CHAPTER 2: Theory and Research: Interaction via Computers

CALL 570: Introduction to CALL
Professor Leo van Lier
Marian Wang
CHAPTER 2: Theory and Research: Interaction via Computers
By Joy Kreeft Peyton
 Computer networks for communication have created new opportunities for writing and
learning (e.g., synchronous and asynchronous interaction, broader communication with
different groups…similar to our project with Germany).
 The chapter describes the importance of interaction and negotiation in learning.
 Explores the promises and challenges that interaction over computer network presents to
learners and teachers.
The Central Role of Interaction
 In the past, most work on dynamics of interaction and their effect on learning have focused
on oral interaction.
 Now, we can consider written interaction (e.g., e-mail communication),which is also very
important in light of the explosion of network communication.
Patterns for Computer-Mediated Interaction
 Computer networks allow communication with many-to-many communication with a wide
variety of partners.
 The more competent English language users’ language can contribute to an expansion of the
learners’ language on which the learners can build their own language (this is called an
interactional scaffold).
 Computer networks challenge the traditional distinction between spelling and writing because
now learners can communicate via interactive means such as e-mail, chat rooms, etc. (writing
is no longer a solitary medium of communication).
 With a computer network, discussions can be stored, printed, or electronically distributed to
spark additional thoughts.
 Computer networks also abolish the notion of an original thinker and solitary author. In sum,
every learner is a contributor to the discussion and it is a communicative process where there
are many authors who build on others’ thoughts.
Challenges in Computer-Mediated Interaction
 Computer-mediated interaction is a new medium and is in its developmental process.
 Sometimes the learner-learner anonymity in communication can contribute to confrontational
and insulting dialogues (abuse of medium).
 Discussions may seem fragmented or off-topic.
 Difficulty for teachers to control classroom.
Explosion in Electronic Interaction
 Real social context makes electronic interaction useful.
 Teacher must stay involved using an intervention or non-intervention model (teacher
structures discussion and work before class and not intervene during the electronic
 Quality (vs. quantity) or interaction is important.
 Teacher should create and monitor interaction for learners.
 Computer does not replace teacher.
 Teacher should see computer not as a static tool, but as a medium to facilitate communication
and sharing among learners.
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