Book: Learner Autonomy and Web 2.0
Chapter: Informal Social Networking for Language Learning: Insights into Autonomy Stances
This chapter explores learner autonomy in Busuu, a social networking site for language learning (SNSLL). The aim of this research is to analyze autonomy stances, as individual and social strands of social network based activity evolve and intertwine in this informal learning community. It particularly questions whether social activity, facilitated by social networking and gaming features, affects learner autonomy on the individual and/or social dimensions. The paper adopts a mixed methods approach in the analysis of quantitative data (user data and closed-ended replies to a survey) and qualitative data (open-ended replies to the survey). We first analyze user activity as an indicator of learner stances, individual and social. We then explore the role of social networking and game mechanics in the adoption of these stances with regard to learner autonomy. Finally, we share insights into the reconceptualization of learner autonomy development in the light of social network based informal learning.