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Factors Affecting Students Performance in English

In: Social Issues

Submitted By sirdave0315
Words 720
Pages 3
Australasian Journal of
Educational Technology
2009, 25(5), 645-665
Factors affecting the way students collaborate in a wiki for English language learning
Vida Zorko
University of Ljubljana
Wikis are believed to be a powerful tool assisting the development of constructivist learning environments, as their very nature supports collaboration. However, not much research has been done into the types of collaborative interaction that take place in wikis when used for learning. The main purpose of this study is to explore the factors that affect the ways students collaborate in the wiki environment. To this end, a qualitative exploration of students’ perceptions of collaboration in the wiki was carried out among sociology students at university level who used this environment in blended, problem based learning as part of their English for Specific Purposes course.
The research shows that the wiki promoted many collaborative behaviours among students, such as learning from each other and communicating with the teacher.
However, the data indicate that the wiki was less successful in facilitating other types of collaboration, such as communicating with peers and co-constructing products, primarily because the students had the opportunity to collaborate in live meetings and preferred to use Messenger and email to communicate. Overall, the results obtained here confirm that the wiki can be used to enhance effective collaboration in a constructivist approach to language learning.
Introduction
With rapid advances in Internet technologies an ever increasing choice of tools can be used to support language teaching. One such application that is used by educators to enhance constructivist teaching approaches is a wiki. A wiki is a web based publishing tool that offers learners and teachers an easily editable virtual space for sharing information and knowledge. It is believed to be particularly suitable for collaborative learning. The term collaboration is frequently associated with new and effective approaches to learning. It has also become very popular with the promoters of new technologies who have been using the term ‘collaborative’ to refer to any correspondence or coordination web tools to the extent that some educators fear it might lose its meaning (Roschelle & Pea, 1999, p.23).
This study attempts to shed some light on collaborative interactions in the wiki environment in order to find out whether this environment facilitates effective, collaborative language learning and to identify some factors that affect the presence or absence of collaborative behaviours in the wiki.
Online collaboration
Learning in the educational community helps students become independent thinkers and collaborative learners, which are qualities that are required to meet successfully the challenges of today’s knowledge society (Garrison & Anderson, 2003, p.22).
Collaborative work is thus a key component of scholarly activities in educational communities which are using new social networking tools and developing new forms of interaction in virtual worlds (The Horizon Report, 2007, p.5). Computers are increasingly viewed as doors to social spaces (Oblinger, 2005, p.71), and many believe that the social nature of Web 2.0 technologies supports collaboration (Godwin-Jones,
2003, p.15).
Collaborative technology is any application that ‘enables and scaffolds the construction of communal ways of seeing, acting and knowing, and production of shared knowledge and new practices for successful future action’ (Lipponen & Lallimo, 2004,
p.436). However, technology itself does not guarantee a good education (Sikkel et al.,
2002, p.26). Merely preparing the software and informing the learners that they can use it does not mean that the teacher has developed a collaborative learning environment, because the students may not use it (Brook & Oliver, 2003). Collaborative software can be useful but it cannot produce group collaboration, it can only facilitate it (Hiltz,
1998).
The language teacher who uses collaborative technology has to design such tasks for the virtual environment that correspond to activities students will perform outside it.
It is also important that students themselves see how these tasks relate to activities outside the classroom (Chapelle, 2001, p.80). The teacher will achieve successful second language acquisition if they consider the social and affective aspects of learning. Thus, an important goal of the language learning process is to develop the students’ interest in looking for opportunities for communication and the willingness to communicate in them. This will depend on many factors such as the student’s personality, social situation, communicative competence, the desire to communicate with a particul

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