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Mobile Gamification-Based Language Learning in Mongolia:
Toward a Participatory Learning Model

Academic Research funded by IDRC and FIT-ED at
Mongolia Ed-Tech Lab in Mongolia International University

Feb 2016 - Feb 2017

Research Background + Objective

Partaking the Digital Learning for Development (DL4D) initiative under the "Digital Game-Based Learning" theme, Mongolia Ed-Tech Lab is working in collaboration with researchers from Korea and Singapore to create an effective English-learning model for Mongolian high school students.

Our project aims to address the goal of “quality education” (UNESCO 2030 Agenda, 2015) through investigating how gamification and social media can be incorporated into the design of an effective mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) program in Mongolia.

My Role

I joined Mongolia International University in Feb. 2016 as a Teaching Fellow, and founded Mongolia Ed-Tech Lab (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) with two collaborators and two local RAs. The project reached its end in Feb 2017. 

As a founding Research Collaborator of Mongolia Ed-Tech Lab,

  • Established the lab's foundation from scratch: creating lab database, managing lab reports, writing interview protocols, hosting workshops, training RAs, and managing the budget
  • Planned and implemented a year-long roadmap for our research with key researchers from Korea and Singapore
  • Created and conducted surveys & questionnaires on local users (20+ teachers and 400+ students) to understand their smartphone and game usage and to identify problems of Mongolian education system
  • Hosted 1-on-1 interviews and focus groups to identify the users' needs, motivations, friction points, and current practices
  • Conducted field studies at schools and education expos, and ran expert interviews
  • Executed a 4-day intensive teacher training on our learning model
  • Analyzed qualitative & quantitative data to identify the areas of improvement & challenges
  • Communicated discovered insights and action items to key stakeholders in daily / weekly meetings
  • Worked as the users' advocate in the design process
  • Created the project website to evangelize our model to local teachers and students
  • Contributed to quarterly financial and sub-grant accomplishment reports
  • Actively participated in writing publications and providing literature reviews

Research Timeline

The year-long research process was designed as the following, with the objective to improve the quality of English education in public schools in Mongolia via our intervention.

Phase 1 (Feb - May 2016)
- Research planning, budgeting, RA recruitment
- Baseline survey with ~400 students
- 3 expert interviews
- Pre-service teacher workshop with 12 teachers

Phase 2 (June - July 2016)
- In-service teacher workshop with 22 teachers
- Data collection (surveys, English proficiency tests, focus group interviews)

Phase 3 (Oct 2016 - Feb 2017)
- Intervention implementation in 3 schools, with 67 students in total
- Data collection (surveys, English proficiency tests, observation recordings, teacher interviews)
- Data analysis

Impacts and Publication

Our digital language learning solution made positive impacts on both the cognitive and affective dimensions of the students. The evaluation test results before and after the intervention provided the empirical support that the students were able to improve their English competency, especially in reading. In addition, the teachers’ pedagogical approaches shifted from content-centered to participation-centered methods.

In conclusion, this study demonstrated that the potential of adopting and sustaining digital learning innovations in Mongolian public schools can be enhanced (a) when the solution leverages the existing resources and cultural practices, and (b) when continuous efforts are made for building local teachers’ pedagogical knowledge and skills.

The findings of this research was presented in-person at Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference held on June 2nd, 2017 at National Institute of Education of Singapore under the title of "Creating Virtual Classrooms Using Smartphones and Facebook in Mongolia."

Project Resources

To view the research abstract, please visit dl4d.org project portfolio.
To learn more about the project & the team, please visit https://dl4den.wordpress.com/
To read the final project report, click here.

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