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university of tampere: sis/luo-coms: research: tauchi - tampere unit for computer-human interaction: research & groups: mmig: projects: aktiivitilat: active learning spaces:
Faculties of Natural and Communication SciencesSchool of Information Sciences University of Tampere

Language learning spaces


The focus of the work package of language learning has been on the current technology deficit in formal foreign language learning in secondary and upper secondary schools. With design-based research approach, we try to implement more functional solutions than before. The aim is to find solutions with pedagogical added value that could gain permanent foothold in every day practices of classrooms. We also aim to open the concept of classroom from physical space to more broad definition, augmented by using pre-existing internet environments, mainly through utilizing social media and games.

Special focus is on online voice applications, co-operative writing platforms and researching and implementing MinecraftEdu. Alongside the pre-existing applications, a multimodal interactive language learning application employing aural communication is being developed by a multidisciplinary team of experts. The goal is to create authentic, communal and personal, problem-solving and communication situations, which cannot be reached by more traditional, text-book oriented approaches. As a result, students learn better and more efficiently the skills necessary to communicate in real-life situations.

Summary of the added pedagogical value of the voice application prototype:

  • Multimodality: using the body in the context of communication in a foreign language bears more resemblance to actual communicative situations than more text-oriented approach
  • Immersion
  • Experiential and action learning
  • Problem-based learning
  • Gamification
  • Speech recognition
  • Personalized learning

Description of the voice application prototype

The innovative Berlin Kompass voice application brings the student to virtual Berlin. The basic premises of the application are multimodal activity, language-based problem solving in oral communication in authentic context and gamified elements. The speech recognition enables novel personalized learning analytics.

Technical implementation

The student interacts with virtual-Berlin through Kinect-camera sensor using their body and gestures to move between crossroad panoramas. The learning tasks are interactions between two learners interacting via voice chat. There are two asymmetric roles: one acts as a tourist guided by the other. The learners are in two different locales and both have their own separate panorama views. The guide has a map to help navigation and, additionally, a phrasebook to provide lexical support. The successful use of the application both requires and teaches oral problem-solving skills in a foreign language.


The first piloting in school environment took place in April 2013 with first year upper secondary students, (A-language). The feedback from the students was mainly positive: the idea of the application appealed to 95% of testers. Three out four (74%) felt the learning situation to be authentic or life-like and 95% reported the application to support language learning. These initial findings lend some credibility to the pedagogical presuppositions behind the application and their technical implementations, and to the new approach to language learning in general. Based on the feedback, the application is in continued development.


The multimodal experiential application developed in the project is an important new approach to language learning. The use of social media and games play a central role in the on-going change in the media environment in schools.

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Last update: 25.9.2013 10.08 Muokkaa

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