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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of Wimba on learning : a students and faculty perspective Wang, Tianxuan

Abstract

One of the ultimate goals of language education is to enhance students’ communicative competence (Ommagio Hadley, 2001). Recent research indicates that Wimba, as an online voice tool, is beneficial to develop students’ conversational skills (Cho & Carey, 2001; Kabata, Wiebe & Chao, 2004; McIntosh, Braul, & Chao, 2003; Poza, 2005). Those studies focused mainly on the advantage of Wimba for developing learner’s conversational skills but did not explore how to use the software most effectively for teaching and learning. Therefore, this current study aims to investigate: 1) what was students and instructor’s perspective on Wimba as a learning tool and what was the reason behind that; 2) how did the Wimba-based activities designed by the instructor meet the objectives of the course; 3) whether there is a certain type of learning that can be facilitated most by Wimba; 4) what are the in-depth pedagogical suggestions for improving intelligent Wimba usage for future students and instructors. A class of Cantonese speakers learning Mandarin as a second dialect and its instructor were chosen for this study. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected through questionnaires and interviews. Findings indicate that both students and instructor evaluated their experience with Wimba positively. However, the effectiveness of the implementation of this software did not meet its full potential in this case because the designed activities were limited by the instructor’s time limitations. Students and instructor felt that Wimba was most effective for practice listening and speaking for novice and intermediate learners. Future application of the software should focus on providing students opportunities to be involved in tasks that require various language skills to maximize diversity of registers of use. At the same time, technology-related workshops for the instructors should not only focus on the simple "how-to" of the software. Instead, they should provide instructors detailed information and recommendation on how to use the technology most creatively and effectively for teaching and learning.

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