Friday, November 16, 2001

Jeanette Ceniceros
Comm 202
Journal #3

Kotter, Schneider, and von der Embe wrote “Technically Speaking: Transforming Language Learning through Virtual Learning Environment (MOO's)” in which they described a foreign language (FL) learning experiment for college students in MOO’s. Kotter, English professor at the University of Munster united with American professors von der Emde and Schneider. Kotter wanted to measure tandem learning between language learners and native speakers, while von der Embe and Schneider wanted to find a solution to the difficulty of having a broad range of proficiencies in German and English language learning students and to add more content based learning in their German courses. Students were in contact for 16 hours with native speakers; about 8 hours in each language, English and German. The groups were made up of 2 Americans and 2 Germans. The outcomes were analyzed from student portfolios created from the project.

Five benefits were discovered in using the MOO for FL learning, of which one includes “Authentic Communication and Content.” Instead of focusing on grammar accuracy, students actually were able to focus on content communication, which was meaningful, especially with actual German students and vice versa. Students were able to discuss 3 short German passages, such a passage from Kafka’s “The Burrow.” They also constructed their own room through description. Intellectual learning was stressed in this MOO-FL experiment.

There are still four other brief benefits. Students were able to do “Autonomous Learning and Peer Teaching in a Student-Centered Classroom.” Students learned from the composition of the virtual world (room) and from patiently correcting each other. Thirdly, students had “Individualized Learning.” Logs helped slower learners go back to see what improvements could be made and shy students were able to express themselves more actively. In addition, the MOO stressed the “Importance of Experimentation and Play.” Playing and experimenting with their language aided students in their creative learning of language. Finally, the MOO allowed “Students as Researchers: The Intellectual Dimension.” Students were able to research the language and its cultures; examples include comparing the American and the German education system and discussion of the use and context of words, such as assimilate and integrate. The MOO-FL course shows that, with its many benefits, is an excellent learning experience for students.

Kotter, Schneider, and von der Embe’s experimental and educational MOO hints towards a more “real-like world.” The three researchers gave a student’s description of her room and all agreed, “Nevertheless, it is possible to read Carla’s room as a reaction to the challenges and uncertainties of life as a first-semester freshman” (215). Carla described a refrigerator with alcohol and a burning candle from which visitors can see her spirit. These examples give an aspect of the student’s deeper feelings. Students were able to incorporate their hidden feeling into MOO’s. Therefore, the loss of the real does not exist in this type of MOO.

The MOO is a positive learning experience for students. MOO, a MUD-object oriented helped students use their FL skills in order to utilize the language through description. Students were able to create their rooms and space. The MOO was more social oriented because students had meaningful communication about culture and new ideas, such as the different education systems. Less fantasy, such as in the incorporation of inner feelings, about life created a more real-virtual world.

Dutton’s theory, the Access Paradigm, very well fits with this MOO-FL experiment. The technological and social choices definitely shape access. The information was the foreign language learning and the people were college students. The services were language interchange, tutoring, and culture learning. The technology though Tel Net offers students the access of other technologies. The researchers claim that, “In fact, all objects created in the en Core system have unique Uniform Resource Locators (URL’s) and can be made accessed directly through the Web, making it easy to publish without any training in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). Students and society in general can move around to other technologies by clicking; such locations include URL’s and HTML where they can create and publish information. Therefore, the MOO technology shaped an educational type of access.

This MOO and FL experiment conducted by Kotter, Schneider, and von der Embe refuted all the negative ideas that people stem are MOO consequences. They have proven that the MOO can actually be a positive technology and a more real-like world. Dutton’s Access Paradigm complemented in a positive manner this MOO-FL experiment. In its entirety, the experiment encouraged educational language in a fun way. Everything shows that the MOO can actually be used for educational activities.