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Engagement in Digital Contexts of Language Learning

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Engagement in Digital Contexts of Language Learning

  1. 1. Luciana Nunes Viter (FAETEC, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) Engagement in Digital Contexts of Language Learning
  2. 2. The research This is an excerpt from my master’s dissertation research, where I investigated the implementation of digital activities in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course and the students’ engagement in these activities. I discuss the factors that contributed positively or negatively to the success of the digital content implementation in the course from the participants’ point of view.
  3. 3. Participants • The students; • The teacher and the monitor; • The author-researcher (also a technical adviser).
  4. 4. A Blended Learning Course Blended teaching presence in the country was stimulated by the current legislation that allows 20% of higher education face to face courses to be distance offered.
  5. 5. Digital Environment
  6. 6. Methodological Approach • Qualitative paradigm; • Etnographick perspective (from the participants’ view).
  7. 7. Research Question I Do the participants (students, teacher and monitor) consider that the different kinds of interaction (student-student, student-teacher and student-content) provided by the virtual learning environment investigated were sufficient and adequate to the course? Why?
  8. 8. Research Question II From the participant’s perspectives, which factors and aspects hampered and which favored the students’ engagement in the interactions proposed in the virtual learning environment of the blended learning course?
  9. 9. Instruments • Forums Discussions; • Online Focus Group; • Interviews (teacher and monitor); • Questionnaires to students.
  10. 10. Favorable Factors Students’ Engagement
  11. 11. Digital Mediation The availability of classes in PowerPoint in the online environment were profitable, as well as discussions in the forums, for providing a greater number of views and information. The online component was a little tough, but it was important.
  12. 12. Diversity of Formats The videos were very useful because they used various linguistic resources, not just text. I also found the auto response activities very dynamic Most useful contents: texts (deeper issues), PowerPoint (more direct information), auto response (easy to study) and forums (great interactivity and varied opinions).
  13. 13. Interactions with Teacher and Monitor The Moodle platform was very helpful, allowing students’ interaction and also the teacher’s and monitor’s interactions, which have always been very solicitous and thoughtful with our doubts.
  14. 14. Students Interactions As another plus point, I quote the forums, and I believe they could still be further explored. The conflict of ideas provided by this tool adds a lot to the students.
  15. 15. Continuous Assessment We were able to enlist the help of the teacher and the monitor all the time. We could solve any doubt in short time through Moodle and e-mail, which was extremely important for the activities.
  16. 16. Unfavorable Factors Students’ Engagement
  17. 17. Digital Limitations The forum was the least profitable space since the discussions usually were out of the subject. Discussions at the forum were the worst part. I don’t like online discussions, There’s no way to know when someone is being offensive or not and so it is impossible to maintain a healthy discussion.
  18. 18. Face to Face x Online I thought the Moodle proposal was good, but I thought there were too many lessons on this platform, which tired me a little. I wished we had more regular classes. Less mandatory activities in Moodle would decrease the total student absenteeism, since it is easier to remember to come to the school than remember to enter the site (Student who preferred to remain anonymous).
  19. 19. Interactions without Teacher The student-content interaction was somewhat less effective than I expected. I always found better to have classes with a teacher than to have slides lessons
  20. 20. Complexity and Volume of Activities I'm aware that the virtual classes addressed important topics, but some of them were very extensive. The forums were good activities. But so many mandatory online activities were a little heavy
  21. 21. Time Management Many tasks were supposed to be done at home demanding a lot of time commitment and beyond these tasks there were still the posts here in Moodle. One downside, for me at least, was the lessons delivery. I’m used to study overnight, so the time 11:59 p.m. did not favor me ...
  22. 22. Final Results Factors that favored the engagement Unfavorable Factors to engagement Features offered by digital mediation Limitations arising from digital mediation Diversity of activities formats Imbalance between online and face to face activities Interactions between students and teachers Interactions without teacher mediation Interactions between students Volume and complexity of online activities Continuous assessment of activities Time management difficulty
  23. 23. Contradictions: Less is More I Personal Development Learning Results Time and Efforts Commitment
  24. 24. Contradictions: Less is More II Behavioral Engament Cognitive Engagement Emotional Engagement
  25. 25. Contradictions: Less is More III Time Flexibility Ease of Use Quick Communication Digital Limitations Online x Face to Face Interactions
  26. 26. Reference Viter, L. N. (2013). Interação e engajamento em ambiente virtual de aprendizagem: um estudo de caso, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Rio de Janeiro.
  27. 27. Thanks! Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/lucianaviter

Editor's Notes

  • This is an excerpt from my master’s dissertation research, where I investigated the implementation of digital activities in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course and the students’ engagement in these activities. I discuss the factors that contributed positively or negatively to the success of the digital content implementation in the course from the participants’ point of view.
  • This research was carried out to investigate a virtual learning environment of a blended learning course, as well as the students’ engagement in its activities. The course, entitled “Instrumental English I – Biology”, was focused on English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and was given in the context of bachelor's courses in Marine Biology, Botany, Ecology, Genetics and Zoology at the Institute of Biology of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
  • The research participants were the author-researcher, who was also a supporting technical adviser to the virtual learning environment, the teacher and the monitor of the discipline, and the students who attended the course.
  • The VLE used in the course was built in a Moodle platform, a free and open integrated system to create personalized virtual learning environments, and was organized in twelve different topics that were gradually introduced to the students along the course.
  • The qualitative paradigm was adopted as methodological approach to the study, whose ethnographic perspective intended to favor the views of the participants. The data were generated from online discussion forums, questionnaires, interviews, and from an online focus group.
  • The research questions that guided the investigation were: 1) Do the participants (students, teacher and monitor) consider that the different kinds of interaction (student-student, student-teacher and student-content) provided by the virtual learning environment investigated were sufficient and adequate to the course? Why?
  • The research questions that guided the investigation were: 2) From the participant’s perspectives, which factors and aspects hampered and which favored the students’ engagement in the interactions proposed in the virtual learning environment of the blended learning course?
  • Data were generated from four distinct ethnographic instruments: messages in ongoing forums, an online focus group created in the VLE, interviews and questionnaires after the end of the course. The choice of these tools aimed to get different views on the issues investigated and to enable subsequent data triangulation.
  • Students, in general, approved the contents and formats used in the online component, particularly with regards to the variety of themes and suitability to the course objectives. The diversity of formats and media proved to be attractive to students for their innovative character, when compared to their usual routines, and because it contributed to comply the students’ different learning styles.
  • The answers to the second research question were identified in the speeches of participants and have been organized into favorable and unfavorable factors to students’ engagement in online activities.
  • After all, the results pointed to some contradictions, and the first one referred to the obligation to participate in online activities. According to course participants, such a rule certainly contributed to a compulsory student engagement in the proposed interactions, but it may have negatively influenced the emotional engagement of students. Thus, the variety of content and activities presented to the students, seen as positive for meeting diverse learning styles, was contradictorily also a negative aspect by the students’ efforts required to deal with such a big diversity of items.
    The students’ perspectives about the virtual component were also characterized by paradoxes. On the one hand, there was massive recognition of the advantages offered by the online mediation, as the flexibility of time and the productivity provided by the platform tools. But the students also identified the predominance of digital interactions over face to face as negative and complained about the huge investment of time the digital environment demanded from them, considered superior to the expected in a classroom context.
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