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Learner-Learner Interaction: Technology

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Uses of technology for learner-learner interaction. Benefits and challenges. Tech tools for enabling learner-learner interaction.This lesson is part of the NFLRC Online Language Pedagogy Series, designed for in-service teachers of world languages online.

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Lesson 09

Learner-learner interaction, also known as peer interaction, can be defined as “any communicative activity carried out between learners” with minimal or no participation from the instructor (Philp, Adams, & Iwashita, 2014, p. 3). Learner-learner interaction can entail cooperative and collaborative learning, peer tutoring, peer modeling, and peer feedback. To engage in such communicative activities, learners can perform three main roles during peer interaction: exploring, experimenting, and questioning (Pasfield-Neofitou, 2012). In the context of an online environment, learner-learner interaction is mediated by technology that can be used for a variety of purposes such as enabling communicative tasks that would allow for the negotiation of meaning among learners, experimentations with the target language, language practice, language correction, and language assessment.

Technology that mediates learner-learner interaction in online classes may have multiple benefits for language learners who can use it for the following purposes:
provide oral or written feedback to peers (e.g., using the “Comments” function in blogs or in Google Docs, or recording audio comments using Screencast-O-Matic);make revisions to the produced content (output) in the target language using peers’ feedback;use revision history to reflect on and gain insights into the process of composing and revising written and/or multimodal texts produced by peers; enhance collaborative work with multimedia (e.g., using the “Chat” function when collaboratively composing a text in Google Docs, or sharing a screen when completing a collaborative activity in Skype);compose and share content in the target language with the real audience (e.g., via a blog or Wikipedia);build a learner-centered environment in which learning occurs through collaborative work that entails solving problems, sharing opinions and insights, negotiating meaning, co-constructing knowledge, and providing meaningful feedback in the target language.
Challenges of using technology for learner-learner interaction in online classes may include:
dealing with a limited context for skilled feedback and target-like input from peers;designing communicative tasks that promote both focus on meaning (e.g., negotiation of meaning) and focus on form (e.g., attention to grammatical features) during peer interaction; monitoring students’ collaborative work to ensure the quality and equality of participation and interaction in an online environment;creating an active and productive online learning community in which learners can effectively interact and collaborate without much intervention from the instructor;ensuring that learners possess sufficient technological skills to engage in learner-learner interaction online.
There are several tech tools that can be used to facilitate learner-learner interaction (also check the PLN Tool Browser for more options):
concept mapping tools (Sketchboard) virtual boards (Twiddla)tools for collaborative writing and peer feedback (EtherPad and Google Docs)telecollaboration (Appear.In)

Suggested references

Appear.In: A free video conferencing tool. (2015). Retrieved from

EtherPad: An open-source online editor. (2015). Retrieved from

Google Docs: A web-based word processor. (2015). Retrieved from

Pasfield-Neofitou, S. E. (2012). Online communication in a second language: Social interaction, language use, and learning Japanese. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Philp, J., Adams, R., & Iwashita, N. (2014). Peer interaction and second language learning. New York, NY: Routledge.
Sketchboard: A web-based tool for concept mapping. (2015). Retrieved from

Twiddla: A free, no-setup, web-based meeting playground. (2015). Retrieved from

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