Future language teachers designing for language learning in hybrid environments

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa, auditorium L10

Topic of the dissertation

Future language teachers designing for language learning in hybrid environments

Doctoral candidate

Master of Arts Riikka Tumelius

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Humanities, Research Unit for Languages and Literature

Subject of study

English

Opponent

Adjunct Professor Peppi Taalas, University of Jyväskylä

Custos

Adjunct Professor Leena Kuure, University of Oulu

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A design-driven process is well-suited for learning to use digital technologies in a pedagogically informed way

Digital technologies provide varied possibilities for language learning, which has created a need to develop the practices of language teacher education as well. This doctoral research examined a university course where preservice teachers design and carry out an online language learning project for schoolchildren. The research showed that the design-driven approach combining theory and practice gave the preservice teachers an opportunity to gain hands-on experience on teaching languages as a collaborative effort, and to design language learning from a new perspective. The research approach of nexus analysis can be utilised in language teacher education to support the emergence of professional vision and agency.

The study explored how future language teachers learn to manage complex pedagogical situations, and how their professional vision and agency emerge in the joint activities and sensemaking. Furthermore, the study investigated how nexus analysis as a research strategy is suited for studying pedagogical change. The study used multiple types of research materials: video recordings of the participants’ work, texts from online discussion forums and chat logs, documents from the design process, materials from the learning projects, the preservice teachers’ reflective writings and observations by the researchers. The materials are collected from two separate course implementations.

Findings show how a hybrid space emerged from the use of digital technologies. This required fluid shifts of attention, multimodal interaction and varied negotiations for meanings from the preservice teachers. They skilfully managed the complex, pedagogical events and drew on their peers’ and teachers’ support in action. A balanced interaction order between the preservice teachers and their lecturer facilitated the collaborative action.

The research showed that the preservice teachers were dealing with competing understandings of language learning and teaching, which demonstrated why creating pedagogical change is challenging. The research strategy of nexus analysis makes it possible to examine change as situated action which is tied to broader, societal structures. On the one hand, attention is paid to momentary action and interaction where the practices of teaching are built. On the other hand, the analysis also encompasses the broader discourses that guide practices, such as curricula or public talk on teacher education and language teaching. Nexus analysis allows switching focus between these two dimensions and so, helps to shed light on their mutual, complex relationship.

Future research could include developing the use of design-driven approaches as a tool for teacher educators and utilising the participatory approach of nexus analysis to involve teachers as co-researchers in the study of language pedagogies in the era of digitalisation.
Last updated: 24.5.2022