Autonomous L2 Learners Navigating the Digital Wilds: A Complexity Theory Perspective (73143)

Session Information: Learner & Curriculum Needs
Session Chair: Yiting Han

Saturday, 11 November 2023 15:15
Session: Session 3
Room: Sri Nakron
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 7 (Asia/Bangkok)

In today's interconnected world, language learning extends beyond the confines of a classroom, and digital environments provide various opportunities for autonomous L2 learners. This paper presentation aims to explore the naturalistic and dynamic process of language learning among autonomous L2 learners in the digital wilds, focusing on their choices, usage, and interaction with various digital tools and resources. Informed by Complexity Theory, the study investigates the learning activities and experiences of five workplace adults who self-perceived as motivated, life-long, and autonomous L2 learners and users. Utilizing a multiple-case study design, data were collected through semi-structured interviews, retrospective narratives, participant-generated photography, artifacts, reflective learning journals, and observations.

The research addresses two questions: (1) What digital tools/resources mediate the learners' learning and in what ways? (2) How does technology interact with the development of identity, motivation, and autonomy during the learning journey?

Findings reveal that life-long learners used a wide array of digital resources with agency and intentionality. Interactions between learners and technology were metaphorically described as tools, ecology, windows, doorways, mirrors, playgrounds, and extensions of self. The study found that identity, motivation, and autonomy intertwined with learners' interactions within the digital wilds, synergistically shaping individuality and breaking down barriers between language learning, personal life, and social engagement. Learners' trajectories of emergence demonstrated that language learning went beyond fluency, influencing ongoing life trajectories. Embracing complexity as constructive chaos was key to learning from meaningful experiences and enabling emergent becomings.

The research contributes theoretically to complexity thinking in life-wide language learning, methodologically by employing a Complexity Theory-oriented longitudinal qualitative case study method, and pedagogically by suggesting that educators support learners in developing agency and mindfulness regarding technology to facilitate their trajectories of being and becoming as life-long L2 learners/users.

Abstract Summary
In the digital era, language learning extends beyond the confines of a classroom, and autonomous L2 learners can leverage various digital tools and resources. Drawing from Complexity Theory, this presentation explores the dynamic language learning process of five autonomous adult L2 learners in the digital wilds. The study investigates the mediating role of digital tools, the interaction of technology with learners' identity, motivation, and autonomy, and the triggers for emergent learning moments. Findings reveal learners’ agency in resource utilization, their intricate interactions with technology, and the intertwined role of identity, motivation, and autonomy in learning. These insights contribute to the theoretical understanding of complexity in life-wide language learning, innovate methodologies through a Complexity Theory-oriented longitudinal case study, and suggest pedagogical strategies to foster learners' agency and mindfulness in digital language learning contexts.

Yiting Han, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

About the Presenter(s)
Dr Yiting Han is a University Assistant Professor/Lecturer at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore

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