Blogging for Self-Determination with L2 Learner Journals

Blogging for Self-Determination with L2 Learner Journals

Antonie Alm (University of Otago, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-190-2.ch011
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This chapter discusses the use of blogs for foreign and second language (L2) learning. It first outlines the suitability of blogs for language education and shows the value of blogging beyond technical features. Blogging has been described as a social activity (Nardi, Schiano & Gumbrecht, 2004), which puts the writer in a central position. It will be argued that this centrality of the writer needs to be maintained in an educational context. The shift from teacher to learner orientation is seen as a significant change in language education. With reference to self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2002) the pedagogical principles that support L2 learner autonomy in a Web 2.0 learning environment will be discussed. Using blogs as L2 learner journals, it will be shown that Web 2.0 informs and supports language learning environments which foster L2 learner autonomy. The study indicates that blog-based reflective writing increases the learners’ sense of autonomy and that it has a positive impact on L2 learners’ perception of language awareness and development.
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Web 2.0 has great promise to inform new ways of language learning. The emergence of a social web, which allows L2 learners to become active participants in a learner community, opens new opportunities and presents new challenges for language education.

The role of technology in language learning dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century. The ability to hear the native voice through recorded media (radio, film, tape) and to expose language learners to the real thing was seen as revolutionary then, but it was also threatening to those teachers who saw their role as providers of information (Cuban, 1986). Today, podcasts and video-sharing applications have not only multiplied the offerings of resources for language learners, these technologies have also provided the potential to change educational practices. While students in the past relied on their teachers to supply learning materials, they are now able to access these resources on their own. L2 learners are able to immerse themselves in the target language by listening to their favorite podcast, by reading and placing comments on a blog of their choice or by uploading their own L2 videos on a video-sharing website (Alm, 2007b, 2007c). The Web 2.0 defining “architecture of participation” (O’Reilly, 2005, Akamai vs. BitTorrent, para. 3) allows L2 learners in principle to contribute to and to become part of a learning community that they themselves help to shape. Web 2.0 has the potential to transform established learning routines, to change the roles of teachers and learners and to enable language learners to become more involved in the learning process. This chapter discusses how the use of Web 2.0 can lead to these transformations in the L2 language classroom.

New technologies always represent an opportunity to re-evaluate current educational practices. The technology itself might well trigger new teaching approaches and open new pathways of learning, leading to new research agendas. Warschauer (2000) has shown that the parallel development of the three main educational theories (behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism) and computer development could also be applied to the language learning context. In the last 30 years computer applications have increasingly supported language learning approaches. The advent of the Internet, however, has changed the role of technology in education. The ubiquitous use of the Internet by the population at large and its suitability for communication impacts on educational needs and shapes educational practices. Warschauer (2000) observed: “It is no longer just a matter of using e-mail and the Internet to help teach English, as I wrote in my first book five years ago, but also of teaching English to help people learn to write and use the Internet” (New Contexts, para. 3).

The impact of technology on learning is increasingly recognized and has possibly found its most fervent advocate in George Siemens. Siemens (2004) sees an unparalled impact of technology on our lives, on the way we communicate with others and on the way we learn. Claiming that “technology is altering (rewiring) our brains” (Introduction, para. 4), Siemens believes that traditional learning theories have outlived their usefulness. His own theory of connectivism integrates “principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories” (Connectivism, para. 24).

While Siemens advocates a break from conventional learning approaches, Levy (2007) calls for continuity. He argues that existing theoretical, pedagogical and curriculum frameworks should be considered when researching emergent CALL: “It is vital to make links with existing CALL practice using prior research studies associated with the language skills or areas, and relevant theories of learning and acquisition” (p. 188).

Learner autonomy is a crucial part of successful L2 learning and Web 2.0 supports the creation of learning environments that foster autonomous L2 learning. Research in this area can be based on established theoretical frameworks in Second Language Acquisition (Holec, 1981; Benson, 2001) or be informed by neighboring disciplines such as activity theory (Blin, 2004) or self-determination theory (Alm, 2007a) and lead to new insights in L2 teaching and learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learner Journal: Learner journals or diaries document the learning process of individual learners. Recorded by the learner, they provide teachers and/or researchers with insights into various aspects of learner development as well as enhancing the learner’s awareness of their own learning.

