This paper argues that if used correctly, computer-mediated courseware (CMC), in the form of an online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) such as Blackboard or Moodle, has the potential to offer adult learners in university settings an optimal autonomy-supportive environment for learning English as a second language at a distance. The paper firstly considers how to promote learner autonomy through offering participants choices during the initial stages of a course through a negotiated syllabus. It then divides the language learning process into metacognitive and cognitive linguistic capacities and provides examples of strategies to increase autonomy in these spheres. Autonomy with regard to metacognitive linguistic capacities can be developed first by the multimodal aspect of CMC, in particular, the unprecedented access to resources, second, through the array of mediums to select in the creation and submission of assignments and third, through the notion of ‘dissemination’ (Mayes, 2002), which allows for ‘vicarious learning’ (Bandura, 1986). Autonomy with regard to cognitive linguistic capacities can be promoted through goal-oriented participant interaction on spoken and written forums on the platform, followed by consciousness-raising language activities guiding students to notice patterns in the language. In conclusion, it is suggested that a VLE might lead to optimum learning through the facilitation of a state of ‘flow’ or ‘autotelic’ activity, a concept closely related to autonomy and intrinsic motivation. Copyright © 2013 Academy Publisher Manufactured in Finland.
CitationBrooke, M. (2013). Facilitating the development of the autonomous language learner using online virtual learning environments. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(4), 572-580.
- Computer-mediated courseware
- Virtual learning environment
- Autonomy & self determination theory
- Metacognitive and cognitive linguistic capacities