Interactivity and Social Presence PhD Thesis

Interactivity and Social Presence is the topic of Dr. Mohammad Hossein Hariri Asl’s Ph.D. thesis in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

PhD Thesis Title

Interactivity and Social Presence: Two Ingredients for Creating an Effective Online Learning Community

Researcher

Dr. Mohammad Hossein Hariri Asl, Ph.D. in TEFL

Advisor

Seyyedeh Susan Marandi, Ph.D.

Reader

Parviz Maftoon, Ph.D.

Institution

Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

With the availability of state-of-the-art technology, particularly the Internet, our global village has expanded its channels of communication. Meanwhile, Computer-assisted Language Learning (CALL) has helped millions of people all around the globe to utilize technology to learn second languages interactively. This study is intended to cast more light on the prospect of creating an online learning community that could optimize the level of interaction among the students and the teacher, a phenomenon which is technically referred to as social presence in conjunction with integrative CALL. Current CALL programs do not seem to have updated themselves from the obsolete behavioristic and communicative genres to reach for the integrative one so as to yield optimum interactivity. Using a qualitative research based on grounded theory, the researcher attempted to collect and analyze the data cyclically obtained from 42 English students of his website through 41 semi-structured interviews at the end of each class on Wednesdays lasting for over one year. The data gathered from the analysis of the transcribed interviews as the main instrument of data collection were also triangulated with an open-ended questionnaire and the researcher’s observations. The results revealed that content-based instruction (CBI) in which the students can opt for and create the content of the course through engaging in asynchronous activities and performing self- and peer-assessment on comment forms and discussion boards prior to each synchronous class could maximize the level of interaction among them. Moreover, the findings suggested that a surplus of immediate teacher-assessment could undermine peer-assessment and student-student interactivity in the social context of the L2 blog.

Keywords

Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), social presence, integrative
CALL, Content-based Instruction (CBI), negotiation of meaning, peer-assessment

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