Online Learning and Autonomy: Developing Language and Study Skills Materials for ESL University Students
The concept of autonomy in learning is often understood to be an ideal encompassing learner independence and responsibility, which seems particularly appropriate for online learning at university level; after all, learning materials online are available if and when students choose to access them. Promoting autonomy also seems appropriate for higher education because students are expected to manage their own learning in their own time. Furthermore, it has been argued that autonomy can be conducive to students having control over their own learning and knowing what to learn. There is, however, no automatic connection between accessing language and study skills materials online and being an independent learner who has power over learning. Computerised language and learning materials can be at a learner’s disposal, but they can also impose standards from a faceless authority, and they are more likely to be teaching technical skills of language rather than stimulating awareness of what is needed for effective learning in academic studies. In this paper I explore some of the understandings of autonomy in order to develop online learning materials which will help students to learn how to learn. The students in this case are university students who use English as a second language and who, in studying in Australia, are likely to be confronting a new educational culture. From a practical perspective, I present a number of activities suitable for online self-access language and study skills development and explain how they support autonomous learning.
Julianne East (Australia)
Language and Academic Skills (English as a Second Language) Unit
La Trobe University
Julianne has worked as an adviser teaching English language and academic skills at La Trobe University, Australia since 1997. While her Masters research investigated the notion of international students as customers, her current interest is in making universities better places of learning for students.
(Virtual Presentation, English)