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Maintaining and Enhancing Students' Collaborative Learning in a Japanese EFL Higher Education Context

Kanno, M; (2020) Maintaining and Enhancing Students' Collaborative Learning in a Japanese EFL Higher Education Context. Journal of Education, Innovation, and Communication , SI pp. 91-106. 10.34097/jeicom_sp_june2020_4. Green open access

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Abstract

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a huge shift towards digital forms of education. Although Japan has never gone into full lockdown, students have been strictly kept at home and socially isolated from classroom learning for extended periods. Teachers were urged to create online teaching and learning resources and began to consider the most suitable technologies to teach their courses. This paper reports on a teacher’s ongoing efforts to develop and deliver distancelearning English as a foreign language (EFL) courses in a higher education context. Drawing on a view that learning is social development, the researcher focuses on the concept of social presence in peer-to-peer communication that could enhance collaborative learning in a virtual classroom. Synchronous distance learning courses were developed utilising a text-messaging application and collaborative text-editing software with the aim to establish a communicative learning space. Analysis into the students’ interactions in Slack workspaces – a text messaging applicationindicated a variety of interpersonal, open, and cohesive communication that signalled psychological closeness in the virtual learning environment. Group discussion sessions revealed that students could feel connected to each other in the synchronous EFL courses, which demonstrated the robustness of social interaction despite physical distancing. Major difficulties lay in three areas: technology, the nature of the task, and some students’ task preferences. These three areas need to be addressed when designing and delivering a distance learning course.

Type: Article
Title: Maintaining and Enhancing Students' Collaborative Learning in a Japanese EFL Higher Education Context
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.34097/jeicom_sp_june2020_4
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.34097/jeicom_SP_june2020_4
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Collaborative learning, Computer-mediated learning, Distance education, Peer support, Social presence
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10143065
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