A peer-to-peer collaborative writing platform for language learning
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09-10-2010, 12:52 PM

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A peer-to-peer collaborative writing platform for language learning

Co-ordinator: Mario Camilleri, University of Malta, MALTA
Project team: Valerie Sollars, University of Malta, MALTA
Helena Leja, Teacher Training College, Rzeszów, POLAND
Peter Ford, ICT4Schools Ltd, Nottingham, UK

The pedagogical rationale behind the use of Information and Communications Technologies in language education is firmly tied to the popularity of communicative language teaching approaches and constructivist (especially social constructivist) learning philosophies. Network mediated language activity offers benefits not otherwise available in a traditional classroom set-up – access to expert/native users of the language, access to a richly diverse community of interlocutors, authenticity of tasks and heightened motivation for the student to actively participate in dialogue using the target language. Asynchronous first generation Internet tools such as email have been successfully used in foreign language education (see for example the eTandem Europa project and implimentation1) and remain a viable tool in the hands of experienced language educators. The scope for collaboration in such technologies however is limited. Collaborative, peer-to-peer asynchronous environments such as discussion fora and synchronous environments such as MOOs (immersive internet multi-player role-playing scenarios) offer more potential for communicative language use in a language learning context. However, the collaborative environment which has received most attention and generated most interest in recent years are blogs (web logs) – essentially a composite personal web site and online diary or journal organised either chronologically or thematically. Although journal writing has always been a favourite tool of language teachers, the public nature of a blog gives it a social, collaborative and intercultural dimension not otherwise present. Although blogs are essentially on-line journals, they can also be used in collaborative ways, and usually are. Bloggers (writers of blogs) typically make rich use of hypertext to link to external content, especially other blogs, thus forming a dense mesh of cross-commented postings with links going to and from between journals. This project and implimentation investigates the use of blogs to promote collaborative, intercultural writing by secondary school-aged students of English and of French.

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