Category Archives: crossref:ed

A podcast in which we take two articles or blog posts that cover a certain topic and either validate or invalidate each other.

crossrefed 2 blog

Live Online Lessons and Mobile Apps? Learners are not Impressed


Welcome to the second episode of our new show crossref:ed, a short podcast in which we take two articles or blog posts that cover a certain topic and either validate or invalidate each other. In this episode of crossref:ed we’re going to have a look at some data about language learning. The basis for today’s podcast are the annual Language Barometers 2011 & 2012 of language learning community

Before we start, let me quickly thank our sponsor: StudyBlue – Learn from others. Teach yourself. StudyBlue enables students to quickly share and compare their explanations with more than one million of their peers who are sharing over 40 million ideas. Anyone can test-drive the database of explanations by visiting StudyBlue’s homepage. Visit and follow @StudyBlue on Twitter.

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Some data first: in 2011 busuu conducted their survey amongst 16.000 of their users from 150 countries, in 2012 they asked 45.000 members coming from 230 countries. Multiple answers were possible in both surveys.

Both studies vary only very slightly in their results why people learn a language and how much they spent on learning it (close to $1000 on average).

Side note: If you’re interested in deeper insights on the motivation to learn a foreign language I invite you to read my article on Disrupt Education for Big Think in which I compare the latest busuu survey with another recent survey done by digital publishing..

Asked which tools help users most to learn languages in an efficient manner the majority of busuu users answered with language courses abroad (32% of all answers in 2011). This number went down to 23% in 2012 but remains the most popular answer. Whereas 24% of participants used web 2.0 solutions such as busuu or other language learning communities in 2011, only 20% see it the most efficient method this year. However, online individual learning is pretty stable with 13% last year and 12% this year.

It is interesting to see that slightly more people prefer personal tutors in 2012. This number went up by 4% to 15%, although it’s not entirely clear whether we only talk about personal tutors offline or online and offline combined.

Considerably less people see video chat such as skype as an efficient method. Usage is down from 7% to a mere 4% although missing structure could be an explanation here when only peer learning is taken into consideration, but it is certainly also less flexible than self-paced individual learning and the flexibility of online learning with 35% is the most important reason for participants of this survey to choose an online solution followed by direct contact with native speakers, 24%.

Traditional classes, however, doubled their numbers from 4% in 2011 up to 8% in 2012, and the good old book even tripled from a mere 2% in 2011 to 6% in 2012 which is, of course, still not much in total. CD-Roms are stable at 3%, so do podcasts which don’t seem to play a big role at all getting 2% in 2011 and 1% in 2012.

Most surprisingly, to me at least, is the adoption mobile learning stagnating at a mere 2%.
Taking one of their other pie charts into consideration, the prospect for mobile learning doesn’t seem to take off, at least not in the near future. Only 4% of busuu users who participated in the 2012 survey see it as the most important method to learn a language in the future.

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Why it’s better to do Homework late at Night

Welcome to our new show crossref:ed, a short podcast in which we take two articles or blog posts that cover a certain topic and either validate or invalidate each other. We are planning to release at least one episode per week, depending on what articles we find, of course.

Before we start, let me quickly thank our sponsor for this week: AcademicPub allows you to take content from their copyright cleared library of over 125 publishers, your files or anything on the web, and create custom course packs that are perfect, for you. Visit them at and follow them on Twitter @AcademicPub. We thank them for their support of crossref:ed.

In our first episode let’s take a look at a very classic topic in education: homework. And is it good or bad? Christopher dedicated his last episode of C12 here on EDUKWEST to homework, I gave a long rant on “the French Homework revolution” in last week’s episode of review:ed. So why not start crossref:ed with two articles related to homework, as well?

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The Guardian published a piece with the title “Two hours’ homework a night linked to better school results”. It is based on a study published by the Department of Education in the UK. Over 15 years the study has tracked the performance of 3000 students with the result that

“Spending more than two hours a night doing homework is linked to achieving better results in English, maths and science”

As a side note: A previous research referenced in the article found only modest links of homework related to achievement in secondary school, though. But that is not the second crossref:ed article I would like to talk about today.

The new study also controlled for social class, the environment where the homework takes place in and whether students generally enjoy going to school. All those factors seem to have played a role as well.

What I found interesting was the time the homework is done. It is not explicitly mentioned in the text but as the headline lets us assume, most homework is done in the evening or at night. And here comes our second article into play.

According to an article in Scientific American the “Ability to Learn Is Affected by the Timing of Sleep”. The sooner we go to sleep after we learned something, the better we retain that new information.

“In the 24-hour retest—where all subjects had a full night of sleep—those participants who went to bed shortly after learning the words did much better than those who went through an entire day before sleeping. And this leg up in memory was maintained on subsequent days.”

This basically means that if the students in the study did their homework before they went to sleep or at least pretty close to that time the actual amount of hours put in the homework might not necessarily explain the better performance.

If the study mentioned in Scientific American is right then it is all about when to do the homework, not for how long which would be a great basis for an experiment. Maybe I’ll try it out with learning Spanish at night.

Show Notes

  • Two hours’ homework a night linked to better school results
    Source: The Guardian
  • Ability to Learn Is Affected by the Timing of Sleep
    Source: Scientific American

Picture by cynwulf