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Web 2.0 Sites for Collaborative Self-Access: The Learning Advisor vs. Google®

Author(s): Craig D. Howard

Journal: Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal
ISSN 2185-3762

Volume: 2;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 195;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Self-access | Web 2.0 | Interactivity | CALL | Free Websites | collaborative self-study

While Web 2.0 technologies provide motivated, self-access learners with unprecedented opportunities for language learning, Web 2.0 designs are not of universally equal value for learning. This article reports on research carried out at Indiana University Bloomington using an empirical method to select websites for self-access language learning. Two questions related to Web 2.0 recommendations were asked: (1) How do recommended Web 2.0 sites rank in terms of interactivity features? (2) How likely is a learner to find highly interactive sites on their own? A list of 20 sites used for supplemental and self-access activities in language programs at five universities was compiled and provided the initial data set. Purposive sampling criteria revealed 10 sites truly represented Web 2.0 design. To address the first question, a feature analysis was applied (Herring, The international handbook of internet research. Berlin: Springer, 2008). An interactivity framework was developed from previous research to identify Web 2.0 design features, and sites were ranked according to feature quantity. The method used to address the second question was an interconnectivity analysis that measured direct and indirect interconnectivity within Google results. Highly interactive Web 2.0 sites were not prominent in Google search results, nor were they often linked via third party sites. It was determined that, using typical keywords or searching via blogs and recommendation sites, self-access learners were highly unlikely to find the most promising Web 2.0 sites for language learning. A discussion of the role of the learning advisor in guiding Web 2.0 collaborative self-access, as well as some strategic short cuts to quick analysis, conclude the article.
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