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Learner Autonomy and Web 2.0

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The advent of networked digital technologies, in enabling language learners to collaborate and create content online, has given rise to new ways in which learners are able to express their autonomy. Learner Autonomy and Web 2.0 explores tensions between the “classical” definitions of learner autonomy and the learning dynamics observed in specific online contexts. Some of the contributions argue for the emergence of actual new forms of autonomy, others consider that this is merely a case of “old wine in new bottles”. In this volume, autonomy is seen as emerging and developing in a complex relationship with L2 proficiency and other competencies. The volume takes an expansive view of what is meant by Web 2.0 and, as a result, a wide diversity of environments is featured, ranging from adaptive learning systems, through mobile apps, to social networking sites and - almost inevitably - MOOCs. Paradoxically, autonomy is seen to flourish in some quite restricted contexts, while in less constrained environments learners experience difficulty in dealing with a requirement to self-regulate.

Individual chapters run the gamut of age groups, learning activities and online environments. The stage for all of them is set by an exchange in which David Little and Steve Thorne discuss the evolution of the concept of language learner autonomy, from its origins in the era of self-access resource centres to its more recent instantiations in online (and offline) learning communities. Subsequent contributors include an exploration how autonomy can be exercised even within the constraints of adaptive learning systems, a discussion of the metacognitive operations engaged in by autonomous adult learners in a French/Australian teletandem exchange, a look at an ecological paradigm of autonomy to conceptualise its emergence in relation to the use of mobile apps by primary- and secondary-level language learners in Canada, a study of how learner autonomy with a markedly social and empathic dimension drives collaboration in a Facebook-based collaborative writing project, a study of the autonomy stances adopted by different groups of learners using the Busuu online language exchange platform, an analysis of the difficulties encountered by a group of trainee language teachers in engaging with a range of language MOOCs and finally a study of how autonomy is experienced by advanced learners of English with a preference for online informal learning based on gaming and streamed video.

Published: Apr 28, 2017

Book Contributors


Section Chapter Authors
Chapter 1
Introduction Timothy Lewis, Marco Cappellini, Annick Rivens Mompean
Chapter 2
From Learner Autonomy to Rewilding: A Discussion David G Little, Steven Thorne
Chapter 3
Development of Language Learner Autonomy in Adaptive Learning Systems Ruslan Suvorov, Adolfo Carrillo Cabello
Chapter 4
A Typology of Metacognition: Examining Autonomy in a Collective Blog Compiled in a Teletandem Environment Daniela de Moraes Garcia, Kathleen O'Connor, Marco Cappellini
Chapter 5
Rethinking the Concept of Learner Autonomy within the MALL Environment Martine Pellerin
Chapter 6
'Old Concepts in New Spaces': A Model for Developing Learner Autonomy in Social Networking Spaces Ward Peeters, Christian Ludwig
Chapter 7
Informal Social Networking for Language Learning: Insights into Autonomy Stances Katerina Zourou, Anthippi Potolia, Filio Zourou
Chapter 8
Learner Autonomy in Beginning Language MOOCs (LMOOCs): The Student Teachers' Perspective Carolin Fuchs
Chapter 9
Autonomy, the Online Informal Learning of English (OILE), and Learning Resource Centers (LRCs): Relationships Between Learner Autonomy, L2 Proficiency, L2 Autonomy and Digital Literacy Denyze Toffoli, Laurent Perrot
End Matter
Index Marco Cappellini, Tim Lewis, Annick Rivens Mompean


Due to its wide scope and depth, this book offers a clear understanding of the expanding roles of learners and instructors when engaging in learning-centred activities in and related to online language learning spaces. I therefore recommend it to all language instructors interested in studying, reflecting on and discussing our changing professional landscape at this exciting time.