Volume 20 Number 2

Autonomous Learning through Task-based Instruction in Fully Online Language Courses
Lina Lee, University of New Hampshire

This study investigated the affordances for autonomous learning in a fully online learning environment involving the implementation of task-based instruction in conjunction with Web 2.0 technologies. To that end, four-skill-integrated tasks and digital tools were incorporated into the coursework. Data were collected using midterm reflections, post-surveys and final interviews from two online elementary language courses. The results indicate that the types of tasks and digital tools utilized fostered learner autonomy in different ways. Structured tasks enabled students to work independently to create content, whereas open-ended tasks allowed them more freedom in exploring the understanding of a particular topic through social interaction. Significantly, teacher scaffolding through modeling and timely feedback affected student self-regulated efforts in online learning. The study concludes that personal commitment to the coursework and cognitive engagement with the learning material contributed to the degree of learning autonomy and the level of social interaction in fully online language learning.

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