When Older Adults Use Moodle To Learn Languages...

Wainwright, Jodi Emma (2023). When Older Adults Use Moodle To Learn Languages... EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000157c4


This thesis deals with the underexplored intersection of digital language learning and older adult learners. It is framed within a sociocultural perspective and considers the three dimensions of learning: cognitive, affective and social.

The central argument of this thesis is that older adult language learners can benefit from using Moodle as a social learning space that gives them the chance to engage in a community of practice. Moodle also provides pedagogical support, enabling learners to develop their knowledge and skills and use the target language to communicate with others. The overarching question is, what are the challenges and/or rewards for older adults using Moodle to learn languages?

Following an interpretive, socio-constructivist paradigm, semi-structured interviews were analysed using inductive methods, and stimulated recall interviews were analysed using deductive analysis methods. These data were supported with extracts from the Moodle platform.

The findings showed that digital language learning can be a liberating activity for older adults when part of a blended format. The online format offers compensatory benefits that enable positive outcomes for all learners. Using technologies such as Moodle is a new experience and learners sometimes feel anxious or unsure of their abilities. Through working with peers and/or family members, learners have proved they can overcome this fear and have come to enjoy participating in Moodle.

As populations in societies around the world age, there will be an increase in the number of older adults studying foreign languages. This thesis demonstrates how the construction of online social learning spaces for older adult language learners can help by giving them the chance to participate in a community of practice, possibilities for language development, and the freedom to exercise agency.

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