Promoting learner autonomy through multiliteracy skills development in cross-institutional exchanges

Fuchs, Carolin; Hauck, Mirjam and Müller-Hartmann, Andreas (2012). Promoting learner autonomy through multiliteracy skills development in cross-institutional exchanges. Language Learning & Technology, 16(3) pp. 82–102.



This contribution presents findings from two empirical case studies, which followed a task-based telecollaborative learning format. Participants included student teacher trainees, tutors, and language learners from colleges/universities in Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The projects aimed at promoting learner autonomy through awareness raising of modes and meaning-making online and multiliteracy skills development based on hands-on analysis of web resources and social networking tools.

It was hoped that this awareness would foster the teachers' own autonomy in virtual learning environments and enable them to design tasks which—in turn—would promote learner autonomy as understood by Palfreyman (2006): the informed use of a range of interacting resources in context. We argue that this awareness is reflected in enhanced multimodal communicative competence, i.e., “the ability to understand the combined potential of various modes for making meaning” (Royce, 2002, p. 92), and multiliteracy, with the latter allowing teachers and learners to realize the potential of blended and online only settings for language acquisition purposes. Ideally then, while becoming gradually more versed in multimodality and multiliteracy, learners can also take over more control and self-direct their own learning when working online (Benson, 2001) which are also characteristics of autonomy.

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