Article published in:Asian Languages and Computers
Edited by Debra Hoven and Jeong-Bae Son
[Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. Series S 17] 2003
► pp. 3–24
‘Virtual’ learning communities beyond the classroom
Perceptions of tertiary Chinese language and non-language learners
As class contact times are reduced as a result of fiscal restraints in the modern tertiary sector, language instructors are placed in the position of having to find new ways to provide experience and continuity in language learning. Extending ‘learning communities’ — sites of learner knowledge exchange, exposure to diverse learning styles and strategies, and mutual support — beyond the classroom is one solution to maintaining successful linguistic competencies amongst learners. This, however, can conflict with the diverse extra-curricular commitments faced by tertiary students. The flexibility of web-based learning platforms provides one means of overcoming these obstacles. This study investigates learner perceptions of the use of the Web-CT® platform’s CMC tools as a means of extending the community of learning in tertiary Chinese language and non-language courses. Learner responses to Likert and open-ended questionnaires show that flexibility and reduction of negative affect are seen as significant benefits to ‘virtual’ interaction and communication, although responses are notably stronger in the non-language compared with the language cohort. While both learner cohorts acknowledge positive learning outcomes, CMC is not seen to consistently further interpersonal rapport beyond that established in the classroom. Maintaining a balance between web-based and classroom learning emerges as a concern, especially amongst language learners.
Published online: 01 January 2003