Developing technological liretacy using online chat in English

Introduction

The future for the United Arab Emirates includes creating a knowledge-based and technological society, so a key role for English language will be to support effective use of computers. Indeed, HCT’s Graduate Outcome One (GO 1), Communication and information literacy, and Graduate Outcome Four (GO 4), Technological literacy, each require competence in Information Technology (IT). This paper analyses the use of synchronous communication (IT-mediated chat) in order to develop student familiarity with IT and student effectiveness in speaking and writing. A social constructivist view (Jonassen, Howland, Moore and Marra 1999) of IT is taken, and students’ language production is analysed using a systemic functional approach (Halliday 1985). A qualitative analysis is also considered using Bachman and Palmer’s (1996)
communicative testing framework. The article explains how and why chat in WebCT can add to the repertoire of procedures to aid student learning and can contribute to the eventual achievement of the HCT Graduate Outcomes.

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