In this blog post, MEP Coordinator Kay McLeod describes the Year 10 Tourism project which started in 2021. You can view the permanent project website here.
In July 2021, Year 10 students on the Mandarin Excellence Programme across England took part in a four-day blended learning intensive study project, the first of its kind. Students had to work in groups to produce a marketing campaign in Mandarin to encourage Chinese tourists to visit their local area in future.
Kizzie (Y10) from Bay House School won joint second place for her Chinese ad for Portsmouth
“My video was inspired by the type of people that love and live in Portsmouth. I wanted to highlight the serenity and peacefulness of the place despite it being a major, bustling city full of students and workers. The course really helped me bring those ideas to the screen through the useful lessons on Chinese slang, persuasive phrases and the live visit with the head of Qumin. There were many beneficial tasks and activities that helped me make my project and I’m really grateful for everything that I’ve learnt from it”. Kizzie, student at Bay House School.
What is the purpose of this project?
The project forms part of the Mandarin Excellence Programme’s wider efforts to promote professional skill development as part of students’ intensive Mandarin study, and to encourage independent learning and curiosity. Year 10 students are required to form and manage a team, do research, share ideas, come to agreements about their creative choices, and delegate tasks within each team. Later in the course they also have to peer-review projects from other schools in their region, and have their work reviewed in turn.
“[My] Year 10 MEP group has demonstrated great commitment, dedication, stoicism and team spirit over the 4-day advertisement campaign. They have proven themselves not only to be a group of talented and exceptional Mandarin speakers but also team players and global citizens being able to view and analyse scenarios with a multi-cultural perspective combined with business acumen”. Ms Luo, teacher at St Mary Magdalene Academy.
How was the online course element designed and built?
Learning content is based on an original in-person project for Year 9, designed and delivered by the MEP team at UCL IOE Confucius Institute for Schools in 2019 as an on-campus residential event at the University of Nottingham. The face-to-face lessons and group tasks from 2019 were heavily rewritten for Year 10 and for the online blended learning format. Language content was adapted and optimised throughout, with more advanced GCSE skills and vocabulary emphasized.
For the “COVID-proof” version in 2020-2021, the MEP team planned out the content and activities and then converted this plan into videos, audio, images and interactive activities, using software called Articulate Rise. The final course was hosted on a platform called LearnUpon. Here are some examples of what it looks like:
Using this method means the course can be viewed on almost any device. Students need only a working smartphone and an internet connection to scroll through the tasks and work together. The blended approach to learning design means that students can follow the course with their classmates in school, or from home (for example as self-guided study, or if they need to self-isolate).
Options: students can work through the course on any device
So how did it actually work in practice in the classroom in 2021?
Some classes were able to use a computer room for most of the course, but many students joined as part of a small group on a tablet or phone. Other students joined as part of the whole class with the course beamed onto the main whiteboard at the front of the room. Schools were able to switch between different formats as required by their timetables and rooming situations. Delivery suggestions for each section of the learning were shared with teachers beforehand.
Year 10 at Dartford Grammar School evaluating their own work while attending a live virtual Q&A
As COVID-19 cases in schools rose during early July, this flexibility proved valuable as a number of Year 10 classes either started the course from self-isolation or were sent home to self-isolate in the middle of their projects. Students simply continued to access the online course from home. Using LearnUpon and Prezi or Padlet, teachers were still able to continue to monitor students’ work and progress despite the circumstances.
Students from Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull created this impressive presentation from their homes – a great example of students’ resourcefulness and digital skills during the pandemic.
Through LearnUpon, the MEP team were also able to monitor student engagement. Over the course of the 4-day event, 612 individual student accounts from across England logged into the online course. The number of students actually engaging with the course was of course much higher than this, since so many students were working in groups and sharing devices.
Year 10 at Saint Mary Magdalene Academy collaborating on language and design decisions
What exactly do students learn and do on this course?
The course was designed to give a learning experience that was as varied as possible. Individual, group, interactive, creative, research, reading/listening and revision tasks are all included.
