Posts tagged ESU
A year ago I posted an article on this site that was critical of the entries for the Duke of Edinburgh’s “President’s Award” for innovation and good design in digital materials for English language learning. I was a judge again this year, and I suppose the answer to my question above is “yes, they are somewhat better, but nowhere near good enough”. The winner was Cambridge English Online’s Phonetics Focus app, which we felt was a great tool for teachers and learners to learn the Phonemic alphabet, with a clear and attractive user interface and visual design. There were some other interesting entries, though we felt a couple were not quite finished enough for us to consider and we have contacted their developers to explain this. Otherwise, we were relieved to see some mobile apps, albeit of variable quality, though surprised to see CDROMS, even for entries that were web-based.
I went to Buckingham Palace yesterday for the presentation of the awards to the winners of the ESU Awards. It’s good to push the tourists aside to go through the front gates, have a good look at the furnishings and pictures, and see the Duke of Edinburgh in action (the royals have just started their own Facebook page with nearly 200,000 fans already).
There are two main categories, the Book Prize and the President’s Award for the use of new technology for English language learning and teaching. I have helped just the President’s Award since it began in 2003, and it’s been interesting to see the types and quality of entries since then. Although we’ve had some really excellent winners, we have often been disappointed by the quality of entries, especially in the last two years, when the winners, Live Mocha! in 2009, and Macmillan’s Global eWorkbook in 2010 were “head and shoulders” above the other entries. These entries include submissions from other major publishers in the UK and a few independents, they know who they are, and I hope they take the opportunity of getting feedback on their entries from the ESU. We were really disappointed at the poor usability and design of many entries (the two tend to be closely connected) and the really poor exploitation of interactive learning materials, lots of true/false or repetitive multiple choice exercises, and some publishers keep on just plonking print content into digital.
By contrast, the Book Awards had so many excellent entries the judges decided to share the main award between Macmillan’s Global and newcomer Abax Limited’s Fiction in Action: Whodunit with a commendation for CUP’s Collocations Extra and Macmillan (again) won best category for Teaching English Grammar.