Using LMS and Blended Learning in Designing a Course to Facilitate Foreign Language Learning
The purpose of this study is to find out if the design of a course planned using language management systems, i. e. BlackBoard Learn, can improve the learning process and the effectiveness of a listening and speaking course investigating the perceptions of the learners. The study was conducted in the Listening and Speaking Course II during the second semester of the academic year 2019 at Koc University, Istanbul with 88 participants who started the academic year as false beginners. Despite their low proficiency level, the general expectation of the instructors and administration for learners is to pass the institutional proficiency exam within an academic year. Due to time constraints and pressure to help learners attain a higher proficiency level in a short time, the researchers decided to blend BlackBoardLearn into their course design to achieve “the optimal learning environment” as Marsh (2012) discussed. Based upon the research findings by Zhao (2003) that the use of technology alone may not produce the desired results, and the way it is used is more important, the researchers tried to design the course bearing in mind that factors such as “the delivery mode, task designs and materials, learners’ expectations and preferences”, (Alpala&Florez, 2011) may make a difference in the success of blending technology into language learning. Through the integration of online listening practice tasks and online speaking task submissions, the researchers tried to address the abovementioned issues in the course. In this way, they tried to create maximum exposure to the target language and promote self-paced learning, which also enhances student motivation and autonomy. In order to analyze this, the learners were given a questionnaire to find out about their perceptions regarding improvement in their listening and speaking skills. The findings were generally positive for both listening assignments and speaking tasks, yielding to important implications associated with online task designs.
Keywords: Blended Learning (BL), learning management systems, Blackboard Learn, listening and speaking skills, learner perceptions, course design
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