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Reading and discussing literature online: a study on dialogue and online interaction

Presentation by Chris Lima at the CALRG 2012 conference.

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Rebecca Ferguson
19 June 2012

This presentation will discuss preliminary findings of a study conducted for a doctoral degree at the Open University School of Education.

This investigation aims to analyse how members of an online reading group for English language professionals construct (a) their responses to texts read in the group, and (b) their narratives of group participation.  In particular, to what extent and in what ways such responses and narratives are related to their contact with the literary text, the group interaction and the technology-mediated nature of the setting in which they occur. It will particularly focus on participants’ responses to the online environment.

Group interactions happen in a number of ways. First, there is the interaction between the individual reader and the literary text itself. Secondly, there is the interaction between Group members and the project coordinator, who plays the role of the reading circle facilitator. Thirdly, there is the interaction among group members.  Apart from specific threads opened for TESOL groups to support face-to-face classroom activities and discussions, all the interactions mentioned above are technology-mediated. This fact is extremely relevant in terms of the meditational tools available to participants, the possibilities and constraints of the online environment (affordances), and the development of new forms of literacy. Moreover, the British Council/ BBC website not only gives the Group a worldwide exposure and reach, but also ties it to institutional rules, priorities, policies and also, the public image of both institutions.

It is expected that the findings will help us to better understand the nature and extent to which contact with and discussion of literary texts through computer mediated communication affect how people construct their narratives and build up their professional discourses. It may also give us some ideas about how similar online projects may be implemented to promote reading and literacy among both language teachers and learners.

This presentation will include:

  • Background information on the research setting
  • The methodology and the data collection tools used
  • The data analysis
  • Preliminary findings
  • Questions & Discussion

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