Theoretical approaches and research-based pedagogies for online teaching

Hampel, Regine (2015). Theoretical approaches and research-based pedagogies for online teaching. 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. 134–149.




[A]s computers have become more a part of our everyday lives - and permeated other areas of education - the question is no longer whether to use computers but how. CALL researchers, developers and practitioners have a critical role in helping the overall field of second language learning come to grips with this domain. (Hubbard, 2009, p.1)

This observation by Philip Hubbard - a long -standing scholar in the are of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) - underlines how the position of CALL has been strengthened within the field of second language learning research and it highlights the role of the teacher in enabling CALL.

This book is grounded on the premise that online teaching needs to be based on theoretical foundations and in the recognition that teaching is an iterative process of choosing pedagogical approaches, applying them in one's practice, and critically reflecting on how successful this process has been in terms of teaching and learning. This allows developers and teachers as well as researchers to find out about the how of using computers and improve online teaching in the process. As all pedagogy is based on an assumption about how people learn, this chapter starts off with a brief overview of relevant learning theories and how these have influenced language learning theories. Then the focus moves to pedagogical approaches that have been shaped by these theories, and the chapter concludes with selected methodological approaches that are suitable for research in the area of online language education. The theories presented are rooted in sociocultural frameworks of language learning and teaching. the methodologies are qualitative and interpretivist, and they include participatory research, action research, ethnography, and discourse analysis. These conceptual foundations are illustrated with the help of different studies that have used these different approaches. The chapter concludes by suggesting areas of practitioner research that might be useful for the reader in his or her own context.

In terms of audience, this chapter should be of interest both to teachers involved in language education who are keen to research their own practice and to researchers who want to find out about online language teaching, particularly in relation to the various theoretical and methodological approaches that have been used by researchers. Rather than encompassing all possible uses of CALL, the spotlight is on online communication and interaction (what is also referred to as computer-mediated communication or CMC) between language learners or between learners and speakers of the target language.

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