Virtual Education in ELL – Opportunities, Challenges and Potential

Bow Valley College. (2015). Virtual Education in ELL – Opportunities, Challenges and Potential (p. 66). Calgary, AB: Bow Valley College.

This 2015 report focuses on issues of learner isolation and instructional distance in an online workforce-related course for newcomers to Canada (CLB 7 or higher). The literature review investigates the notion of learner isolation, a common problem in online courses, which can lead to frustration, decreased motivation and withdrawal from online courses. The report proposes mitigating strategies to develop social presence in online language courses. The report goes into detail about the importance of instructor presence online e.g., instructor bios, photos, frequent videos, frequent news and quick replies to participants; as well as one-on-one contact between instructors and learners. It cites other research that defines social presence as the ability for learners to connect with other participants as “real people”, despite not being in the same physical environment with them. Although this report is based on applied research in an online course, it echoes participants’ comments in Lawrence’s report about the need for a “human feel” (see Geoff Lawrence. (2014, May). A Call for the human feel in today’s increasingly blended world later in this bibliography).

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