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Regular version of the site

Article

Digital storytelling with chatbots: mapping L2 participation and perception patterns

Interactive Technology and Smart Education. 2021. Vol. 18. No. 1. P. 85-103.
Daniel B., Southam A., Costley J.

Purpose

This study aims to increase language learning (L2) output by incorporating a digital storytelling chatbot system (known as a “storybot”) that focused interactions on a narrative. This study also sought to investigate student perceptions of these storybot interactions and improve on poor perception rates from previous studies.

Design/methodology/approach

This one-sample exploratory study was of student-storybot participation rates and student perceptions towards a storybot activity designed to increase L2 output. A combination of storybot participation analytics and survey analysis of student perception was carried out.

Findings

The use of storybots in the L2 class resulted in mixed participation rates. Students read nine times more than they wrote, indicating a high degree of reading comprehension necessary for storybot interaction. Survey results revealed that students believed storybots helped them meet their L2 goals, were relevant to their L2 and were easy to navigate.

Research limitations/implications

Interactions were through text messaging so no impact on speech or pronunciation could be observed. Further, the context was within a single university class in South Korea, restricting the generalization of findings to outside regions or with younger learners. Finally, while storybots proved to be valuable reading comprehension activities, the next step in this line of chatbot research should incorporate more writing prompts.

Practical implications

Storybots revealed explicit benefits to reading comprehension, as measured by cohesion between storybot delivered comprehension questions and student responses. Moreover, storybots can be used as examples for students in their own story creation, classroom forms to collect relevant student information regarding learning objectives and platforms for class quizzes.

Social implications

Storybots scaffold students through conversations, which abide by socio-pragmatic norms, providing models for L2 learners to incorporate in real-world text-based communication. Additionally, a wide range of idiomatic expressions is contextualized in comprehensible interactions that students can learn from the storybot then practice with friends.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the growing research on the use of chatbots for second L2 and offers specific insight into the use of narrative storybots as a means to increase L2 output and potentially benefit L2 reading comprehension.