Transforming teaching: new skills for online language learning spaces

Stickler, Ursula and Hampel, Regine (2015). Transforming teaching: new skills for online language learning spaces. In: Hampel, Regine and Stickler, Ursula eds. Developing Online Language Teaching: Research-Based Pedagogies and Reflective Practices. New Language Learning and Teaching Environments. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 63–77.




The use of digital technologies has transformed language learning and teaching, and today a multitude of online spaces are available that have a potential for learning. These spaces are multimodal, multicultural and multilingual, and they serve a number of purposes, from providing factual, reliable information and allowing learners to create individual or collaborative texts, to opening up fictional worlds and making available games for education. As they offper an almost unmanageable choice (Stockwell, 2012), teachers and course designers need a number of new skills to understand and select from what is available and subsequently to be able to transform these online spaces into coherent and usable learning spaces. Most language teaching is not conducted purely online or in only one medium, and this poses additional challenges, not just for teachers, but also for course and syllabus designers. These include integrating different communication channels (for example online and face-to-face teaching), choosing between asynchronous and synchronous tools, combining core teaching and optional "fun" activities, or working with the "flipped classroom" concept. In addition, although young learners in particular are often quite literate when it comes to the use of new technologies, they are not necessarily able to exploit these effectively in the context of the language classroom (Parry, 2011; Pegrum, 2011).

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