An Informal Online Community in the Digital Wilds: Possibilities for Language Learning
Incidental Language Learning
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study explores the establishment and evolution of an informal online community, tracing how it developed and evolved. More specifically, the study analyzed the characteristics of the online space, as well as how members engaged within the community, including participation patterns, preferences, and opinions and identity construction. The community members were made up of multilingual and global participants; the space was creativity-driven, free, and open to all. Free navigation mirrors how informal communities work in the digital wilds where interaction is voluntary and interest-driven. Using descriptive methods, this research looked at language learning as the product of social interaction as participation varied across asynchronous posting, responding, and engagement in live conversations. One hundred eighty-eight participants came from different ethnic, linguistic, and geographical backgrounds, and explored their shared and individual interests and learning opportunities within the virtual space. All online activities were situated in a dynamic system of interactions that developed over time in response to participation patterns and preferences. Four participation profiles were developed by calculating members’ weighted activities which included post clicks, cheers, messages, comments, and participation in live Zoom events. Analysis revealed characteristics and preferences of the Power, the Motivated, the Curious, and the Attentive member. Findings from this study suggest expanding opportunities for self-directed and collaborative work in member-driven online communities that encourage incidental language learning and the exploration of different perspectives and cultures. Implications address the importance of incidental language learning, which should be carried over into formal language learning environments. In informal spaces where language learning is not explicit, learners can make their own decisions, explore the world on their own terms and make their own conclusions on what is valuable or meaningful for themselves as they interact with others. Keywords: online community, informal learning, incidental language learning, Ecological Approach, Critical Relationality, global interaction, communication, multimodality, creativity.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching