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Thursday, 6 September 2007

If the language is a tool, what is the outcome?

I like the title of the presentation, it seems to contain something of a real essence. Linda Bradley and Sylvi Vigmo from Sweden walked us through an expermental course in wiki where they applied some ideas of CSCL (computer-supported-collaborative learning), especially the negotiation and argumentation aspects of it. Wiki is used as a social space for the course, but also a way to document the process of writing. The course itself was quite large, 4 teachers and 70 students (28 groups) who were just adviced to use the Wiki. The teachers didn't "control" the environment, but observed the student actions in the background. I like that approach, as I sometimes feel that we are over-scripting our online learning activities.

The study itself centered around the following questions: How did the students make use of the tools in the wiki and how did they benefit from the feedback (or did they)? The assumpton had been that students would be investing a lot of time on their own pages in Wiki, but in fact most of the action took place in the interactive spaces such as the discussion forum. 9 groups out of 28 made real use of the wiki, which was a bit of a disappointment. It is likely to be due to the fact that this part of the course wasn't assessed.

Linda and Sylvi, please add things I've missed or misunderstood :)

You might find the following references interesting. These were mentioned as background reading for the study:


Egbert, J.L. (2005). CALL research perspectives.
Leung, C. (2006). Convivial communication: recontextualising communicative competence

2 comments:

Peppi Taalas said...

For some reason the font is smaller for the latter part of posting. Can't change that... sorry...

LindaBradley said...

Thanks for your reflections, Peppi! You got the essence of our aims of the presentation. Like you say, the teachers didn’t intervene when the students were collaborating on the wiki; the idea was to see how students made use of it. From the language learning activities that the students engaged in, which took place on the wiki, one of many question to ask is what actually becomes visible? And how do students create meaning from the features on it? This issue calls for further investigation! /Sylvi & Linda