The digital learning object under analysis consists of a video on Global Sustainable Development Goals, published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The aim of the video is to give information on the topic: how the idea started, what the goals and deadlines are, what has been done so far and what there is to be done.
It is an animated video that combines image, audio and written text, thus taking into account the diversity of viewers’ language skills and learning styles, making it easier for all of them to understand the content.
Since the Sustainable Development Goals cover a wide range of paramount current issues, lecturers and students from a diversity of areas can resort to this video and topic to implement a variety of learning tasks and projects.
This resource was used with a B2 class of around 40 students attending the first year of a BA degree in Languages for International Relations.
Unit 3 of the coursebook used (Expert First, level B2) is about Cultural and Natural Heritage, and the United Nations represents a key organization as an international organization deeply concerned with such topics. Therefore, while in the first part of the unit, UNESCO World Heritage concern was the focus of our attention, in the second part of the unit, we centered our attention on the importance of sustainable development for a better future.
This video was used to provide students with introductory information on the Sustainable Development Goals, which then constituted the topic of group work and oral presentation.
This resource served its purpose of providing factual information to students on a certain topic in a multimodal way, which is known to be more dynamic, motivating, and effective than a written text or an explanation by the lecturer.
The topic is also highly relevant and students ended up learning a lot on the issues covered by the Goals as well as developing their hard language skills and other soft skills such as Critical Thinking and Teamwork.
Under the scope of a task-based learning methodology, the ultimate aim of this pedagogical intervention was for students to prepare and deliver a group presentation on one of the Sustainable Development Goals. The video was used to give introductory information on the Goals and the UN Website for the Goals was used as a source for further information on their group research works.
The implementation procedure was as follows:
Step 1. Lead-in: Eliciting what STs know about the Sustainable Development Goals and brainstorming what they thought they were, their purpose, etc.
Step 2. Watching the video to answer the following questions:
• When and how did the idea for the Goals appear?
• How many countries are involved?
• What was achieved in the first 15 years?
• What are some of the current problems to be addressed?
• What is the new deadline and what is the ultimate aim of UNDP?
Step 3. Eliciting the Sustainable Goals they remember seeing in the video and going to the website https://sdgs.un.org/goals to look at the 17 Goals in more detail
Step 4. Discussing what they consider to be the most important Goals and why
Step 5. Assigning the group work: students joined a group of their choice (4 students) and picked one of the goals (the goals could be repeated on the condition that all the goals were covered). Their presentation would have about 10 minutes and would have to include the following:
• What is the focus of this goal?
• Examples of what can be done and where
• Do you think it is achievable?
• How important do you think this goal is? Why?
Step 6. Autonomous work outside the classroom: Students had 2 weeks to do research and prepare their presentation. Meanwhile, other grammar and vocabulary contents were covered within the unit
Step 7. Oral presentations: Students gave their presentations in front of the class, aided by PowerPoint and Prezzi presentations, short videos, pictures, etc.
1. In order to save lesson time, students can record their presentations and submit them to the teacher in video format for assessment
2. If used within more specific degree courses (law, engineering, medicine/nursing, etc), not all the Goals need to be covered, since there are Goals addressing very specific areas
Capacity to match the needs of lecturers and students
The provided tangible improvements
The capacity to motivate students to improve their language skills
Effectiveness in introducing innovative, creative and previously unknown approaches to LSP learning
Measurement of the transferable potential and possibility to be a source of further capitalisation/application for other language projects in different countries
Skills assessment and validation
Availability of appropriate tools for lecturers to monitor students’ progress and for students to assess own progress and to reflect on learning
Flexibility of the contents and possibilities for the LSP lecturers to adapt the contents to their and to students’ need
Assess the technical usability from the point of view of the lecturer and the student
Assess the accessibility from the point of view of the lecturer and the student
This resource perfectly matches the needs of a lecturer and students who want to find out about the topic in question. It is an informational video, short, concise, made in a dynamic and motivating animation format.
Although the use of informational videos is not particularly innovative in Language Teaching and Learning, the content is quite pertinent as sustainable development is an increasingly relevant concern worldwide. Also, besides being used to develop language skills, this digital learning object was used to increment critical thinking and teamwork among the students, which are essential skills in the 21st century.
As the comprehension task was corrected immediately, it was possible for the Lecturer to check students’ understanding of the video content, and it was also possible for the students to get immediate feedback on their own understanding of that same content.
Furthermore, although in this particular case the main follow-up activity consisted of a “traditional" oral presentation, this video can be used as a lead-in to more creative and innovative activities such as more elaborate project-based works on Sustainable Development Goals involving the wider institutional or even local community.
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