Interaction in Technology--Mediated, Multisite, Foreign Language Instruction
American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting,
Foreign or second language (L2) acquisition literature frequently makes the claim that, by not facilitating interaction, distance learning fails to create the conditions necessary for achieving the goals of widely accepted L2 communicative curriculum. This assumption is not as yet supported by any empirical evidence from L2 acquisition research. The assumption generalizes with respect to a formal definition of distance learning, ignoring the fact that different forms of distance learning create different conditions for interaction. It also generalizes with respect to a definition for interaction. With recent developments in communications technologies, particularly in the combination of fiber-optic networking and computer communications, and their high-cost adoption within the field of education, there is a need to assess the validity of what is referred to in this report as the untested assumption of "impaired interaction" in technology-mediated, multi-site instruction. The present study is designed to provide some evidence in support of this need through the analysis of discourse generated in high school Russian L2 classes. The observed classes involved two geographically remote sites linked on the fiber-optic network in the state of Iowa. Evidence from discourse is supported by student perceptions of motivation, learning, and involvement in interaction derived from a post-instruction questionnaire. Results of discourse analyses suggest that a range of acceptable discourse patterns are perfectly feasible in multisite instruction where complete audio and video signals are available, although such interaction may not always be most appropriate for L2 acquisition. Analyses of questionnaire data indicate that students perceive interaction across sites to be a motivating feature of multisite instruction, but somewhat limited by methodological and organizational problems. Students do not cite the technology as a major impediment to interaction and learning. Six figures and nine tables illustrate data. (Contains 56 references.) (Author)
Fast, M.G. (1995). Interaction in Technology--Mediated, Multisite, Foreign Language Instruction. Presented at American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting 1995.