Online Discussion in a CALL Course for Distance Language Teachers
Online Discussion, Computer-Mediated Communication, Computer-Assisted Language Learning, Distance Education, Language Teacher Education
Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is increasingly used not only in second/foreign language teaching but also in language teacher education. This study investigated distance students' participation in an online discussion group established for an applied linguistic course entitled Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). Patterns of student-student interaction and students' attitudes toward the online discussion were identified through quantitative and qualitative analyses of the students' postings to the discussion group, transcripts of online discussions, and students' responses to a web-based questionnaire. The results of the study indicate that students contributed primarily in the forms of fully and partially task-focused messages while the messages mainly consisted of task-based answers and interactive contributions. Almost half of the student-student interactions involved giving on- and off-task opinions and/or ideas on particular matters. Students showed positive attitudes toward online discussions as a way of learning CALL as well as toward CMC as a means of facilitating collaborative learning. The findings suggest that online discussions are useful for CALL teacher training as they provide language teachers with practical experience of CMC and communication channels for sharing ideas, comments, questions, and resources with their fellow teachers.
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