Blogroll: A list of links to other sites and blogs provided by the author. It generally contains sites that reflect the same genre or interest group providing additional context for the blog.

Edublog: An Edublog is a blog with an educational purpose. It can be authored by a learner, teacher, researcher or an administrator. While any blog software can be used for educational blogs, some hosts have specialized in the creation of dedicated edublog services (e.g. WordPress’s

RSS Feed: RSS feeds enable blog readers to subscribe to blogs or web pages. The server software publishes the changed or new pages via RSS (Really Simple Syndication), which are picked up by the subscriber’s RSS reader. The aggregated posts are displayed in a single interface pane for the subscriber, without the need to visit each of the websites individually.

European Language Portfolio: The European Language Portfolio is a document which allows language learners to record their language learning and cultural experiences. It consists of the Language Passport (an overview of the learner’s language proficiency as defined by the reference levels from the Common European Framework), the Language Biography (information on linguistic and cultural experiences gained inside and outside formal educational contexts) and the Dossier (materials supplied by the learners to illustrate achievements and experiences in language learning).

Blog Host: The third-party entity that hosts and maintains the server software used by bloggers. The software provides the basic publishing mechanisms for websites, and additional capabilities such as RSS feeds, search engines and aggregation.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Mark Warschauer
Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas
Chapter 1
Michael Vallance, Kay Vallance, Masahiro Matsui
The grand narrative of educational policy statements lack clear guidelines on Information Communications Technology (ICT) integration. A review of... Sample PDF
Criteria for the Implementation of Learning Technologies
Chapter 2
Mark Pegrum
This chapter discusses the application of a range of Web 2.0 technologies to language education. It argues that Web 2.0 is fundamentally about... Sample PDF
Communicative Networking and Linguistic Mashups on Web 2.0
Chapter 3
Bernd Rüschoff
Current thinking in SLA methodology favours knowledge construction rather than simple instructivist learning as an appropriate paradigm for language... Sample PDF
Output-Oriented Language Learning With Digital Media
Chapter 4
Infoxication 2.0  (pages 60-79)
Elena Benito-Ruiz
This chapter reviews the issue of information overload, introducing the concept of “infoxication 2.0” as one of the main downsides to Web 2.0. The... Sample PDF
Infoxication 2.0
Chapter 5
Margaret Rasulo
The aim of this chapter is to discuss the effectiveness and the necessity of forming a community when engaged in online learning. The Internet and... Sample PDF
The Role of Community Formation in Learning Processes
Chapter 6
Tony Mullen, Christine Appel, Trevor Shanklin
An important aspect of the Web 2.0 phenomenon is the use of Web-embedded and integrated non-browser Internet applications to facilitate... Sample PDF
Skype-Based Tandem Language Learning and Web 2.0
Chapter 7
Gary Motteram, Susan Brown
Web 2.0 offers potentially powerful tools for the field of language education. As language teacher tutors exploring Web 2.0 with participants on an... Sample PDF
A Context-Based Approach to Web 2.0 and Language Education
Chapter 8
Lut Baten, Nicolas Bouckaert, Kan Yingli
This case study describes how a project-based approach offers valuable new opportunities for graduate students to equip them with the necessary... Sample PDF
The Use of Communities in a Virtual Learning Environment
Chapter 9
George R. MacLean, James A. Elwood
Prensky (2001) posited the emergence of a new generation of “digital natives” fluent in the language of cyberspace and familiar with the tools of... Sample PDF
Digital Natives, Learner Perceptions and the Use of ICT
Chapter 10
Steve McCarty
In a cross-cultural educational context of TEFL in Japan, the author sought to enhance the integrative motivation of students toward the target... Sample PDF
Social Networking Behind Student Lines in Japan
Chapter 11
Antonie Alm
