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Wednesday, August 12 • 2:00pm - 2:50pm
Using Google Communities for Spanish Language Teaching: Challenges in Building Effective Discourse Communities

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With more than 340 million users, Google Plus Community [GPC] is a digital social network community offering immense potential for strengthening language learning. Social networked learning in a higher education setting involves a complex web of interactions between learners, their peers, the instructor, and other online resources. Incidental points of connection do happen. But do they translate to deep learning? The networked learning environment can be meaningful only when discourse management produces a community of practice.

We will examine a test case integrating GPC within an undergraduate Spanish language course in a liberal arts curriculum. Several elements of GPC proved advantageous: Ease of use and integration with mobile devices, ability to post different types of media; easy feedback through “like” posts and comments; push notifications that trigger participation; option of private or public community; categories for easy organization of learning; links to Google Hangouts and other Google apps (e.g. Blogger or Google Slides) that expand the digital networked environment beyond GPC. One important result was student preference of GPC over the discussion board in the regular Blackboard LMS. We will provide several visual snapshots from the coursework as concrete examples of student learning.

Despite these effective learning design features, the points of connections within GPC did not always translate into a community of learners. Critical analysis of this issue raises three important pedagogical questions for using GPC to enhance collaborative learning:

1) How can shared digital learning spaces be designed so that connected nodes lead to community building?

2) How do the interactional tasks within Google Plus enhance language learning?

3) How does the role of learner identity affect learning within a networked environment?

Building on instructor observations and student survey results, this presentation will conclude with practical strategies for using social network communities in language learning.


Jaya Kannan

Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT 06825
avatar for Pilar Munday

Pilar Munday

Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT 06825

Wednesday August 12, 2015 2:00pm - 2:50pm EDT
CGIS South S020 (Belfer Case Study Room) 1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA