Moving from analogue to high definition e-tools to support empowering social learning approaches

Paula Charbonneau-Gowdy, Ivana Cechova

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Traditional educational and training settings have dictated that the act of learning is an activity that is motivated by learners, directed by a teacher expert and based on information transfer and data manipulation. In this scenario, it has been assumed that learners more or less acquire knowledge or develop sets of skills as a result of such activity. In this model, learning ends when the training activities cease - and implies repeat doses of the same training is required over time. Computer technology, as it has been generally integrated into educational settings, has taken the role as tools to support such a model and in some cases to replace the teacher in these contexts - although not without serious implications for learners and their learning. In the last three decades, a growing movement in educational research, based on the theoretical support of Leon Vygtosky and Mikhail Bakhtin, is advocating that the traditional conceptualization of the learning process is misconceived. From the perspective of this movement, learning is understood as a life-long, social act of constructing knowledge in a dialogic activity with others. Within this model, social interaction is the precursor to higher order thinking rather than the reverse. The challenging question emerging for many educators is how new technologies can support knowledge and skill building in social constructivist-based learning settings. And a corollary to this question arises: Depending on the particular technology chosen what are the implications for learning and identity construction? In this paper, we describe the Language Learning Through Conferencingproject (LLTC) in which a low-cost video-based web conferencing technology and desktop computers were used to conduct language learning sessions via the Internet. The project description, project content, and the experiences that took place over a sustained period as well as the potential future for this approach to distance learning are presented here. The aim of the Language Learning Through Conferencing project (LLTC) has been to exploit a particular Web 2.0 technology to connect language learners internationally between Canada and new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe and more recently in the public sector in Canada. More specifically, the project was a means to respond to learners who faced challenges in finding opportunities for language learning both in Europe and in Canada. Outcomes from ongoing qualitative and quantitative findings gathered by the respective authors are indicating that these dialogic opportunities are also having a powerful influence on learners' professional, linguistic and personal identities as well as their views of technology and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication4th International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL 2009
PublisherAcademic Conferences Limited
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781906638375
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Event4th International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL 2009 - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 16 Jul 200917 Jul 2009


Other4th International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL 2009


  • Guided social learning
  • Identity and knowledge construction
  • Learner agency
  • Video-based web conferencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems
  • Education


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