The Role of Community Formation in Learning Processes

The Role of Community Formation in Learning Processes

Margaret Rasulo (University of Naples L’Orientale, Italy)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-190-2.ch005
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Abstract

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 its online communities offer new learning opportunities for many who cannot attend full-time, residential training sessions or higher education courses. Web-based course delivery affords these students and professionals the opportunity to work together, “anytime, anywhere,” exchanging information, resources, expertise, without leaving their homes or their jobs
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Introduction

The term Web 2.0 has clearly taken hold since its appearance following the 2004 O’Reilly Media 2.0 conference (O’Reilly, 2005). The term refers to an improved form of the World Wide Web and new ways of using it. The concept behind Web 2.0 technologies that sees the Web as a platform to be constructed and enriched by the users themselves, has literally revolutionized Internet environments, transforming them form passive, read-only websites to highly interactive, participatory and service-oriented “platforms” with an obvious focus on inter-human connectivity (Siemens, 2005).

As testimony of what is affirmed in terms of the role of community in online language learning processes and the significant capacity of Web 2.0 social software to facilitate such processes, the chapter includes examples of computer mediated conferencing messages from a case study, which presents the experience of two online groups of participants training on-the-job and in the process of forming a community of practice. The case study includes messages posted on the First Class network conferencing system (http://www.firstclass.com) of two online groups, the Australian Community and the International Community, whose common denominator was the nature of the participants themselves: they were all professional educators who convened online for 5 weeks to re-qualify as e-moderators in order to include an e-learning component as part of their training or teaching methodology. The e-moderating courses were based on Salmon’s five-stage model shown in Figure 1, which has a twofold purpose. Its step-by-step structure is designed to scaffold a successful development process for learning online as well as provide a framework for e-moderators that illustrates what interactive skills they need to apply at each stage in order to help the learners achieve this success (Salmon, 2004, p. 28).

Figure 1.

5-step model of e-moderating

Although the participants were not involved in learning a language, they were dealing with language issues, thus, it is this study’s view that their experience can be easily transferred to the world of language education, as it embraces all learning processes occurring through social software, and in this case by means of CMC. By providing a set of lenses to observe the community members through their discourse behaviours, this chapter hopes to provide insight into the broader use of the concept of Web 2.0 technologies and its role in online language education, going beyond the implications behind learning the language to include learning about how language works when the interlocutor is the Internet.

In considering a variety of other issues connected with online education and community formation, the discussion begins by exploring the advantages as well as the pitfalls of online learning and the role that it plays alongside its more traditional classroom approaches to teaching and learning. This naturally leads to a discussion of the importance of retaining some of that human contact, along with the regular buzz and social dynamics that characterize the classroom and this is where the idea of a learning community steps in. However, as not all social groups that convene online actually form a community, even with the aid of social software which naturally tends to facilitate networking processes, this chapter also discusses some of the salient attributes that can be considered as criteria for community development.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Operationalization: This method refers to the breaking down of key concepts related to online community behaviours into subcategories of observable patterns, which are subsequently associated to corresponding issues of research interests.

Discourse Behaviours: Language phenomena manifested through online communication in both synchronous and asynchronous conferencing systems.

Community Formation: The process established by online collaborative activity which empowers learners to take on the responsibility for their learning processes.

E-Educator: The person responding to and building on the contributions to an online conference within a learning environment.

Online Community: Defined as a process rather than a physical place, in which people interact, through a shared purpose, by following policies and by means of a computer system.

Computer Mediated Discourse Analysis: A methodological multidisciplinary approach to the analysis of online communication and specifically of textual observations.

Online Personae: A new online identity that plays a role in the online environment. This role can vary depending on the community type.

Interaction: The student-to-student and student-to-instructor contact that characterizes online learning.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Mark Warschauer
Preface
Michael Thomas
Acknowledgment
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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Chapter 8
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This case study describes how a project-based approach offers valuable new opportunities for graduate students to equip them with the necessary... Sample PDF
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Chapter 9
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Digital Natives, Learner Perceptions and the Use of ICT
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Chapter 10
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Chapter 11
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Chapter 12
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Chapter 13
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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
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Chapter 14
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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
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Chapter 16
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Chapter 17
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Chapter 18
Volker Hegelheimer, Anne O’Bryan
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Chapter 19
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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
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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
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Chapter 22
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Chapter 23
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Chapter 24
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Chapter 25
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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
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Chapter 26
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Chapter 28
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