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Title: Autonomy, foreign language learning and technology : a study of the use of a virtual learning environment by a class of advanced level adult EFL learners in Mexico
Author: Hamilton, M. L. J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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This is the study of the use of a virtual learning environment (VLE) by a class of advanced level, EFL, adult learners at a university in Mexico. The intervention adopted a two stranded approach to the use of the VLE. The first strand integrated the VLE into the students’ weekly computer room lesson, a blended learning approach, which enabled an examination of learners’ perceptions and use of the VLE and an analysis of the nature of the relationship between autonomy and technology within the construct of the classroom. The second strand provided resources, independent of the blended learning VLE component, mediated by the VLE, in the form of additional materials and discussion forums for students to access in their free time. Analysis of students’ perceptions and free time use of the VLE provides an insight into the relationship between autonomy and free time use of the technology. The qualitative study examines the nature of the relationship between independent learner behaviour and a virtual learning environment (VLE) by considering learners’ perceptions and supported by etic data, drawn from site records of students’ movements around the VLE and the analysis of their written contributions in response to content mediated by the VLE. Findings indicated that on one level learners showed signs of exploiting their ‘potential capacity’ (Holec 1981:3) for autonomous behaviour in response to the VLE when the conditions for learning corresponded with their development needs, in response to the design intentions of the learning materials within the structure of the VLE. On a second level, indications of autonomous behaviour emerged in response to the change in dynamic and ‘totality of relationships’ between class members created by the introduction of the VLE in the blended lessons and with free time access to the technology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available