AILA Research Debate Special: Changing research practices in times of COVID-19

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    Daniel Perrin

    How have research practices by AILA Research Networks and AILA members successfully shifted in the global COVID pandemic?

    In this debate, we share insights on what has worked well. Our discussion of critical situations and good practices is meant to inspire other scholars, particularly junior scholars looking for leadership on how to academically survive and progress in difficult times.


    One of the few positives of this unexpected and sudden switch to a virtual environment has been an increase in online collaboration and camaraderie. Our ReN members have switched from asynchronous Box to functioning in GoogleDocs, allowing real-time collaboration during our Zoom meetings, brainstorming sessions, and unscheduled but serendipitously coinciding work times. For data collection, this virtual shift has challenged us to simplify our instructions for data collection. For example, instead of collecting data in person during built-in language lab days, we now must collect via email and ensure that our research “pitch” is motivating and explains why the data is needed. We also must work to ensure that all steps can be followed without a researcher present. We also found that participants are exceptionally willing to share their real feelings right now and, for our current longitudinal motivational project, for example, this is particularly helpful.

    How are you all shifting gears to ensure your data collection continues as robustly as possible? How are you staying motivated and connected to your research colleagues?


    Unfortunately, I have become aware of this discussion only today. There is so much to discuss, research and share. Maybe we could create a research group?


    Surveying Covid’s impact on language education and lessons for the future.

    Obviously, the current pandemic has led to challenges in (language) education that lend themselves to AL-informed research. Observing how language learning is impacted by distance and hybrid learning settings, stock taking as to the role digital tools play in  this, and learning more about the potential of this for re-designing of learning spaces and using such tools in the future is key. AILA itself, as a member of the Professional Network Forum of the Council of Europe’s ECML = European Centre for Modern Languages, is currently actively involved in conducting an online survey to research how the Covid pandemic has had – and is continuing to have – a profound impact on on language education, and which lessons can be drawn from that. See also the recent AILA Newsletter. As a member of the team that designed the survey, I invite the AILA community to take part in the survey and to disseminate it to colleagues and partner institutions involved in language education. You can access the survey here:

    Please submit your responses by 28th February 2021.

    The results will be analysed by the research team, discussed at two think-tank meetings and then presented and further reflected at a colloquium in December 2021. Anyone involved in similar research, please do also get in touch me, as there might  be valuable synergies to draw on.

    Bernd Rüschoff


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