Collaboration and interaction: The keys to distance and computer-supported language learning

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2010-01-01
Authors
Coleman, James A.
Hampel, Regine
Hauck, Mirjam
Stickler, Ursula
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Heinle Cengage Learning
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2010
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161
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180
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Abstract
This chapter describes the very practical approach to distance and online language learning that has allowed the United Kingdom’s largest university, The Open University (OU), to deliver effective language learning to tens of thousands of students over the past 15 years. It starts from theoretical underpinnings: critical pedagogy, the specifics of adult learners, the achievements and shortcomings of the communicative approach, sociocultural understandings of language learning, and the central role of interaction and collaboration in achieving both linguistic and intercultural outcomes. An enumeration of the particular challenges of learning languages at a distance—facilitating interaction, managing affect, and effectively integrating technologies—is followed by a concise review of the evolution of distance language learning and of relevant research. Issues such as evolving technologies, task design, and student anxiety are also addressed. Distance language education at the OU is conceived not just as a technical challenge but also as an undertaking that engages actively in social issues and the promotion of universal values. The student body is exceptionally inclusive, with a high proportion of disabled and otherwise disadvantaged learners. This social mission adds to the complexity of curriculum design and delivery; neither the materials nor the actual teaching follows conventional models. Providing opportunities for learner interaction is a pedagogic challenge that can be addressed by integrating telecollaborative activities into the language learning experience.
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Coleman, J.A., Hampel, R., Hauck, M., Stickler, U. (2010). Collaboration and interaction: The keys to distance and computer-supported language learning. The American Association of University Supervisors, Coordinators and Directors of Foreign Languages Programs (AAUSC), 161-180. http://hdl.handle.net/102015/69687
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