Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Study of the Use of Wearable Devices for Healthy and Enjoyable English as a Foreign Language Learning in Authentic Contexts

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Study of the Use of Wearable Devices for Healthy and Enjoyable English as a Foreign Language Learning in Authentic Contexts

Article excerpt

Introduction

Scholars have suggested that for learning to be meaningful and effective it should take place in authentic contexts (Alioon & Delialioglu, 2017; de la Gma et al., 2016; Herrington & Herrington, 2008; Kiernan & Aizawa, 2004). The reason is because authentic contexts reflect the way the knowledge will be used in real life (Huang, Yang, Chiang, & Su, 2016). Authentic contexts can be found outside of school, e.g., convenience stores or cafeterias in the local community (Huang, Shadiev, Sun, Hwang, & Liu, 2017). Scholars have also suggested that students need to do physical activities to maintain their health and positive emotions (MacIntyre & Vincze, 2017; Malina, 2001; Pishghadam, Zabetipour, & Aminzade, 2016; Uher, Kuchelova, Cimbolakova, & Pivovarnik, 2016). An instructor may design a learning activity for students to apply newly learned knowledge outdoors and to engage in physical exercise (e.g., walking) at the same time. In turn, physical activity may bring about positive emotions. In this case, the learning activity will facilitate learning, health and positive emotions, and the learning will be healthy and enjoyable.

Due to recent advancements in technological development, it became possible to produce smaller, cheaper and faster computing devices (Shadiev, Hwang, & Huang, 2017). As a result, stationary, portable or mobile computers started to evolve into seamlessly wearable technology featuring an increasing number of smart functions with high-computing power (Kim & Shin, 2015). Wearable technology, such as smart watches, appeals to a broad range of user interests, as it incorporates a wide variety of sensors for continuously measuring, recording and displaying different information, e.g., fitness, health-monitoring, location tracking, voice recognition and recording, and communication (Bower & Sturman, 2015; Muller, Divitini, Mora, Rivera-Pelayo, & Stork, 2015). This is why smart watches can be regarded as potential tools to support learning and healthy and enjoyable living, particularly if these are combined into healthy and enjoyable learning. However, despite the increased interest by the research community in smart watches, few studies have been carried out with such a focus. For example, the effectiveness of smart watches on healthy and enjoyable learning has not been closely examined. In addition, the affordances of smart watches for healthy and enjoyable learning are still unclear. The results related to the effectiveness of smart watches on and the affordances of smart watches for learning and healthy and enjoyable living can be useful for researchers and educators in the field.

Therefore, this study seeks to obtain data that will help address this research gap. To this end, we designed an EFL learning activity combined with physical exercise and supported by smart watches. During the activity, students applied newly learned knowledge to the real world and physically exercised at the same time. Smart watches helped students complete learning tasks, monitor physical activity, and communicate with other students regarding their healthy and enjoyable learning. We aimed to explore whether our learning activity supported by smart watches can facilitate EFL learning and make it healthy and enjoyable. In addition, we investigated the affordances of smart watches to support healthy and enjoyable learning. Finally, we studied the relationship among the research variables. The following research questions were addressed:

* Do students perform better on a learning task when they use smart watches?

* How do students perceive a learning activity supported by smart watches?

* What are the affordances of smart watches for healthy and enjoyable learning?

* How are the research variables of this study correlated?

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