Learner Engagement in Computer-Mediated Chinese Learning

Learner Engagement in Computer-Mediated Chinese Learning

Zhiyan Guo (University of Warwick, UK) and Zhizhuo Guo (Qing Dao Bin Hai College, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2821-2.ch007

Abstract

Learner engagement has been a topical discussion for decades in both face-to-face teaching of the classroom and computer-mediated virtual learning environment. It is becoming increasingly essential in the agenda of British Higher Education institutions, especially with the tripling of the tuition fee. This chapter focuses on how to engage students with various online activities to improve their proficiency in Chinese as a foreign language. The study shows that students enhanced their learning experience by using voice tools to improve their speaking and listening, by sharing their writing within the learning community, and by documenting their own learning journeys with e-portfolio pages. Using the data from various instruments, the authors evaluate the effectiveness of the tools, analyse and discuss the advantages and problems with blended learning in the context of teaching Chinese as a foreign language.
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Theoretical Underpinning

In the last two decades, learning theory has evolved and produced a variety of models, which view learning as a process of social, historical, and cultural activity (Cole, 1996). Sociocultural theories describe the learning process and the knowledge to be learned as distributed among participants and situated within the context of activity (Cole & Engestrom, 1993; Lave & Wenger, 1991). In other words, learning can be perceived as a social practice and knowledge can be taken as socially constructed. Social construction cannot be separated from meaningful interactions. As Cole and Engestrom (1993) describes, learning is the consequence of interaction with other people, objects or tools and culture in socially organized and goal-oriented activities. As forms of tools, technology and computer mediation change communication, our actions and our minds (Hampel & Stickler, 2012) and technology enables the sharing of resources between students (Mason & Rennie, 2008) and allows the interactions between teachers and students, and between students themselves during the process in which learning can happen. From this perspective, learning of a foreign language, e.g. Chinese, can happen in the process of learners using the language among themselves for certain communicative purposes via the use of computer-mediated environment.

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