This chapter discusses the use of blogs for foreign and second language (L2) learning. It first outlines the suitability of blogs for language... Sample PDF
Blogging for Self-Determination with L2 Learner Journals
Chapter 12
Revathi Viswanathan
Training ESL students in soft skills and employability skills with the help of Web 2.0 technologies is the current trend in Indian educational... Sample PDF
Using Mobile Technology and Podcasts to Teach Soft Skills
Chapter 13
Andy Halvorsen
This chapter looks at the potential use of Social Networking Sites (SNSs) for educators and second language learners. It views SNSs broadly through... Sample PDF
Social Networking Sites and Critical Language Learning
Chapter 14
Nicolas Gromik
This chapter reports on an ongoing project conducted at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. A mixed group of seven advanced EFL learners produced... Sample PDF
Producing Cell Phone Video Diaries
Chapter 15
Thomas Raith
This chapter explores in how far Web 2.0, Weblogs in particular, has changed foreign language learning. It argues that Weblogs, along with Web 2.0... Sample PDF
The Use of Weblogs in Language Education
Chapter 16
Nat Carney
This chapter gives a comprehensive overview of blogs in Foreign Language Education (FLE) through reviewing literature, critically analyzing... Sample PDF
Blogging in Foreign Language Education
Chapter 17
Pete Travis, Fiona Joseph
In particular, this chapter looks at the potential role of Web 2.0 technologies and podcasting to act as a transformational force within language... Sample PDF
Improving Learners' Speaking Skills with Podcasts
Chapter 18
Volker Hegelheimer, Anne O’Bryan
The increasing availability of mobile technologies is allowing users to interact seamlessly with a variety of content anytime, anywhere. One of... Sample PDF
Mobile Technologies, Podcasting and Language Education
Chapter 19
Jenny Ang Lu
This chapter aims to investigate how podcasts can be made to fit into the repertoire of resources utilized by teachers, especially in language... Sample PDF
Podcasting as a Next Generation Teaching Resource
Chapter 20
Matthias Sturm, Trudy Kennell, Rob McBride, Mike Kelly
Web 2.0 tools like blogs, Wikis, and podcasts are new to the vocabulary of language acquisition. Teachers and students who take full advantage of... Sample PDF
The Pedagogical Implications of Web 2.0
Chapter 21
John Paul Loucky
This study describes a task-based assessment (TBA) approach to teaching reading and writing online. It then analyzes key factors emerging from the... Sample PDF
Improving Online Readability in a Web 2.0 Context
Chapter 22
Jaroslaw Krajka
This chapter contrasts the use of corpora and concordancing in the Web 1.0 era with the opportunities presented to the language teachers by the Web... Sample PDF
Concordancing 2.0: On Custom-Made Corpora in the Classroom
Chapter 23
Darren Elliott
This chapter looks at the ways in which teacher training and teacher development are taking place online. It seeks to address the ways in which... Sample PDF
Internet Technologies and Language Teacher Education
Chapter 24
Sarah Guth
This chapter discusses the potential of social software and Web 2.0 tools to enhance language learning in a blended learning context. It describes... Sample PDF
Personal Learning Environments for Language Learning
Chapter 25
Shudong Wang, Neil Heffernan
This chapter introduces the concept of Mobile 2.0, a mobile version of Web 2.0, and its application to language learning. The chapter addresses the... Sample PDF
Mobile 2.0 and Mobile Language Learning
Chapter 26
Euline Cutrim Schmid
The first part of this chapter discusses the transformative potential of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs), by analyzing the opportunities of using... Sample PDF
The Pedagogical Potential of Interactive Whiteboards 2.0
Chapter 27
David Miller, Derek Glover
This chapter summarizes the work underway to chart, critically evaluate, and systematize the introduction of interactive whiteboards (IWB) into... Sample PDF
Interactive Whiteboards in the Web 2.0 Classroom
Chapter 28
Samuel Holtzman
The process of technological inclusion begins with an analysis of the features and functions of the specific tool in consideration. Pedagogy should... Sample PDF
Web 2.0 and CMS for Second Language Learning
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