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Language learning success in collaborative distance learning

Background:  Within the language learning domain there exist reliable and efficient pedagogical methods for helping people improve their language skills when working face to face on intensive collaborative projects.

Some experiments show that these methods can be adapted to distance learning relying on networks and learning management systems.

Before drawing definite conclusions, this experience need to be extended, experiments duplicated, analyses carefully undertaken and related to particular features of the technical environment.

Research question:  It relates to distance learning. Can we have any language learner become a good learner within a group working collaboratively, i.e. once a collaborative project has been designed and the target language is the only way of communication?

Related questions: can this pedagogical method be applied to beginners or only to intermediate/advanced learners? How important are cultural issues, cultural with respects to technical backgrounds and various source languages?

What makes a group function as a group? Can any individual find her/his place within a distance learning group? What are the basic skills for teachers to manage such groups?

What automatic devices within the learning management systems can follow up individuals and groups and help them work, communicate and learn?

Suggested methodology/comments:  Design real scale (time duration, no face to face, sound pedagogical design) experiments for sets of learners and teachers working collaboratively within groups at a distance (through a so-called Learning Management System).

Analyze communication and production data in the target language. Build computer models of groups, individuals and tasks which can follow up, mirror what is happening and may be guide them.

Contact: Thierry CHANIER   thierry.chanier@univ-fcomte.fr

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