Exploring the Implementation of Online Non-Formal Project-Based Language Learning in the Indonesian Context

Sampurna, Jessica (2019). Exploring the Implementation of Online Non-Formal Project-Based Language Learning in the Indonesian Context. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00010ac9


Proficiency in English is highly valued in Indonesia. Consequently, the low language attainment amongst learners despite years of compulsory English classes has been a cause for concern. This qualitative study explores the use of multiple Web 2.0 technologies (Facebook, WhatsApp, Google Docs, and LINE) to facilitate non-formal English language teaching and learning in Indonesia. Project-based language learning (PBLL) was chosen as the pedagogy to create meaningful opportunities for target language use and practice beyond the classroom.

Taking on a dual role as a teacher and researcher, I carried out two rounds of data collection (four weeks each) which involved a total of 21 undergraduate students from across Indonesia. Participants were asked to collaboratively create the contents for an English learning website targeting elementary-school children. Adopting the role of a facilitator, I provided extensive support, guidance and encouragement. Rich online data were gathered from all of the Web 2.0 tools employed in the study. In addition, data were collected from a research diary, learners’ reflections, and post-study interviews. All data were subsequently analysed using qualitative content analysis within an interpretivist paradigm.

The findings show that many learners may not be ready for, or readily engage with, the student-centred learning approach championed by PBLL. This is evidenced by generally low levels of learner participation. Learners reported several obstacles to their engagement during the project: language anxiety; external commitments beyond the project; and technological issues. A minority of participants who persevered, and participated actively, successfully produced their chosen artefact within the study time frame. PBLL afforded four types of language learning opportunities: form-focused instruction, peer review, interaction in the target language, and collaborative dialogue. Learners’ feedback reveals that they viewed their online non-formal PBLL experiences differently: What some learners considered positive aspects of the project, could be considered negative or challenging by others, and vice versa. Despite this, all learners agreed that the project benefited them albeit in different ways.

The study makes a valuable contribution to the literature on PBLL, offering new insights regarding its integration into online teaching and learning in a non-formal context. The study is unique as it closely scrutinises both the complexities of implementing online PBLL in non-formal education and navigating various digital technologies in the process of language teaching and learning. The demands for English language learning in Indonesia and similar countries, are vast and consequently the implications of this study are relevant for a number of educational contexts. In recognition of this, strategies are suggested to assist the implementation of non-formal online PBLL in the future.

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