Teacher and Learner Autonomy in the Electronic Foreign Language Classroom Julia Coll, Ph.D. Shawnee State University L’Autonomie de l’Enseignant et de l’Apprenant face aux Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication CINQUIEME COLLOQUE des Usages des Nouvelles Technologies dans l’Enseignement des Langues Étrangères l’Université de Technologie de Compiègne 17-20 mars 2004 Why Study Foreign Languages Research Studies. Early Age (before 10-12). Physiological and Affective Reasons make the process easier. Problem Solving Performance in Standardized tests in English and other Subjects Increase in Trade and Exchanges among Countries around the Globe New Ways of Learning Foreign Language with Technology Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) Course management system (CMS) such as Blackboard: -Online Content -Assessments -Email -Discussion Board The Sky is the Limit Foreign Language absent from (elementary-college academic programs). Many adults study Foreign Languages for the first time in college. Continuing emerging technology is making this process easier. Autonomy Self directing freedom or the state of selfgoverning Opposing side of CMC in language teaching ESL instructors wary of the impact of computer technology on ESL students’ language and critical skills. Concerns about the effects of CMC and internet use on long-held conventions of learning and teaching. Body of literature of CMC and FL but not CMC and autonomy. Purpose Examine the effects of using CMS to beginning Spanish Classes in higher education. Research Question How can CMS provide the autonomy that may better serve the needs and expectations of teachers and/or learners of Spanish in higher education? Objective Moreover, the objective of this study is twofold: first, shed some light that may help understand how the dialogue that is used in certain features of CMS in the communication center, can contribute to increase student involvement; second, how this involvement is reflected in their learning (test performance, student satisfaction). Method Two beginning Spanish classes. Two hours, twice a week during first quarter. Both classes used same package of materials (text + audio compact discs). One class that was only required to listen to audio cds was compared to another required to do the activities in Blackboard and a cd rom plus the audio cds. 2nd., 3rd., quarters students required to do all the activities. Approach Learning environment encouraged student centered. “The personal activity of the student must be placed at the base of the educative process, and all the teacher’s art must come down to directing and regulating this activity” (Vygotsky, 1926-91, pg.82). Approach cont… Communicative in class and virtual environments. -Students Homepages. -Video, sound files, power points, chats, different discussion boards, group pages, CD-Roms and links to the world wide web. -Formative evaluations online. -In-class exams including two oral interviews. Synchronous means of Communication Chatting- communication directly with each other in the same system in real time for formal and informal conversations about current events, research assignments on the internet, readings as they acquire and learn the language. Promotes work in progress and community among the groups. Asynchronous Means of Communication Discussion boards. They can be very similar as in the conventional classroom. More time to develop their responses in-depth. Allows every individual in a class to be equally involved in a discussion. Other individuals (Spanish tutors) can also participate. Importance of the Dialogue in Chats and Discussion Boards. These activities should be more than talk. Emerson’s quote on Bakhtin: “By dialogue, Bakhtin means more than mere talk. What interested him was not so much the social fact of several people exchanging words with one another in a room as it was the idea that each word contains within itself diverse, discriminating, often contradictory “talking” components. The more often a word is used in speech acts, the more contests it accumulates and the more its meanings proliferate. Utterances do not forget. And by their very nature they resist unity and homogenization-two states that Bakhtin… considered akin to death. Understood in this way, dialogue becomes a model of the creative process. It assumes that the healthy growth of any consciousness depends on its continual interaction with other voices or worldviews” (Emerson, 19997, p. 36). Dialogue needs to be looked in a broader sense “…meaning not only direct, face-to-face, vocalized verbal communication between persons, but verbal communication of any type whatsoever. A book, I.e., a verbal performance in print, is also an element of verbal communication. Is something discussable in actual, real life dialogue, but aside from that, it is calculated for active perception, involving attentive reading and inner responsiveness, and for organized, printed reaction in the various forms devised by the particular sphere of verbal communication in question (book reviews, critical surveys, defining influence on subsequent work, and so on)…the printed verbal performance engages, as it were, in ideological colloquy of large scale: it responds to something, objects to something, affirms something, anticipates possible responses and objections, seeks support, and so on…Language acquires life and historically evolves precisely here, language forms, nor in the individual psyche of speakers” (Voloshinov, 1973, p.95). Online dialogue contributes to degree of interaction of the course Roblyer and Ekhaml (2000). Students perceptions of the degree of interaction of the course determines course quality. Supported by an extensive body of literature. Interaction seems to have an impact on student achievement as well as satisfaction. “The weight of evidence from the research reviewed was that increase student involvement by immediate interaction resulted in increased learning as reflected by test performance, grades, and student satisfaction” (Zirkin & Sumler, 1995. Pg. 101). Results Comparison 1st. Quarter students who were required to work electronically outperformed students who were not. Not a surprise! More exposure - more time to digest material. 2nd and 3rd students spent more time than usual outside of class working in the target language. Autonomy allowed them to work anywhere, any time of the day or night. Results cont…CMS General Use Students concentrated most of their effort in the main content areas followed by the student and communication areas Results cont…Users by Hour of the Day Students worked at any hour of the day and night. Results cont…User Access per Day of the Week Students worked every day of the week. Saturday being the day they worked the least. Results Cont… Students became self directed learners of the language towards the end of 2nd and 3rd quarters. More matured students discovered how they could learn best. Towards the end of 3rd quarter, number of students whose results differed significantly from online to present testing was minimized. Conclusion Conclusion To facilitate autonomy, one also needs to promote responsibility and by the same token, stimulate students to take an active part in directing their own learning. Understanding that success of their learning will have equal weight on the student and the teacher. Conclusion Cont… Autonomy is essential for learning . Teachers are also preparing students to be life learners, they will have to go back to study on their own and the best way to prepare them for this is to help them become more autonomous. Conclusion Cont… No doubt technology enhances the study of foreign languages. Students’ interests and learning styles are met. Features of CMS allow for collaborative learning through greater interaction. This creates a student centered environment that motivates learners to work harder in and outside of class. Conclusion Cont… In turn, this allows for more autonomy for both teacher and learner. Autonomy allows one to make decisions about language and learning that could not be made before. Although the benefits of technology are acknowledged, it should still be used with care. Objectives of the course ought to be in the instructor’s mind. Conclusion Cont… The questions that should always be considered are: 1. How is a particular activity going to help in meeting a specific objective? 2. Is this going to be more effective and efficient in meeting the objective? Therefore, technology needs to be incorporated in a very well planned manner as another resource to enrich the class. It should be another mean to get to the objective.