Bonus Episode – Technology in E2School w/ E2Experts Kaylene & Amber by E2Talks

In this episode, Amber chats with Kaylene. They are both teachers and instructional designers for E2School. The podcast topic is about how insights from learning and teaching have shaped, and continually shape the technology being used at E2School.

In this latest episode of E2Talks, Amber sits down with Kaylene, to talk about how insights from learning and teaching have shaped, and continually shape the technology being used at E2School. If you’re interested in learning more about E2School, the technology we use, and you want to maximise your time studying English, read on!

What is E2School?

E2School is designed to help students focus on the building blocks of English. We have self-study courses from Levels 0-4, which cover beginner English skills all the way up to Advanced English. To complement these courses, we also have Grammar Review, a free grammar course, and SpeakingLab, a pronunciation course. We also offer a range of free live classes for each course.

What makes E2School different?

Technology has many different roles in education – as a learning management system, as a way to build online courses, and of course, to teach. At E2, we do all three!

Often, there’s an assumption that technology shapes learning, but here at E2School, the reverse is true. We focused on what the research tells us about effective learning design and what students want, and then we created custom-built technology to help us do this. 

For example, when we were planning E2School, we looked at the learning management systems available on the market, and decided they didn’t really fit the bill. So we created our own! We designed it specifically for language learning, and we are continually updating its design using feedback from students and teachers.

One of the best parts is that we have our own development team, who have built the whole system from the ground up. This means that if we need to do something differently, we can change it or build something new. The only limit is creativity and time!

What technology is used in the E2School online courses?

We have a huge range of activity types that we use within each lesson, to support all types of learning styles. Activities include fill in the blanks, matching, highlighting, multiple choice, interactive images… This latter type (which behind the scenes we call the ‘drag and drop’ widget) is fantastic for kinaesthetic learners, as it’s a way of replicating movement in an online lesson. 

We also make all our videos and audios, and use a range of different accents (great for listening practice!). One of our most innovative activities is our speech analysis tool. Students say a word or sentence, and the technology analyses their speech and gives them instant, automated feedback. For example, if a student is mispronouncing the word “cup” as “cap”, the two consonant phonemes /k/ and /p/ will appear as green, because they’re correct, but the vowel will display as red / incorrect. So, using this information, the student can try again, with the knowledge of exactly which sound they need to modify.

Do all the activities give instant feedback?

They sure do! All of our activities are designed this way. When students input the correct answer, the activity will turn green, and if it’s incorrect, it will turn red. We also include answer explanations, hints and tips, to help students understand why their answer was incorrect.

Having this tangible feedback is a really powerful learning tool, and it’s something that’s often not included in other learning platforms – see the quote below (taken from one of the resources we used when planning E2School, “Language Curriculum Design” by John Macalister and Paul Nation). The inclusion of tangible feedback is an integral part of our system and something we prioritised heavily in our curriculum and learning management design process. Students get real feedback on their progress, at every stage of their learning. 

“The monitoring and assessment part of the inner circle represents the need to give attention to observing, testing the results of learning, and providing feedback to the learners about their progress. It is often not a part of commercially designed courses.” (McAlister & Nation, 2010)

What is the best way to learn?

When it comes to self-study, students need to set good study habits. It’s important to set your own goals, i.e. choosing what to study and when to study it. Research shows that taking control over your own learning leads to successful learning outcomes, and our website helps fuel this motivation by giving progress updates (showing students how much of the course they have completed). Our courses are divided into skills (listening / reading / writing / speaking / grammar / vocabulary), so it’s easy for students to choose what to do, depending on what area they want to work on. We also run live classes every day of the week, so students can create their own learning schedule, based on what they would like to work on on any given day! 

What are live classes?

All our live classes take place on Zoom with one of our E2 Expert teachers. On E2School, the live classes are free! To maximise the live class experience, the most important thing a student can do is to participate. For some live classes, that might mean being active in the chat box – writing any questions you have, asking the teacher for clarification or an extra example, encouraging your fellow students… But in a number of our E2School live classes, there’s also the opportunity to volunteer to speak in front of the class and receive teacher feedback. 

Many of the teachers comment on the phenomenal progress of students who regularly volunteer – incredible results can happen when students push boundaries and go beyond their language learning comfort zone. This is a philosophy we try to embody here at E2, as we are also constantly experimenting, trying new activities in classes (based on student suggestions and feedback) and embracing emerging technologies. If you sign up to E2, you, too, will be at the forefront of language learning!