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Learning English in a Multi-User Virtual Environment: Exploring Factors Affecting Participation
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Humanities.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3611-6681
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Online language learning and teaching is a field that has received a significant amount of research attention. What factors could affect student participation in simpler online learning environments has been investigated by researchers, but there has been limited study of factors affecting participation in complex Multi-User Virtual Environments.

By using the typical Multi-User Virtual Environment Second Life, three English courses offered by Swedish universities were examined in this thesis. The courses were video-recorded, and selected parts of the recordings were transcribed. The transcribed recordings were complemented by author(s)’ observation, participants’ reflection, an online questionnaire and an online interview. Participation from the courses was measured both quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitative methods were used to measure, for example, floor space, number of utterances, turn length, number of turns; the qualitative analysis centered on, for instance, utterance functions, discourse analysis, and Conversational Analysis.

The results were published in five papers that focused on different central factors affecting participation in Second Life. In this thesis, the findings from those articles are synthesized. Furthermore, on the basis of the findings, a general model of factors affecting participation is presented and discussed to highlight that different factors interrelate and that some factors are particularly important in terms of affecting participation in Multi-User Virtual Environments. These are students’ technical skills, task design, course design, technical support, and Second Life technology. The complex technology also places critical demands on teachers’ technical skills, teaching strategies, and roles that teachers should play. Finally, this thesis argues that it is important to choose a suitable technology for an English course.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mid Sweden University , 2017. , 87 p.
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 266
Keyword [en]
Activity theory, Conversational Analysis, Discourse analysis, Ecology of language learning, Model of factors affecting participation, Multi-User Virtual Environment, Participation, Second Life, The sociocultural perspective on learning, Technology adoption
National Category
Languages and Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30795ISBN: 978-91-88527-21-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-30795DiVA: diva2:1104037
Public defence
2017-09-12, N109, Mid Sweden University, Holmgatan 10, Sundsvall, 14:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-06-09 Created: 2017-05-31 Last updated: 2017-06-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Towards a model for mapping participation:Exploring factors affecting participation in a telecollaborative learning scenario in Second Life.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards a model for mapping participation:Exploring factors affecting participation in a telecollaborative learning scenario in Second Life.
2013 (English)In: The JALT CALL Journal, ISSN 1832-4215, Vol. 9, no 1, 3-22 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
The JALT CALL SIG, 2013
National Category
Languages and Literature
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-18734 (URN)
Available from: 2013-04-11 Created: 2013-04-11 Last updated: 2017-05-31Bibliographically approved
2. Who Owns the Floor? Examining Participation in a Collaborative Learning Scenario between Student Teachers and Active Professionals in Second Life.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Who Owns the Floor? Examining Participation in a Collaborative Learning Scenario between Student Teachers and Active Professionals in Second Life.
2014 (English)In: International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments, ISSN 1947-8518, E-ISSN 1947-8526, Vol. 5, no 1, 34-53 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study investigates the effects of unequal power relations on participation in a group of student teachers and invited professionals in two collaborative workshops in Second Life. The data includes recordings, group reflections, and individual questionnaires. Participation was examined from the aspects of floor space, turn length, and utterance functions and complemented with student reflections. The results show that at a general level, the differences of floor space and turn length between the invited professionals and the students were small. Moreover, the invited professionals did more conversational management than the students, while the students performed more supportive speech acts. There were, however, individual variations.

Keyword
Collaboration, Discourse functions, Floor space, Network, Participation, Second life, Turn length, Unequal power relations
National Category
Languages and Literature
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-18736 (URN)10.4018/ijvple.2014010103 (DOI)2-s2.0-84928182963 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2013-04-12 Created: 2013-04-12 Last updated: 2017-05-31Bibliographically approved
3. Facilitating Participation: Teacher Roles In A Multiuser Virtual Learning Environment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Facilitating Participation: Teacher Roles In A Multiuser Virtual Learning Environment
2015 (English)In: Language Learning & Technology, ISSN 1094-3501, E-ISSN 1094-3501, Vol. 19, no 2, 156-176 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper reports on a task-based language teaching course in Second Life. The data set consists of transcribed recordings and a teacher interview. Focusing on how the teacher facilitated student participation, this paper aims to explore the discourse functions in the teacher language output and then to address the teacher roles in three different task phases. All the turns produced by the teacher and the students were counted, the teacher language output in the recordings was classified into 19 discourse function categories, and then all the discourse functions were classified into six teacher roles. The results show that the during-task phase was student output oriented. This study reveals that in the pre-task phase the teacher used the largest numberof types and tokens of discourse functions, and played a significant technical and social role. In the during-task phase, the teacher focused on motivating students to participate, monitoring student activities, and providing task support. In the post-task phase, the teacher was a language guide. While the teacher roles that were most prominent varied in the three task phases, the teacher was found to play four roles consistently in the three task phases: monitor role, motivator role, language guide role, and social role.

Keyword
Task-based Instruction, Virtual Environments, Discourse Analysis, Teacher Education
National Category
Didactics Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-23651 (URN)000356597700011 ()2-s2.0-84930162379 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2014-12-09 Created: 2014-12-09 Last updated: 2017-06-01Bibliographically approved
4. Managing student participation: Teacher strategies in a virtual EFL course
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing student participation: Teacher strategies in a virtual EFL course
2014 (English)In: The Journal of the JALT CALL SIG, ISSN 1832-4215, Vol. 10, no 2, 105-125 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper aims to explore teacher strategies for managing student participation in a complex Multi-user Virtual Environment. Data include transcribed recordings from a task-based eflcourse in Second Life. Conversational Analysis is adopted to analyze the teacher’s verbal language output in the transcript, and a stu-dent questionnaire is used to complement the findings from the transcript. The results sug-gest that teacher strategies are influenced by task phases and also by the specific nature of Second Life.

Keyword
teacher strategies, managing student participation, EFL, Second Life
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-23650 (URN)
Available from: 2014-12-09 Created: 2014-12-09 Last updated: 2017-06-01Bibliographically approved
5. Using Second Life in an English Course: How does the technology affect participation?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using Second Life in an English Course: How does the technology affect participation?
2017 (English)In: International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, ISSN 2155-7098, Vol. 7, no 1, 66-85 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper examines how technology affects participation in an English course in Second Life. Second Life-specific affordances, i.e. voice-morphing and sound isolated parcels, were used in this course. The data set consists of approximately 33 hours of audio recordings and chat logs of 8315 words. In audio, 10.8% of the course time deals with technological challenges, while in chat, 69.2% of the words concern technology. The types of technological challenges interfering with participation involve software complexity, unreliable functionality of SL, as well as hardware and connectivity issues. To deal with these problems, participants were assisted by pedagogical facilitators, technological facilitators, and SL-experienced peers. Based on the analysis of the challenges outlined above, this paper provides recommendations for language practitioners, focusing primarily on the course, participant, and program levels.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IGI Global, 2017
National Category
Specific Languages
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30807 (URN)10.4018/IJCALLT.2017010105 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-06-07 Created: 2017-06-07 Last updated: 2017-06-09Bibliographically approved

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