Online Collaborative Learning as a Way of Boosting Language and Teaching Proficiency

Online Collaborative Learning as a Way of Boosting Language and Teaching Proficiency

Margarita Anastasovna Ariyan (Nizhny Novgorod State Linguistics University, Russia) and Nadezhda Vladimirovna Gorobinskaya (Nizhny Novgorod State Linguistics University, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5846-0.ch007

Abstract

A pedagogical attempt to increase the effectiveness of foreign language teaching led to pairing Russian students who are obtaining a Master's degree in language teaching methodology with those of a distance department learning English as a foreign language to collaboratively solve educational problems online. As a course instructor plays the role of a facilitator gradually giving students more and more academic freedom, the educational process increases learner autonomy. Current research findings indicate that such a course is effective for both target groups of learners. By directly applying the received competence to online practice, those who study language teaching methodology learn more effectively and acquire new skills associated with successfully working with computer technologies, while those who study by distance learning receive better academic guidance and a more individualized approach from their senior peers.
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Theoretical Background

The newly-designed remedial course at the education site is based on a pedagogical flip and the uses of modern computer technologies. But, unlike other flipped online courses, students are engaged in online collaborative activities in English where master students position themselves as instructors providing distant students with guidance and individual feedback.

The so-called “flipped classroom” inverts traditional teaching methods. Dr. Eric Mazur of Harvard University has been investigating this type of learning since the early 1990s, and many other instructors have been using this learning method for even longer. The terminology “flipped classroom” was initially used in 2007. The flipped classroom model is considered to have been first introduced by Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams, who began to use technology to record PowerPoint presentations (Bergman & Sams, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Communicative Activity: An activity designed to encourage learners to use the language for communication rather than for language practice.

Classroom Management: The strategies used by a teacher to organize the classroom, the learning, and the learners, such as seating arrangements, different types of activities, teacher roles, and interaction patterns.

Open-Ended Task: A task that does not have a right or wrong answer, but which allows learners to offer their own opinions and ideas or to respond creatively.

Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Learning a language with the use of computers.

Receptive Skills: Listening and reading (i.e., those skills requiring the ability to receive communication but not to produce it).

Productive Skills: Speaking and writing (i.e., those skills requiring the production of language).

Problem-Solving: Learners work in pairs or groups to find the solution to a problem.

Pedagogical Flip: A teaching approach that inverts a traditional method of learning new information in class and practicing it at home. This is a blended learning strategy that helps to devote more academic time to develop high-order thinking skills.

Remedial Course: A series of classes aiming at solving some particular educational problems or helping learners understand information.

Learner Autonomy: The ability to take responsibility for a learner’s own learning process, from goal-setting, choosing learning strategies, self-instruction, time-management, self-monitoring to help-seeking and self-reflection.

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