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LEARNER AUTONOMY AMONG MALAYSIAN ADULT LEARNERS THROUGH ASYNCHRONOUS ONLINE DISCUSSIONS

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Author(s): Ranjit Kaur Sidhu | Mohamed Amin bin Embi

Journal: ASEAN Journal of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education
ISSN 1985-5826

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 30;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: Learner autonomy | computer mediated communication | asynchronous computer mediated communication | asynchronous online discussions/interactions | Virtual Learning System | adult learning

ABSTRACT
The use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) in course offerings in institutions of higher learning (IHLs) is seen as the catalyst towards producing autonomous lifelong learners. This paperexplores Malaysian adult learners’ views of participating in asynchronous online discussions, one mode of asynchronous computer-mediated communication (ACMC), in a private universityin Malaysia as a means of aiding them to become autonomous learners in the areas of planning, monitoring and decision making. The sample population comprised sixteen third-year adult courserespondents (n=16) enrolled in the Listening and Speaking Course (LSC) for their Bachelor in Education (TESL) degree program. The sample comprised six (n=6) case respondents and one tutor (n=1). This descriptive case study employed a mixed method approach. Quantitative data were collected through a survey questionnaire, whereas qualitative data were obtained by analysing threaded asynchronous online interactions (AOI), conducting semi-structured interviews and analysing case respondents’ learning logs. The Þndings revealed that generally course respondents rated their abilities in planning, monitoring and decision making as average. In-depth analysis of six case respondents’ abilities also showed average abilities (overall average score = 3.3) in all three aspects of learner autonomy. This study has shown that online discussions have the potential in aiding learners in taking charge of their own learning, thus paving the way for learner autonomy. These Þndings augur well for local and global IHLs as ACMC is seen as the nexte-wave of the future. However, for students to benefit from quality asynchronous online discussions, it must be accompanied by an effective follow-up system backed by dedicated educators.
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