Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Designing Tasks for Complex Virtual Learning Environments

Malgorzata Kurek


The central role of tasks has long been acknowledged in foreign language pedagogy (e.g. Ellis, 2003; Willis, 1996; Müller-Hartmann & Schocker, 2011), in the context of CALL (Furstenberg, 1997; Chapelle, 2001; Hampel, 2006; 2010; Levy & Stockwell, 2006; Thomas & Reinders, 2010) and, specifically, in
literature on online collaboration (Dundis & Benson, 2003; Gruba, 2004; Müller-Hartmann 2000; 2006; O’Dowd & Ware, 2009; Guth & Helm 2011; Dooly & O’Dowd, 2012). In complex learning environments such as those of intercultural online exchanges (IOEs), the role of tasks is particularly pronounced as they drive and structure learners’ activity in and through a complex, technology-rich multimodal, multilingual and multicultural context. In such an environment opportunities for learning are not obvious and need to be activated through adequate and relevant tasks. This article discusses the role of tasks in structuring learner activity in complex learning environments (CLEs), best exemplified by intercultural online exchanges (IOEs). First, the concept of complex learning environments (CLEs) are presented, followed by those aspects of task design that best address their complexity, including the role of tasks in executing teaching presence, the workplan-process dichotomy, the role of tasks in fostering community building, concluding with an overview of the mutual task-tool relationship and brief recommendations for training teachers in task design.

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Bellaterra Journal of Teaching & Learning Language & Literature (BJTLLL)

ISSN 2013-6196
Legal Deposit Number (Spain) B. 23873-2013
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