The collaborative construction of knowledge through online forums and blogging in an EFL undergraduate class
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In the educational field, the World Wide Web can be used as a medium of communication, as an information delivery system as well as an interactive space to provide novel opportunities for students' engagement in learning tasks. The present study attempts to explore the latter through interpretive, qualitative research. It examines how the use of blogging and the electronic forum contributes to the development of collaborative tasks and the application of critical thinking skills in an English Language II class at the Faculty of Languages of the National University of Córdoba (UNC), which offers programmes in EFL Teacher Training, Translation and Research. The teacher-researcher, two raters, one of whom was also the external observer, and 24 Spanish-speaking undergraduate students participated in this study. The data collection instruments included a pre-study and a post-study questionnaire, the text generated in the students' group forums and blogs. The findings led to the development of a taxonomy of online L2 collaborative contributions in the group debate forums, and to a threefold classification of the patterns of application of critical thinking skills and collaboration in the blog entries. Although the implications of this study relate to a specific group of students in a particular educational setting, the results suggest that the electronic forum and group blogging can facilitate collaboration and the application of higher order thinking and that the students perceived these Web-based activities as relevant to their L2 learning.
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