Social Presence Functions in Task-Based Language Activities in a Virtual Classroom in Second Life

Social Presence Functions in Task-Based Language Activities in a Virtual Classroom in Second Life

Sedat Akayoglu (Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey) and Golge Seferoglu (Middle East Technical University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1882-2.ch011
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Abstract

As the developments occurred in terms of technology, new tools and platforms started to be used in classroom settings. However, there is a need for discourse analysis of these tools and environments in order to better understand the flow of communication. This study aimed at determining discourse patterns in terms of social presence observed in a course carried out in a 3D environment, Second Life. At the end of the study, it was found that the most frequently used social presence functions were expression of emotions, vocatives and asking questions respectively; the least frequently used social presence functions were phatics and salutations, referring explicitly to the others' messages and quoting from others' messages. The findings of this study were found to be in parallel with the literature. This study might be helpful for researchers, educators and students in order to better understand the contexts created in 3D virtual worlds.
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Introduction

The pedagogy has always been influenced by the technology of its era. In earlier times, the use of audio tapes, cassettes and videos in classrooms were considered as a revolution and new methods and approaches emerged as a result of the technological developments. In today’s world, the rapidly changing and developing technology is the Internet without any doubt. The reflections of this development and spreading of the technology, computers and the Internet are so obvious that educators cannot ignore the use of the technology in classroom settings. Based on the recent developments, researchers, educators and teachers are trying to integrate computers into the classroom settings, the institutions are equipped with technological devices and teachers and learners are expected to utilize technology in teaching and learning process. As a result, the ways students learn and teachers teach have changed a lot. There are many differences between the traditional classrooms and a classroom that is supported with technology or virtual classes. However, as Kern (2006) stated the effects of technology use depend on how it is used, who uses it and what is used. Thus, it cannot be claimed that technology affects teaching and learning processes in a positive or negative way; but we can easily state that it has changed the pedagogy a lot.

In addition to the effectiveness of technology in education, the interaction among the learners in a foreign language classroom is quite crucial for learning. Instead of just measuring the outcome of the learning, the process should also be studied in order to see how students interact with each other and with their teachers. This issue has been studied in real classrooms; however, the investigation of online platforms has become quite important with the emergence of technological tools into the classrooms.

In this study, it was aimed at determining the patterns of discourse produced by the advanced learners of English at an English medium university in Turkey, an EFL context, in a virtual environment called Second Life in terms of social presence. This study focused on the data obtained by means of text-based computer mediated communication (CMC) and the findings of this study might help the researchers, educators, teachers and learners to better understand what is happening in these environments in terms of social presence.

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