A Model eLearning Solution for Foreign Language Students
Technology is currently driving a profound transformation of the learning industry. In response to the growing demand for education in the knowledge based economy, universities and colleges are offering thousands of online courses, thus changing the traditional classroom-based methods of teaching and learning. Researchers and practitioners are predicting that the current trend will continue. However, while many institutions are developing and using web-based courses, little is known about their value in improving the quality of students’ learning experience. An electronic or e-learning environment is usually defined as a computer-based environment that provides access to a wide range of resources and allows interactions and encounters among participants. Essentially, e-learning combines the individualised learning experience with the communication dimension. Learners can access and utilise different available materials and follow different paths to them depending on their inquiry styles. They can also interact and discuss electronically with other learners and instructors. Typically, on-line environments support learner-centred, modularised and self-paced learning. Some researchers suggest that technology-mediated learning environments may improve students’ achievement, their attitudes toward learning, and their evaluation of the learning experience. Others warn that technology-mediated learning environments may lead to the student feelings of isolation, frustration, anxiety and confusion. The goal of this study is to examine the issue in the context of foreign language learning. An integrated KM framework was used as a theoretical basis for modelling an “ideal” e-learning space for foreign language students. The model was tested among undergraduate students enrolled in English language study programmes. The participants were interviewed about their preferences for different model features, content and tools in supporting their learning experience. Individual responses were encoded and grouped into classes. The results provide some interesting insights into the potential and limitations of information technology in language learning.
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