The course has three phases, with new language and professional skills to be learned in each phase:
Phase 1: The Destination
Students learn what makes a place into a tourist destination. They consider selling points of the UK from Chinese perspectives, build on prior language knowledge about describing a place, create Mandarin slogans, and have a guest lecture from a Mandarin-speaking tourism expert.
Group product 1: campaign poster with slogan
Posters by Year 10 students at Bay House school, uploaded to their group Padlet
Phase 2: The Audience
Students learn some key marketing skills including how to identify and target a specific audience. They have a guest lecture from a digital marketing expert and consider how culture and advertising are linked. They practice new Mandarin slang and persuasive language.
Group product 2: day trip itinerary
Students at Queen Mary’s High School made a mobile-friendly app for their Birmingham itinerary!
Phase 3: The Campaign
Students learn authentic language for structuring a marketing video, as well as for “telling a story” in short video form. They share their work with other schools and the finalists are peer-selected.
Group product 3: two-minute promotional video
The overall winners in 2021 were from Mayfield Grammar School, advertising Gravesend. Judges felt their campaign video had a creative sense of narrative, their spoken Chinese was strong, and the logo and tagline they designed really finished off the campaign and gave it a brand identity.
How interactive was the learning experience? Did students get any feedback on their tasks? Surely their classroom teachers didn’t have to mark everything!
Certainly not! We wanted students to feel straight away that everything they submitted online was being seen and their work mattered. We also wanted them to get expert tips from early on, so they could improve their campaign as much as possible over the four days. But we didn’t want to ask teachers to do that kind of marking! So, we included “checkpoints” throughout the learning design. We commissioned a small team of newly-graduated UCL IOE PGCE Mandarin teachers to monitor these “checkpoints,” or products, and give constructive feedback on what the students uploaded. You can see some examples of this feedback below. (Many thanks to Miaomiao, Ying, Jacqueline, Vanessa, Hongyang, and Sijing for their constructive interactions online.)
Students submitted work in progress to a secure Prezi board and received feedback from remote teaching assistants
Feedback was personalised and there were some valuable “feedback conversations”
Were there any live elements?
Yes. Ultimately it was a competitive project so we organised a live final judging session on the final afternoon. Students had to vote on the best marketing campaigns from their region, and these finalists were then judged live by three industry experts: Harry Armer (Guide and manager at Beiwei 55˚, a Mandarin-language UK tour operator), Arnold Ma (CEO of the China-focused digital marketing agency Qumin) and Dr Rui SU (Senior Lecturer in Tourism with Mandarin at Middlesex University).
We also included both live and pre-recorded input from Beiwei 55˚ and Qumin during the course itself, allowing students to gain valuable industry insider insights while designing their products. We hope to invite these and other guest lecturers to enhance this course again in future years.
One of the guest lectures embedded into the course: Jay Smith from tourism company Beiwei 55˚
Can I see the winning entries? Which schools won overall? What did they win?
The peer-voted finalists from all regions received a certificate to display in their schools, with first, second and third place chosen by the judges. These schools will also receive a plaque to recognise their achievement.
Students from the winning groups will also be invited to take part in a short work experience placement in the autumn term. These “mini-internships” will be hosted by Beiwei 55˚ and Qumin. We are very grateful for the investment of time and expertise by these companies in supporting our young learners.
You can view all the winning entries, plus a selection of other top student work, at the permanent website for this project here.
Kay McLeod is MEP Co-ordinator and Teacher Training and Professional Development Co-ordinator at UCL IOE Confucius Institute for Schools. Kay led on this project with invaluable learning design support from Philippa Vallely, Teacher Training Co-ordinator at the UCL IOE Confucius Institute for Schools. Other key team members involved were Matt Schofield, Victor Wu, Yasmin Lambert, Meher Khan and Simone Aristide-Oke. The MEP team are grateful to UCL IOE colleagues and others for their advice and input, in particular Professor Diana Laurillard of UCL Knowledge Lab, Tim Neumann at the Learning Technologies Unit, ICT expert Rebecca Wilson, and Sarah Crofton at the LSE.