Developing teacher skills to support collaborative online language learning

Ernest, Pauline; Heiser, Sarah and Murphy, Linda (2011). Developing teacher skills to support collaborative online language learning. The Language Learning Journal, 41(1) pp. 37–54.



The significance of collaborative learning through social interaction and interdependence is widely recognised in the social constructivist perspective on learning and the ability to work collaboratively is a core graduate skill. The importance of online learning systems has been widely recognised, with the arrival of new Web 2.0 environments greatly enhancing opportunities for fostering increased peer interaction, collaboration and learner autonomy. However, although many language teachers are keen to exploit these possibilities, their training and experience may not have equipped them to develop and support collaborative learning or to adapt to the different teacher roles required. This paper describes a project between the Department of Languages at The Open University (UK) and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Spain, which gave a group of teachers practical experience of organising and engaging in collaborative online language learning in order to understand how it feels in practice. The experience of the participants was explored via a semi-structured questionnaire and interviews in order to produce some guidelines for teacher development to support collaborative learning.

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