The use of a virtual learning environment for teaching reading and writing in English to Syrian students
Date of Award
Master of Education (M. Ed.)
Institute for Educational Development, Karachi
Technology supported teaching and learning environments are fast replacing the conventional face-to-face classes throughout the world. The situation is no different in Syria. However, research on educational use of technologies in Syrian context is limited. Therefore, the main purpose of this study was to explore the use of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) for teaching reading and writing in English to a group of learners in Syria. Action research was adopted for the study. One cycle of action research could be completed which comprised four phases, i.e.; action planning, action taking, action monitoring and action evaluation. A VLE was created by using a combination of different technology tools such as a wiki and survey tool. Nine learners from the researcher's home city Salamieh, Syria participated in this study. Data were collected through online written semi-structured interviews, observation, reflective journal, test, and learners' work and reflection. The key findings of the study suggest that a teacher can create a VLE by selecting the available tools. VLE offers flexibility for learners who cannot avail formal education opportunities for themselves. Tasks that appeared suitable for reading and writing via VLE were those where learners were able to learn collectively. ICT tools used in the study were suitable for all stages of reading and writing processes. The facilitating factors of using VLE include the potential of VLE to provide individualized and instant learning opportunity. The study also showed that while learners lacked theoretical knowledge about ICT, they knew how to use these tools. Furthermore, a VLE can be used to promote collaboration and group work between learners. Issues related to poor ICT infrastructure and lack of reliable access to Internet in Syria and Pakistan posed problems. These findings have implications for how reading and writing in English could be taught in the Syrian context. Face-to-face activities can be modified to become suitable for VLE. Teacher education programmes will need to be modified to make room for the use of ICT for language teaching purposes. Recommendations for future research include determining the potential of VLEs for encouraging collaborative language learning. Other areas of research are also identified.
Zair, A. (2010). The use of a virtual learning environment for teaching reading and writing in English to Syrian students (Unpublished master's dissertation). Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.