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Using Voice in Online Environments

Teresa MacKinnon

Teresa MacKinnon

"In a statistical sense, we may one day communicate with each other far more via computer mediation than in direct interaction."
- Crystal (2001, p.241)

This development is situated within the emerging field of computer mediated communication (CMC) in e-learning. The project built upon work already underway in the Language Centre. An international online environment (Languages@Warwick moodle) has been created and includes integrated voice tools and online live classroom (wimba technologies) for the facilitation of blended and distance e-learning in language skills. These tools provide opportunities for the management of spoken interaction, both synchronous and asynchronous, such as podcasts, voice emails, threaded voice boards and voice authoring. Created resources are easily shareable, can be re-purposed for research or re-used and saved in a variety of formats.

The model currently deployed in this development is that of Wenger's Community of practice (2000). Tutors collaborate using their experiences of shared endeavour (online language teaching including the integration of voice) informed by current e-learning research (e.g. Salmon, 2005; Conole and Oliver, 2007) in order to construct a shared understanding of best practice in the preparation of effective, employable language users for the future.

The project's expected outcomes were:

  • An effective online language learning environment which can be tailored to a wide range of specialist language teaching needs
  • A body of knowledge that develops existing language teaching methodologies into techniques that are fit for the challenges of globalisation and future employability
  • An exciting and dynamic learning environment for language learners which supports the Observe-Hypothesise-Experiment cycle (Lewis, 1993)
  • A community of language teachers equipped with the research-based insights necessary to lead others in online teaching delivery.

Lead: Teresa MacKinnon, B.A. (hons), M.A.

With 25 years experience in language teaching and education management I find the opportunities available to language teachers through technologies invigorating and challenging. If we are to harness the possibilities of web 2.0 we need to apply the principles of effective language teaching, connect with student needs and offer a sound pedagogy which embeds the technologies successfully.


  • Crystal, D. (2001), Language and the Internet, Cambridge: CUP
  • Conole, G. and M. Oliver (eds) (2007), Contemporary perspectives in e-learning research, Oxen: Routledge
  • Lewis, M. (1993), The Lexical approach:The state of ELT and a way forward, Hove: Language Teaching Publications
  • Salmon, G. (2002), E-tivities: the Key to Active Online Learning, London: Kogan Page
  • Salmon, G. (2005), 'Flying not flapping: A strategic framework for e-learning and pedagogical innovation in Higher Education Institutions', ALT-J, 13 (3), 201-218
  • Warschauer, M. and R. Kern (eds) (2000), Networked-based Language Teaching: Concepts and Practice, Cambridge: CUP
  • Wenger, E. (2000), 'Community of practice and social learning systems', Organization, 7 (2), 225-246