ICT for Language Learning

Edition 10

Accepted Abstracts

Facilitating Collaborative Foreign Language Learning Using the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)

Rosario Hernández, University College Dublin (Ireland)

Abstract

Learning a second language takes time and many university students in their evaluation of language modules indicate that they would like to have more teaching “contact hours”. The Bologna Process has established that 1 ECTS requires approximately 25 hours of student work, including teaching, learning and assessment activities. Thus, a module worth 5 ECTS entails approximately 125 hours of student engagement. Generally, in my institution students are offered 2 hours of classes per week for language modules. Therefore, a significant amount of hours has to be planned for students to learn outside the classroom. Digital technologies afford students the support needed to increase the time they spend on learning a language and, more importantly, these technologies provide opportunities to facilitate learning with others in a supported learning environment.

This paper explains a number of e-learning tasks undertaken by university students of Spanish using tools that are available on Blackboard, the Virtual Learning Environment used by the university, to complement classroom activities. The paper also identifies the skills (e.g. language specific and transferable) that students have developed by completing the learning tasks. Reflections from the students and the teacher provide insights about the advantages of using collaborative learning tasks to increase learning time. Some limitations are also outlined so that future iterations of similar e-learning tasks can be even more successful in terms of student learning experience.

Keywords

Collaborative learning, blended learning, VLE, autonomous learning 

 

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