Sketch Engine Open, how DDL has been ‘sold’ to students as a viable method for improving academic writing, and how it has been implemented within the graduate curriculum.
A number of ‘challenges’ involved in using a SPOC for DDL are also described, including the constant need for ‘right’ answers to online-only DDL activities in what is supposedly a self-guided pedagogical approach, how corpus use can be maintained across activities by both L1 and L2 users, how to provide written corrective feedback suitable for DDL within a SPOC context, and new error correction strategies for errors that aren’t typically easy to solve with corpora.
Dr Peter Crosthwaite, University of Queensland
Dr Peter Crosthwaite
University of Queensland
I am a Lecturer in the School of Languages and Cultures at UQ, having formerly been an assistant professor at the Centre for Applied English Studies (CAES), University of Hong Kong (since 2014). I hold an MA TESOL from the University of London and an M.Phil/Ph.D in applied linguistics from the University of Cambridge. My areas of research and supervisory expertise include second language acquisition, (learner) corpus analysis, use of corpora for datadriven learning, language assessment, academic writing, and Korean / Mandarin linguistics. I have published in leading journals including Language Learning, Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, Journal of English for Academic Purposes, English for Specific Purposes, ComputerAssisted Language Learning, System, IRAL and the International Journal of Learner Corpus Research, and have worked with international scholars for a publication in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).