I wrote a littla about what we are planning for the future with KM. Any comments are welcome!! original post here. Future of Kotoba Miners Let’s start out with a paragraph about how amazing Kai is. Kai is a fantastically deep thinker and has a great intellect, so it was a real pleasure to be working with someone of that intellect. His passion for knowledge and his dedication to improving himself as an engineer and human is really infectious. I’m indebted to him for all his help inspiring me, pushing me, working with me. TL;DR, the guys is amazing! Brainstorming I met with Kai on Saturday and we talked widely and deeply about the future of Kotoba Miners. We started out brainstorming ideas related to - second language acquisition, - Player goals, - Research goals, - The strong points of virtual worlds, - Minecraft… - etc. Needless to say, we really squeezed as many ideas out of our brains as possible. The issue with Kotoba Miners as it is now is quite clear to Kai: The goal of Kotoba Miners is strongly aligned with player goals, and not research goals. I have to admit, I had never considered this before and this really opened my eyes. Let me explain what this means in more detail. Player goals vs Reseach goals Player goals are simple: Learn Japanese/English. In order for the players to achieve this I created the JP course, did weekly lessons, manga reading classes, Let’s Play sessions, and other such one off activities, which is great if you are a learner. The problem is, I wasn’t collecting data from this. Data that could be used to write an essay or research paper. I was instead caught up in the “busy work” of running an online language school, a Minecraft server, and a community of players. Research goals are also simple: Use Kotoba Miners as a place to gather empirical data towards writing a paper. What kind of paper? The kind that provides evidence to show the efficacy of the server in terms of language learning benefits, be that in terms of improving listening, reading, writing or speaking skills, cultivating communicative competence, social awareness, cultural competence, etc. So how do we get the focus back on research? From that, we thought more specifically about the goals of the server from a research perspective. And, to cut a long story short, we will work together to create an online learning community that is driven by the players themselves. From a constructivist approach to language learning, we provide the tools for players to engage in self-driven learning. OK…? We are going to make use of Kai’s Virtual RyuuGaku (Ryuugaku means “study abroad”) (henceforth: VRG) software. It has a lot of strong points, particularly when it comes to teaching reading and writing skills. Here is a messy diagram of what we wrote about VRG: ￼ The basic VRG system is designed to get learners to create NPCs as part of a wider role-play based course for learning a foreign language (EN/JP). These NPCs will be able to talk and quiz other players that come into contact with them. Other players interact with the NPCs and do the assigned quizzes, then they may leave comments or corrections. As you can see then, the type of interaction is going to be generally asynchronous and focused on reading andwriting. But don’t give up hope yet. We have some tricks up our sleeves. Framework For me, creating a rigorous teaching methodology is paramount. My MA., PhD., and #KotobaRollers project all has some element of syllabus, task, or framework design involved. So what is the framework for this project? My background is in task-based language teaching (TBLT) (the “soft” approach to TBL in case other practitioners are reading). This way of teaching basically has three stages: Pre-task (learn about the task) Task (do it) Post-task (reflect on what you did) During the pre-task phase learners are primed with examples of the target, watch videos of native speakers doing similar tasks, and generally activate their brains and linguistic knowledge ready to do the task ahead of them. Thetask itself is designed with a non-linguistic goal that may require the use of a specific linguistic item (directions, prepositions. greetings etc.) in order for learners to complete it. The post-task phase can be used to talk about grammar that came [email protected] in the task, other problems, a personal reflection, discussion with others about the task, etc. OK, so now that TBLT is a little more salient, let’s look at the kind of framework VRG will use (this is still very early in production mind you). I will be using the specific task of - booking in at a hotel: a task that would seem important to foreign travellers. Pre-task Learn about the particular setting via a teacher-created hotel featuring NPCs that interact with you. Essentially, you can think of this as a native speaker doing a similar task for learners to become accustomed to the vocabulary and target grammatical items. Brainstorm words that you think may be useful in this particular role play setting. In this case: reservation, credit card, bellboy, front desk, receptionist, etc. The brainstorming session will be carried out in an area in Minecraft. Maybe something simple like having signs on a wall for players to place words or other grammatical items. Essentially, a shared brainstorming section. Task The task that we have in mind right now is the creation of an area to show off your own NPC that shows that you have grasped the language knowledge presented in the teachers model (and to a certain extent show off your own personal design flair). Post-task The post task phase is a place for players to talk about the creations made as part of the original task. This could be a few different things: Comments on others creations (いいね！ That’s great! or something similar…) Suggesting corrections on vocabulary, grammar, cultural artefacts that the learner hasn’t understood properly, etc. A question to that learner regarding the NPCs or the building it is in. Carrying out the same role-plays in pairs or small groups (real time, spoken communication). Next steps Develop develop develop The idea is to create stages for players to make role-plays in a similar structure to the Genki I textbook. The first role-play will thus be a “greetings” skit. Playtest playtest playtest Once this (and the technical side of things) is complete we will test it as admin and with a few, select members. After this stage we will create more content and then reveal our proposal to the public. I will keep updating this blog with progress reports, but for those that are more interested, get on the Kotoba Miners server in the evenings (Japan time) to see Kai hard at work on developing the NPC plugin. Alternatively, subscribe to this blog, follow us on Twitter @cheapshot and @kai_f__ Disclaimer This project is still very early in its development cycle. The technical side of things is progressing at a fast rate, but as for the implementation, we are not sure when this will be ready. The bottleneck is me (Cheapshot) to be honest. I have a lot of other projects on-going at the minute, the main one being my PhD, and I really want to get this finished first before I commit to another Kotoba Miners project. Thanks for your continued support with the Kotoba Miners project, and if you have any comments or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to do so below.